John Boorman To Direct ‘Underground’ In Film Bridge/Merlin Deal; Rocket Science & Front Row Form Middle East Venture Yalla Yalla – Cannes Briefs

Film Bridge International has entered into a two-picture production deal with Dublin-based Merlin Films headed by Kieran Corrigan and Deliverance director, John Boorman. Film Bridge founder and CEO Ellen Wander will partner with Corrigan and Boorman to produce two features, heist thriller Underground and gritty action thriller Assassins Club. Boorman, whose latest work as director was 2015’s Queen & Country, will helm the former with Stephen Saint Leger (Vikings) on the latter. Worldwide sales will be handled by Wander in Cannes. Underground is set in Boston where an Irish mob family is struggling to get out of the business, but is tempted by the discovery of an abandoned tunnel beneath Tiffany & Co. Assassins Club centers on a man offered a contract to kill seven people from around the globe. The targets, in turn, are also assassins with contracts to kill him. The only way out is to leave a trail of bodies behind and to find the mastermind who set them all up.

Rocket Science and Middle East distributor and producer Front Row Filmed Entertainment have entered into a joint venture to form Dubai-based film and TV company Yalla Yalla. The new venture will focus on Arabic language entertainment and has enlisted former Wild Bunch Head of Acquisitions, Rita Dagher, to serve as a creative producer. Dagher’s credits include A Prayer Before Dawn, Miss Julie, Four Lions and Fahrenheit 9/11. Yalla Yalla will develop, package, produce and finance TV and feature projects for the rapidly expanding Middle East and North Africa territory, with a view to expanding beyond the region. The team has already been active in acquiring remake rights as well as developing original content with the aim of having four films and two television series produced within the first 18 months.

Verizon Media is to release documentary 5B theatrically on June 14 as part of its commitment to championing compelling content that gives voice to important issues through global reach, technology and innovative storytelling. An inspirational story of the people behind the first HIV/AIDS ward unit in the U.S., 5B utilizes first-person testimony from nurses, caregivers, their patients, loved ones and staff who volunteered to create care practices based in humanity and holistic well-being during a time of great uncertainty. The documentary, presented by Verizon’s RYOT, will support (RED)’s fight to end AIDS, with a portion of 5B’s net proceeds going to support the work of the Global Fund. The film premieres in Cannes as a Special Screening on May 16 with such supporters as Julianne Moore, Miles Teller, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and others on hand, alongside co-director Dan Krauss and the original Ward 5B nurses and more folks featured in the doc. Verizon has engaged Vertical Entertainment to distribute the film. Prior to its domestic release, an LA premiere will be held at the annual LA Pride event on June 7.

The European Film Academy has chosen to honor Werner Herzog with its Lifetime Achievement Award at the European Film Awards later this year. Herzog is in Cannes with Family Romance, LLC, a Japanese-language title that’s screening here out of competition. Throughout his long career, the filmmaker has produced, written, and directed more than 70 features and documentaries including Fitzcarraldo; Nosferatu, The Vampire; Every Man For Himself And God Against All; Invincible; Grizzly Man, Encounters At The End Of The World, Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call – New Orleans and Cave Of Forgotten Dreams.

CineTel Films has boarded sales on Dolph Lundgren-starrer Wanted Man. Written by Michael Worth from a story by he and Lundgren, the film focuses on Travis Johansen (Lundgren), a drunk, washed-up San Diego police sergeant who’s sent to Mexico to bring back a prisoner who will testify in an investigation into the murder of two police officers. Rosa, the prisoner, is a Mexican hooker involved with local drug cartels. The story traces the love-hate relationship between Johansen and his colorful captive. Producer is Natalie Burn; exec producers are Paul Hertzberg, Lisa Hansen, Eric Brenner and Craig Baumgarten. Lundgren recently appeared in Aquaman and Creed II.

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