In today’s film news roundup, Kumail Nanjiani has been cast as a journalist, Daisy Ridley boards Imax’s “Asteroid Hunters,” “Best Summer Ever” leads off a festival, Shelley Duvall gets an honor and “Dark Harvest” lands at MGM.

PROJECT LAUNCH

Kumail Nanjiani will star in the political thriller “The Independent,” which is being introduced to buyers by The Exchange at the Berlin Film Festival.

He will portray a journalist who uncovers a conspiracy, which places the fate of the election in his hands with America’s first viable independent presidential candidate poised for victory.

“Kumail is a great actor with global recognition and he serves as the cornerstone for an incredible ensemble cast that we are excited to announce shortly,” said Brian O’Shea of The Exchange.

Amy Rice, who was nominated for an Emmy for “By the People: The Election of Barack Obama,” is directing “The Independent” from a script by Evan Parter.

Parter is also set to produce the film with Sam Bisbee and Theodora Dunlap of Park Pictures and Anonymous Content’s Ryan Cunningham. The Exchange is financing. Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon were nominated for an Academy Award for original screenplay in 2018 for “The Big Sick.”

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‘ASTEROID HUNTERS’

“Star Wars” actor Daisy Ridley will narrate Imax’s educational film, “Asteroid Hunters,” which will be released starting on April 17.

Written and produced by Phil Groves and directed by W.D. Hogan, the film introduces asteroid scientists and reveals the cutting-edge tools and techniques they use to detect and track asteroids. It was shot with Imax cameras.

“I am so very excited to work with Imax to continue transporting audiences into space,” said Ridley. “‘Asteroid Hunters’ showcases the brilliant minds of scientists and true planetary defenders working to protect our world and reminding us what our people are capable of when united by a common goal.”

FILM FESTIVALS

“Best Summer Ever” has been selected as the opening night film on March 31 for the 12th annual ReelAbilities Film Festival in New York City.

The film, which will premiere at SXSW, is a take on the teen musical genre featuring eight original songs and a cast and crew of people with and without disabilities. Cast includes Shannon DeVido, Rickey Wilson Jr., MuMu, Jacob Waltuck, Emily Kranking, Bradford Hayes, Eileen Grubba, Holly Palmer, Ajani A.J. Murray, and Lawrence Carter-Long.

The closing night film on April 6 will be Javier Fesser’s Spanish-language film “Champions”(“Campeones”). The comedy tells the story of a basketball coach with a bad attitude, who, after a traffic accident, is sentenced to community service and ordered by the court to train a team of players with disabilities who have never touched a ball before.

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The Austin Film Society will honor Grammy Award winner Erykah Badu as an inductee into the Texas Film Hall of Fame with the Soundtrack Award on March 12.

The festival will honor Robert Altman’s 1970 film “Brewster McCloud” with the Star of Texas Award, accepted by the film’s actors Shelley Duvall and Michael Murphy. Duvall, who was not an actor, was “street cast” by Altman to star in the film opposite Murphy, Bud Cort, Stacey Keach and Sally Kellerman. Murphy appeared in more Robert Altman movies than any other actors.

Duvall will also be inducted into the Texas Film Hall of Fame at the event at Austin Studios.

MGM PROJECT

MGM has picked up feature rights to horror project “Dark Harvest,” which was put into turnaround at New Regency.

David Slade, director of “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,” is attached to direct with Matt Tolmach and David Manpearl producing. Michael Gilio is writing the “Dark Harvest” script, based on the 2006 novel by Norman Partridge.

“Dark Harvest” is set during Halloween in 1963 and centers on the supernatural October Boy, who arises from the cornfields near a small Midwestern town with a  butcher knife in his hand. The news was first reported by Deadline.

https://variety.com/2020/film/news/kumail-nanjiani-political-thriller-the-independent-1203511153/