News Archive: May – August 2012

Newell in the news


Mike Newell is in talks to direct ‘Reykjavik’, a dramatisation of the 1986 summit between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev that paved the way for the following year’s crucial treaty regulating nuclear weapons.  Negotiations are under way with Michael Douglas to play Ronald Reagan but there is no word yet on the casting of the Gorbachev role.  Filming is scheduled to commence next March.


Newell was in the news elsewhere with today’s announcement that his Great Expectations, starring Helena Bonham Carter and Ralph Fiennes, will receive its European premiere as the closing film of this year’s BFI London Film Festival.  30 August 2012


Written by our editor, Graham Eley, for UK Film



Germany’s Oscar selection


Germany has selected Christian Petzold’s ‘Barbara’, as its official entry for the 85th Academy Awards’ Best Foreign Language Film.  Petzold’s regular, Nina Hoss, plays a young doctor torn between escaping East Germany during the final years of the Stasi’s reign of terror and her growing affection for a physician colleague.  ‘Barbara’, which earned Petzold a best director Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival earlier this year, will open in the US on December 21, 2012.  GE 30 August 2012



Asian Filmmaker of the Year


Busan International Film Festival has awarded this year’s Asian Filmmaker of the Year to controversial Japanese director, Wakamatsu Koji.  The award recognises achievements in both Asian culture and industry, and previous winners include Tsai Ming Liang and Tsui Hark.  Wakamatsu’s ‘11.25: The Day He Chose His Own Fate’, which screened in the Un Certain Regard sidebar at Cannes, is only one of three films that he has made this year.  30 August 2012


Written by our editor, Graham Eley, for Film Provocation



BIFF announce president of the international jury for next edition


With this year’s film festival season approaching its climax, important news broke today concerning the next.  Dieter Kosslick announced that one of the world’s most acclaimed filmmakers, Wong Kar Wai (Chungking Express, In The Mood for Love) will be president of the international jury at the next edition of the Berlin International Film Festival.  Surprisingly, Wong, whose ‘Hua yang de nian hua’ received a best short film nomination at Berlin twelve years ago, has never shown a feature in its main competition.  28 August 2012


Written by our editor, Graham Eley, for Film Provocation



Olivier Père has resigned


Locarno Film Festival has confirmed that Olivier Père has resigned as its artistic director after three years at the helm.  Père, who is the former head of the Cannes’ Director’s Fortnight, will replace Michel Reilhac as executive director of Arte France Cinéma.  Locarno plan to announce Père’s successor on September 4.  27 August 2012


Written by our editor, Graham Eley, for Film Provocation



SPC acquires new Robert Redford thriller


SPC has acquired US rights to Robert Redford’s new thriller, ‘The Company You Keep’, ahead of its out-of-competition world premiere at Venice International Film Festival.  Redford stars alongside Shia LeBoeuf, Julie Christie and Sam Elliott playing a civil rights lawyer, who a young journalist exposes as a possible former left-wing terrorist.  It is the kind of quasi-political vehicle always likely to attract Redford and provides plenty of scope for the ideological ambiguity and conspiracy paranoia typical of the genre.  GE 24 August 2012



‘Frankenweenie’ to open LFF


Tim Burton’s first animation for Disney, ‘Frankenweenie’, will receive its European premiere as the opening film to the London Film Festival, which runs between 10-21.  BFI Imax and other venues within the UK will screen the event as it unfolds at Odeon Leicester Square.  It is the first edition of the festival with Clare Stewart at the helm and the full programme will be available on 5 September.  23 August 2012


Written by our editor, Graham Eley, for UK Film



Berenice Bejo joins cast of Farhadi’s next feature


Berenice Bejo, who charmed us as Peppy Miller in last year’s ‘The Artist’, will play opposite one of the brightest stars of world cinema, Tahar Rahim (‘A Prophet’, ‘Free Men’), in Asghar Farhadi’s keenly awaited next feature.  It is the follow-up to Farhadi’s outstanding Oscar and Golden Lion winner ‘A Separation’, which catapulted him into that elite group of indie filmmakers, whose world premieres constitute an event.  The plot remains a closely guarded secret but a few snippets indicate that he is looking to retain the winning combination of social relevance and compelling drama.  Set in France, it will be the first time that Farhadi has shot outside of his native Iran.  GE 23 August 2012



A remake with a difference


Although remakes are testing the patience of even the most passive of viewers, James Franco is revisiting William Friedkin’s ‘Cruising’ with a fresh approach that could be of genuine interest to those demanding originality.  Franco has joined forces with the controversial cult filmmaker, Travis Mathews, to create a film/art installation based upon scenes that Friedkin cut from the original.  Potentially, a fascinating look at editing, self-censorship and changing cultural perceptions, it has something in common with the early work of artist-turned-filmmaker, Douglas Gordon.  The complete version, lasting approximately 40 minutes, should make an appearance during the early part of next year.  GE 22 August 2012



