EXCLUSIVE: The Last of the Winthrops explores powerful and stunning revelations as a woman reclaims her sense of self after taking an Ancestry DNA test. The directorial debut for co-directors Viviane G. Winthrop and Adam K. Singer, the feature documentary will have a limited theatrical release in Los Angeles beginning October 7 before arriving on digital platforms worldwide including iTunes/Apple TV and Amazon on November 11.
When Reginald Winthrop and his beautiful French-Canadian wife Claire had their “miracle child,” Viviane, they raised her as an heir to the historic Winthrop exceptionalism. “Reg” could follow the Winthrop heritage down a very prestigious path to the founders of America. However, after Reg’s passing, Viviane is compelled to take her own journey down that path and learn everything she can about the Winthrop lineage… until an Ancestry DNA result sends all her plans into upheaval.
Born in the 1580s, John Winthrop was one of the leading figures in founding the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Winthrop led the first large wave of colonists from England in 1630 and he went on to serve as governor. His writings and vision of the colony as a Puritan “city upon a hill” dominated New England colonial development, influencing the governments and religions of neighboring colonies for centuries to come.
As for present-day descendants, that list ranges from political heavy hitters to pop culture royalty to literal royalty. The late Christopher Reeve was a 10th great-grandson and Secretary John Kerry is an eighth great-grandson. The Winthrop family tree additionally branches out to pilot Amelia Earhart, tech titan and philanthropist Bill Gates, icon Dick Van Dyke, iconoclast Edward Snowden, Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson, singer-songwriter James Taylor and rapper Post Malone. Which is to say nothing of the towns, buildings, educational institutions, and monuments built and named in honor of the Winthrops.
Moving fluidly between past and present, through archival footage, private letters and recordings, The Last of the Winthrops follows Viviane on a journey she did not plan for, across five countries and hundreds of years, to find out who she thought she was and, in the end, who she actually is.
“The only way I could fathom sharing this story was with a film,” Viviane said. “It’s impossible to describe otherwise how much this entire experience has meant to me. So much of how we live now is disconnected; I hope when people watch it, they come away with a renewed perspective on love and family.”
Viviane Winthrop directed the doc, which she also wrote and executive produced. Adam Singer was the co-director, writer and producer. Douglas Blush (20 Feet from Stardom) is also an executive producer.
EXCLUSIVE: Freestyle Digital Media, the digital film distribution division of Byron Allen’s Allen Media Group, has acquired North American VOD rights to the comedy-drama Who Needs You. The film will be available to rent and own on digital on October 25
Written and directed by and starring filmmaker Tyler Hunt, Who Needs You was produced by Hunt and Justice Hardy. The cast of movie also features Megan Elisabeth Kelly, Ashley Dakin, Matt Alvarado, Shanah Leaf, Zak Guzman, Marc Brown, Haley Mae, Ben Humphrey, Stacy Pederson, Kim Almacen, Kelli Catlin, Alex Niforatos, Daniel Selk, Roy Kieffer and Omid Dastan Harrison.
Who Needs You tells the story of when obsessive free spirit Stephen finds out his teen half-sister Sarah is pregnant. After reuniting, Stephen promises to do his best to help raise the baby with her, even with many obstacles in the way. As Stephen desperately tries to convince Sarah to keep the baby, she finally agrees when Stephen promises to father the child, and they embark on the journey of parenthood – for which neither of them are ready.
See the trailer below.
“The issue of an unplanned pregnancy can be extremely polarizing. Oftentimes, people focus on the life of the child, but neglect the life of the mother. This film deals with the issue of an unintended pregnancy, but focuses on the life and needs of the single mom. It’s pro-woman. It’s about understanding the convictions you place on other people, and about how your ideals you put on others will affect them for the rest of their lives,” said Hunt.
“This story was inspired by work I’ve done telling stories of many moms who found themselves in an unexpected pregnancy not sure what to do. I’ve worked through countless hours of interviews of these women with issues ranging from having five children in an abusive relationship while getting pregnant with the sixth, facing the threat of deportation back to Venezuela if she wouldn’t abort the child, heroin addiction, abuse, and many other issues. This story was also written with the help of a single mom with two children who found herself in a teen pregnancy as well. This story comes from intimate knowledge and personal experience. Let’s lay the politics aside and ask one of the most important questions in all of this. What about her?”
