‘Seagrass’ Starring Ally Maki to Debut in U.S. Theaters With Special Q&A Screenings – Film News in Brief

Meredith Hama-Brown’s feature debut “Seagrass,” starring Ally Maki, will debut in U.S. theaters on Feb. 22, beginning with special screenings with the cast and director.

Q&A’s will be held at New York’s Roxy Cinema and Los Angeles’ Laemmle Royal on Feb. 22 and Las Vegas’ Regal Theatre on Feb. 23. Maki will be in Los Angeles, Hama-Brown and cinematographer Norm Li will be in New York, and actor Chris Pang will be in Las Vegas. The film will also have its U.S. festival premiere at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, screening on Feb. 12 and Feb. 13.

More from Variety

The synopsis for “Seagrass” reads, “Set in the mid 1990’s, a Japanese Canadian woman (Maki) grappling with the recent death of her mother brings her family to a self-development retreat. When her distressed relationship with her husband begins to affect the children’s emotional security, the family is forever changed.”

In addition to Maki and Pang, the cast includes Luke Roberts and Sarah Gadon.

After screening at TIFF, “Seagrass” received the International Film Critics Awards FIPRESCI Prize and was chosen for Canada’s TIFF Top Ten showcase screening.

Watch the “Seagrass” trailer below.

Production Team Announced for 96th Oscars

The production team for the 96th Oscars has been revealed by executive producer and showrunner Raj Kapoor and executive producers Molly McNearney and Katy Mullan.

Rob Paine and Taryn Hurd return as co-executive producer and talent producer, respectively. Sarah Levine Hall, Erin Irwin and Jennifer Sharron return as producers. Rickey Minor is back as music director while Bob Dickinson and Noah Mitz reprise their roles as lighting designers.

The writers for the 96th Oscars are Jamie Abrahams, Rory Albanese, Amberia Allen, Tony Barbieri, Jonathan Bines, Joelle Boucai, Bryan Cook, Blaire Erskine, Devin Field, Gary Greenberg, Josh Halloway, Eric Immerman, Jesse Joyce, Kimmel, Carol Leifer, Jon Macks, Mitch Marchand, Greg Martin, Jesse McLaren, McNearney, Keaton Patti, Danny Ricker, Louis Virtel and Troy Walker.

Previously announced members of the production team include director Hamish Hamilton and production designers Misty Buckley and Alana Billingsley.

The 2024 Oscars will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel and take place on March 10, airing live on ABC.

Billie Eilish to Receive Vanguard Spotlight Award at Costume Designers Guild Awards

Billie Eilish will be honored with the inaugural Vanguard Spotlight Award at the 26th CDGA (Costume Designers Guild Awards).

The Vanguard Spotlight Award celebrates a trailblazer who ignites the imaginations of cognoscenti and audiences alike. This accolade is a tribute to a performing artist who sets new standards in their sphere, not only for their outstanding achievements but also for their courage as a visionary that serves as an inspiration to us all, the guild said.

As previously announced, the costume designers behind “Maestro,” “Barbie,” “Poor Things,” “Oppenheimer,” “Killers of the Flower Moon” and “Napoleon” will vie for the top prizes. Annette Bening is set to receive the Spotlight Award

The Costume Designers Guild awards will be handed out on Feb. 21 at Neuehouse in Hollywood, Ca. This year, the guild welcomes Western Costume Company as their premier sponsor. Westfield Century City is returning as a supporting sponsor.

Sun Valley Film Festival Lineup Announced: Ted Hope to Receive Pioneer Award Presented by Variety

The Sun Valley Film Festival has announced this year’s lineup. Running from Feb. 28 to March 3, the 13th annual event will screen 20 narrative and documentary features, 37 shorts and three episodics. The festival will also honor Ted Hope with the Pioneer Award presented by Variety and Julia Cox with the High Scribe Award, joining previous Vision Award honorees Annette Bening and David O. Russell.

“Ezra,” directed by Tony Goldwyn, will be the opening night film, which stars Bobby Cannavale, Rose Byrne and Robert DeNiro. The closing night film is the documentary “Sugarcane,” directed by Julian Brave NoiseCat and Emily Kassie.

