Tag Archives: Film

Golden Bear and Prizes of the Berlin International Jury

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Quite an eventful 67th Berlinale. Some fantastic films. I had the good fortune to view all but one of the award-winning films, Silver Bear for Best Screenplay, Sebastián Lelio and Gonzalo Maza’s  Una mujer fantástica (A Fantastic Woman).  Pokot Spoor winner of the Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize for a feature film that opens new perspectives from Agnieszka Holland did not receive my recommendation. Thank you to the jury for all their hard work and diligent efforts!

*Members of the Jury: Paul Verhoeven (Jury President), Dora Bouchoucha Fourati, Olafur Eliasson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Julia Jentsch, Diego Luna and Wang Quan’an

PRIZES OF THE INTERNATIONAL JURY

 

GOLDEN BEAR FOR BEST FILM (awarded to the film’s producer) Testről és lélekről On Body and Soul by Ildikó Enyedi

SILVER BEAR GRAND JURY PRIZE Félicité by Alain Gomis

SILVER BEAR ALFRED BAUER PRIZE for a feature film that opens new perspectives Pokot Spoor by Agnieszka Holland

SILVER BEAR FOR BEST DIRECTOR Aki Kaurismäki for Toivon tuolla puolen (The Other Side of Hope/Die andere Seite der Hoffnung)

SILVER BEAR FOR BEST ACTRESS Kim Minhee in Bamui haebyun-eoseo honja (On the Beach at Night Alone) by Hong Sangsoo

SILVER BEAR FOR BEST ACTOR Georg Friedrich in Helle Nächte (Bright Nights) by Thomas Arslan

SILVER BEAR FOR BEST SCREENPLAY Sebastián Lelio and Gonzalo Maza for Una mujer fantástica (A Fantastic Woman) by Sebastián Lelio

SILVER BEAR FOR OUTSTANDING ARTISTIC CONTRIBUTION in the categories camera, editing, music score, costume or set design

*Dana Bunescu for the editing in Ana, mon amour by Călin Peter Netzer

The complete award list of the 67th Berlinale: 67_berlinale_awards-1

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(Source: Berlinale Press Office)

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Academy Announced Oscar Presenters 2017

Posted by Larry Gleeson

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

HALLE BERRY, JAMIE DORNAN, CHRIS EVANS, GAEL GARCÍA BERNAL, SAMUEL L. JACKSON, SCARLETT JOHANSSON, DAKOTA JOHNSON,
KATE MCKINNON, SHIRLEY MACLAINE, HAILEE STEINFELD WILL BE PRESENTERS ONSTAGE

LOS ANGELES, CA – Producers Michael De Luca and Jennifer Todd today announced the second slate of presenters for the 89th Oscars® telecast.  Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, the Oscars will air live on Sunday, February 26, on the ABC Television Network.

“These actors are why we love to go to the movies,” said De Luca and Todd.  “From blockbusters to art house films, these artists deliver every time and we’re thrilled to welcome them to the 89th Oscars stage.”

The presenters, including past Oscar® winners and nominees, are Halle Berry, Jamie Dornan, Chris Evans, Gael García Bernal, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Dakota Johnson, Shirley MacLaine, Kate McKinnon and Hailee Steinfeld.

Berry won an Oscar for Actress in a Leading Role for “Monster’s Ball” (2001).  Her feature credits also include “X-Men: Days of Future Past” (2014), “Cloud Atlas” (2012), “Frankie & Alice” (2010), “X-Men The Last Stand” (2006), “X2” (2003), “Die Another Day” (2002) and “X-Men” (2000).  She will next appear in “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” and “Kings.”

Dornan’s film credits include “Fifty Shades Darker” (2017), “Fifty Shades of Grey” (2015) and the Oscar-winning film “Marie Antoinette” (2006).  Additionally, he has appeared in “Anthropoid” (2016) and “The Siege of Jadotville” (2016).  His upcoming films include “Fifty Shades Freed,” “Robin Hood” and “Untogether.”

