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Production notes, photos and promotional video © 2007 Lionsgate


SUNU GONERA (Director)
KEVIN MICHAEL SMITH (Story/Screenplay)
MICHAEL GOZZARD (Story/Screenplay)
J. MILLS GOODLOE (Screenplay)
NORMAN VANCE, JR. (Screenplay)
BRETT FORBES (Producer)
PATRICK RIZZOTTI (Producer)
MICHAEL OHOVEN (Producer)
ADAM ROSENFELT (Producer)
PAUL HALL (Producer)
STEVE SAKLAD (Production Designer)
PAUL SIMMONS (Costume Designer)
JAY FAIRES (Music Supervisor)
ANYA COLLOFF and AMY MCINTYRE BRITT (Casting)
DANIELLA J. IRLE (Swimming Coach)
KONRAD RIBIERO (Swimming Coach)
BILLY FOX, A.C.E. (Editor)
 
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FILMMAKERS BIOS

SUNU GONERA (Director)

Hailing from the townships of Zimbabwe during the time of the Civil War, Sunu has managed in a very short space of time, to carve out a career which sounds less like a real life and more like a movie. A scholarship at a private school in Zimbabwe and excellent sporting prowess opened doors to international travel and ultimately another scholarship to the University of Cape Town, where he completed a degree in Organizational Psychology.

Successful sporting achievements and a lucrative banking career were quickly overtaken by his long-term dream of acting and making movies. Sunu quickly worked his way up in the film industry, and within three short years garnered several prestigious directing awards, that were the result not just of his refreshing talent, but also of his courage, diligence and persistence.

Dubbed in the world of commercials’ as one of the finest directing talents, he continues to produce a body of work with a unique voice that has inspired such prestigious clients as Nike, VW, Coca Cola and U.S Tennis Association to mention a few. His short film RIDING WITH SUGAR, based on his own full-length, feature script, screened at Cannes in 2006. In June of the same year, he beat out several more seasoned Hollywood directors and landed his first full length feature directing assignment with Lionsgate.

Five months later, Sunu sold his home in South Africa, and moved his wife and kids to Hollywood to make his feature directorial debut on PRIDE. Taking a look back at Sunu’s life, one can imagine the honesty and insight that he is able to bring to a story about an underdog black swim team who through determination, passion and burning ambition came to realize their dreams.

The future looks bright for this talented filmmaker. In development is CHURCH BOY with Lionsgate. Pic will chart Franklin's journey from troubled teenager to regular churchgoer and top selling artist who changed the face of contemporary gospel by introducing elements of R&B, hiphop, rock and pop.

In addition Sunu is will be writing and directing BLOODLINE for Morgan Freeman and Lori McCreary’s Revelations Entertainment. BLOODLINE is a complex crime drama about family members on opposite sides of the law torn apart by their conflicting loyalties to their causes. Sunu is married to Rene, a stylist and interior designer. They have two children.

KEVIN MICHAEL SMITH (Story/Screenplay)

The style of Kevin Michael Smith is best described as stories about common people demonstrating uncommon valor to bring about change.

After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 1982, Kevin became a member of New York radio station WHTZ’s “Z-Morning Zoo." As "Captain Kevin," Kevin became the youngest sports director in New York City media history.

In 1985, Kevin voiced-over a character on the CBS sitcom, "Foley Square."

By 1988, Kevin returned to Pittsburgh, as an investigative and sports reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Newspaper.

In 1996, Kevin was named Executive Producer for the Pittsburgh Penguins Hockey Team, designing a two -time Tell Award winning and Emmy nominated magazine show called "Pens Confidential".

Kevin's writing began to gain regional and national notoriety while he was sports director and producer at WTAE-TV, where he earned three more Emmy nominations, four Golden Quill Awards, four Associated Press Awards, a National Headliners Award and the prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award.

In February, 2003, Kevin and his wife, Deborah Lynn, moved to Los Angeles and immediately found success in the world of screenwriting, optioning two scripts, including “PRIDE” (formerly PDR). In August, 2004, Kevin served as producer and writer for a television pilot, “The Tryout” hosted by Dan Marino.

As a co-principal of Inspired by…Films, Kevin and his producing partners Nicole T. Renna and Derrick Mayes have fashioned a slate of more than 40 projects ranging from feature films, to television episodics, to animation features, to Reality television, to stage plays. Kevin is an active member of the Writers Guild of America.

Kevin, his wife Deborah and their son, Connor Charles, reside in El Segundo, California.

