News Archive: September – December 2012

Paul Thomas Anderson to shoot ‘Inherent Vice’ next year


When news broke that critics’ favourite, Paul Thomas Anderson, planned to adapt a novel by one of America’s leading post modern writers, Thomas Pynchon, it offered us the mouth-watering prospect of a correspondence between two of our most resolutely independent and important cultural figures.  Making things even more interesting, the novel is Pynchon’s Sixties-set ‘Inherent Vice’, featuring the pot smoking Doc Sportello, a private investigator in the tradition of an urban legend that both literature and cinema created and Anderson’s most important influence, Robert Altman, brilliantly deconstructed in the ‘The Long Goodbye’.  It now seems that we may have a shorter wait than first envisaged for Anderson’s intertextual interpretation of all these historical connotations, as he is planning on shooting the film next year.  Definitely one for the film connoisseur.  GE 27 December 2012



Trance to open in UK on March 27


Danny Boyle’s thriller ‘Trance’, starring James McAvoy and Vincent Cassel, will begin its theatrical journey in the UK on March 27.  What starts as a heist movie takes on a potentially different dimension when a gangland leader hires a hypnotist after a double-crossing auctioneer claims to have forgotten the location of hidden stolen jewels.  Slotting the film into his busy schedule, Boyle unexpectedly shot it prior to being artistic director of the London Summer Olympics and commenced post production immediately afterwards.  There is no news yet on opening dates for North America or other territories and we shall have to wait a little longer before knowing whether it will receive a high-profile screening at the Glasgow Film Festival.  GE 27 December 2012



Black Film Critics Circle goes with the flow


The Black Film Critics Circle has gone with the flow and, almost as a summary of the awards season so far, honoured Kathryn Bigelow’s ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ with best film, director and actress (Jessica Chastain) and Steven Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln’ with best actor (Daniel Day-Lewis) and ensemble.   The controversial ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ now has nine best film victories to its name but ‘Lincoln’ is likely to receive more support when the industry awards join the fray in the New Year.


There were no real surprises in the other acting awards.  Christoph Waltz picked up his fourth best supporting actor win for ‘Django Unchained’ but remains behind Oscar favourites, Tommy Lee Jones and Philip Seymour Hoffman – with six wins each – in the overall tally.  Clear Oscar frontrunner, Anne Hathaway, won best supporting actress for her performance in ‘Les Misérables’, and takes her total to an excellent twelve wins in this category.


Django Unchained and Argo won best original and adapted screenplay awards respectively and both films are shoo-ins for Oscar nominations in these categories with a shot at winning.


Ken Burns’s ‘The Central Park Five’ bagged best documentary after being controversially omitted from the Oscar shortlist.  Two documentaries that employed narrative techniques borrowed from drama filmmaking, ‘Searching For Sugar Man’ and ‘The Imposter’, lead the Oscar race in this category.


‘The Intouchables’, currently in a close Oscar race with Palme d’Or winner, ‘Amour’, won the best foreign film.  GE 22 December 2012



‘The Grandmaster’ to open the Berlin International Film Festival


Wong Kar Wai’s ‘The Grandmaster’, starring Tony Leung, will open the Berlin International Film Festival out of competition on Feb 7.  Best known for his multi-award winning ‘In The Mood For Love’ and other uniquely stylised Hong Kong dramas, ‘The Grandmaster’ marks a change of direction as his first martial-arts epic.  It is, nevertheless, based on a concept that he formulated early in his career and focuses on Bruce Lee’s ‘legendary’ mentor IP Man.  Wong will be a prominent figure at Berlin next year where he is already serving as the President of the International Jury.  GE 19 December 2012



Zero Dark Thirty continues domination


The Austin Film Critics are the latest to announce their awards before the big industry guilds join the fray and impose their will.  True to form, Kathryn Bigelow’s ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ picked-up its eighth best film win of the awards season and there was not even a top ten place for Steven Spielberg’s industry favourite, ‘Lincoln’.  Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘The Master’, which has been gathering some momentum recently after a quiet start, won best director, actor (Joaquin Phoenix) and cinematography.  There was a special honorary award for Matthew McConaughey, who has given his career a significant change of direction this year with his performances in ‘Killer Joe’ – worthy of a best actor Oscar nomination – ‘Bernie’, ‘Magic Mike’ and ‘The Paperboy’.  GE 19 December 2012



‘The Master’ building-up momentum in critics awards


Following a quiet start in the critics’ section of the awards season, ‘The Master’ is now building-up some serious momentum.  Hot on the heels of claiming top honours with the San Francisco and Kansas circles, Paul Thomas Anderson’s sixth feature received best film, director, screenplay and supporting actor (Philip Seymour Hoffman) at the Toronto Film Critics Association awards.


Showing some independence from established trends, there were wins for Denis Lavant (Holy Motors) for best actor and Rachel Weisz (The Deep Blue Sea) and Gina Gershon (Killer Joe) for best actress and supporting actress respectively.


One of Canada’s leading filmmakers, Sarah Polley (Away From Her, Take This Waltz) claimed best documentary for ‘Stories We Tell’.  GE 18 December 2012



Funding for new Warwick Thornton feature


After specialising as a documentary cinematographer for a decade, Warwick Thornton made a serious impression in the director’s chair with his debut feature, the Aborigine survival drama, ‘Samson and Delilah’, which bagged the Caméra d’Or (Golden Camera) at the Cannes Film Festival.  Thornton will combine both disciplines in his follow-up, ‘The Darkside’, a docu-drama adapted from accounts of poignant ‘ghost stories’ based on personal experiences.  ‘The Darkside’ is amongst the latest projects to receive funding from Screen Australia.  GE 17 December 2012



‘The Master’ makes its mark


‘The Master’, which has not generally received the credit that it deserves during this year’s awards season, fared better with the Chicago Film Critics Association.  Paul Thomas Anderson’s sixth feature lead the way with an impressive ten nominations, including best film, director, actor (Joaquin Phoenix), supporting actor (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and supporting actress (Amy Adams).


Benh Zeitlin’s ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ was only one behind in the nomination tally.  They included a nod for best actress (Quvenzhane Wallis), the category where the Sundance winner has the best chance of an Oscar nomination.  GE 14 December 2012



Life of Pi’s first win of the awards season


There are signs that Ang Lee’s ‘Life of Pi’ is becoming more of a presence in the awards season and the Las Vegas Film Critics Society gave the adventure drama a further boost by awarding it six awards, including best film, director and cinematography.  Not for the first time during this year’s awards season, Steven Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln’ picked-up best actor (Daniel Day-Lewis) and supporting actor (Tommy Lee Jones).  Rian Johnson’s ‘Looper’ was an interesting winner of best screenplay, the one area where it has a shot at an Oscar nomination.  GE 13 December 2012



‘Lincoln’ leads Golden Globes’ nominations


Although it is debatable whether the Golden Globes’ carry quite as much influence as some film journalists make out, there is little doubt that Lincoln’s sweeping success in today’s nominations firmly places the pre-award season favourite in pole position in the Oscar race.  Steven Spielberg’s presidential epic led the way with seven nods, which will build on the momentum from a strong performance at the North American box office.