Evans is known for “Captain America: Civil War” (2016) and the Oscar-nominated features “Captain America: The Winter Solider” (2014) and “Marvel’s The Avengers” (2012).  His film credits also include “The Iceman” (2013), “Puncture” (2011), “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” (2010) and “Fantastic Four” (2005).  Evans will next appear in “Gifted,” “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Jekyll.”

García Bernal’s credits include the Oscar-winning films “Babel” (2006) and “The Motorcycle Diaries” (2004) as well as the Oscar-nominated films “Y Tu Mamá También” (2001) and “Amores Perros” (2000).  Additionally, he has appeared in “Neruda” (2016), “Desierto” (2016) and “Bad Education” (2004).  His upcoming films include “Z” and the animated feature “Coco.”

Jackson earned an Oscar nomination for Actor in a Supporting Role for “Pulp Fiction” (1994).  Notably, he also appeared in the Oscar-winning films “The Hateful Eight” (2015), “Django Unchained” (2012) and “Inglourious Basterds” (2009).  Jackson will next appear in “Kong: Skull Island,” “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” “The Incredibles 2” and “Inversion.”

Johansson appeared in the Oscar-winning features “Her” (2013), “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (2008) and “Lost in Translation” (2003) as well as the Oscar-nominated films “Iron Man 2” (2010), “Match Point” (2005) and “Girl with a Pearl Earring” (2003).  Her credits also include “Captain America: Civil War” (2016) and “Lucy” (2014).  Johansson will next be seen in “Ghost in the Shell,” “Rock That Body” and “Avengers: Infinity War.”

Johnson’s credits include “Fifty Shades Darker” (2017), “Fifty Shades of Gray” (2015) and the Oscar-winning feature “The Social Network” (2010).  Her other credits include “How to Be Single” (2016), “A Bigger Splash” (2015) and “Black Mass” (2015).  Johnson will next appear in “Fifty Shades Freed” and “Suspiria.”

MacLaine won an Oscar for Actress in a Leading Role for “Terms of Endearment” (1983).  Additionally, she garnered nominations for her leading roles in “The Turning Point” (1977), “Irma La Douce” (1963), “The Apartment” (1960) and “Some Came Running” (1958).  She also received a Documentary Feature nomination for “The Other Half of the Sky: A China Memoir” (1975).  Her notable credits also include “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” (2013), “Bernie” (2012), “The Evening Star” (1996), “Postcards from the Edge” (1990) and “Steel Magnolias” (1989).  MacLaine will next appear in “The Last Word.”

McKinnon’s feature credits include “Ghostbusters” (2016), “Masterminds” (2016), “Office Christmas Party” (2016) and the animated features “The Angry Birds Movie” (2016) and “Finding Dory” (2016).  In addition, she has appeared in “Sisters” (2015) and “Ted 2” (2015).  McKinnon will appear next in “Rock That Body.”

Steinfeld received an Oscar nomination for Actress in a Supporting Role for “True Grit” (2010).  Her recent credits include “The Edge of Seventeen” (2016), “Ten Thousand Saints” (2015), “Barely Lethal” (2015), “Pitch Perfect 2” (2015), “Begin Again” (2014), “The Homesman” (2014) and “Ender’s Game” (2013).  Steinfeld will next appear in “Pitch Perfect 3.”

The 89th Oscars will be held on Sunday, February 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be broadcast live on the ABC Television Network at 7 p.m.
ET/4 p.m. PT.  The Oscars, produced by De Luca and Todd and hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, also will be televised in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.

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ABOUT THE ACADEMY
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a global community of more than 7,000 of the most accomplished artists, filmmakers and executives working in film. In addition to celebrating and recognizing excellence in filmmaking through the Oscars, the Academy supports a wide range of initiatives to promote the art and science of the movies, including public programming, educational outreach and the upcoming Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which is under construction in Los Angeles.

