Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions Get U.S. and Canadian Rights To Simien's 'Dear White People'

** Sundance Film Festival prize winner slated for fall 2014 release**

(Los Angeles, March 19)  – Ahead of two sold-out shows at New Directors/New Films this weekend, Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions have acquired all U.S. and Canadian rights to Justin Simien’s provocative and timely comedy DEAR WHITE PEOPLE.   Winner of the Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Simien’s debut feature is a satirical look at campus life and racial politics at a fictional Ivy League college, and pays homage to such groundbreaking films as Spike Lee’s School Daze and Robert Townsend’s Hollywood Shuffle.  In his praise of Simien, the New York Times’ A.O. Scott wrote today, “Seeming to draw equal measures of inspiration from Whit Stillman and Spike Lee, but with his own tart, elegant sensibility very much in control, Mr. Simien evokes familiar campus stereotypes only to smash them and rearrange the pieces.”

DEAR WHITE PEOPLE follows the stories of four black students at Winchester University, where a riot breaks out over a popular 'African American' themed party thrown by a white fraternity.  With tongue planted firmly in cheek, the film explores racial identity in 'post-racial' America while weaving a universal story of forging one's unique path in the world.
Written and directed by Justin Simien, DEAR WHITE PEOPLE was produced by Effie T. Brown (Duly Noted Inc) and Julia Lebedev (Code Red Productions), executive produced by Stephanie Allain (Homegrown Pictures) and Leonid Lebedev, with Simien, Angel Lopez, Ann Le and Lena Waithe as producers.   Tyler James Williams (Everybody Hates Chris), Tessa Thompson (Veronica Mars), Teyonah Parris (Mad Men), and Brandon P Bell (Hollywood Heights) lead the ensemble cast of newcomers.  

“Justin Simien is a funny, fresh and current voice with his finger on the Millennials’ pulse,” said Cohen.  “His crowd-pleasing DEAR WHITE PEOPLE took Sundance by storm, with its sly and extremely topical satire sparking conversations about our supposed ‘post-racial’, 21st century America.” said Roadside’s Cohen.  

Producer Julia Lebedev said, “We are thrilled to have found our home at Lionsgate and Roadside.  I know they will give the film the attention and support it needs to make a successful launch, ensuring that Justin’s vision has a chance to reach and entertain audiences everywhere."

“This film was truly a labor of love with everyone on our team giving 110%. We have so few films made by people of color and I couldn’t be prouder to have been a part of bringing Justin’s fresh voice to fruition. And now to partner with Lionsgate and Roadside is an exciting next chapter in what I’m sure will be an amazing life for DEAR WHITE PEOPLE,” said producer Effie Brown.

The deal was negotiated by Marc Danon and Jean Chi on behalf of Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions, and by WME Global and attorney Irwin M. Rappaport on behalf of the filmmakers.

Los Angeles based producer Effie T. Brown and her company Duly Noted Inc. were the force behind such critically acclaimed HBO Films as Stranger Inside, Real Women Have Curves and Everyday People. Brown’s film Rocket Science won the Sundance 2007 Grand Jury Prize for Directing and was nominated for Best First Feature, Best Screenplay and Best Actress by the Independent Spirit Awards.  Since then she has produced Polish Bar and The Inheritance, and from 2011to 2013 teamed with Jon Avnet and Rodrigo Garcia to produce WIGS, a brand new original content channel for Google/YOUTUBE. The WIGS channel is currently the number one scripted channel on YOUTUBE.

Code Red Productions is a film financing and production company, founded by Julia Lebedev. Since 2009 Code Red has produced independent films such as The Good Doctor, Honour, and The Prophet.

Homegrown Pictures, Inc. is a film and television production company dedicated to producing the work of writer/directors who create authentic depictions of people of color.  Founded by Stephanie Allain in 2003, Homegrown Pictures has produced several first time directors whose films have been nominated for over 80 awards including Spirit Awards, NAACP Awards and Academy Awards. Films include Hustle & Flow, Something New, Peeples, and Gina Prince Bythewood's upcoming Blackbird.

In its tenth year of operation, ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS films have grossed over $180M and garnered thirteen Academy Award® nominations.  Roadside has released such critical and commercial hits as All Is Lost, Mud, Winter’s Bone, The Cove, Arbitrage, Margin Call and Super-Size Me. Its upcoming slate includes David Gordon Green’s JOE starring Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan; Craig Johnson’s Skeleton Twins, winner of the Sundance Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award, starring Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig; and Anton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man, adapted from John le Carré’s bestseller, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe and Robin Wright.

Lionsgate is a leading global entertainment company with a strong and diversified presence in motion picture production and distribution, television programming and syndication, home entertainment, family entertainment, digital distribution, new channel platforms and international distribution and sales. Lionsgate currently has 34 television shows on 22 networks spanning its primetime production, distribution and syndication businesses, including such critically-acclaimed hits as the multiple Emmy Award-winning Mad Men and Nurse Jackie, the comedy Anger Management, the network series Nashville, the syndication success The Wendy Williams Show and the critically-acclaimed series Orange is the New Black.

Its feature film business has been fueled by such recent successes as the blockbuster first two installments of The Hunger Games franchise, The Hunger Games and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, A Madea Christmas, Now You See Me, Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain, Warm Bodies, The Expendables 2, The Possession, Sinister, Roadside Attractions' Mud and Pantelion Films' breakout hit Instructions Not Included, the highest-grossing Spanish-language film ever released in the U.S.

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