Samuel Goldwyn Films acquires North American rights to Martha Stephens’ period drama ‘To the Stars’

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Kara Hayward, left, and Liana Liberato star in “To the Stars.” [Samuel Goldwyn Films photo]

Samuel Goldwyn Films has announced that the company has acquired the North American rights to Martha Stephens’ feature film “To the Stars.”

The period drama premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in U.S. Dramatic Competition and has played other festivals worldwide, including the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, where the film had its international premiere, according to a news release.

“We were taken with the tender relationship between Liana Liberato and Kara Hayward’s characters, as well as the delightful supporting cast of teens and adults that make this a memorable and heartfelt coming-of-age story. Martha Stephens is a visionary director that balances the comedy, drama, and growing pains of growing up,” said Meg Longo of Samuel Goldwyn Films in a statement.

Filmed in Oklahoma, the movie stars Kara Hayward (“Manchester By The Sea”), Liana Liberato (“The Best of Me”), Tony Hale (HBO’s “Veep”), Jordana Spiro (Netflix’s “Ozark”), Malin Akerman (Showtime’s “Billions”), Shea Whigham (Amazon’s “Homecoming”), Lucas Jade Zumann (TV’s “Anne with an E”), and Adelaide Clemens (SundanceTV’s “Rectify”).

Set in a small town in 1960s Oklahoma, the film centers on bespectacled and reclusive teen Iris (Hayward), who endures the booze-induced antics of her mother and daily doses of bullying from her classmates. She finds solace in Maggie (Liberato), the charismatic and enigmatic new girl at school, who hones in on Iris’s untapped potential and coaxes her out of her shell. When Maggie’s mysterious past can no longer be suppressed, the tiny community is thrown into a state of panic, leaving Maggie to take potentially drastic measures and inciting Iris to stand up for her friend and herself.

“Fifteen years ago while I was in film school, the last thing I’d see before shutting my eyes for the night was a poster of David Lynch’s ‘Wild at Heart’ tacked onto my pockmarked wall. The iconic Samuel Goldwyn logo stamped at the poster’s bottom represented a sort of success that I could only long for at that time. How cool is it to come full circle?” said Stephens in a statement.

As previously reported on my BAM’s Blog, Stephens’ previous film, “Land Ho!” premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and won the John Cassavetes Award at the 2015 Film Independent Spirit Awards.

Directed by Stephens, “To the Stars” was written by Shannon Bradley-Colleary. The film was produced by Kristin Mann, Laura D. Smith, and Erik Rommesmo and executive produced by Carlos Enrique Cuscó, Emerson Machtus. Natalia Busquets, Kevin Christianson, Joe Christianson, Karen Schlossman, Jeff Schlossman, Bill Wallwork, Kerri Elder and Blake Elder. The film was financed by Northern Lights Films, Foton Pictures and Rockhill Studios, and produced in association with Prowess Pictures, according to the news release.

Also as previously reported, “To the Stars” began production in early March 2018 in Enid and filmed throughout the community and surrounding region for 18 days, followed by three days in the Bartlesville area this June. Additional filming took place in the Oklahoma cities of Wakita, Kremlin, Hennessey, Pond Creek, Perry and Bartlesville.

The film used the Oklahoma Film Enhancement Rebate Program administered by Oklahoma Film + Music Office.

The deal was negotiated by Peter Goldwyn and Meg Longo on behalf of Samuel Goldwyn Films and CAA on behalf of the filmmakers. International rights to the film are represented by International Film Trust.

A representative for Samuel Goldwyn Films tells me that a release date for the film has yet to be announced, but it will be in 2020.


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