independent spirit award nominated

JULY 13: Danitra Vance (1954-1994)

Comedy legend and the very first lesbian ever cast on Saturday Night Live, Danitra Vance, was born on July 13, 1954 and would have celebrated her 63rd birthday today!

Throughout her career, Danitra was awarded an NAACP Image Award, an Obie Award, and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award (x). 

Danitra was born in Chicago, Illinois and attended Thornton Township High School. Despite having struggled with dyslexia in elementary school, she thrived as a member of her high school’s theater program. After graduating high school she attended Roosevelt University, where she studied playwriting and acting; a play she wrote in college titled “Skylark” is an iconic piece still performed on the campus today. Danitra also went to London to receive her MFA in acting, returning home to Chicago in 1971 determined to get her big break.

One of her recurring characters on SNL was “That Black Girl,” an actress who was constantly denied starring roles because of her race. The skit was a parody of the 1960s sitcom That Girl (x). 

A teacher by day and a performer by night, Danitra developed her comedic voice in nightclubs throughout the 1970s. She was a member of the successful Second City Comedy Troupe for a while before deciding to move to New York City in 1981. Her big break came four years later when she was accepted into the cast of Saturday Night Live! Danitra made history as the first black woman to become an SNL series regular, the first SNL member to have a learning disability, and the very first lesbian to ever be cast on SNL – and still to this date is the only black lesbian to ever perform on the series. SNL made Danitra Vance a household name, but she left after only season with the show due to the writers consistently giving her racist stereotypical roles like “That Black Girl” and Cabrini Jackson the teenage mother.

Danitra laughs with Ray Charles, who she co-starred with in the 1989 film Limit Up (x).

Having left SNL, Danitra began a career on Broadway that would eventually earn her both an NAACP Award and an Obie Award. Her award-winning turns were in two George C. Wolfe plays, The Colored Museum and Spunk. She also starred in four movies during her post-SNL career, one being Little Man Tate alongside fellow lesbian icon, Jodie Foster. In 1990, when Danitra was diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer, she penned the semi-autobiographical play The Radical Girl’s Guide to Mastectomy. The cancer eventually overtook her on August 21, 1994 when she was 40-years-old. It was only revealed after her death that Danitra was a lesbian who had been with her partner, Jones Miller, for over ten years.



Feinberg Forecast: First Look at the Race to the 90th Oscars

The Hollywood Reporter’s awards columnist offers his assessment


Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour)
Denzel Washington (Roman J. Israel, Esq.) — podcast
Timothee Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name)
Jake Gyllenhaal (Stronger)
Robert Pattinson (Good Time) podcast


James Franco (Disaster Artist)
Andrew Garfield (Breathe) — podcast
Jeremy Renner (Wind River)
Matt Damon (Downsizing)
Benedict Cumberbatch (The Current War) — podcast
Richard Gere (Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer)


Andy Serkis (War for the Planet of the Apes)
Woody Harrelson (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick) — podcast
Donald Sutherland (The Leisure Seeker)
Daniel Kaluya (Get Out)
Sam Elliot (The Hero)

These listings reflect how The Hollywood Reporter’s awards columnist Scott Feinberg believes the Oscar nominations would look if the race ended today. They are formulated using a combination of personal impressions (from advance screenings), publicly available information (release dates, genres, talent rosters and teasers/trailers often offer valuable clues), historical considerations (how other films with similar pedigrees have resonated), precursor awards (some groups have historically correlated with the Academy more than others) and consultations with industry insiders (including fellow members of the press, awards strategists, filmmakers and voters).

What this means for Rob:  Feinberg is well aware that Rob was the favorite to win Best Actor at Cannes. Literally all the buzz at the festival was about his performance in Good Time. The French called it “breathtaking,” and at the Deauville film festival, Bernice Bejo confirmed that Cannes was buzzing with talk about how amazing Rob was. Good Time received the longest standing ovation, six minutes, of any film at the festival, including You Were Never Really Here, the film that Joaquin Phoenix won the Best Actor prize for.

The International Cinephile Society (a group of 100 critics who see every film at the festival) awarded Rob their Best Actor prize, and the IndieWire critics group also awarded him their Best Performance at Cannes award (and that meant he beat every other actor and actress in a film at Cannes). So, the critics were all blown away by how phenomenal Rob was in Good Time, and that’s why he’s in the Oscar conversation now. We can expect him to win some awards from critics’ groups, and in a fair world, he should be nominated for a Golden Globe, SAG award, Independent Spirit Award and many more. It’s about time. He’s been turning in phenomenal performances for years. ~ Pattinson360 

A little message for those of you coming to Twin Peaks more recently: as press builds up for the new season you will be hearing the tired old trope that Fire Walk with Me was just a universally hated failure.  Yeah, no.  

