Posted by Larry Gleeson

AFI has announced that Academy Award® and Emmy®-winning writer/director Aaron Sorkin will be honored by AFI FEST 2017 presented by Audi with a Tribute and Premiere Closing Night Gala screening of STXfilms and The Mark Gordon Company’s MOLLY’S GAME on Thursday, November 16, at the historic TCL Chinese Theatre. 

The Tribute will celebrate Sorkin’s career with a moderated discussion of his work followed by the Gala premiere screening. Written and directed by Sorkin, MOLLY’S GAME stars Academy Award® nominee Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba. The film was produced by Mark Gordon, Matt Jackson and Amy Pascal. Entertainment One (eOne) and The Mark Gordon Company financed the feature, with eOne directly distributing the film across its territories. (Sierra/Affinity handled international sales). The Closing Night Gala will be sponsored by VIZIO.

Note that all previously secured tickets to ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD and the two previously scheduled MOLLY’S GAME screenings will be honored at this newly announced Closing Night Gala.

“Aaron Sorkin is an American master, and we are proud to shine a proper spotlight on his directoral debut, MOLLY’S GAME, on AFI FEST’s Closing Night,” said Jacqueline Lyanga, AFI FEST Director. “As Sorkin embarks on this next chapter of his career, his talents are timely for a tribute as he brings his gift of crafting compelling narratives and complex characters to the story of female impresario Molly Bloom.”

One of our nation’s most acclaimed screenwriters, Aaron Sorkin has been honored with an Academy Award® for Best Adapted Screenplay for THE SOCIAL NETWORK (2010) and four Emmys® for THE WEST WING. Additional film credits include A FEW GOOD MEN (1992), MALICE (1993), THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT (1995), CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR (2007), MONEYBALL (2011) and STEVE JOBS (2015). Sorkin has also created and written THE NEWSROOM, SPORTS NIGHT, STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP and THE WEST WING for television.


Oscar® nominee Jessica Chastain stars in Oscar®-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut, set in the glamorous world of high-stakes underground poker games. DIR Aaron Sorkin. SCR Aaron Sorkin. CAST Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, Jeremy Strong, Chris O’Dowd, Bill Camp.



AFI FEST 2017: Stephen Altman on His Father’s Legacy

Posted by Larry Gleeson

As part of AFI FEST 2017 and the 50th Anniversary of the American Film Institute, a celebration of the late filmmaker Robert Altman’s work , a true master and icon of American cinema, is on display through a series of films.

Robert and Stephen Altman
Robert and Stephen Altman

Born in Kansas City in 1925, Robert Altman was one of the preeminent auteurs of American cinema, from his first studio hit M*A*S*H (1970) to his 39th feature A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION (2006). In the pantheon of American directors, Altman was a maverick who worked both inside and outside the Hollywood system. His films exhibit a trademark style of diffuse ensemble narratives, complex soundtracks and restless zoom lenses. Film remained Altman’s tireless passion until his death in 2006, and he remains an iconoclast of modern American cinema. This year, AFI FEST is proud to present 12 of his greatest achievements.

Ahead of the festival retrospective, AFI spoke with Stephen Altman, Robert Altman’s son and frequent collaborator. Stephen Altman served as the production designer on a wide range of Altman films, from THE PLAYER to GOSFORD PARK, which earned him an Oscar® nomination.

The Robert Altman Retrospective launches at AFI FEST on Thursday, November 9, with THE PLAYER. Head to the Film Guide for free tickets to all 12 Altman screenings.

AFI: You were a production designer on many of Robert Altman’s films. Can you talk about what it was like to collaborate so closely with your father?

Stephen Altman: It was heavy teamwork. He told me what to do, and I said “Yes, sir.” No, actually it started early on. I started as an apprentice editor and projectionist when I was 17, for CALIFORNIA SPLIT — if you’re a gambler, that’s a great one — and on NASHVILLE, I was apprentice editor and did projection for the dailies, but during the day I was helping the sound team. He had made that eight-track sound recorder, with seven mics, which was a new thing. Then I segued into property. I was then on the set for most of the filming, so [Robert Altman] got very used to me. It was an easy transition from there to being his property master and later his set decorator, then his art director, then production designer. I hadn’t stopped working for him since 1974. His last two films I didn’t work on. When he died, sadly, we were scouting locations for another movie. It was abrupt. Had I known that A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION was his last movie, I would’ve quit what I was doing and ran to it.


AFI: The AFI FEST Retrospective offers a wide-ranging survey of Robert Altman titles, including some his better known efforts such as NASHVILLE, as well as works awaiting rediscovery, such as VINCENT & THEO and KANSAS CITY. What are some of your personal favorites?

SA: MCCABE & MRS. MILLER may be one of my favorite films, not just a favorite “Bob” film. I think it stands out among all of them. I love THE LONG GOODBYE — just really watchable, and fun and interesting. M*A*S*H is timeless. It’s still funny to me, and cool. NASHVILLE I may not like as much as everybody else does, but I get it. I understand why it’s insane and wonderful at the same time. Of all of them, MCCABE & MRS. MILLER is maybe more conventional in some way, with real movie stars.

AFI: And what about a film like SHORT CUTS, which is three hours long but thoroughly engrossing from start to finish, and with a huge tapestry of characters and interweaving plots?

SA: That was very personal for me. It was very funny. At the first screening, it shook me. I used to be in property and editorial and so I would end up watching every single frame of film like a hundred thousand times between dailies and cutting the film. When I moved into production design, I avoided editorial, so when I watched the first cut I thought, “Oh this is fresh and new to me.” I left the screening and my dad called me the next day and said, “I think everybody loved the movie except one person.” I said “Who?” He replied, “You.” I was just shaken by the movie. It’s really heavy. I loved working on it. There’s another one, A WEDDING: it’s not similar but in an Altman kind of way, he turned it from a farce and a comedy into a tragedy without you realizing.


AFI: This retrospective is a treat for Altman fans, but is also meant as an entry-point for those who haven’t discovered Altman before. What would you say to a neophyte who’s starting to navigate the world of his films?

SA: You can see a thread in a lot of them, but they’re all really different. He never did the same movie twice. I would just say what he always said, which was, “Giggle and give in.” Some of them are more commercial or accessible than others. You go from something like MCCABE & MRS. MILLER to NASHVILLE — that’s a pretty big stretch in seven years.

AFI: 3 WOMEN is a good example of a movie that certainly would not be made today.

SA: Right. Exactly. That was the luxury of Fox films at the time. [Robert Altman] said, “Hey, I had this dream the other night. I wrote a script.” And Alan Ladd, Jr., who was running Fox at the time, said “Here’s a million-and-a-half dollars, go to Palm Springs and make a film. Don’t go over budget.” That’s how he used to do those kinds of things. That was quite a fun time in the desert. That’s his real weird dreamy thing. He loved playing with the camera. He had this kind of a water-and-oil mobile sculpture, what he called “the wave machine.” It looked like a flat aquarium. It had oil on the top and blue water on the bottom and it rocked back and forth on a machine and made what looked like ocean waves across the screen. He was always inventing those kinds of things. On QUINTET, he would put Vaseline on the lens to blur the edges.


AFI: Altman had the spirit of an independent filmmaker even while making studio films, where he maintained creative freedom. How did he accomplish that?

SA: For the most part, they let him go. On one of his later films, THE GINGERBREAD MAN, with Kenneth Branagh, he was more of a director-for-hire. His shooting style, his camerawork and his editing are pretty much done in his head as he’s making the movie. The studio basically got scared of the movie, took it away from him and gave it to a Hollywood editor to try and recut it, with traditional close-ups and that kind of thing. They couldn’t do it, and they couldn’t even put it back together. They gave it back to [Altman] later and said, “Here, put it back together, do what you want. We can’t make any sense of this movie.” He had such his own style that it was hard for anybody really to interfere. It’s hard to go onto the set and say, “You’re doing this wrong.”

On THE PLAYER, we have that 10-minute opening shot. That was no improvisation. That was planned to a T. We built a model of the parking lot, with models of cut-out people. The camera was on this crane with a partially flattened tire and we used the parking lot as basically a huge dolly, and we rehearsed the hell out of that. We could have probably used the first take and walked away. They used take 16, and wrapped right after lunch, and we were four days ahead of schedule. He was really efficient with his money, and everyone knew that, so I think the studios let him be because he would only spend a certain amount of money and come back with a movie. People were eager to gamble with him.


AFI: Why do you think Altman is a filmmaker we are still talking about today?

SA: He was innovative; he didn’t give in. He had basically final cut on his movies. He was never rich, never got big budgets precisely because he would never let the studios make a movie for him. He said, “If you want a movie, I’ll make my movie.” He was brutal to screenwriters — you give him your script and it may not be recognizable at the end of the day.

After POPEYE, which was deemed the biggest bomb in the entire history of filmmaking, it was hard for him to get any kind of work. That’s when he was filming one-hour plays in a theatrical stage the size of your closet. They offered him M*A*S*H 2. He said, “I can’t do it. It would ruin my career. I’d be like everybody else.” At the end of the day, everybody’s pleased he didn’t do stuff like that. He stuck to his guns. I hate to put him on a pedestal but he was kind of pure in this way. He really didn’t give in to the pressure.

Actors loved him so much because he basically said, “Go out there and act.” Some people were intimidated by that, not having an actual script. “Wait, I’ve got to write my dialogue by myself?” The ones that loved it, embraced it, it was a big joy to them. I think he made everybody comfortable — except for the crew.




AFI FEST 2017 Presentations and Conversations Announced

Posted by Larry Gleeson

AFI today announced the Presentations and Conversations lineups for AFI FEST 2017 presented by Audi.

Events include a conversation on directing with Christopher Nolan; a conversation with filmmaker Agnès Varda; a roundtable of documentary filmmakers presented by the Los Angeles Times; The Hollywood Reporter’s Indie Contenders Roundtable with eight standout artists; an in-depth conversation with director Patty Jenkins; a conversation on storytelling with Angelina Jolie and Loung Ung; and a conversation with Martin McDonagh and Sam Rockwell about THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI, presented by Variety.

The complete AFI FEST program includes 137 films (93 features, 44 shorts), representing 53 countries, including 40 films directed/co-directed by women, 19 documentaries and 14 animated short films.  The breakdown by section is: Galas/Tributes (6), Special Screenings (7), American Independents (11), New Auteurs (11), World Cinema (30), Midnight (3), Cinema’s Legacy (9), Retrospective (12), Youth and Family (2) and Short Films (44).  This year’s program includes 14 official Best Foreign Language Film Oscar® submissions and 25 films featuring 76 AFI alumni. 


Director/writer/producer Christopher Nolan discusses his latest film, DUNKIRK, centering on the British maneuvers from the land, sea and air as the military and civilians attempt to save 400,000 soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk, France, during World War II.  A special 70mm film presentation of DUNKIRK will precede the discussion. 


French auteur and AFI FEST 2013 Guest Artistic Director Agnès Varda sits down for a discussion of her career and her new film FACES PLACES (co-directed with French installation artist JR).  The event begins with a screening of FACES PLACES.  The event will be moderated by Serge Toubiana, President of UniFrance. 



Hear from a diverse panel of artists who have done standout work in independent film this year. Presented by The Hollywood Reporter and moderated by columnist and blogger Scott Feinberg, the panel will feature a 90-minute discussion with the artists about their careers and influences, as well as the challenges and rewards of working on indies.  Panelists include Sean Baker (THE FLORIDA PROJECT), Richard Gere (NORMAN: THE MODERATE RISE AND TRAGIC FALL OF A NEW YORK FIXER), Salma Hayek (BEATRIZ AT DINNER), Diane Kruger (IN THE FADE), Kumail Nanjiani (THE BIG SICK), Robert Pattinson (GOOD TIME), Margot Robbie (I, TONYA) and Lois Smith (MARJORIE PRIME).  The roundtable is presented by The Hollywood Reporter and will be moderated by Scott Feinberg their lead awards analyst.


Los Angeles Times film critic Justin Chang sits down with a panel of distinguished directors behind some of the most talked-about and acclaimed documentaries of the year.  The panelists will include Evgeny Afineevsky (CRIES FROM SYRIA), Greg Barker (THE FINAL YEAR), Kasper Collin (I CALLED HIM MORGAN), Feras Fayyad (LAST MEN IN ALEPPO), Yance Ford (STRONG ISLAND), Bryan Fogel (ICARUS), Steve James (ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL), Amanda Lipitz (STEP) and Brett Morgen (JANE).  The roundtable it presented by the Los Angeles Times.


WONDER WOMAN director and AFI Conservatory alumna Patty Jenkins sits down for a moderated, in-depth discussion.


Director/writer Sofia Coppola sits down to discuss her latest film, THE BEGUILED, set during the American Civil War and centering on an all-female Southern boarding school that takes in a wounded Union soldier, with unsettling results.


Actors Andy Serkis and Terry Notary, director Matt Reeves and Senior Visual Effects Supervisor Joe Letteri of the critically acclaimed and visually stunning WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES sit down for a panel discussion on how performance capture and visual effects bring complex and emotional characters to life.


Director Angelina Jolie and writer Loung Ung discuss the artistic and cross-cultural collaboration that brought FIRST THEY KILLED MY FATHER to the screen.  Based on Ung’s autobiography, the film centers on a young girl who must embark on a harrowing quest for survival amid the sudden rise and terrifying reign of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.  FIRST THEY KILLED MY FATHER is Cambodia’s official Best Foreign Language Film Oscar® submission.


GET OUT director/writer Jordan Peele sits down for an in-depth conversation about his film and the impact and legacy of GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER (1967), the groundbreaking, Oscar® winner about an interracial romance starring Sidney Poitier that celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.  GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER will screen following the conversation.


Director/writer/producer Martin McDonagh and actor Sam Rockwell, who have a long relationship working together for both the stage and screen, sit down for a moderated discussion with Jenelle Riley of Variety on THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI, a darkly comedic drama centering on a mother (Frances McDormand) who makes a bold move to find her daughter’s murderer, riling local law enforcement.  The conversation is presented by Variety.



World Premiere of Ridley Scott’s ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD Will Close AFI FEST 2017

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Academy Award®-nominated director and producer Ridley Scott will be honored by AFI FEST 2017 presented by Audi with a Tribute and World Premiere Closing Night Gala screening of TriStar Pictures’ ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD on Thursday, November 16, at the historic TCL Chinese Theatre.  The Tribute will celebrate Scott’s legendary filmmaking career with a moderated discussion of his work followed by the World Premiere screening.  Directed by Scott, ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD stars Academy Award® nominees Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams, and Academy Award® winner Kevin Spacey.  The Closing Night Gala will be sponsored by VIZIO.

One of our most prolific directors and producers, Ridley Scott is a four-time Academy Award® nominee, including Best Picture for THE MARTIAN (2016) and Best Director for BLACK HAWK DOWN (2001), GLADIATOR (2000) and THELMA & LOUISE (1991).  Additional films include ALIEN (1979), BLADE RUNNER (1982), LEGEND (1985), BLACK RAIN (1989), G.I. JANE (1997), MATCHSTICK MEN (2003), KINGDOM OF HEAVEN (2005), AMERICAN GANGSTER (2007), ROBIN HOOD (2010), PROMETHEUS (2012), THE COUNSELOR (2013), EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS (2014) and ALIEN: COVENANT (2017).

ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD follows the kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer) and the desperate attempt by his devoted mother Gail (Michelle Williams) to convince his billionaire grandfather (Kevin Spacey) to pay the ransom. When Getty, Sr., refuses, Gail attempts to sway him as her son’s captors become increasingly volatile and brutal. With her son’s life in the balance, Gail and Getty’s advisor (Mark Wahlberg) become unlikely allies in the race against time that ultimately reveals the true and lasting value of love over money.

Directed by Ridley Scott, TriStar Pictures’ and Imperative Entertainment’s ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD is written by David Scarpa, based on the book by John Pearson. Produced by Dan Friedkin, Bradley Thomas, Quentin Curtis, Chris Clark, Ridley Scott, Mark Huffam and Kevin Walsh, the film stars Michelle Williams, Kevin Spacey, Mark Wahlberg, Romain Duris, Charlie Plummer and Timothy Hutton.

The film debuts in theaters this December.



Meet the Press Film Festival With AFI Official Selections Announced

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Quality begets quality.

The Meet the Press Film Festival in Collaboration With the American Film Institute has announced its full slate of official selections — 16 short-length political documentaries produced by filmmakers from across the country.

The inaugural film festival will be held at the Landmark Atlantic Plumbing Cinema in Washington, DC, on the evening of November 13. Film screenings will be organized under seven issues and followed by Q&As with the respective filmmakers and an NBC News correspondent.