MICHAEL GOZZARD (Story/Screenplay)

Before becoming a fulltime screenwriter, Michael was the Senior Vice President of Development for Fortress Entertainment, as well as Story Editor for Oscar winning actor Morgan Freeman’s production company, Revelations Entertainment. During his tenure at Revelations Entertainment, Michael helped develop such Morgan Freeman films as BRUCE ALMIGHTY staring Jim Carrey, Stephen King’s DREAMCATCHERS and LEVITY staring Billy Bob Thornton.

Michael has also worked as a reader and story analyst for John Crosby Management (who represents actors Renee Russo and William Hurt), as well as producer Anne Marie Gillen (Executive Producer of FRIED GREEN TOMATOES).

Michael recently created his own production company; Pennlyn Productions (www.pennlyn.com), where he will produce, direct, and write film and TV projects under the shingle. Most notably, Michael will make his feature film directing debut on a project he wrote entitled “Sensei”, a story based on his experience teaching English in Japan.

Born in Silver Springs, Maryland, but raised in Philadelphia, Michael graduated from Temple University’s film school before making Hollywood his home. Michael is also a professional photographer, as well as a former radio DJ / talk show host.

J. MILLS GOODLOE (Screenplay)

Director and screenwriter J. Mills Goodloe grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. He began his career as an assistant to Richard Donner, the director of such films as SUPERMAN, THE OMEN and the enormously successful LETHAL WEAPON series. After working as Mr. Donner¹s assistant on LETHAL WEAPON 3 and MAVERICK, Goodloe became an associate producer on ASSASSINS starring Sylvester Stallone and Julianne Moore. In 1996, Goodloe was named president of Richard Donner Productions. Over the next four years, Goodloe produced CONPIRACY THEORY starring Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts and LETHAL WEAPON 4 starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover as well as several independent films for HBO.

In January of 2000, Goodloe left Donner Productions to write and direct the award-winning A GENTLEMAN’S GAME which starred Gary Sinise, Dylan Baker and Philip Baker Hall. In 2003, he wrote and developed an original screenplay, THE AGE OF ADALINE for Steve Golin’s Anonymous Content. In 2004, Goodloe wrote the screenplay for Walt Disney Studio’s VOLPONI which is set in the world of thoroughbred horse racing.

In 2005, Goodloe was hired to adapt John Grisham’s bestseller novel BLEACHERS for Revolution Studios. His next project will be directing his original screenplay AUGUST AND EVERYTHING AFTER which will star Pierce Brosnan. Goodloe is based in Los Angeles.

NORMAN VANCE, JR. (Screenplay)

Norman Vance, Jr. was born and raised in San Diego, California. He attended Southern University A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on a baseball scholarship, and received a B.S. Degree in Marketing and Business. After college, Vance worked for Pepsi Cola Bottling in Buena Park, California as a Sales Manager. Self taught, he began writing television specs. After a few years at Pepsi, Vance decided to step out on faith and quit, and soon after pursued a career in comedy writing. Two weeks after letting Pepsi go, he received an opportunity at BET writing for a show called “Comic-View.” After that, Vance went on to write on network shows, "The Parent 'Hood" (for WB), “Moesha” (for UPN) and “Girlfriends,” where he served as Supervising Producer. In 2003, Vance sold his first feature spec ROLL BOUNCE (Fox Searchlight) which was produced in 2005. He also was a credited writer on BEAUTY SHOP (MGM) in 2005. Most recently, in 2006 he sold a feature to Fox 2000 called THE CHAMPIONS and is currently working on various other assignments with multiple studios.

BRETT FORBES (Producer)

Brett Forbes grew up in Beverly Hills and graduated from Beverly Hills High School. He next attended Loyola Marymount University where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications in 2000.

Throughout high school and college, he worked in commercial photography production for leading photographers, such as Peggy Sirota and the late Herb Ritts. Following college, Forbes worked in network television production at Fox TV.

Always knowing he wanted to produce, and being counseled about entrepreneurial opportunities by his stepfather-lawyer, Bruce Fishelman, Brett waited for the right opportunity to make his mark. In 2002, opportunity and preparation merged, as Brett and his partner, Patrick Rizzotti, developed a business model using a pool of relatively modest investment funds to finance the development of many early-stage commercially viable feature films.

"First money in" is traditionally the hardest capital for creative talent to raise, and the new partners realized they could offer valuable alternatives to traditional studio financing. The result of their idea was a new breed of film development hedge fund.

