Cathy Yan, whose Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) was one of the final pre-pandemic films of 2020, will write and direct the science fiction project The Freshening, according to a report in Variety. Ali Wong is one of the producers.
The Freshening will adapt a Rachel Khong short story of the same name that was published in The Paris Review in 2018. The premise sounds like a blend of Kurt Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron, They Live and Stephen Colbert‘s old “I don’t see race” bit. The story is set in the near future, where tensions over race and gender have reached such a fever pitch that the government initiates a policy (called Identity Protection Act, but nicknamed “The Freshening”) in which, after an injection, people can only perceive others as their own race and gender. A new drug, however, hits the streets that enables people to see “the real world.”
“The Freshening is exactly the type of daring and timely film that excites me as a writer and director,” Yan said in a statement. Producer Wong added that she was “haunted by Rachel Khong’s compelling and high concept story,” and continued “it was my dream for Cathy Yan to write and direct this project and I’m so incredibly grateful it came true.”
Yan’s first film, Dead Pigs, which debuted at Sundance in 2018 and secured her the Birds of Prey gig, weirdly fell through the cracks of distribution, but is about to have its long awaited streaming debut on Mubi on February 12.
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