See below for descriptions of the selected films. Tickets to the festival are now on sale and available here.

Battling America’s New Epidemic

  • “Heroin(e)”: Once a bustling industrial town, Huntington, WV has become the epicenter of America’s modern opioid epidemic, with an overdose rate 10 times the national average. This flood of heroin now threatens this Appalachian city with a cycle of generational addiction, lawlessness and poverty. But within this distressed landscape, Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Elaine McMillion Sheldon (“Hollow”) shows a different side of the fight against drugs — one of hope, highlighting three women working to change the town’s narrative one person at a time.

Love and the Law

  • “62 Days”: Marlise Muñoz was 33 years old and 14 weeks pregnant with her second child when she died, suffering a pulmonary embolism. Pronounced brain-dead in a hospital in Fort Worth, TX, she had discussed her end-of-life wishes with her husband and did not want to be on life support. Director Rebecca Haimowitz tells the story of how, despite this, her family was forced to keep Marlise on mechanical support due to a little-known state law.
  • “Edith + Eddie”: Edith and Eddie, at ages 96 and 95, became America’s oldest interracial newlyweds. Their love story, told by director Laura Checkoway, is disrupted by a family feud that threatens to tear the couple apart.

Life After Prison

  • “Knife Skills”: Over 650,000 people are released from prison every year. Director Thomas Lennon follows the launch of an haute cuisine restaurant in Cleveland, staffed by men and women recently released from behind bars to tell the story of re-entry, second chances and the healing power of fine food.

Higher (Court) Education

  • “Fight for the First”: Director Sharon Liese addresses the freedom of the press in the Trump era through the eyes of journalists-in-training at the world’s oldest journalism school.
  • “Gavin Grimm vs.”: Director Nadia Hallgren tells the story of transgender teen Gavin Grimm suing his local school board in 2016 after its members refused to let him use the bathroom of his choice. He was ready to take his case all the way to the Supreme Court — and then the election happened.

The Cost of Justice

  • “A Debtors’ Prison”: Across the racially segregated landscape of St. Louis County, MO, thousands are routinely sent to jail because they cannot pay local court fines and fees. The vast majority of those fined are poor and black. Directors Brett Story and Todd Chandler follow two plaintiffs in an unfolding court case, as they describe the matrix of controls that subjected them to incarceration for being poor.
  • “Shawna: Life on the Sex Offender Registry”: After having consensual sex with a younger boy while she was still a teenager, Shawna Baldwin found herself one of the 800,000 people on America’s sex offender registries. Director David Feige explores the effects on her life, as she is now in her mid-30s and a mother of three.
  • “219”: A chilling portrait of the inner-workings of the death penalty in America, directed by Ed Hancox and told by the man once known as “the face of executions.”

Living in America

  • “Election Day 2016″: After a long and contentious presidential campaign, 10,000 people spontaneously came to pay tribute to Susan B. Anthony’s grave in Rochester, NY. They placed their “I Voted” stickers upon her headstone and expressed their pride and gratitude to America’s most famous suffragette.
  • “Osama and Ayman”: Osama and Ayman are brothers, skateboarders, entrepreneurs, Americans and Muslims. As they skate through the streets of our nation’s capital, they navigate growing Islamophobia with characteristic style and humor in a film directed by Ben Mullinkosson, Sam Price-Waldman and Chris Cresci.
  • “From Aleppo to L.A.”: Director Julia Meltzer tells the story of Dalya and her mother Rudayna fleeing Aleppo for Los Angeles in 2012. Can they hold on to their Islamic traditions in a country that doesn’t embrace them?
  • “Roadside Attraction”: After a very famous airplane arrives at Palm Beach International Airport, an otherwise ordinary stretch of Florida highway attracts an avid cluster of excited onlookers and selfie-takers, directed by Ivete Lucas and Patrick Bresnan.

On the Edge

  • “Ferryman at the Wall”: Originally proposed as an international peace park with Mexico, Big Bend, TX has a unique relationship with its southern neighbor. For the past 40 years, Mike Davidson has been ferrying tourists across the Rio Grande for a little taste of Mexican life — but now, as director David Freid shows, a great big border wall might divide the park.
  • “Los Lecheros”: The fates of undocumented immigrant workers and Wisconsin’s $43 billion dairy industry are closely intertwined, as director Jim Cricchi tells the story of how both are grappling with their options for survival as fears of ICE raids and deportations under the Trump administration grow.
  • “Monument | Monumento”: Director Laura Gabbert tells the story of Friendship Park, a unique meeting place along the US-Mexico border where family members and loved ones from both countries can see and speak to each other through a meshed fence, but cannot touch.

(Sourced from AFI press release)


Posted by Larry Gleeson

Withoutabox is New Official Submission Service;

Entries Accepted Beginning January 1

LOS ANGELES (October 18, 2017) — Today Film Independent announced new dates for the LA Film Festival and a multi-year partnership with ArcLight Cinemas. The Festival, previously held in June, will now take place in late September starting in 2018. Submissions for the 24th edition of the Festival will open January 1, 2018, exclusively on Withoutabox, as part of a new multi-year collaboration.

“The secret to dramatically changing something is to change it,” said Jennifer Cochis, LA Film Festival Director. “My passion for this Festival is unwavering and the time for an evolution has come. Film Independent is so proud of the work we’ve done in showcasing new American and international cinema that embraces diversity, innovation and unique perspectives, but the fact is that summer is a challenging time for artist driven films, and fall is where we clearly belong. This shift in our dates is an important step in enacting my aim to further develop the LA Film Festival, I sincerely look forward to better serving filmmakers, film lovers, the city and the industry in the fall of 2018 and beyond.”

“We are proud to be the home of the LA Film Festival. The festival has been a staple for filmmakers and cinephiles in Los Angeles,” said Gretchen McCourt, Executive Vice President at ArcLight Cinemas. “LA is an entertainment mecca and has been home to ArcLight for over 15 years. It is partnerships like this that continue to make our programming unique. We couldn’t be more thrilled to be with them on this journey.”

“Great festivals need great partners, and we couldn’t be happier to be entering a multi-year collaboration with ArcLight Cinema and Withoutabox,” said Film Independent President Josh Welsh. “LA audiences know and love the ArcLight experience, and as our submissions continue to grow, Withoutabox is the ideal service for us to accept and evaluate submissions from filmmakers all over the world.”

Creators can submit their work to the LA Film Festival for consideration beginning on January 1, 2018 exclusively on Withoutabox.


The LA Film Festival is a key part of the exhibition arm of the nonprofit arts organization Film Independent. Showcasing new American and international cinema that embraces diversity, innovation and unique perspectives, the Festival produces one-of-a-kind events featuring critically acclaimed filmmakers, industry professionals and award-winning talent from Los Angeles and around the world. The Festival’s signature programs include Diversity Speaks, Women Who Lead Luncheon, Spirit of Independence Award, Coffee Talks and more. The Festival’s Future Filmmakers Showcase supports high school filmmakers with screenings of their work and community based film education opportunities. For sponsorship opportunities, please contact Albina Oks, Director of Corporate Sponsorship, or 310.432.1252.



Film Independent is the nonprofit arts organization that champions independent visual storytelling and supports a community of artists who embody diversity, innovation and uniqueness of vision. Film Independent helps filmmakers make their movies, builds an audience for their projects, and works to diversify the film industry. Film Independent’s Board of Directors, filmmakers, staff and constituents is comprised of an inclusive community of individuals across ability, age, ethnicity, gender, race and sexual orientation. Anyone passionate about film can become a Member, whether you are a filmmaker, industry professional or a film lover.

In addition to producing the Spirit Awards, Film Independent produces the LA Film Festival and Film Independent at LACMA Film Series, a year-round, weekly program that offers unique cinematic experiences for the Los Angeles creative community and the general public.

With over 250 annual screenings and events, Film Independent provides access to a network of like-minded artists who are driving creativity in the film industry. Film Independent’s Artist Development program offers free Labs for selected writers, directors, producers and documentary filmmakers and presents year- round networking opportunities. Project Involve is Film Independent’s signature program dedicated to fostering the careers of talented filmmakers from communities traditionally underrepresented in the film industry. For more information or to become a Member, visit



ArcLight Cinemas, created by Pacific Theatres, a privately owned, Los Angeles based company with 60 years of theatrical exhibition history throughout California, Hawaii and Washington is a premiere movie going destination with an unparalleled commitment to bringing a variety of rich cinematic content to all audiences.  The company brings to life an uninterrupted immersive movie-going experience with no distractions, and a promise to exhibit films the way moviemakers intend their movie to be watched.

ArcLight Cinemas operates seven theaters in California including Hollywood, Pasadena, Sherman Oaks, El Segundo, Santa Monica, Culver City and La Jolla, as well as theaters in Bethesda, Md., Chicago and Glenview, Ill., with a new location in Boston for 2019. ArcLight also owns and operates the historic Cinerama Dome and programs the TCL Chinese Theatre and IMAX in Hollywood. Pacific Theatres currently operates theaters in Los Angeles that include The Grove and The Americana at Brand in Glendale, Calif. Additional information about ArcLight Cinemas is available at


Withoutabox ( is the premier submission service for film festivals and filmmakers. Since 2001, Withoutabox has enabled nearly 3 million festival submissions to the leading film festivals in the world, and more than 150 of these titles went on to receive an Academy Award® nomination with dozens eventually winning an Oscar®. Withoutabox provides a powerful and convenient solution for festivals seeking a service to manage their film festival submissions. World renowned film festivals that rely on Withoutabox to exclusively manage their submissions include The Sundance Film Festival and The Toronto International Film Festival. Filmmakers using Withoutabox can easily submit their films to film festivals around the word and can automatically create a title page for their film on IMDb (the #1 movie website in the world), reaching more than 250 million unique monthly visitors worldwide. Withoutabox continues to evolve on behalf of its customers, including recent product enhancements such as: promo codes; a Fire TV Festival Judging App; HD online screeners; a redesigned filmmaker experience; and support for Vimeo links. To learn more about Withoutabox or to sign up, visit Withoutabox is owned and operated by, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) ( IMDb also offers the membership-based service IMDbPro (, the essential resource for entertainment industry professionals.

(Source: Press release provided by Ginsburg/Libby)

AFI FEST 2017 New Auteurs and American Independents Lineups Announced

Posted by Larry Gleeson

AFI has announced the films that will be featured in the New Auteurs and American Independents sections at AFI FEST 2017 presented by Audi.

From November 9th through the 16th, AFI FEST 2017 takes place over eight days in Hollywood! Get an express pass here.

afi-fest-2011-logo-and-free-ticketsHighlighting first- and second-time feature film directors, New Auteurs is the festival’s platform for upcoming filmmakers from all over the world to showcase their new films. This year, the section is comprised of 11 films, nine of which come from female directors.

The American Independents section represents the best of independent filmmaking this year. Pushing boundaries of form and content across narrative and documentary cinema, this section includes 11 films from both fresh new voices and filmmakers returning to AFI FEST.

Pictured above: Lola Kirke in GEMINI


AVA – After an adolescent girl discovers she will soon go blind, she confronts the problem in her own way in this disturbing, visually bold debut. DIR Léa Mysius. SCR Léa Mysius, Paul Guilhaume. CAST Noée Abita, Laure Calamy, Juan Cano. France

CLOSENESS (TESNOTA) – Controversial and beloved in equal measure, the film centers on a young woman eking out an existence in a remote region of Russia, and the choices she must face when her brother and his fiancée are kidnapped. DIR Kantemir Balagov. SCR Kantemir Balagov, Anton Yarush. CAST Atrem Cipin, Olga Dragunova, Veniamin Kac, Darya Zhovnar, Nazir Zhukov. Russia

HANNAH – Charlotte Rampling gives another career-defining performance in this taut and layered film as a woman dealing with the fallout of an abhorrent crime committed by her husband. DIR Andrea Pallaoro. SCR Andrea Pallaoro, Orlando Tirado. CAST Charlotte Rampling, Andre Wilms. Italy, Belgium, France

HAVE A NICE DAY (HAO JI LE) – This morbid, hilarious animated noir cuts deep into the greed fueling the Chinese economic miracle. DIR/SCR Liu Jian. CAST Zhu Changlong, Cao Kai, Liu Jian, Yang Siming, Shi Haitao, Ma Xiaofeng, Xue Feng, Zheng Yi. China

HIGH FANTASY – Four South African friends on a camping trip discover they’ve switched bodies in this found-footage sophomore feature that cathartically examines racial and gender issues. DIR Jenna Bass. SCR Jenna Bass, Qondiswa James, Nala Khumalo, Francesca Varrie Michel, Liza Scholtz, Loren Loubser. CAST Qondiswa James, Nala Khumalo, Francesca Varrie Michel, Liza Scholtz, Loren Loubser. South Africa

I AM NOT A WITCH – A nine-year-old girl ignites a rebellion in the witch camp where she’s been imprisoned, in this bold debut that beautifully mixes satire, superstition and ambiguity. DIR/SCR Rungano Nyoni. CAST Margaret Mulubwa, Henry B.J. Phiri, Nancy Mulilo. France, UK, Germany

MILLA – The happy but impoverished life-on-the-fringes of a young French couple is captured with observational care and quiet grace in this striking new work. DIR/SCR Valérie Massadian. CAST Severine Jonckeere, Luc Chessel, Ethan Jonckeere. France

PENDULAR – This intense and unforgettable debut melds sculpture, dance and film in a tale brimming with sexual passion. DIR/SCR Júlia Murat, Matias Mariani. CAST Raquel Karro, Rodrigo Bolzan, Neto Machado, Marcio Vito, Felipe Rocha, Renato Linhares, Larissa Siqueira, Carlos Eduardo Santos, Valeria Barretta, Martina Revollo. Argentina, Brazil, France

SUMMER 1993 – In this unforgettable and autobiographical debut, a six-year-old girl goes to live with her extended family in the Catalan countryside following her mother’s death from an AIDS-related illness. DIR/SCR Carla Simón. CAST Laia Artigas, Paula Robles, Bruna Cusí, David Verdaguer, Fermí Reixach. Spain

WHAT WOULD PEOPLE SAY (HVA VIL FOLK SI) – A Norwegian-Pakistani teenage girl must bear the consequences of her rebellious actions in this powerful sophomore feature. DIR/SCR Iram Haq. CAST Maria Mozhdah, Adil Hussain, Rohit Saraf, Ekavali Khanna, Ali Arfan, Sheeba Chaddha, Lalit Parimoo, Jannat Zubair Rahmani, Nokokure Dahl, Trine Wiggen, Maria Bock, Sara Khorami. Norway, Germany, Sweden

WINTER BROTHERS (VINTERBRØDRE) – A loner in a snowy mining community is pushed to violent extremes in this hypnotic, beautiful debut out of Denmark. DIR/SCR Hlynur Pálmason. CAST Elliott Crosset Hove, Simon Sears, Victoria Carmen Sonne, Peter Plaugborg, Lars Mikkelsen. Denmark, Iceland


THE BALLAD OF LEFTY BROWN – Bill Pullman gives a career-best performance in Jared Moshé’s cleverly scripted, thrilling love letter to the Western. DIR/SCR Jared Moshé. CAST Bill Pullman, Kathy Baker, Jim Caviezel, Tommy Flanagan, Peter Fonda. USA

BODIED – A meek white-boy rapper wants to spit fire, but does cultural appropriation outweigh his desire? DIR Joseph Kahn. SCR Alex Larsen. CAST Calum Worthy, Jackie Long, Charlamagne Tha God, Anthony Michael Hall, Rory Uphold, Dumbfoundead, Walter Perez, Shoniqua Shandai, Dizaster, Debra Wilson, Loaded Lux. USA

CALIFORNIA DREAMS – Beautiful and multilayered, Mike Ott’s latest work of docufiction centers on struggling individuals in Valencia, CA, and the profound chasm between their lives and dreams of stardom. DIR Mike Ott. CAST Cory Zacharia, Patrick Ilaguno, Carolan J. Pinto, Neil Harley, Kevin Gilger AKA K-Nine. USA

EL MAR LA MAR – A stunning new film from Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab, EL MAR LA MAR dives into matters of life and death at the U.S.-Mexico border in the Sonoran Desert, where legions of immigrants are dying to cross. DIR/SCR Joshua Bonnetta & J.P. Sniadecki. USA

THE ENDLESS – Filmmaking duo Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead return with another fiercely original sci-fi horror film, this time set in a UFO death cult. DIR Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead. SCR Justin Benson. CAST Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead, Callie Hernandez, Tate Ellington. USA

FITS AND STARTS – Wyatt Cenac and Greta Lee star in this fantastic and funny debut centering on two married writers — one successful, the other not so much. DIR/SCR Laura Terruso. CAST Wyatt Cenac, Greta Lee, Maria Dizzia. USA

GEMINI – Lola Kirke stars as a personal assistant who must figure out who killed her famous employer (Zoë Kravitz) in this neon-drenched neo-noir from director Aaron Katz. DIR/SCR Aaron Katz. CAST Lola Kirke, Zoë Kravitz, John Cho, Greta Lee. USA

LIFE AND NOTHING MORE – AFI FEST alum Antonio Méndez Esparza’s sophomore feature follows the day-to-day struggles of an African-American mother and her troubled son, who is getting ever closer to following in his imprisoned father’s footsteps. DIR/SCR Antonio Méndez Esparza. CAST Andrew Bleechington, Regina Williams, Robert Williams, Ry’Nesia Chambers. USA

MR. ROOSEVELT – Triple threat Noël Wells directs, writes and stars in this funny tale of a struggling comedian returning to her hometown to mourn an old pet, and play third wheel to her ex and his new girlfriend. DIR/SCR Noël Wells. CAST Noël Wells, Nick Thune, Britt Lower, Daniella Pineda, Andre Hyland. USA

SOLLERS POINT – This moving portrait of one young man’s frustrated attempts to rise above his obstacles after being released from prison is the latest film from indie director Matt Porterfield. DIR/SCR Matthew Porterfield. CAST McCaul Lombardi, Jim Belushi, Zazie Beetz, Everleigh Brenner. USA

THOROUGHBREDS – Anya Taylor-Joy and Olivia Cooke star in this darkly comedic thriller that recalls films like HEAVENLY CREATURES and HEATHERS. DIR/SCR Cory Finley. CAST Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy, Anton Yelchin, Paul Sparks, Francie Swift, Kaili Vernoff. USA.




