Melrose Place alum Daphne Zuniga is set to mark her feature directorial debut with The Protegé, an indie thriller starring Jeanette Sousa (American Housewife), Breanne Hill (Frontier), Keenan Tracey (Bates Motel), and Philip Boyd (The Have and Have Nots). It follows Amanda Birch (Sousa) who, after three years of estrangement from her family, returns to reconnect with her sister Lauren, the manager of a beloved holistic studio. Upon her return, things only get worse when her sister Lauren mysteriously dies days later. Soon, the entire family is suspected in a murder investigation as it becomes clear that Lauren’s death was no accident. Amanda leads an investigation of her own to find out who’s responsible for her sister’s murder. Nicole Schubert and Blaine Chiappetta penned the screenplay which was produced by Autumn Federici and Anthony Melillo. Marvista Entertainment’s Margret H. Huddleston is executive producer. Zuniga is repped by AKA Talent Agency and Untitled.
Gravitas Ventures has secured the U.S. distribution rights to The Divorce Party, which will get a day-and-date release on February 8. The pic marks the directorial feature debut of Will Thompson and stars Thomas Cocquerel, Matilda Lutz, and Claire Holt. The story follows a newly dumped divorcee (Cocquerel) who hires his former wedding planner (Lutz) to throw a “divorce party” celebrating his newfound singledom after being left by his wife (Holt). Comedian Max Silvestri, Katrina Bowden, Will Brittain, Todd Lasance, Tom Wright, and James Dumont co-star. Sunil Perkash, Ryan Johnson, Martin Sprock, and Paresh Ghelani produced the pic which was financed through Sprockerfeller Pictures and 2020 Productions. The deal was negotiated by The Solution Entertainment Group, LLC on behalf of the filmmakers and Tony Piantedosi on behalf of Gravitas Ventures
Fear The Walking Dead actor Ramses Jimenez has joined the John Leguizamo-directed film, Critical Thinking, which Leguizamo is also starring in along with Jorge Lendeborg Jr. and Emmy nominee Michael K. Williams. Set in 98′, the film is based on a true story of how a group of disparate kids from a working-class barrio west of downtown Miami are brought together by their inspirational chess coach, Mario Martinez (Leguizamo), at Miami Jackson High School to become the first inner city school to win the U.S. National Chess Championship. Jimenez, who also recurred in the Starz LatinX series, Vida, will play Andre, a powerful local drug kingpin, who is very quick to pull the trigger when something bothers him on his streets. Scott Rosenfelt is producing the project while Carla Berkowitz and Harvey Chaplin are executive producers.