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Kitsch, Ejiofor flicks come to Palm Springs ‘My Little Pony’ producer to direct ‘Medusa’

LOS ANGELES, June 6, (RTRS): Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rose McGowan and Taylor Kitsch are among the directors who will have films at the 2014 Palm Springs International ShortFest, PSISF organizers announced on Thursday. Actors appearing in the films at the festival, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary, include Oscar Isaac, Danny DeVito, Sarah Paulson, Natalie Dormer, Ioan Gruffudd, Nick Offerman, Jenna Fischer, Sally Hawkins, Jim Broadbent, Tony Hale and Alex Karpovsky. The festival will also include “Human Voice,” a new short from Italian director Edoardo Ponti featuring Ponti’s wife, Sophia Loren. The 330 films to screen in the desert resort town 100 miles east of Los Angeles will include 84 world premieres, 71 North American premieres and 22 US premieres. They will appear in 52 thematically-organized programs and will screen from June 17 to June 23 at the Camelot Theatres in Palm Springs. A 3,000-film short film market will run concurrently.

The complete line-up will be posted on www.psfilmfest.org on June 8, with tickets on sale on June 10. In a press release announcing the selection, PSSF director Kathleen McInnis said this year’s submissions moved “away from the angst-ridden drama of the past few years, and more towards hopefulness and sheer fun.” The festival’s films will include “Dawn” (photo at top), the directorial debut of actress McGowan; “Pieces,” directed by Kitsch; “Columbite Tantalie,” directed by Ejiofor, “Jerome’s Boquet,” directed by Bebe Neuwirth

Others
Others include Sarah Paulson in “#twitterkills,” Nick Offerman in “The Gunfighter,” Jenna Fischer in “It’s Okay,” Sally Hawkins and Jim Broadbent in “The Phone Call,” Shohreh Aghdashloo in “Still Here,” Oscar Isaac in “Ticky Tacky,” Danny Devito in “Today’s The Day” and Alex Karpovsky in “The Young Housefly.”
Also: Jayma Mays in “Awkward Expressions of Love,” Natalie Dormer and Rufus Sewell in “The Brunchers,” Ian Hart in “Conversation with a Cigarette,” Lee Meriwether in “The Curse of the Un-Kissable Kid,” Alan Ruck in “DESTROYER,” Ioan Gruffudd in “Eddie,” Martin Starr in “Leonard in Slow Motion,” Mark Strong in “Nosferatu in Love,” Josh Ackland and Juliet Stevenson in “The Portrait,” Luke Kirby in “Sure Thing,” Sally Kirkland and Burt Young in “Tom in America,” Tony Hale and Frankie Faison in “Trouble & the Shadowy Deathblow,” Rutger Hauer in “Turn,” Richard Kind in “What Cheer?,” Barry Bostwick, Missi Pyle, Cheyenne Jackson, Rob Riggle and Carmen Electra in “Dragula” and Pyle in “Somebody’s Mother.” Winning films in the festival’s 21 competitive categories will receive $21,000 in cash awards and more than $115,000 in total prizes. First-place winners in four categories automatically qualify for the short-film categories at the Oscars. Winners will be announced on Sunday, June 22. In addition, 12 of the festival’s films will screen in an online film festival, with the ShortFest Online Audience Award announced on closing night.

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LOS ANGELES:
Sony Pictures Animation has hired Lauren Faust to direct a movie about Medusa, the snake-haired monster from Greek mythology. Faust created “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic,” a popular television series inspired by the colorful Hasbro toys. “Antz” writer Todd Alcott and producer Holly Golden sold the studio on a comedy pitch about a beautiful, young girl who transforms into Medusa, a gorgon whose gaze turns people to stone. “I love the originality of it, the comedy take on Medusa,” Michelle Raimo-Kouyate, president of production at Sony Animation, told TheWrap. “The minute I heard it, it felt ingenious and clever and funny.” Faust told TheWrap the movie will portray Medusa as a decent girl who irks the wrong goddess.  After turning into a monster, she learns to embrace what makes her different.

Revisionist myths and fairy tales have been popular in Hollywood of late. Disney’s “Maleficent,” which showed the sympathetic side to a classically evil character, has grossed more than $200 million worldwide since opening last week. Sony Pictures Animation hopes Faust can deliver a film that captures the same mix of young men and women who obsessed over her “My Little Pony” series. Her revival of the classic 1980s Hasbro toy property has become such a phenomenon among young men that Faust executive produced and starred in a documentary about its legions of adult fans affectionately known as “Bronies.”

Sony Pictures Animation has had success in the past betting on television directors and writers. The studio hired “Dexter’s Laboratory” creator Genndy Tartakovsky to direct “Hotel Transylvania,” which grossed $358.4 million worldwide in 2012. The sequel, Sony’s next animated movie, is scheduled for next year. Phil Lord and Chris Miller worked on “How I Met Your Mother” and “Clone High” before making “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” another successful Sony Pictures Animation franchise. Before getting her own big break, Faust wrote for “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends” and “The Powerpuff Girls,” created by her husband Craig McCracken. “Medusa” will be her first feature directing job. “In recent years, with movies like ‘Tangled’ and ‘Frozen,’ and not to toot my own horn, the polarity of ‘My Little Pony,’ people are more open to [female protagonists],” Faust told TheWrap. “Just because something is about a girl, that doesn’t mean it’s not for them.”

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