- It hit at the height of Peaks mania in Japan and literally had lines around the block.  

- It was an official selection at the Cannes Film Festival that year.  And that’s nothing to sneeze at; films from name directors are frequently turned down and not admitted into the competition.  And… 

- According to Premiere Magazine, there was a small but vocal group of supporters.  In fact, the article, whose author declared the film “almost unwatchable”, called that film “the young man’s choice” for the Golden Palm.

- The film had a budget of $10 million U.S., and, all told, made just over $10 million at the worldwide box office.  It stayed in print on video in the U.S. continuously throughout the 1990s, and was one of New Line’s top requests for a DVD release back when the format was new.  AND according to another Premiere article from David Foster Wallace, ALL of Lynch’s films, up to and including Fire Walk with Me, turned a profit.  An aside, that INCLUDES Dune.

- The extraordinary Sheryl Lee was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Actress when award season came round in early 1993.  It didn’t get much press at the time because those awards were only beginning to get the attention they regularly receive today.

- And did I mention Angelo Badalamenti’s BAFTA nomination for the score?  No?  Well now I have.

- And, most obviously, if the film was really as big a failure as some press would have you believe, do you really think we’d be talking about an 18 episode third season 25 years later?

It just always pissed me off at the time and even now how unfairly the film gets treated, so, for those of you getting pissed off just now, consider the above factual ammo.

Flawless Mother and Daughter Duo ↪ Lupita Nyong’o and Dorothy Nyong’o

Attend the 2014 Film Independent Spirit Awards at Santa Monica Beach on March 1, 2014 in Santa Monica, California
Mya Taylor becomes the first trans person to win a Film Independent Spirit Award
Mya Taylor made history on Saturday, becoming the first transgender performer to win a Film Independent Spirit Award.

This weekend, Mya Taylor made history. 

Taylor won Best Supporting Actress at the Independent Spirit Awards for her role in Tangerine, making her the first transgender person ever to win a Film Independent Spirit Award. 

“I knew that I was telling the truth about this area and how it really was,” she said of the film, which tells the story of two transgender sex worker – played by Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, who was also nominated for an Independent Spirit Award – who discovers her boyfriend cheated on her while she was in jail. Taylor plays her level-headed best friend, who has a secret of her own. Some of the film’s story was based on Taylor’s own experiences as a sex worker prior to acting. […]

The actress is set to follow Tangerine with an on-screen portrayal of transgender rights pioneer, Marsha P. Johnson, in the short film, Happy Birthday, Marsha!

Taylor closed her speech with a call to filmmakers. “There is transgender talent. There’s very beautiful transgender talent. You better get out there and put it in your next movie.”

Tonight’s Oscars are very white, straight and cisgender – here’s an incredible actress from a powerful movie showing that there is so much more talent out there than what gets the most credit. Congratulations, Mya. Well deserved.
The Truly Independent Filmmaker
To make the movies she wanted, Kelly Reichardt had to go it alone.

In the winter of 1994 director Kelly Reichardt almost missed the Sundance Film Festival debut of her first film because she was stuck on a train.

“I couldn’t afford the plane tickets,” says Reichardt, shrugging her slight shoulders in a Manhattan cafe. “The train froze on the tracks and took five days instead of three. We got there just in time for our premiere. We hadn’t showered in five days. We were total grease heads.”

Reichardt was one of two women filmmakers at the Park City, Utah, festival that year. Her feature, River of Grass, which she describes as “a road movie without the road, a love story without the love, and a crime story without the crime,” got strong reviews, though some of her peers were not so supportive.

“I remember Kevin Smith was there with Clerks,” she says, sipping a chamomile tea. “He’s in this book [Spike, Mike, Slackers & Dykes by John Pierson] talking about my film and how it’s an example of a film that should have never been made. They say that it looks like it was shot on postage stamps. The guy who made Clerks …” She pauses for wry emphasis: Clerks was memorably low-fi. “That’s the kind of friendly Sundance camaraderie back in the day. But there were other, nicer folks.”

