A day after Thursday’s A Day Without Immigrants nationwide observance, Pantelion/Lionsgate’s new release Everybody Loves Somebody puts a spotlight on the bi-cultural Latino experience via romantic comedy, while FilmRise’s From Nowhere even more directly tackles the current experience of immigration by focusing on undocumented Bronx teens.
Also this weekend: Peyton Kennedy stars in IFC Films’ American Fable, opening day and date today, while Riley Keough and Jena Malone are at the center of Strand Releasing’s Lovesong by veteran filmmaker So Yong Kim.
Among other rollouts beginning their runs in limited release are Monument Releasing’s My Name is Emily and Magnet Releasing’s XX.
Everybody Loves Somebody
Director-writer: Catalina Aguilar Mastretta
Cast: Karla Souza, José María Yazpik, Ben O’Toole, K. C. Clyde, Tiaré Scanda Patricia Bernal, Alejandro Camacho
Distributor: Pantelion Films/Lionsgate
Pantelion/Lionsgate’s comedy-romance Everybody Loves Somebody, in English and Spanish, is positioned to appeal to millennials, particularly women, who traverse bi-cultural lives. Pantelion COO Edward Allen noted that there has been a dearth of films that accurately represent newcomers or second and third generation Latinos in America. “That’s the reality of millions of Americans operating in one culture as well as the other,” he explained. “Not many movies have been able to authentically portray that. It’s a great story at its core whether you’re Latino or not and Karla Souza does a great job as the protagonist.”
The feature centers on the young and beautiful Clara Barron (Karla Souza), who on the surface seems to have everything – a great job as an OB-GYN, a nice home in L.A., and a fun-loving Mexican family. But, the one thing Clara doesn’t have figured out is her love life. Pressured by a family wedding in Mexico, Clara asks a co-worker to pose as her boyfriend for the weekend festivities – only to be caught by surprise when her ex-boyfriend — and family favorite — suddenly shows up after disappearing from her life completely. Torn, Clara must decide between going back to the past or opening her heart to unexpected possibilities.
“This is multi-generational, so the whole family can go see the movie together,” said Allen, adding that the family element is a central component for Pantelion’s strategy. “This reflects accurately the reality of the immigrant experience which is a positive one. Latinos bring so much richness to this country and this movie re-enforces that notion. It’s not an immigrant story, but it is seen in subtext.” Allen added that the film was also popular with non-Latino audiences at its showing at the Palm Springs International Film Festival last month.
Pantelion will open Everybody Loves Somebody in more than three hundred locations Friday.
Director-writer: Anne Hamilton
Cast: Peyton Kennedy, Kip Pardue, Richard Schiff, Gavin MacIntosh, Rusty Schwimmer, Zuleikha Robinson, Marci Miller
Distributor: IFC Films
Writer-director Anne Hamilton shared an early draft script of American Fable in 2014 with producer Kishori Rajan after a mutual friend put the two in touch. Rajan was attracted to the story’s rural setting, and “saw it had a lot of potential.” She signed on as producer in 2015 and production began at the end of July of that year.
In American Fable, a dark, dreamlike mystery plays out amidst the expansive farmlands of the American Midwest. With her family’s livelihood imperiled by the farm crisis of the 1980s, eleven-year-old Gitty (Peyton Kennedy) loses herself in a world of fantasy and make-believe. But she stumbles into her own fairytale when she makes a startling discovery: a well-dressed mystery man (Richard Schiff) being held captive in her family’s silo. It’s the beginning of a labyrinthine journey that will turn Gitty’s world upside down and force her to question her loyalty to her own family. The feature debut from director Anne Hamilton unleashes a torrent of gorgeous, stunningly surreal images as it immerses viewers in a child’s imagination.
After searching through several hundred videos, the production cast Peyton Kennedy as Gitty. Financing for the project came via private sources, while a Chicago crew was assembled. American Fable shot in Stockton, Illinois over 29 days.
