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Joe Wright to Direct Anna Karenina

Posted September 08, 2011

Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Aaron Johnson to star in Tom Stoppard-scripted adaptation

Joe Wright will direct the epic romance Anna Karenina, adapted from Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel by Academy Award winner Tom Stoppard (Shakespeare in Love). The Working Title Films production will commence filming in the U.K. and Russia this month. Focus Features will distribute the movie domestically, and Universal Pictures International (UPI) will distribute the movie internationally, in the second half of 2012.

Anna Karenina marks Mr. Wright’s third Working Title movie with Focus and UPI, following the award-winning boxoffice successes Pride & Prejudice and Atonement. Also for Working Title and UPI, he directed The Soloist; also for Focus, he most recently directed the hit adventure thriller Hanna.

Working Title co-chairs Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner are producing Anna Karenina with Paul Webster; the three were Academy Award nominees as the producers of Mr. Wright’s Best Picture-nominated Atonement. Also with Focus, Mr. Webster was a Golden Globe Award nominee as producer of Eastern Promises.

Keira Knightley, Academy Award-nominated for Pride & Prejudice, will star as Anna Karenina in her third collaboration with Mr. Wright. Ms. Knightley will be starring opposite two-time Academy Award nominee Jude Law, as Anna’s husband Aleksei Karenin; and Aaron Johnson (Nowhere Boy), as Count Vronsky. Rounding out the cast will be Kelly Macdonald (Boardwalk Empire), Matthew Macfadyen (Pride & Prejudice), Domhnall Gleeson (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), Alicia Vikander (The Seventh Son), two-time Academy Award nominee Emily Watson, Olivia Williams (Hanna), and Ruth Wilson (Luther).

Also reteaming with Mr. Wright on Anna Karenina are Academy Award-winning composer Dario Marianelli, twice-Academy Award-nominated costume designer Jacqueline Durran, and three-time Academy Award-nominated production designer Sarah Greenwood. The cinematographer will be Academy Award winner Philippe Rousselot. Melanie Ann Oliver (Focus’ Jane Eyre) will edit the feature. Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui will be the choreographer on the movie.

The story unfolds in its original late-19th-century Russia high-society setting and powerfully explores the capacity for love that surges through the human heart, from the passion between adulterers to the bond between a mother and her children. As Anna (Ms. Knightley) questions her happiness, change comes to her family, friends, and community.

Focus Features CEO James Schamus said, “Joe Wright is a master filmmaker, and with Tom Stoppard’s brilliant screenplay this Anna Karenina will be full of both pageantry and emotion. To realize Joe’s vision, we have the perfect producing partners in Working Title and Paul Webster, whose acumen is unsurpassed. With Keira Knightley playing this iconic role and a splendid cast supporting her, today’s moviegoers will be drawn to this powerful story.”

Mr. Bevan commented, “Everyone at Working Title is proud to affirm a longtime collaboration with Joe Wright through this, our fourth picture together. That we are able to re-convene cast and crew from Pride & Prejudice and Atonement makes it all the more exciting. We anticipate that this will be a defining screen version of Anna Karenina.”

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Public Selects Official Movie Poster for PARIAH

Posted September 06, 2011

PARIAH is a debut feature from writer/director Dee Rees, executive-produced by Spike Lee. Release date for movie also set.

Following an online outreach, Focus Features has revealed the moviegoing public’s choice of the official theatrical release poster for the contemporary drama Pariah, written and directed by Dee Rees.

Pariah world-premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, where it was honored with the Excellence in Cinematography Award (Bradford Young). Spike Lee is among the feature’s executive producers. Pariah is produced by Nekisa Cooper.

With the public having now selected the Pariah one-sheet, Focus is also announcing the movie’s theatrical release information. Pariah will open in exclusive engagements in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco on Sunday, December 25th; and will expand to additional cities throughout the winter. The movie will also screen on Monday, September 12th at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Pariah has already received critical acclaim. A.O. Scott of The New York Times wrote, “To watch Adepero Oduye…is to experience the thrill of discovery.” Peter Travers of Rolling Stone cited “Dee Rees’ wonderful Pariah” as one of his “personal faves” at Sundance.

A rousing success at its Sundance world premiere, this deeply felt human drama is the feature debut for Ms. Rees. Adepero Oduye portrays Alike (pronounced “ah-lee-kay”), a 17-year-old African-American woman who lives with her parents (Kim Wayans and Charles Parnell) and younger sister (Sahra Mellesse) in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood. A gifted student, Alike is quietly but firmly embracing her identity as a lesbian. With the support of her best friend Laura (Pernell Walker), she is especially eager to find a girlfriend. Wondering how much she can confide in her family, Alike strives to get through adolescence with grace, humor, and tenacity.

Focus Features vice president, new media Nicole Butte commented, “Focus and the Pariah filmmakers wanted to give those filmgoers who are looking forward to Pariah a voice, and to invite them into the creative process. We’re pleased to announce that the poster the public voted for – out of five contenders – is ‘Subway.’ It will now go out online and into theaters as our official one-sheet poster for the movie’s winter release.”

Ms. Rees added, “When Focus came to Nekisa and me with the five potential posters, we were hard-pressed to pick a favorite. Since we made Pariah to open up a dialogue with everybody, it was ideal that people got to make their voices heard and choose our one-sheet. I’m looking forward to keeping the conversation going with the movie’s release.”

The runner-up posters to “Subway” were “Rooftop,” “Profile,” “Brush Stroke,” and “Title Block.” Voting polls opened in July exclusively through the movie’s official Facebook page,, and closed in August.

In addition to Mr. Lee, the executive producers of Pariah are Jeff Robinson, Sam Martin, Mary Jane Skalski, Susan Lewis, Ann Bradley, Stefan Nowicki, Benjamin Weber, Joey Carey, Julie Parker Benello, Judith Hefland, Wendy Ettinger, Douglas A. Eisenberg, Matthew J. Simon, and Jeanine McLean.



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