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Oscar-winning producers Barry Jenkins and Adele Romanski re-team for Eliza Hittman's timely tale of the challenges that face a teenage girl as she seeks an abortion.
As theaters shuttered across the nation amid the coronavirus pandemic, the filmmakers of Never Rarely Sometimes Always had a tough decision to make - wait to release the movie when theaters reopen, or release the film on digital platforms to capitalize on an audience confined to their homes.
Ultimately, for Adele Romanski and Barry Jenkins, who produced the film under their Pastel Productions banner, the story about a teenage girl's journey to get a safe and legal abortion was resonant with the current state of women's reproductive health in America, and so they, along with writer-director Eliza Hittman and distributor Focus Features, opted to release the film on VOD platforms.
"What we do know is that we have a film that's very urgent right now," Romanski tells The Hollywood Reporter. "There continues to be a war on women's health and certain states saying abortions are non-essential medical procedures in response to COVID-19, so we know we have a film that matters."
Written and directed by Hittman Beach Rats, It Felt Like Love and made for under $3 million, Never Rarely Sometimes Always is the story of the teenage Autumn, played by first-time actor Sidney Flanigan, who decides to travel with her cousin Skylar Talia Ryder from her rural Pennsylvania town to New York City to get an abortion. The film delves into the real challenges that the two girls face within the medical system and an unfriendly big city.
The film debuted at Sundance Film Festival this year, where it won a special jury award, and then went on to win the Silver Bear prize at the Berlin Film Festival in February. The film was slated to hit theaters on March 13, but with theaters closing down, it was released on demand on April 3.
"We all believe we have a very powerful piece of art and a very captive audience sitting at home," says Jenkins. "The movie's rated PG-13 and it's really powerful because there's all these kids sitting at home right now trying to figure out what to watch, and while they're doing that, there's states all across the country saying that an abortion is not an essential procedure."
Jenkins and Romanski talked to THR about how Hittman tackled highly politicized issue of abortion with nuance, the biggest production challenges and the decision to bring the film to home screens early.
How did your collaboration with Eliza Hittman come about?
Romanski: We had been fans of Eliza's work since It Felt Like Love, which also debuted at Sundance, and stuck up a friendship as one does on the festival circuit and when we were coming together years later and forming Pastel and thinking about who were the kinds of artists and filmmakers we wanted to...
EXCLUSIVE: Grace and Frankie may have suspended production on its seventh and final season because of the coronavirus crisis, but the Emmy nominated Netflix comedy is back this week with a special live treat for fans and a spotlight on seniors in need during these troubled times.
The Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin-led series will be having an online table read this Thursday to help Meals On Wheels COVID-19 relief program, I've learned – though you can make donations right now via the link here.
While other shows have taken a similar digital approach in recent weeks, the long running Marta Kauffman and Howard J. Morris showrun series is adding some originality. The April 9 presentation will feature an episode from the yet unaired seventh season, as well as a live Q&A afterwards moderated by Kauffman.
Along with Oscar winner Fonda and Oscar nominee Tomlin, fellow G&F cast members Sam Waterston, Martin Sheen, June Diane Raphael, Brooklyn Decker, Baron Vaughn and Ethan Embry will be participating in the reading of the Kauffman and Morris-penned “The Fallout” episode on Thursday.
Starting at 5 PM PT/8 PM ET, the whole shindig can be seen live and direct on the Netflix is a Joke YouTube page LINK HERE on April 9.
“While we’re sitting here afraid, unsure and isolated, we wanted to come together and do some good,” Kauffman told me of the decision to take the show online in a new form and with a peek into the future.”
“All we’ve got is time on our hands and technology at our fingertips,” the Friends co-creator added as production on Season 7 was temporarily suspended late on March 12 as restrictions on large gatherings tighten in the City of Angels. “So we decided to use both of those assets to raise money for Meals on Wheels, which brings food to food-insecure and isolated seniors. They are among our most vulnerable right now and need our help.”
“Our cast is all in and super excited,” Okay Goodnight founder Kauffman also says of her superstar packed team. “And Netflix and Skydance have been particularly supportive. As far as giving the fans a peek into Season 7, we figured more people would tune in to new content and it would, hopefully, be a draw for fans of Grace and Frankie. The hope is: more eyes, more money raised for Meals on Wheels.”
Produced by Skydance Television, which launched in 2013, Grace And Frankie was one of the first original series for Netflix. Though in a pause period right now, like everyone else in Tinseltown the seventh and final season is still set to premiere next year, which will make the series the longest running comedy in the streamer's history.
