Director Daniel Branz's last directorial effort was the doomed teen romance Beastly, which opened in March after many delays to some vicious reviews; it actually turned a profit on its $17 million budget, but was nothing resembling a hit, despite featuring High School Musical's Vanessa Hudgens and up-and-comer Alex Pettyfer as its leads. So its probably a good sign that for his next project he's trying something completely different; according to Deadline he's moving on to direct Still I Rise, a drama about public education that will star Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

And given the cast and the story, it could be more interesting than you might expect from "a drama about public education." Davis and Gyllenhaal play two mothers who are frustrated by the state of their local public schools and "join forces to transform an inner-city public school." Yes, it sounds kind of Dangerous Minds-ish, but given the constantly declining school system, we could probably use another one of those. Production starts very soon, on May 23, now that Gyllenhaal is done shooting the period vibrator comedy Hysteria and presumably to wrap in time for Davis to do the publicity rounds for her upcoming role in The Help. Both Davis and Gyllenhaal are recent Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominees, and I think it'll be fantastic to see them work together in a story that, at least on paper, looks really promising.

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