Director Dee Rees and Mary J Blige worked together on the award nominated film Mudbound, where Rees earned her first Academy Award, have teamed up with Wal-Mart to create a sci-fi short film The Box, set to premier as an advert during the Oscar telecast.
The project is the result of an ongoing partnership between Walmart and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which launched last year. Wal-mart has also teamed up with Women In Film, using the project to introduce four emerging female film teams to budgets to create and distribute their own short films. These teams also got the opportunity to work under Rees on the set of The Box.
It was a chance to do an original short film, so that seemed fun to me,” Rees said. “And then also just the fact that the program was going to support women in film, and was going to sponsor some up-and-coming filmmakers to make their own short films. It will actually help somebody else out.” says Rees.
Dee Rees who has made her name doing drama films is excited for her sci-fi work. The Box has a space captain, sand monster and an element of evil and gave Rees a different level of freedom than her prior projects.
“Total freedom. I wrote it, I cast it, I had final cut,” the filmmaker said. “So, a ton of freedom. For me, it was a chance to play with genre, to kind of do something unexpected.”
All three short films created during this year’s initiative are directed by women, including Nancy Meyers and Melissa McCarthy. Watch previews for each short film here.