Tag Archives: Toronto International Film Festival

The AFI FEST Interview: I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO Director Raoul Peck

Raoul Peck joins us in person for the inaugural World Cinema Masters in Conversation section at AFI FEST. He will sit down for an in-depth discussion with Toronto International Film Festival Artistic Director Cameron Bailey at the festival’s screening of I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO.

James Baldwin’s unfinished final book “Remember This House” was entrusted to Peck by the writer’s estate. Drawing on this precious inheritance, Peck has crafted an incisive, elegant lm essay that examines what it means to be black in America. Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, the film links racial violence in the 1960s (the assassinations of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr., specifically) to current events surrounding the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police, and is edited so that disturbing images spanning almost half a century find even more heightened power together. As a Haitian filmmaker, Peck is able to add an outsider’s viewpoint to the proceedings, while also furthering the idea that the black experience transcends borders and national identities.

AFI: James Baldwin’s unfinished final book “Remember This House” was entrusted to you by the writer’s estate. Did you feel pressure to do it justice?

Raoul Peck: Because it is rare for any estate to give such access to an author’s body ofscreen-shot-2016-10-24-at-8-36-54-am work, and even more unusual when it is one of the most important authors in modern America, it was less the pressure than the responsibility that laid heavy on my shoulders.

If there was any pressure, it was the self-inflicted pressure to do right by Baldwin — to figure how to be faithful to his words, in a world that asked, at every moment, for simple answers to complicated issues. The film industry being what it is, I knew that I only had one shot

I wanted to have Baldwin center-stage, without any talking heads interpreting or second-guessing him. It seems politically urgent to put Baldwin’s word “in the streets,” as he would have personally done, and make sure that these words were uncensored, unapologetic, direct and raw. He was to be the message; I just wanted to be the messenger.

AFI: How did Samuel L. Jackson become involved as the film’s narrator?

RP: As we were approaching the final phase of editing, we started thinking about who would carry this heavy responsibility of Baldwin’s words. For these words, I needed more than an accomplished actor. We knew this person should be renowned, but also someone with the political maturity, credibility and confidence to be self-effacing and convey Baldwin’s forthright language. And finally, we needed a familiar voice and presence that would not distract from what was essential.

I came up with a list of major black actors, and [there were] three who really fit the criteria. But when you do these things you cannot approach everybody at the same time, you need to prioritize. And Samuel L. Jackson was on the top of my personal list. Through my lawyer Nina Shaw, we asked if he could watch the edit and come on board. We got a yes within a few days.

A month later, as Samuel was shooting in Sofia, Bulgaria, we went there in a studio to record the voice. I am very grateful to him that he embraced the film and its approach. 

AFI: Can you talk about the process of editing the film, selecting the final images that made it into the film and the emotional toil of working with these images that span almost half a century?

RP: The process was an unusual one for making a documentary. It started with the text. I went through all my James Baldwin books. Most were already heavily underlined from many rereads over the years and with the help of “Remember This House” as the main storyline, I assembled a coherent, dramatically impactful first “manuscript.” And somehow the film was there.

In the meantime, my team had already started working on the archival research and acquisition process and we basically went through everything that existed about, with and around James Baldwin in film, radio and television. I was already familiar with a lot of it and some of it was part of my own emotional iconography. When we identified enough archival material (photos, films and all sort of footage), I put everything on the floor in a very large room and started to formally build a first possible editing structure from start to finish.

The rest is a perpetual back-and-forth between images and text, one affecting the other, with the additional difficulty of rights availability, quality of material and budget requirements.

Except for the footage from Ferguson, where we had someone shooting images for us, all the shooting came last. By then, we knew exactly what we needed.

At the end of the day, a film is also the result of a whole life, not just the actual making of it. This film has been bubbling inside me for the last 35 years, probably since the very first time I read Baldwin.

AFI: Does your experience as a Haitian filmmaker inform this film about being black in America? 

RP: I come from a country where we knew from day one who we were and where we came from — most importantly from a country which made history by freeing itself, on the battlefield, from its masters, and got its independence in 1804.

Contrary to the legend, the first totally free Republic of the Americas is not the United States, but Haiti. The slaves had liberated themselves. And we paid a heavy price for it. So, I know where I come from.

