Steve Buscemi’s ‘The Listener’, Starring Tessa Thompson, Gets International Sales Deal; First Footage Revealed — Venice

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EXCLUSIVE: Bankside Films has boarded international sales for Steve Buscemi-directed Venice Film Festival drama The Listener, starring Tessa Thompson (Creed).

Written by Alessandro Camon, the film follows a helpline volunteer who is part of a small army that gets on the phone every night, fielding calls from all kinds of people feeling lonely, broken or hopeless. Above is a first clip for the movie, which will world premiere next week as the closing film in the Venice Days section before being screened in Toronto.

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Creed and Passing star Thompson plays protagonist Beth and is the sole onscreen performer, supported by voice-only cast, comprising Logan Marshall-Green, Derek Cecil, Margaret Cho, Blu Del Barrio, Ricky Velez, Alia Shawkat, Jamie Hector, Casey Wilson, Bobby Soto and Rebecca Hall.

Bankside Films will be introducing the feature to buyers at both the Venice Film Festival and Toronto Film Festival, and will be handling foreign sales, with the U.S. distribution rights being co-repped by CAA Media Finance and Verve Ventures.

Financier Hantz Motion Pictures produced the movie in conjunction with Olive Productions and Sight Unseen. Producers are Wren Arthur (Puzzle), Steve Buscemi, Oren Moverman (The Messenger), Lauren Hantz, William Stertz, Sean O’Grady and Tessa Thompson.

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Executive producers are John Hantz, Julia Lebedev, Eddie Vaisman and Suzanne Warren. Co-producers are Billy Mulligan, Kat Barnette and Joyce Pierpoline. Camon, who penned the feature, was nominated for a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for The Messenger with Moverman.

The Listener is Buscemi’s fifth feature as a director, with previous outings comprising Trees Lounge, Animal Factory, Interview and Lonesome Jim.

Buscemi is best known for films including Reservoir Dogs, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, and The Death Of Stalin. On the TV side, credits include Boardwalk Empire, which garnered him a Golden Globe, The Sopranos, 30 Rock, Nurse Jackie, and most recently, the TBS anthology series, Miracle Workers, in which he co-stars opposite Daniel Radcliffe.

Stephen Kelliher of Bankside Films said: “The Listener is such a poignant, elegant piece of filmmaking by Steve Buscemi featuring a stand out performance from the incredible Tessa Thompson. It’s a story about human connection and understanding which is bound to touch the hearts of many around the world.”

Camon is repped by Verve and attorney Bob Getman.

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