Lionsgate snaps up UK rights to new Ariel Vroman feature


Lionsgate has acquired UK distribution rights to Ariel Vroman’s ‘The Iceman’, starring Michael Shannon in the title role alongside Winona Ryder and Chris Evans.  Vroman’s third feature, which screens at both Venice and Toronto, depicts the true story of the Mafia contact killer, Richard Kuklinski.  It is one of many deals that sales agent, Nu Image, has closed in multiple territories.  21 August 2012


Written by our editor, Graham Eley, for UK Film



ICA hosts new festival


The ICA will host a new film festival, Safar: A Journey Through Popular Arab Cinema, between Sept 21-27.  The Arab British Centre, which is organising the festival in partnership with the ICA and Dubai International Film Festival, announced its programme today.  Curated by writer and producer, Omar Kholeif, it covers a fifty-year period including new releases, recently restored prints and other rare screenings.  Marwan Hamed, who directed the festival’s closing film, ‘The Yacoubian Building’, will be amongst those providing a Q & A.   20 August 2012


Written by our editor, Graham Eley, for UK Film



Creative England launches database


Creative England has taken a further step forward in developing a ‘one stop shop’ for crew and facilities within the territory by launching a free database for those providing or requiring the services.  The creative industries’ support agency, which came into being almost a year ago following the UKFC’s closure, has also arranged a further crew networking day at Elstree on September 19 as part of its nationwide initiative.  17 August 2012


Written by our editor, Graham Eley, for UK Film



Terry Gilliam enters pre-production on a new feature


Former python, Terry Gilliam, is set to enter pre-production on his next feature, ‘The Zero Theorem’, having won his long battle to attract funding.  Christoph Waltz (‘Inglourious Basterds’) will star in the dystopian comedy as an oddball computer geek, who embarks upon a search to unravel the big philosophical questions that have kept us guessing for centuries.  It is just the kind of outlandish set-up that we associate with Gilliam’s best work and will follow ‘The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus’ from three years ago.  GE 16 August 2012



Cineworld’s pre-tax profits increase


The UK’s second largest cinema chain, Cineworld, has increased pre-tax profits in the first half of 2012 to £13.4m notwithstanding a troubling 11.7% year-on-year fall in cinema advertising.


Admission numbers also fell by 0.8% year-on-year but a 4.9% increase on average ticket prices ensured that revenues rose.  Euro 2012 would have had an impact on admissions during this period.


The Avengers was the top performing film.  16 August 2012


Written by our editor, Graham Eley, for UK Film



‘Life of Pi’ opens New York Film Festival


Ang Lee is set to join François Truffaut, Robert Altman and Pedro Almodóvar, no less, in that exclusive band of filmmakers who have opened the New York Film Festival with more than one film.  Fourteen years after Lee launched the 36th edition with arguably his finest achievement, ‘The Ice Storm’, he takes the honours again with his keenly anticipated 3D film version of Yann Martel’s Booker Prize winner, ‘Life of Pi’.  Although the novel provides plenty of opportunity for visually exciting set-pieces, its success may well rest on how Lee tackles the crucial philosophical aspects.  Newcomer, Suraj Sharma, who quite literally saw off thousands of other hopefuls for the role, plays the young boy lost at sea with only a tiger for company.  GE 14 August 2012



Paul Andrew Williams’ fourth feature closes Toronto


Paul Andrew Williams’ fourth feature, ‘Song For Marion’, will receive its world premiere as the closing film at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.  Terence Stamp stars alongside Vanessa Redgrave and Gemma Arterton, playing a bad tempered pensioner who changes his outlook on life after joining his wife’s choir.  The Weinstein Company, which has acquired North American rights, seems to be positioning this buzz title for an award season campaign.  Williams received a BAFTA most promising newcomer nomination for his debut film, ‘London to Brighton’.  14 August 2012


Written by our editor, Graham Eley, for UK Film



Kelly Reichardt plans to enter production on ‘Night Moves’


One of the most important voices in contemporary cinema, the emphatically independent, Kelly Reichardt, plans to commence shooting on her fourth feature, ‘Night Moves’, during October.  With Jesse Eisenberg and Dakota Fanning in advanced negotiations to join the cast, Peter Sarsgaard already on board and Todd Haynes executive producing, Reichardt seems well on her way to assembling an intriguing blend of talent for the follow-up to the outstanding revisionist Western, ‘Meek’s Cutoff’.  The latest feature will mark a return to the present-day of her debut feature, ‘Old Joy’ and Cannes success, ‘Wendy and Lucy’ with Eisenberg playing an Eco-warrior hell bent on publicising his cause by blowing up a dam.  On the face of it, the synopsis appears to mark a change of direction from her characteristically low-key style but with Reichardt’s rare gift for blending maturity and experimentation, we should not make too many assumptions as to which way this one is heading.  GE 13 August 2012



Ted retains No I spot in the weekend’s UK box office


Ted retained its No I spot in the weekend’s UK box office, adding a further £2.9m ($4.5m) to its impressive overall tally of £16.6m ($26.0m) after two weeks.  The UK once again had the highest return outside of North America for The Dark Knight Rises, grossing £2.1m ($3.3m).  During another weekend when the Olympics dominated entertainment, Step Up Revolution, the third of the series, opened with a disappointing £650k ($1m).  This week sees the arrival of The Bourne Legacy.  13 August 2012


Written by our editor, Graham Eley, for UK Film



‘The Girl From Nowhere’ takes the Golden Leopard


Jean-Claude Brisseau’s surprise hit of this year’s Locarno Film Festival, ‘The Girl From Nowhere’ won the coveted Golden Leopard at last night’s ceremony.  Self-funded and filmed exclusively in his Parisian flat, Brisseau plays an ageing widower in a two-hander where a homeless young woman unexpectedly reinvigorates his life.  The presence of surprising supernatural elements would have no doubt appealed to the jury president, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, who superbly employed this strategy in his Palme d’Or-winning, ‘Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives’.


