Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck have teamed up to make two pretty excellent movies, Half-Nelson and Sugar, on minimal budgets and with virtually no known actors. While you might suggest they not mess with a winning formula, I'm totally pumped to see what they do on a slightly bigger scale with It's Kind of a Funny Story, an adaptation of Ned Vizzini's novel that will star United States of Tara's Keir Gilchrist as a teenage kid accidentally admitted to an adult mental ward.
The cast is full of lots of names you'll recognize-- Zach Galifianakis, Viola Davis, Lauren Graham-- and it sounds like the kind of human story that Fleck and Boden really know how to tell. Below is the full press release sent today by Focus Features announcing the start of filming.
NEW YORK, November 30, 2009 – Acclaimed writer/directors Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck’s new film It’s Kind of a Funny Story begins production in New York City this week. Focus Features holds worldwide rights to the project, which it is co-financing with Wayfare Entertainment.
Kevin Misher, who most recently produced Michael Mann’s Public Enemies and Dito Montiel’s Fighting, is producing It’s Kind of a Funny Story through his Misher Films with Wayfare Entertainment’s Ben Browning. Wayfare’s Michael Maher and Peter Rawlinson are executive producers; the company is in pre-production on the 3-D underwater epic Sanctum, to be executive-produced by James Cameron. Journeyman Pictures’ Jeremy Kipp Walker (Half Nelson, Sugar) is also executive producer of It’s Kind of a Funny Story.
Keir Gilchrist, who stars as the title character’s son on the hit television series United States of Tara, has the film’s lead role. Costarring are Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover), Emma Roberts (of the upcoming Valentine’s Day), Academy Award nominee Viola Davis (Doubt), Zoe Kravitz (The Brave One), Aasif Mandvi (The Proposal), Lauren Graham (of this winter’s NBC series Parenthood), and Jim Gaffigan (of Focus’ Away We Go).
The comedy-drama has been adapted by Ms. Boden & Mr. Fleck from Ned Vizzini’s 2006 novel of the same name; 16-year-old Craig (played by Mr. Gilchrist), stressed out from the demands of being a teenager, checks himself into a mental health clinic. There he learns that the youth ward is closed – and finds himself stuck in the adult ward. One of the patients, Bobby (Mr. Galifianakis), soon becomes both Craig’s mentor and protégé. Craig is also quickly drawn to another 16-year-old, Noelle (Ms. Roberts). With a minimum five days’ stay imposed on him, Craig is sustained by friendships on both the inside and the outside as he learns more about life, love, and the pressures of growing up. Ms. Davis plays Dr. Minerva, the adult ward’s staff psychiatrist; Ms. Kravitz portrays Nia, Craig’s longtime crush; Mr. Mandvi is cast as Dr. Mahmoud, a hospital psychiatrist; and Ms. Graham and Mr. Gaffigan play Craig’s parents, Lynn and George.
The movie is the third feature from the filmmaking team of Ms. Boden & Mr. Fleck, following Half Nelson (2006), for which lead actor Ryan Gosling received an Academy Award nomination, and Sugar, which was released theatrically earlier this year. Focus director of production Matthew Plouffe is supervising It’s Kind of a Funny Story for president of production John Lyons. It’s Kind of a Funny Story is scheduled to be released by Focus in November 2010.
Focus Features and Focus Features International (FFI) (www.filminfocus.com) together comprise a singular global company, dedicated to producing, acquiring, financing, selling, and distributing original and daring films from emerging and established filmmakers – films that challenge mainstream moviegoers to embrace and enjoy voices and visions from around the world. The company’s flexible and nuanced approach to distribution allows it to support a wide range of films, from those geared to a single local market to worldwide hits. The company operates as Focus Features domestically, and as Focus Features International overseas.
In addition to It’s Kind of a Funny Story, current and upcoming Focus Features movies include Greenberg, the new film from writer/director Noah Baumbach, starring Ben Stiller; the unique nonfiction feature Babies, directed by Thomas Balmès; Academy Award winner Kevin Macdonald’s Roman epic adventure The Eagle of the Ninth, starring Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell, Donald Sutherland, and Mark Strong; Anton Corbijn’s suspense thriller The American, starring George Clooney; Academy Award-winning writer/director Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere; and Academy Award-winning writer/directors Joel and Ethan Coen’s A Serious Man, starring Michael Stuhlbarg.
Focus Features and Focus Features International are part of NBC Universal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. Formed in May 2004 through the combining of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, NBC Universal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. NBC Universal is 80% owned by General Electric and 20% owned by Vivendi.