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Lucky Us: Ava DuVernay, Gina Prince-Bythewood And Dee Rees Announce New Movies

By Kristy Puchko | Industry | March 23, 2016 |

By Kristy Puchko | Industry | March 23, 2016 |

Consider this a Good Trade News Round-up because three incredibly talented directors have new projects for us to anticipate.

First up, hot off her Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated Bessie, Dee Rees is lining up a star-studded cast for the indie drama Mudbound. Variety reports Garrett Hedlund, Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, and Straight Outta Compton’s breakout Jason Mitchell are all in talks to join the adaptation of Hillary Jordan’s 2008 novel about “a city worker in a WWII-torn country who relocates his family to a failing Mississippi farm and is forced to overcome insurmountable hardships, including his brother’s return from war.” The production is currently on the hunt for distribution.

Next up: The acclaimed writer-director of Love & Basketball, Gina Prince-Bythewood is set to re-team with her Beyond the Lights star Gugu Mbatha-Raw for Fox Searchlight’s An Untamed State. The adaptation of Roxane Gay’s debut novel follows the harrowing story of a Haitian-American woman kidnapped while on vacation. Presumably, Mbatha-Raw will play this abducted woman, who endures torture and rape as her husband rejects ransom demands. According to Deadline, “The novel explores the privilege that made her a target and the strength she must draw on to survive and reclaim her life.” There are few filmmakers we’d trust with such a troubling tale, but Prince-Bythewood is among them.

Prince-Bythewood is also tackling TV with a 10-hour event series called Shots Fired.
The show will explore modern racial tensions in America through the story of how a Tennessee town reacts when a white teen is shot by a black police officer. She’s executive producing the show alongside her husband Reggie Rock for Fox. Sanaa Lathan and Stephan James will front the series as an expert investigator and special prosecutor tasked with digging into the case. Helen Hunt, Richard Dreyfuss, Stephen Moyer, Will Patton, Tristan Wilds, and Aisha Hinds will also co-star.

Lastly, Selma director Ava DuVernay, who’s been succinctly schooling Hollywood on inclusivity, is directing, executive producing, and co-writing (with Michael Starrbury) The Battle of Versailles. The HBO Film will focus on the 1973 Palace of Versailles fashion show that forever changed the fashion industry, putting several black models and designers on the map. For more on the history of this groundbreaking event, go to Deadline.

It seems likely this alluring production will come on the heels of DuVernay’s big Disney adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time. And of course ahead of both, we have her OWN series Queen Sugar to look forward to.

Kristy Puchko lives in perpetual fear that ice cream will become self-aware New York City.

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Kristy Puchko is the film editor of Pajiba. You can follow her on Twitter.