Then again, like most children around the world, I also grew up with the mythology of American cinema and its images. At that time it was called cultural imperialism. Today it is called soft power. Like many children in the third world, I learned very early on how to decipher and deconstruct these images.

As Baldwin put it, “I discovered that Gary Cooper killing off the Indians, that the Indians were me.”

This is probably the ideological part of my answer. The other part is just the lessons you learn daily.

As James Baldwin wrote quite eloquently in his very direct and figurative language: “When a nigger quotes the Gospel, he is not quoting. He is telling you what happened to him today.”

Haitian or not, being black is the first identifier people acknowledge. It is part of your daily life. It is life itself, an ongoing experience that never stops, and it will be until there are real, fundamental and structural changes in this country and elsewhere.

 Free tickets for the Masters in Conversation screening of I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO will be available on AFI.com beginning November 1.


(Source: blog.afi.com)

La La Land to get Early Release on December 9

La La Land,  the sophomore feature follow-up by critically acclaimed Whiplash director, Damien Chazelle, is scheduled for a limited release beginning on December 9th. La La Land, an early favorite for Oscar nominations after strong showings at the Venice, Toronto and Telluride film festivals, is a musical drama about a jazz pianist who falls for an aspiring actress in Los Angeles, California. Ryan Gosling plays the jazz pianist, Sebastian while Emma Stone plays the aspiring actress/playwright Mia. Ms. Stone captured hearts at Venice receiving a Silver Lion for Best Actress for her role as Mia.In addition, La La Land won the coveted Audience Award at the Toronto Film Festival.

The official roll-out release remains scheduled for December 16th.



(Sources: http://www.variety.com, http://www.thedailystar.net)

Highlights From Tom Ford’s TIFF Interview About His New Film, “Nocturnal Animals”

Posted by Larry Gleeson

By Anjli Patel

Nocturnal Animals, the second feature length film directed by Tom Ford, centers on a man’s cathartic, vengeful healing process in the aftermath of a great love lost. Taking the form of a story-within-a-story, Ford employs precise visuals — a skill mastered in his day job as a fashion designer — to segue from one story to the other.

Set simultaneously in the upper echelons of Los Angeles and barren West Texas, these distinct backdrops symbolize the great divide that Susan, Amy Adams’ art dealer character, perceives between her and Edward, her novelist ex-husband played by Jake Gyllenhaal. Susan’s inability to reconcile her needs and desires is the cause of her unhappiness and the couple’s demise. However, nearly two decades later when she has long since moved on with her life, Susan is forced to come to terms with that relationship when she unexpectedly receives a novel written by Edward and dedicated to her.

The film is emotionally gripping and at times difficult to watch, a departure from the melancholy A Single Man, Ford’s directorial debut, which seven years ago also premiered in North America at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Last week following the second screening of Nocturnal Animals, Ford sat down with Cameron Bailey, the artistic director of TIFF, to discuss the film at length. Below are highlights from their conversation.

Ford on the role of style in his films:

“I think because of my other life [as a fashion designer] people usually gravitate to style. In filmmaking unless [style] serves a purpose and helps tell the story, it’s not important. Substance is for me what’s important.”

Ford on the take home message of the film:

“When you find someone in your life, someone that’s important to you, someone who you connect to, don’t let them go. Hold on.”

Ford on fueling consumption:

“Style really has to serve a character, and so there is a real purpose for Susan’s very pristine, cold life. I think it’s something that our society and our culture constantly tells you, ‘this is going to make you happy; you’ll be happy if you have this, you’ll be happy if you have that’ and in my other life I am one of those people responsible for doing that, but I’m very divided about it. I grew up in New Mexico in a much simpler way. Whenever I can, I escape to my house there, to the desert, to the sky, and I feel much more in touch with the earth, and the planet, and why we’re here. And so it is something that I struggle with.”

Ford on the West Texas narrative in the film:

“I have a couple of lives. I grew up in Texas. I know West Texas very well. I have so many cousins there. I lead a life in Los Angeles, in London, but I also have a ranch in New Mexico. I ride horses, I have cattle, I know that world very well, and what I wanted to do was contrast those two worlds — Susan’s slick, cold world is colored in a way that is very blue-toned, it’s very cold. Yet when we have color in her world, it’s quite sharp and quite garish, whereas the inner novel is green, the colors are different, they’re deeper, they’re richer, and then of course her flashback. I think often when many of us remember the past, it’s very vivid and warm because we have a tendency, at least I do, to remember the past in a nostalgic way.”