The special jury prize went to Bob Byington’s popular, ‘Somebody Up There Likes Me’, a deadpan and quirky comedy that premiered earlier this year at SXSW and provides a light hearted look at the tensions that complicate the friendship of two ordinary ‘guys’.


Ying Liang’s controversial third feature, ‘When Night Falls’, a real life retribution case of a man who executed six policeman with a knife in a Shanghai police station, claimed the best director award. 12 August 2012


Written by our editor, Graham Eley, for Film Provocation



Gareth Jones’ ‘Delight’ goes into production


Gareth Jones has commenced shooting on ‘Delight’, the second part of his trilogy that probes the relationship between creative processes and sexual activity.  Having investigated writer’s block in ‘Desire’, he now turns to the impact of war photography on private lives.  The final part of the trilogy, Denial, is currently in development.  12  August 2012


Written by our editor, Graham Eley, for UK Film



Shia LaBeouf heading for Von Trier’s new feature


Shia LaBeouf, who is moving towards more challenging material, could be testing himself further than many had anticipated by coming on board potentially the most demanding film currently in pre-production, Lars Von Trier’s controversial next feature, ‘Nymphomaniac’.  Negotiations are already under way for LaBeouf to star alongside Von Trier regulars, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Stellan Skarsgård, in a philosophical and physical interrogation of a woman’s sex life at extremely close quarters.  Never slow in exploiting an opportunity to stretch censorship boundaries, Von Trier intends to go one stage further this time around by creating two versions; one for general consumption and the other without a certificate.   It seems increasingly likely that rumours linking Nicole Kidman to the project will prove correct, albeit in a minor role.  GE 9 August 2012



UK premiere for The Eye of the Storm


Fred Schepisi’s latest film, ‘The Eye of the Storm’, will receive its UK premiere at London’s FilmFest Australia, which runs between Sept 14-23.  Based upon Patrick White’s highly acclaimed novel of the same name, a tense family drama features a formidable matriarch, who still rules the roost on her deathbed.  An outstanding ensemble cast includes Charlotte Rampling as the matriarch and Geoffrey Rush and Judy Davis playing her children.  The Clapham and Hackney Picturehouses will host the festival.  7 August 2012


Written by our editor, Graham Eley, for UK Film



Savages to open Zurich


The eighth edition of the Zurich Film Festival, which runs between Sept 20-30, will open with the European premiere of Oliver Stone’s ‘Savages’.  Based on Don Winslow’s best selling novel of the same name, love triangles and drugs rings clash in a thriller starring Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively & Aaron Taylor-Johnson.  Stone was the recipient of a ZFF special tribute in 2007 for his contribution towards influencing film history.  7 August 2012


Written by our editor, Graham Eley, for Film Provocation



Plot details for Woody Allen’s new feature


In a sign of the times, Woody Allen’s follow-up to ‘To Rome With Love’ will feature an affluent woman from Manhattan forced to downsize in San Francisco after falling victim to the troubled global economy.  It is a set-up that points to a generalised reprise of many of Woody’s female characters of the past and a return to his favourite themes but within a contemporary context.  Woody, who commenced shooting at the end of last week, has pieced together an intriguing cast that includes Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin and Sally Hawkins.  GE 6 August 2012



Christian Bale set to star in Todd Field’s new feature


Christian Bale is set to star in Todd Field’s third feature and his first for six years, an adaptation of Boston Teran’s hard-hitting Mexican revolution novel, The Creed Of Violence.  With circumstances forcing an outlaw into the hands of his abandoned son without knowing his true identity, Field will be returning to his favourite theme of the ‘family’ but from a very different angle.  Cross Creek Pictures are producing, and as things stand, filming should commence early next year.  Rumours linking Leonardo DiCaprio to the project are purely speculative.  GE 4 August 2012



San Sebastian Film Festival to screen François Ozon’s latest


The 60th edition of the San Sebastian Film Festival will screen François Ozon’s latest feature, In The House (Dans la maison), shortly after its Toronto world premiere.  In a typically tempting Ozon set-up, a two-way moment of literary inspiration between a teacher and pupil has unexpected consequences.  The film embarks upon its theatrical release in France and Belgium on 10 October 2012.  3 August 2012


Written by our editor, Graham Eley, for Film Provocation



Prison for OpenV executives


The deluded many, who assume that they can hide behind jurisdiction ambiguities in freely contravening film copyright on the web, may have cause for reflection after a landmark Chinese case proves otherwise.  The video-on-demand website OpenV, developed a substantial business on the back of illegal access to films owned by influential members of the US’s Motion Picture Association.  Following an extensive collaboration between the MPA and the Chinese authorities, a Beijing court meted out prison terms to some of the company’s executives after it emerged that the website had a staggering average of 55 million page views per day.  We can fully expect more of the same from the MPA in other territories.  GE 3 August 2012



