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Lena Waithe to Produce ‘A Thousand and One,’ Directorial Debut of Sundance Fellow AV Rockwell

Focus Features, Sight Unseen, Makeready and Hillman Grad Productions will begin production on the crime drama next year

Lena Waithe will produce the directorial debut from A.V. Rockwell, a drama called “A Thousand And One” that will be produced equally by Focus Features, Sight Unseen, Makeready and Hillman Grad Productions.

Rockwell has received fellowships from Tribeca Film Institute, the Sundance Institute and the John S. Guggenheim Foundation, and she’s been named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film.

Rockwell also wrote the script for “A Thousand And One,” which tells the story of a woman who kidnaps a 6-year-old boy from the foster care system. Casting has yet to be set, but production is expected to begin next year. Here’s the full synopsis:

Convinced that it is one last, necessary crime on the path to redemption, unapologetic and free-spirited Ines kidnaps six-year-old Terry from the foster care system. Holding onto their secret and each other, mother and son set out to reclaim their home, their identity, and stability in a rapidly changing New York City.

“A Thousand and One” is produced by Hillman Grad’s Lena Waithe and Rishi Rajani, Makeready’s Brad Weston, and Sight Unseen’s Eddie Vaisman and Julia Lebedev. Makeready’s Negin Salmasi and Sight Unseen’s Oren Moverman and Rachel Jacobs are executive producing.

Focus Features will distribute the film in the U.S., and Universal Pictures International will distribute internationally.

“A.V.’s script absolutely floored us with its insights, emotions and humanity, and we are thrilled to join the powerhouse teaming of Hillman Grad, Makeready and Sight Unseen to bring her directorial talents to the screen,” Focus Features chairman Peter Kujawski said in a statement.

Makeready and Hillman Grad teamed up with Universal Pictures last year on Melina Matsoukas’ “Queen and Slim,” which Waithe wrote. Sight Unseen and frequent collaborator Hillman Grad are also working on a Sammy Davis Jr. biopic with MGM, which is based on the book “Sammy Davis Jr.: My Father” written by Davis’ daughter Tracey and Dolores A. Barclay.

Rockwell is represented by WME Entertainment and Granderson Des Rochers. Hillman Grad Productions is represented by WME Entertainment and Blue Marble Management.