Ford on Amy Adams:

“Editing Amy, there is not a bad take, a bad moment. She does so much with her face, she is a spectacular actress. … I would say [Amy is] one of the best actresses working today who can tell — she telegraphs with her face what she’s feeling. And I find Amy’s eyes incredibly soulful. … If you know Amy and look into her eyes, you can’t help but feel something, and I wanted that to really come through in the part of Susan.”

Ford on the art in the opening scene:

“All of the art in the film is real. The original artists let us use their work. I usually don’t like a film about the art world where the art is fake because somehow it doesn’t have the same emotion that real art does. [The art in the opening scene] is the one and only piece of art that I created because I had to imagine myself, ‘okay, I’m an artist, and what is it that I want to say.’ I’ve lived in Europe for the last 27 years, so I decided, ‘alright, I’ll tell a European perspective of where America is today.’

I think America used to be thought of as kind of a country of beautiful, tanned, tits and ass, Farah Fawcett in a little red swimsuit, all teeth and hair, and I think a lot of the world today thinks of America as gluttonous, overfed, aging, decaying in a sense. And that was my original intention, which is why these women are wearing little bits and pieces of Americana. So I wanted to create a sort of absurd, conceptual art because Amy then later says everything is junk, our culture is junk.

However, that completely changed. I shot these women — they were the most beautiful people. They were so free, they were so excited, they were so happy, they were so joyful, and I fell in love with them. I fell in love with everything about them. And I realized after I shot them that in a sense they were a microcosm of what I was trying to say about the world. … They’re so glad to be here, and it’s because they have let go of our perception of what they’re supposed to be, and that is what is trapping Amy’s character Susan — she’s trying so hard to be what she thinks she is supposed to be, and she’s miserable. And these women were so joyful because they’ve let go of that. They’ve let go of this idea of what we’re supposed to be. And so [the art] became something quite different in the film.”

(Source: http://www.papermag.com)

Photo by Joe Schildhorn/BFA.com

Which movies are in the running for the 2017 Oscars?


La La Land with Ryan Gossling and Emma Stone is already a favorite to win the 2017 Oscar for Best Picture. (Photo courtesy of SND)

LOS ANGELES, Sept 25 ― What were the films and who were the actors who stood out at the latest film festivals? In the wake of the Venice, Toronto and Telluride festivals, here is an update on the movies and players potentially in the running for the 2017 Oscars.

In the period from September to December, the pace of superhero epic and action blockbuster releases slows down to make way for potential Oscar-winning works. This year is no exception with studios and distributors preparing to launch the movies they feel stand the best chance in the 89th Academy Awards at a time when they will still be fresh in the minds of the 2017 jury. What are the movies that will benefit from this Hollywood marketing strategy?

Top favourite ‘La La Land’

Having won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival, La La Land is now a serious contender for the 2017 Oscar for Best Picture. The Canadian accolade should not be overlooked. In fact it is a more than reliable indicator for the likely winner of a much-coveted gold statuette, having been awarded to such previous Oscar winners as Twelve Years a Slave, The King’s Speech, Slumdog Millionaire and American Beauty.

But it would be unwise to bet on the musical comedy which features Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling without evaluating the chances of some of the other movies that have come to light in the latest festivals: notably Manchester by the Sea, which is buoyed by a remarkable performance by Casey Affleck, Jeff Nichols’ Loving, Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival, Nocturnal Animals by Tom Ford, which won the Silver Lion at the 73rd Venice Mostra, and the biopic of Jackie Kennedy, Jackie, which could harvest a second Oscar for Natalie Portman.

However, competition for Best Actress in a Leading Role looks set to be fierce this year. Having garnered an award in Venice, Emma Stone has every chance of gaining a nomination. Ruth Negga (Loving), Amy Adams (Arrival), Viola Davis (Fences) and Taraji P. Henson (Hidden Figures) are other likely contenders, as is French actress Isabelle Huppert for her much-noted performance in Paul Verhoeven’s Elle. As for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea), Joel Edgerton (Loving), Jake Gyllenhaal (Nocturnal Animals), Denzel Washington (Fences), Dev Patel (Lion) and Tom Hanks (Sully) could all be in the running.