BFI heading for bumper month


Unlike much of London’s entertainment sector, it has been more a case of managing demand at the BFI rather than riding the storm of Olympics distraction.  A combination of good fortune with the release of The Dark Knight Rises, currently showing at the Imax screen, and some shrewd programming of the Alfred Hitchcock season, currently under way at BFI Southbank, has created a potentially record breaking month.  3 August 2012


Written by our editor, Graham Eley, for UK Film



Spike Lee to receive Glory to the Filmmaker award


Spike Lee will receive the Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to the Filmmaker award at this year’s Venice International Film Festival for his innovative contribution to contemporary filmmaking.  The presentation will precede the world premiere of Lee’s feature documentary, Bad 25, an in-depth behind the scenes look at Michael Jackson at the time of the Bad album and the subsequent tour.  Other recipients of the award include Abbas Kiarostami and Kitano Takeshi.  3 August 2012


Written by our editor, Graham Eley, for Film Provocation



Media Programme’s UK contribution


The European Union’s support programme for film, television and similar industries, Media, which has existed in some form or other since 1991, allocated €14m to the UK last year, making a total contribution of €40m since the programme’s last revamp five years ago.  The Iron Lady was a major beneficiary of the programme’s aim at increasing cross-border circulation, receiving €1.5 million towards its European distribution.  The European Commission has proposed a new initiative for 2014, which would merge the existing media and cultural support programmes.  2 August 2012


Written by our editor, Graham Eley, for UK Film



Compliance heading for Japan


AT Entertainment has acquired Japanese rights to Craig Zobel’s controversial ‘sexual predator’ thriller, Compliance, which caused a mini storm at this year’s Sundance.  French distribution company, Memento Films, have enjoyed lively business selling international rights ahead of the film’s competition screening at Locarno later this week, including deals for France, India and Israel.  Compliance, where a phoney police officer orchestrates a humiliating strip search over the telephone, opens in the US on 17 August 2012.  Dreama Walker (Gran Torino) stars as the victim, alongside Ann Dowd and Pat Healy.  GE 1 August 2012



Vertigo tops Sight & Sound poll


Vertigo has dislodged Citizen Kane at the top of Sight & Sound’s ten-yearly poll of international film critics to determine the ‘greatest’ film of all time.  As with all ‘canons’, the poll has been self-perpetuating, which goes some way to explaining Citizen Kane’s extraordinary fifty year reign at the top.  Vertigo’s success is a testament to Hitchcock’s current lofty standing; particularly as there are so many other Hitchcock films capable of splitting the vote.  Historically, Tokyo Story has always attracted the Yasujirō Ozu vote notwithstanding the strength of his oeuvre and its No 3 position is no surprise.  The absence of any film in the top ten from the last forty years indicates the extent that critics of the past have influenced the current crop.  The poll is fundamentally flawed, obviously, but good fun nevertheless.


Top ten:


1. Vertigo (Hitchcock), 2. Citizen Kane (Welles), 3. Tokyo Story (Ozu), 4. La Règle du jeu (Renoir), 5. Sunrise: a Song for Two Humans (Murnau), 6. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick), 7. The Searchers (Ford), 8. Man with a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov), 9. The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer), & 10. 8 ½ (Fellini)


1 August 2012


Written by our editor, Graham Eley, for UK Film



Boost for the British Film Commission


Culture minister, Ed Vaizey, announced today that the UK Trade & Industry Partnership would increase the British Film Commission’s budget by a further £400k over two years.  The BFC, which has public responsibility for attracting international film production to the UK, is presiding over a period of particularly strong growth for inward investment, with film creating an annual trade surplus of $1.5b. The move comes on the back of the extension of the UK’s Film Tax Relief until 2015.  31 July 2012


Written by our Editor, Graham Eley, for UK Film



The Master heading for Venice and Toronto


After days of speculation, The Weinstein Co has confirmed that Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master will screen at both Venice and Toronto.  Confusion reigned last week after a trade website reported its inclusion in the Venice programme, only to withdraw the story subsequently.  It now seems that both festivals delayed clarifying their position due to technical complications with the film’s 70mm projection.  The world premiere will be on Saturday, September 1 as part of the main competition at Venice where it joins an already strong American contingent, including new films from Terrence Malick and Brian De Palma.  The Master is one of the most keenly awaited films of year and stars Philip Seymour Hoffman as a charismatic religious leader, whose rise to prominence in Fifties America shares similarities with that of L. Ron Hubbard.  30 July 2012


Written by our Editor, Graham Eley, for Film Provocation



StudioCanal acquires UK rights to Rufus Norris’ debut feature


StudioCanal has acquired UK rights to Rufus Norris’ festival hit, Broken, staring Tim Roth, Cillian Murphy and Bill Milner.  Norris’ debut feature, set in North London, focuses on a young girl who radically changes her outlook after witnessing an unexpected violent assault.  Although falling within the British social realist tradition, it has already enjoyed success in Europe where it opened this year’s Critics Week at Cannes before going on to win the Grand Prix audience award at Odessa IFF.  Norris is best known for his work as a theatre director.