That year, the festival launched the careers of the fanboy kingpin Smith (Clerks, Chasing Amy), as well as perennial Oscar contender David O. Russell (Spanking the Monkey, Joy) and documentarian Steve James (Hoop Dreams, Life Itself), to hard-earned, near-immediate acclaim. For Reichardt, it was the beginning of a more circuitous journey that, like her ill-fated train ride, took much longer than necessary. Although River of Grass was later nominated for three Independent Spirit Awards, she was unable to make a second film for 12 years. Reichardt returns to Sundance this year with a restored print of her first film, as well as her sixth feature, Certain Women, starring Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, Michelle Williams, and newcomer Lily Gladstone. Immediate acclaim, however, has remained out of reach.

Reichardt’s gender has a lot to do with this. The industry continues to wrestle with systemic gender discrimination, as the Sony e-mail hack revealed. Salary disparities affect even Hollywood’s most bankable woman, Jennifer Lawrence. Exactly zero of 2015’s 10 highest-grossing films were directed by women—as well as zero of the top 10 movies listed by the National Board of Review and the American Film Institute. According to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, 85 percent of films released commercially in 2014 were directed by men; 80 percent were written by men; 92 percent were shot by male cinematographers. In October the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission opened a formal investigation into Hollywood’s hiring practices.

So far, the conversation has followed the money: When will a woman direct a Marvel movie? A sci-fi epic? Why, after the smash-hit success of the woman-helmed Frozen and Kung Fu Panda 2, was not a single animated film directed by a woman last year? Why did Sundance darling Colin Trevorrow get to direct Jurassic World after making only one small-budget film? “It feels like a different conversation, because that’s not about telling the stories that matter to me,” Reichardt says, adding that the debate often feels like women are asking, “ ‘Can I make a movie as crappy as those movies?’ How awesome.”

“We operate in a gray area—director-driven films in a celebrity-hungry market. This is the line we walk every day”

But discrimination doesn’t just touch women who want to be the next Steven Spielberg. Unlike Smith (who comes back to Sundance this year with his 12th film, Yoga Hosers, starring his daughter, Harley Quinn Smith, opposite Johnny Depp’s daughter, Lily-Rose Depp), Reichardt struggled to convert promise into a career. A project Jodie Foster was set to produce died in development. “I had 10 years from the mid-1990s when I couldn’t get a movie made,” she told the Guardian in 2011. “It had a lot to do with being a woman. That’s definitely a factor in raising money.” She couch-surfed for five years, eventually taking a job teaching at Bard College.

Reichardt brought her second film to Sundance in 2006. Old Joy, a hushed, meditative ramble of a film set in the Pacific Northwest with no stars and ominous Bush-era overtones of bygone youth, was made for only $40,000. It was one of the festival’s hits, landing on scores of critics’ yearend top-10 lists.

Reichardt’s next film, the 2008 heartbreaker Wendy and Lucy, was her true breakout. Starring Williams as a vulnerable woman who loses her dog and anything resembling a safety net, it evoked the fearful tension of America as it fell into recession. The fraught, elegant film earned a Cannes premiere and a slot on the American Film Institute’s Top 10 Films of the Year list. New York Times critic A.O. Scott championed the movie and named Reichardt a leader of a “Neo-Neo-Realism” movement.

In a business dominated by global franchises, director-driven films not based on branded intellectual property are hard to finance. Personal films by female filmmakers are doubly difficult, but Reichardt’s ability to keep budgets low and attract top-name talent has been a virtue.

Wendy and Lucy was the first of her four collaborations with the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based studio Filmscience, which went on to produce her oblique Oregon Trail Western Meek’s Cutoff, the tense eco-thriller Night Moves, and Certain Women. On the strength of Reichardt’s reputation and her latest movie’s cast, the company was able to presell global distribution rights for the film to Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions before its Sundance premiere. In Park City it will look for a domestic-release partner.

“We’ve all been incredibly fortunate in that amazing actors want to work with Kelly and make big concessions to do so (both financially and in terms of amenities they may be accustomed to on bigger films),” Filmscience producers Neil Kopp and Anish Savjani wrote in an e-mail. “We operate in a gray area—director-driven films in a celebrity-hungry market,” they added. “This is the line we walk every day.”

Actors such as Jesse Eisenberg (who starred in Night Moves after The Social Network) and Stewart (who stars in Certain Women after having made her name in the Twilight movies) are drawn to Reichardt because she offers them roles Hollywood does not.