The model is designed so that low per-project investments with a modest overhead can result in highly leveraged returns when successful. By providing more freedom and opportunity to the creative talent, the partners establish long-lasting relationships built on mutual accomplishment. Brett Forbes now serves as a manager of American Film Capital funds, and is Co-Chief Executive Officer of Fortress Features. Brett’s mother, Bonnie Forbes, is currently the head of television development and production for Fortress. Fortress is represented by Paradigm Talent Agency.

PATRICK RIZZOTTI (Producer)

Patrick Rizzotti was born and raised in Chatsworth, California. He grew up in an Irish-Italian family that greatly encouraged his obvious love for film, television and sports. Patrick attended California State University Northridge, where he majored in radio, television and film and graduated in 2000. An accomplished athlete, Patrick learned many important life lessons as a college and semi-pro baseball player.

Throughout college, Patrick worked for private venture capital firms raising funds for independent features. In 2001, Patrick formed PTR Productions, where he developed and implemented mixed media campaigns for corporate clients, including ESPN, Fox Sports, AOL/Time Warner Cable and Universal.

In 2002, Patrick and his partner Brett Forbes developed a business model using a pool of relatively modest investment funds to finance the development of many early-stage commercially viable feature films.

"First money in" is traditionally the hardest capital for creative talent to raise, and the new partners realized they could offer valuable alternatives to traditional studio financing. The result of their idea was a new breed of film development hedge fund.

The model is designed so that low per-project investments with a relatively modest overhead can result in highly leveraged returns when successful. By providing more freedom and opportunity to the creative talent, the partners establish long-lasting relationships built on mutual accomplishment.

Patrick Rizzotti now serves as a manager of American Film Capital funds, and is Co-Chief Executive Officer of Fortress Features. Fortress is represented by Paradigm Talent Agency.

MICHAEL OHOVEN (Producer)

Michael Ohoven formed Infinity Media, Inc. in 2000 and is the company’s Chief Executive Officer. Raised and educated in Germany, Ohoven learned financing and institutional investment at the prestigious Commerzbank and at the family’s investment bank.

While studying economics and business administration at one of Germany’s leading universities, he joined the International Corporate Affairs division of RTL Television, Europe’s largest private broadcaster, where he was mentored by the station’s renowned founder, television mogul Professor Helmut Thoma. After two and a half years, Ohoven left the company to create Infinity Media, Inc. Under his leadership, the company quickly established strong working relationships with major studios, talent representatives, and financial institutions.

Infinity Media, Inc. has produced a wide range of films, including FRAILTY, QUICKSAND, DEAD HEAT, LIBERTY STANDS STILL, EVELYN, CONFIDENCE, THE HUMAN STAIN (2003 AFI Award Winner), THE SNOW WALKER (nominated for 9 Genie Awards including Best Picture), THE FINAL CUT, UNDISCOVERED and SAVED!.

Currently, Ohoven oversees all phases of feature film production, focusing on script development and financing. He produced Rob Zombie’s THE DEVIL’S REJECTS (2005), JUST FRIENDS (2005), THE CAVE (2005), THE WOODS (2005), RIPLEY UNDER GROUND (2005), and the critically acclaimed CAPOTE (2005) which received five Oscar nominations including ‘Best Picture’ and for which Philip Seymour Hoffman was awarded the Oscar for Best Actor.

Upcoming films include BUG (Ashley Judd, Michael Shannon).

ADAM ROSENFELT (Producer)

As President of Element Films, Adam Rosenfelt directs the overall operations of the independent film company and oversees the production of each of its feature film releases.

Rosenfelt moved to Los Angeles to embark on a career in film five months after graduating from Cornell University in 1992. At the age of 23, he produced his first feature film, a thriller entitled Starstruck, starring previous Academy Award® nominees, Karen Black (House of 1000 Corpses) and Russ Tamblyn (West Side Story). The next year, Rosenfelt became an agent at Innovative Artists. Soon thereafter, he moved to the Gersh Agency where he continued to excel as a literary agent, representing a talented collection of writers and directors and selling numerous spec screenplays.

In 1996, Rosenfelt moved to HSI Productions to run its management division. In 1998 cofounded HSI Entertainment Inc., the feature film production arm of the company, with HSI’s President Stavros Merjos. Rosenfelt’s producing credits at HSI include: The Third Wheel with Ben Affleck , Luke Wilson and Denise Richards; and Confessions of An American Girl starring Jena Malone and Brad Renfro .