Written by our Editor, Graham Eley, for UK Film



Domestic film production falls


Domestic films produced in the UK last year fell steeply according to the latest official statistics.  The final tally of 200 was down by 82 from 2010 but opinions vary as to its implications.  With many films still struggling to obtain distribution deals, parts of the industry welcome the reduction as a necessary correction to an unsustainable overproduction.  Others are quick to point out that although a reduction may have been inevitable, films of cultural significance, with a possibility of enduring beyond an initial release, are likely, nevertheless, to fall foul of the industry looking for an immediate return on its investment.  Balancing UK’s film heritage and a stable film industry is one of the key challenges facing the BFI in its capacity of having overall responsibility for public funding in both sectors.


Written by our Editor, Graham Eley, for UK Film



UK release date for The Flowers of War


Distribution company, Revolver Entertainment, has announced a UK release of The Flowers of War in selected Empire cinemas on 3 August 2012.  Zhang Yimou’s latest feature, which received a Golden Globe nomination for best foreign language film, stars Christian Bale as an American undertaker protecting convent schoolgirls during Japan’s 1937 assault on Nanjing.  Revolver, known for its unconventional marketing strategies, will allow a three-day window before expanding the release onto DVD.


Written by our Editor, Graham Eley, for UK Film



The Dark Knight Rises tops UK box office for the second weekend running


Christopher Nolan’s third Batman instalment, The Dark Knight Rises (Warner Bros) easily topped the UK box office with a £6.8m ($10.6m) second weekend.  New release, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (Universal), came in second with a modest £1.9m ($3.0m) return, ahead of Ice Age: Continental Drift (Fox), which dropped a place in its third weekend after grossing £1.5m ($2.4m).  The opening of the London Olympics made it a tricky weekend for all releases.


Written by our Editor, Graham Eley, for UK Film



Kimberly Peirce to remake With A Friend Like Harry


Has Kimberly Peirce sold out to those obsessed with regurgitating the tried and tested hits of the past in the form of remakes, sequels and prequels or does she have a separate agenda that justifies her current endeavours beyond commercial reward?  Maven Pictures announced this week that Peirce, who is currently remaking Brian de Palma’s seminal horror masterpiece, Carrie, will film an English language version of Dominik Moll’s Cannes success of twelve years ago, With A Friend Like Harry.  Normally two remakes in succession would seriously threaten a filmmaker’s ‘auteur’ credentials but it would seem more than a coincidence that both films engage directly with Hitchcock’s cinema on multiple levels.  Having so deftly handled complex gender issues in Boys Don’t Cry, Peirce has now opened the door for a potentially intriguing deconstruction of the influence of Hitchcock’s ‘male gaze’ on subsequent filmmakers.  GE 27 July 2012



Venice line-up


A quick analysis of the recently completed high-profile features from leading auteurs not having world premieres at TIFF, usually provides a strong indication of the films heading for the main competition at Venice.  And so it turned out this year with Venice’s new artistic director, Alberto Barbera, confirming that new features from leading US filmmakers, Terrence Malick, Harmony Korine and Brian De Palma, would compete for the Golden Lion against such influential voices from world cinema as Olivier Assayas and Brillante Mendoza.


Last year’s career Golden Lion winner, Marco Bellocchio, best known for Vincere, returns in the main competition this time around with his keenly awaited Dormant Beauty, starring Isabelle Huppert.  The busy, Daniele Cipri, the cinematographer on both Dormant Beauty and Vincere, also competes with his latest film, E Stato il Figlio.  Francesca Comencini completes the Italian contingent with Un Giorno Speciale, the follow-up to her Venice hit of three years ago, Lo Spazio Bianco.


The Austrian filmmaker, Ulrich Seidl, who unfairly spent too many years in the shadow of Michael Haneke, follows his Palme d’Or nomination last May for Paradise: Love, with the next part of the trilogy, Paradise: Faith having a Venice competition berth.


There is also a competition screening for Venice regular, Kim Ki-duk’s potentially controversial Pieta, which has already encountered censorship complications in his native South Korea.


Xavier Giannoli’s intriguing Superstar could prove to be a dark horse for honours.  An ironic Post Modern take on that symbol of Post Modern simulacrum gone mad, the talentless celebrity, focuses on an ordinary man who suddenly finds himself famous for no apparent reason.  26 July 2012


Written by our editor, Graham Eley, for Film Provocation



Arbitrage opens San Sebastián Film Festival


Arbitrage will open the 60th edition of the San Sebastián Film Festival, which runs between September 21-29.  Nicolas Jarecki’s debut fictional feature, which premiered at this year’s Sundance, is another from the topical corruption thriller sub-genre.  Richard Gere, who will be in attendance with co-star Susan Sarandon, plays a ‘fat cat’ looking to save his financial empire through fraud.  SSFF will make further programme announcements later this week.  25 July 2012


Written by our editor, Graham Eley, for Film Provocation



Rian Johnson’s Looper opens Toronto


The Toronto International Film Festival will open with Rian Johnson’s ‘Looper’, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt.  Set later this century, the gangster and sc-fi genres come together to create a time-travel thriller where the mob send their victims to an assassin waiting in the past.  It is Johnson’s third feature and his first since ‘The Brothers Bloom’, which also debuted at Toronto.


