(twenty)2 films begins filming Grapes of Wrath Documentary authorized by Steinbeck Estate

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Filming begins with James Franco, Lois Smith and Steinbeck Scholars. Documentary explores the relevancy of Steinbeck’s novel in current social, environmental, political & economic landscapes.

Director P.J. Palmer has signed a deal with the estate of John Steinbeck acquiring the documentary film rights to the classic American novel, "The Grapes of Wrath."

The new documentary "The Grapes of Wrath: We Shall Overcome" began filming in New York City last month interviewing James Franco, who is currently on Broadway in a re-launch of John Steinbeck’s "Of Mice & Men." Production on the documentary continues in Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California and Washington D.C.

“Even seventy five years after he wrote it, Steinbeck’s 'The Grapes of Wrath' stands as a lightning rod today,” says Palmer, who is also in production on a related documentary, For Ed Ricketts, “The book was burned, it is banned in some places, but regardless, it opens up some very urgent conversations that we still need to have about society, the environment and the economy.”

"The Grapes of Wrath: We Shall Overcome" is being produced through Palmer’s company, (twenty)2 films in partnership with the non-profit The National Steinbeck Center (NSC).

“The idea for this documentary has grown out of several other projects we have collaborated on with P.J.,” says Colleen Finegan-Bailey, NSC Executive Director, “From filming our Mumford & Son’s Tribute to Steinbeck concert to his short documentary Grapes of Wrath, American Journey based on the oral histories he filmed while we retraced the path of the Joad family on Route 66 this past year. ”

To date, those interviewed on camera for "The Grapes of Wrath: We Shall Overcome" include actor/artist/writer James Franco, actress Lois Smith who created the role of "Ma Joad" at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre; Susan Shillinglaw, Steinbeck Scholar and author of "On Reading Grapes of Wrath," and Frank Galati, writer and director of the Broadway stage adaptation of "The Grapes of Wrath."

Producers Daniel Zirilli (It’s So Easy and Other Lies) and Ryan Haffey (Blue Mountain State: The Movie) are working closely with Finegan-Baily who serves as an Executive Producer and Elizabeth Welden-Smith as co-producer at the NSC.

Finegan-Bailey, Palmer and Zirilli, negotiated the authorized, non-fiction documentary film rights to "The Grapes of Wrath" through Steinbeck’s literary agency, McIntosh & Otis. This project is one of two films authorized by the Estate including Steven Spielberg’s new adaptation of the narrative film version of "The Grapes of Wrath", currently in development.

Company information:

"The Grapes of Wrath: We Shall Overcome" is a documentary film directed by P.J. Palmer and presented by The National Steinbeck Center. The film explores the legacy and meanings of John Steinbeck’s American realist novel "The Grapes of Wrath" (1939) while also revealing the struggles of dispossessed families in the U.S. today. The release of "The Grapes of Wrath" shook America to its core with its unflinching depictions of poverty, homelessness, starvation and misery within the U.S. and its exploration of the imbalance of power between the wealthy and the poor. This film examines the impact of the novel since its publication 75 years ago and utilizes its influence to shed light on the current state of similar social issues in America today. http://www.twenty2films.com

P.J. Palmer has worked on dozens of films, web-series, music videos, documentary projects and commercials as a director, producer and/or writer. He is a 2013 Edinburgh Film Festival Talent Lab alumni and artist in residence with 2014 Steinbeck Festival. Notable projects include his work as Series Producer on the award-winning LGBT web-series "Anyone But Me" and the as co-director and producer on the documentary, "American Red Cross: Katrina Relief." Palmer is now in production directing the feature length documentary "For Ed Ricketts" exploring the influences of John Steinbeck, Joseph Campbell and Ed Ricketts. http://www.imdb.me/pjpalmer

The National Steinbeck Center, a 501(3) non-profit institution based on California’s central coast, honors the legacy of John Steinbeck by championing the causes that Steinbeck advanced in his lifetime, offering dynamic arts and cultural programing nation wide. Executive Director Colleen Finegan-Bailey serves as Executive Producer on "The Grapes of Wrath: We Shall Overcome." http://www.steinbeck.org

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P.J. Palmer
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