A day before Ava DuVernay’s highly anticipated premiere at the Venice Film Festival Origin has sold to Neon for worldwide distribution.
DuVernay wrote, produced and directed Origin and breaks ground in Venice as the first black American female director in the festival’s 80-year history to play a role in competition. (Watch the trailer below.)
Neon described the sales process as “competitive” and said it will release the film in the US later this year. The film will have a North American premiere in Toronto, after Venice and prior to its theatrical release.
Origin is inspired by the remarkable life and work of Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson – played by Oscar nominee Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard) – as she writes her groundbreaking book, Caste: the origin of our dissatisfaction. While grappling with a huge personal tragedy, Isabel sets herself on a path of global exploration and discovery. Despite the vast scope of her project, she finds beauty and courage as she crafts one of the defining American books of our time.
The film stars Jon Bernthal, Niecy Nash-Betts, Vera Farmiga, Audra McDonald, Nick Offerman, Blair Underwood, Finn Wittrock, Jasmine Cephas-Jones and Connie Nielsen.
Paul Garnes and DuVernay produced Origin under her ARRAY Filmworks banner. In addition to DuVernay and Garnes, the team of artists is behind it Origin is led by cinematographer Matthew J. Lloyd, ASC, production designer Ina Mayhew, editor Spencer Averick ACE, composer Kris Bowers, costume designer Dominique Dawson and casting director Aisha Coley.
The distribution deal was negotiated on behalf of the filmmakers by Neon CEO Tom Quinn and CAA Media Finance.
“I have known Ava for a long time and my love and admiration for her and her work goes back even further In the middle of no man’s land”, Quinn said. “I’m really humbled that it’s this movie that finally brought us together. She has always been a gifted storyteller, and her mastery of her craft is evident in this deeply personal and inspired adaptation of Isabel Wilkerson’s book, and the 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 Selma, in which the visionary leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the historic civil rights marches of 1965. She was also nominated for the Best Documentary Oscar 13th, an in-depth look at the US prison system and how it reveals the nation’s history of racial inequality. And her acclaimed limited series If they see usfor which she directed all episodes, was nominated for 16 Emmys in 2019. She was also the first African-American woman to win the Sundance Best Director award in 2012 with her second feature film, In the middle of no man’s land.
Neon enjoys a busy festival in Venice. The label also has rights to Michael Mann’s Ferrari, which premiered early in the festivities and stars Adam Driver, Penelope Cruz, Shailene Woodley, Patrick Dempsey and Jack O’Connell. Neon will release that movie in US theaters on Christmas Day.