It was no surprise that another strong awards contender to over perform at the box office, Ben Affleck’s Iran hostage drama, Argo, secured five nominations.  Quentin Tarantino’s Western, Django Unchained raised more eyebrows when it established a foothold in the awards season with the same total.


The Globes irritating insistence on having separate categories for drama and comedy, prevents it from establishing a clear position on best film.  With the best director award taking on more significance as a consequence, it brings the omission of awards hopefuls Les Miserables (Tom Hooper) and Silver Linings Playbook (David O Russell) into sharp focus.  Life of Pi (Ang Lee) and critics favourite, Zero Dark Thirty (Kathryn Bigelow), joined Lincoln, Argo and Django Unchained as the nominees.  GE 13 December 2012



‘Les Misérables’ receives 12 noms for the Phoenix Film Critics Awards


‘Les Misérables’ (Tom Hooper), which received a whacking 12 nominations, was one of five films to receive best film and director nods for the Phoenix Film Critics Awards.  The others are ‘Argo’ (Ben Affleck), after winning awards in the same categories at today’s San Diego Critics’ Awards, ‘Life of Pi’ (Ang Lee), ‘Lincoln’ (Steven Spielberg) and ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ (Kathryn Bigelow).  ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ (David O. Russell) missed out on a directors’ nomination and seems to be losing ground in the awards season.  GE 12 December 2012



‘Argo’ dominates San Diego Critics’ Awards


‘Argo’ has been a strong presence in securing nominations during the awards season without looking like converting many into wins.  That changed with the San Diego Critics’ Awards when it bagged best film, director, editor and adapted screenplay.


Michelle Williams’ best actress victory for her performance in ‘Take This Waltz’ follows yesterday’s nomination in the same category for the Detroit Film Critics’ awards and may indicate a growing momentum.


There was no surprise in the best actor category with the award going to Daniel Day-Lewis for ‘Lincoln’.  GE 12 December 2012



SAG’s nominations provide food for thought


The various critics awards have some influence in the Oscar race but the real momentum normally begins with the nominations for the Screen Actors Guild Awards.  With SAG’s strong holding of actual Oscar voters, it undoubtedly provides early evidence of voting intentions but sometimes first impressions can be deceptive.  So far, Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty has dominated the critics’ and board’s awards with six wins but it today failed to secure a nomination for SAG’s equivalent to best film, the ensemble category.  In a major shock, John Madden’s commercially popular, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, made the list alongside leading Oscar contenders Argo, Les Misérables, Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook.  But Zero Dark Thirty’s late arrival in the voting process may have damaged its prospects and, with plenty for trending groups to ponder, this year’s nominations could yet prove to be the exception that proves the rule.  GE 12 December 2012



Michelle Williams may come aboard Joshua Marston’s speed dating mystery


After establishing a reputation as one of America’s most interesting and independent filmmakers, it was a surprise when Joshua Marston announced a year ago that his next film would be a remake.  Although it seems unnecessary for such an original talent to reinterpret another filmmaker’s work, the chosen film, Giuseppe Capotondi’s speed dating mystery drama, ‘The Double Hair’, does, at least, provide plenty scope for individual interpretation.  News that Michelle Williams may soon come aboard to play the lead has excited new interest in the project and, clearly, opens the possibility of a mouthwatering collaboration.  As with his earlier ‘Maria Full Of Grace’ and ‘The Forgiveness Of Blood’, Marston has written the script.  GE 12 December 2012



Detroit Film Critics’ throw in surprises


The Detroit Film Critics have demonstrated a welcome  independence in their nominations for best film and director by including Sarah Polley’s ‘Take This Waltz’ and J.A. Bayona’s ‘The Impossible’.  More familiar award season contenders Ben Affleck’s ‘Argo’, David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook’ and Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty completed the list in both categories.  Greta Gerwig received a pleasing nomination as best actress for her engaging display of deadpan quirkiness in Wilt Stillman’s ‘Damsels in Distress’.  GE 11 December 2012



Chasing pack makes an impact in the St. Louis Critics’ nominations


St. Louis Critics’ nominations for best film include three established Oscar challengers, ‘Argo’, ‘Lincoln’ and ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ and three from the chasing pack, ‘Django Unchained’, ‘Life of Pi’ and ‘Moonrise Kingdom’. The same films featured in the best director category except that Sundance winner, ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ replaced the pre-awards season favourite, ‘Lincoln’.  Nothing, then, in these key categories for two other early front runners, Les Miserables and  Silver Linings Playbook.  GE 11 December 2012



Akin receives funding for final part of trilogy


Fatih Akin established his credentials with his eye-catching contribution to the German New Wave, one of the first significant film movements of the current century.  A German filmmaker of Turkish origin, Akin provided a compelling portrayal of uncertain cultural identity in his Berlin Golden Bear triumph, ‘Head-On’ (2004) and Cannes best screenplay winner, ‘The Edge of Heaven’ (2007).  With these films forming the first two instalments of his ‘Love, Death and the Devil’ trilogy, news that he has received additional funding for making the final part is extremely welcome.  Akin, who has been developing it for some time, will focus on the dark side of human nature.  GE 11 December 2012



Another award for Zero Dark Thirty


True to form, the New York Film Critics Online followed the trend in honouring Kathryn Bigelow’s ‘Zero Dark Thirty’, which picked-up best film, director and screenplay.  There was more success for Michael Haneke’s Amour in taking best actress (Emmanuelle Riva) and international film.  And the pre-awards season favourite, Stephen Spielberg’s Lincoln, bagged wins in the best actor (Daniel Day-Lewis) and supporting actor (Tommy Lee Jones) categories.  GE 10 December 2012



LA Film Critics break the trend


Congratulations to The LA Film Critics Association for showing some independence of thought in awarding best film to Michael Haneke’s ‘Amour’.  It boasted an outstanding performance from one of cinema’s most distinguished actresses, Emmanuelle Riva as a dementia victim and she shared best actress with Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook).  There was an equally strong performance from Jean-Louis Trintignant as her dignified husband but it seems unlikely to gain the same recognition in the awards season.


It was business as usual elsewhere on a busy day for awards with the Boston Online Film Critics and The Boston Society of Film Critics both awarding best film and director to Kathryn Bigelow’s portrayal of the search for Osama bin Laden, ‘Zero Dark Thirty’.  NY critics’ and National Board of Review’s awards already went the same way.  GE 9 December 2012



Washington Film Critics follow the crowd


Washington Film Critics demonstrated a spectacular lack of imagination by following the crowd in its nominations for best film – Argo, Les Misérables, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook and Zero Dark Thirty.  The same films featured in the best director category expect that The Master, where it is a strong contender, replaced Silver Linings Playbook.  Overall, Lincoln lead the way after receiving eight nominations.  GE 9 December 2012



Iñárritu turns to comedy


In a surprise change of direction, Alejandro González Iñárritu (‘Amores Perros’) will turn to comedy for his next feature, ‘Birdman’.  Focusing on a once successful actor who must reset his ego after hitting hard times, it remains to be seen whether Iñárritu can breathe new life into this familiar scenario.  Filming is scheduled for next March.  GE 7 December 2012