“This year’s lineup spotlights exciting narrative programming and vital feature documentaries, both sprawling in scope and determined in the very best of contemporary cinema,” SVFF founder Teddy Grennan and SVFF director Candice Pate said in a joint statement. “The Sun Valley Film Festival remains committed to a diverse experience for our Sun Valley audience, establishing a community for cinematic conversation in our snowy Shangri-La, a place for critical commentary, lively parties, and flourishing works from master filmmakers.”

Hope will receive the Pioneer Award presented by Variety, which recognizes an industry innovator. As a producer on over 70 films, Hope’s films have received 25 Oscar nominations and six wins. This honor will be celebrated at the festival’s Pioneer Party on March 1. On March 3, Hope will receive the award and participate in a coffee talk moderated by Variety. Cox, the screenwriter of “Nyad,” will receive the High Scribe Award as part of the Festival’s Screenwriters Lab on March 2.

Bening and Russell will be honored at the Vision Dinner on March 1 and discuss their career achievements during coffee talks. Additionally, Russell will participate in a screening and Q&A of “American Hustle” on March 2, and Bening will participate in a special screening of the short “Ten Thousand Mile Bridge” on Feb. 29.

The festival will also host a panel on March 1 titled “AI in Service of Storytelling,” presented in partnership with the nonprofit Artificial Intelligence Los Angeles.

For additional information on the festival and the full lineup, visit

Spike Lee to be Honored With American Society of Cinematographers Board of Governors Awards

The American Society of Cinematographers will honor Spike Lee with its Board of Governors Award at the 38th Annual ASC Outstanding Achievement Awards Gala on March 3 at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif.

The ASC Board of Governors Award is given to collaborators who are “champions for directors of photography and the visual art form.” Lee was chosen for his “significant and indelible contributions to cinema.”

“Spike Lee is one of the most brilliant filmmakers of our time and the social impact of his work is immeasurable,” Shelly Johnson, ASC president, said in a statement. “This award celebrates his respect for the partnership between director and cinematographer, and how two people unite to tell a visual story in a way that can only be recognized as that of collaboration.”

Over his three-decade-spanning career, Lee has directed and produced over 30 films, starting with “She’s Gotta Have It” (1986), which Lee premiered at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival and earned him the Prix de la Jeunesse Award. Lee would then go on to receive an Academy Award nomination for best original screenplay for 1989’s “Do the Right Thing.” In 2019, “BlacKkKlansman” earned Lee an Oscar for best adapted screenplay and nominations for best picture and best Director.

Outside of filmmaking, Lee is a faculty member at NYU’s Tisch School of Graduate Film Program, where, in addition to being a tenured professor, was recently appointed artistic director in 2022. Lee has also provided grants to NYU student productions via his Spike Lee Production Fund. Since its inception in 1989, 92 students have been awarded grants of $1 million.

Previous recipients of the ASC Board of Governors include Viola Davis, Sofia Coppola, Jeff Bridges, Angelina Jolie, Denzel Washington, Ridley Scott, Barbra Streisand, Harrison Ford, Julia Roberts, Christopher Nolan, Morgan Freeman, Francis Ford Coppola, Sally Field, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, among others.

Sony Pictures Unveils Historic Film Studio Personality Quiz for Columbia Pictures’ 100th Anniversary Celebration

Sony Pictures Entertainment [SPE] has announced the launch of a unique genre-based personality quiz, marking the first of this scale for the studio. This quiz invites fans to dive into the legacy of some of the studio’s most iconic features and series, offering a personalized and unparalleled experience in celebration of Columbia Pictures 100th Anniversary.

The quiz provides a unique and interactive digital fan experience, and signals the next phase of
many celebratory initiatives planned for its iconic anniversary.

“Envisioning an experience where fans could not just watch but see themselves within our
iconic titles, we designed a dynamic personality quiz that takes them on a captivating journey
through our extensive library,” explained Rose Phillips, Senior Vice President, Global Digital
Marketing and Social, Sony Pictures Entertainment. “This is a chance for fans to relive or
rediscover our cherished titles, capturing a piece of our studio’s historic legacy to share on
social media, and a fun way for fans to express their TV and movie interests while forging a
deeper emotional bond during our fan-led celebration of the studio’s 100th anniversary.”

Users can participate in the quiz at, join the celebration using #ColumbiaPictures100 and follow along via the below social media channels. Fans can also explore and add their favorite Columbia Pictures titles to their collection at

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.