Berlinale Spotlight: Films Travel to Asia

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Just when you think it can’t get any better, they go and do something like this!

The Berlinale has had a global presence with specially curated film programs for many years now. The Berlinale Spotlight extends the festival and makes its activities visible throughout the year.


Berlinale-Berlinale Spotlight gives us the opportunity to make our work concrete and tangible to audiences even beyond the festival. The films on the screen exemplify what makes the Berlinale sections so distinctive and the Berlinale unique in its complexity,” says Berlinale Director Dieter Kosslick.


The Berlinale’s long-standing and successful collaboration with the Goethe Institutes in Kolkata and Hong Kong will continue in the autumn and winter of 2017. A total of six short film programmes are to be presented with works from the Berlinale Shorts, Generation, Perspektive Deutsches Kino and Panorama sections, as well as the full-length fiction film Ein Weg (Paths) by Chris Miera (Perspektive Deutsches Kino 2017). The short film programmes have been put together by Maike Mia Höhne, curator of the Berlinale Shorts section.


2015_0004_img_175xvar“The films reflect the great diversity of the short format: bold, playful, political, narrative. The short film is an essential sector of the film industry, but also of storytelling and culture. In its capacity as such, it will travel around the world,” says Maike Mia Höhne.


The Berlinale Spotlight programmes in East Asia will be shown at the Cine Moko in Hong Kong on October 18 and 25, 2017; at the Cinematheque Passion in Macau on October 15 and 20, 2017; at the Goethe-Institut in Shanghai, China on October 18 and 20, 2017; and at the Goethe-Institut Beijing, China on November 18 and 19, 2017.


Berlinale Spotlight has been invited to India for the Kalpanirjhar International Short Fiction Film Festival from December 1 to 5, 2017; DIALOGUES: Calcutta International LGBT Film & Video Festival from November 23 to 26, 2017; and the TENT Little Cinema International Festival in December 2017. All festival screenings will be held at the Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan, Kolkata.


Berlinale Spotlight films:


Altas Cidades de Ossadas (High Cities of Bone), directed by: João Salaviza (Portugal), 19 min.

Avant l’envol (Before the Flight), directed by: Laurence Bonvin (Switzerland), 20 min.

Call of Cuteness, directed by: Brenda Lien (Germany), 4 min.
Centauro (Centaur), directed by: Nicolás Suárez (Argentina), 14 min. – Honourable Mention 2017

Cidade Pequena (Small Town), directed by: Diogo Costa Amarante (Portugal), 19 min. – Golden Bear for Best Short Film 2017

Ensueño en la Pradera (Reverie in the Meadow), directed by: Esteban Arrangoiz Julien (Mexico), 17 min. – Silver Bear Jury Prize (Short Film) 2017

Estás vendo coisas (You are seeing things), directed by: Bárbara Wagner & Benjamin de Burca (Brazil), 18 min.

Everything, directed by: David OReilly (USA / Ireland), 11 min.

Final Stage, directed by: Nicolaas Schmidt (Germany), 27 min. – Perspektive Deutsches Kino 2017

Fuera de Temporada (Out of Season), directed by: Sabrina Campos (Argentina), 23 min.

Hiwa, directed by: Jacqueline Lentzou (Greece), 11 min.

keep that dream burning, directed by: Rainer Kohlberger (Austria/ Germany), 8 min.

Kometen (The Comet), directed by: Victor Lindgren (Sweden), 11 min.

La prima sueca (Swedish Cousin), directed by: Inés María Barrionuevo, Agustina San Martín (Argentina), 20 min. – Generation 2017

Le film de l’été (The Summer Movie), directed by: Emmanuel Marre (France / Belgium), 30 min.

Martin Pleure (Martin Cries), directed by: Jonathan Vinel (France), 16 min.

Min Homosyster (My Gay Sister), directed by: Lia Hietala (Sweden / Norway), 15 min. – Generation 2017, TEDDY Award 2017

Oh Brother Octopus, directed by: Florian Kunert (Germany), 27 min.

Os Humores Artificiais (The Artificial Humors), directed by: Gabriel Abrantes (Portugal), 30 min. – Berlin Short Film Nominee for the European Film Awards 2017

Street of Death, directed by: Karam Ghossein (Lebanon / Germany), 22 min. – Audi Short Film Award 2017

The Boy from H2, directed by: Helen Yanovsky (Israel / Palestine), 21 min.

The Crying Conch, directed by: Vincent Toi (Canada), 20 min.

The Rabbit Hunt, directed by: Patrick Bresnan (USA / Hungary 2017), 12 min.

Vênus – Filó a fadinha lésbica (Filly the Lesbian Little Fairy), directed by: Sávio Leite (Brazil), 6 min. – Panorama 2017


As well as the full-length fiction film:

Ein Weg (Paths), directed by: Chris Miera (Germany), 107 min. – Perspektive Deutsches Kino 2017



(Source: Press release from Berlinale Press Office)


AFI FEST 2017 Opening Night MUDBOUND

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Hollywood, California is the place for an Opening Night Gala. The American Film Institute’s AFI FEST 2017 presented by Audi will open on Thursday, November 9, 2017, at the historic TCL Chinese Theatre, with the Netflix film MUDBOUND. Directed by Dee Rees and co-written by Virgil Williams and Rees, the historical period drama features cinematography by AFI Conservatory alumna Rachel Morrison (Class of 2006). The film stars Academy Award nominee Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Mitchell, Jason Clarke, Jonathan Banks, Mary J. Blige and Rob Morgan.

Set in the rural American South during World War II, Dee Rees’ MUDBOUND is an epic story of two families pitted against one another by a ruthless social hierarchy, yet bound together by the shared farmland of the Mississippi Delta. MUDBOUND follows the McAllan family, newly transplanted from the quiet civility of Memphis and unprepared for the harsh demands of farming. Despite the grandiose dreams of Henry (Jason Clarke), his wife Laura (Carey Mulligan) struggles to keep the faith in her husband’s losing venture.

Meanwhile, Hap and Florence Jackson (Rob Morgan, Mary J. Blige) — sharecroppers who have worked the land for generations — struggle bravely to build a small dream of their own despite the rigidly enforced social barriers they face.

The war upends both families’ plans as their returning loved ones, Jamie McAllan (Garrett Hedlund) and Ronsel Jackson (Jason Mitchell), forge a fast but uneasy friendship that challenges the brutal realities of the Jim Crow South in which they live.

MUDBOUND will be in select theaters and on Netflix on November 17, 2017.

AFI FEST to Present Robert Altman Retrospective

Posted by Larry Gleeson

AFI has announced an inaugural, annual retrospective to spotlight one filmmaker of global significance, as part of AFI FEST 2017 presented by Audi, running November 9–16, 2017, in Hollywood, CA.

This year, AFI FEST will present the work of Robert Altman, with screenings and discussions of 12 films — historically the most programmed in the festival for one filmmaker. For the retrospective, legendary director/producer/writer Altman (1925–2006) will be honored with screenings and discussions of his classic  films, including: M*A*S*H (1970), MCCABE & MRS. MILLER (1971), THE LONG GOODBYE (1972), CALIFORNIA SPLIT (1973), NASHVILLE (1975), 3 WOMEN (1977), VINCENT & THEO (1990), THE PLAYER (1992), SHORT CUTS (1993), KANSAS CITY (1996), GOSFORD PARK (2001) and A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION (2006).

pictured above: NASHVILLE, #59 on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies




Jaeger-LeCoultre celebrates Cinema in Venice with a Gala Night

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Official sponsor of the Venice International Film Festival for over a decade, Jaeger-LeCoultre celebrated its commitment with a Gala Dinner held on the 5th of September in the Arsenal of Venice.

Venezia 74

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Deputy CEO of Jaeger-LeCoultre Geoffroy Lefebvre and Rebecca Hall wearing a Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso One High Jewelry
Diane Kruger wearing a Jaeger-LeCoultre Joaillerie 101 Reine watch
Catherine Deneuve chose a Jaeger-LeCoultre Rendez-Vous Ivy Secret watch


Jaeger-LeCoultre Deputy CEO Geoffroy Lefebvre welcomed friends of the Maison and an array of prestigious guests: Catherine Deneuve, Diane Kruger, jury member of the Film Festival Rebecca Hall, Italian actresses Cristiana Capotondi and Eva Riccobono, international talents Ann Hsu, Shi Ke, Geng Le and director Vivian Qu.

During the evening, Jaeger-LeCoultre honoured Catherine Deneuve for her unparalleled contribution to the art of filmmaking. A long-time friend of the Brand actress Diane Kruger presented her the award on behalf of the Maison.

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Ann Hsu wearing a Jaeger-LeCoultre Rendez-Vous Moon in white gold
Andrea Pezzi and Cristiana Capotondi wearing a Jaeger-LeCoultre Rendez-Vous Night & Day watch
Matteo Ceccarini wearing a Reverso Classic and Eva Riccobono wearing a Jaeger-LeCoultre Rendez-Vous Ivy in white gold
Jaeger-LeCoultre Rendez-Vous Sonatina “Séduction” (left) and “Amour” (right) celebrated at the Gala Dinner

The three new Rendez-Vous Sonatina “Séduction”, “Romance” and “Amour” on display were emblematic of this Gala Night that celebrated cinema and the power of emotions that it triggers.


Since 1833, Jaeger-LeCoultre has remained dedicated to the legacy of watchmaking traditions while maintaining its expertise for invention in creating authentic, fine watchmaking legends.

Committed to a constant quest for excellence and supported by a unique inventive spirit, Jaeger-LeCoultre has a long-standing engagement in supporting the appreciation and preservation of film.

For more than a decade, Jaeger-LeCoultre has been closely associated with the best artistic film festivals around the world, including Venice, Shanghai, and San Sebastian, and in turn pays tribute to the creative talent of filmmakers by annually awarding the Glory to the Filmmaker Award.

Through its close affinity with the world of film, Jaeger-LeCoultre has found shared values and a common mission: each second bears the imprint of a moment of eternity.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Hosts Gala Dinner At Arsenale In Venice: Arrivals - 74th Venice International Film Festival
 Soo Joo Park arrives for the Jaeger-LeCoultre Gala Dinner during the 74th Venice International Film Festival at Arsenale on September 5, 2017 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images for Jaeger-LeCoultre)

The feminine Rendez-Vous watch is with you in all the precious moments and adapts to every new role. Jaeger-LeCoultre invites every woman to express the actor within her, by capturing an iconic moment or scene from the movies.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Hosts Gala Dinner At Arsenale In Venice: Arrivals - 74th Venice International Film Festival
Ana Brenda Contreras arrives for the Jaeger-LeCoultre Gala Dinner during the 74th Venice International Film Festival at Arsenale on September 5, 2017 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images for Jaeger-LeCoultre

Live a uniquely emotional moment and share it with everyone.


(Press materials provided by


Venice Movie Stars Lounge, September 6th, 2017

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017, the Venice Movie Stars Lounge hosted the national and international press activities of the actors Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, the only Spanish actors to win an Academy Award with both obtaining Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress respectively.


They came to present the director’s, Fernando León de Aranoa, new film, “Loving Pablo” that narrates about the relationship between the Colombian drug dealer, Pablo Escobar, and his lover, the TV journalist, Virginia Vallejo. The couple, not only in real life but even on set, after carrying out the TV interviews during the morning, had lunch inside the Villa, and then moved on more interviews answering the questions of the journalists.

Stay tuned for more on the glamor, the fashion and the filmmaking of the 74th Venice International Film Festival!

Screen Shot 2017-09-07 at 5.13.05 AM

Official Sponsors of the Venice Movie Stars project are Lamborghini, Palazzina G, Area Stile, Diamond Ice Noble Vodka, Sant’Anna, Safilo, Giaquinto, Corradi, along with the technical partners Forno d’Asolo, Bevande Futuriste, Consorzio Tutela Piave DOP, Hausbrandt, Prosecco Vigna Belvedere, Barbero Davide, Smania, Sixtema, Ethimo, Ideal Lux, Movidos, Banca Fideuram, Round Studio, H&A associati srl


(Source: Press release provided by Immagicgroup, marketing leader in providing spaces for press activities at the Festivals of Cannes and Berlin, and during the 74 Venice International Film Festival)

VICEROY’S HOUSE opens this Friday September 1st in Los Angeles, New York and VOD

Posted by Larry Gleeson

A throwback to epic, large screen, big production filmmaking, Viceroy’s House is more than just a visual treat. Gurinder Chadha, raised in Great Britain, weaves a mesmerizing tale with magnificent costuming, larger-than-life production design and an abundantly handsome cast set in 1947 colonial India.

This is one not to be missed.  Here’s my original review from the 67th Berlin International Film Festival .

See the film’s official trailer at the bottom of the page!

VICEROY’S HOUSE from writer/director/producer Gurinder Chadha (BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM, BRIDE AND PREJUDICE) opens this Friday, September 1st  in Los Angeles, New York and VOD. VICEROY’S HOUSE will expand into more cities the following week.



Laemmle Royal Theatre

11523 Santa Monica Boulevard, 1st Floor

Los Angeles, CA 90025

Genre:  Drama

Rating:  Unrated

Running Time: 107 Minutes

Language: English

Directed: Gurinder Chadha

Cast: Hugh Bonneville, Gillian Anderson, Manish Dayal, Huma Qureshi, Om Puri

Synopsis: New nations are rarely born in peace… India, 1947: Lord Mountbatten (Hugh Bonneville) is dispatched, along with his wife Edwina (Gillian Anderson), to New Delhi to oversee the country’s transition from British rule to independence. Taking his place in the resplendent mansion known as the Viceroy’s House, Mountbatten arrives hopeful for a peaceful transference of power. But ending centuries of colonial rule in a country divided by deep religious and cultural differences proves no easy undertaking, setting off a seismic struggle that threatens to tear India apart. With sumptuous period detail, director Gurinder Chadha brings to life a pivotal historical moment that re-shaped the world.​

(Press materials courtesy of IFC Films)


INTERVIEW: AFI Conservatory Alumna Mimi Leder on Directing THE LEFTOVERS

Posted by Larry Gleeson

As an executive producer and director on HBO’s THE LEFTOVERS, Mimi Leder (AFI Class of 1973, Cinematography) brought her deft storytelling touch to the recent series finale. But her work has extended well beyond the prestige mystery series, with Primetime Emmy wins and nominations for ER, THE WEST WING and CHINA BEACH, and film-directing credits including DEEP IMPACT (1998), PAY IT FORWARD (2000) and the upcoming Ruth Bader Ginsburg biopic ON THE BASIS OF SEX.

AFI spoke to Leder about THE LEFTOVERS finale, and her work as a director. Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen season three of THE LEFTOVERS.

Mimi Leder
Mimi Leder

AFI: In all three seasons of THE LEFTOVERS, there has been more conversation than ever this year — especially now that the series has ended.