Picturehouse Cinemas shock sale


Cineworld Group has swooped to acquire Picturehouse Cinemas, which specialises in films with a popularity crossing the mainstream and arthouse divide.  The surprise move increases Cineworld’s UK sites from 80 to 101 but it has indicated that Picturehouse will continue to operate as a separate company without changing its existing model.  Arts Alliance has owned Picturehouse for the last 10 years and received $76m (£47.3m) for the sale.  GE 7 December 2012



National Board of Review honours Zero Dark Thirty


Kathryn Bigelow’s controversial account of the search for Osama bin Laden, Zero Dark Thirty, is emerging as the early favourite for Oscar success after adding the National Board of Review’s best film award to the one that it received earlier this week from the New York Film Critics Circle.  It would represent Bigelow’s second consecutive Oscar victory after the Hurt Locker’s surprise win three years ago but early indicators can be misleading.  Although the critics’ awards are not without influence, their members do not have Oscar voting rights and it is not until the film industry guilds join the proceedings that a clear position emerges.  Zero Dark Thirty, which has seldom been out of the public eye since allegations that it benefited from the disclosure of secret information, arrives in North American cinemas on December 19,  2012.  GE 6 December 2012



Jonathan Demme passes on Stephen King novel


Jonathan Demme, who has been working on an adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, ’11/22/63′, where the protagonist travels back in time in the hope of preventing the assassination of JFK, has passed on an opportunity to direct the film following differences of emphasis with the author.  Fortunately, Demme had no such difficulties with his current feature, ‘Wally And André Shoot Ibsen’, based on Wallace Shawn’s quirky theatrical interpretation of Ibsen’s most complex play, ‘The Master Builder’.  Currently in post-production, it exposes possible flaws in the play’s original translation into English.  GE 6 December 2012



Satellite nominations


‘Silver Linings Playbook’ was the only film to receive best film, director, actor and actress nominations for the International Press Academy’s Satellite Awards.  Other major award season contenders, ‘Argo’, ‘Lincoln’ & ‘Zero Dark Thirty’, joined outside bet, ‘The Sessions’ in receiving nominations for best film and director.  ‘The Master’ missed out in both categories but with Joaquin Phoenix, as lead actor, and Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams, in supporting roles, all bagging acting nominations, it’s an outcome that could prefigure the Oscars.  ‘Amour’, ‘Caesar Must Die’ and ‘Pieta’, winners of the top prizes at Cannes, Berlin & Venice respectively, all received nominations for best international film.  GE 4 December 2012



Documentary Oscars shortist


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced the shortlist of fifteen films for the best feature documentary.  Two documentaries that borrowed techniques from fictional narratives to tell bizarre true stories, ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ and ‘The Imposter’, are amongst the early favourites but will receive strong competition from David France’s popular Gotham winner, ‘How to Survive a Plague’.  Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi’s outstanding ‘5 Broken Cameras’, an insider view of passive resistance to unlawful state occupation, made the cut but could be too far removed from the mainstream to challenge for the final five.


After receiving criticism last year for its haphazard selections, the latest list once again seems likely to attract publicity for high profile exclusions notwithstanding the Academy’s rule changes.  Amongst those now out of the running include Ken Burns’s ‘The Central Park Five’, which received a best documentary nomination at the Independent Spirit Awards, Lauren Greenfield’s ‘Queen of Versailles’ and Amy Berg’s ‘West of Memphis’.  GE 4 December 2012



‘Zero Dark Thirty’ NY Film Critic’s truimph


The New York Film Critics Circle has awarded best film, direction and cinematography to Kathryn Bigelow’s ‘Zero Dark Thirty’.  Another serious award season contender, Stephen Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln’, picked up best actor (Daniel Day-Lewis), supporting actress (Sally Field) and screenplay (Tony Kushner).  David France’s ‘How to Survive a Plague’, winner of best documentary at the Gotham awards, continued to build momentum by taking the best debut feature.  And there was another win for Michael Haneke’s ‘Amour’ as the top foreign language film.  GE 4 December 2012



‘War Witch’ takes Golden Frog


Ever since its successful launch at the Berlin International Film Festival last February, Kim Nguyen’s child soldier drama, ‘War Witch’, has been building a head of steam in the critical acclaim and popularity stakes.  The 20th International Film Festival of the Art of Cinematography is the latest to bestow praise and awarded it the top prize ahead of Leo Carax’s ‘Holy Motors’.  As Canada’s selection for the Foreign Language category at the 85th Academy Awards, ‘War Witch’ is now a serious contender for the shortlist.  GE 2 December 2012



PVR Cinemas expand


The consolidation of Indian multiplex exhibitors has continued with PVR Cinemas acquiring a 69.27% stake in Cinemax to form the country’s largest chain.  PVR paid $71.7m (Rs3.94bn) for the shares and now operates 335 Indian cinemas.  This latest development follows Inox Leisure securing a controlling interest in Fame India earlier this year.  GE 30 November 2012



Ben Mendelsohn comes aboard Gosling’s directorial debut


Ryan Gosling is the latest leading actor switching to the director’s chair with the self-branded fantasy noir, ‘How to Catch a Monster’.  A dark Freudian fable for the 21st century sees an unleashing of latent fears when a mother and son embark upon a surreal underwater journey to a secret macabre place.  Ben Mendelsohn, best known for his outstanding performance in ‘Animal Kingdom’, has now joined the cast, which already has Christina Hendricks in the lead role.  Gosling plans to commence filming next May.  GE 26 November 2012



IDFA winners


‘First Cousin Once Removed’, the latest film from experienced documentarian, Alan Berliner, has won the coveted best feature documentary at the 25th International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA).  In a deeply personal film, Berliner monitors the impact of Alzheimer’s disease on his cousin, friend and acclaimed poet, Edwin Honig, and reflects on the cruelty and fragility of human existence.


‘Searching for Sugar Man’, which has dominated audience awards on this year’s festival circuit, including high-profile wins at Sundance and Los Angeles, added another to the collection at IDFA.  Malik Bendjelloul’s feel good rock-doc retraces the remarkable story of Sixto Rodriguez who achieved fame without knowing it.  GE 26 November 2012



‘Beyond The Hill’ takes top prize at the Asia Pacific Film Awards


The latest film from the Turkish new wave to make its mark internationally, ‘Beyond The Hill’, has won the top prize at the Asia Pacific Film Awards.  Emin Alper’s debut feature, starring Tamar Levent and Reha Özcan, revolves around ancient blood feuds amongst a remote farming community.  The psychological drama has already won numerous prizes on the festival circuit including the Caligari Film Award at the Berlin International Film Festival.  GE 24 November 2012



Loach makes a stand


During these times when employees hide behind the economic crisis to justify morally indefensible actions, Ken Loach has led the way in fighting back on behalf of the most disadvantaged.  One of the world’s most celebrated realist filmmakers, Loach has refused to accept Turin Film Festival’s lifetime achievement award after the festival’s parent organisation sacked some of its lowest paid workers for refusing an arbitrary pay cut.  The festival organisers have responded by cancelling a screening of Loach’s Cannes hit, ‘The Angels’ Share’, a film they clearly did not understand.  GE 22 November 2012