FOLLOW THE ACADEMY
www.oscars.org
www.facebook.com/TheAcademy
www.youtube.com/Oscars
www.twitter.com/TheAcademy

MEDIA CONTACT
Steve Rohr
Steve.Rohr@oscars.org

(Source: oscars.org)

11 MORE STARS SET TO PRESENT AT 89TH OSCARS

Posted by Larry Gleeson.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AMY ADAMS, RIZ AHMED, JAVIER BARDEM, JOHN CHO, DWAYNE JOHNSON,
FELICITY JONES, LESLIE MANN, JANELLE MONÁE, DAVID OYELOWO,
EMMA STONE AND CHARLIZE THERON

LOS ANGELES, CA – Producers Michael De Luca and Jennifer Todd today announced the third slate of presenters for the 89th Oscars® telecast.  Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, the Oscars will air live Sunday, February 26, on the ABC Television Network.

The presenters, including past Oscar® winners and nominees, are Amy Adams, Riz Ahmed, Javier Bardem, John Cho, Dwayne Johnson, Felicity Jones, Leslie Mann, Janelle Monáe, David Oyelowo, Emma Stone and Charlize Theron.

“No matter who you are or where you live, movies bring us together,” said De Luca and Todd.  “Through indelible, fearless performances these extraordinary actors help make it happen.  We are thrilled to welcome them to the 89th Oscars stage.”

Adams received an Oscar nomination for Actress in a Leading Role for “American Hustle” (2013).  Additionally, she has earned four nominations for Actress in a Supporting Role for her work in “The Master” (2012), “The Fighter” (2010), “Doubt” (2008) and “Junebug” (2005).  Her notable credits also include “Arrival” (2016), “Nocturnal Animals” (2016), “Big Eyes” (2014), “Her” (2013) and “Julie & Julia” (2009).  Adams will next appear in “Justice League.”

Ahmed appeared in the Oscar-nominated films “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” (2016) and “Nightcrawler” (2014).  Additionally, his credits include “Jason Bourne” (2016), “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” (2013), “Ill Manors” (2012), “Day of the Falcon” (2011), “Centurion” (2010) and “Four Lions” (2010).

Bardem won an Oscar for Actor in a Supporting Role for “No Country for Old Men” (2007).  He has been nominated for Actor in a Leading Role twice, for “Biutiful” (2010) and “Before Night Falls” (2000).  Bardem starred in the Oscar-winning films “Skyfall” (2012) and “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (2008).  Other notable credits include “The Counselor” (2013), “Eat Pray Love” (2010), “The Sea Inside” (2004) and “Mondays in the Sun” (2002).  Bardem will appear next in “Escobar”, “mother!” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.”

Cho’s credits include the Oscar-winning film “Star Trek” (2009), as well as the Oscar-nominated films “Star Trek Beyond” (2016) and “Star Trek Into Darkness” (2013).  Additionally, Cho’s film credits include “Identity Thief” (2013), “Total Recall” (2012), “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” (2008), “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle” (2004) and “American Pie” (1999).  He will next appear in “Gemini.”

Johnson appears in the Oscar-nominated film “Moana” (2016).  His recent feature credits also include “Central Intelligence” (2016), “Furious Seven” (2015), “San Andreas” (2015), “Hercules” (2014), “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” (2013) and “Pain & Gain” (2013).  Johnson will appear next in “Baywatch,” “The Fate of the Furious” and “Jumanji.”

Jones received an Oscar nomination for Actress in a Leading Role for “The Theory of Everything” (2014).  She also appeared in the Oscar-nominated films “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” (2016) and “The Invisible Woman” (2013).  Jones’s feature credits also include “A Monster Calls” (2016), “Inferno” (2016), “Breathe In” (2014) and “Like Crazy” (2011).

Mann’s feature credits include the Oscar-nominated films “ParaNorman” (2012) and “Rio” (2011).  Additionally, she has appeared in “The Comedian” (2016), “How to Be Single” (2016), “The Other Woman” (2014), “Rio 2” (2014), “This Is 40” (2012), “Funny People” (2009), “Knocked Up” (2007) and “The 40 Year-Old Virgin” (2005).  Mann will next appear in “The Pact.”

Actress and recording artist Monáe appears in the Oscar-nominated films “Hidden Figures” (2016) and “Moonlight” (2016). In addition, her credits also include a speaking role in the animated feature “Rio 2” (2014), for which she also contributed an original song. Monáe’s music was also used on the soundtracks for “Bad Moms” (2016), “The Equalizer” (2014), “Think Like a Man Too” (2014) and “Happy Feet 2” (2011).