ML: We’re all trying to wrap our heads around it. There are many endings. You film it, then you edit, then you’re done editing, you’re done mixing, then it airs and you’re done again. It’s been quite an extraordinary time.

There’s perhaps more rallying around this season because more people have found the show. In the beginning, it lost a lot of viewers because it was rather bleak, but still wonderful. Season two came around and we very much worked towards moving to a new town, and I changed the palette of the show, the color, and very much opened up the scope of the show. The show, in its second season, got quite a lot of recognition. And then in the third season, we continued on to Australia and journeyed with our characters there. The reaction to the third season has been absolutely stunning.

AFI: Reportedly, series co-creator Damon Lindelof said that he measures the show in “pre-Mimi” and “post-Mimi,” since you came onboard halfway into the first season. What do you make of that?

ML: They brought me onto the show and I directed it the way I felt it needed to be, and I felt the show needed to be opened up in order to get in there in an even more in an intimate way. It had to allow the audience to breathe a bit. It was a great partnership with Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta, and their writing really spoke to me. We had a very special time doing a show about grief and loss, and hope and love. We all had this life-changing experience; we as a group of people in the exploration of faith, and “what is the meaning of life?”

AFI: This also seems like a writers’ room in which no idea was too crazy.

ML: Oftentimes, it was like, “Can we do this? Well, why not? We enjoy it.” Doing a show on a ferry with a sex orgy going on was really an examination of faith in the background of madness. Nothing was too crazy, at least for us. And the response has verified that for sure.

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Carrie Coon in THE LEFTOVERS

AFI: You directed all three season finales. Was this the most challenging?

ML: They were all challenging. Season three’s finale was, I would say, even more so, because it was the final episode of the series. It was a much quieter episode, and it had almost a comedic feel to it. It almost felt like a rom-com in some instances, and that was very freeing and liberating and really different for our show. In that way, it had to hit the tone just right with our characters, and always stay grounded, and always in the world of our “leftovers.” But I tried not to be too precious about it. There’s always the pressure you put on yourself, when something feels a little bit more important, and that’s where you can go wrong. I ignored those feelings, and always had the mantra in my head: “Keep it simple.”

AFI: You did that beautifully, particularly in the closing monologue. Can you explain the decision not to provide a visual representation of the story that Nora tells about her journey to “the other side”?

ML: We all felt that doing a visual representation of her story would make it feel less ambiguous, and we felt it was very important for her story to be told through Kevin listening to it, and him being our eyes, the audience’s eyes. Kevin had to believe her in order for there to be an opening for love, for them to be together. One of the big themes of this season was our examination of our belief systems, the stories we tell ourselves to get through life. Nora’s story is her story, her belief system. Whether you believe it’s true or not is really unimportant. It really doesn’t matter. All that matters is that she believes it, and that he believes it, and to leave it ambiguous was most important for the audience in order for them to make their decision.

AFI: As a viewer, if you choose to believe that Nora visited this other world, then you get that sort of closure you crave from a series finale.

ML: There really are no answers. There are many answers to the meaning of life, but then again, there are many questions that will never be answered. If we knew all the answers to life, and to the journey, it’d be so boring. Part of the process of living is the exploration, and the journey, and that’s what THE LEFTOVERS, in many ways, was saying. And ultimately, it was this mad love story.

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Carrie Coon and Justin Theroux in THE LEFTOVERS

AFI: Another scene in the finale that was so well-directed shows Nora entering the “LADR” (low amplitude Denzinger radiation) device. Talk about directing Carrie Coon in that scene.

ML: We come into the world naked, and we go out naked. The script said “naked,” and I didn’t want to shoot around her body. There’s nothing more beautiful than a human body, and I felt she was this little girl walking. She was completely vulnerable and fearless all at the same time, and I wanted to be with her, to always feel like she was walking towards us. I did a lot of shots that emphasized that, but I also wanted to be over her shoulder and behind her, and feel like we were absolutely with her. That was a scary scene. I just tried to keep it simple and powerful, with the big wides and the tights, and to stay with her emotionally.

AFI: You’ve gone back and forth between TV over the years.

ML: I’m in prep to direct a film called ON THE BASIS OF SEX, which is about the young years of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It’s an origin story, and also about the first federal precedent declaring sex-based discrimination unconstitutional.

AFI: What’s exciting to you about returning to film?

ML: I don’t really differentiate one from the other, honestly. My approach to storytelling is always the same, whether it’s on a big screen or a small screen. It’s all about the material. Films are projected big, but I really don’t approach it any differently [than a TV episode].

Prestige television has really evolved, and you see feature filmmakers going back and forth because there’s great work to be done, great stories to be told, in television. They’re making less films, but I would venture to say there are more important stories being told in prestige television, even though I’m making a very important — I think — story on film this year. There’s more opportunity in television to make these stories. Maybe there’s too much. You cannot possibly catch up to everything. It’s just overwhelming.


(Originally posted on

Venice dedicates entire island to VR

Posted by Larry Gleeson

If you thought that the Venice Film Festival had lost its relevance, think again. Since 2013 the oldest film festival in the world has become the launching pad for the Oscars and now embraces the future of cinema by hosting the biggest and boldest presentation of Virtual Reality ever seen at any film festival.

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The island, Lazzaretto Vecchio, pictured above, will be transformed into a virtual reality paradise during the Biennale from August 31st to September 5th, 2017.

And they do it in a way that only Venice can – with an immaculate sense of style and aplomb. The main big news is that Venice will dedicate an abandoned island in the lagoon to the presentation of the world’s best VR productions.

Located less than 50 meters from the Lido, where the festival takes place, sits Lazzaretto Vecchio. enice VR will literally be just a stone’s throw from the heart of the Festival and The PalaBiennale, which is one of the largest screening venues. This small, abandoned island used to be a leper colony and a quarantine transit island between the 15th and 17th century. The island alone is worth the short trip comments Michel, “There’s so much history in this place.”


About a decade ago, the hospital and the adjoining buildings on the island were partly renovated to house a future Museum of Archeology, which has not materialized to date. Now, Lazzaretto Vecchio has found a new purpose.

VR Theater

Venice VR also features a dedicated VR theater with 50 revolving leather seats located in a huge hangar from the 16th century. Visitors can see three programs in competition. Highlights include the first VR piece, The Deserted (55′), by internationally renowned Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-Liang. Additionally, there will be an Out of Competition program featuring previous VR pieces by directors who are part of this year’s Venice Production Bridge – the pitch market of the Festival.

A fifth program features three pieces from this year’s premiere edition of the Venice Biennale College Cinema – Virtual Reality which will be presented out of competition. The Venice Biennale College is a two-part pressure cooker-style training program that preps participants for a bright 360° interactive immersive future. Two projects (out of ten projects developed during this year’s College) have been made with support from Sony are presented alongside the third piece, a VR spinoff from Beautiful Things, which is one of the three “flat” films produced this year by the Biennale College Cinema.

A small PSVR tie-in piece to the TV-series Snatch on Crackle – Sony’s free, ad-supported media streaming service. A tie-in to Guy Ritchie’s crime comedy from 2000, Snatch is a game where you need to crack the code of a chest.


Venice VR Competition at a glance

A major selection criterium of Venice is that all pieces have to be international or world premieres. The second criterium is of course the quality of the piece. 103 submissions were sent in from all over the world for Venice’s first VR competition. Among the 22 VR pieces that were selected are six room-scale installations, six Oculus and three Vive stand ups.

Three of the former hospital’s extended hallways and galleries will offer plenty of space for Venice’s ambitious VR program. “We will have something like 4000 square meters to just do the installations,” says Michel Reilhac. But it’s not just about the space, he adds. The atmosphere on the island is “simply magical.” This will be the very first time ever that the island is opened to visitors.


Venice Virtual Reality: Installations in Competition

There will be six installations that allow visitors to interact with the space and sometimes with actors. There are a couple of pieces that fall in the category of Reactive Theater; interactive VR experiences that use live performers, also referred to as “reactive actors.” Draw Me Close by the National Theatre and the NFB is a VR installation in which the actors “play” with the audience making the piece more immersive.

For a more complete listing click here!

An impressive VR-teaser for a very ambitious Hollywood-style movie about a futuristic destroyed city.

(Source:, extracted from article by Remco Vlaanderen)


John Landis to reside over Venice Virtual Reality Jury

Posted by Larry Gleeson

John Landis, American film director, screenwriter, actor, and producer who got his start in the mail room at 20th Century- Fox has been tabbed to be the President of the Venice Virtual Reality International Jury over the new competition for virtual reality (VR) films: Venice Virtual Reality.

Last year I witnessed the world premiere presentation of the first feature length VR film (Jesus VR). This year there will be up to 18 VR films in the Venice Virtual Reality competition at the newly constructed VR Theater inside the Palazzo del Casinò, Lido di Venezia. The competition will be held from August 31st through September 5th, 2017.


Last year the screening of several experimental films as well as the world premiere of the first feature length VR film, Jesus VR, aroused enormous interest among participants. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)


The members of the International Jury of the Venice Virtual Reality section are:

· The American director John Landis (President  of the Jury), a key figure in American cinema for the past forty years. Landis has influenced generations of filmmakers with his movies, which include Animal HouseTheBlues BrothersAn American Werewolf in LondonTrading PlacesInto the Night, one of his most famous movies, will be screened in its restored version in Venice this year. In 2008 Landis was a jury member for the Competition at the 65thVenice Film Festival.

· The French screenwriter and director Céline SciammaNaissance des pieuvres, her first film, was presented in Cannes in 2007, as was Bande de filles seven years later. She became famous with her second feature film, Tomboy, presented in Berlin and the winner of many awards. Her screenplays include Ma vie de courgette, which received an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature Film.

· The actor and director Ricky Tognazzi. He won a Silver Bear for Best Director with Ultrà, tying with The Silence of the Lambs, and a David di Donatello in the same category, a feat he repeated two years later with La scorta, which participated In Competition in Cannes. In 2011, he presented Tutta colpa della musica in Venice. He has performed in movies such as Una storia semplice and Caruso Pascoski di padre polacco.


The Jury of Venice Virtual Reality will award, with no ex-aequo awards permitted, the following prizes: Best VR, Best VR experience (for interactive content), Best VR story (for linear content).


Stay tuned for more on Venice Virtual Reality!


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(Sourced from the Biennale Press Office)

Annette Bening to serve as the President of the Venice 74 Film Jury

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The 74th Venice International Film Festival has announced Annette Bening will serve as the President of the Venezia 74 Jury for this year’s festival.

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Other Jury members include:

· The Hungarian director and screenwriter Ildikó Enyedi; she won the Golden Camera for Best Debut Film at Cannes for My Twentieth Century; the movie was included on the list of the 12 best Hungarian films of all time. She participated In Competition in Venice in 1994 with Magic Hunter and in Locarno in 1999 with Simon the Magician. Her most recent film, On Body and Soul, won the Golden Bear in Berlin in 2017.

· The director, producer and screenwriter Michel Franco.Born and raised in Mexico he has made five feature films, four of which were presented in Cannes. Después de Lucía and Las hijas de Abril won Best Film and the Special Jury Prize in Un Certain Regard, respectively. Chronic, presented In Competition, won Best Screenplay. He produced Desde allá by Lorenzo Vigas, which won the Golden Lion in Venice in 2015.

· The British actress Rebecca Hall; she spends her time between Great Britain and the United States, where she has worked with directors such as Christopher Nolan, Steven Spielberg and Woody Allen, thanks to whom she was nominated for a Golden Globe for her role in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. She has also appeared in The TownA Promise and Iron Man 3. She received critical acclaim and major international awards for her performance in Christine.

· The actress Anna Mouglalis is an iconic figure of French art house cinema. At a very young age, she appeared in La captive (2000) by Chantal Akerman. She became famous in Italy thanks to her role in Romanzo criminale (2005) by Michele Placido. She spends her time between Italy and France, making art house films with directors such as Arnaud Desplechin, Mario Martone and Philippe Garrel, and she is in the cast of Gainsbourg (Vie héroïque), a protagonist at the 2011 César awards.

· The Anglo-Australian film critic David Stratton; he directed the Sydney Film Festival for almost twenty years and has been a member of the jury at major film festivals all over the world, including Venice, Cannes and Berlin. Stratton collaborated with Variety for twenty years and he has produced and hosted important television programs about cinema.

· The actress Jasmine Trinca; she is one of the most important Italian actresses of her generation. She has appeared in films by important directors such as Nanni Moretti, Marco Tullio Giordana, Michele Placido and Taviani brothers. In 2009, she won the Marcello Mastroianni Award in Venice for The Big Dream and in 2017 she was awarded Best Actress in Un Certain Regard at Cannes for Fortunata. She has also won two Silver Ribbons.

· The English director and screenwriter Edgar Wright; he is the director of the iconic “Three Flavours Cornetto” Trilogy, starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, started with Shaun of the Dead (2004), which revitalized genre parodies. In 2010, he directed Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, an original experiment overlapping film and comics. At the moment, his film Baby Driver is receiving acclaim in the American theaters and it will be released in Italy on September 7th.

· The director, producer and screenwriter Yonfan; world traveler, active across China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, he has written, directed and produced all thirteen of his own movies, including Breaking the Willow (2003) and Prince of Tears (2009), both of which were presented in Venice, the latter film in Competition; he also participated in the project Venezia 70 – Future Reloaded. He has worked with the top Hong Kong stars, including Maggie Cheung, Chow Yung-fat and Daniel Wu, who became well-known for his role in Bishonen.

The Venezia 74 Jury will award the following prizes: Golden Lion for Best Film; Silver Lion – Grand Jury Prize; Silver Lion for Best Director; Coppa Volpi for Best Actor; Coppa Volpi for Best Actress; Award for Best Screenplay; the Special Jury Prize and “Marcello Mastroianni” Award for Best New Young Actor or Actress.

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(Source: Biennale Press Office)



FILM REVIEW: Atomic Homefront (Cammisa, 2017): USA

Posted and reviewed by Larry Gleeson

Rebecca Cammisa knows a story when she sees one. Cammisa received a tip from a St. Screen Shot 2017-07-13 at 4.57.23 PMLouis reporter about a situation unfolding in North County (St. Louis) communities. The “situation” has been festering for over 70 years. St. Louis has a little known secret  – one among many I’m sure. During World War II (WWII), St. Louis was one of the nation’s atomic weapons manufacturing locations. The well-known Mallinckrodt Corporation, in addition to a few other entities, was contracted to carry out war time operations related to to our country’s Manhattan Project atomic program including uranium processing. Using traditional documentary film techniques such as the direct interview, voice-over narration, emotional testimonials and non-diagectic musical scoring, Cammisa gets right into the controversy that pits local residents against the federal government with Atomic Homefront, an HBO Documentary Film.

Here’s why Cammisa made her film. After the atomic bomb uranium processing was mv5bywyyzgizmjktowqxyi00mzq0lweyzwmtmdq3ogqwmzkwnzcyxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymty5otuwma-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_completed, the radioactive waste was deposited in several areas in and around St. Louis and its surrounding communities. A few areas, like the one Cammisa focuses on in her timely film, is the Coldwater Creek area. Here the waste lay in piles exposed to the elements, including rainfall, along Latty Avenue until 1973. The radioactive material ran off into the nearby creek where neighborhood children played. Moreover, when the creek flooded water made its way into nearby homes. Increased cancer rates associated with the radioactive isotope have been, and, are being reported. Cammisa chose to include a heart-wrenching, on-camera interview with a sixteen-year- old male on death’s doorstep. His mother believed she had been contaminated by the radioactive materials and had passed it on to her son. The son heroically states he wanted to “help others” by going on camera.

But there’s more to the situation than the radioactive runoff in the Coldwater Creek area. After receiving numerous complaints of the god-awful stench emanating from the Latty Avenue piles of radioactive waste, the piles were illegally dump into the periphery, West Lake neighborhood landfill, which became an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Superfund site in 1990. Now the EPA is responsible for the oversight and cleanup. But what about the odorific stench? Somehow, it’s still emanating and making it into the air making nearby residents cringe and worry about what’s being ingested with each and every breath. And, the “situation” doesn’t end there.

The EPA set up air monitoring sites and the radioactive particles are under levels know to cause harm and advised residents to close their windows. That didn’t sit well with those moms I mentioned earlier. They’ve gotten together and formed Just Moms STL,  a strong group of moms-turned advocates that believe their communities are being poisoned and have vowed to continue fighting until the EPA removes the waste or relocates nearby residents – neither of which or likely to happen anytime soon as the EPA lacks funding. And as reported in the Washington Post on March 28th, 2017, President Trump signs order at the EPA to dismantle environmental protections.