“I’m the one who was lucky to work with Kelly, not the other way around,” says Williams, who also starred in Meek’s Cutoff. “When I saw Old Joy, there wasn’t a question of her gender, of the size of the film, or the crowds it may or may not draw. I wanted to be directed by that keen and subtle eye. I wanted to let mystery hang in the air of a film. I wanted the dignity and space she allowed her characters.”

Kelly is one of the true pioneers in fierce, make-it-your-way, independent filmmaking,” Dern says. “She’ll make movies however she needs in order to allow for that kind of freedom.”

Reichardt’s good friend and producer, the filmmaker Todd Haynes, was nominated for best director at this year’s Golden Globe awards for his film Carol, which was nominated for best drama. If Reichardt were a man, he says, “the integrity of an entire and an extraordinary body of work would have been more visible by now. It’s very hard to come up with other filmmakers in the independent film community who’ve made such uncompromising work so consistently, with such a clear, precise, and resonant vision.”

Instead, Reichardt’s work has quietly, steadily accrued greater resonance, much like one of her enigmatic films. “I’m usually not moved in the moment during her films,” says Sundance Festival Director John Cooper. “It’s more of a collective effect. You feel like you watched something quietly become powerful.”

This year, 22 of the 54 films in competition at Sundance, or 41 percent, were directed by women. But critics have proclaimed it the “year of the woman” before, and despite the isolated success of directors such as Kathryn Bigelow, Ava DuVernay, Jennifer Lee, and Elizabeth Banks, the overall statistics have barely budged. Reichardt, who’s been interrogated about the role of women in Hollywood since her debut 22 years ago, says she feels a bit trapped by the unchanging discussion. “This is a losing conversation for any woman to have—to hell with the women-in-cinema thing,” she says, sighing more out of fatigue than pique.

Reichardt has always preferred to let her work speak for itself, so she perks up when asked to describe what’s at stake for the character in her new film. Set in Montana, Certain Women features a hostage situation and feuding lawyers. But Reichardt says it’s less about topical conflict and more about women finding ways to live their particular lives. She could be describing her career.

“It’s about small struggles, just small, personal politics with strangers, with neighbors, with husbands,” she says. “And I think it might be about entitlement on some level: what some people feel they have coming to them and the expectations other people just don’t have.”


Sundance Film Festival

For a quick background and preview of Sundance Film Festival, watch the 4-min clip of TalkingMovies here:

Kristen comes on at 1: 44 talking about how she loves Sundance.

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SHAILENE WOODLEY [Beatrice “Tris” Prior] is best known for her award winning performance opposite George Clooney in Academy Award® nominated film The Descendants from writer/director Alexander Payne. Among the many accolades she received for her work in the film, were a 2012 Independent Spirit Award® for Best Supporting Actress, the National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actress, a Golden Globe® nomination and a Critics Choice award nomination. Variety said of her performance, “Woodley is a revelation in the role of Alex, displaying both the edge and the depth that the role demands.” A.O. Scott of the New York Times agreed saying Woodley gives, “one of the toughest, smartest, most credible adolescent performances in recent memory.”

Woodley recently starred in the dramatic film White Bird In A Blizzard for director Gregg Araki, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2014. Magnolia Pictures released the film on VOD on September 25th and then in theaters nationwide on October 24th. The film debuted internationally at the Deauville Film Festival in France.

Woodley further solidified her stature as a talented and versatile actress in the critically acclaimed film The Fault In Our Stars, the big screen adaption of John Green’s hugely popular novel. Woodley earned glowing reviews from the most respected critics in the country and it dominated the box office on opening weekend. The film has earned over $250 million worldwide thus far. Woodley has been acknowledged by The People’s Choice Awards, The Broadcast Film Critics Awards and The Teen Choice Awards for her performance. Just prior, Woodley starred in The Spectacular Now opposite Miles Teller. The co-stars shared the Special Jury Prize for Dramatic Acting at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2013; and Woodley was nominated for a Gotham Award and an Independent Spirit Award® for Best Actress.

Woodley’s star status was proven in the big screen version of Divergent for Summit Entertainment, based on the popular YA novel of the same name from best-selling author Veronica Roth.

Fans worldwide are also anticipating the return of Tris in the next installment of the Divergent series, entitled The Divergent Series: Insurgent, which will be in theaters all over the world in March 2015.

Woodley will soon begin production as the female lead opposite Joseph Gordon Levitt in the Oliver Stone directed film Snowden, the real-life story of Edward Snowden, the American computer specialist and former employee of the CIA who leaked classified information from the NSA about surveillance programs run by the US.