Freestyle negotiated the deal to acquire Who Needs You through Glen Reynolds of Circus Road Films.
EXCLUSIVE: Indie documentary Finding Her Beat follows a Japanese drum master and Korean adoptee from North Dakota who join forces to assemble the world’s best Taiko drummers in a bold effort to claim a cultural spotlight that has historically been reserved only for men.
Their rhythm revolution includes rock stars from the world of Taiko: Tiffany Tamaribuchi, Kaoly Asano, Chieko Kojima, Megan Chao-Smith, and Jennifer Weir. Through grueling rehearsals, Weir weaves together their disparate voices and styles. Vulnerability, pain, and joys are shared—and we quickly see the bonds of friendship form as these talented women navigate their way through differences in culture, age, language, and performing styles. As the clock ticks toward their first performance, it becomes clear that their story has become much larger than Taiko.
Finding Her Beat is directed by Dawn Mikkelson (Risking Light, The Red Tail) and Keri Pickett (First Daughter and the Black Snake, The Fabulous Ice Age), also the director of photography; produced by Weir (Executive Director of TAM, Artistic Director of Enso Daiko) and Dawn Mikkelson, with additional cinematography by Shiho Fukada (Mosaic Street), Caroline Mariko Stucky (Caissa) and Mikkelson. Original music is by Me-Lee Hay (Better Watch Out, Last Tree Standing). Mikkelson, Sam Kaiser (Road to Damascus, Inside), Pickett and Carrie Shanahan (Irv de Toilette, Goodbye Hello) are editors.
Finding Her Beat was made by a predominantly female/nonbinary and largely Asian-American crew at a time when marginalized gendered and people of color are severely underrepresented in film. It is well past the time to allow women to take center stage in the arts.
The journey of Finding Her Beat reveals a collective dedication for these Taiko drummers to be recognized in their field…they are trying to right a wrong, as women have not been allowed their place on the taiko stage. This film follows the journey of five women bringing the art form into the current reality and bringing other women center stage with them. Struggling through personality clashes, illness and the clock, we see how much one person can make a difference as Jennifer takes the dream and plants it, waters it and it flourishes into one of the most inspirational concerts ever witnessed, let alone filmed.
EXCLUSIVE: Sherry Cola (Good Trouble) is set to appear Netflix’s upcoming untitled romantic comedy alongside Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron and Joey King in a supporting role. Cola joins previously announced cast members Kathy Bates and Liza Koshy. The story is set following a surprising romance which kicks off comic consequences for a young woman, her mother and her movie star boss as they face the complications of love, sex and identity.
Cola will play a close friend of Joey King’s character, who is a playwright and director. Toughly no-nonsense and committed to her craft, she is an uncompromising artist who pays the bills by helping people organize their closets.
Richard LaGravenese is directing and co-writing the script with Carrie Solomon, while Joe Roth, Jeff Kirschenbaum and Alyssa Altman are producing for Roth/Kirschenbaum Films.
Cola, an actress, writer and comedian, is best known for her role as Alice in Freeform’s critically acclaimed series Good Trouble which was recently renewed for a fifth season. On the film front, Cola can next be seen starring in Adele Lim’s (Crazy Rich Asians) upcoming comedy project for Lionsgate, which follows a group of four friends traveling through Asia in search of one of their birth mothers.
In animation, she will voice a role in Paramount Animation’s upcoming feature The Tiger’s Apprentice opposite Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh and Sandra Oh. She was also recently heard in Pixar’s Turning Red.
Cola is repped by CAA, Stark Management and Ginsburg Daniels Kallis.
EXCLUSIVE: Gravitas Ventures has acquired North American rights to drama Dylan & Zoey, directed by Matt Sauter in his helming debut. Claudia Doumit (The Boys) and Blake Scott Lewis (Trial by Fire) star int he film, which will release in theaters and on demand November 11.
“The impetus behind Dylan & Zoey was to help push the dialogue forward regarding trauma and healing, and the fact that we’re at a place where the film now has that opportunity is both humbling and exciting,” Sauter said.