Unbelievably, for the last seven an uncontrolled subterranean fire has been burning in closed areas of the landfill and recently has been migrating towards the buried radioactive waste. And for the last seven years, Republic Services, a waste management company, has been stating the fire is contained and there is no threat from the radiation. Yet, in 2016, the EPA has clearly identified radiologically impacted material had migrated within 700 feet of the fire and was moving closer. What would happen if the radioactive particles attached to the smoldering vapors and became airborne migrating into the communities potentially miles away? Undaunted, Republic Services insists the site is in a “safe and managed state.”

Atomic Homefront highlights St. Louis an example of how radioactive “situations” are sometime just swept under the rug by the federal and private agencies charged with overseeing them. What the federal government knew, knows or doesn’t know is smoldering underneath the center of Camissa latest documentary, Atomic Homefront. A 1988 film nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary, Radio Bikini, highlights another atomic, highly, radioactive “situation” from WWII with a bit more of an historical treatment. Personally, I would have appreciated that from Cammisa as I trained on ground, as a member of the U.S. Army Reserve, adjacent to the Weldon Springs, Missouri site (another radiologically contaminated dumping site). Nevertheless, Cammisa presents a powerful portrait of Just Moms STL with Atomic Homefront and poses questions sure to stimulate dialogue. Highly recommended.

*The local EPA office would not allow Atomic Homefront to record any meetings with concerned residents who were demanding answers to this sordid state of affairs.


FILM REVIEW: The Midwife (Provost, 2017): France

Posted and reviewed by Larry Gleeson



Cesar-award winning director, Martin Provost’s latest film, The Midwife, an official selection of the 2017 Berlin International Film Festival, is a bittersweet drama about the unlikely friendship that develops between Claire, a talented but tightly wound midwife, portrayed by Catherine Frot, and Beatrice, the estranged, free-spirited mistress of Claire’s late father, portrayed by Catherine Deneuve. Interestingly, Provost wrote his script with the two French actresses in mind for the lead roles of Claire and Beatrice.

THE MIDWIFE - © Michaal Crotto/Courtesy of Music Box Films

In a printed interview distributed by Music Box Films, Provost, having been saved by a midwife at birth, insists his film work is not autobiographical. After learning of his difficult birth he sought out the midwife who gave her blood that allowed him to live. His efforts turned up nil as the hospital archives were destroyed. Consequently, he decided to pay tribute, in his own way, by dedicating his film to her and through her to all the women who work in the shadows, dedicating their lives to others, without expecting anything in return.

THE MIDWIFE - © Michaâl Crotto/Courtesy of Music Box Films

The film’s opening scene delivery room’s color palette of pink and blue pastels contrasting with cross-cutting establishing shots of earthy tones foreshadow what unfolds in the film’s narrative as Provost unfolds the lives of two very different women.  A non-diagetic score by Gregoire Hetzel, the film’s musical composer, accompanies the scene and is repeated throughout in Claire’s scenes reminiscent of “Peter and the Wolf.” Meanwhile, a stunning mise-en-scene of daybreak is meticulously presented with an enormous tracking shot. A secondary, high, magnificent, omniscient point of view shot of Claire entering a building slowly tilts and pans to reveal the Porte Saint-Denis.

THE MIDWIFE - © Michaâl Crotto/Courtesy of Music Box Films

Another non-diagetic score, decidedly melancholic, accompanies the next scene as Claire hears someone at the door asking if she is the daughter of Olympic swimmer, Antoine Breton. It is Beatrice. And, this score is repeated in scenes with Beatrice. But, unbeknownst to Claire, Beatrice, living off winnings from illegal gambling dens, is destitute and quite possibly terminally ill. All of her life, Beatrice has lived casually, enjoying all that life has to offer with little regard for those around her much like La Fontaine’s Grasshopper from “The Ant and The Grasshopper.”

Yet, the two women slowly become a source of complementarity, of reciprocity, of wisdom. Their relationship is at the heart of the film: for Beatrice, the relationship becomes an opportunity to bring some light into Claire’s life while possibly gaining a better understanding of her own life; and for Claire the relationship becomes an opportunity to rediscover her second mother, the one she chose at a time she was just becoming a young girl.

With The Midwife, Provost introduces a powerful thematic question on what is freedom. On the surface, it appears, Beatrice is the ultimate purveyor of freedom living without boundaries and outside the rules of society. However, upon closer scrutiny, her reality echoes of escapism. For Beatrice, Claire, whose lifestyle Beatrice has always rejected, becomes a conduit for a lasting freedom with the opportunity to create good, loving memories that will live on in Claire’s mind.

Admittedly, some of the delivery room scenes in The Midwife are graphic. Nevertheless, the scenes create a remarkable sense of vulnerability and provide a bird’s eye view of the fragility of life. Ultimately, The Midwife is a story of transmission and of transformation with Claire receiving the light of Beatrice and with Beatrice achieving a deeper understanding that life without others is nothing. Catherine Deneuve is as regal as she has ever been. Catherine Frot emits a chilling performance until warmed over by Deneuve’s character performance. Costumer Bethsabee Dreyfus achieves a strong character sensibility in clothing the lead actresses. Thierry Francois’ production design is the epitome of realism as both actresses are performing in extremely realistic settings of a delivery room and an illegal gambling den.

The Midwife is scheduled to open in Los Angeles and New York on July 21st, 2017 and is highly recommended.

The MidWife

The AFI FEST Interview: FISH STORY Director Charlie Lyne

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Charlie Lyne is an AFI FEST alumnus with his feature film FEAR ITSELF (AFI FEST 2016). AFI spoke to Lyne about his new short film, FISH STORY, which was  just released online and won the Short Film Audience Award at AFI DOCS. The film investigates a mysterious gathering rumored to have taken place in 1980s Wales, at which an unlikely group of people with one thing in common came together.

AFI: You work in both short and feature-length formats. Is the short format more freeing compared to feature-length? Is it harder to tell a story in a much shorter length? 

CL: I think stories can lend themselves to all kinds of runtimes, and one of the great sadnesses of contemporary film culture is the rigid distinction we draw between short and feature-length filmmaking. I’m lucky to have told a lot of stories that wound up being around 90 minutes long, or under 15 minutes long, because there are so many opportunities to show films of those lengths. People whose stories naturally end up 50 minutes long are f—-d!

That said, there are definitely unique charms and challenges to telling a story over a short runtime. For one thing, you can maintain a level of energy or visual dynamism that might be exhausting at feature-length, and you’re free to flout traditional narrative conventions without worrying that an audience will feel stranded. I think viewers are generally more patient and open-minded when it comes to shorts. 


AFI: At what point in hearing this story did you decide you wanted to film it? Did you face any challenges as you tried to trace the people involved?

CL: I’ve known Caspar Salmon for a long time, but it was only a few years ago that he made the mistake of telling me the story of his grandmother’s attendance at a gathering for the preeminent fish-surnamed people of North Wales. After that, I couldn’t introduce him to anyone without immediately forcing him to retell the story, and each new telling (which seemed to be stranger and more labyrinthine than the last) would make me die laughing all over again. Finally, I talked him into committing the story to film.

The process of making FISH STORY was a genuine voyage of discovery, as I honestly never imagined my investigation would lead anywhere. I thought the film would wind up being about the futility of trying to prove what was, more than likely, a family myth. Obviously, it didn’t turn out that way, which was as thrilling to me as it hopefully now is to viewers.

AFI: You also work as a journalist. How does that experience lend itself to the style of documentary you work in?

CL: I’ve always identified more as a critic than a journalist, partly because I’m far from rigorous when it comes to journalistic practice. Weirdly, this film is by far the closest I’ve come to actual investigative journalism, which seems odd given that it’s about fish surnames, and that my investigative methods — which consisted mainly of looking people up in the phone book — were so rudimentary.

Still, now that the film has been picked up by The Guardian, I fully expect to see it honored at next year’s Pulitzers.

AFI: Your films have screened at festivals all over the world. As a filmmaker how important do you find it to travel with your films to festivals? Do you have any advice for other filmmakers who are trying to figure out how to navigate the film festival landscape?

CL: I can track a huge number of filmmaking opportunities I’ve had in recent years back to specific moments at festivals. There are so few other places where you’re surrounded by likeminded individuals from all over the world, and in a context of heightened artistic engagement — both with the films screening and the ideas being expressed all around you. I couldn’t put a price on it.

That said, the literal price of it can render festivals an impractical luxury for filmmakers just getting started in the industry, especially short filmmakers whose travel and accommodation is rarely paid for by the festivals themselves. Schemes like the British Council’s Shorts Support Scheme, which funds the travel of UK filmmakers like me to international festivals, are therefore invaluable. It’s just a shame so few countries have them.

Ultimately, as the line between short and feature filmmaking becomes more and more blurred — as it inevitably will — I hope and expect that festivals will begin to offer equal provisions to visiting filmmakers, whether their films run 10, 50 or 200 minutes long.

Watch the full FISH STORY here:

AFI FEST 2017 Final call for Submissions

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Send AFI your films! The final deadline for submitting feature, documentary, experimental and short films to AFI FEST 2017 presented by Audi is July 14, 2017.

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AFI FEST 2017 is open for submissions via Withoutabox. Please be advised of the  deadlines below.

Early Deadline: March 31, 2017
Short Films (under 30 minutes) – $35
Feature Films (over 30 minutes) – $55

Official Deadline: May 5, 2017
Short Films – $45
Feature Films – $65

Final Deadline: July 14, 2017
Short Films – $55
Feature Films – $75


Submit your films here via Withoutabox


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FILM REVIEW: Lost In Paris (Abel, Gordon, 2016): France

Reviewed by Larry Gleeson

With Oscilloscope Laboratories, Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon have pumped out their seventh film together, Lost in Paris.

Lost in Paris is a burlesque comedy, about a small-town Canadian librarian, Fiona, portrayed in a stellar performance by Gordon, whose life is disrupted by a letter of distress from her Aunt Martha, who is living in Paris. Fiona hops on the first plane she can only to discover Aunt Martha has disappeared. In a myriad of episodic disasters, Fiona encounters a strangely seductive and oddly egotistical vagabond, Dom, portrayed in an unmissable performance by Abel, who won’t leave Fiona alone.

Replete with memorable antics harkening back to early Hollywood films featuring Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and French filmmaker, Jaques Tati, while mixing in a measure of poetic license with a slapstick-like choreography, Lost in Paris reveals a peculiar story of clownish characters finding love while lost in the City of Lights.

Utilizing a simple narrative within a framework of what appears to be an amateuresque investigation, Abel and Gordon allow their burlesque, larger-than-life characters’ physical performances to take hold and engage the viewers. Almost all the events take place over a period of two days and two nights with the characters bumping into each other almost constantly while in a heightened state of emergency mania.

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88-year-old, renowned French actress and Academy Award-nominee, Emmanuelle Riva, portrays Aunt Martha, a headstrong, independent, audacious and seemingly happy senior citizen on the verge of being placed into a nursing home.  Her freedom is non-negotiable. Aunt Martha represents liberty, lightheartedness and “joie de vivre” (exuberant enjoyment of life).

Fiona embodies a spinster librarian living in rural Canada. She becomes a wonderstruck tourist – lacking in life experience – as she stumbles through every step of her rather awkward journey. In contrast to Martha, Fiona has rarely done anything adventurous until she dives headfirst into Martha’s world. It becomes apparent Fiona is a Martha in the making as she understands Martha.

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Dom, on the other hand, is a selfish, conceited hobo who carries himself with a marked elegance despite his tattered and worn clothing. At first, his impulsiveness infuriates both Martha and Fiona. Yet, as the story unfolds, Dom becomes a liberating presence.

Interestingly, all the film’s characters are non-conformist – full of hope, resistance and innocence – while they evoke laughter, vulnerability and a sense of beauty. Actor Pierre Richard portrays Norman, an elderly, independent, charismatic artist who resurfaces three times throughout the film’s storyline, with an understated grace, humor and charm. A classic foot dance, in my opinion, Norman and Martha engage in, is a defining example of one of the film’s themes – that a sense of lightness doesn’t necessarily convey a sense of triviality or thoughtlessness, but rather a synonym for joy, liberty and vitality.

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Aesthetically, the filmmakers utilize a plethora of fixed shots, long takes and some highly artisanal special effects in Brechtian fashion. In addition, the film is set in Paris, a mythical city and a symbol of dreams and grandeur. Symbolically, Dom lives in a tent at the foot of the Statue of Liberty (a miniature replica). His daily environment is the I’lle aux Cygnes, a portal from which the historical center transforms into the modern city. On one side, there are stone bridges and the Eiffel Tower; on the other side concrete walls, express lanes and rows of skyscrapers. Nevertheless, the directors aren’t showcasing the city’s monuments solely for aesthetics, but rather for symbolic power and the poetic images conveyed as the characters move through the Parisian geography in real-time.

Lost in Paris, firmly anchored in contemporary society, opens in Los Angeles and Orange County today, July 7th, is a funny, poetic, heroic and sometimes pathetic piece about human beings who are knocked about by life and flail in order to exist….and who keep getting up one more time to live their lives on their own life’s terms.

Highly recommended.

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“Blow Up” at Cinema Ritrovato 2017

Posted by Larry Gleeson

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Restored by the Cineteca di Bologna, Istituto Luce Cinecittà and Criterion, in collaboration with Warner Bros. Circus Park and at the Criterion and The Picture Ritrovata laboratories, under the supervision of cinematographer Luca Bigazzi, presented at the seventieth edition of the Cannes Festival on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the victory of the Palme d’Or, Blow Up by Michelangelo Antonioni is also one of the appointments which concludes the Cinema Ritrovato Festival.

Inspired by the short story The burrs of the devil Argentine Julio Cortázar, Blow Up arises at a great distance from the narrative – understood as interweaving, in order to exclusively communicate a sense of mystery and ambiguity. The poetry that “tends to promote the interpreter acts of conscious freedom”, drawn up by Umberto Eco in The Open Work (1962), found with the Antonioni film a true cinematic demonstration: determining an emotional and mental disorientation. Blow Up forces the viewer to question the meaning of the vision through aesthetic and philosophical questions put in the form of allegories.

The story takes place in London in the sixties, the “swinging London,” symbol of a new modernity in which the opposition between conservation and rebellion is in continuous turmoil and the image is the main communication vehicle through mass media, magazines , billboards, shows, models, abstract art. Thomas, the photographer, takes some pictures in a park of a couple in love and, while developing them notices he may have photographed a murder. While trying to uncover the truth, it turns away from him enough to make him believe he had imagined it all. “The crisis of the character in the film was a bit “of me” said Antonioni, who made the protagonist of Blow Up an alter ego of himself and part of his aesthetic research. Though the eyes of Thomas, almost never taken subjectively, comes a way for the director to investigate empirical reality with the meticulousness of an explorer. In contrast, however, the film’s images show that every search for meaning is bound to get lost in the multiplicity of meanings and interpretations.

The sensory experience is inevitably a source of deception. Thomas thinks that he, through the magnification, blow up, can overcome the limitations of his eyes and lens but what we get is a blur: the successive enlargements show only, gigantic, whites and blacks grains of the film. The maximum objectivity, namely the photographic reproduction of the real, therefore, coincides with the indecipherable. The “yellow” to Blow Up does not lead to unravel a murder and unmask a murderess since the mystery around the whole story only intends to prove that the truth does not exist.

They have the art insights, subjective interpretations, aesthetic sublimation but the objective reality to which they refer is substantially undefined and elusive. The tennis match of the final allegory expresses this concept – that what is at stake, in addition to the eye, and, even the imagination of the observer is just an interpretation. Art must surrender to fiction. The mimes play without the ball or racket while Thomas now convinced he had imagined it all, hears the noise of the ball from the nonexistent rackets. As correctly pointed out. Roland Barthes talks about Antonioni: “He, the artist, knows the meaning of a thing is not the truth.”

Thanks to theoretical contents capable of dialogue with the modern society of images, where reality always eats more virtual content, Blow Up, makes it incredibly fascinating to present a meditation on the impossibility of tracing a line between reality and fiction.

—-Gisella Rotiroti

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2017 Berlin Film Festival Retrospective

Posted by Larry Gleeson

I was proud to be an American abroad.

Diego Luna: I’m here to investigate how to tear down walls. Apparently there are many experts here. And when I bring that information back to Mexico…
Maggie Gyllenhaal: And to America.


Of course we must begin with the Wall. Fifty-six years after Berlin was split into two by a wall, a Mexican actor and director and a US actor – both members of the International Jury – sat together at the first Press Conference of the 2017 festival and drew inspiration from a peaceful revolution to learn how barriers and borders can be overcome. And not in the metaphorical sense.

