Neon has landed the first major acquisition out of the fall festivals, as the shingled has picked up the worldwide distribution rights to Ava DuVernay’s next film, “Origin.” The film makes its world premiere tomorrow in competition at the Venice Film Festival and, just over the weekend, was added to the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival lineup.
Neon is planning a theatrical release for later this year. The distributor has also released the first teaser for the film, which you can watch below.
Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor stars in “Origin” as Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson, who wrote the seminal non-fiction book “Caste: The Origin of Our Discontents.” The book compares racism in America to the caste systems of both India and Nazi Germany and examines how hierarchy, inclusion, and exclusion have shaped our society’s views on race. The film stars Ellis-Taylor as Wilkerson as she grapples with a personal tragedy and sets herself on the path to write the book, finding beauty and bravery along the way.
Jon Bernthal, Niecy Nash-Betts, Vera Farmiga, Audra McDonald, Nick Offerman, Blair Underwood, Finn Wittrock, Jasmine Cephas-Jones, and Connie Nielsen also star in the film, which was written, directed, and produced by DuVernay through her ARRAY Filmworks banner. Paul Garnes also produced.
Reviews haven’t dropped for the film just yet, but it’s already generating buzz at the fest, as DuVernay is the first African American woman in Venice’s history to have a film in competition at Venice across its 80-year history.
“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.’ I’m truly humbled that it is this movie which has finally brought us together,” Neon CEO and founder Tom Quinn said in an official statement. “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 groundbreaking and essential filmmakers of her generation.”
The fall festivals are rife with other Neon releases, including Michael Mann’s “Ferrari” that already played at Venice, and Kitty Green’s “The Royal Hotel” starring Julia Garner, which premiered at Telluride. Neon is also playing at Telluride and TIFF some of its Cannes acquisitions, including “Anatomy of a Fall,” “La Chimera,” “Perfect Days,” and “Robot Dreams.”
DuVernay’s last feature was 2018’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” but she also directed all the episodes of the acclaimed “When They See Us” limited series, which was nominated for 16 Emmys in 2019.
The deal was negotiated by Tom Quinn for NEON with CAA Media Finance on behalf of the filmmakers.