By Tammy Reese
Award-winning studio NEON has acquired Oscar®- nominee Ava DuVernay’s Origin, in advance of its world premiere tomorrow in competition at the Venice Film Festival. The film will also have a gala screening at the Toronto International Film Festival and stars 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.
NEON, which acquired the worldwide rights in a competitive bid, will release the film in theaters nationwide later this year. Breaking ground as the first African-American woman director in competition in Venice Film Festival’s eighty-year history, DuVernay wrote, produced and directed Origin, which is inspired by the remarkable life and work of Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson as she pens her seminal book, Caste: The Origin of Our Discontents.
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. Paul Garnes and DuVernay produced Origin under her ARRAY Filmworks banner. In addition to DuVernay and Garnes, the team of artists behind Origin was led by 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.
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NEON CEO and Founder Tom Quinn said: “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. 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.” DuVernay made history as the first Black woman to direct a film nominated for the Academy Award® for Best Picture with Selma, chronicling Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s visionary leadership during the landmark 1965 civil right marches.
She was nominated for the Best Documentary Feature Oscar® for 13th, her in- depth look at the U.S. prison system and how it reveals the nation’s history of racial inequality. Her acclaimed limited series “When They See Us,” for which she directed all episodes, was nominated for 16 Emmys® in 2019. She was the first African American woman to win Sundance’s Best Director Award in 2012 with her second feature, Middle of Nowhere.
NEON is making waves in Venice following the world premiere of Michael Mann’s Ferrari, starring Adam Driver, Penelope Cruz, Shailene Woodley, Patrick Dempsey, and Jack O’Connell, which they will release in theaters on Christmas Day. The studio’s Telluride and TIFF line-up includes Kitty Green’s The Royal Hotel starring Julia Garner; Justine Triet’s Anatomy of a Fall; Alice Rohrwacher’s La Chimera; Wim Wenders’ Perfect Days which was recently selected as Japan’s entry for Best International Film; and Robot Dreams from Pablo Berger. This past awards season, NEON received 6 Oscar® nominations between Ruben Östlund’s Triangle of Sadness, The Quiet Girl and the acclaimed documentaries All the Beauty and the Bloodshed and Fire of Love. The studio has also won four consecutive Palme d’Or awards at the Cannes Film Festival with Parasite (2019); Titane (2021); Triangle of Sadness (2022); and Anatomy of a Fall (2023).
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Tammy Reese began her career as a theater actress performing in 60 live stage shows a year with The Media Unit TV and Stage Production Company. She also directed the weekly live TV show Rough Times Live.
Eventually, she went to Empire State College to obtain her degree in media studies. After graduation, she did more theater and wrote and produced her own videos to spread awareness on social issues through the arts.
Tammy is an award-winning journalist and is best known for her legendary interviews with Sharon Stone, Angela Bassett, Sigourney Weaver, Phylicia Rashad, Billy Porter, Luke Evans, Geena Davis, Morris Chestnut, Essie Davis, Lauren Cohan, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Michael James Shaw, Ross Marquand, Merritt Wever, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Giancarlo Esposito, Meagan Good, Jennifer Connelly, Laurence Fishburne, Vivica A. Fox, Omar Epps, Joseph Sikora, Nelly, Ryan Coogler, Carmen Electra, Tom Arnold, Michole Briana White, and many more.
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