Woodley began her career at the age of 5 when an agent recognized her potential and signed her in an instant and she has been working ever since. She cut her teeth in commercials and then earned her first TV role in the 1999 TV Movie, Replacing Dad, which starred two time Oscar® nominee Mary McDonnell.

Other roles include playing the lead character in the hit ABC Family series The Secret Life of the American Teenager for five years; the lead in the popular WB movie Felicity: An American Girl Adventure, which was produced by Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas and Julia Roberts; and recurring roles on Crossing Jordan (as a young Jill Hennessy), The O.C., and Jack & Bobby. She also had a lead role opposite Ann Margaret and Matthew Settle in the TV movie A Place Called Home.

When she is not on set, Woodley spends as much time outdoors as possible thinking of ways she can help keep the environment beautiful and healthy for future generations.

Wes Craven, Hollywood Horror Master, Dead at 76

Master of the modern horror film Wes Craven died on Sunday, his family announced. He was 76 and had battled brain cancer.

Craven, the artist behind “Nightmare on Elm Street,” the “Scream” movie series and many other modern horror masterpieces, remade the genre in contemporary film.

Craven reinvented the youth horror genre in 1984 with the classic “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” a film he wrote and directed that starred a then-unknown Johnny Depp. He conceived and co-wrote “A Nightmare on Elm Street III: Dream Warriors” as well.

Also Read: Hollywood’s Notable Deaths of 2015 (Photos)

Then after an absence of three more sequels, he deconstructed the genre a decade after the original, writing and directing the audacious “Wes Craven‘s New Nightmare,” which was nominated as Best Feature at the 1995 Independent Spirit Awards.

In 1996, Craven reached a new level of success with the release of “Scream.” The film, which sent up horror conventions even as it paid homage to them sparked a wildly successful trilogy for Bob Weinstein‘s Dimension Films. The original won MTV’s 1996 Best Movie Award and grossed more than $100 million domestically, as did “Scream 2.”

Between “Scream 2” and “Scream 3,” Craven directed “Music of the Heart” in 1999, a film that earned its star Meryl Streep an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.

Also Read: MTV’s ‘Scream’ Unleashes First 8 Minutes of Show Ahead of Premiere (Video)

Creatively engaged and working until the end, Craven had recently signed an overall television deal with Universal Cable Productions (UCP) and had a number of television projects in development, including “The People Under the Stairs” with Syfy Networks, “Disciples” with UCP, “We Are All Completely Fine” with Syfy / UCP, and “Sleepers” with Federation Entertainment.

He was also executive producing the new “Scream” series for MTV. Craven had recently written and was to direct the “Thou Shalt Not Kill” segment for The Weinstein Company / WGN’s “Ten Commandments” television miniseries.

The following statement was released:

It is with deep sadness we inform you that Wes Craven passed away at 1PM on Sunday, August 30 after battling brain cancer.   He was 76 years old.  Craven was surrounded by love, in the presence of his family at his Los Angeles home.

Craven is survived by his wife, producer and former Disney Studios VP Iya Labunka, older sister Carol Buhrow, son Jonathan Craven with wife Rachel Craven and their two sons Miles and Max; daughter Jessica Craven with husband Mike Wodkowski and their daughter Myra-Jean Wodkowski; and Wes’ stepdaughter Nina Tarnawksy.  Craven was predeceased by his parents Paul Eugene Craven, a machinist who passed away when Wes was 5 years old, his mother Caroline, a bookkeeper; and his older brother Paul James Craven.

One of the most prolific filmmakers of all time, Craven was also a nature lover and committed bird conservationist, serving as a long-time member of the Audubon California Board of Directors.  He was born in Cleveland, OH on August 2nd, 1939.  Craven was a longtime summer resident of Martha’s Vineyard where he moved permanently 3 years ago before returning to Los Angeles for work and health reasons.

In addition Craven continued to be active as a mentor and producer to newer filmmakers, and is an Executive Producer of the upcoming feature film “The Girl in the Photographs” which will premiere at the 2015 Toronto Film Festival.

Craven pushed the genre boundaries with the 2005 psychological thriller, “Red Eye,” starring Rachel McAdams, Cillian Murphy and Brian Cox. And in 2006 he deftly wrote and directed a romantic comedy homage to Oscar Wilde featuring Emily Mortimer and Rufus Sewell as a segment in the French ensemble production, “Paris Je T’aime.”

