Studio Vet Makes ‘Astute’ Move


Fred Bernstein, a former studio executive at Columbia and Universal, announced Tuesday that he has launched Astute Films, which aims to make quality movies along the lines of “Stand by Me” and “Hope and Glory,” which he was involved with during his studio years. Those kinds of films are struggling to find financing and distribution today.

The studio in Los Angeles, described as “a new, broad-based motion picture financing and production company,” is backed by $50 million in private equity funding.

Astute Films also announced that it has appointed Dominique Telson as Vice President of Development and Production. Telson most recently was an independent producer for films and television and was the longtime executive at Showtime.

The first project on the Astute docket is “Billy,” based on the novel by Albert French. Marty Davidson, Wendell Pierce and Jerry Leider will produce and Davidson will write and direct. Set in rural Mississippi in 1947, the film depicts a racially-charged incident of taunting and bullying resulting in the tragic death of a 14-year-old white girl at the hands of a 10-year-old black boy.

Bernstein said that although the story is set 70 years ago, he projects the story will resonate with contemporary audiences.

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