Filipino films have been garnering international recognition in recent years. “The Woman Who Left” by director Lav Diaz won the prestigious Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival last month.
In May, the Philippines’ Jaclyn Jose won best actress at the Cannes Film Festival.
CCTV’s Barnaby Lo reports this could be a new golden era in Philippine cinema.
It was a red carpet event, and rightly so. After its success in the international film festival circuit, “Ang Babaeng Humayo” or “The Woman Who Left” opened in the Philippines last week. The almost four-hour film about a woman seeking revenge for getting incarcerated for a crime she didn’t commit had won the prestigious Lion Award last month, the highest honor at the Venice Film Festival. But for its Filipino cast and filmmakers, it was both an exciting and nervous moment.
Today’s Filipino films have little to prove abroad, especially with the win of Lav Diaz’s latest epic at the Venice Film Festival. The real battle now is at home, where romantic comedies and commercial dramas still dominate the local movie industry.
While awards do not guarantee box office success, surely, they are a measure of where Filipino films are right now on the world stage.
Film Director Damien Chazelle’s La La Land comes on the heels of his Oscar nominated screenplay adaptation for 2015’s Whiplash, where a highly intense music teacher molds a young, dedicated student. J.K. Simmons performance as the teacher garnered him an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role.
Chazelle, an avid music lover, had wanted to do a musical spectacle in the manner of Jacques Demy’s The Young Girls of Rochefort and The Umbrellas of Chambourg while mixing in a splash of Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen’s Singing in the Rain. Moreover, Chazelle wanted a realism mixed into the story. Having resided in Los Angeles for the last ten years and having had a love affair with the city, Chazelle chose the City of Angels to set his Hollywood success-seeker film.
The film opens without much fanfare in a typical Los Angeles morning traffic jam. A young woman, Mia, played by Emma Stone, in a white Prius, is having an issue with her phone and misses an opportunity to move forward as the traffic jam has freed up somewhat. The young man behind her in a late 1980’s maroon-colored, Buick Riviera convertible, Sebastian, played by Ryan Gosling, lets her know with a blare of his horn and a not-so-friendly “good morning to you” gesture. Soon traffic slows again. This time, however, as radio are being dialed in, drivers begin exiting their vehicles and break into to an energetic, six-minute song and dance number, “Another Day of Sun,” staged on the 110 freeway overlooking downtown Los Angeles. As the song concludes, the title is flashed across the screen and the film is off and running with a start reminiscent of Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret in Viva Las Vegas.
La La Land is more about relationship and the life-changing experience two young lovers gain from each other. Mia is an aspiring actress mired in her real job as a barista juxtaposed against a series of failed acting auditions where she is continually interrupted. Sebastian, on the other hand, is a coarse, die-hard classical jazz pianist who doesn’t believe in compromising his convictions for anything or anyone. As their paths begin to cross Sebastian brushes off Mia as someone who will never understand his plight – until she does. When their paths finally converge, the harsh realities of life begin to set in and the two unknowingly turn to each other in raw emotional exchanges and thereby find the strength each needs to reach the stars.
In a powerful denouement in the city full of optimism and broken dreams, the story concludes with a Mick Jagger and Rolling Stones truism echoed faintly at first only to be finished with an exclamation point:
“You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometime you find
You get what you need!”
And if the story isn’t enough in itself, the catchy musical numbers credited to Chazelle’s long-time friend and co-collaborator, Justin Hurwitz, will keep almost any music aficionado’s attention. If not, then the roving camera movement of cinematographer Linus Sandgren is bound to keep eyes in the scene. And, if that’s not enough, then the supercharged production numbers from choreographer Mandy Moore will keep you riveted as they sync in timing with Sandgren’s camera movement allowing the actors seemingly the ability to levitate. And in vein with Chazelle’s vision and outright homage to the musicals of the 50’s and 60’s, Production Designer David Wasco keeps the screen illuminated with a bright vision of reds, yellows, pinks, pastel greens and sky blues, aided wonderfully by Mary Zophres’ costuming, while the filming locations could very well serve as a Los Angeles pop culture tour.
If there’s only one film you can see this year – make it La La Land! Highest recommendation.