Following this, Craven produced remakes of two of his earlier films for his genre fans, “The Hills Have Eyes” (2006) and “The Last House on the Left” (2009). Craven’s most recent written and directed film, “My Soul To Take” (2010), once again brought together a cast of up-and-coming young teens, and marked Craven’s first collaboration with wife and producer Iya Labunka, who also produced “Scream 4,” which reunited Craven with Kevin Williamson, as well as with stars Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette, not to mention newcomers Emma Roberts and Hayden Pannetierre.

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A veteran character actress and one of Hollywood’s most sought-after talents, OCTAVIA SPENCER [Johanna] has become a familiar fixture on both television and the silver screen. Her critically acclaimed performance as Minny in DreamWork’s feature film The Help won her the 2012 Academy Award®, BAFTA Award, Golden Globe® Award, SAG Award® and Broadcast Film Critic’s Choice Award, among numerous other honors.

Recently, Spencer co-starred in the action-adventure Snowpiercer opposite Tilda Swinton and Chris Evans; and in Tate Taylor’s Get on Up, a chronicle of musician James Brown’s rise to fame that also stars Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman. She will next be seen in the drama Black or White alongside Kevin Costner; Fathers and Daughters with Quvenzhané Wallis, Diane Kruger, Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried, and Aaron Paul; and opposite Sophie Nelisse, Glenn Close, Kathy Bates and Danny Glover in The Great Gilly Hopkins, the adaptation of Katherine Paterson’s young adult Newberry Honor novel.

Last year, Spencer was seen in the indie-drama Fruitvale Station, which follows the final hours of Oscar Grant’s life, a young man whose death sparked national outrage after video footage of his shooting was released to the public on New Year’s Eve 2009. Fruitvale Station won several prestigious awards including both the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award for US Dramatic films at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, the Un Certain Regard Award for Prix de l’avenir at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, was named one of AFI’s Films of the Year, and received nominations for the 2014 Independent Spirit Awards® and NAACP Image Awards. Spencer was awarded Best Supporting Actress from the National Board of Review for her performance in the film and received an individual nomination from the NAACP Image Awards. She also served as a producer on the film.

In 2013, Spencer was also seen in Diablo Cody’s directorial debut Paradise alongside Russell Brand and Julianne Hough; and Smashed, an independent film which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival that also starred Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aaron Paul and Megan Mullally. She co-starred in Bryce Dallas Howard’s directed segment of Call Me Crazy: A Five Film, an anthology of five short films focused on various stories of mental illness. Produced by Jennifer Aniston, the Lifetime Original Movie Event also includes films directed by Laura Dern, Bryce Dallas Howard, Bonnie Hunt, Ashley Judd, and Sharon Maguire.

Her acting career began with her big screen debut in 1995 in Joel Schumacher’s A Time To Kill, opposite Sandra Bullock. Since that time, Spencer has built a diverse and impressive resume and in 2009 was lauded by Entertainment for her comedic timing when she was named to their esteemed list of the “25 Funniest Actresses in Hollywood.”

Spencer’s extensive feature film credits include Blues For Willadean, Fly Paper, Peep World, Dinner For Schmucks, Small Town Saturday Night, Herpes Boy, Halloween Ii, The Soloist, Drag Me To Hell, Seven Pounds, Pretty Ugly People, Coach Carter, Charm School, Win A Date With Tad Hamilton, Bad Santa, Spiderman, Big Momma’s House, Being John Malkovich and Never Been Kissed. In 2009, Spencer directed and produced a short film entitled The Captain, which was a finalist for the coveted Poetry Foundation Prize at the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival.

On television, Spencer was recently seen guest starring in the CBS series Mom, a comedy that centers on a newly sober mom attempting to pull her life together. Additionally, she made a memorable guest appearance in the final season of 30 Rock; starred in the Comedy Central series Halfway Home; and appeared in a five-episode arc as the character Constance Grady on the hit series Ugly Betty. Spencer has been seen in guest-starring roles on shows including The Big Bang Theory, E.R., CSI, CSI: NY, Raising The Bar, Medium, and NYPD Blue.

Among her many other professional achievements, Spencer has co-authored an interactive mystery series for children called Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective. The first title in the series, Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective: The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit was published by Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing in Fall 2013.

Spencer is a native of Montgomery, Alabama and holds a BS in Liberal Arts from Auburn University. She currently resides in Los Angeles.

