Extra: Lucy Liu boards “Unzipped” doc as EP; Boom taps director of development

Lucy Liu to executive produce housing crisis doc Unzipped Actress Lucy Liu has joined the production of the new documentary, Unzipped: An Autopsy of American Inequality, as an executive producer. The film explores ...
November 22, 2021

Lucy Liu to executive produce housing crisis doc Unzipped

Actress Lucy Liu has joined the production of the new documentary, Unzipped: An Autopsy of American Inequality, as an executive producer.

The film explores the issue of affordable housing in the U.S., and is written and directed by Colin K. Gray (Being Canadian, Atari: Game Over). The doc specifically examines one of the country’s most increasingly income-divided zip codes, Venice California 90291, which is now one of the frontlines in America’s battles over gentrification, lack of affordable housing and homelessness.

Liu joins a filmmaking team on Unzipped that also includes the hip hop duo Run The Jewels, who contributed opening and closing tracks to the film. Liu’s fellow executive producers include Theresa Steele Page, Tim Headington, Amaechi Uzoigwe, Lorien Gabel and Elliot Kotek, along with the film’s all-woman producing team, Megan Raney Aarons, Jamila C. Fairley and Carol J. Gronner.

Unzipped is produced by GRAiNEY Pictures in association with Ley Line Entertainment, The Nation of Artists and Still Moving Pictures. The film premiered at the Newport Beach Film Festival in October, where it won the audience award for best documentary feature. Cargo Film & Releasing has global sales rights.

Boom names Hollie Abbott director of development

Boom, the Cardiff-based production company owned by ITV Studios, has appointed Hollie Abbott to be its director of development.

Abbott joined Boom as a development executive in 2020 after holding development positions at Reef TV and the Zinc Media Group, Firecracker, Keshet and STV Studios. She also helped secure Boom’s BBC3/BBC Wales co-commission, Hot Cakes, about the team behind an inspirational Cardiff insta-bakery. The new series is part of the creative partnership between BBC3, BBC Wales and Creative Wales, which launched in November 2020.

In her new position, Abbott will focus on growing Boom’s development team and developing more original programming for the multi-genre prodco’s expanding network slate.

Said Nia Thomas, Boom’s managing director: “Hollie is an exceptional development lead with a real flair for popular factual, factual entertainment and reality formats, and I am delighted that she is stepping up into this new role. She is an innately intuitive creative who inspires and motivates her team. Our aim is to continue to build a strong slate of returnable formats and help grow a first-class talent base here in Wales, and with Hollie at the helm, this is a wholly achievable ambition for Boom.”

RIDM award winners revealed

The Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM) announced the award-winning films at its 24th edition, which just concluded.

Taking the grand prize for best international feature was Looking for Horses from director Stefan Pavlovic, which the jury praised for “its great mastery of a hybrid form, for its eloquent interweaving of formal experimentation into a narrative process, for its poetic interplay between micro and macro-cosmic questions.” The film follows Pavlovic’s growing friendship with a reclusive fisherman.

Payal Kapadia’s A Night of Knowing Nothing, about two students whose love is challenged by India’s caste system, won the special jury prize for international feature for “its hypnotic and poetic approach to a story both personal and political, a tender protest film that transcends the conventions of nonfiction filmmaking.”

The grand prize for best national feature was awarded to zo reken from Emanual Licha, about the 4×4 vehicles that have come to represent privilege in Haiti since the 2010 earthquake. The film, which also won RIDM 2021′s student award, took the best Canadian feature documentary award at Hot Docs.

Sylvain L’Espérance’s Animal Macula, an experimental film about the portrayal of animals throughout cinema history, won the special jury prize for national feature. Special mention in this category went to Caitlin Durlak‘s Dropstones.

Meanwhile the New Visions award went to Far Beyond the Pasturelands from Maxime Lacoste-Lebuis and Maude Plante-Husaruk, about a remote Himalayan community.

The Magnus Isacsson Award, presented to a socially conscious work by a rising Canadian filmmaker, went to Dear Jackie by Quebec’s Henri Pardo. The doc is about Jackie Robinson, who became the first Black man to play in Major League Baseball following a stint with Montreal’s minor league team, and examines racial equality in Quebec.

Finally, the award for best international short or medium-length film went to If You See Her, Say Hello by Jiajun (Oscar) Zhang and Hee Young Pyun, while the prize for best national short or medium-length film went to The Truss Arch by Sonya Stefan.

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