On January 20, 2017, a shocking event played out in Washington D.C., one which appeared to many observers to be a nightmare from which they could no longer awake: Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States of America. And one of his election promises was the vow to build a wall between “his” country and Mexico to put an irrevocable halt to the flow of migrants from south to north. In the previous year, the billionaire had waged his election campaign against his opponent Hillary Clinton chiefly with half-truths, falsehoods and audacious lies, causing contemporary politics to be labelled ”post-factual”. The traditionally paranoid tendencies in American politics received an unprecedented boost. Thirty years after Reagan’s “Tear down this wall”, the global political situation scaled new heights of unreality to shocking effect. Journalists were excluded as the enemy whenever the new strong man in the White House deigned to face inconvenient questions.

And although Festival Director Dieter Kosslick already made it clear at the 67th Berlinale’s Program Press Conference that Trump should be deliberately omitted because the billionaire chiefly had the media circus surrounding him to thank for his success, it is still Trump we must begin with to make clear the “political” atmosphere in which the 2017 program unfolded.

Three of the 2017 Competition films: Viceroy’s HouseFélicitéEl Bar

The End of Utopias

The great ideologies had already been done for, communism and capitalism had both been discovered to be dead-ends. What remained was a reactionary (ultra) nationalism with powerful leading characters who created a lot of noise in the media: Trump in the US, Putin in Russia, Erdogan in Turkey, the list goes on. Society’s unifying themes had unravelled and vested interests governed and dominated – and the program of the 67th Berlinale reacted accordingly. “A spectre is haunting us – and not just in Europe. We have confusion following the collapse of the great utopian dreams and disenchantment with globalization. […] Rarely has the Berlinale program more forcefully captured the current political situation in images”, wrote Dieter Kosslick in his foreword to the program. A way out of this confusion was offered by a look back and an analysis of the historical developments which led to this current impasse.

In the Competition with Viceroy’s House, Gurinder Chadha traced the colonialism which was the original driving force behind both capitalism and globalization. This period piece is set in 1947, the year in which the territory of British India was arbitrarily partitioned into India and Pakistan and the conflicts which burden both countries to this day were irrevocably set in place. A present-day perspective on the ravages of colonialism was presented by Alain Gomis’ Félicité, in which the director follows his titular heroine on her daily struggle for survival in Kinshasa. The catastrophic consequences of the colonial past may not be present as an explicit indictment in this film but they nevertheless resonate in every frame. In his chamber piece El Bar (The Bar), Álex de la Iglesia delivered an experimental set-up that reflects the growing fear in Europe of falling victim to a random and sudden act of violence: a customer of a Madrid bar is shot dead upon exiting, without cause or provocation – a scenario which, due to the many random acts of violence that haunted the “peaceful” European homeland in 2016, captures with great precision the feelings of insecurity these acts left behind. Particularly in Berlin, the memory of December 19, 2016, when a perpetrator deliberately crashed an articulated lorry into the Christmas Market on Breitscheidplatz, was still raw.

Director Ceylan Özgün Özçelik on Kaygı


The spirit of a post-utopian era and its excesses was not only tangible in the Competition but throughout the festival. Erdogan’s “purging” of the political, civilian and military apparatus found its reaction in the Panorama film Kaygı(Inflame), in which director Ceylan Özgün Özçelik tells the story of a Turkish journalist who is censored and suppressed and finally descends into paranoia. A highly explosive subject matter – for even during the Festival, on February 14, the German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel was arrested in Turkey. The power-crazed fantasies of another illustrious politician, Russian president Vladimir Putin, were considered in the Berlinale Special with The Trial – The State of Russia vs Oleg Sentsov by Askold Kurov which investigates the show trial of the Ukrainian film director and Maidan-activist who protested against the internationally unacceptable annexation of Crimea by Russia. Romanian filmmakers deployed placards on the Red Carpet to draw attention to the increasingly draconian censorship and the escalating corruption in their homeland. As he explained in an interview with Variety, Dieter Kosslick was relaxed about this appropriation: “‘Everyone has been using our red carpet as a kind of Hyde Park Corner, and I’m happy with this,’ he said, referring to the area in London where speakers share their political views with the crowd. ‘We want to be on the right side of the world,’ he said” (Leo Barraclough, February 18, 2017).

Such interventions were numerous and always had their finger on the pulse of the age. For example, the 2017 edition of the NATIVe – A Journey into Indigenous Cinema special presentation made its focal point the Arctic, a place which, according to climate researchers, will play a decisive role over the coming decades in the survival of humanity and the planet (it seems almost superfluous to mention President Trump’s promise to his supporters that, following his election, he would rescind all the hard-fought climate protection goals adopted by his predecessor Barack Obama).


The awarding of the first Glashütte Original Documentary Award: Producer Palmyre Badinier, protagonist Wadee Hanani and director Raed Andoni

A New Award

In a highly-politicised region, for decades the political football of increasingly opaque claims to power and sensitivities, Raed Adoni created his film Istiyad Ashbah (Ghost Hunting) which screened in the Panorama. In Ramallah the director enabled the Palestinian ex-inmates of an Israeli interrogation centre to replay their experiences there and, in doing so, traced their trauma and his own life story. The fictional framework of this re-enactment brings the very real wounds of the past to the surface. Adoni was recognised for his work with the Glashütte Original Documentary Award – the inauguration of the first prize in the history of the Berlinale to be explicitly devoted to the documentary form.

Aesthetics and the Political

At the beginning of the festival, Dutch director and President of the International Jury Paul Verhoeven declared he would not reward any film simply for having a political content. Cinematic art, the aesthetics, would be the deciding factor. In doing so he was merely expressing what has long been a programming principle for the Berlinale. A textbook example of this was delivered by Aki Kaurismäki in the Competition. InToivon tuolla puolen (The Other Side of Hope), the director tells of an encounter between a Syrian refugee and a Finnish travelling salesman. The rigorously composed, stoical shots stage the film’s (political) stance in Kaurismäki’s very own humorously melancholic style. We desperately need immigration, said the director at the film’s Press Conference, “because our blood is getting thick”.

The nexus of aesthetics and the political demanded by Verhoeven extended throughout the programme. In the ForumEl mar la mar focused on the very stretch of the Sonoran Desert which migrants have to cross in their desperate journeys north – the place where Trump will lay the foundations for his wall. Filmmakers Joshua Bonnetta and J P Sniadecki eschew the post-factual imperative to place emotionality above actuality and instead embark upon an archaeological journey and bear witness to the human dramas in the traces left behind in the landscape by the passing travellers. Avoiding an explicit political message, the film instead makes tangible the remorselessness of the landscape, of nature.

The search for archaeological traces was one of the strongest programming strands in the 67th Berlinale, a theme which permeated all the sections. In the Competition and sections alike an entire panoply of films was devoted to the past and the historical process. The current sorry state of “reality” did not happen overnight: there were signs, developments and early events, powers that developed unseen which have now risen to the surface. Many films took a step back and sought to find in yesterday the reasons for today.

No Intenso AgoraCasting JonBenet

An overview of the cinematographic eye expanded across the sections. And, as in previous years, the richness of the documentary form was compelling: No Intenso Agora (In the Intense Now) by João Moreira Salles in the Panorama traced the vibrancy of the Prague Spring as far as the revolutionary force of Paris in May 1968. A tightly knit film essay that permitted no causality and sometimes took an eccentric view of the genealogy of events. In his almost five-hour long Combat au bout de la nuit(Fighting Through the Night), Sylvain L’Espérance took Greece as the example for his exploration of the ongoing decline of the idea of Europe, an idea which suffered a further blow with the UK Brexit vote in the summer of 2016. With Casting JonBenet, Kitty Green put the process of uncovering the truth itself in the spotlight. Rather than furnishing the story of the still-unsolved murder of the six-year-old JonBenet Ramsey with further truths, she invited the people who lived in the area at the time of the murder to a casting session and observed the mechanics by which the truths about an event are first outlined and constructed. The documentaries in the Forum were notable for their long-term observations, taking in the rhythms of their subjects rather than adding redundant dramatisation to these lives. This was exemplified by Aus einem Jahr der Nichtereignisse (From a Year of Non-Events) by Carolin Renninger and René Frölke, which portrayed the life of a north German farmer.


Forum Expanded panel day on the archive in the silent green Kulturquartier.

History and stories were told whilst constantly ensuring the exposure of the methods of production and reflection upon them. Archive material often played a dominant role. In the Competition, Andres Veiel (re)constructed the work of Joseph Beuys almost exclusively from contemporaneous material (Beuys); the Forum Expanded devoted an entire day of panel discussions to the archive.

The Retrospective, in contrast, provided a change of perspective and, with its topic of Science Fiction film, dedicated itself to the future without losing sight of the present in the process: “We understand that, although Science Fiction tells a story set in the future, it actually uses this future to address questions and situations from the present”, explained section head Rainer Rother.

The Fictionality of Reality and the Reality of Fictions

In the war of images the borders between reality and fiction had become more porous than ever before. Politicians like Trump, Erdogan and Putin simply declared their assertions as reality and imposed their sovereignty of interpretation via all available media. The Berlinale program provided an important counterpoint to these fatal developments: “Nowhere else, neither in Cannes nor Venice, is the appetite for reality-based and reality-seeking images as great as here. For images that cleave less to the daily politics than to targeting the heart of the now, in slow films for frantic times” (Christiane Peitz, Der Tagesspiegel, February 20, 2017). The title of the 2017 Forum Expanded was also emblematic of this: “The Stars Down to Earth”. The works gave themselves to “the search for possibilities of an artistic way of dealing with a reality that is increasingly difficult to grasp”. The view is directed back down to earth, to the here and now and the condition of perceivable realities. Yet this was not about nostalgia for a “lost” factual era but instead the unnerving feeling that “reality”, which has always been in interplay with fiction, was being suffocated under the weight of false assertions.

Maike Mia Höhne took the same line with her selection for the 2017 Berlinale Shorts which, with its title of “Reframing the Image”, similarly interrogated the fundamentals of what we see and perceive. The relationship between “medial” and “factual” reality, between fiction and reality, is obviously not alien to the cinema. It lies at the heart of the medium itself, based as it is upon changing the actuality without losing it and creating stories out of the material of the visible world. Recognition, interpretation and, in the worst cases, lying – these are the techniques and questions that constitute film.

A lot of irony: the Press Conference on Toivon tuolla puolen

Poetry and Irony in the Competition

Against this backdrop it is perhaps unsurprising that, on February 18, 2017, the Golden Bear was presented to a film which engaged intensively with the modulations and relationship between dream and reality – traditionally fertile ground for both film practice and theory. Testről és lélekről (On Body and Soul) by Ildikó Enyedi ostensibly tells a tender love story which contrasts the graceful ease of a dream with the – literally – bloody reality of a Hungarian slaughterhouse. Testről és lélekről was a worthy winner, lauded by critics and audiences alike. As Anke Westphal wrote in the Berliner Zeitung: “How these two people, both marked with tragedy by fate, gradually come closer together, at first in their nightly dreams when they meet as deer in a wintery forest, and then in their apparent real lives, counts among the most beautiful, tender and truthful experiences that cinema can create” (February 20, 2017). Poetry and humour dominated the 67th Berlinale Competition. And while Testről és lélekről excelled at poetry, doyen Aki Kaurismäki, who won the Silver Bear for Best Director with Toivon tuolla puolen (The Other Side of Hope), provided the requisite irony. And not just with his film: asked at the Press Conference for his opinion about the danger of the Islamisation of Europe, he first made the journalist repeat her question three times and then, with the deepest of deadpan, replied that no, he had no fears about the Icelandisation of Europe – even though that country sensationally made it as far as the quarter finals before being eliminated from the 2016 European Football Championship.

Happy winners: Festival Director Dieter Kosslick with Kim Minhee, Ildikó Enyedi and Jury President Paul Verhoeven.

The International Jury continued the trend of previous years by chiefly presenting awards to films not at the centre of global attention. Alain Gomis won the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize with Félicité, a co-production between France, Senegal, Belgium, Germany and Lebanon. Polish director Agnieszka Holland won the Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize for Pokot (Spoor). South Korean Kim Minhee took home the Silver Bear for Best Actress for her role in Bamui haebyun-eoseo honja (On the Beach at Night Alone) by Hong Sangsoo. The Chilean film Una mujer fantástica (A Fantastic Woman) by Sébastian Lelio won the award for Best Screenplay and Romanian editor Dana Bunescu (Ana, mon amour by Călin Peter Netzer) was visibly overcome as she was presented with the Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution. This courage to give centre stage to the seemingly marginal was also honoured by the critics: “The Competition [assembled] art-house works, offering the kind of platform to small, powerful films which is unavailable to them during the rest of the year’s blockbuster-dominated film glut” (Christiane Peitz, Der Tagesspiegel, February 20, 2017).


Dieter Kosslick at the Award Ceremony of the Independent Juries

Diversity and Hope

The 2017 program was controversial and never played it safe. At times its immense diversity seemed to leave critics overwhelmed. Some commentators missed a clear unifying theme in the program. That this could be down to the fact that, as Andreas Busche wrote, the world itself had lost its unifying theme, was only infrequently acknowledged: “The eschewal of an official programming agenda benefits the films which, like all good art, must be measured against their own standards. And perhaps the social discourses accruing from the invisible connections between individual films are much more complex than a political slogan could ever be” (Der Tagesspiegel, February 8, 2017).

For years the Cold War and the balance of power between the USSR and the USA was the organizing principle which provided the world with clear meaning and an overriding narrative. The Berlin Wall became the ultimate symbol of this dichotomy. Where else but in Berlin should a Festival Director have hope in spite of the current tense situation? Thus Dieter Kosslick’s exhortation at the end of his speech at the prize-giving ceremony of the Independent Juries: “Don’t lose your courage, we will win.”



Alessandro Borghi set to host the opening and closing nights of the 74th Venice Film Festival

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The Italian actor will open the 74th Venice Film Festival on the evening of August 30th, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-07-01 at 9.25.50 AMActor Alessandro Borghi will host the opening and closing events of the 74th Venice International Film Festival 2017, directed by Alberto Barbera and organized by the Biennale di Venezia chaired by Paolo Baratta.
Alessandro Borghi will open the 74th Venice Film Festival on the evening of Wednesday, August 30th, on the stage of the Sala Grande (Palazzo del Cinema on the Lido) for the opening ceremony. On September 9th the actor will host the closing ceremony during which the winners of the Lions and the other official awards of the 74th Venice Film Festival will be announced.
Alessandro Borghi is one of the leading figure of the new generation of Italian actors. After many parts in several TV series, in 2016 Alessandro caught the public’s attention starring in the co-leading role in Claudio Caligari’s Non Essere Cattivo (Don’t Be Bad), presented during the 72nd Venice Film Festival and acclaimed by critics and public for the amazing performances by the actors involved; it has also been selected by Italy as its candidate film for the foreign-language Academy Award.  Later last year Alessandro played the leading role of “Numero 8” (Number 8) in Stefano Sollima’s crime movie Suburra. Thanks to his interpretations in Suburra and Non essere cattivo he gained two nominations for the David di Donatello. In 2016 Alessandro also appeared in Michele Vannucci’s debut film Il Più Grande Sogno (I Was a Dreamer), based on a true story. He also played the main role in Gabriele Mainetti’s short movie Ningyo. Both movies were presented during the last 73rd Venice Film Festival. The same year, Alessandro won the prestigious Nastro d’Argento as best actor revelation.
In 2017 he has been choosen to represent Italy at the Shooting Stars Film Festival in Berlin, an eminent award as well as a launch pad for the international film market. Moreover, this year he played in Fortunata, the latest film by Sergio Castellitto, which was presented during the 70th Cannes Film Festival. As for future projects, we will see Alessandro in Suburra-the series, the first Italian production by Netflix; Alessandro is currently on the set of Napoli Velata, the latest film by director Ferzan Ozpetek.
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Park Circus in Bologna’s cinephile heaven

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Bologna once again transforms into cinephile heaven from 24 June – 2 July as the city hosts the 31st edition of Il Cinema Ritrovato; the world’s premiere event celebrating classic film both in its original format and in newly restored versions.

Park Circus is pleased to continue its fruitful collaboration with the festival and will be presenting a variety of titles in the ever-inspiring programme – we’ve picked out some highlights below.

River of No ReturnThis year’s festival poster boy is Robert Mitchum; an unconventional and unforgettable leading man whose centenary we are celebrating in Bologna and beyond in 2017. Il Cinema Ritrovato pays tribute to the actor with a section dedicated to his work, focusing on his effortless range and diverse catalogue of character-types. Selections highlight his work as a rugged Western star in River of No Return and his late-career return to the noir genre in films such as The Yakuza.