A more diverse Oscars?

Several films that stand to be selected could also turn the page on the controversy surrounding the 2016 Oscars which was judged to be too “white.” Even if The Birth of a Nation does not currently look to be a competitor, the film which tells the story of a slave revolt may nonetheless be nominated. Other films that look likely to garner nominations include Moonlight, which premiered at the Telluride Film Festival. The story of an African-American growing up in a Miami neighbourhood has already been hailed as major work of independent cinema.

Hidden Figures which casts Octavia Spencer and Taraji P. Henson as mathematicians who, in spite of being overshadowed by their male colleagues, contributed to the success of the Apollo space program, and Denzel Washington’s Fences, which features Viola Davis, have also been tipped for Oscar nominations.

However, we will still have to wait close to five months to see which way the jury votes in the 2017 Academy Awards which will be held on February 26 in Los Angeles. The nominations for the Oscars will be announced on January 24. ― AFP-Relaxnews

(Source: http://www.themalaymailonline.com)

La La Land at front of Oscar pack after win at Toronto

Posted by Larry Gleeson

By Donald Clarke



Don’t get too upset. The six-month-long Oscar season will go to sleep for a spell after the Toronto International Film Festival tidies away the bunting. But the loudest of the opening trumpets is sounded with the People’s Choice Award at that festival. There was a time when the gong had little bearing on the Oscars, but, over the last decade, it has pointed to certain success at the awards that matter. Twelve months ago, Lenny Abrahamson’s Room began its march to glory — one big win for Brie Larson and nominations in best picture and director — with a triumph by Lake Ontario. Since 2008, only one film has won (Nadine Labaki’s Where do We Go Now) without receiving a nomination for best picture. Three of the Toronto winners in that time have converted into the Oscar itself.

It thus seemed likely that, rather than some leisurely outhouse puzzler, Damien Chazelle’s La La Land — a musical that has been Oscar favourite ever since opening Venice — would be the honoured picture. So, it has proved. The runners up were crowd-pleasers that, if nothing else, will figure in the conversation until nomination day in January: Mira Nair’s Queen of Katwe and Garth Davis’s Lion. (The Academy will be delighted that, after the #oscarssowhite embarrassment and the Birth of a Nation fiasco, both films focus on people of colour.) The many Ben Wheatley fans who were a bit disappointed by High Rise will be happy to hear that his thriller Free Fire won the People’s Choice for Midnight Madness.

There were no triumphs for the Irish at this year’s Toronto. But there have been decent reviews for Gerard Barrett’s Brain on Fire and Lorcan Finnegan’s Without Name. The best notices among the domestic premieres seem to have been for John Butler’s Handsome Devil. We now move on towards the Guild Awards in the winter with Awards appetite whetted (if that’s what you like).

If you’re interested, I have a tenner on Lion to win best picture at 25/1. No, I haven’t seen the picture, but it’s already come in to 20/1. So, I feel like a genius.


People’s Choice Award: “La La Land,” Damien Chazelle

People’s Choice Award For Documentary: “I Am Not Your Negro,” Raoul Peck

People’s Choice Award For Midnight Madness: “Free Fire,” Ben Wheatley

Platform Prize: “Jackie,” Pablo Larrian

Platform Prize, Special Mention: “Hema Hema: Sing Me a Song While I Wait,” Khyentse Norbu

Best Canadian Feature Film: “Those Who Make Revolution Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves,” Mathieu Denis and Simon Lavoie

Best Canadian First Feature Film: “Old Stone,” Johnny Ma

Prizes of the International Critics (FIPRESCI Prize) for Special Presentations Section: “I Am Not Madame Bovary,” Feng Xiaogang

Prizes of the International Critics (FIPRESCI Prize) for Discovery Section: “Kati Kati,” Mbithi Masya

Dropbox Discovery Programme Filmmakers Award: “Jeffrey,” Yanillys Perez

NETPAC Award For World or International Asian Film Premiere: “In Between,” Maysaloun Hamoud

Best Short Film: “Imago,” Ribay Gutierrez

Best Canadian Short Film: “Mutants,” Alexandre Dostie

(Source: http://www.irishtimes.com)

TIFF 2016: Woody Harrelson in One More Biopic of LBJ—This Time a Good One

Posted by Larry Gleeson

By George Prentice

Beneath a mound of makeup and fake proboscis, Woody Harrelson performs the hell out of Lyndon Baines Johnson in LBJ, yet another dramatization of the 36th president of the United States.