Oyelowo’s credits include the Oscar-winning films “Selma” (2014), “Interstellar” (2014), “Lincoln” (2012) and “The Help” (2011) as well as the Oscar-nominated film “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” (2011).  Additionally, he has appeared in “Queen of Katwe” (2016), “Five Nights in Maine” (2016), “Captive” (2015), “A Most Violent Year” (2014), “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” (2013) and “Jack Reacher” (2012).  Oyelowo can currently be seen in “A United Kingdom” and will next appear in “God Particle.”

Stone received an Oscar nomination for Actress in a Leading Role for “La La Land” (2016).  Additionally, she garnered an Actress in a Supporting Role nomination for “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” (2014).  Stone’s credits also include the Oscar-winning film “The Help” (2011) and the Oscar-nominated animated feature “The Croods” (2013).  She has also appeared in “Irrational Man” (2015), “Magic in the Moonlight” (2014), “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” (2014), “Gangster Squad” (2013), “The Amazing Spider-Man” (2012), “Crazy, Stupid, Love” (2011), “Easy A” (2010) and “Zombieland” (2009). Stone will next appear in “Battle of the Sexes.”

Theron won an Oscar for Actress in a Leading Role for “Monster” (2003).  Additionally, she garnered an Actress in a Supporting Role nomination for “North Country” (2005).  Theron’s feature credits also include the Oscar-winning films “Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015) and “The Cider House Rules” (1999) as well as the Oscar-nominated films “Kubo and the Two Strings” (2016), “Snow White and the Huntsman” (2012), “Prometheus” (2012) and “In the Valley of Elah” (2007).  She will next appear in “The Fate of the Furious,” “The Coldest City” and “Tully.”

The 89th Oscars will be held on Sunday, February 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center®in Hollywood, and will be broadcast live on the ABC Television Network at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.  The Oscars, produced by De Luca and Todd and hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, also will be televised in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.  Additionally, “The Oscars: All Access” live stream from the red carpet and backstage will begin at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on Oscar.com.

# # #

ABOUT THE ACADEMY
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a global community of more than 7,000 of the most accomplished artists, filmmakers and executives working in film. In addition to celebrating and recognizing excellence in filmmaking through the Oscars, the Academy supports a wide range of initiatives to promote the art and science of the movies, including public programming, educational outreach and the upcoming Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which is under construction in Los Angeles.

Behind ‘La La Land,’ A Long Relationship Between A Director And A Composer

Posted by Larry Gleeson

La La Land has already won seven Golden Globe Awards and is nominated for fourteen Oscars, including Best Original Score and two Best Original Songs. The music and the film’s story, about two struggling artists in Los Angeles who can’t launch their careers, are inseparable — it’s a musical, after all. But the collaboration between La La Land‘s composer and its director goes all the way back to college.

Composer Justin Hurwitz and director Damien Chazelle already had a successful track record with their previous film, Whiplash, but Hurwitz says selling a traditional musical in 21st century Hollywood was not easy.

“If he would have said no, our roads would have been very different and there certainly wouldn’t have been a La La Land,” the director says. “The smartest decision I ever made was to latch on to him and not let go.”

When Chazelle and Hurwitz finally got the green light to make La La Land, they wrote and composed hand-in-hand. The first task Chazelle put to the composer was to come up with a main theme.

“I spent so much time at the piano working on demo after demo, idea after idea,” Hurwitz says of what became “Mia & Sebastian’s Theme.” “As soon as I came up with that melody, it was like an “A-ha!” moment for me and Damien: ‘OK, wow, that’s the theme of the movie.'”

He and Chazelle also asked their stars, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, to help create the sound of the film by singing some of the songs live on camera while Hurwitz played the keyboard backstage.

“We did that because we wanted those really intimate moments to feel live and to have that live vulnerability,” Chazelle says, “and to let Emma and Ryan really act those moments and those songs in a way that probably wouldn’t have happened if they had to pre-record those songs in a studio months earlier.”