Mildred PierceJoan Crawford is another actor whose chameleonic qualities are on show in this year’s line-up. Two choice titles – Mildred Pierce and Johnny Guitar – chart her career evolution from the matriarch of melodrama to a performer in camp, self-conscious genre fare. Both screen from 4K DCPs – the new digital print of Mildred Pierce receives its international premiere at the festival.

Saturday Night FeverHighlights from recent festivals also make a welcome reappearance at Il Cinema Ritrovato, with the new restorations of Saturday Night Fever and Blow-Up screening fresh after their success in Cannes. Both offer audiences a unique opportunity to experience these classics anew: Saturday Night Fever screens as a newly compiled director’s cut featuring previously omitted footage, while Blow-Up is presented from a new print out of Bologna’s own leading restoration lab, L’immagine ritrovata.


AFI’s Heritage in Washington, DC

Posted by Larry Gleeson

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Established by President Lyndon Johnson in the White House Rose Garden, the American Film Institute was officially founded in 1967. Gregory Peck was named first chair of the Board of Trustees and George Stevens, Jr., its director and CEO.

The very first Board was comprised of film luminaries and masters, including Francis Ford Coppola, Sidney Poitier, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. and Jack Valenti.

While AFI’s deep DC roots date back more than 50 years, they are also still present to this day, with the Institute’s exhibition and preservation efforts still thriving in the nation’s capital.


Started as SILVERDOCS in 2003, AFI DOCS has sought to recognize and celebrate the highest standards in documentary filmmaking around the world — convening a unique combination of artists and legislators. Attendees have included Senators, members of the President’s Cabinet and Congress, journalists and enthusiastic lovers of the art form.

AFI first established an exhibition presence first at L’Enfant Plaza in 1970 before taking up official residence in the Kennedy Center, unveiling premiere restorations, classic film prints and more.

The AFI Collections at the Library of Congress still lives today as a body of 60,000 films, contributing to our nation’s growing volume of culturally, historically or aesthetically significant works of moving image.

AFI's Founding Chairs and Leaders: George Stevens, Jr., Roger Stevens, Gregory Peck, Sidney Poitier.
AFI’s Founding Chairs and Leaders: George Stevens, Jr., Roger Stevens, Gregory Peck, Sidney Poitier.

Now located in Silver Spring, MD, the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center has historically offered an exclusive repertory venue for classic, arthouse, international and contemporary films that delivers these film treasures year-round to audiences of all ages, standing tall amid a current climate of vanishing rep houses and even fewer celluloid sanctuaries. AFI Silver is a continuation of AFI’s longstanding presence at the advent of nonprofit film exhibition.

Today, AFI has sought to recognize and celebrate the highest standards in documentary filmmaking around the world — convening a unique combination of artists and legislators. Attendees have included Senators, members of the President’s Cabinet and Congress, journalists and enthusiastic lovers of the art form. The 2017 edition of the festival took place June 14–18.

With conversations and experiences you won’t experience at any other film festival, AFI DOCS harnesses the power of this important art form and its potential to inspire change — and is a cornerstone of AFI’s DC programs. See this year’s audience award winners here.

Check out AFI’s 50 Years, 50 Moments timeline for even more history here.

Pictured at top: Founding Trustees at first board meeting, August 5, 1967: Gregory Peck and George Stevens, Jr. (foreground L+C)




Posted by Larry Gleeson

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Every year, the magazine of the Bologna Cinematheque closely – and with a critical eye – reviews the most salient events scheduled. Here’s one of my favorites from this year:

Cinema Ritrovato 2017: Sherlock Holmes, our contemporary

“Elementary Watson!”. It seems that it was Clive Brooke the first actor to recite on the big screen, in  The Return of Sherlock Holmes  (1929), the famous exclamation, apocryphal Holmesian ever uttered by a detective in fifty short stories and four novels that make up the “canon” of the adventures of a renowned “consulting detective”. A phrase that already sets the tone at the Holmes Brooke: pedantic and self-confident, elegant, ironic arrogance to the limit. This is a must see film!



—-Excerpt from Gianluca De Santis article

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(Sourced from


Posted by Larry Gleeson

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Severine / Catherine Deneuve embodies the frigidity of a woman altered and ethereal, distinguished and aristocratic, giving vent to her alienation in a distorted and neurotic eroticism. Two years before Belle de Jour, in 1965, Roman Polanski had evoked in Repulsion,  the double life of eroticism in Carol – interpreted, not surprisingly, by the same Deneuve – in an echo and parallel to the game, where Buñuel touches the most ambiguous feminine chords. Moving from its most sublime, almost beatific event to the more sordid and low,  Belle de Jour cages the viewer initially in ecstatic pleasure and dream of the stars and then the brutality of an eros that borders on the grotesque. But what makes it as real and close, is the experience of Severine: the eradication of the drives, the contrast between the ephemeral and the eternal, the soul and the flesh, with the latter always alive and well in the imagination of the director.

Tied to Breton and its manifesto, Buñuel adheres unreservedly to psychic quell’automatismo with which we used to define Surrealism, expressing the reality of thought “outside of all aesthetic and moral concern.” Severine is wealthy, middle-class with a life that slips between normal and depressing folds of everyday life and a husband tormented by the elusiveness of the feminine psyche, incompatible with the ordinary. From subtle analyst of oxymorons, Severine dissonant  and cryptic ‘interpretations reside in the reality beyond the form of reality circumscribed in space-categories, namely in the dream.

Beautiful day moves between the different lovers without distinction in actual reality and the sense of guilt towards the consumatosi husband in a translucent appearing dream: Severine is aware of his abnormality, of his being other than the moral and cognition that takes shape in humiliation and self-pity. The reality and the proliferate dream, are juxtaposed and contrasted without the viewer grasping the steps, elliptical as much as the banter the actors (as stated by the same Macha Méril) were allowed to grasp. The whole affair is shrouded in an aura of timelessness left, like one of the dreams where Severine is chained to a tree, penitent and with a dreamy gaze, taken by an incomprehensible rapture.

—– Elvira Del Guercio

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Italian distributor Lucky Red reveals ambitious production plans

Posted by Larry Gleeson

By Gabriele Niola


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Distributor plots move into genre and family movies, beginning with Asghar Farhadi’s upcoming thriller.

Italian distribution company Lucky Red is planning to ramp up its production operation, with a focus on genre and family movies.

At an event held in Rome yesterday (June 26) to mark the company’s 30th anniversary, founder and CEO Andrea Occhipinti said: “Distribution will remain our core business, but we want to become one of the most important production companies in Italy.”

“Production may be a good way not to be too dependent on acquisitions, since it’s becoming harder to get the good movies. Instead a good Italian film can make a big difference at the box office”.

One of the most prestigious projects that Lucky Red is co-producing is Asghar Farhadi’s untitled Spanish-language thriller starring Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem and Ricardo Darin (pictured, top).

As Screen announced during Cannes, the $12-13m project is a French-Spanish-Italian co-production with Lucky Red, French producer Alexandre Mallet-Guy of Memento Films and Che producer Álvaro Longoria of Spanish stalwarts Morena Films.

It will also be made in co-production with France 3 Cinema and supported by Canal Plus and France Télévision.

Other projects already greenlit by Lucky Red include the untitled new feature from Gabriele Mainetti (They Call Him Jeeg Robot), which started shooting in January; the GoPro-shot sci-fi horror Ride, from Mine directors Fabio Guaglione and Fabio Resinaro, and Sotto La Mia Pelle (Under My Skin), a legal drama centred on a man who gets beaten by the police, with Jasmine Trinca (Fortunata).

The move into production will help Lucky Red expand beyond the arthouse audience, which is not as lucrative as it used to be, according to Occhipinti.

“Our audience is getting old,” he said. “Once also small arthouse movies were able to make a good result, now it’s impossible”.

As a result, Lucky Red is branching out into genre and family movies, popular comedies, and television: “We are working with Fox Italy on a series but still can’t tell if it will be an international or national project”, said Occhipinti.

Lucky Red previously moved into the exhibition sector after becoming the main shareholder in the 130-screen Circuito Cinema arthouse chain. They also co-founded world sales company True Colours together with Indigo, which scored a series of deals for its Cannes 2017 slate, including for Sergio Castellitto’s Un Certain Regard drama Fortunata and Simone Godano’s body-swapping comedy Wife & Husband.

At the press conference, Occhipinti also discussed why Lucky Red became the first company in the Italian cinema industry to commit to an ethical code of inclusion and tolerance towards gay employees.

“Being gay myself I’m very close to these problems,” says Occhipinti, “We decided to issue and promote this code publicly before the first law allowing gay unions was passed in Italy. We wanted to make a statement not only to guarantee maternity and paternity rights to our gay employees, but also to say that if our institutions are not moving and addressing the issue, we are doing it by ourselves”.

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Organic PR agency opens Manchester office

Posted by Larry Gleeson

By Orlando Parfitt

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Account manager Chris Boyd will lead Organic’s northern business.


London-based film and TV publicity and marketing agency Organic has opened a new office in Manchester.

“Organic North”, based in the Havas Village on Princess Street, will work with the London office to service Organic’s existing clients to provide on-the-ground services in Manchester and the surrounding area.

The agency will also work with new clients based outside of London, covering UK and regional publicity campaigns, junkets, festivals, media management, unit publicity and social media management.

Account manager Chris Boyd will lead Organic’s northern business and travel between Manchester and London.

Organic North will sit alongside sister agency Target Live – a full service agency for the Arts and live events – which also opened an office in Manchester earlier this year.

Caragh Cook, managing director of Organic, said: “Having a home in Manchester means we can provide a communications hub for the North, situated in the heart of an exciting, progressive city – a growing media destination which is bursting with creativity and culture. In the last few weeks, the team has been busy working on several films at Sheffield Doc/Fest, kicking off an exciting new chapter for Organic.”

Organic is part of Havas Media Group in the UK, after the acquisition of its parent group Target MCG in October 2016. Target MCG incorporates Target Media, Target Live, Organic and Superhero.

Organic’s clients include: Netflix, Altitude Film Distribution; Curzon; Disney; Entertainment One; Embankment Films; Hanway; Icon Film Distribution; Lionsgate; Pathe; Sierra/Affinity; Twentieth Century Fox; Warner Bros.; Studiocanal and Universal Pictures.

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Posted by Larry Gleeson

The director at the 31st edition of the festival has gone through his career: “the thing, the film on the PCI crisis, was the testimony of a debate unimaginable.”

“When they told me that my films were a reflection of a generation  I felt a certain impatience. Today I see with different eyes. Those first few films I say that if you really, through the story of my personal life, have been able to tell those of an entire generation, I can not ignore this thing as a great privilege. ”

It’s a Nanni Moretti that runs through all his long career that spoke today in Bologna at the 31st edition of the festival Il Cinema Ritrovato, promoted by the Bologna Cinematheque. The festival runs until July 2. The presentation of the book-length interview, The autobiographie dilatée, Entretiens avec Nanni Moretti, curated by critic Jean Gili, was recently published in France by Broché.

They revisited the early moments of his formation and his first film loves: “I used to love the cinema of the Taviani brothers, whose stylistic simplicity I tried to inspire in my early works. I was then a supporter of the film Carmelo Bene and I wonder how I could still reconcile my two passions of aesthetic film as that of Good and the Taviani. Our Lady of the Turks  is one of the movies I’ve seen several times, along with the sweet life and eight and a half  by Federico Fellini. ”

And the memories of Nanni Moretti could not not cross 1989, the year of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the crisis of the Italian Communist Party and Palombella rossa , followed a few months later by The thing, a documentary depicting the debate within the PCI Achilles Occhetto: “I was fascinated by the scope of that debate, that involves not only the leftists, but all Italians. Today such a thing would be unthinkable.”

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Cinema Ritrovato 2017: “Mildred Pierce” between literature, film and television

Posted by Larry Gleeson

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A shot, a man who falls to the ground and a car fleeing into the night. And then the dock where she enters the scene, the diva Joan Crawford. In his first plan ‘s novel Mildred Pierce (1945) by Michael Curtiz, one of many, shines all the weight of the film, the pain and the guilt of an impossible love: that of Mildred for her daughter Veda. Based on the novel by James M. Cain, Mildred Pierce (1941), the film marked a Crawford career that earned her her first, and only, Academy Award for Best Actress.

“From this moment on, Joan Crawford will play only roles of strong women, very successful, but with a weak heart and proves of how this talented actress had no weaknesses. There was absolutely vulnerability.” Made possible by the Criterion Collection in collaboration with Warner Bros. the restored version of the film was presented at the Cinema Ritrovato by Park Circus Words, Eddie Muller (founder and president of the Film Noir Foundation). Seemingly, a very lucky role as Kate Winslet won the Golden Globe for her performance in a modern adaptation, Mildred Pierce (2011), the miniseries produced by HBO and directed by Todd Haynes.

In the book, the character of Mildred represented un’atipicità for her time: a housewife divorced with two daughters struggling to establish herself in the midst of the Great Depression. A strong, confident woman who is able to build an empire from nothing, from a waitress in a diner to a businesswoman with a chain of restaurants. Alongside this professional success, we are intertwined in her personal relationships: first of all with the complicated Vedas, the favorite daughter.

These two trends, the social climbing of Mildred and the dramatic relationship between mother and daughter, were dealt with differently in the film and TV series. In the first, an added frame noir (the opening scene of the crime), to suppress the roughness of the book that did not fail to censor, the transposition of HBO is totally faithful to the paper counterpart. In the novel, as in the series, Mildred was obsessed with the social sphere: her first refusals to the menial jobs that are offered, and even when she gets the job as a waitress living in a deep inner conflict, culminating in keeping it hidden from her daughter.

In contrast, the Curtiz film does not dwell much on Mildred as a self-made woman: the sequences that speak to the social climb up the social ladder are put together with quick assembly (the succession of signs of its restaurants), all told with flashbacks from the voice-over narration of Crawford. The Hollywood diva never has a hair out of place, her clothes are always clean, even after cooking, and when we see her dressed in her waitress uniform it is only for a few minutes. Unlike Crawford’s Mildred, Winslet gets dirty. It is her suffering and  consequent cleansing that makes a radical change of look as her business grows.

The movements of the fluidity of Curtiz film takes up the writing style of Cain, linear and structured. As well as the full and conscious sensuality of the protagonist in the novel, the echoes of stealth are visualized on the big screen: the details of the lean and curvy legs (of which more times the literary Mildred welcomes proudly) peeking out from behind a ladder or a swimsuit. Joan Crawford filled the character with eros, by dosing balancing the erotic with the numerous close-ups that literally dazzle the screen. Curtiz delves, but does not say anything openly as did Cain in the book. During the first night of love between Mildred, spoiled heiress, and Monty, unscrupulous lover, the camera moves away, pauses for a few seconds on the lovers’ reflection in the mirror, slipping into the minds of the spectators the carnal act that will be consumed shortly thereafter.

The key to the book, both in shooting films in the series, was not so much a history lesson, as the morbid and destructive relationship between Mildred and Veda. She lives for her daughter: her decision to find a job, even medium-low level is not only dictated by the need to support the family, but especially by the uncontrollable desire to give to her daughter, capricious and insatiable. As Mildred efforts to please her daughter (who is given elegant clothes, piano lessons, evenings in high class dining rooms), Veda is closed inside this world of deception and treachery. She’s a girl-woman unable to see beyond herself that, unlike the mother, aspires to a higher social level without having to dirty her hands.

In the final moments, the emotional charge of the action is still committed to the diva: Crawford’s face is bathed in light in a now infamous frame. The terrible nature of her daughter, a true femme fatale, comes out as well. A play of light and shadow that recants a broken American dream not because of the money, but for love – visceral and unobtainable.

—- Emanuela Vignudelli

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Posted by Larry Gleeson

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Exhibition, concealment: the oscillation between these two poles gives an account of the adversarial manner in which the female body flows on the earliest silent films. Last night in Pasolini Piazzetta a cinema of attractions was screened by Nikolaus Wostry (Filmarchiv Austria) with a rare example of a projector crank,. Die Kleine Veronika (1930), was introduced by the Austrian archivist and projected from the historic lantern coal by Stefano Bognar.

Evanescent and impalpable, the female body assumes all the typical cultural imaginary forms of fin de siècle. At the center of the fragile images, in which the color on the film merges with the prism of the light beam emitted by the crank projector coupled with a specimen lenses created perfect angles to the formats of the first decade of the twentieth century (and already in disuse since the twenties). And although the dominant figure is that of femininity, as was the case for much of the visual history, it is the first object (not the subject) of the vision. These fragments of early cinema has felt the creep of  change, a scopic potential – the eye of women.