The subject of President Johnson has been well trod. There have been four magnificent books written on LBJ by Pulitzer Prize-winner Robert Caro; the Tony Award-winning 2012 Broadway play All the Way by Robert Schennkan; and the 2016 HBO adaptation of the play, which will most certainly win its star, Bryan Cranston, another Emmy Award this Sunday.

Now comes director Rob Reiner’s LBJ, which has yet to set a release date in North America but made its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

“You got your show horses and you got your workhorses,” LBJ says to an aide early in the film, referring to then-President John F. Kennedy’s popularity versus his vice president’s respectability. “And when the field needs plowin’, you need the right one leavin’ the barn.”

LBJ chronicles Johnson’s reluctance to accept the vice presidency from JFK, followed by his taking of the reins in the shadow of the latter’s assassination. Harrelson plays the irascible yet sly Texan as a tough SOB who still obsessed over not being liked.

“I could walk on the Potomac River and the next day’s headlines would say, ‘Johnson can’t swim,'” he complains.

Expectations were low for the film. Reiner has had his share of hits (When Harry Met Sally, A Few Good Men), but he’s had more misses of late (Being Charlie, Rumor Has it, The Story of Us). Considering Reiner also directed the widely-popular 1995 film The American President, this is territory he’s comfortable with—and it shows.

Harrelson, whose dramatic turns increase with every project (one recent highlight being HBO’s True Detective), mines his own Texas roots to uncover subtleties in LBJ than many other actors haven’t been able to deliver. For that reason alone, LBJ is worth seeing and goes a long way to making it Reiner’s best film since The American President.

(Source: http://www.boiseweekly.com)


Seto Surya wins INTERFILM Award at Venice

Nepali film Seto Surya (White Sun) directed by Deepak Rauniyar was premiered in the Orizzonti section — an international competition — at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival to much appreciation on September 6.


*Video and photos are courtesy of ASAC Images/Biennale Cinema


It has also won 6th INTERFILM Award for Promoting Interreligious Dialogue under Collateral Awards of the 73rd Venice Film Festival.

“From a shortlist of finally three films the INTERFILM Jury at the 73rd International Film Festival Venice has chosen the winner of the 6th INTERFILM Award for Promoting Interreligious Dialogue.

The jury decided for the Nepalisian film Seta Surya (White Sun) by Deepak Rauniyar which was screened in the Orizzonti section of the festival,” the website of the Award writes.

Seta Surya Director, Deepak Rauniyar. (Photo courtesy of ASAC Images/Biennale Cinema)

“It is obviously a moment of joy to be receiving an award at one of the world’s oldest and biggest film festivals of the world. We all are happy,” director Rauniyar expressed to The Himalayan Times via a Facebook interview. Sadly, he wasn’t there to receive the award.

Highway was his first feature film and it also became “the first feature of Nepal to premiere in a major international film festival. Now, White Sun has taken us to another level”.

He has had a deep belief that “Nepali films like other films can be distributed and screened across the audience of the world.

I would be jubilant that day when our films will be distributed easily like other films reach us. My belief has been firm after White Sun was screened at two big film festivals in a gap of four days and the response we got.”

After Venice Film Festival, White Sun had a North American premiere at Toronto International Film Festival on September 10. The 87-minute-film is a story after the country’s civil war.

It features Dayahang Rai, Asha Magrati, Rabindra Singh Baniya, Sumi Malla and Amrit Pariyar among others.

With the win, lead actor Rai feels that “the country and Nepali films have garnered respect”. When the film was well received at the premiere at Venice with a long applause in a hall of more than 1,200 audience, he is on cloud nine.

He shared, “I felt that this is the success for what I have worked till now!” He had also not expected that people would be interested in a Nepali film.