As of last night, there are 6360 confirmed case of the coronavirus in L.A. County and 147 deaths....
The actress and producer also spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about how her work behind the scenes on the film helped her become a better performer.
Zoey Deutch plays an unapologetic hustler determined to get out of her hometown in the Magnolia Pictures film Buffaloed.
The comedic drama follows the downward spiral of Buffalo, NY native Peg Dahl Deutch, who is desperate to get herself out of debt and escape a life of poverty. After learning about the town's debt collection agencies, Peg begins to work for Wizz Jai Courtney before leaving his agency to become her own boss.
"She ends up finding her calling in this very ethically debatable industry, which is the one that destroys many people's chances of becoming somebody to begin with," Deutch told The Hollywood Reporter about her character's questionable career path.
Judy Greer, Jermaine Fowler and Noah Reid also star in the Tanya Wexler-directed film, which is currently in select theaters and on demand.
In addition to starring in Buffaloed, Deutch served as a producer on the film. She spoke to THR about playing the "anti-hero hustler," the film's social commentary on debt, her favorite scenes and how producing the film helped her become a better performer.
To begin, how would you describe your character Peg?
Peg has a sharp mind with a sharper mouth. She's a young woman obsessed with making enough cash to get out of her blue-collared existence. I fell in love with Peg because that was a story that would usually feature a male protagonist. She's a real anti-hero hustler. She's desperate and obsessed with making enough money and to be taken seriously as a budding businesswoman. She goes against these typical expectations of femininity, yet she embodies feminist ideals like her determination to provide for herself without relying on male figures. She's greedy, but her greed is great. She's doing what she does because she wants freedom. She sees her mom and everybody else in Buffalo and knows that you'll never be free if you don't have financial stability.
Peg is accepted into college but quickly realizes that she can't afford to go. Do you think the film has any social commentary on the high cost of college tuition?
I don't know if this is still the case, but the last time I checked, student loan debt in America adds up to a total of $1.5 trillion. One in four Americans have student loan debt. The average student loan debt comes out to $37,000. People that are going to school to make money and have a better life and do good for this world — to be doctors, to be scientists — and the people with those jobs that are paid the highest are the most in debt. It's a tragedy; it's like an epidemic. It's a nightmare in our country, so certainly the film makes a lot of commentary on class and on people in debt....
Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: What better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising?
This week we overcome being an ugly duckling, spend some more time with those with autism, have our third eye melted, look at some hip hop legends, and get exonerated for crimes we didn’t commit.Autism: The Sequel
Director Tricia Regan is bringing hope at just the right time.
Revisiting the subjects of the 2007 Emmy-winning documentary Autism: The Musical, Autism: The Sequel offers a heartwarming inside look into the daily challenges and triumphs of adults on the autism spectrum.
In 2006, HBO debuted the 2007 Emmy®-winning Autism: The Musical, a poignant, heartwarming film that followed five children on the autism spectrum as they wrote and performed their own musical. We revisit the stars of this musical 12 years later in Autism: The Sequel as the original subjects, now in their early 20s, navigate what independence means to them as they manage challenges and triumphs as adults.
If there was a way to excise the uplifting string arrangement towards the end of the trailer, I would do it. It’s not to say this documentary isn’t an uplifting story, but when you consider that these kids, who are now adults, are still struggling to live day-to-day with autism, it seems like a different approach could have been made to reflect their current accomplishments. This is a story that will continue long after this doc is done. This specific story is a celebration, but, also, there is the very real fact that there are more mountains for them to climb. It’s inspiring.The Innocence Files
True crime aficionados, rejoice!
Through the lens of The Evidence, The Witness and The Prosecution, The Innocence Files shines a powerful light on the untold personal stories behind eight cases of wrongful conviction that the nonprofit organization the Innocence Project and organizations within the Innocence Network have uncovered and worked tirelessly to overturn. The Innocence Files is executive produced and directed by Academy Award® nominee Liz Garbus, Academy Award® winner Alex Gibney, Academy Award® winner Roger Ross Williams; with episodes also directed by Academy Award® nominee Jed Rothstein, Emmy Award® winner Andy Grieve and Sarah Dowland.
You have a veritable who’s who of directing talent who have lined up to tell some very real stories. Stories that, without question, cast a deep and long shadow over the criminal justice system. No one deserves to be wrongfully convicted, much less jailed, for an...