Selena Gomez is ready to scale a big-screen biopic about Peruvian mountaineer and social entrepreneur Silvia Vásquez-Lavado.
Titled In the Shadow of the Mountain, the film is based on upcoming memoir of the same name by Vásquez-Lavado, who became the first Peruvian woman to summit Mount Everest and the first openly gay woman to complete the Seven Summits, a challenge to climb the highest mountain on each continent.
Scott Budnick’s impact-focused co-finance company One Community, a backer of last year’s Michael B. Jordan starrer Just Mercy, is producing alongside Oscar winner Donna Gigliotti and her Tempesta Films banner.
The filmmakers have enlisted Elgin James, the writer-director of Little Birds and co-creator of FX’s Mayan’s M.C., to write and direct In the Shadow of the Mountain.
Vásquez-Lavado’s inspirational story falls directly in the wheelhouse of One Community given that she was a victim of childhood assault and neglect who found healing and power in mountaineering. Vásquez-Lavado’s work in survivor circles has been heralded, particularly her efforts to organize treks to Mt. Everest’s base camp for other women who have endured abuse.
“Silvia is a force of nature,” said Gigliotti. “Scott and I are so excited to work with Elgin and Selena to tell this story of resilience, courage, adventure and humanity.”
Added Budnick: “We are thrilled to get to work bringing Silvia’s incredible and inspiring story to life onscreen.”
Gigliotti, who won a best picture Oscar for Shakespeare in Love, has produced such acclaimed actress vehicles as The Reader, Silver Linings Playbook and Hidden Figures. Her company Tempesta is backed by Starlight Entertainment.
In the Shadow of the Mountain is scheduled to be published by Holt/Macmillan in winter 2022.
Gomez is best known as a multi-platinum and award-winning musical pop star, but she has steadily expanded her acting career in recent years by working with such auteurs as Harmony Korine on Spring Breakers and Jim Jarmusch on The Dead Don’t Die. She will produce In the Shadow of the Mountain through her July Moon Productions. Vásquez-Lavado and Lara Love Hardin of Idea Architects are on board to executive produce.
One Community’s Sonya Lockett will oversee the film’s impact campaign as part of the company’s unique mandate. Budnick (The Hangover franchise) left the film business in 2013 to work in the philanthropic space on criminal justice reform. He returned in 2018 to found One Community with a commitment “to change hearts and minds on critical issues of equity and equality.” The company, whose backers include Endeavor Content and Milwaukee Bucks owner Wes Edens, designs robust social impact campaigns to amplify and align the work of philanthropy and policy experts and convert audience empathy into action. One Community is currently developing King Leopold’s Ghost as a Ben Affleck directing vehicle. Lauren de Normandie will shepherd In the Shadow of the Mountain for One Community.
Gomez is repped by WME, Lighthouse Management + Media and the law firm Ziffren Brittenham. Vásquez-Lavado is handled by WME and Idea Architects. And James is represented by WME, Jamie Patricof and Katie McNeill at Hunting Lane and attorney Tara Kole.