EXCLUSIVE: Jessica Alba (Sin City), Russell Harvard (Fargo), and Daniel Durant (CODA) are attached to star in sports feature film Flash Before the Bang, inspired by the true story of an all-deaf high school track and field team in 1980’s Oregon.
The film heralds from deaf writer-director Jevon Whetter, on whose experience the story is based. Oscar winners Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are exec producers along with Fanshen Cox in association with Trujulo Productions. Jessica Alba is also an exec producer.
Production is due begin in September in Georgia on the project, in which more than half of the characters in the ensemble cast will deaf and portrayed by deaf actors. Brothers Jevon and Delbert (producer) Whetter are from a multigenerational deaf family, while actors Harvard and Durant are also deaf.
The Exchange is introducing the title to international buyers at the Cannes Film Market this week with UTA Independent Film Group representing U.S. rights.
Based on real events, the story centers on a bullied deaf track runner who seeks opportunity at a high school for the deaf – but his hopes of glory are dashed by the unmotivated team and a deaf coach in the throes of a mid-life crisis. The underfunded, overlooked team will have to dig deep to overcome adversity at every turn in their attempt to seize an unprecedented victory at the 1986 Oregon State Track and Field Championship.
Flash Before the Bang will be the second film to implement the inclusion rider for this executive-producing team, after Damon and Affleck’s sneaker movie Air did for the first time this year.
Pic is being produced by Delbert Whetter and John D. Eraklis (Bunyan and the Babe) of Exodus Film Group, Mary Aloe (Bruised) of Aloe Entertainment, and Tiffany FitzHenry of FitzHenry Films.
Jevon Whetter said: “I am convinced that the world is ready for an uplifting story that authentically depicts people with disabilities as they deserve to be portrayed – as multi-dimensional beings with hopes, flaws, and dreams who are capable of becoming fighters, heroes, and champions.”
Producer Del Whetter had a front row seat to the action as it unfolded in 1986: “I watched with my own eyes as Jevon’s younger brother and as a fan on the stands. This story is one of the most profound life changing moments that I ever experienced, and I cannot wait for the world to see this story on the screen and be inspired by it too.
Alba added: “I was deeply moved by this script based on the true story of the filmmaker Jevon Whetter, which shows the little-known reality of what life was like for deaf and disabled people who were cut off from society in almost every way prior to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. I’m so excited to be a part of this groundbreaking story about deaf people, made by deaf filmmakers, with a primarily deaf cast for mainstream audiences.”
The Exchange’s Cannes slate includes previously announced titles Nobody Nothing Nowhere with Joseph Gordon Levitt, Lucy Liu and Octavia Spencer, and The Cut, starring Orlando Bloom.
Jessica Alba is represented by UTA and 3 Arts Entertainment, and legal representatives Sloan, Offer, Weber & Dern. Russell Harvard is represented by Innovative Artists and Laura Hill Management, and Daniel Durant is represented by Buchwald and Koopman Management.