Anna Schafer (Elizabeth Blue) has been tapped to star in Whose Child, a socially conscious film about undetected domestic child abuse from director Roxy Shih and producer Autumn Federici. The pic, which is slated to shoot in Los Angeles this fall with plans for a theatrical release, follows a woman (Schafer) working in public relations at a children’s hospital who gets her life turned around when she is assigned to be an “Auntie” for a young boy named Billy. Billy’s case is severe; he’s suffering from heavy head trauma, is in a coma, and is barely hanging on to life. When she realizes that the incident was a domestic abuse case, she takes matters into her own hands to overturn a system that would have otherwise failed him. Federici is producing under The Ninth House banner with partner Jake Helgren. Shih and Federici first worked together on Amazon’s sci-fi horror anthology series Dark/Web, which recently earned seven Daytime Emmy nominations. Shih is repped by Abrams Artists Agency and manager Seth Nagel, while Schafer is with Zero Gravity Management.
American Black Film Festival (ABFF) founders Jeff and Nicole Friday have launched Film Life Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to spearheading diversity, inclusion and social justice initiatives, with Sony Pictures Entertainment as the first major donor. The aim is to bring people of different backgrounds, cultures and perspectives closer together to tackle important social issues and to spark engagement between people of African descent and the broader society. Social Justice Now Film Festival, which will become the foundation’s annual signature initiative, is a combination of online and live-streamed events. Set to take place October 15-19 in the days leading up to the 2020 presidential election, the first SJNFF will showcase content that confronts racism and heightens awareness of the social and economic issues that negatively affect people of color in the United States. The festival will also use its platform to push for voter registration and turnout across the country. FLF also serves as the Fridays’ on-going commitment to education and professional development, providing scholarships for college students of African descent with an interest in pursuing executive careers in film, television and media. Other initiatives will include a film finishing fund and an arts exchange program to encourage creative collaborations between filmmakers from the U.S. and abroad.
Gravitas Ventures has obtained worldwide distribution rights to the coming-of-age sports film, Odd Man Rush, and has slotted a September 1 release date. Pacific Northwest Pictures will release the film in Canada the same day. Based on Bill Keenan’s bestselling memoir of the same name, the film stars Jack Mulhern (The Society), Dylan Playfair (Letterkenny), Elektra Jannson Kilbey (Tales from The Loop), Trevor Gretzky (Mile 22) (son of famed hockey star Wayne Gretzky), and Alexa Lemieux (daughter of hockey legend Mario Lemieux). Directed by Doug Dearth, the pic follows Harvard hockey’s Bobby Sanders (Mulhern) as he lands in Sweden’s minor professional leagues. His relationship with the girl at the local market (Kilbey) forces him to confront the reality of his childhood NHL dream before the Hockey Gods intervene. Dearth and Bill Keenan wrote the screenplay, which was produced by Slater Brothers Entertainment.