Bahman Ghobadi calls for his brother’s release


Bahman Ghobadi, best known for his Cannes hit, ‘No One Knows About Persian Cats’, has called on the Iranian authorities to release his brother from detention.  There is growing concern that Iran’s Intelligence Ministry may have made an arrest two weeks ago as a means of attacking Ghobadi who currently lives in exile.  The latest development follows the series of high-profile arrests of Iranian filmmakers, including Jafar Panahi, on the pretext of committing crimes against the country’s national security.  Ghobadi’s latest feature, ‘Rhino Season’, focuses on a Kurdish Iranian after his release from prison, where he served thirty years without justification.  GE 20 November 2012



Pawlikowski enters production on his first Polish language feature


Pawel Pawlikowski, who made his name with the festival hit, ‘The Last Resort’ twelve years ago, has started filming on his first Polish language feature.  Returning to his native country, ‘Sister of Mercy’ will explore aspects of Poland’s post war history through the eyes of a young nun fascinated by new revelations concerning her family.  Pawlikowski’s last film, ‘The Woman In The Fifth’, was a Polish, French and UK co-production.  GE 19 November 2012



Ronnie Biggs to appear in Julien Temple’s next feature documentary


The Great Train Robber, Ronnie Biggs, will appear in Julien Temple’s next feature documentary, ‘Children of the Revolution: This Is Rio’, which is already in production and should arrive next year.  Biggs became the UK’s most famous fugitive after escaping prison and spending 30 years in the Brazilian capital mocking international police.  Temple’s follow-up to ‘London – The Modern Babylon’ explores Rio’s cultural and political revolutions over the last forty years.  GE 19 November 2012



Elstree Studios secures a £2m loan


Elstree Studios, which boasts ‘The King’s Speech’ amongst the recent productions making use of its facilities, has been in the unfortunate position of turning away business due to limited capacity.  Its owners, Hertsmere Borough Council, has now secured a £2m loan from a local enterprise partnership as part of a planned £4.5m development for the construction of additional film and TV production facilities to accommodate the demand.  Work should commence early next year.  GE 19 November 2012



Nicole Kidman lobbying for Colin Firth to come on board ‘Before I Go To Sleep’


Nicole Kidman is lobbying for Colin Firth to join the cast of Rowan Joffe’s next feature, ‘Before I Go To Sleep’ but it is unknown whether the Oscar winning actor would be interested in coming on board.  A potentially intriguing thriller sees Kidman playing a woman without a memory, who accepts her husband’s account of their backstory until a doctor raises doubts.  Mark Strong signed-up earlier this month to play the doctor and Kidman has Firth in mind for the husband after the pair worked together on the forthcoming torture drama, ‘The Railway Man’.  Joffe made his feature debut with an underrated adaptation of Graham Greene’s classic novel, ‘Brighton Rock’.  GE 16 November 2012



Spring US release for new Harmony Korine feature


‘Spring Breakers’, the first feature for three years from the former enfant terrible of the American indie sector, Harmony Korine, will receive a wide US theatrical release next spring.  Starring James Franco and Selena Gomez, four college girls temporarily turn to crime for funding a vacation only to encounter a sinister drug dealer who has other ideas.  It was one of five films from leading American auteurs to have a high-profile world premiere in competition at this year’s Venice International Film Festival.  GE 15 November 2012



The Weinstein Company acquires ‘Snowpiercer’


The Weinstein Company has acquired North American distribution rights to Bong Joon-ho’s keenly anticipated first English-speaking feature, the ‘Snowpiercer’.  Repeating the mistakes of the past, the survivors of a new ice age recreate the class system when taking refuge on board a train, only to provoke an uprising.  There is already speculation linking it to a possible world premiere at Cannes, which launched Bong’s previous film, ‘Mother’.  A strong ensemble cast includes Chris Evans,Tilda Swinton and Octavia Spencer.  GE 12 November 2012



Vértice announce loss


Spain’s producer-distributor, Vértice 360, has made a loss of $13.92m for the year so far, compared to a deficit of $1.56m for the same period last year.  Vértice has made moves to reduce its cost base but may require more significant restructuring to cope with the economic downturn and ongoing changes to the distribution sector.  The company currently has Dustin Hoffmann’s directorial debut, ‘Quartet’, John Hillcoat’s Cannes title ‘Lawless’ and Drew Goddard’s hit ‘Cabin in the Woods’ pending release in Spain.  GE 10 November 2012



German Federal Film Fund increase


Bernd Neumann, Minister for Culture and Media, has increased the annual budget of the German Federal Film Fund (DFFF) by €10m to €70m starting on the 1 January next year.  The DFFF, which provides valuable incentive funding, is currently guaranteed to remain in place until the end of 2015.  Thomas Arslan’s ‘Gold’, currently in post-production, is amongst the recent beneficiaries.  GE 10 November 2012



Record trade professionals at Stockholm


A record number of trade professionals have registered for the industry programme at this year’s Stockholm International Film Festival.  There are two industry seminars; one focusing on training, development and networking and the other covering the key area of international co-productions.  New films screen on 15 & 16 November and include the third feature from Helena Bergström, the latest filmic adaptation of August Strindberg’s best known play ‘Miss Julie’.  GE 10 November 2012



Dubai Film Connection makes selections


Dubai International Film Festival has announced the projects that will participate in this year’s co-production market, Dubai Film Connection (DFC). The initiative, which aims at stimulating Arab film production, will be allocating $100,000 between the successful projects.  The more prominent selections include features from Palestinian filmmakers, Raed Andoni (‘Fix ME’) and Sameh Zoabi (‘Man Without A Cell Phone’), both of whom have enjoyed success at festivals outside of the region.  GE 10 November 2012



Phillip Noyce is in talks to direct the ‘The Giver’


Leading Australian filmmaker, Phillip Noyce (‘Rabbit-Proof Fence’, ‘The Quiet American’), is in negotiations to direct the long time in development ‘The Giver’, based upon Lois Lowry’s dystopian novel of the same name.  The title character is the only member of a society with knowledge of the past after a failed utopian experiment transforms everybody else into a soulless robot.  There is a long way to go before it approaches production but Jeff Bridges is currently on board to star.  GE 8 November 2012



Tim Robbins long overdue return


‘Man Under’ will mark Tim Robbins long overdue return to directing features for theatrical release, his first since ‘Cradle Will Rock’ thirteen years ago.  Digging below the surface of American domesticity, it is an oddball comedy drama where the inclusion of a family portrait in a leading photography exhibition changes the subjects’ lives forever.  Robbins received a best director Oscar nomination for Dead Man Walking.  GE 8 November 2012



Tarkovsky archive under the hammer


Archive letters, draft scripts and other material relating to one of the 20th Century’s most innovative and influential filmmakers, Andrei Tarkovsky, will come under the hammer at auction later this month.  The extensive collection provides firsthand access to the creative practices lying behind the films’ complex imagery, which does not always reveal its secrets easily.  The auction estimate of £80,000-£100,000 reflects the archives obvious importance to film history.  GE 7 November 2012



Rufus Norris’ debut feature leads nominations for British Independent Film Awards


‘Broken’, the debut feature of theatre director-turned-filmmaker, Rufus Norris, received nine nominations for the 15th edition of the Moët British Independent Film Awards including best film and director.  The other four films in both categories were Ben Wheatley’s third feature, ‘Sightseers’, Peter Strickland’s psychological giallo-ish horror, ‘Berberian Sound Studio’, John Madden’s box office hit ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ and Bart Layton’s thriller of a documentary, ‘The Imposter’.  Those in contention that missed out include, Paul Andrew Williams’ ‘Song For Marion’ and Sally Potter’s ‘Ginger & Rosa’.  GE 6 November 2012



