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AFM 2023: The buzz titles from North America

BY JEREMY KAY31 OCTOBER 2023


As AFM attendees settle into their new home at the Le Meridien Delfina, Screen profiles a selection of key titles, at various stages of production, available across the market.




A24 will be kicking off talks on Civil War, directed by Alex Garland (Ex Machina, Annihilation), an action title set in a volatile near-­future America. Kirsten Dunst stars alongside Wagner Moura, Stephen McKinley Henderson and Cailee Spaeny, the Venice Volpi Cup-winning lead in A24’s Priscilla. A24 will produce with DNA and Gregory Goodman.


FilmNation will be talking up Halle Berry psychological thriller The Process, about a married couple’s divergent responses to a self‑help weekend seminar; Berry was attached before the SAG-AFTRA strike began in July. Tara Miele will direct, and Verve Ventures and WME Independent represent US rights. Novocaine marks the first production from Film­Nation’s Infrared label, set up to finance and produce potential franchises. Jack Quaid (Oppenheimer) stars as a man who feels no physical pain and must rescue his love. Dan Berk and Robert Olsen will direct the film, which has a SAG-­AFTRA interim agreement. CAA Media Finance, UTA Independent Film Group and FilmNation Entertainment handle US sales.


AGC International will kick off talks on SXSW premiere and Sitges best screenplay winner Late Night With The Devil from Image Nation Abu Dhabi and Spooky Pictures. Australian brothers Cameron and Colin Cairnes directed the 1977-set tale of a late-night talk show that unexpectedly unleashes evil into the nation’s living rooms; David Dastmalchian stars. Umbrella Maslow Ahi is distributing in Australia and New Zealand, and Cinetic represents US rights. Also on the AGC slate is Tribeca documentary Transition, in which trans co-director Jordan Bryon embeds with the Taliban.


Lionsgate International will launch sales on Now You See Me 3, the latest in the heist franchise with Ruben Fleischer (Venom, Zombieland) directing. Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson and Morgan Freeman reprise their roles. The company also has Lovecraft Country writer Misha Green’s feature directing debut, thriller Sunflower, which will star Jurnee Smollett and Isabel May in the story of two women trapped by a deranged professor on a remote sunflower farm. Production is being fast-tracked for a Q1 2024 start.


XYZ Films has worldwide rights to Sentient Entertainment’s sharks-versus-orcas thriller Alphas starring Martin Henderson. Liam O’Donnell directs the Australia-­­UK co-production, which is earmarked to begin shooting in Australia in early 2024. The slate also includes international rights on SXSW award-winning golf drama The Long Game, starring Dennis Quaid and Jay Hernandez.


Voltage Pictures has worldwide rights excluding Italy on Here Now by Gabriele Muccino (The Pursuit Of Happyness), about a California teen whose Sicilian vacation takes a wrong turn when she falls for a local who pulls her into the criminal underworld. Elena Kampouris and Saul Nanni star. Rai Cinema distributes in Italy. The film is in production.


Neon’s new sales division is talking up Ava DuVernay’s Venice premiere Origin, inspired by the life and work of Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson. Aunjanue Ellis and Jon Bernthal star. The slate includes David Robert Mitchell’s They Follow, his sequel to 2014 horror hit It Follows, with Maika Monroe reprising her role.


Arclight Films has Simmons/Hamilton Productions’ survival thriller Deep Water, directed by Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger), about inter­national passengers whose plane makes an emergency landing in shark-­infested waters. The film is in pre-­production. Meanwhile Stephen Cookson’s comedy Arthur’s Whiskey is screening in the market and stars Diane Keaton, Patricia Hodge and Lulu.


Highland Film Group hosts the market screening premiere of Sleeping Dogs, Adam Cooper’s police crime thriller starring Russell Crowe, Karen Gillan and Tommy Flanagan. Also screening is Land Of Bad, another Crowe-starrer, with Liam Hemsworth, about an Air Force drone operator who must help an imperilled Delta Force mission. Will Eubank directed.


Cinema Management Group will be talking up a 20th anniversary slate that includes family animations Charlie The Wonderdog from Canada’s ICON Creative Studio, which is scheduled for delivery in the second quarter of 2025 and tells of a youngster and his pet who thwart a sinister cat’s plans; and recently completed Noah’s Ark from Brazil’s Gullane.