Rosenfelt was instrumental in the development of HSI’s alliance with SBE Entertainment Group in 2002 and the formation of Element Films by SBE and HSI in 2004, which resulted in Rosenfelt being named President of Element. That venture already has eight films completed, including: Mr. Brooks, starring Kevin Costner, Demi Moore, Dane Cook and William Hurt; Pride starting Terrence Howard and Bernie Mac; Down In The Valley, starring Edward Norton, Evan Rachel Wood, and David Morse; Five Fingers, starring Laurence Fishburne and Ryan Phillipe; The Last Time starring Michael Keaton and Brendan Fraser; and Waiting, starring Ryan Reynolds, Justin Long, Luis Guzman and Anna Faris.

In addition to his film producing efforts, Rosenfelt spearheads the development of Element’s strategic initiatives including: playing a key role in the development and implementation of the State of Louisiana’s groundbreaking motion picture tax credit program; orchestrating in the creation of LA Squared,Element’s unique public/private film financing fund in partnership with the State of Louisiana’s Economic Development Corporation; and developing Element’s relationship with Lionsgate (which resulted in a nine-picture, three-year distribution agreement) and other distributors.

PAUL HALL (Producer)

Paul Hall, CEO and founder of Hallway Pictures, is a feature film and television producer whose credits include HIGHER LEARNING, WHY DO FOOLS FALL IN LOVE, the 2000 remake of SHAFT, and JOHNSON FAMILY VACATION.

His career began in local news for the San Francisco market, which led to news positions at ABC and NBC network. While in the Los Angeles market, he created documentary programming for KCET, as well as network-affiliated programming for KABC, for which he received an Emmy nomination.

Paul founded The Berkeley Group in 1991, a television production and motion picture marketing company whose credits include the groundbreaking FOX Network reality series, “Sightings” and “Encounters.” Paul’s television work has aired on FOX, ABC, NBC, CBS, HBO and Showtime Networks.

Paul’s feature filmmaking relationships span the major studios. He has made pictures for Paramount, Sony, Fox Searchlight and Warner Bros. In 2003, he partnered with NBA Hall of Famer and entrepreneur Earvin “Magic” Johnson to create Magic Hallway Pictures, a film production company targeting the emerging Urban/Suburban audience.

He is currently in active development on multiple projects, including the remake of THE HARDER THEY COME for New Line, George Pelecanos’ adaptation of his novel, KING SUCKERMAN for HBO and the independent features KARMA and CORE. He is currently onlocation in New York City for BROOKLYN TO MANHATTAN.

STEVE SAKLAD (Production Designer)

Steve Saklad served as Production Designer on THANK YOU FOR SMOKING, starring Aaron Eckhart, Robert Duvall and Bill Macy. June 2006 saw the release of SHADOWBOXER, starring Helen Mirren and Cuba Gooding Jr. His latest feature, JUNO starring Ellen Page, will be released in 2008. He has designed over 200 commercials for Harvest Films, Tate USA and Tool of North America. His extensive career as an Art Director includes SPIDER-MAN 2, RED DRAGON and CHARLOTTE’S WEB.

PAUL SIMMONS (Costume Designer)

After forty years of designing costumes and supervising wardrobes for more than forty feature and television films, Paul Simmons was nominated for Excellence in Costume Design for a Contemporary Film by the Costume Designers Guild for his work on HUSTLE & FLOW.

His credits as costume designer include: SIMPLE JUSTICE, THE GOSPEL, DEAD PRESIDENTS, PANTHER, POSSE, THE WHITE GIRL, JUWANNA MAN, ASSAULT AT WEST POINT: THE COURT MARSHALL OF JOHNSON WHITAKER for Showtime, CHARLOTTE FORTEN’S for PBS, FOREVER FREE, PORGY & BESS, HALLELUJAH for American Playhouse, ASHES and SWAMP THING. Simmons was also the costume designer on the first 10 episodes of the hit television series “New York Undercover.”

As a costume supervisor he worked on SHE STOOD ALONE, THE PERFECT TRIBUTE, CHAMPAGNE CHARLIE for CBS, A SPECIAL FRIENDSHIP, SOLOMON NORTHRUP’S ODYSSEY, REMEMBER THE TITANS, SHAKE RATTLE AND ROLL, THE TEMPEST, and “Dawson’s Creek.” He was wardrobe supervisor on SURVIVING THE GAME, MALCOLM X, and ZEBRAHEAD.

Most recently, Simmons reteamed with the filmmakers of HUSTLE & FLOW for BLAKE SNAKE MOAN starring Samuel L. Jackson, with whom he worked with in THE COURT MARSHALL.

When he is not working on television or film production, Simmons is a tailor and a fashion designer based in Charleston.

JAY FAIRES (Music Supervisor)

In his first year heading up Lionsgate music, Faires brought new music to film & TV from John Legend, Elvis Costello, Anthony Hamilton, Death Cab, Snoop and Regina Spektor among others.