Dexter Fletcher turns to hit musical


Dexter Fletcher will follow his debut feature, ‘Wild Bill’, with a film version of ‘Sunshine on Leith’, which Stephen Greenhorn has adapted from his own hit musical of the same name.  Featuring the music of the Proclaimers, who remain best known for their iconic hit ‘I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)’, it is a contemporary feel good tale of two soldiers returning to their home town.  Fletcher has assembled a strong cast, including leading character actors Peter Mullan and Jane Horrocks.  GE 6 November 2012



Follow-up to Golden Bear winner


With major independent filmmakers tending to skip Berlin during recent years in favour of high-profile world premieres at Cannes, Berlin has scored highly in expanding the range of its main competition to include exciting and innovative new work from filmmakers who warrant major film festival exposure but otherwise lack the necessary big name credentials or the backing of a major film centre.  Claudia Llosa’s Peruvian Golden Bear winner ‘The Milk of Sorrow’ fell into this category and news that she is preparing to commence filming early in the new year on her follow-up, ‘Cry/Fly’, is very welcome.  Jennifer Connelly and Cillian Murphy will star as a separated mother and son in a complex situation spanning two time frames.  GE 2 November 2012



New JFK assassination drama


The 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s death in November next year provides the latest justification for more films and TV programmes on a subject with perennial interest.  Paul Giamatti and Billy Bob Thornton have added strong character actor credibility to ‘Parkland’, a filmic adaptation of Vincent Bugliosi’s Edgar Award winning best-seller, ‘Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy’.  In asserting that Lee Harvey Oswald acted as a lone assassin, it will reject the conspiracy theories and adopt an opposing stance to Oliver Stones’ ‘JFK’.  Tom Hanks is amongst the producers.  GE 1 November 2012



AFM attracts A-list projects


With the major Hollywood studios becoming increasingly obsessed with heavyweight franchise products, other A-list projects are now falling to independent producers.  It is a development that has lead to a significant change in the character of the American Film Market, which opened in Santa Monica yesterday.  No longer the home of mainly low-budget films trying their luck, this year sees far more sales companies arriving with marketable projects as part of a film industry undergoing a material restructuring.  GE 1 November 2012



Pablo Trapero to film ‘Six Suspects’


After the adaptation of Vikas Swarup’s first novel produced the multiple Oscar winning ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, attention is now turning to a film version of his follow-up, the Indian crime thriller, ‘Six Suspects’.  With the hard hitting Pablo Trapero, a key contributor to the Argentinian new wave, coming on board as director, and screenwriter John Hodge, whose credits include ‘Trainspotting’, adapting the novel, it has the potential for an intriguing coming together of like-minded talents.  The plot has the six suspects of the film’s title under investigation for the murder of an Indian politician but enquiries lead to a wider look at Delhi society.  Shooting should commence later next year.  GE 30 October 2012



‘Midnight in Paris’ faces copyright infringement claim


Controversy surrounds Woody Allen’s commercially most successful film, ‘Midnight in Paris’, after William Faulkner’s estate sued Sony Pictures Classics for copyright infringement.  Allen quoted “The past is not dead!  Actually, it’s not even past” from Faulkner’s novel ‘Requiem for a Nun’ but it was clear from the context that it came from the author.  The estate will claim a share of the profits from the film, which grossed £94m worldwide.   GE 26 October 2012



Filmmaker wins the Sakharov Prize


The European parliament has awarded the prestigious, Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, to Iranian filmmaker, Jafar Panahi, and his compatriot, the human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh.  After challenging Iran’s severe censorship with a film career spanning two decades, Panahi received a six year jail term and a twenty year ban from making films following his support for the opposition green movement.  Sotoudeh, currently on hunger strike, is serving a similar jail term for representing political militants.  Previous winners include Nelson Mandela.  GE 26 October 2012



Dan Fogelman assembles an impressive cast for his debut feature


Industry insider, Dan Fogelman (‘Cars’, ‘Tangled’), the latest screenwriter to try his hand at directing, has assembled an impressive cast for his debut feature, ‘Imagine’.  Al Pacino plays a self-indulgent ageing rocker who rediscovers his earlier values in a comedy drama that also stars Jeremy Renner and Julianne Moore.  Warner Bros once held rights to the script but it is now an independent production looking for additional funding at the American Film Market.  Fogelman hopes to start filming next spring.  GE 24 October 2012



Timothy Spall to play lead in Turner biopic


Mike Leigh is to reunite with Timothy Spall for the first time since ‘All Or Nothing’ ten years ago in a biopic on the Romantic landscape painter, JMW Turner, whose increasingly abstract images paved the way for Impressionism and later modernist innovations.  The colourful Turner, whose extreme dedication to art includes tying himself to the mast of a ship during a tempestuous storm, provides no shortage of material for Spall to interpret in the lead role.  There is no word yet on how Leigh will tackle the disputed facts surrounding Turner’s late erotic images that the Victorian art critic, John Ruskin, was so desperate to conceal.  It is the first time that Leigh, best known for his stylised take on contemporary society – sometimes mistaken for realism – has ventured into the 19th century following his Gilbert and Sullivan drama, ‘Topsy-Turvy’.  GE 23 October 2012



Allegations of propaganda


Allegations of propaganda greeted the news that the Harvey Weinstein backed ‘Seal Team Six: the Raid on Osama bin Laden’ includes new documentary footage that places Barack Obama in a positive light.  GOP supporters accused the producers of looking to influence the presidential election; particularly as the feature receives its primetime debut just two days before the vote.  It is the second film of the raid to attract controversy after claims that the White House shared secret information with Kathryn Bigelow for her higher budget, ‘Zero Dark Thirty’.  GE 23 October 2012



New 9/11 taboo challenging film


So far, the mainstream US film industry has trodden very carefully when dramatising events surrounding 9/11, avoiding any serious challenge to the Bush administration’s official version.  All of that is now about to change in a taboo challenging film, ‘September Morn’, starring Woody Harrelson, Martin Sheen and Ed Asner, who have all previously expressed public doubts in line with the 9/11 truth movement.  The film’s first publicity notice, ahead of the American Film Market, calls for an ‘independent investigation’ but withholds any plot details.  Time will tell whether it offers any thought-provoking new insights or proves to be something of a ‘conspiracy theory’ fest.  GE 18 October 2012



Gotham nominations


Sundance winner, ‘Beasts Of The Southern Wild’ (Benh Zeitlin) is the surprise omission from the best feature nominations for the Gotham Independent Film Awards .  As expected there are nominations for Cannes opener ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ (Wes Anderson), Venice hit ‘The Master’ (Paul Thomas Anderson) and solid indie performer ‘Bernie’ (Richard Linklater).  Middle Of Nowhere (Ava DuVernay), which won the US directing award at Sundance, completes the list.  GE 18 October 2012



Adrien Brody comes aboard Paul Haggis’ new feature


Adrien Brody has come aboard Paul Haggis’ fifth feature, ‘The Third Person’, which commenced shooting in Rome this week.  Dissecting three complex and interconnected love stories as they unfold in different countries, it remains to be seen whether Haggis can breathe new life into this overused formula.  He has, nevertheless, compiled a strong ensemble cast, including, amongst others, James Franco, Liam Neeson and Kim Basinger.  GE 17 October 2012



‘Holy Motors’ takes top prize at Sitges


Léos Carax’s first feature for over twelve years, the controversial ‘Holy Motors’, starring Denis Lavant, has taken best film and director at the 45th Sitges Film Festival (aka International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia).  ‘Holy Motors’ generated support as a potential Palme d’Or winner when it screened in competition at Cannes last May but, in the end, failed to win any of the major prizes.


