Ava DuVernay adds cast to ‘Caste’
Ava DuVernay is rounding out the cast of her feature film adaptation of Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson’s book “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents.” Oscar nominee Aunjanue Ellis (“King Richard”) was already on board, and now the cast has grown to include fellow queer actress Niecy Nash-Betts, as well as Jon Bernthal, Vera Farmiga, Nick Offerman, Connie Nielsen and Grammy- and Emmy-winning actress Jasmine Cephas Jones. The story revolves around the roots of racism in America, told through the prism of social, economic and cultural factors. It’s a subject DuVernay has explored with great skill and emotional power in the films “Selma,” “13th” and the limited series, “When They See Us,” so this project is definitely in the right hands. Look for this one sometime late in 2023 or maybe 2024.
Penelope Cruz stars in Italian trans drama ‘L’immensità’
Italian filmmaker Emanuele Crialese (“Golden Door,” “Once We Were Strangers”) has been open about being a transgender man for years now, but he has taken the opportunity of his new higher-profile, Penelope Cruz-starring film “L’immensità,” to remind the world of that fact. Set in Rome in the 1970s, the autobiographical story revolves around a family led by and Cruz’s mother character. Of her three children, one is a trans boy, and he fights for his place and his identity in the world when the family isn’t supportive. The film had its North American premiere at the Sundance Film Festival after European runs in 2022, and will most likely take a bow theatrically in the U.S. later this year. With anti-trans sentiment out of control among cultural conservatives, now is exactly the time for more trans stories to be told. Buy a ticket.
‘Schmigadoon!’ adds Tituss Burgess
We’ve spent the interim between seasons one and two of “Schmigadoon!” catching up on some of the musicals referenced in the wild song-filled comedy series (note to everyone: “Carousel” is a trip that might scar you forever), so we’re ready for the next round. The second season will follow stars Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key as they enter the world of “Schmicago” with a storyline that will no doubt be steeped in famous musicals of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. The regulars this time around will include song-and-dance man Tituss Burgess (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”), Broadway regular Patrick Page and a variety of other special guest stars. Musical theater kids, gets ready for the April 7 drop on Apple TV+ for an ongoing game of “Spot the Obscure Reference.”
Ben Whishaw-starring ‘Passages’ picked up by Mubi
The latest film from queer director Ira Sachs, “Passages,” one we reported on over a year ago, has hit Sundance to great acclaim, and a not unsurprising pickup for distribution. Mubi will handle the drama for North American release, and audiences looking for non-sensational bisexual representation will want to take note. The story of a man in a long-term relationship with another man, one who then embarks on an affair with a woman, is explored with actors Ben Whishaw (“Paddington”), “Blue is The Warmest Color” star Adele Exarchopoulos and Franz Rogowski, the German rising star who stunned queer audiences in 2022 in the gay drama “Great Freedom.” The film’s European premiere takes place in February at the Berlin Film Festival, and the planned theatrical bow in North America will take place later in 2023. Be on the lookout.
Romeo San Vicente’s Celebration Tour will involve watching “Who’s That Girl?” over and over.