Upcoming new music includes new work from Kirk Franklin, Chris Cornell and Whitney Houston with Dionne Warwick among others. Cementing new foreign collection deals with Fintage House, a soundtrack deal with RED and digital deal with The Orchard, he‘s doubled LG’s NPS this year with continued growth for 2007. Prior to Lionsgate, Faires had Mammoth Records, A&Ring 150 records, taking bands to gold and platinum as he sold 100 million in recorded music. He sold Mammoth for 64 times its initial investment. Faires currently serves on the board of the AIMP.

ANYA COLLOFF and AMY MCINTYRE BRITT (Casting)

Colloff, Fishman, and Britt (CFB) Casting was formed in the spring of 1998. Fortunately, the ladies immediately landed Joss Whedon’s cult classic “Buffy, The Vampire Slayer” which led them to cast his other shows “Angel,” “Firefly” and eventually its big screen version SERENITY. While busy with other pilots for Judd Apatow, they cast BAADASSSS! which was a favorite at the Independent Spirit Awards and THE CHUMSCRUBBER which premiered at Sundance. In this past year, they cast three features of which they are very proud: AN AMERICAN CRIME with Catherine Keener, THE TV SET with David Duchovny and Sigourney Weaver, and PRIDE.

In addition, they have been casting the series “Monk” for the last four seasons and were nominated for an Emmy for casting in 2004. They just finished their second season of “Weeds” and received their second Emmy nomination. Amy and Anya are currently casting Sony’s WALK HARD for Jake Kasdan and Judd Apatow as well as John Hamburg’s pilot for CBS “The Captain.”

DANIELLA J. IRLE (Swimming Coach)

Daniella Irle is a long time swimming coach with over 22 years of experience. After spending four years as a USA swimming club coach in Texas she moved into the NCAA Division 1 coaching ranks, first as an assistant coach at LSU and University of Texas, and later as a head coach at Fresno State University and Tulane University. She has coached numerous NCAA All- Americans, USA National Meet and USA Olympic Selection Meet Qualifiers. In 2004, while coaching a young, all freshman, first year program at Tulane University, she had an athlete selected to represent her country at the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. In 2005, with a second year program consisting of freshman and sophomores, her team won the Conference USA Championship meet. Daniella is currently an Assistant Athletic Director for Business and Student Services Operations at Tulane University.

KONRAD RIBIERO (Swimming Coach)

Konrad is a coach with Triathletix, a triathlon and swim coaching company in Santa Monica, CA. He started coaching 14 years ago and has coached national caliber triathletes, high school and intercollegiate water polo and Boston Marathon qualifying runners.

He has raced in over 30 triathlons and dozens more swimming, cycling and multisport events including duathlon and aquathlon. He is a national championship qualifier at international distance triathlon and a world championship qualifier in the run/swim discipline known as aquathlon.

He has raced at distances from sprint to Ironman, having finished his first Ironman in 2004 at Madison, WI in 11:28:59. He is also an avid cyclist, recently achieving a Category IV designation from USCF.

His athletic background is aquatic. A lifelong competitive swimmer, open water swimmer, and water polo player, he still holds a school record from his high school days and is the all-time leading scorer in Washington Husky water polo history.

Hailing from Seattle, he is a Northwest native having graduated from University of Washington in 1997 with his BA in Geography. He moved to SoCal in 1998, earned his MBA from Pepperdine University. He lives in Santa Monica with his wife Stefanie and their daughter Frankie.

BILLY FOX, A.C.E. (Editor)

Fox has worked on many different types of projects from TV, Documentary, Commercial to Mini-Series and Feature Film.

In 2001, Fox was Co-Producer and Editor on the HBO mini-series “Band of Brothers” for Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg. His recent feature credits include WOMAN THOU ART LOOSED for Michael Schultz, HUSTLE & FLOW for Director Craig Brewer, with John Singleton and Stephanie Allain producing. John Singleton included Fox as editor on FOUR BROTHERS for Paramount Pictures. With Lorenzo di Bonaventura producing, he returned to the same team that produced HUSTLE & FLOW to edit BLACK SNAKE MOAN for Craig Brewer and Paramount Vantage in 2006.

He is the recipient of 15 major awards and numerous nominations. Including 7 Emmys wins, 2 BDA Awards, Monitor Award, The Peabody Award, The Golden Laurel and Humanitas awards.




• talk about it • video review • visual reviewnews • trailers • clips 
• 118 photos (gallery)main photoscreditscastfilmmakers
• notes, interviews & articles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, • 

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