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Neon has acquired worldwide rights for Ava DuVernay’s Origin ahead of its world premiere in Competition at the Venice Film Festival on Wednesday (September 6).
The studio said it had secured the rights with a competitive bid and is planning a release for late 2023.
DuVernay will make history in Venice as the first African-American woman director to premiere a film in competition in the festival’s 80-year history.
She wrote, produced and directed the biopic, which is inspired by the life and work of Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson, following her life as she pens her seminal book, Caste: The Origin of Our Discontents.
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While grappling with tremendous personal tragedy, Isabel sets herself on a path of global investigation and discovery. Despite the colossal scope of her project, she finds beauty and bravery while crafting one of the defining American books of our time.
The cast features Oscar nominee Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, Jon Bernthal, Niecy Nash-Betts, Vera Farmiga, Audra McDonald, Nick Offerman, Blair Underwood, Finn Wittrock, Jasmine Cephas-Jones and Connie Nielsen.
“I’ve known Ava for a long time and my love and admiration for her and her work goes back further, even before Middle of Nowhere,” said Neon CEO and Founder Tom Quinn.
“I’m truly humbled that it is this movie which has finally brought us together. She has always been a gifted storyteller, and her mastery of her craft shines through in this deeply personal and inspired adaptation of Isabel Wilkerson’s book, and dramatization of her remarkable life. Origin proves once again that Ava remains one of the most ground-breaking and essential filmmakers of her generation.”
Paul Garnes and DuVernay produced Origin under her ARRAY Filmworks banner.
The team of artists also included cinematographer Matthew J. Lloyd, ASC, production designer Ina Mayhew, editor Spencer Averick A.C.E, composer Kris Bowers, costume designer Dominique Dawson and casting director Aisha Coley.
The deal was negotiated by Tom Quinn for Neon with CAA Media Finance on behalf of the filmmakers.
Talking of her experience on the film, DuVernay said in a statement: “Sometimes beauty doesn’t look beautiful. Sometimes beauty is a truth revealed, a lesson learned. My experience making Origin was an exquisite, complicated journey that revealed its beauty in both good times and challenging times. This film transformed how I think about my work and my life, about love and being.
“The collaboration with an actor as gifted and passionate as Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor was an indescribable gift. The daily camaraderie of my producing partner Paul Garnes, cinematographer Matt Lloyd, and editor Spencer Averick was a source of abundant joy. All in all, the story of making this film mirrors the journey of the main character within the film. Isabel Wilkerson finds beauty in harnessing bravery, ignoring naysayers and turning trauma into triumph. Gratefully, I did too.”
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