Laurent Cantet’s keenly awaited ‘Foxfire’ will receive its world premiere in line with expectations since February.  Adapted from Joyce Carol Oates’ acclaimed novel of the same name, teenage girls take revenge on abusive men in 1950’s blue-collar America where the law is inadequate protection.


Other high profile world premieres include ‘Cloud Atlas’, Tom Tykwer’s intriguing collaboration with Andy and Lana Wachowski, and ‘Quartet’, Dustin Hoffman’s long overdue directorial debut.


The festival runs between 6-16 Sept.  GE 24 July 2012



VIFF Critics Week line-up


Seven debut features will compete for the Critics Week prize at this year’s Venice International Film Festival, which opens on August 29.


Local interest comes from Luigi Lo Cascio’s The Ideal City, where a man underestimates the consequences of living in an apartment without water or electricity.  Lo Cascio moves into the director’s chair having enjoyed a successful acting career, including winning the Pasinetti Award and Volpi Cup at Venice for his performance in Giuseppi Piccioni’s Light Of My Eyes.


The latest vampire movie for the art house audience, Xan Cassavetes’ Kiss of the Damned, will close Critics Week with a screening out of competition.  Josephine de la Baume and Roxane Mesquida play two vampire sisters who interact with the local community in very different ways.  24 July 2012


Written by our editor, Graham Eley, for Film Provocation



The Reluctant Fundamentalist to open Venice


Following the controversy at Cannes where no female filmmakers made the nominations for the Palme d’Or, Alberto Barbera has announced that Mira Nair’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist will open this year’s Venice IFF albeit out of competition.  Nair’s adaptation of Mohsin Hamid’s 2007 best-selling and critically acclaimed novel of the same name has one of cinema’s finest young actors, Riz Ahmed, playing the Pakistani Wall Street high-flier, who has a deeply conflicted reaction to 9/11.  No stranger to Venice, Nair has made four previous appearances including winning the Golden Lion for Monsoon Wedding eleven years ago.  Kate Hudson, Kiefer Sutherland and Liev Schreiber also star.  GE 23 July 2012


Bong Joon-ho enters post-production on Snow Piercer


The South Korean maverick, Bong Joon-ho (Memories of Murder, The Host), has completed filming on the Snow Piercer, one of the most keenly anticipated films currently scheduled for next year.  In a coming together of multiple talents, Park Chan-wook is producing through his company Moho Film, and Chris Evans leads a stellar cast that includes, amongst others, Tilda Swinton, Octavia Spencer and Ed Harris.  Adapted from Jacques Lob’s and Benjamin Legrand’s graphic novel Le Transperceneige, a new society repeats the mistakes of the past when a failed attempt to prevent global warming almost destroys civilisation.  It is the follow-up to Bong’s smart ‘police incompetency’ thriller, Mother.  GE 17 July 2012



Johnny Depp on board Wes Anderson’s next feature


Hot on the heels of the critical and commercial success of his Cannes opener, Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson is moving through the gears in developing his next feature, The Grand Budapest Hotel.  Anderson is lining-up another cast of ‘A’ listers with Johnny Depp already on board and Bill Murray and Edward Norton likely to return from Moonrise Kingdom.  Little is known of the plot, which is likely to remain under wraps for some time, but Anderson has hinted that it will focus on adult themes.  GE 17 July 2012



Eisenstein In Guanajuato taking shape


One of the most inventive filmmakers of his generation, Peter Greenaway (The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, The Draughtsman’s Contract), will blur the distinction between fiction and documentary in his next feature, Eisenstein In Guanajuato.  In a smart conceit, Greenaway will create a montage of his own by juxtaposing archive footage of Eisenstein, the master of the technique, alongside a dramatisation of the Russian filmmaker’s stay in Mexico.  The possibilities are endless for Greenaway, who hopes to commence shooting at the end of the year, to keep the audience on its toes with his trademark cinematic games of significance.  GE 16 July 2012



Teresa Palmer joins Terrence Malick’s ‘Knight Of Cups’


Teresa Palmer, who received an Australian Film Institute best actress nomination for her performance in ‘2:37’, is the latest high-profile actress to join the cast of Terrence Malick’s ‘Knight Of Cups’.  Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett and Freida Pinto are already on board alongside Christian Bale, who plays the lead role.  The enigmatic Malick has succeeded in keeping the plot out of the public domain so far notwithstanding that the film is already in production.  Although many assume that the tarot card of the film’s title holds the key to its subject, the varying interpretations of the card in different contexts makes it as much a red herring than a helpful clue.  Malick’s next film, ‘To The Wonder’, is awaiting a release date but it should be later this year.  GE 7 July 2012