That sometimes unorthodox approach that Hurwitz and Chazelle took to collaborating has paid off. But the director says their sentimental musical was never a sure bet.

“The idea of embracing that, not apologizing for it, not trying to coat it in any kind of irony, and also embracing the kind of emotions that can come with that, that I feel like we downplay in movies these days,” Chazelle says. “The sort of full-fledged romanticism that movies of an earlier era were able to embrace without hesitation, and now it feels like we’re a little scared to embrace those sometimes.”

Chazelle has another movie in the pipeline, although it’s not a musical. As soon as it gets a green light, Hurwitz says, he will sit back down at his piano to compose once again.

(Source: npr.org)

BERLIN AWARDS ANNOUNCED IN GENERATION KPLUS

Posted by Larry Gleeson

CRYSTAL BEARS AND DEUTSCHES KINDERHILFSWERK (THE CHILDREN’S CHARITY OF GERMANY) AWARDS IN GENERATION KPLUS

Piata loď, Amelie rennt, Promise, Hedgehog’s Home

The members of the Children’s Jury in Generation Kplus give the following awards:

Crystal Bear for the Best Film: Piata loď (Little Harbour)
By Iveta Grófová, Slovak Republic / Czech Republic 2017
We selected a film that is creative and authentic. It’s about two children who create a little world of their own, rules. We found the story very moving and the actors are very believable too.

Special Mention: Amelie rennt (Mountain Miracle – An Unexpected Friendship)
By Tobias Wiemann, Germany / Italy 2017
With great wit and fast-paced dialogue, this film describes the development of an unlikely friendship between two fascinating characters.

Crystal Bear for the Best Short Film: Promise
By Xie Tian, USA 2016
Set in a breath-taking landscape, this film tells the moving story of a Chinese boy. The convincing performances and masterful cinematography lend the film great authenticity.

Special Mention Short Film: Hedgehog’s Home
By Eva Cvijanovic, Canada / Croatia 2016
The message of this tale, that a home of one’s own is very important, is beautifully conveyed by the creative use of felt animation. We were also impressed by the unusual verse form of the narrative in this stop-motion film.

 

Becoming Who I Was, Estiu 1993, Aaba, Sabaku

The members of the International Jury Generation Kplus – Fabian Gasmia, Aneta Ozorek, Yoon Ga-eun – give the following awards:

The Grand Prix of the Generation Kplus International Jury for the Best Film, endowed with € 7,500 each by the Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk (The Children’s Charity of Germany):

ex aequo

Becoming Who I Was
By Chang-Yong Moon, Jin Jeon, Republic Korea 2017
In this beautifully shot tale we learn in a wonderful bittersweet way how much a parent and a child can learn from each other. The filmmaker achieved the most difficult: making the audience laugh and cry many times. The film gave the jury confidence in humanity and if the values of the young hero of this story would be only reflected a little bit by its audience the world will become a better place.

Estiu 1993 (Summer 1993)
By Carla Simón, Spain 2017
In this remarkable film we learn through the eyes of a little girl how to cope with loss. The lesson that this incredible heroine learns and that moved us to tears is that no matter how much it hurts, it is the unconditional love of the people around you that will ease your pain. Besides the outstanding performance of the young main actress the jury was also very impressed by the beautiful cinematography and sensual mise-en-scène!

The Special Prize of the Generation Kplus International Jury for the Best Short Film, endowed with € 2,500 by the Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk (The Children’s Charity of Germany): Aaba (Grandfather)
By Amar Kaushik, India 2016
It tells a story of the circle of life in an elegiac and slow pace with a beautiful cinematography.

Special Mention: Sabaku
By Marlies van der Wel, The Netherlands 2016
This very short film tells with simple but very efficient use of extremely skilled artistic animation technique the story of a bird that goes around the world to find a new friend. The jury was blown away by its pace and incredible joy of the filmmaker to entertain her audience.

Award ceremony and screening of the winning film of the Crystal Bear take place today at 3.30 pm at Haus der Kulturen der Welt.

