Starz has acquired and set premieres for a half-dozen titles including Geena Davis’ documentary This Changes Everything, two seasons of Idris Elba’s semi-autobiographical family comedy In the Long Run and its holiday special, and the Mel Gibson-Sean Penn movie The Professor and the Madman.
The premium cabler also picked up the Ellen Page-Kate Mara film My Days of Mercy, which bowed at Toronto; the immigration docu The River and the Wall; and true-crime pic Stockholm, which premiered at Tribeca. See descriptions and premiere dates for the projects below.
[“This Changes Everything] eloquently makes the case for the need to improve gender balance, diversity and inclusion onscreen and behind the scenes,” Davis said. “It’s important that industry leaders and the public are aware of the impact the media has as we rally together toward the goal of gender equality.”
Said Elba of the comedy inspired by his experience growing up in east London in the 1980s: “This series is a semi-autobiographical comedy that tackles stereotypes and racial divisions while having a laugh about it. There’s a genuineness to this story with which I hope audiences engage and connect.”
Here are the series premiere dates and descriptions:
The Professor and the Madman, October 5
Tells the unbelievable true story of a murderer confined to an insane asylum and his unlikely bond with a brilliant Oxford professor. Drawn together by the fine line between madness and genius, these remarkable men form an unbreakable friendship in pursuit of changing the course of history. Academy Award winners Sean Penn and Mel Gibson star with Natalie Dormer and Steve Coogan.
The River and the Wall, October 21
Conservation filmmaker Ben Masters, NatGeo Explorer Filipe DeAndrade, ornithologist Heather Mackey, river guide Austin Alvarado and conservationist Jay Kleberg document the borderlands and explore the potential impacts of a wall on the natural environment. They come face-to-face with the human side of the immigration debate and enter uncharted emotional waters as the wilderness gives way to the more populated and heavily trafficked Lower Rio Grande Valley.
In the Long Run
Season 1, November 1; Season 2, December 6; Christmas Special, December 20
Loosely based on actor-writer Idris Elba’s childhood, the series examines the lives of the Easmon family living in London in 1985, led by factory worker Walter (Idris Elba) whose home is turned upside down when his party-loving, responsibility-challenged DJ younger brother arrives from Sierra Leone.
Stockholm, December 14
Based on the absurd but true 1973 bank heist and hostage crisis in which hostages bonded with their captors, giving rise to the term “Stockholm Syndrome,” Stockholm focuses on the relationship between a bank teller and her captor, an unhinged U.S. outlaw, as they try to escape together. A Tribeca Film Festival premiere, Stockholm stars Academy Award nominee Ethan Hawke, Noomi Rapace and Mark Strong.
This Changes Everything, December 16
A Toronto Film Festival premiere, This Changes Everything takes an incisive look at the history, empirical evidence, and systemic forces that foster gender discrimination and reinforce disparity in our culture. Most importantly, the film seeks pathways and solutions from within and outside the industry. The doc features interviews with Geena Davis, Meryl Streep, Natalie Portman, Taraji P. Henson, Reese Witherspoon, Cate Blanchett, Jill Soloway, Shonda Rhimes, Yara Shahidi, Chloe Moretz, Amandla Stenberg, Alan Alda, Sandra Oh, Tiffany Haddish, Anita Hill, Jessica Chastain, Rose McGowan, Judd Apatow, Rosario Dawson and Courtney A. Kemp.
My Days of Mercy, December 27
After a female activist (Ellen Page) protesting the death penalty befriends a woman (Kate Mara) with opposing views, they begin a passionate relationship that tests their beliefs and their values. My Days of Mercy also premiered at the Toronto Film Festival.