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Excel Entertainment's True Story of the Unlikely, Close Bond Between Free African-American Jane Manning, Emma Smith, and Mormon Founder Joseph Smith--Opening in Limited Theatrical Release October 12th--Earns Accolades as "Certified, Gender-Balanced Film" from Reframe, IMDBPro

PR Newswire

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 4, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- ReFrame and IMDBPro, two organizations playing a  leading role in advocating for gender equality in the film industry, have recognized the upcoming Excel Entertainment movie JANE & EMMA officially as a newly-certified gender-balanced film. The announcement, which was reported by Variety, recognizes "feature films that qualify for the ReFrame Stamp to recognize standout, gender-balanced films." JANE & EMMA tells the true story of two women—a free-born African-American woman and a wife of a controversial religious leader—whose unlikely bond of friendship gave them the strength to withstand grave challenges on the night Mormon founder Joseph Smith was murdered by a mob in 1844. 

"At its heart JANE & EMMA depicts the story of two remarkable women whose bond of friendship brought them together in times of tremendous adversity, empowering them to stand strong. They were as unique as the team who came together to make this film, a team comprised of people from all backgrounds and walks of life. That diversity, both in storytelling and in the making of the story, is the magic behind the honesty and power of this film," said Chantelle Squires, Director of JANE & EMMA. "We are excited to see how audiences are going to connect with this authentic, on-screen portrayal, and honored to be placed alongside other films and filmmakers for which we have the deepest respect."

The ReFrame Stamp serves as a mark of distinction for projects that have demonstrated success in gender-balanced film and TV productions based on criteria developed by ReFrame in consultation with ReFrame Ambassadors (complete list below), producers and other industry experts. Stamps are awarded by ReFrame to narrative features and television programs that hire female-identifying people in four out of eight critical areas of their production, including: writer, director, producer, lead, co-lead, speaking parts, department heads, and crew. Additional points are awarded to content that has women of color by Women number of women of all backgrounds working in film, TV and media- in key positions. The criteria are iterative and will change over time as the industry evolves. Including those announced today, 34 total films have received the ReFrame Stamp thus far.

Members of the creative community recognize the ReFrame Stamp as a dynamic lever to drive change and spotlight gender-balanced productions that hire more women, both in front of and behind the camera.

JANE & EMMA opens in limited release October 12th, and the LA Red Carpet Premiere will take place on October 4th at ArcLight Hollywood.


FILM SYNOPSIS: JANE & EMMA is based on the life of Sister Jane Manning, one of the first black Mormons. She returns to Nauvoo to find that Joseph Smith, her prophet and friend, has been assassinated. Jane spends a ceaseless night with his widow, Emma Smith, sitting watch over the body of the prophet as a whirlwind of loss and confusion leaves them wondering how either one of them will be able to move forward. Through the long night, Jane wonders if the prophet's promise to extend the blessings of eternity to her has died along with him. The film explores the possible events of that night, including Jane's endeavor to remain amongst the Mormon people and Emma's struggle to cope with her heartbreaking loss. Poignant issues of racism and polygamy threaten to break their bond of friendship. In the end, will Jane and Emma have the courage to follow the path each believes they must take?

The JANE + EMMA cast includes Danielle Deadwyler as Jane (THE HAVES AND THE HAVE NOTS, GIFTED), Emily Goss as Emma Smith (THE HOUSE ON PINE STREET, SNAPSHOTS), Brad Schmidt as Joseph Smith (THE BIRTH OF A NATION, HOUSE OF LIES), and K. Danor Gerald as Isaac James (SAINTS AND SOLDIERS, THE VOID)

is directed and produced by Chantelle Squires (RESERVED TO FIGHT) of Clearstone Films and written by Melissa Leilani Larson (FREETOWN). It is produced by Madeline Jorgensen, Jenn Lee Smith and Tamu Smith and Zandra Vranes (Sistas in Zion). The Executive Producers are Brent Jorgensen, Sundance Film Festival Co-Founder Sterling VanWagenen, and Jon Lear.

The movie also features the title song "Child of God," performed by The Bonner Family.

Clearstone Films is a Utah-based, woman-owned production company known for Reserved to Fight, an award-winning national PBS documentary, and The Generations Project, an award-winning, multi-part documentary series for BYUTV. Its first narrative feature film, JANE & EMMA, is due in theaters October 12, 2018.

Excel Entertainment, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Deseret Book Company, is the preeminent independent film distribution company in Utah. Since 2000, Excel has released more than 40 successful films. Well-known for telling Mormon stories (GOD'S ARMY, THE WORK & THE GLORY SERIES, 17 MIRACLES, PRIDE & PREJUDICE), Excel has also had success with films with non-Mormon themes and stories (FOREVER STRONG, SAINTS & SOLDIERS, JUST LET GO, THE COKEVILLE MIRACLE). Excel exists to tell stories that challenge us to live up to the light that is within each of us, bringing hope and inspiration to audiences worldwide.


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