(Source: Berlinale Press Office)

THE PANORAMA AUDIENCE AWARDS GO TO INSYRIATED AND I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The public has cast its votes: the 19th Panorama Audience Awards – presented by the Berlinale Panorama section in collaboration with radioeins and for the first time in co-operation with rbb television (Berlin-Brandenburg Broadcasting) – go to Insyriated by Philipp Van Leeuw for best fiction film and I Am Not Your Negro by Raoul Peck for best documentary.

Insyriated is a tautly-constructed chamber drama about trying to live a normal life in a war zone. It is the second film starring Hiam Abbass that has won the Panorama Audience Award (she also played the lead in Eran Riklis’s Lemon Tree in 2008).

Raoul Peck’s filmic essay I Am Not Your Negro about James Baldwin and his three assassinated friends – civil rights activists Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X – has also been nominated for an Academy Award as Best Documentary Feature.

The official award ceremony will be held at 5 pm on Sunday, February 19 in CinemaxX 7 at Potsdamer Platz. The prizes will be awarded by rbb director Patricia Schlesinger. Knut Elstermann, radioeins film expert, and Panorama curator Wieland Speck will host the event. Directly after the ceremony, the winning fiction film will be shown. The Panorama Dokumente winner will be screened at 8 pm, also in CinemaxX 7.

The Panorama Audience Award has been given since 1999. Since 2011, not only the best fiction film but also the best documentary film have received awards. During the festival, moviegoers are asked to rate the films shown in Panorama on voting cards after the screenings. In 2017 a total of 29,000 votes were cast and counted.

This year Panorama presented 50 feature-length films from 43 countries, of which 21 screened in the Panorama Dokumente series.

Panorama Audience Award Winner Fiction Film 2017
Insyriated
Belgium / France / Lebanon 2017
By Philippe Van Leeuw

2nd place Panorama Audience Award Fiction Film 2017
Karera ga Honki de Amu toki wa (Close-Knit)
Japan 2017
By Naoko Ogigami

3rd place Panorama Audience Award Fiction Film 2017
1945
Hungary 2017
By Ferenc Török

Panorama Audience Award Winner Panorama Dokumente 2017
I Am Not Your Negro
France / USA / Belgium / Switzerland 2016
By Raoul Peck

2nd place Panorama Audience Award Panorama Dokumente 2017
Chavela
USA 2017
By Catherine Gund, Daresha Kyi

3rd place Panorama Audience Award Panorama Dokumente 2017
Istiyad Ashbah (Ghost Hunting)
France / Palestine / Switzerland / Qatar 2017
By Raed Andoni

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(Source: Berlinale Press Office)

Berlinale FILM CAPSULE: For Ahkeem (Levine,Van Soest, 2017): USA

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Jeremy S. Levine and Landon Van Soest presented For Ahkeem, a new documentary, at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival in Forum. For Ahkeem attempts to address and capture a young, black woman’s life pathway from footage accumulated over the course of approximately two years. In doing so, Levine and Von Soest limit a wider lens.

For Ahkeem tracks a roughly seventeen year-old African-American female, Daje, from the north side of St. Louis, Missouri, an area of the city notorious for its gun violence and innocent killings from drive-by shootings. The film is predominantly direct cinema.

Daje comes across as a rather representative, angry, militant teenager of the area. Daje has been expelled from school for the final time and has to make an appearance in juvenile court. The judge has read Daje’s not-so-promising juvenile record and decides to give her a refuge of last resort – an alternative school he started. It’s an offer Daje can’t refuse despite her best efforts.

It’s here Daje transforms from adolescent girl to young woman. With help from the staff and support from family and friends, Daje blossoms into a confident, independent young woman. As her graduation nears, Daje struggles with math, yet manages to overcome her obstacle and proudly receives her diploma. She’s persevered pregnant and birthing a child with another alternative schoolmate she felt was nice to her and to whom she could talk with and confide in.

Levine and Van Soest’s focus successfully captures the trajectory of young African-Americans in the North St. Louis ghetto, in my opinion. Footage from Michael Brown’s mother shouting into a camera shows the passion this cultural segment possesses. As Michael Brown graduated high school so did Daje. The tragic life of Michael Brown need not be repeated in Daje’s son Ahkeem. Efforts from community leaders allow troubled youths a way out. But, it’s not a one stop cure all.