Jennifer Lynch, who has had mixed reviews during recent years, bagged the special jury prize for her serial killer thriller, ‘Chained’, starring Vincent D’Onofrio.  It is her second triumph at Sitges after taking the top prize with the sometimes underrated ‘Surveillance’ four years ago.  GE 16 October 2012



Christoph Waltz to play Gorbachev


In demand, Christoph Waltz, will play Mikhail Gorbachev in Mike Newell’s Reykjavik, a dramatisation of the 1986 summit to end the Cold War.  Newell has already cast Michael Douglas as Ronald Reagan and filming should commence next March.  HanWay films will launch international sales at the American Film Market.  GE 16 October 2012



Tom Harper to direct ‘The Woman in Black’ sequel


Tom Harper, best known for the hard-edged realist drama,’The Scouting Book for Boys’, will direct the sequel to the global horror smash, ‘The Woman in Black’.  It will take place four decades later when a group of evacuated children arouse the dark spirit during World War 11.  The original, based on Susan Hill’s story of the same name, grossed $130m worldwide.  GE 13 October 2012



Julius Avery makes long awaited feature debut


After five shorts in the last decade, including the high-profile ‘Jerrycans’ that won a Jury Prize at Cannes four years ago, Julius Avery is eventually making his keenly awaited debut feature, ‘Son of Gun’, starring Ewan McGregor.  Based upon his own screenplay in the vein of David Michod’s ‘Animal Kingdom’, it is an Australian crime drama that centres on a complex relationship between two gangsters in a changing world.  Shooting is scheduled for early next year and the film’s sales agents will be looking to capitalise on Avery’s current high stock when touting it at the American Film Market.  GE 12 October 2012



New Larry Clark feature to receive its world premiere at Rome Film Festival


‘Marfa Girl’, the latest feature from the confrontational filmmaker and artist, Larry Clark, best known for his Harmony Korine scripted ‘Kids’, will receive its world premiere at the Rome Film Festival, which runs from November 9-17.  A coming-of-age drama set against the backdrop of a West Texan border town struggling with multi-cultural tensions, it provides plenty of scope for Clark to explore his favourite theme, disenfranchised youth, from a variety of new perspectives.  The town attracted George Stevens almost sixty years ago, who used it as the setting for ‘Giant’, starring a youthful Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean, adding an extra layer of intertextual interest.  GE  10 October 2012



IDFA opener announced


‘Wrong Time Wrong Place’, the latest feature from experienced documentarian, John Appel, will open this year’s International Documentary Film Festival, Amsterdam (IDFA), which runs from Nov 14-25.  Appel will take the ill-fated 22 July 2011, when 77 people died during random bomb attacks and shootings in Norway, as the context for an exploration of the role of chance in the acute balance of life and death.  A regular at IDFA, Appel’s ‘André Hazes – Zij Gelooft’ opened its 1999 edition before going on to win the top prize for best film.  GE 1o October 2012



Best Foreign Language Film record


A record number of 71 territories have submitted entries for the next Academy Awards’ Best Foreign Language Film.  Michael Haneke’s Palme d’Or winner ‘Amour’ has emerged as an early favourite but Academy voters tend to apply a very different criteria from Cannes juries.  Historically, one of the most difficult Oscars to predict, last year broke with tradition when Asghar Farhadi’s ‘A Separation’ totally dominated the category.  GE 9 October 2012



‘Beasts Of The Southern Wild’ wins the Golden Puffin


Beasts Of The Southern Wild has won another award, taking the Golden Puffin at the Reykjavik International Film Festival.  Benh Zeitlin’s debut feature premiered at Sundance during January where it bagged the Grand Jury Prize before going on to claim the Camera d’Or at Cannes and a hatful of other prizes.  It is already heavily tipped for Academy Award nominations.  GE  8 October 2012



George Clooney casting ‘The Monuments Men’


George Clooney is targeting Jean Dujardin and Cate Blanchett for key roles in his follow-up to the underrated political thriller, ‘The Ides of March’.  Adapted from Robert Edsel’s book ‘The Monuments Men’, Clooney will play a US army officer, who was one of a small group that repeatedly put their lives at risk recovering thousands of stolen art works from the Nazis during the final throes of the Second World War.  Clooney has proved adept at sidestepping the kind of compromised cinema that can exist on the borders of the mainstream and independent sectors when dealing with this kind of material.  It is early stages and filming should be next spring.  GE 5 October 2012



The Screen Actors Guild excludes ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’


The Screen Actors Guild’s decision to exclude ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ from its next awards provides a timely reminder of the balancing of interests during the awards season that manifests itself in many ways.  Filmmaker, Benh Zeitlin, cast untrained actors, Quvenzhané Wallis and Dwight Henry, in the lead roles but their fees fell short of SAG’s minimum requirement for professionals.  The exceedingly tight financial budgets of the indie sector force filmmakers to operate in very different circumstances from those that SAG intended to regulate, and Zeitlin’s compliance would have almost certainly forced unwelcome changes to the film that went on take the top prize at Sundance and win the coveted Camera d’Or at Cannes.  OK, SAG can do what it likes, as long as everybody understands that it is no more than a glorified ‘boys club’ patting its own members on the back.  GE 4 October 2012



SPC acquires North American rights for ‘Fill The Void’


SPC has acquired North American rights to Rama Burshtein’s acclaimed debut feature ‘Fill The Void’, the winner of seven Israeli Ophir Awards, including best film.  Starring Hila Feldman and Razia Israeli, family tensions come to the surface in this latest addition to the ‘arranged marriage’ sub-genre.  It received a world premiere at Venice prior to a high profile screening at Toronto.  GE 3 October 2012



John Michael McDonagh starts shooting on new feature


John Michael McDonagh’s subversive Irish crime comedy, ‘The Guard’, with a superb performance from Brendan Gleeson as the film’s mischievous lead, was one of wittiest and most enjoyable films of last year.  In a mouth watering prospect, Gleeson returns for McDonagh’s keenly awaited follow-up, ‘Calvary’, and leads a cast of many of Ireland’s finest character actors, including Aidan Gillen and David Wilmot, both of whom impressed recently in James Marsh’s ‘Shadow Dancer’.  Shooting is now under way and it has Glesson playing a well intentioned priest forced to face the dark side of life in another black comedy.  The film is already enjoying lively pre-sales and should arrive in theatres next year.  GE 2 October 2012



eOne Films acquires De Palma’s erotic thriller


eOne Films have acquired North American distribution rights to Brian De Palma’s erotic thriller, ‘Passion’, which received a world premiere at Venice International Film Festival earlier this month.  Noomi Rapace and Rachel McAdams star as two business women, whose mind games become increasingly extreme in a battle for supremacy.  Based upon Alain Corneau’s Hitchcock influenced ‘Love Crime’, De Palma’s interpretation, as a one of Hitchcock’s leading disciples, makes for an interesting correspondence between filmmakers.  eOne has confirmed that there will not be a theatrical release until 2013, effectively, ruling it out of this year’s awards season.  GE 29 September 2012