World record breaking poster going to auction


One of four known copies of the original poster for Fritz Lang’s German Expressionist masterpiece of dystopian sc-fi, Metropolis, will come under the hammer at a forthcoming auction of important film memorabilia from a bankrupt collector’s estate.  Based upon one of cinema’s most iconic images, the seductive robot of Underground City, it already holds the record at $690,000 for the highest price paid for a movie poster.  It remains to be seen whether speculation that it will be the first to top the one million dollar mark proves realistic.  GE 27 June 2012



ARTE France Cinéma backing Lars von Trier’s controversial new feature


ARTE France Cinéma has backed Lars von Trier’s controversial new feature, Nymphomaniac, ahead of filming, which is scheduled for later this summer.  Starring von Trier regulars Charlotte Gainsbourg and Stellan Skarsgård, it scrutinises a woman’s sex life until the age of fifty in a direct challenge to film censorship.  Although ARTE’s European status exempts it from the general rule that French television companies must invest 3.2 % of their budget in film production, it voluntarily complies via its subsidiary AFC.  Von Trier’s track record of not extending his sometimes ill-judged publicity stunts to his films, which retain a high level of artistic integrity, may well have of persuaded AFC that this was a less risky investment than it first appeared.  GE 26 June 2012


An early release date for Cloud Atlas


A surprising press release from Warner Bros has announced an October 26 2012 US theatrical opening for Cloud Atlas, the intriguing collaboration between the Wachowski Bros (The Matrix) and Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run).  Adapted from David Mitchell’s ambitious novel of the same name, one character changes identity over time ‘Orlando-style’ taking us from the 19th century to a post-apocalyptic future that exposes the dangers of a misconceived Social Darwinism.  The release date, six weeks ahead of the original schedule, now coincides with the beginning of the awards season, leaving a long stretch to the Academy Awards with the obvious risk that it could lose momentum.  Tom Hanks and Halle Berry head an impressive ensemble cast that includes, amongst many others, Jim Broadbent, Ben Whishaw and Susan Sarandon.  GE 20 June 2012



Rob Lowe joins the cast for Steven Soderbergh’s final film


In a sign of the times, Steven Soderbergh continues with his preparations on Behind The Candelabra for cable TV specialists, HBO Films.  Michael Douglas and Matt Damon star in the portrayal of the stormy relationship between the flamboyant entertainer, Liberace and his secret lover, Scott Thorson in what Soderbergh has announced will be his final film.  The affair ended unhappily during the early Eighties when Thorson famously filed for a multi-million dollar palimony settlement before Liberace died of AIDS-related causes five years later.  Rob Lowe has now joined the cast to play a plastic surgeon, and negotiations are at an advanced stage with Cheyenne Jackson and Boyd Holbrook.  The film started life with Warner Bros, who were planning a theatrical release.  GE 13 June 2012



Clooney adapts New Yorker article


With both the FBI and Fidel Castro accusing him of being a spy for the other, William Alexander Morgan had little chance of surviving the real life case of international paranoia on a grand scale.  As an American who commanded part of Castro’s guerrilla forces during the successful overthrow of dictator, Fulgencio Batista, Morgan achieved hero status until allegations of double and triple crossing left him facing a Cuban firing squad at the age of 32.  David Grann’s acclaimed New Yorker account of the affair has thrust it back into public awareness as a single story that encapsulates an entire era.  George Clooney is now developing it into a feature film for a natural extension of his knowing political thriller, The Ides of March.  GE 7 June 2012



David Gordon Green remakes Icelandic feature


David Gordon Green returns to his indie roots with his latest feature, Prince Avalanche, a quirky comedy on male bonding.  Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch star as two workers who have to rely on each other for company in a remake of Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson’s Either Way, which received multiple nominations for last year’s Icelandic equivalent to the Oscars.  Once again, we can only but wonder why an imaginative filmmaker takes the soft option of a remake rather than developing original material.  Green concluded filming last month, which will trigger speculation that it may premiere in Venice or Toronto at the end of the festival season.  GE 6 June 2012



Magnolia acquires Cannes hit


Magnolia has acted swiftly in acquiring US rights to Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt, one of the major critical hits of this year’s Cannes.  Vinterberg has struggled to make his mark since launching the anti-Hollywood movement, Dogma 95, with the outstanding portrayal of the dark side of domesticity, Festen, and stealing the thunder of the group’s trailblazer, Lars von Trier.  The latest feature revitalises his career with a mob mentality thriller within a contemporary context, when a pupil makes a false allegation against the local teacher.  Mads Mikkelsen’s performance as the accused won the best actor’s award at Cannes.  GE 30 May 2012



Michael Haneke wins the Palme d’Or


Michael Haneke has won the Palme d’Or for the second time in four years for the pre-ceremony favourite, Love (Amour), starring Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva as an elderly couple struggling to cope with the harsh reality of failing health.  There was a major surprise with the second prize, the Grand Prix, going to Matteo Garrone’s take on the Big Brother TV concept, Reality, which failed to make an impression with the critics.  The best director award went to Carlos Reygadas for another rank outsider, Post Tenebras Lux, an experimental work that excited a chorus of boos at its screening.  There was success for Cristian Mungiu’s popular, Beyond The Hills, with the Romanian auteur taking best screenplay, and co-stars Cosmina Stratan and Christina Flutor jointly winning best actress.  Mads Mikkelsen won best actor for his performance in The Hunt, Thomas Vinterberg’s first critical success since his debut feature, Festen.  But there was nothing for Leos Carax’s controversial Holy Motors, thought by many to be a serious contender.  GE 27 May 2012



