Yolonda-Ross

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Update | Casting Announcements & Teaser Trailer

Afronauts is a pre-thesis film by talented filmmaker Frances Bodomo which Ciné Kenya previously featured here.

Since then, several casting choices were announced. Stunning model/actress Diandra Forrest (you can see her in Kanye West’s ‘Power‘ music video) will be playing Matha and prolific actress/director Yolonda Ross (HBO’s Treme, Yelling to the Sky and her own film Breaking Night) is playing Auntie Sunday. We are also pleased to announce Bodomo’s Kickstarter campaign has also achieved its fund-raising goal days before its deadline. View the teaser trailer.

The film tells an alternative history of the 1960s Space Race; it’s July 16th 1969 the night of the moon landing. The project is based on a true story. As America prepares to send Apollo 11 to the moon, a rag-tag group of exiles in the Zambian desert are trying to beat America to the same destination. There’s only one problem: their spacegirl, Matha, is five months pregnant. Afronauts follows characters that have not been able to find a home on earth and are therefore attracted to the promise of the space race. More.

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Van’s filming the LGBT murder mystery kissmekillmemovie! The film is written by David Michael Barrett and directed by Casper Andreas. Check out these stills  courtesy of Kiss Me Kill Me! for more updates on filming:

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Go for Sisters

How many dramatic or crime-centered movies have you seen in your lifetime that had not just one but two female protagonists of color who weren’t maimed or killed halfway through the film and who got what they desired in the final scenes? “Go for Sisters” is the only movie I’ve seen that fits this basic description, one which, hopefully, audiences will barely notice as something out-of-the-ordinary in coming years.

Bernice (LisaGay Brown) enlists her old friend Fontayne (Yolonda Ross) to help her find her missing son across the border in Tijuana after meeting her again by chance in her parole office. Fontayne and Bernice were like sisters in high school, but went their separate ways thereafter. Fontayne met trouble in the form of substance abuse and landed in jail. Their reunion comes at a time when Bernice is willing to do anything -even twist the rules she helps enforce- to find her son. She needs Fontayne’s help because she knows the streets better than her friend. There is a telling moment when Fontayne comments that Bernice was always doing things she wanted but never got in trouble, pointing out that she isn’t allowed to be on her cellphone while driving. We quickly understand that Bernice was privileged and used it, while Fontayne had little help growing up. She’s stuck, but decides to help Bernice, loyal to the end.

During the course of the film, the two represent different sides of the same path, one paved with the best of intentions, but made coarse by their individual difficulties. In the end, they meet at the center, putting a certain kind of classism aside. They are still like sisters, after all.

Another notable feature of the film is it’s lack of violence. We hear that Bernice’s son had his ear cut off, that the Chinese gang who has him is mailing pieces of him across the border as a warning for his ransom. And Bernice carries a gun for their guide and colleague in TJ, Ex-Detective Freddy Suarez (Edward James Almos). As for the only male co-star, detective Suarez’s most aggressive actions are logical and include attaching a tracking device on a van and playing mind-games with a professional rival who kidnaps him. There is very little jumping out of one’s seat over the content of this film.

The most crime film style scene in the film is when the two friends are threatened by local thugs in a shop, she pulls the pistol out of her bag and shoots one of the aggressors in the leg. Having shed some (but very little) blood for very good reasons (self defense in a lawless town), Bernice and Fontayne score points for playing a mindful pair of cops on a very personal mission. The crime and drama genres rarely see such tender and thoughtful activity when it comes to the use of firearms and the treatment of women- particularly attractive women who knowingly walk among treacherous villains. They would normally be punished, in one way of another, for daring to tempt danger with their desires- whatever kind they are, and not just from the vantage point of a misogynist lens, but also the usual logicians who assume enough to portray women in the same positions because it happens in life: a woman in a dark ally meets a sorry fate.

Well, it is with deep happiness that I’ll hereby assess that these women characters are treated very well by the much respected, devoted filmmaker, Indie film pioneer John Sayles. Having self-financed the feature, it’s clear that Sayles was determined to manifest his vision of these women and both their plight and destiny in a noble way, a building block for others to follow with their visions of women in film.

Jason Momoa’s ‘The Bad Batch’ Picked Up by Screen Media

Following an all-night bidding session at the Toronto International Film Festival, Screen Media Films has acquired the U.S. rights for “The Bad Batch” on Thursday.

The dystopian love story by Ana Lily Amirpour won the Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival, where it debuted last week.

The film, staring Suki Waterhouse, Jason Momoa, Giovanni Ribisi and Yolonda Ross, is about a group of cannibals in a Texas wasteland. Cameos from Keanu Reeves, Jim Carrey and Diego Luna are also featured.

Also Read: William Oldroyd’s ‘Lady Macbeth’ Picked Up by Roadside Attractions

“The Bad Batch” marks Amirpour’s highly anticipated followup to her directorial debut, “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night.”

Screen Media will release the film, produced by VICE and Annapurna Pictures, in theaters in early 2017. It will also play at Fantastic Fest later this month.

“We’ve been impressed with Lily as a filmmaker ever since her first film and were blown away by her vision for ‘The Bad Batch.’ We couldn’t pass up the chance to work with her, Annapurna and Vice,” said Seth Needle, SVP of worldwide acquisitions at Screen Media Films.

Also Read: 'The Bleeder’ Toronto Review: Lovable Boxing Movie Shows the Real Rocky

Amirpour, who wrote and directed the film, said her new film lends itself to big-screen viewing. “It just won’t be the same on a small scale,” she said in a statement.

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'La La Land’ Serenades Toronto, Sweeps Another Festival Off Its Feet

Toronto: Screen Media Buys Suki Waterhouse’s ‘Bad Batch’ for U.S.

Screen Media Films has acquired the U.S. rights for Ana Lily Amirpour’s dystopian love story “The Bad Batch” following its North American premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

“The Bad Batch” won the  Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival, where it had its world premiere last week. The story is set in a Texas wasteland amongst a community of cannibals and stars Suki Waterhouse, Jason Momoa, Giovanni Ribisi, Yolonda Ross, with cameos from Keanu Reeves, Jim Carrey, and Diego Luna.

“The Bad Batch” is the follow-up to Amirpour’s directorial debut, “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night.” Screen Media will release “The Bad Batch” in theaters in the first quarter. It will also play at Fantastic Fest later this month.

The production companies are Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures and Vice. Producers are Sina Sayyah and Danny Gabai. The film is co-produced by Sammy Scher and executive produced by Megan Ellison, Eddy Moretti, and Shane Smith.

“We’ve been impressed with Lily as a filmmaker ever since her first film and were blown away by her vision for ‘The Bad Batch.’ We couldn’t pass up the chance to work with her, Annapurna and Vice,” said Seth Needle at Screen Media Films.

Netflix has already bought the exclusive streaming rights. The Screen Media deal covers theatrical and transactional VOD/digital.

“’The Bad Batch’ is truly a cinematic experience, which needs to be seen on the big screen,” said Ana Lily Amirpour. “It just won’t be the same on a small scale and I’m excited to release it with Screen Media who totally gets that.”

The deal was negotiated by Needle and Tom Yagielski at Screen Media and CAA on behalf of the filmmakers, Annapurna Pictures and Vice  Media.

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