“It was one of the more memorable shoots I’ve had because it was very rural,” said Rajan. “There was very little internet or cell phone service. We also had animals and children on set — everything they tell you not to do — but we had great connections with local farmers who gave us a lot in terms of [logistics] and use of their property. Our caterers were the local cafe. They hadn’t done that sort of production catering before, but everyone loved the food. And our crew were fantastic.”
Post-production took place in New York and Los Angeles, and American Fable debuted at SXSW. The festival served as a springboard for Anne Hamilton. “When you’re working with a first-time feature filmmaker, there’s a specific process of introducing them to the film world and we were grateful for the reception,” said Mills. “We had five sold out screenings and officially started working with IFC around June and July. We were in talks with them after the festival.”
American Fable will open day and date with theatrical runs in select locations.
Director-writer: Matthew Newton
Cast: Sydni Beaudoin, Helen Beyene, Erica Camarano
FilmRise first caught From Nowhere at the SXSW Film Festival where it debuted last year. The film’s storyline probably couldn’t be more topical given the policies of the new administration, which the company will no doubt emphasize. From Nowhere is actor/filmmaker Matthew Newton’s third directorial.
The feature (pictured above) revolves around three undocumented teenagers — a Dominican girl, an African boy and a Peruvian girl — are just about to graduate high school in the Bronx. Like most teenagers, all they want to do is hang with their friends, fall in love, and figure out where to go to college. But unlike their American classmates, these three live with the threat of being discovered by the authorities and deported. When one of their teachers connects them with a lawyer to help get their papers, the teens start to dig into their family histories to assist their immigration cases. As they continue to deal with the everyday problems of adolescence, the teenagers are forced to confront their past and, at the same time, fight for their future.
“It’s a wonderful story that resonated with us, not just the politics, but the story itself,” said FilmRise’s Jess Mills. “I think it’ll relate to a lot of people and also those who deal with teenagers. Matthew’s filmmaking is great. It’s shot in a way that makes you feel like you’re dealing with real high schoolers and real people. It’s not supposed to be an exaggeration of these realities and that really comes across with the filmmaking and the young cast.”
FilmRise had always eyed a February roll out for From Nowhere. They’re particularly focusing on its initial New York run where the film is set, hoping for a “wallop at the box office.”
“It’s affecting all of America right now — not just in New York — and we hope this will affect the discussion,” added Mills. “We’ve had tastemaker screenings, and have been working with a social media director. We’ve also [tapped] various organizations and politicians in New York to spread the word… It’s a horrible thing that’s happening in the country right now, but we hope people will go out and see this and will relate to it in a personal way.”
From Nowhere opens at Village East in New York and Laemmle Music Hall in L.A. Friday with additional locations set in the coming weeks. It will be available on iTunes March 20.
Director-writer: So Yong Kim
Writer: Bradley Rust Gray
Cast: Riley Keough, Jena Malone, Brooklyn Decker
Distributor: Strand Releasing
Filmmaker So Yong Kim had been concentrating on a different project that centers on an older matriarch who was turning 70, but found it not working. Instead, she began to think about a younger mother character who’s lonely and isolated with a small child while living in a rural area. While mulling over the idea, actress Jena Malone had invited her to see her band play in New York. Later, she asked if she might be interested in working on the project. Kim met Riley Keough on the set of her husband Bradley Rust Gray’s movie Jack & Diane and later gauged her interest in Lovesong. Keough and Kim’s characters are at the center of the feature, which opens Friday.
Lovesong follows Sarah, who is neglected by her husband and embarks on an impromptu road trip with her young daughter and her best friend Mindy. Along the way, the dynamic between the two friends intensifies before circumstances force them apart. Years later, Sarah attempts to rebuild their intimate connection in the days before Mindy’s wedding.
“I saw the film at its premiere in Sundance,” explained Strand Releasing’s Marcus Hu, which picked up the title. “I love all of So’s work and was not disappointed with this one. It is an intimate story that anyone can relate to, [and she] definitely has a following. She’s a world class auteur.”
Strand is working with Refinery 29 in getting word out ahead of its release. The company wanted to time Lovesong’s roll out around Valentine’s Day. The film opens in New York and Los Angeles this weekend and will head out around the country a few weeks following the Oscars.