Hou Hsiao Hsien goes into production next month on new feature


One of world cinema’s most important filmmakers, Hou Hsiao Hsien (‘A City of Sadness’, ‘Café Lumière’), will commence shooting next month on his new feature, ‘The Assassin’, starring Satoshi Tsumabuki and Chang Chen.  Superficially marking a change of direction away from low-key dramas with his first ever martial arts movie, it returns to the Tang Dynasty where a Buddhist nun trains a young woman in the dark arts of assassination for the ‘good of society’.  The introduction of a sinister Pinteresque twist that has the student grappling with the prospect of executing her own lover, provides plenty of scope for Hou to transcend the genre with one of his subtle studies of characters contending with circumstances beyond their control.  GE 28 September 2012



Magnolia Pictures acquires To The Wonder’


Magnolia Pictures have acquired US distribution rights to Terrence Malick’s sixth feature, ‘To The Wonder’, starting Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams.  It received a high-profile world premiere at Venice last month as the follow-up to his Palme d’Or winner, ‘The Tree of Life’, and Magnolia plan a theatrical release during 2013.  Malik’s next two features ‘Voyage of Time’ and ‘Knight of Cups’ are both currently in post production.  GE 28 September 2012



A24 running an awards campaign for ‘Ginger & Rosa’


Sally Potter, best known for her imaginative adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s groundbreaking modernist novel, ‘Orlando’, has never been short of critical success but her commendable refusal to comprise films in the interests of short-term commercial gain has restricted screening opportunities beyond festivals and specialist parts of the independent sector.  More accessible subject matter and a promising festival buzz for her latest film, ‘Ginger & Rosa’ has encouraged A24 to run an ambitious awards campaign that should broaden distribution prospects this time around and introduce Potter to a wider audience.  Elle Fanning, whose performance has already excited enthusiastic reviews, stars alongside Jane Campion’s daughter, Alice Englert, playing two teenage girls during the early Sixties coming to terms with adolescence and the changing world under threat from the Cuban missile crisis.  GE 25 September 2012



Roman Polanski to adapt Broadway hit, ‘Venus in Fur’


Roman Polanski is bringing David Ives’ Broadway hit, ‘Venus in Fur’, to the big screen and will commence shooting as early as November this year.  A battle of wits between a playwright and an actress in a two-hander sees ‘life following art’ during an audition for a play based upon an erotic novel with shifting power positions.  It will be Polanski’s second film in succession adapted from a play following last year’s minor work ‘Carnage’, when he struggled to transcend the film’s theatrical origins after a promising start.  Polanski plans to proceed with his dramatisation of the Drefyus Affair, currently in pre-production, after completing ‘Venus in Fur’.  GE 20 September 2012



‘War Witch’ is Canada’s official entry for Best Foreign Language Film Oscar


Kim Nguyen’s festival hit, ‘War Witch’, is Canada’s official entry for the Academy Awards’ Best Foreign Language Film.  It debuted in the main competition at Berlin last February before going on to win the top prize at Tribeca.  Rachel Mwanza, playing a reluctant child soldier in an unidentified central African country, bagged the best actress award at both festivals in her first film role.  Last year’s Canadian entry, Philippe Falardeau’s ‘Monsieur Lazhar’, made the final short list and may well have won in other years where it would not have had the misfortune of competing against Asghar Farhadi’s outstanding ‘A Separation’.  GE 19 September 2012



The Master establishes its credentials ahead of the awards season


As the festival season draws to a close, attention will inevitably switch to the awards circus and the early Oscar speculation, which, absurdly, plays its part in the ‘momentum game’ that has made the final ceremony a foregone conclusion since Clash’s surprise win seven year’s ago.  With Hollywood looking to strike a balance between those opposing interests of commercial and artistic success, films that attract audiences in both the mainstream and independent cinemas have dominated the awards season during recent years.  With that in mind, Paul Thomas Anderson’s much discussed Venice hit, The Master, confirmed its credentials as a serious contender when it smashed the North American live-action movie record for per-theatre average grosses when it opened on limited release in New York and Los Angeles last weekend.  It joins David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook, which thrust itself into the running by emphatically winning Toronto’s coveted People’s Choice Award on Sunday night, and Ben Affleck’s much fancied third feature, Argo, in the early running.


Graham Eley

18 September 2012



‘Artifact’ takes top doc prize at Toronto


Thirty Seconds to Mars’ frontman, Jared Leto, using the pseudonym Bartholomew Cubbins, compiled the feature documentary, ‘Artifact’, from footage depicting the recording of the band’s ‘This is War’ album and the high-profile legal battle between the band and its own record company.  Boosted by material that extends beyond the familiar music industry revelations, ‘Artifact’ established its credentials for wider appeal by winning Toronto International Film Festival’s coveted People’s Choice Documentary Award last weekend.  Leto has already had film success for his acting performance in ‘Requiem for a Dream’.  GE 18 September 2012



World premiere of ‘Savage Witnesses’


Avant garde filmmaker, Daniel Fawcett, founder and co-editor of ‘One+One, Filmmakers Journal’, has collaborated with Clara Pais for his third feature film, ‘Savage Witnesses’. Promising stage actresses Christina Wood and Victoria Smith make their big screen debuts playing two teenage sisters, who escape reality in a fantasy world of theatre costumes before their disillusionment turns to anarchy. Keeping alive the spirit of the post-war film underground movements, Fawcett and Pais employ all manner of techniques and formats – VHS, HD, Super 8 and drawn and puppet animation – which serve as a commentary on film as well as providing a lively narration. ‘Savage Witnesses’, partly funded through a crowd-funding campaign, is one of the most interesting selections for the Cambridge Film Festival, where it will receive a world premiere on 21 September.  GE 14 September 2012



Errol Morris turns his attention to Don Rumsfeld


Leading documentary filmmaker, Errol Morris, who has pushed the boundaries of the genre in exploring innovative ways of establishing the true position, will turn his attention to the former US Defence Secretary, Don Rumsfeld, for his next feature.  Ten years after Rumsfeld’s ‘known unknowns’ speech, Morris will have his work cut out unravelling the politics of ambiguity that characterised his period in office.  The film, which should be ready for release next year, will include previously unseen material.  GE


13 September 2012



Kim Ki-duk’s ‘Pieta’ takes the Golden Lion


Venice International Film Festival has awarded this year’s Golden Lion to Kim Ki-duk’s ‘Pieta’, an uncompromising drama that has an unknown woman claiming to be the mother of a callous debt enforcer.  The South Korean filmmaker won the international critics’ prize (FIPRESCI) at Venice eight years ago for ‘3-Iron’ and it is the fourth time that he has competed in the main competition.