It Les Trois phase de la lune (1905) prior to a moon of honey, then butter, mustard finally depicts the evolution of a couple from marital bliss to the double argument. The female figure is that of the classic wife, in which civilian clothes and facial expressions of the grotesque comedy play on the stereotypes of the spouse who eventually becomes tame through surliness and petulance. Yet, the position of the body, supporting actor versus her husband, and the look that shows no signs of fall are already the first timid signs of a new way of being in the world.

If La Fée aux Pigeons (1906) recovers the fairytale topos of the fairy as purely ornativo tool, yet of great scenic impact (wonder to behold the lightness of pigeon feathers and peacock, as well as the delicate blend of pastel chromatic notes). The last two sketches to induce a more complete reflection on the perception of the female body. Die Zaubereien des Mandarins (1907) is registrable in an interstitial place between a playful kind of entertainment and pornography: a male character, oriental dress, the appearance and disappearance of a few, half-naked, girls through a silk umbrella. Here the nudity is pure surface, pure onstration, pure objectification: the very absence of a minimum voyeuristic  gander though (which would imply a vision in some forbidden way, transgressive, hidden) argues in favor of an interpretation in key pornographic terms, yielding emptiness from within their own pure charge of desire resulting in a patina on the film.

Much more ambiguous Das Eitle Stubenmädchen (1907), where a maid, busy dusting a study in which stands a statue of a naked young woman begins a dialogue with its double-stone, until some sort of identification opens the door to  for her to undress entirely and simulate the same pose. The arrival of the owner abruptly interrupts the act of liberation, and the girl runs away scared from the owner-satyr. If this last scene winks to male desire, the stripping is the result of a spontaneous choice, awareness, a desire to exit from a subordinate role (that of the maid, characterized by a certain type of clothing) to one outside of the schemes, as the gesture is also loaded with a decidedly disturbing potential (the theme of the double, the metamorphosis almost pigmalionic, the medusiforme look that petrifies).

But if here nudity seems to suggest a possibility of liberation from social role, it not as happens in Die Kleine Veronika , where the female identity is told through the use of a dichotomous paradigm: on the one hand, the young country girl, pure and innocent, and carefree that runs in the middle of nature; on the other, the aunt, Viennese by adoption, whose wealth is soon discovered to be the result of prostitution. The theme of perverting cities against women is typical of a certain way by which the European modernism has given an account of the complex process of empowerment of women.  The film then declines sharply, pedagogical, and very (too) predictable.

However, also because of the experimental musical accompaniment and sometimes noise guitarist, it can be interesting to watch the movie as a small women’s fashion sense and imaginary construction. The first sign that Veronika receives an impending trip to Vienna is the dress sent by the Aunt: a white dress, modern, soft lines, far away from clothing with which she arrives at the station (oversize sweater, plaid skirt). They are the aunt’s clothes to fascinate Veronika, clothes from the Art Nouveau patterns with showy pearls and fine underwear. The body skin changes, and this change, however, alludes, by contrast, to nudity (never performed) alluded to in continuation, experienced by the same Veronika, then causing the protagonist in a nearly fatal disturbance. We are in 1930, the Roaring Twenties are coming to an end: and the body of women is still far from not being made the subject of conditioning, of coercive and with guilty nudity.

—- Beatrice Seligardi

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Big SVOD Players Become Bigger Forces in Film

Posted by Larry Gleeson

By Michael Malone

Netflix, Amazon are major factors at movie festivals around the world

The big subscription VOD platforms, led by Netflix and Amazon, have slowly but surely been making major moves into original film productions. While the effort has hardly elevated either player to the ranks of elite film producers, the performance by Amazon’s Manchester by the Sea during awards season — it was a Best Picture nominee at the Academy Awards, a first for a film backed by a streaming service — showed that the streaming platforms have more than just crafting binge-worthy original TV series on their minds.

Manchester by the Sea cemented the fact that the SVOD platforms can make movies of that caliber,” Tony Gunnarsson, principal analyst at Ovum, a research firm for the digital industry, said. “They don’t have to come from Hollywood studios.”

Amazon bought distribution rights to Manchester for $10 million. While the film did not get Best Picture, it did take home the Oscars for Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay.

Netflix’s Bigger Bet

Despite Amazon’s awards success, Netflix has been the most active of the SVOD platforms in terms of producing original films. Speaking at the Producers Guild of America’s Produced By Conference in Los Angeles earlier this month, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos drew a reaction from the crowd when he revealed that the service currently has 40 original movies in the works. Some of Netflix’s higher-profile original films include the prison documentary 13th; Brad Pitt’s War Machine, which Netflix paid $60 million for, according to published reports; war drama Beasts of No Nation; Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, which starts shooting this summer; and an eight-movie deal with Adam Sandler.

Okja, which made a stir last month at the Cannes Film Festival, starts streaming on Netflix June 28.

Amazon’s original film ambitions have been more modest. In July 2015, it acquired Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq, which debuted in February 2016 as the streaming platform’s first original movie. Early last year, Amazon acquired six films at the Sundance Film Festival. At this year’s Sundance, it shelled out $12 million for distribution rights to rom com The Big Sick.

Hulu, meanwhile, has been producing documentaries for its original films. Those include Becoming Bond, about Australian actor George Lazenby’s unlikely rise to playing James Bond in the 1969 film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

None of those three SVOD players would speak for this story.

Amazon and Netflix have emerged as forces at the various film festivals around the world. “Netflix and Amazon are in the movie business,” Assembly Entertainment CEO Christina Wayne said at the recent B&C and Multichannel News Next TV Summit. “They are at the festivals, out-buying everybody.”

Industry insiders mostly see it as a smart strategy. Original productions better define a programmer than acquired ones, they said, and they’re typically cheaper, too. “You make more money when you make your own movie than when you get the rights to a third-party Hollywood movie,” Gunnarsson said. “Those are quite expensive.”

Netflix’s production costs in 2017 are around $6 billion, and Amazon’s $4.5 billion.

Television has started to rival film in terms of prestige in recent years, evident in the many film luminaries working in TV, such as Anthony Hopkins starring in HBO’s West-world and Woody Allen making Crisis in Six Scenes for Amazon. Yet film still offers a certain degree of glamour.

“I think it makes absolute sense,” said Dave Smith, CEO of media consultancy SmithGeiger, of the streamers’ moves into film production. “It’s a brand extension into original programming, and it gets you into film, which is seen as the highest level in the entertainment paradigm.”

It also might mean prestigious film awards, which are good for the brand, Smith added.

Bigger Content, Smaller Screens

SVOD services’ moves into original films come as viewers get more used to consuming longer-form content on smaller screens. Long-form content — which software company Ooyala defines as more than 20 minutes in length — represents 65% of viewing on computers, up from 35% a year before, and 55% of viewing on smartphones, up from 29% a year before.

The SVOD players have very different approaches to making their film offerings stand out. Amazon appears more willing to have its films offered for traditional theatrical release before they turn up on SVOD, which can mean a mighty marketing push for a film before it ends up on Amazon.

Bob Berney, head of marketing and distribution at Amazon Studios, addressed theater owners at CinemaCon last year, reassuring them the six films it acquired at Sundance would get theatrical releases — and aggressive marketing strategies.

Netflix movies don’t spend as much time on the big screen. War Machine, for one, had a limited theatrical release in New York and Los Angeles. Netflix took some heat at the Cannes Film Festival last month related to theatrical releases. Pedro Almodóvar, head of the festival jury, said Netflix movies that won’t be in theaters should not be eligible to win the Palme d’Or prize. When the Netflix film Okja premiered at Cannes, the Netflix logo on screen at the start of the film got a lusty boo out of the crowd.

But it appears both SVOD players are in the film business for the long term. As Christina Wayne sees it, such platforms are expanding to reflect the public’s love for TV series, talk shows, children’s programming, movies and whatever else they wish to watch. “It’s going to be Netflix and Amazon,” she said, “where we watch every single bit of content.”

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Posted by Larry Gleeson

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Jacques Rozier was perhaps one of the most emblematic of the Nouvelle Vague directors. Want the Sun(1962) remains his most famous work and it is with this and with the former Blue Jeans (1958) that earns the esteem of Jean-Luc Godard.  Godard is helpful to attend the filming of Contempt during which can devote himself to the realization of two interesting short films, Paparazzi and the parties des choses: Bardot et Godard (1963).

It is curious to read that on the set of the film despite the confidentiality of the place where there is Villa Malaparte, another director, Peter Fleischmann, is filming a short documentary about his meeting with Fritz Lang, also in Capri and called by Godard himself to interpret as he is struggling with a modern version of the Odyssey. A set quite busy as well as the attraction of numerous paparazzi hoping to immortalize Bardot in bikini, these are best sellers shots, but Brigitte “is not kind” with them, with the stern look borrowed from classical statues of dummy Lang film, accuses the intrusiveness of the paparazzi who defend themselves while extolling the dangers of their work and the hours and hours spent in the sun hiding in the rugged rocks of the lush landscape where the villa is situated.

In Paparazzi Godard and local law enforcement protect it from prying eyes peering at a safe distance on an elusive diva at home in the island paradise, the ideal place to put aside the iconic image that Rozier insistently scrolls before our eyes with coated interludes in which alternate, rhythmically-infinite covers on which stands the portrait of a modern woman: “illogical, disarming, mysterious, regal.” These are the words used by Rozier in his The parties des choses: Bardot et Godard, another short film shot in Capri in which the director does not dwell exclusively on hunting prey until the last BB, a magnificent shot. The attention now moves to the whole team, probing Godard’s method, “the party of things” or how the director benefits from the elements of the surrounding reality that often interfere in the working of Contempt, a vision of ever default creative process but continually changing. Rozier focuses on the evolution of a product film without diminishing its artistic value, long-awaited and discussed, which stars Brigitte Bardot and Jean Luc Godard, two interpreters, paradoxically at odds, in contemporary cinema.

Jacques Rozier with Jean Vigo , created in 1964 for the television episode Cinéastes de notre temps, sheds light on the short but intense work of another filmmaker through the testimony of its employees, in contrast to the two previous works on Contempt, here the documentary is part of the canonical forms, the originality of the work is inherent nell’atipicità of the subject matter. Jean Vigo has no need of engaging the editing rhythms, its irony, particularly scathing in Paparazzi, emerges from interviews, friends and actors, who worked with Vigo and remember that experience with emphasis and transportation. And this is what strikes the viewer, despite the precarious health conditions of the director, the satirical backbone in the way of Nice, which moves Vigo and infects a bit – all being evoked in the story of these unique experiences. Gilles Margaritis stated: “All those who worked with Vigo Vigo had something,” as if to underline the common feeling of the crew, a shared sense of humor which, according to Jean Dasté hung over every disagreement smothering the bud.

This comedy over the top, heir perhaps the famous phrase “Je vous dis merde!” Imprinted from Vigo father on the cover of La Guerre Sociale (shooting in the film Zero for Conduct ), provides, for example, the presence of a real “cats pitcher” on the set of L’Atalante \, a key figure to create havoc on the scene, and writing a humorous song full of puns, deliberately banal, intoned by a street vendor, a necessary choice because of every film requires a catchy tune.

The documentary puts not only into light the playful aspect of the realization of Vigo film, but also the economic and the questionable choices distributors face. It happens to L’Atalante distributed by Gaumont, who decides to change the title of the film on the success of a popular song the Chaland qui passe, sung by Lys Gauty (adaptation of Tell me about love, Mariù ), a controversial and unacceptable commercial choice for Vigo, who on his deathbed has distanced himself from his latest film that he no longer recognizes.

— Cecilia Cristiani

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Posted by Larry Gleeson

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Hard to tell where the original film and begins by Paolo Villaggio travesty that, thanks to the comic film The second tragic Fantozzi (1976) , has made a cult film without the need for it to be seen.
The Battleship Potemkin tells the story of the revolt of the battleship Potemkin sailors of the ship and the subsequent tragic massacre in Odessa. The rebellion reached its most dramatic point in the city staircase scene where the soldiers shoot without mercy on the population, with no distinction between men, women and children. It ‘just that moment to have become iconic, not only for what he represented in film history, but above all for being reviewed by other filmmakers. The high rate of violence and tragedy of the scene, achieved thanks to a direction that does not let up and catapult the viewer into the story, has trained several directors who have not lost an opportunity to pay homage, or parodiarla, in their films.

It is not a coincidence that this is the scene that is made to recreate employed in The second tragic Fantozzi of Luciano Salce. The Fantozzi and colleagues, forced to see once again the Eisenstein film company to film club run by Professor Guidobaldo Riccardelli, driven by the same rebel Fantozzi, in his only moment of personal revenge, shouting proudly the most famous line fantozziana the saga “For me, the Battleship Kotiomkin is a crazy shit!”. Battleship Kotiomkin because in fact the original and Salce rights were granted it created a craft parody and was renamed the name of the film and also the director (who became Sergei M. Einstein). The punishment of the employees of Megaditta for having turned against the power and destroying the copy of the film is “Dantesque” says Fantozzi: recreate the sequence of the steps every Saturday afternoon until retirement age.

While in Italy The battleship has become popular for the irony that it is built around, and around the world, the Eisenstein film has often been lauded by major directors who saw in the Russian filmmaker a model to inspire them. In the film The Prisoner of Amsterdam (1940) by Alfred Hitchcock and I The Godfather (1972) by Francis Ford Coppola is cited the dramatic end of old woman on the steps, struck in the eye by a saber: the glasses are broken, the look of terror and the blood line of the face. This same scene is shot, with a more parodic intent, by Woody Allen, in two films: The Dictator of the Free State of Bananas (1971) and Love and War (1975). Even in the film dystopian Brazil Terry Gilliam (1985) is honored the staircase of Odessa, recovering the movements of the soldiers and the fatal descent of the wheelchair.

The most heartfelt tribute and poetic of the Odessa massacre is surely to Brian De Palma in the gangster film The Untouchables (1987) . In the middle of a shootout, in a wheelchair with a child she begins to roll down the stairs, while the mother desperate moans and the protagonist, played by Kevin Costner, try to save them, avoiding enemies’ bullets. The scene keeps the dramatic atmosphere of the Eisenstein film, but moves at a slower speed, playing more about the pathos and the fate of the child: able to save themselves? Shooting and taken to the extreme, the scene of De Palma was parodied in the movie demented Naked Gun 33 1/3 – The Final Insult (1994) by Peter Segal: wheelchairs become three, with flights hilarious babies at the end of staircase.

Even the latest cinema and mainstream became infected from The Battleship Potemkin : in Star Wars IIIRevenge of the Sith (2005) Anakin Skywalker, now turned to the dark side as Darth Vader, is going to carry out the massacre of young jedi, moving with a deployment of soldiers that resembles that of Soviet Odessa. The special boots leaves no doubt: the massacre in Odessa lives according to the futuristic vision and CGI George Lucas.

— Emanuela Vignudelli , Course of Higher Education Editor media and cross-media, courses Cineteca di Bologna

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FilmBuff Proudly Presents MANSFIELD 66/67 – Just in time for Holloween!

Posted by Larry Gleeson


Wildly entertaining! A side of Jayne Mansfield kept out of the public eye! The incredible, untold true story of film icon Jayne Mansfield’s relationship with Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey. Utilizing archival footage, stills and direct interviews, the vivacious bombshell envelopes the screen in a way few stars of any era have. And, who could resist cheering for Jayne Mansfield — the seemingly punk Marilyn Monroe and the ultimate atomic-era sex-positive kitten-gone-berserk — as she navigates the cultural and spiritual landscape of a quickly changing world?


Welcome to Mansfield 66/67, a true story based on rumor and hearsay, where classic documentary interviews and archival materials are blended with dance numbers, performance art, and animation — elevating a tabloid tale of a fallen Hollywood idol into a celebration of the mythical proportions – in a campy, California set production from the creators of Room 237. This is one you don’t want to miss!

Mansfield 66/67 will have its theatrical opening in Los Angeles at Laemmle’s Ahrya Fine Arts Theatre on October 27, 2017, co-programmed alongside a number of Mansfield classics including Girl Can’t Help It and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter. There will be a special premiere on Wednesday, October 25th, with talent in attendance.


English Language
85 minutes

Not Rated

Featuring Jayne Mansfield, Anton LaVey, John Waters, Mary Woronov, Tippi Hedren, Mamie Van Doren, and more!
Directed by P. David Ebersole and Todd Hughes

For additional dates visit:

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