 

 

 

Berlinale FILM CAPSULE: The Lost City of Z (Gray, 2016): Ireland

Posted by Larry Gleeson

James Gray directs The Lost City of Z, his adaptation of the David Grann book “The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon.” A Plan B Production starring Charlie Hunnam, Sienna Miller, Robert Pattinson, and Tom Holland, The Lost City of Z tells the real-life story of Col. Percival “Percy” Fawcett and his search for the existence of a mysterious, sunken metropolis – the City of Z. Along the way, Gray delivers social commentary on the social norms during a time of tremendous scientific and social upheaval.

The film opens with a military social where Percy sees his ambitions diminished as he is classed as having been born with “unfortunate ancestors.” Percy, played by Brit Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy) finds climbing the military ranks in 1920’s England a cumbersome ordeal. Seeking promotion and the financial security it will bring, Percy accepts a land surveying mission in Bolivia. Military trained and hardened with discipline, Percy thrives in the harsh environment where others falter.

After the 1911 expedition, Percy returns full of vigor detailing the stories he has heard of the Lost Civilization and having felt remnants of an ancient civilization in his bare hands and acquiesces to going back into the jungle for deeper expeditions to provide a comfortable life for his family. His children are small. His wife capable.  As he reconnects with his wife Nina (Sienna Miller), he stimulates her interest in the lost city and reignites the passion the two had always shared. In a heartfelt moment, Nina proposes they return to the Amazon and find the lost civilization together.

In May of 1912, Percy returns to the Amazon with his expeditionary team leaving Nina to look after the children. Here the filmmaking opens up. The production design becomes quite plush. Director of Photography Darius Khondji frames exquisite jungle shots. The musical score and diagetic sounds from Christopher Spelman complement and enhance the luscious mise-en-scene and aid in the film’s storytelling. The narrative is chronological and carries the film quite well with two diverse settings – the familial setting in Ireland and the expeditionary setting in the Amazon jungle.

Pushing through unmapped territory in the Amazon, the expedition is confronted by a tribe of cannibals preparing for dinner. An already despondent team has had enough of Percy’s ramrodding them deeper and deeper into the unknown where danger seems to be awaiting with each step.

Nevertheless, Percy continues his almost maniacal pursuit citing the military commander’s need for critical information. A ranking member of the team begins sloughing off eventually ruining any chance of continuing the expedition and the team achieving its stated mission. The team is forced to return home much with Percy vowing to return.

The First World War breaks out and all expeditions to the Amazon are put on hold. In combat (trench warfare) Percy suffers from chlorine gas exposure. While recovering, Percy and his son Jack (Tom Holland), now a grown man, reconnect with Jack coming to admire and respect his father immensely. So much so that Jack proposes the two go back to the Amazon and find the Lost City of Z together. Percy makes a bold proposal to the Royal Geographic Society (RGS) on returning to find the Lost City of Z with his son Jack. A stupefied RGS appears dumbfounded as they give Percy approval with his stated stipulations.

Percy and Jack renew the search for the Lost City of Z and what transpires there remains a mystery today. Stories and remnants of truths spontaneously make their way back to Nina indicating Percy and Jack found the Lost City of Z and have chosen to stay there for the time being. Nina never lost hope that Percy and Jack would someday return.

Gray’s The Lost City of Z is a grand tale, well told with strong, compelling acting. Hunnam understands character arc and it’s a viewing treat to watch him unfold and develop the powerful, inner character of Colonel Percival Fawcett. Sienna Miller turns in a masterful performance as the doting, supportive wife, Nina.  Kate Ringsell managed the film’s casting.

The production design is as good as it gets with Production Designer Jean-Vincent Puzos providing breath-taking and often, stunning glimpses of jungle life as well as the enchanting landscape of Ireland.  The Lost City of Z is also a solid period piece with excellent costuming provided by Sonia Grande. Highly recommended film.