“Dylan & Zoey is a wonderfully charming and emotional film, with outstanding performances by Doumit and Lewis. We are thrilled to be the North American home for this film and to have the opportunity to share it with audiences both in theaters and on VOD platforms,” said Mackenzie Maguire, Gravitas Ventures Acquisitions Coordinator.
In Dylan & Zoey, estranged friends reunite for one evening to try and bridge the gap that has divided them for so long. While picking up where they left off proves easy at first, they quickly realize that in order to truly heal, they must confront the traumas that fractured them.
Dylan & Zoey was produced by Julie Bersani of Black Poppy Productions in partnership with Lewis and Doumit, along with executive producers Chris Harrington of Dovetale Media and Todd Slater of Convoke Media.
Doumit was recently upped to a series regular for Season 3 of The Boys after recurring as Victoria Neuman in Season 2. Doumit was a regular on Boys creator Eric Kripke’s time travel series Timeless for NBC. Her film credits include Netflix’s Dude directed by Olivia Milch and Annapurna Pictures’ Where’d You Go, Bernadette directed by Richard Linklater. Doumit is repped by A3 Agency, Cultivate Entertainment, and attorney Hayes Robbins.
Lewis can be seen opposite Laura Dern in Edward Zwick’s Trial by Fire. He is also a writer, director and producer, repped by Gersh and Vanguard Management Group.
Maguire negotiated the deal with Convoke’s Slater on behalf of the filmmakers.
EXCLUSIVE: Buffalo 8 has acquired global distribution rights to Balloon Animal, the indie film that featured at festivals including Manchester Film Festival, Brooklyn Film Festival and Cinequest Film Festival.
Written and directed by Em Johnson, Balloon Animal stars actor and producer Katherine Waddell, who portrays the protagonist, a young balloon animal artist named Poppy Valentine, who longs for a different path in life and must choose whether to stay in her father’s failing circus or strike out on her own. The film was produced by Johnson and Waddell’s First Bloom Films, a production company that aims to increase women’s influence in Hollywood by opening doors to enter careers in the industry and tell stories about their human experience.
“Getting distribution for a feature as independent filmmakers is a dream come true, and we are incredibly grateful to Buffalo 8 for believing in Balloon Animal,” they said. “We cannot wait for a wider audience to get to experience this incredibly meaningful story about what it means to put yourself first.”
Buffalo 8 is a full-service film and media company focused on production, post-production, distribution, design and finance based in Santa Monica. It is partnered with BondIt Media Capital to enable streamlined packaging, production, financing and sales opportunities.
“We are thrilled to support this incredibly talented team” Buffalo 8’s Head of Distribution, Nikki Stier Justice, said. “Em Johnson creates an intriguing juxtaposition exploring subtle yet identifiable themes against a bright and magical backdrop.”
Waddell, Johnson and First Bloom Films are represented by Chad Russo from the Ramo Law firm.
EXCLUSIVE: Tangelene Bolton, a Filipina-American composer known for her work on the scores for Disney+’s Let’s Be Tigers and Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Annecy selection Just a Thought, has been brought on to score the upcoming second season of Netflix series Warrior Nun.
Created by Simon Barry, the series follows main character, Ava, an orphaned teen that wakes up in a morgue and discovers she possesses superpowers. She is then chosen for Halo Bearer and finds out there is a secret sect of demon-hunting nuns. Season 2 will premiere later this year.
Bolton will bring her distinct musical approach to the series, which draws on elements of Neoclassical, electronic, folk, and jazz styles. She boldly turns classic and traditional sounds into exciting and new territories. In Warrior Nun, Tangelene will focus on world building and developing the characters empathetically through new themes and motifs. With styles of Neoclassical and Avant-garde, Tangelene will combine traditional orchestral and choral elements with stylized solo instruments, warped and mangled to match the high action-packed stakes with the underlying ominous and looming tone that lingers throughout this season.
“It’s an incredible honor working with Simon, Netflix and the rest of the team,” shares Bolton. “I have grown incredibly attached to our characters and the new heights that Simon has taken them to this season. I am so grateful and excited for season 2!”
