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Focus Features ‘Milk’ out Van Sant’s next project

It's official. Gus Van Sant  is beating out Bryan Singer and The Mayor of Castro Street as the first on screen project on Harvey Milk. One of the hottest properties seeking dollars among independent production company financiers, Milk which begins principal photography in January on location in San Francisco will be backed by Groundswell Prods. and Focus Features will handle worldwide distribution of the film.

The other big news is that Sean Penn is taking on one of those roles that falls more in line with his perfs in The Assassination of Richard Nixon and 21 Grams rather than The Interpreter and All the King's Men. Van Sant and Penn both collaborated on the short film compilation called 8

Its safe to say that this won,t fall in the same line as Van Sant's last 4 features – I expect him to be working from a more 'detailed' screenplay.

Variety reports that Bruna Papandrea of Groundswell, William Horberg and “Milk” screenwriter Dustin Lance Black have come aboard as executive producers. Groundswell CEO Michael London also will serve in a producing capacity on the film.

Bill Groom will be the production designer on the biopic that takes place during the 70's and Harris Savides will serve as cinematographer. Van Sant last worked with Savides on his trilogy of auteur art films Gerry, Elephant, Last Days. Christopher Doyle DOP'd GVS' Paranoid Park.

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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