Berlinale FILM CAPSULE: Bright Nights (Arslan, 2017) Norway

Posted by Larry Gleeson

German Director Thomas Arslan brings it home with his latest Golden Bear nominated film, Bright Nights (Helle Nachte). Arslan had been previously nominated for the Golden Bear, the festival’s top film prize in 2013 for his film GoldBright Nights, making its world premiere at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival in Competition, tells the story of a single, working father, Michael,  who reunites with his son, Luis, after the loss of his own father.

Arslan proves he is a master of cinematic language from the opening scene set within an industrial batch plant on a waterway. The image of a plant operator seated at his indoor work station wearing a protective hard hat speaks volumes. The lighting recedes from a medium to high key to low key lighting. The man removes his hard hat and drops his head into his hands exasperated. The scene transitions to the solidly built man walking through the night in profile. Reinhild Blaschke managed the Production Design. Director of Photography Reinhold Vorschneider allows much of the story to unfold with long takes.

Later in the film, after discovering his father has died, the man has opted to bring his son to help remediate his father’s cabin. As Michael is packing up his father’s belonging, a silence ensues where Michael comes to the realization, he doesn’t really know his own son.

With a sense of his own mortality now, Michael seeks to reconnect and re-establish a relationship with Luis. Visually pleasing mise-en-scene depicts scenes of father and son hiking and fishing in breathtaking Austrian locations. However, not everything is perfect in this natural sportsman’s paradise. Luis feels confused and rebels.

The relationship teeters in the balance when an young woman befriends the son and the two share their experiences. The son decides to give his father a second chance. Going for one last hike the father drives for through a gray, fogged in road. The drive goes on for an uncomfortable amount of time signifying the large amount of gray space in the relationship.

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@Schramm Film / Marco Kruger

The film transitions revealing vibrant colors of green and yellow symbolizing a time of joy and healing with a touch of red foreshadowing a powerful element of emotionality is still present. The relationship dynamic between Michael, played by Georg Friedrich and Luis, played by Tristan Göbel drives the narrative. Both actors deliver very compelling performances.

In my opinion, the climatic image comes quickly thereafter, as the son goes off on his own. A wide angle long shot of the man running across a mountain ridge with a large mountain range looming in the background slightly out of focus reminiscent of Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia as he rides solo across the barren Arabian desert. Again, the cinematic language is so much greater than mere words. The lengths the father is willing to go to in order to re-establish the father/son relationship bond is beyond measure. Reinhold Vorschneider served as the film’s Director of Photography.

While there are many father/son relationship dynamic films, there is only one Bright Nights. Highly recommended. A cinematic language extraordinaire.

*Featured photo courtesy of Berlinale.de and @Schramm Film / Marco Kruger

 

 

 

 

The Berlin New Compass Perspektive Award Announced

Posted by Larry Gleeson

BEST FILM IN THE PROGRAM GOES TO ADRIAN GOIGINGER

On Friday, February 17, the jury members – filmmakers Feo Aladag, Sigrid Hoerner, and Johannes Naber – presented the 2017 Compass Perspektive Award for Best Film. Awarded for the first time this year and endowed with EUR 5,000, the prize goes to the fiction film Die Beste aller Welten by Adrian Goiginger. The trophy is a small compass conceived to provide orientation and direction to a new generation of Perspektive filmmakers.

The jury members watched the 14 films in the Berlinale’s Perspektive Deutsches Kino section. After debating passionately, they picked their favorite.

Jury statement – The Best of All Worlds
The film is the story of seven-year-old Adrian, who lives in 1990s Salzburg with a heroin-addicted, but loving mother and her friends. His life is like an adventure playground – until both child services and the brutal reality of drug addiction threaten to destroy his world.

Director Adrian Goiginger’s film is based on his own childhood and is a disturbingly realistic portrayal of the seemingly hopeless battle between maternal love and addiction. Goiginger leaves open to interpretation whether it is the drug itself, or society’s way of dealing with it, that presents a greater threat to the child protagonist.

With his sensitive direction of a brilliant ensemble cast, the film is touching without becoming kitschy; the unpretentious cinematography gets under your skin without being voyeuristic.

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(Source: Berlinale Press Office)