It was also a good night for the much debated, ‘The Master’, with Paul Thomas Anderson taking the best director’s Silver Lion and co-stars, Joaquin Phoenix & Philip Seymour Hoffman, sharing the best actor prize.  For those that don’t already know, Anderson’s sixth feature depicts the rise of a religious leader, who has similarities with Scientology’s L. Ron Hubbard.


The special jury prize went to ‘Paradise: Faith’ being the second part of Ulrich Seidl’s trilogy looking at three women from the same family who embark on different journeys in search of happiness.  The first part of the trilogy, ‘Paradise: Love’, received its world premiere at this year’s Cannes.


Olivier Assayas received the best screenplay award for ‘Something In The Air’, the semi-autobiographical account of a student torn between political demands and his own artistic ambitions.


The best actress prize went to Hadas Yaron for her performance in Rama Burstein’s arranged marriage drama,’Fill The Void’.


Michael Mann led the jury.


Graham Eley

9 September 2012



FilmDistrict takes Oldboy remake


FilmDistrict has acquired US distribution rights to Spike Lee’s ‘Oldboy’ remake and plans a release during 2013.  Josh Brolin, starring alongside Elizabeth Olsen and Samuel L. Jackson, plays the ordinary man held hostage for many years without an apparent reason.  Chan Wook-Park’s original was one of the most stylistically innovative thrillers of the last decade and formed the second part of his Vengeance trilogy.  GE 9 September 2012


Anchor Bay picks up Billy Bob Thornton’s ‘Jayne Mansfield’s Car’


Anchor Bay has acquired US and UK distribution rights to Billy Bob Thornton’s ‘Jayne Mansfield’s Car’, starring Kevin Bacon and Robert Duvall.  Cultures and generations clash as two diverse families come into contact in Sixties Alabama as the decade draws to a close.  It is Thornton’s first dramatic feature in the director’s chair for over 10 years and received a world premiere at the Berlin International FIlm Festival last February.  GE 9 September 2012



Austin Film Festival to honour Eric Roth


Acclaimed scriptwriter, Eric Roth, who won a best adapted screenplay Academy Award for ‘Forrest Gump’, will be the recipient of this year’s Distinguished Screenwriter Award at the Austin Film Festival.  Roth has collaborated with some of the biggest names in the industry, including Stephen Spielberg, Michael Mann and David Fincher, and often straddles the border between mainstream and independent cinema.  Robert Altman and Paul Schrader are amongst the list of esteemed previous winners.  GE 6 September 2012



Ozon to open Zurich


The European premiere of François Ozon’s latest feature, ‘Dans La Maison’, will close this year’s Zurich Film Festival, which runs between Sept 20-30.  Now in its eighth year, the current programme has expanded to 111 films, an increase of 16 from the last edition, and includes international and German-Language competitions for dramatic and documentary features. Tom Tykwer is amongst those receiving an honorary tribute.  GE 6 September 2012


Written by our editor, Graham Eley for Film Provocation



Annapurna Pictures acquire Spring Breakers


Annapurna Pictures acquired US distribution rights to Harmony Korine’s ‘Spring Breakers’ ahead of today’s world premiere in one of the more high profile deals so far at this year’s Venice International Film Festival.  Starring James Franco and Selena Gomez, high jinks turn much darker when four rebellious college girls encounter a worldly drug dealer. There is no news yet on release dates.  GE 5 September 2012



Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to attend London Labour Film Festival


The two most celebrated UK filmmakers of the last forty years, Ken Loach and Mike Leigh, will attend the inaugural London Labour Film Festival, which runs between September 13 – 15.  It will screen 18 films that focus on different aspects of labour including Fritz Lang’s dystopian masterpiece of German Expressionism, ‘Metropolis’, and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s ‘Biutiful’, an outstanding depiction of those who operate at the margins.  5 September 2012


Written by our editor, Graham Eley for UK Film



Lively sales on Kim Ki-duk’s Pieta


Finecut has reported lively sales on Kim Ki-duk’s latest feature, ‘Pieta’, which received an excellent reception following its world premiere in competition at Venice.  Germany, Italy and Hong Kong are amongst the territories sold and Finecut anticipates further deals after its Toronto screening later this month.  Min-soo Jo and Jung-jin Lee play the leads in a drama where a stranger claims to be the mother of a ruthless debt collector.  5 September 2012


Written by our editor, Graham Eley for FIU



Ben Wheatley commences shooting on new feature


Acclaimed auteur, Ben Wheatley (‘Kill List’, ‘Down Terrace’) , is set to commence filming on ‘A Field in England’, an idiosyncratic take on the English Civil War.  Starring Michael Smiley & Reece Shearsmith, two deserters are taken by surprise when they encounter unexplained horrors lurking close to the battleground.  Wheatley’s latest film, ‘The ABC’s of Death’, will screen at the Toronto International Film Festival.  4 September 2012


Written by our editor, Graham Eley for UK Film



Swipe takes Gilles Legrand’s feature


Swipe has acquired UK distribution rights to Gilles Legrand’s ‘Tu Seras Mons Fils’, starring Niels Arestrup and Lorent Deutsch.  The French drama, where inheritance rights cause complications on a Bordeau vineyard, seems well suited to the commercial end of UK independent sector.  Swipe plan a limited release on 7 December 2012.


Written by our editor, Graham Eley for UK Film



New Locarno artistic director


Carlo Chatrian, who has held various high-profile roles with the Locarno Film Festival, will succeed Olivier Père as its artistic director.  The Board of Governors made the decision earlier today during a hastily arranged meeting following Père’s decision last week to further his career as head of Arte France Cinéma.  Chatrian will take over the reins on November 1.


Written by our editor, Graham Eley for Film Provocation



Rai Trade takes new Marina Abramovic Doc


Rai Trade has picked-up international sales for ‘Bob Wilson’s Life and Death of Marina Abramovic’.  The feature documentary from Giada Colagrande, best known for ‘Before It Had a Name’ seven years ago, surrounds Abramovic’s performance art collaboration with actor, Willem Dafoe, experimental stage director and playwright, Robert Wilson and singer, Antony (Hegarty).  It is the second documentary featuring the Serbian artist this year following the Sundance hit, ‘Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present’.  3 September 2012


Written by our editor, Graham Eley for FIU



A tough act to follow


Acclaimed screenwriter, Hossein Amini, whose screenplays include the Oscar nominated, ‘The Wings of the Dove’ and last year’s Cannes hit, ‘Drive’, has commenced shooting on his first film in the director’s chair, ‘The Two Faces of January’.  Based upon Patricia Highsmith’s novel of the same name, Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst star as the dangerous American couple with a glitzy lifestyle in Greece that proves very deceptive to the unwary.  It will be interesting to see whether Amini can bring a new approach to the already numerous screen adaptations of Highsmith’s novels, including Alfred Hitchcock’s classic ‘Strangers on a Train’ and René Clément’s revisionist film noir, ‘Plein Soleil’.  GE 3 September 2012



Lucky Red moves in for ‘The Master’


Lucky Red has acquired Italian distribution rights to Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘The Master’, ahead of its high profile world premiere.  Philip Seymour Hoffman stars as a religious leader, whose rise to success has similarities with that of L. Ron Hubbard.  One of the most keenly anticipated films of 2012, it was the final selection for Venice’s main competition due to overcoming irregularities with the 70mm projection.  1 September 2012
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Written by our editor, Graham Eley for FIU