The Festival ran from August 31 to September 10. INTERFILM is the international network for dialogue between church and film promoting the appreciation of cinema’s artistic, spiritual and social significance in the church and calls attention to the relevance of church, theology and religion for cinema.

As festivals are critical for the activities of INTERFILM, it participates in festivals like Venice and award prizes to outstanding films.


Portman’s Jackie Kennedy film to get Oscar season release

Posted by Larry Gleeson

By Jake Coyle


TORONTO (AP) — The Jackie Kennedy biopic Jackie, starring Natalie Portman, has been acquired by Fox Searchlight, which plans to push the film directly into the Oscar season.

Searchlight announced the acquisition early Tuesday shortly after the Pablo Larrain-directed film played at the Toronto International Film Festival. Though the market has been quiet in Toronto, Jackie has been the most hotly pursued film since its Venice Film Festival debut last week. The film cuts between the events surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy and other moments in the first lady’s life.

Natalie Portman as First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in Pablo Larrain’s Jackie. (Photo courtesy of ASAC Images/Biennale Cinema)

Fox Searchlight will release the movie Dec. 9, and it’s widely expected to catapult Portman into the best-actress Oscar race. Fox’s specialty division is an awards season regular that has ushered many films into the Academy Awards, including best-picture winners “12 Years a Slave” and “Birdman,” as well as Portman’s own “Black Swan,” which won her best actress.

Searchlight’s other fall release, Nate Parker’s Nat Turner slave revolt drama “The Birth of a Nation,” had been seen as the studio’s horse in this year’s Oscar race. But that film’s awards hopes have been badly damaged by a rape accusation from Parker’s past. In Toronto, Parker deflected questions about the case in a press conference.

“Pablo Larrain’s Jackie is a daring, one-of-a-kind cinematic portrayal of a beloved icon,” said Fox Searchlight Pictures Presidents Nancy Utley and Stephen Gilula.

Movies aren’t often acquired in Toronto and so quickly put into theaters. Usually they open sometime the following year. But Fox Searchlight has managed it before; in 2008, it picked up Darren Aronofsky’s “The Wrestler,” and led it to Oscar nods for both Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei.

*Featured photo: Actress Natalie Portman arriving for the premiere of the film ‘Planetarium’ during the 73rd Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy, Thursday, Sept. 8, 2016. (Photo credit: Ettore Ferrari/ANSA via AP)


Toronto: Natalie Portman Biopic ‘Jackie’ Nabbed by Fox Searchlight

Posted by Larry Gleeson

By Tatiana Siegel

Fox Searchlight has acquired U.S. rights to Jackie, which sees Natalie Portman star as former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy.

In an otherwise sleepy Toronto market, the deal marks the first significant sale of a finished film. Searchlight will release the historical drama on Dec. 9, giving it a prime awards-season birth.

Jackie, directed by Pablo Larraín, takes place in the days after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, focusing on Theodore H. White’s Life magazine interview with the widow at Hyannis Port.

Noah Oppenheim wrote the original script, which won best screenplay at this year’s Venice  Film Festival.

“Pablo Larraín’s Jackie is a daring, one-of-a-kind cinematic portrayal of a beloved icon,” said Searchlight presidents Stephen Gilula and Nancy Utley. “Led by an indelible performance from Natalie Portman and supported by a richly talented ensemble of actors and artists, the film is one we are thrilled to bring to audiences later this year.”.

Larraín will now have two potential awards-season contenders this year, as The Orchard will be pushing his Neruda, which is also playing at the Toronto Film Festival, in the foreign-language category.

Added Larraín: “[Searchlight’s] movies have been an important influence on me as a filmmaker, and it is a personal achievement for me to have them bring this very special story of a beautiful, sophisticated and mysterious woman to the world. Jackie was the most unknown of the known women of the 20th century.”

Darren Aronofsky produced Jackie along with Juan de Dios Larraín, Mickey Liddell, Scott Franklin and Ari Handel. Pete Shilaimon, Jennifer Monroe, Jayne Hong, Wei Han, Lin Qi, Josh Stern executive produced.

The film made its North American premiere in the Platform section of the festival.

