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Film News Roundup: Joaquin Phoenix Honored by Palm Springs Film Festival

Dave McNary

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In today’s film news roundup, Joaquin Phoenix is honored for “Joker”; Legion M backs Joe Manganiello’s “Archenemy”; sales have launched on “Lev Yashin: The Dream Goalkeeper”; Warner Bros. shuffles execs and Universal launches a first-of-its-kind animation writing program.

HONOR

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Joaquin Phoenix has been selected as the recipient of the Palm Springs International Film Festival’s chairman’s award for his performance in “Joker.”

The award will be presented by “Joker” co-writer/director/producer Todd Phillips on Jan. 2 at the Palm Springs Convention Center.

“Joaquin Phoenix mesmerizes audiences in ‘Joker’ with a performance that elicits empathy and reminds society on the whole that we can be better,” said Festival Chairman Harold Matzner.

FINANCING

Legion M has joined SpectreVision as executive producer and financier in the upcoming feature “Archenemy,” starring Joe Manganiello.

Adam Egypt Mortimer is directing from his own script about Max Fist, who claims to be a hero from another dimension who fell through time and space to earth, where he has no powers. No one believes his stories except for a local teen named Hamster and his older sister, Indigo.

SpectreVision and Legion M also announced that Glenn Howerton has signed on to play an eccentric but brutal crime boss while Amy Seimetz joins as Max’s nemesis from his home planet. Fan-owned Legion M helped finance “Mandy,” the documentary “Memory: The Origins of Alien” and Kevin Smith’s “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot.”

AFM SALES

Hannibal Media has received multiple offers from China and Eastern Europe for its sports drama “Lev Yashin: The Dream Goalkeeper.”

Hannibal launched sales last week at the American Film Market in Santa Monica, Calif. The film is directed by Vasiliy Chiginskiy from a script by Aleksandr Polozov, Valdimir Valutskiy and Kremlin Film producer Oleg Kapanets.

Aleksandr Fokin stars in the title role opposite Yuliya Khlynina. The feature is set to premiere in Russia on Nov. 28 through MeGoGo.

WARNER EXECUTIVES

Jon Gilbert, who serves as president of Warner Bros. Worldwide Studio Operations, will move into an executive advisor role with Jeff Nagler being promoted to the presidency on Feb. 1.

“Under Jon and Jeff’s leadership for the last two decades, Warner Bros.’ studio operations, post production creative services and studio tours have become the industry standard for excellence,” said Ann Sarnoff, chair and CEO.

“Filmmakers and creative talent truly love the beautiful environment and collaborative atmosphere at our studios,” she added. “I want to thank Jon for his many contributions and I’m grateful we’ll still be able to tap into his expertise as an advisor to the studio.”

ANIMATION WRITERS

Universal Filmed Entertainment Group has launched the Universal Animation Writers Program, a first-of-its-kind animation writing program for both feature film and television content.

The one-year, paid program will partner with business units and production entities affiliated with UFEG including DreamWorks Animation, Illumination and Universal 1440 Entertainment. The program is attempting to find an inclusive group of talent who can build upon the studio’s commitment to telling stories with unique narratives that appeal to and reflect the vast diversity of its audiences.

“Representation in the family entertainment space is so important as all young audiences should be able to see themselves and their families portrayed onscreen,” said Janine Jones-Clark, senior VP of global talent development and inclusion.

The application can be found at www.UniversalTalentDevelopment.com and will be available through Dec. 16 with the Program commencing in June.

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