Anna Kendrick (Cathy Hiatt)

Anna Kendrick has a slew of projects that showcase her impressive range of talent. She was the lead in the hit comedy-musical, PITCH PERFECT. The song Cups, which she performed in the film has gone multiplatinum, and is one of Billboards top songs of 2013. She is currently filming PITCH PERFECT 2, set to open May 15, 2015.

Kendrick’s next project includes THE HOLLARS, starring opposite John Krasinski, who will also direct the film. She is also set to star opposite Sam Rockwell in MR. RIGHT with Paco Cabezas to direct.

Kendrick has completed filming Disneyʼs film adaptation of the musical INTO THE WOODS. She stars as Cinderella in the film opposite Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp. The film, directed by Rob Marshall, is slated to open December 2014. She also wrapped the film adaptation of the musical THE LAST 5 YEARS.

She had three films premiere at Sundance 2014, HAPPY CHRISTMAS, THE VOICES and LIFE AFTER BETH. All three films received rave reviews, with press crowning her “the Queen Bee of Sundance.” Anna starred recently in the indie darling DRINKING BUDDIES, opposite Olivia Wilde and Ron Livingston. She also starred Summit Entertainmentʼs dramatic comedy 50/50, with Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The film received rave reviews from fans and critics alike, as well as several prestigious award nominations. She was also in David Ayerʼs intense crime drama END OF WATCH, opposite Jake Gyllenhaal.

In 2010 Kendrick starred opposite George Clooney and Jason Bateman in the lauded film UP IN THE AIR, directed by Jason Reitman. Kendrick earned a best supporting actress Oscar nomination, and was honored as best supporting actress by The National Board of Review and Best Breakout Star at the MTV Movie Awards. She also earned nominations from the Criticʼs Choice Movie Awards, The Golden Globes, BAFTA, and the Screen Actors Guild.

She was in the blockbuster TWILIGHT franchise, including New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn Part 1.

Kendrick notably starred in PictureHouseʼs ROCKET SCIENCE, directed by Jeffrey Blitz. Her performance as an ultra competitive high school debate team member garnered critical acclaim and the film received a nomination for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. For her work in the film, Anna was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Anna made her feature film debut in director Todd Graffʼs CAMP, a darling of the 2003 Sundance Film Festival. Her performance in the cult hit earned her an Independent Spirit Award nomination, as well as a Best Supporting Actress nomination at the Annual Chlotrudis Awards.

An accomplished theatre veteran, Kendrick began her career as Dinah Lord in the 1997 Broadway musical production of HIGH SOCIETY, for which she received a Tony Award nomination as Beat Featured Actress in a Musical. At 12-years-old, the honor made her the second youngest Tony nominee in award history. Kendrick also garnered Drama League and Theatre World awards, as well as Drama Desk and FANY award nominations.

Kendrickʼs additional theatre work includes a feature role with the New York city Operaʼs production of A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, starring Jeremy Irons, MY FAVORITE BROADWAY/THE LEADING LADIES: Live At Carnegie Hall, and Broadway workshops of JANE EYRE and THE LITTLE PRINCESS.

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NAOMI WATTS [Evelyn] was honored with an Academy Award® nomination for Best Actress for her performance in Juan Antonio Bayona’s The Impossible, starring alongside Ewan McGregor. For her role as a courageous wife and mother struggling to survive the aftermath of a tsunami, she also earned Best Actress nominations from the HFPA for a Golden Globe® Award, from the SAG Awards®, the Broadcast Film Critics and she received the Desert Palm Achievement Actress Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. She also earned an Academy Award® nomination for Best Actress for her role in Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu’s 21 Grams where she starred alongside Sean Penn and Benicio Del Toro. Her performance also garnered Best Actress Awards nominations from the SAG Awards®, BAFTAs, Broadcast Film Critics and Golden Satellites as well as Best Actress honors from multiple critics’ associations. At the film’s premiere at the 2003 Venice International Film Festival, she received the Audience Award (Lion of the Public) for Best Actress. The film itself won the Special Distinction Award at the Independent Spirit Awards®.

She most recently starred in St. Vincent with Bill Murray and earned a SAG Award® nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her performance. She also starred in Alejandro González Iñarritu’s Academy Award® nominated film Birdman with Emma Stone and Michael Keaton.