Searchlight had first and last rights to negotiate on the film, which was repped by CAA.


See what Natalie, Noah Oppenhiem and Pablo Larrain have to say about Jackie:



*Featured photo courtesy of ASAC Images/Stehphanie Branchu

(Source: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com)

Australian films on the world stage at Venice and Toronto film festivals

Posted by Larry Gleeson


Post by Stephanie Bunburry

With three Australian films screening in the Venice Film Festival and four features and a short film at Toronto International Film Festival, September will be something of a bumper month for the local industry.

Venice is the world’s oldest film festival, with a prestigious competition. Toronto’s only prize is its audience award, but it has set a precedent as the effective launching pad for Hollywood’s awards seasons, with many of the industry’s most Oscar-worthy films screening there first. The mass conversation about movies may have shifted to the internet but, for films that are not part of a critic-proof comic franchise, that has only made the stamp of approval from a top festival more important.

In Venice, the Mel Gibson war drama Hacksaw Ridge, crime thriller Hounds of Love and Boys in the Trees, a supernatural coming-of-age film, will all have their world premieres. Hacksaw Ridge is about an American conscientious objector (played by British actor Andrew Garfield) whose bravery as an unarmed medic on the field of battle earned him a Congressional medal of honour. It was written, financed and filmed in Australia. “It’s an Australian film about America,” said Gibson in a recent interview. “It’s a fully Aussie-funded film. It’s really interesting.”

Hacksaw Ridge is also – along with opening-night film La La Land, directed by Damien Chazelle of Whiplash fame, Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi Arrival and Pablo Larrain’s Jackie, which features Natalie Portman as the former First Lady – one of the few really big-ticket films showing on the Lido. Increasingly, Venice is largely a showcase for European arthouse, with a few high-end Hollywood films adding glitter to the festival’s red carpets in exchange for some take-away Euro gravitas. The studios are not even bothering to do press in Venice for La La Land or Jackie; that all happens in Toronto.

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The Venice festival’s most hotly-anticipated film comes from an experimental American director; coincidentally, it also has its origins in Australia. Derek Cianfrance’s Light Between Oceans, starring Michael Fassbender and Alice Vikander, is based on Western Australian writer M.L. Stedman’s hit historical romance novel of the same name. It is set in a fictional lighthouse somewhere near Cape Leeuwin, although it was shot in New Zealand and Tasmania.

Nicholas Verso’s Boys in the Trees, which is screening in Horizons, the more experimental section, is more the kind of film festivals expect from Australia: smaller, quirky, peopled with ordinary Joes who could be our neighbours. It features a couple of quarrelling skater boys who get lost after a school leaving party unwisely held on Halloween. Hounds of Love, which screens as part of the Venice Days program that runs alongside the main festival, is another story from WA. In a different way from Boys in the Trees, it is also a horror film. It revolves around a young woman abducted by a strange couple who realizes she must play mind-games with her captors to survive.

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Boys in the Trees has been selected for Toronto too, along with three other features. Ivan Sen’s cop drama Goldstone, already seen in Australia, is one of them. Sotiris Dounoukis’ Joe Cinque’s Consolation, which recently screened at the Melbourne Film Festival, is based on Helen Garner’s closely argued examination of the real-life case of a Canberra student whose mounting insanity plans to kill her boyfriend were simply ignored by her circle of friends.

The most prominent film in the Toronto pack is Lion, directed by Garth Davis from Saroo Brierley’s book about his return from his home in Australia to India to search for his birth parents. Nicole Kidman stars as his adoptive mother in Australia; Dev Patel, who rose to international fame in Slumdog Millionaire, is the searching son. The short film Trespass, about an encounter between two women in the bush and directed by Animal Kingdom actor Mirrah Foulkes, rounds out Toronto’s Australian contingent.

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First comes Venice, however, which officially begins on Wednesday night. The usual gala opening party has been cancelled out of respect for the Amatrice earthquake victims; there will be no fireworks over the lagoon this year. The Venice Film Festival, even more than Cannes, has always been unrepentantly glamorous. How much the overall tone of the event will change in the wake of the disaster only 500 kilometres away remains to be seen; it is hard to imagine, however, that the flow of prosecco will stop entirely.

(Source: http://www.smh.com.au)