Natalie Portman on board Lynne Ramsay’s Western


In one of the most unexpected changes of direction during recent years, Lynne Ramsay has turned to the Western genre for her next feature, Jane Got a Gun.  Academy Award winner, Natalie Portman, has now come on board to play the lead, a wife desperately seeking medical attention and protection for her outlaw husband who has run out of luck.  Ramsay had progressed from the hard edged realism of her debut feature, Ratcatcher, and early shorts to the unabashed modernism of last year’s We Need to Talk About Kevin.  It will be interesting to see whether she continues with her daring use of film form as a revisionist Western or adopts a more conventional style for this project.  Either way, it has attracted wide interest in Cannes from potential funders.  GE 23 May 2012



Marion Cotillard joins Farhadi’s next feature


Two of the most inspired talents of the current generation are set to collaborate as La Vie en Rose star, Marion Cotillard, joins the cast of Asghar Farhadi’s keenly awaited next feature.  Farhadi will follow his multiple award winning, A Separation, with another fast-moving social drama set against the background of contested values but, this time around, he will film outside of Iran for the first time.  The latest development coincides with Memento Films launching international sales at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, which opened yesterday.  Farhadi will commence shooting in Paris later this year.  GE 17 May 2012



Lee Daniels’ extends cast for The Butler


Jesse Williams (Cabin in The Woods) is set to join the impressive cast for Lee Daniels’ fourth feature, The Butler, which already includes, amongst many others, Forest Whitaker, John Cusack and Jane Fonda.  A biopic of Eugene Allen, who served eight American Presidents during his tenure as The White House’s butler, will examine different ways of overcoming an inadequate constitution.  Allen used his privileged position as a means to influence Presidents in the fight against extreme racism but his son opted for a more direct action that lead to various scrapes with the authorities.  It will be fascinating to see Daniels’ position on the legitimacy of breaking a bad law so as to protect basic human rights in an imperfect democracy.  GE 14 May 2012



Jean-Luc Godard turns to 3D


Arguably, the world’s most inventive filmmaker, Jean-Luc Godard, will become the latest auteur to work with 3D in his new feature, Goodbye To Language.  The attraction for Godard extends beyond the exploration of new technologies to having a new freedom operating without established boundaries.  The film’s title is a direct reference to the offbeat plot of a married couple who can only communicate via the family dog.  But those familiar with Godard’s work will fully expect it to correlate with his obsessive interest in film language within a new context.  Filming is already under way and, producers, Wild Bunch, will promote it during the Cannes market.  GE 9 May 2012



Errol Morris switches to drama


Leading documentary filmmaker, Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line, Tabloid), has turned to drama for his next feature, Freezing People is Easy, but has no intention of drifting too far from real events.  Set in 1960’s America, Morris is basing it on the extraordinary true story of a technician who earnestly developed a procedure for attempting the restoration of human life.  Morris will explore individual delusional hope against the backdrop of America’s then blind faith in technology as means of national dream fulfilment.  Paul Rudd is on board to play the lead role alongside Kristen Wiig, Owen Wilson and Christopher Walken, and filming commences later this year.  It will be Morris’ second excursion into drama following his Dark Wind twenty years ago.  GE 8 May 2012



Entertainment One takes US and UK rights to David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis


Entertainment One has acquired US and UK rights to David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis ahead of its world premiere later this month in the main competition at Cannes.  Based on Don DeLillo’s novella of the same name, Cronenberg will offer a nightmare vision of unregulated Capitalism in the form of a reckless city trader gambling on the outcome of economic crisis during a surreal journey across Manhattan.  There are high expectations that Cronenberg will provide a thought-provoking thriller appropriate for our age with potential to attract mainstream and independent audiences.  Entertainment One, who already hold Canadian rights, is looking for a theatrical release in all three territories later this summer.  Robert Pattinson stars alongside Juliette Binoche and Paul Giamatti.  GE 4 May 2012



Dustin Hoffman in the director’s chair


As one of the most perceptive actors of the last fifty years, it is surprising that Dustin Hoffman has taken so long in making the move to the director’s chair.  His debut feature, Quartet, based upon Ronald Harwood’s stage play of the same name, provides considerable scope for a thoughtful adaptation well suited to the big screen.  Set in a home for retired opera singers, it becomes a pretext for challenging preconceptions of old age against the backdrop of artistic temperaments that are very much alive and well.  With the added attraction of a stellar cast, led by Maggie Smith and Michael Gambon, The Weinstein Company has acted quickly to secure North American rights. Peter Yates’ adaptation of another Harwood play, The Dresser, received five Academy Award nominations, including best film and director.  GE 3 May 2012
In my opinion the must stunning visual comes in the final scene, in which benjamin, having fully realized the power of his imagination, stands looking upward, arms outstretched, with a swirl of dandelions around him