Toronto-based genre specialist Raven Banner arrives with action comedy western Paradise, Max Isaacson’s tale of Ella Patchet, a rebellious punk and the fastest gun around, who investigates the death of her sheriff father. Patricia Allison, Tate Donovan and Tia Carrere star. The film is in post.


Yellow Veil arrives with worldwide rights to Amanda Kramer’s cyberspace cinema documentary So Unreal, narrated by Blondie singer Debbie Harry. The feature puts cyberspace cinema from 1981-2001 under the spotlight, including The Matrix, Tron, Tetsuo and eXistenZ.


Palisades Park Pictures will be talking up romantic comedy That’s Amore!, which is in pre-production and stars John Travolta, Katherine Heigl and Christopher Walken. The slate also includes the completed Neil Marshall action thriller Duchess, starring Charlotte Kirk (The Reckoning) in the story of a petty crook who works her way up the Tenerife diamond-smuggling circuit.


The Fortitude International slate includes Maven Screen Media’s sci-fi Conception starring Keira Knightley and set in a dystopian future where the UK government controls children. Camille Griffin will direct and CAA and Range Media Partners represent US rights. Hero Fiennes Tiffin stars in Declan O’Dwyer’s Irish thriller Mr. Smith, scheduled to shoot in Ireland in February 2024.


Visit Films will be talking up Martin Rejtman’s absurdist comedy and San Sebastian selection The Practice starring Esteban Bigliardi (Argentina’s Oscar submission The Delinquents) as a beleaguered yoga instructor.


Magnolia Pictures International brings to AFM Selman Nacar’s Hesitation Wound, the Venice Horizons selection and Zurich Film Festival feature film competition winner starring Tülin Özen as a lawyer whose morality is put to the test. North American rights are available.


The Exchange brings Worldbreaker, Brad Anderson’s action sci-fi about a man and his daughter fighting to survive as the planet’s climate crisis unleashes new creatures. The slate also includes Fresh Kills, Jennifer Esposito’s Tribeca Film Festival entry and feature directing debut about the women of the Staten Island mob.


FilmSharks from Buenos Aires arrives with The Quiet Maid (aka Calladita), a social satire from Miguel Faus about a Colombian maid working in a Costa Brava mansion. The Steven Soderbergh presentation will premiere at Tallinn Black Nights and was funded by NFTs. Teemu Nikki’s Finnish Locarno premiere Snot & Splash: The Mystery Of Disappearing Holes is a fantasy adventure about two brothers on a mission to save the planet.


VMI Worldwide holds international rights on two completed titles. Finn Taylor’s Second World War thriller Liberation tells the true story of Auschwitz survivor Herbert Heller and stars Elsie Fisher and Stephen Lang. Nicholas Tomnay’s thriller What You Wish For stars Nick Stahl as a chef with gambling problems who learns the truth about his new employer.


EST N8 arrives with the drama Afterglows, about a taxi driver haunted by hallucinations after the suicide of his wife, a famous singer. Taichi Kimura directed the completed film, which opened in Japan this year and stars Kentez Asaka.


Film Mode Entertainment introduces James Rowe’s completed thriller Break­water starring Dermot Mulroney, Mena Suvari and Darren Mann about an inmate’s devious plan to locate his long-lost daughter. Mulroney also stars alongside Shane West and Willa Holland in Matthew Yerby’s completed thriller She’s A Criminal (aka The Dirty South), in which a bartender resorts to criminal enterprises to save the family bar.


Motion Picture Exchange arrives with worldwide sales on Alexandra Boyd’s behind-the-scenes documentary Ship Of Dreams: Titanic Movie Diaries, featuring actors from James Cameron’s 1997 global smash Titanic. The production from New Thirty Pictures, CF/40 Entertainment and Great View Productions reveals anecdotes and tales of auditions, experiences and life on set with Cameron and Titanic leads Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.


Blue Fox Entertainment has Site, a sci-fi thriller about a family man haunted by visions of the past after an encounter at an abandoned government test site. Jake McLaughlin, Theo Rossi and Arielle Kebbel star and Jason Eric Perlman directs; the film is in post. The slate also includes worldwide sales and first footage on Bronte Pictures’ shark thriller Fear Below from Matthew Holmes. Premiere Entertainment Group holds worldwide rights to Plan B, a comedy from Brandon Tamburri that stars Jamie Lee, Jon Heder, Shannon Elizabeth and Tom Berenger. Joke Zero and Future Proof Films’ project follows a pregnant woman who sleeps with a businessman to pass off the baby as his after a one-night stand with her neighbour.


