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August Wilson Monologue Competition Doc ‘Giving Voice’ Nabbed by Netflix

James D. Stern and Fernando Villena direct the film that won the Audience Award at this year’s Sundance

Netflix has acquired the worldwide rights to “Giving Voice,” a documentary about the August Wilson Monologue Competition that won the Audience Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

“Giving Voice” is directed by James D. Stern and Fernando Villena and follows six students as they advance through the monologue competition, which highlights the work of the playwright behind “Fences” and “The Piano Lesson” and allows winners the chance to perform at the August Wilson Theater on Broadway.

The documentary specifically looks at students from public schools pursuing careers in performance arts, and it uses Wilson’s words to focus on the black experience in America and how words and voices can be ignited to inspire change. Netflix plans to release “Giving Voice” later this year.

“This is my fifth project with Netflix and nothing thrills me more than to be able to bring ‘Giving Voice’ to a place that I consider home,” Stern said in a statement.

“Giving Voice” also features an original song performed by John Legend called “Never Break,” which Legend wrote for the film with Nasri Atweh, Benjamin Hudson McIldowie and Greg Wells.

“Giving Voice” is an Endgame Entertainment and Pilgrim Media Group Production in association with Endeavor Content, Impact Partners, Get Lifted Film Co and JuVee Productions.

James D. Stern, Karen Bove, Fernando Villena and Schoen Smith all produced the film as did Craig Piligian for Pilgrim Media Group.

The film’s executive producers are Viola Davis and Julius Tennon for JuVee Productions; John Legend, Mike Jackson and Ty Stiklorius for Get Lifted Film Co.; Dan Cogan, Jenny Raskin and Geralyn White Dreyfous for Impact Partners; Gretchen Stockdale and Nicholas Caprio for Pilgrim Media Group and Constanza Romero. Jonah McMichael and Jamie Wolf are co-executive producers.

“Giving Voice” was financed by Endeavor Content, Pilgrim Media Group and Impact Partners, and Endeavor Content handled the sale.

Stern is known for his documentaries “Every Little Step,” “American Chaos” and “The Year of the Yao,” among others. He’s a two-time Tony-winning producer.

“Giving Voice” is just Villena’s second film as a director after “Any One of Us.” He’s also worked as an editor on Stern’s “Every Little Step” and films like “Rize” and “Crank: High Voltage.”

Netflix is already in the August Wilson business, as they’ll release “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” later this year, based on one of his plays. Tony Award winner George C. Wolfe directs the film that stars Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman, Glynn Turman, Colman Domingo and Michael Potts and is produced by Denzel Washington, Todd Black and Dany Wolf.