'Paradise Highway' by Alumna Anna Gutto '16 Acquired by Lionsgate for North American Release

BY Angeline Dimambro, November 12, 2021

Still from Paradise Highway

Paradise Highway, a new thriller written and directed by alumna Anna Gutto '16, was recently acquired by Lionsgate for North American distribution and international sales.


The film follows Sally, a truck driver who has been forced to smuggle illicit cargo to save her brother from a deadly prison gang. With FBI operative Gerick hot on her trail, Sally’s motivations and conscience are challenged when the final package turns out to be a teenage girl. The film stars Oscar winners Juliette Binoche and Morgan Freeman, as well as actor Frank Grillo (Captain America).


Gutto wrote the script—which was awarded Columbia University’s Zaki Gordon Memorial Award for Excellence in Screenwriting—after years of intensive research and immersion into the trucking community. 


“It’s an honor to work with Juliette Binoche and Morgan Freeman,” Gutto said in a statement to Deadline. “Their performances are…electric. And, on top of that, having young talent Hala Finley come in and unapologetically impress us. Seeing powerhouse Juliette in generous awe [of] Hala, I knew we’d create a uniquely powerful connection on screen. The whole cast; Frank, Cameron, Veronica, Christiane, Walker—embracing their conflicted characters, working alongside real women truckers Desiree Woods and Dianne McNair-Smith—it fills the story with passion and truth.”


Norway-born screenwriter and director Anna Gutto started her career in the theater earning accolades such as “universally excellent” in The New York Times. She received her MFA in Film Directing at Columbia University, where she graduated with Honors in 2016. As an activist, Gutto initiated KIDS SPEAK UP, a project for kids and parents to join the anti-racism movement. Gutto is also the director of the successful 2019 Netflix series Home for Christmas. Her short film A Lucky Man (2017) was a Sloan Foundation winner and her short films have been playing festivals and gathering awards internationally and domestically. Mommy Heist (2016) was bought by FR3 and is currently broadcast in the Courte Libre program. Gutto also directs commercials and music videos. She is represented by Grandview Management.