Some of you my have missed this, as it was tucked away in an ensemble piece from the New York Times that I published in early September. Deadline reported on the project again last week, adding a bit more to the New York Times piece; so for those two reasons (as well as in consideration of our recent debates on black filmmakers and the sci-fi genre, as well as my ongoing S&A Fantastical Short Films $500 contest), I thought I probably should publish a separate post for it.
In short, on September 5, Manohla Dargis and A. O. Scott, film critics for The New York Times, published a list of profiles of young filmmakers they believe are worth watching.
Long-time readers of this blog would’ve recognized at least 3 of the 10 or so names that made the list, given that they are filmmakers we’ve been telling you to watch, over the years, since the launch of this blog in 2009: Dee Rees (Pariah), Barry Jenkins (Medicine For Melancholy) and Terence Nance (An Oversimplification of Her Beauty).
In the Dee Rees’s portion of the piece, it was mentioned that the writer/director had the rights to the Philip K. Dick novel Martian Time-Slip, given to her by Dick’s estate, basically for free.
The novel centers on a human colony on Mars, amongst other things.
The story takes place on the fledling Martian colonies in 1994 and its main character is Jack Bohlen, a skilled repairmen and recovering schizophrenic who still suffers flashbacks. The colonies on the planet are in a period of transition as the fate of the planet is decided by the UN. Jack gets caught up in the frantic business affairs of Arnie Kott, head of the powerful Plumbers Union who isn’t afraid to use his power & money to further his goals, often at the expense of others. Much of the novels psychological (and classic Dick) elements lie with an autistic boy named Manfred Steiner. The son of Jack’s neighbor, Manfred boards in a clinic for autistic children who can’t communicate with the people around them. Kott discovers that this boy has psychic powers and hires Jack to develop a system to communicate with the boy. Kott’s motivations are to foresee the UN’s use of Martian land so he can buy and resell the vast desert wasteland for a profit.
Written in 1962 and published in 1964, Martian Time-Slip is considered an important PKD novel, and, to some, one of his best.
Following the New York Times initial reveal last month, Deadline now reports that Dee is indeed set to adapt the novel, penning the pic, AND will direct as well.
She also clearly has the blessings of the PKD estate, because Isa Dick Hackett, daughter of PKD, will produce the film, for her Electric Shepherd Productions, which she runs along with her siblings.
Electric Shepherd also produced The Adjustment Bureau – the 2011 action/thriller loosely based on the PKD’s short story, Adjustment Team.
This reads like an intriguing departure for Dee Rees, after her feature film debut, the personal, coming-of-age drama Pariah, and I’m definitely interested in seeing what she does with the material.
She’s also working on an adaptation of Toni Morrison’s 2012 novel Home, which tells the story of a 24-year-old Korean War veteran, and his reluctant journey home. And there’s the crime thriller Bolo, which we already know and have written about, initially set up at Focus Features, but they backed out of it (it wasn’t big enough for them, apparently; and the Focus Features of old is no more, since co-founder and CEO James Schamus is now out). Thandie Newton is said to be attached to the project however – a film that centers on a Memphis police officer who’s also black and lesbian. We also already know about Rees’ teaming with Viola Davis for an HBO series. And finally, she’s penning a biopic also for HBO, although she was mum on details regarding that project.
But she’s busy, so that’s certainly a good thing!
Let’s see which project is realized first!