Watts will next be seen in The Divergent Series: Insurgent, the next installment of the successful Divergent franchise based on the popular, best-selling novels written by Veronica Roth. She also stars in Noah Baumbach’s While We’re Young with Ben Stiller and Amanda Seyfried, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2014 and will be released this spring. She recently shot Demolition with Jake Gyllenhaal, Gus Van Sant’s Sea Of Trees with Matthew McConaughey, and Three Generations with Susan Sarandon. She will begin shooting the psychological thriller Shut In this spring.

She has starred in many other films in recent years including the biopic Diana in the lead role as the iconic Princess Diana; Adore with Robin Wright; Clint Eastwood’s critically acclaimed J. Edgar starring opposite Leonardo DiCaprio; Doug Liman’s Fair Game, starring opposite Sean Penn; Woody Allen’s You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, as part of an all-star cast, including Josh Brolin, Anthony Hopkins, and Antonio Banderas; Rodrigo Garcia’s Mother and Child, for which she received an Independent Spirit Award® nomination for Best Supporting Actress and Tom Twyker’s The International, with Clive Owen.

Watts has had an impressive list of movies since her acclaimed turn in David Lynch’s controversial drama Mulholland Drive, for which she earned Best Actress Awards from a number of critics’ organizations, including the National Board of Review and National Society of Film Critics. In addition to starring in Peter Jackson’s epic remake of King Kong, her credits include We Don’t Live Here Anymore, which she starred in and produced; The Assassination of Richard Nixon, opposite Sean Penn and Don Cheadle; David O. Russell’s I (Heart) Huckabee’s, with Jude Law and Dustin Hoffman; Marc Forster’s Stay, opposite Ewan McGregor and Ryan Gosling; Gore Verbinski’s The Ring and its sequel, The Ring 2; Merchant-Ivory’s Le Divorce, alongside Kate Hudson, Glenn Close and Stockard Channing; John Curran’s The Painted Veil, opposite Edward Norton, which was based on W. Somerset Maugham’s novel; David Cronenberg’s drama/thriller Eastern Promises, opposite Viggo Mortensen; and Michael Haneke’s thriller Funny Games.

Born in England, Watts moved to Australia at the age of 14 and began studying acting. Her first major film role came in John Duigan’s Flirting. She produced and starred in the short film Ellie Parker, which screened in competition at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival. In 2005, a full length feature of the short debuted at Sundance.

Among her many awards and recognitions, Watts received the Montecito Award from the Santa Barbara Film Festival in 2006 for her role in King Kong; was honored by the Palm Springs Film Festival in 2003 for 21 Grams; and in 2002, was named the Female Star of Tomorrow at ShoWest and received the Breakthrough Acting Award at the Hollywood Film Festival, both for her work in Mulholland Drive. She was also honored for her entire body of work at the 2011 Deauville Film Festival. Watts resides in Los Angeles and New York with her partner and 2 sons.

Dane DeHaan to Star in Indie Drama ‘Two Lovers and a Bear’ with Tatiana Maslany

“War Witch” filmmaker Kim Nguyen will direct the indie movie for Max Films

Dane DeHaan (“Chronicle”) and Tatiana Maslany (“Orphan Black”) are attached to star in the indie drama “Two Lovers and a Bear,” multiple individuals familiar with the project have told TheWrap.

Kim Nguyen (“War Witch”) is directing the movie, which is a Canadian co-production that features the involvement of Montreal-based company Max Films. Production is scheduled to begin in mid-March as soon as Maslany wraps “Orphan Black.”

Set in a small town near the North Pole where roads lead to nowhere, the story follows Roman (DeHaan) and Lucy (Maslany), two burning souls who come together to make a leap for life and inner peace.

Maslany will be busy shooting “Orphan Black” through the beginning of March. She recently dropped out of Neil LaBute‘s upcoming play “The Way We Get By,” citing a scheduling conflict with an upcoming film. “Two Lovers and a Bear” is that project, though Maslany is also a finalist for Gareth Edwards’ “Star Wars” spinoff along with Felicity Jones. She next stars alongside Ryan Reynolds in Simon Curtis’ drama “Woman in Gold.”

Maslany is represented by ICM Partners, Magnolia Entertainment and The Characters Talent Agency in Canada.

DeHaan next stars as James Dean opposite Robert Pattinson in Anton Corbijn’s “Life,” and he’ll soon be seen in Justin Chadwick’s romantic drama “Tulip Fever.” He’s represented by CAA and MGMT Entertainment.

Represented by CAA, Nguyen previously directed the critically-acclaimed drama “War Witch,” which earned her an Independent Spirit Award nomination as well as an award at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival.

Source: The Wrap