Sunday, May 19, 2024

Umberto Eco, Rose Styron, Every Body Documentaries at the Box Office – Deadline

A trio of docs and a wider-than-usual run for a fun vertical thriller fill a specialty weekend with fewer new openings as theaters stay with Asteroid City and dedicate the screens to it Indiana Jones AND Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken. Call it anxious Friday as the indie community, like the rest of Hollywood, awaits news from SAG-AFTRA as the union’s contract expires tonight.

Opening: Julie Cohen’s documentary All by Focus Features comes to 250+ screens. Produced in partnership with NBC Studios, the exploration of the intersex experience through personal stories premiered at Tribeca last month. (Focus and NBC, both part of Comcast’s NBCUniversal, previously collaborated on the 2020 documentary The way I see it.) This film follows three individuals who have moved from childhoods characterized by shame, secrecy and non-consensual surgeries to thriving adulthoods after each decided to ignore medical advice to keep their bodies a secret and, instead, came out as their authentic selves. Actor and screenwriter River Gallo, political consultant Alicia Roth Weigel and Ph.D. student Sean Saifa Wall are now leaders in a fast-growing global movement advocating for a greater understanding of the intersex community and an end to unnecessary surgeries. Interwoven into the story is a less-than-fictional case of medical abuse.

Vertical Entertainment presents the family drama The prisoner’s daughter by Catherine Hardwicke (Dusk, thirteen) written by Mark Bacci, on 100 screens. Starring Kate Beckinsale, Brian Cox, Tyson Ritter, Christopher Convery, Ernie Hudson and Jon Huertas. Max (Cox) is diagnosed with terminal cancer and is granted a compassionate release after 12 years in prison on the condition that he live with his estranged daughter, Maxine (Beckinsale). As a single mother desperate for income to raise her only son, Ezra (Convery), she reluctantly agrees, but has no interest in reconciliation. As Max seeks one last chance to redeem himself in her eyes, they must contend with his dark and violent past.

Greenwich Entertainment presents directed by James Lapine In the company of the rose in theaters in NY (Quad) and LA (Laemmle Royal) and on demand. Limited extension to follow. Premiered at Doc NYC last fall. Tony Award-winning playwright, librettist, director and director James Lapine (musical: Into the Woods, Sunday in the Park with George; The HBO documentary Six by Sondheim; feature film Unexpectedly) befriends poet Rose Styron, widow of the great American novelist William Styron (Sophie’s Choice, The Confessions of Nat Turner). Rose shares the fascinating story of her complex life as a writer and human rights activist, life partner of William, friend of the Kennedys and Clintons, and life on Martha’s Vineyard.

Cinema Guild presents Davide Ferrario’s Umberto Eco – A library of the world. The documentary about the best-selling novelist, journalist, critic, philosopher, professor of semiotics, medieval wordsmith and bibliophile premieres at the NYC Film Forum with a number of other engagements scheduled in August. Eco (1932-2016) takes us on a journey through his Milanese library of 50,000 volumes, and, most impressively, the library of his mind. Best known for his novel, The name of the Rose, Eco is a prolific, witty and original thinker and speaker who speaks on topics as diverse as the value of lowbrow book reading, the origins of fascism, the psychology of conspiracy theorists, paper versus digital reading, the importance of rejecting vain memories, truth versus falsehood, great forgeries and great mistakes in history. “To be intellectually curious is to be alive. And believe me, many people are not alive,” Eco said.

The film is the second in a literary trilogy by Ferrario beginning with Primo Levi’s Journey (2006), also from the Cinema Guild. He is working on an Italo Calvino doc right now.

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