Bolton honed her craft working for renowned composers including Hans Zimmer (Dune, Gladiator, The Dark Knight, Interstellar), Henry Jackman (X-Men, Captain America), and Bobby Tahouri (Game of Thrones, Iron Man).
A 2020 Sundance Film Music in Animation Composer Fellow, Bolton’s other past credits include Marvel’s Avengers game as Technical Score Engineer/Additional Drum Programmer, additional music on the CBS legal drama show, All Rise, additional music for Nickelodeon’s hit animation show, Shimmer and Shine and technical score engineering on the Rise of the Tomb Raider game (Crystal Dynamics/Square Enix).
Bolton is active in the commercial world as well. She composed the music for the Tory Burch Foundation #EmbraceAmbition PSA campaign with Mindy Kaling and Warner Bros. Animation. She also composed the music for the national campaign for Nordstrom’s, The Nordy Club, as well as AirAsia’s, Malaysia Day. She also conducted world premieres of her scores at The Wiltern with the Hollywood Chamber Orchestra for The Future is Female: A Concert For Women In Film and has recorded and conducted her scores at the historic Fox Newman Scoring Stage and Capitol Records.
Bolton is represented by Arbel Bedak of Spectra Creative Agency and Impact24 PR.
EXCLUSIVE: Rayna Campbell (Extraction 1 & 2) and Donna Preston (Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald) have been set to star in Polly and Sue, set to film in Los Angeles, California.
The script, selected for We Film Good platform at the Cannes Film Festival and shortlisted for Breaking Through the Lens, was written by Campbell and follows Polly (Campbell), who is losing her mind, her husband and her hair. Her best friend Sue (Preston), meanwhile, a big-beautiful-women celebrity, is gaining even more weight, TikTok followers and a range of gastrointestinal disorders.
When Polly discovers her husband is cheating she convinces Sue to accompany her on a road trip from Wyoming to Los Angeles to meet law of attraction guru Sunshine Berkeley, who is in town for one night only. Sunshine, highly sought-after, is renowned to magically transform the lives of those who come into her presence. However, Sue is housebound under the strict control of her pint-sized and overly ambitious feeder, Lenny, who is less than impressed when he discovers Sue has not only left him at an inopportune moment but has also stolen his Chevy Spark. Sparks fly as these two unlikely friends set off on the road trip of a lifetime in search of freedom, spiritual enlightenment, and KFC.
Campbell, Charlotte Hendrickx, Joaquina Gentil and Jordan Russell are producers.
Campbell is represented by Luc Chaudhary of International Artists Management and Cynthia Campos-Greenberg at Anthem Entertainment. Preston is repped by Oliver Thompson and Inter Talent Rights Group UK.
EXCLUSIVE: Beyond the Neon, a new gonzo journalistic thriller starring YouTuber Joey Salads (10m) is set to release in U.S. theaters October 14 before a VOD release on October 18. Fully funded by cryptocurrency, Beyond the Neon is produced by Magnum Opus Pictures’ Woodrow Wilson Hancock III and Madero Films, with Christopher Thellas exec producing. Hancock and Marisa Dzintars wrote the pic, which was directed by Larry A. McLean.
Based on true accounts, a Las Vegas escort is recognized by her sister in a viral social experiment video. Looking to reunite the sisters, and secretly motivated to capture the reunion on camera, Salads and his apprehensive crew are thrown into the dangerous and corrupt world of escorting, documenting every step of their desperate effort to rescue the woman from human sex trafficking in Las Vegas.
In addition to Beyond the Neon, a new six-part limited series Beyond the Neon: U.S. is in development with the nationwide anti-trafficking organization Disrupt Human Trafficking. Through intelligence gathering and investigative support, DHT, BNF Films, Tiftin Media Finance and Magnum Opus aim to uncover and expose sex trafficking in six cities around the U.S.
In parallel with the release of Beyond the Neon, Magnum Opus Pictures has partnered with Phantasma in creating Smart NFT collections. The first collection of charitable NFT’s come with additional content baked in, with over one hour of extended footage inside a Las Vegas safe house and full-length interviews from the victims in the film. These Smart NFT collections will serve to promote the movie and fund charitable initiatives supporting services and organizations assisting those affected by human sex trafficking in America.