Great Escape will be talking to buyers about Justin Kelly’s erotic thriller The Bird And The Bee, which stars Alicia Silverstone and Karl Glusman in the story of an executive who fights back against an obsessive, scorned lover. The production wrapped principal photography after securing a SAG-AFTRA interim agreement to shoot in New York; it also filmed in Paris.


Jackrabbit Media has Story­board Entertainment’s family adventure Treasure Trackers from Drew Garcia and Nathan Garcia, in which misfit middle-schoolers uncover a Halloween curse. The slate also includes 5 Outlaws starring Eric Roberts, about bandits searching for the person who stole their loot. Joey Palmroos and Austen Paul direct the film, which is in post.


Myriad Pictures will be talking to buyers about Bob Trevino Likes It, the story of a chance friendship between an estranged young woman and a man who shares her father’s name. John Leguizamo, French Stewart and Barbie Ferreira star. Myriad also has Lowell Dean’s Die Alone, a horror thriller with Carrie-­Anne Moss and Frank Grillo. Both titles are in post.


Montreal-based h264 will continue talks on cyber thriller Red Rooms, Pascal Plante’s Fantasia International Film Festival winner and recent BFI London and Busan film festivals selection starring Juliette Gariépy and Maxwell McCabe-­Lokos.


Bleiberg Entertainment has Justin Denton’s horror thriller The Curse Of The Sin Eater, which is in post and tells of an impoverished construction worker who makes an ill-fated deal with a dying mogul. Chaya Supannarat’s action title Bangkok Dog follows an agent who goes undercover in Thailand to bring down a crime lord and loses himself in the process.


MPI Media Group brings Faceless After Dark, Raymond Wood’s thriller from RCR Video about the star of a killer clown movie held hostage by a fan hell-bent on recreating the film’s plot. Jenna Kanell, Danny Kang and Danielle Lyn star in the recent UK FrightFest premiere.


Studio Dome has action comedy Zombie Plane, which shot earlier this year in Australia with the support of Screen Australia and stars Sophie Monk. Celebrity cameos on the Radioactive Pictures (Australia) and Entertainment Squad (US) film include Chuck Norris and Vanilla Ice. Lav Bodnaruk and Michael Mier directed. The roster also includes Oldenburg and Dublin film festivals drama The Black Guelph about generational trauma.


Pinnacle Peak Pictures’ slate includes The Blind, which is on release in select territories and has grossed more than $15m worldwide. It tells the true-life tale of Duck Dynasty reality TV star Phil Robertson, whose demons threatened to tear apart his family. Aron von Andrian stars alongside Amelia Eve.


Red Sea Media has boarded international sales rights to Spectre­Vision co-founder Josh Waller’s thriller Lone, about a grieving samurai who fights back against his cannibal captors on a remote island. Rising Japanese star Shogen (Detective Chinatown 3, Gensan Punch) stars; the film is in post.


Epic Media Group arrives with worldwide rights to Robbie Davidson’s completed horror comedy Dick Dynamite 1944 starring Gary Snars as the only man who can stop a Nazi plan to turn New Yorkers into zombies. Also on the slate is Amanda Raymond’s Stinky Summer, which is in post and stars Francesca Capaldi as a shy girl who must thwart a villain’s plan to steal her father’s app before its launch.


The Coven arrives with a remake of 1987 cult classic Street Trash, and launches sales on Terrifier 3, which has secured an interim agreement ahead of a planned 2024 release through Cineverse Corp.


Mind The Gap Productions And Sales launches talks on recently completed UK-Greece thriller The Eye, starring Indian superstar Shruti Haasan as a woman who uses dark forces to bring her husband back to life. It is produced by Argonauts Productions, Greenshoot and Media Finance Capital.


RTG Features will be talking up Christopher Makoto Yogi’s documentary Merv And The Miracles about the legendary college basketball game between underdog Chaminade and number-one ranked Virginia in 1982. Currently in production.

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