By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

Plan B, MACRO And Annapurna Producing Coming Of Age Drama On Black, Queer Debate Champion Ryan Wash

PLAN B, MACRO AND ANNAPURNA PARTNER ON UNTITLED RYAN WASH PROJECT

The new project tracks the remarkable journey of black, queer debater Wash

Los Angeles, CA (August 1, 2017) – Plan B Entertainment has partnered with Annapurna and MACRO to tell the true-life story of unlikely debate champion Ryan Wash, it was announced today. Annapurna will distribute the unconventional coming-of-age drama, and, with MACRO, will both co-finance the film and produce the project alongside Plan B and We’re Not Brothers Productions’ Ben Barnz.

Daniel Barnz has been tapped to the direct the currently untitled film and will co-write with Wash, adapting his own story, and Ned Zeman. Wash will also serve as an executive producer on the project.

The film tracks the personal journey of Wash, a queer black debater from Kansas City who won the 2013 Cross Examination Association and National Debate Tournament championships and both challenged and revolutionized the debate establishment itself. He has had a continued impact in the arena, recently coaching the 2017 CEDA and NDT champions.

Plan B recently entered into a first-look deal with Annapurna and have Adam McKay’s biopic CHENEY and an adaptation of James Baldwin’s IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK with recent Oscar-winner Barry Jenkins currently in pre-production.

Wash is represented by Paradigm on behalf of the Gernert Agency. Barnz is repped by WME.

ABOUT PLAN B

Founded in 2002 and headed by Brad Pitt and co-presidents Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, Plan B Entertainment has produced quality, award-winning film and television projects. Having established themselves with critically acclaimed titles including The Departed and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, the company went on to produce Eat Pray Love, the Palm d’Or winning The Tree of Life, the Academy and Golden Globe Award winning 12 Years a Slave and Moonlight, Emmy Award winning The Normal Heart, and the Best Picture Oscar nominated Selmaand The Big Short. Plan B’s recent releases include James Gray’s The Lost City of Z for Amazon, David Michod’s War Machine and Bong Joon Ho’s Okja for Netflix. Annapurna will release their next film, Brad’s Status, written and directed by Mike White, and they are currently in post-production on Felix van Groeningen’s Beautiful Boy. They are also in pre-production on James Gray’s next feature Ad Astra for New Regency and Adam McKay’s next feature Cheney for Annapurna.

ABOUT MACRO

Launched in 2015, MACRO is an innovative media asset holding company founded by Charles D. King.  The disruptive entertainment company is focused on premium content creation, distribution and engagement for African American, Latino and multicultural (ALM) audiences.  The next generation multi-platform media company closed its first eight-figure round of funding that included lead investor Emerson Collective, founded by Laurene Powell Jobs, in the summer of 2015.

MACRO co-financed and produced Fences, directed by and starring Denzel Washington. Based on August Wilson’s Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning play, the film also starred Viola Davis who won the Academy Award® for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film.  Mudbound, directed by Dee Rees and produced and financed by MACRO, that opened to high critical acclaim at Sundance 2017 will be released wide later this year. “Gente-fied,” featuring America Ferrera, is the company’s first digital project and was also featured at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Currently in production is their next film, Roman Israel, Esq., starring Washington.  MACRO is a co-financier on the film along with Sony Pictures.

ABOUT ANNAPURNA

Annapurna, founded by Megan Ellison, focuses on creating sophisticated, high-quality content that is critically and commercially conscious while still appealing to a diverse audience. By upholding Ellison’s vision to put filmmakers and artists first and preserve their authentic creative voices no matter the genre or medium, in 5 years, the company has garnered a total of 32 Academy Award nominations for their projects, including ZERO DARK THIRTY, JOY, THE MASTER, FOXCATCHER, and THE GRANDMASTER. Ellison is also one of only four honorees ever to receive two Best Picture nominations in the same year, with HER and AMERICAN HUSTLE, both earning nods in 2014. Currently, Annapurna is preparing for the release of Kathryn Bigelow’s DETROIT, its first distribution title, that will hit theaters on July 28, 2017. Other upcoming releases for 2017 include Angela Robinson’s PROFESSOR MARSTON AND THE WONDER WOMEN. The company is also in production on Paul Thomas Anderson’s untitled new period film starring Daniel Day-Lewis and is in production on the film adaptation of Maria Semple’s WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE, to be directed by Richard Linklater.  Annapurna’s most recent projects include Mike Mills’ 20TH CENTURY WOMEN, which was nominated for two Golden Globes and earned Mills a Best Original Screenplay Academy Award nomination, as well as SAUSAGE PARTY, WIENER-DOG, and EVERYBODY WANTS SOME, and THE BAD BATCH. Bigelow also directed and partnered with Annapurna on the animated short LAST DAYS, about illegal elephant poaching and the ivory trade.

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“The sad and painful truth is that pretty much everyone in this town knew who Harvey was. I have had long talks with my most liberal friends. Did we know he was a rapist? We didn’t. But did we know that for decades he has been offering actresses big careers in exchange for sexual favors? Yes, we did — and make no mistake, that is its own kind of rape. And did we all — or did any of us — refuse to do business with him on moral grounds? No. We ALL STAYED IN BUSINESS WITH HIM. I have never done business with Harvey but I can tell you with certainty that I would have — because I was recently approached by a film festival he sponsors. They asked me to submit my short film for their consideration and I did it without thinking twice. I am a dyed-in-the-wool feminist and a vocal one at that. So why didn’t I think twice? Because this entire town is built on the ugly principals that Harvey takes to an horrific extreme. If I didn’t work with people whose behavior I find reprehensible, I wouldn’t have a career.”
~ Showrunner Krista Vernoff

From AMPAS president John Bailey:

Dear Fellow Academy Members,

Danish director Carl Dreyer’s 1928 film “The Passion of Joan of Arc” is not only one of the visual landmarks of the silent era, but is a deeply disturbing portrait of a young woman’s persecution in the face of the male judges and priests of the ruling order. The actress Maria Falconetti gave one of the most profoundly affecting performances in the history of cinema as the Maid of Orleans.

Since the decision of the Academy’s Board of Governors on Saturday October 14 to expel producer Harvey Weinstein from its membership, I have been haunted not only by the recurring image of Falconetti and the sad arc of her career (dying in Argentina in 1946, reputedly from a crash diet) but of Joan’s refusal to submit to an auto de fe recantation of her beliefs.

Recent public testimonies by some of filmdom’s most recognized women regarding sexual intimidation, predation, and physical force is, clearly, a turning point in the film industry—and hopefully in our country, where what happens in the world of movies becomes a marker of societal Zeitgeist. Their decision to stand up against a powerful, abusive male not only parallels the cinema courage of Falconetti’s Joan but gives all women courage to speak up.

After Saturday’s Board of Governors meeting, the Academy issued a passionately worded statement, expressing not only our concern about harassment in the film industry, but our intention to be a strong voice in changing the culture of sexual exploitation in the movie business, already common well before the founding of the Academy 90 years ago. It is up to all of us Academy members to more clearly define for ourselves the parameters of proper conduct, of sexual equality, and respect for our fellow artists throughout our industry. The Academy cannot, and will not, be an inquisitorial court, but we can be part of a larger initiative to define standards of behavior, and to support the vulnerable women and men who may be at personal and career risk because of violations of ethical standards by their peers.

Yours,
John