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Saturday, January 22, 2005

Elise Picks Hamri to Helm Snow in April

After a busy summer following the release of THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, in which Kimberly Elise plays opposite Denzel Washington, and lensing DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN, the 34 year old actress has been working with Producers Paul Aaron and Craig Rice to put the finishing touches on the financing package for SNOW IN APRIL. Elise and Aaron have asked rock-video director Sanaa Hamri to debut her first feature film directing role.

SNOW IN APRIL has been on the table before potential funders since it received a Minnesota Independent Film Fund (MIFF) grant in 2000. Originally, Elise worked with filmmaker Nick Cassevette's on revising the script with the hope he might sign onto the project to direct. According to Producer Rice, the film is in better hands with Hamri directing. Hamri's previously worked with musicians Sing, Mariah Carey, Destiny's Child, Thicke, and most recently Prince on his Musicology vid.

Hamri has been asked about the control over content in her as a prelude to directing for film, "If all the songs are about going to the club, drinking and girls shaking their asses, that's what the videos are going to be about. When the content of songs changes to subjects like poverty and politics, the videos will have more depth. The music industry is suffering and so is the video industry."

After attending Sarah Lawrence College, the Moroccan native made her start in video as an editor. Music video for Hamri is only a stepping stone to the big screen. "Directing videos is not what I'm going to do for the rest of my life," she says. "Once I find the right film project, I'll make my move." Apparently, Elise's SNOW IN APRIL appeals to Hamri enough to pull her into feature film directing.

Minnesota is not a new location for Producer Paul Aaron. In recent years he has produced for television but ten years ago he was in Minnesota to produce LAUREL AVENUE (1993) with Carl Franklin at the helm centering on a African-American extended family and featuring many local actors. Aaron teamed with Michael Henry Brown to write the St. Paul based serial set of events that existed somewhere between a TV series and an feature film that ran 155 minutes in it American cut and 180 minutes in a two-part German release. Aaron went onto make GRAND AVENUE (1996) on a similar episodic structure around events effecting an extended Native American family.

Aaron's most recent credits have him teamed with with Brown again as a writer for the dramatic thriller IN TOO DEEP (1999) with Omar Epps, LL Cool J, Nia Long and Stanley Tucci with Epps staring as a Cincinnati cop who goes deep into the drug culture to take on a drug lord played by LL Cool J.

Shooting, according to Elise, who will play the lead in SNOW IN APRIL will take place just after winter in Minnesota.

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