Fashion Designer and Film Director Tom premiered his new film, Nocturnal Animals, at the Sala Grande Theater during the 73rd Venice International Film Festival. Nocturnal Animals received the Silver Lion – Grand Jury Prize (generally considered runner-up to the Golden Lion – Best Film). This was Ford’s second feature film. His first film was the critically acclaimed, A Single Man (2009) starring Colin Firth. Firth receiving an Oscar nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for his efforts.
Nocturnal Animals, is a tale of redemption, revenge, love and cruelty. Ford opens the film with a strong musical score to reveal rotund, morbidly obese girls dancing topless upon pedestals seemingly pretending to be debutantes. Adding to the fanfare special effect confetti drops down and through the frame. All-American girls showcasing their goods and talents. Bordering on the macabre, the tone for the film has been set.
Hollywood, A-lister Amy Adams plays a real-life West Texas debutante, Susan Morrow, who lives an unfulfilling life of daunting privilege with her handsome husband, Hutton Morrow, played by Armie Hammer. As Hutton prepares for yet another last-minute weekend high-finance business meeting in New York relationship fissures widen. A pensive Susan reflects on the state of her union with Hutton after a ‘not-so-discreet’ phone conversation from Hutton’s elevator arriving at a penthouse suite amid feminine gaiety as she opens a plain, white, mail shipping box. Susan opens the box to a black and white manuscript titled, “Nocturnal Animals,” by Edward Sheffield, Susan’s former husband and first true love.
In dramatic fashion, Ford begins a journey into the past yet grounded in the present as the manuscript opens up a world fictional, yet etched within Susan’s consciousness. Using parallel storylines, present and fictional coupled with flashbacks to when Edward and Susan first met and the ensuing courtship and short-lived marriage. Laura Linney, plays Susan’s West Texas Republican mother, and delivers some of the film’s more memorable lines during a martini lunch where she unleashes her verbal diatribe lambasting Susan for even considering a marriage to “weak’ Edward. Notwithstanding, however, the real storytelling takes place within the pages of the manuscript. Self-reflective and dramatic the narrative is full of conflict and escalating tensions as a husband and wife, Tony and Laura Hastings, played respectively by Jake Gyllenhaal and Isla Fisher, travel at night across rural West Texas with their teenage daughter, India, played by Ellie Bamber. Without even as much as a lit billboard, out of a pitch dark blackness a vehicle approaches the family’s suburban mid-sized car at a high-rate of speed. The car is driven erratically and its occupants are behaving wildly as they pass. Not too much to worry about until they decide to force the Hastings car off the road. Mayhem ensues as the hellions carjack the Hastings vehicle with the women inside leaving Tony on the side of the road in the dark by his lonesome. Soon a vehicle returns to pick up Tony. He’s informed he gang leader wants to make amends and that Laura and India want Tony brought to where they are being held hostage. Fearing the worst Tony manages to escape and eventually makes his way to a law enforcement office to make an abduction/missing persons report to lawman Bobby Andes, played by Michael Shannon. Susan is shocked and awed at the power of Edward’s writing and the visceral strength of Edward’s character, Tony. By the end of the manuscript, Susan’s life perspective has shifted as she and Edward make plans to meet.
Unquestionably, Ford delivers an emotional and psychological thriller with Nocturnal Animals. Superb acting, exquisite production values and strong storytelling are the film’s hallmarks. Shane Valentino (Straight Outta Compton) handled the film’s production design. Seamus McGarvey (Godzilla, Atonement, The Avengers) provided the cinematography. Costuming was assembled by Arianne Phillips (Kingsman: The Secret Service, Walk The Line, 3:10 To Yuma). Abel Korzeniowski (A Single Man, We) orchestrated the music. Along with directing Ford takes a screenplay writing credit along with Austin Wright, the author of “Tony and Susan,” for writing the novel the film is based on. Nevertheless, the Casting Director, Francine Maisler (The Revenant, Birdman, The Big Short, 12 Years a Slave) and performances by the actors are above and beyond. This is a Don’t Miss film waiting for Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences nominations. The Oscars.
PanARMENIAN.Net – Despite skepticism that it would ever make it into cinemas, Filipino auteur Lav Diaz’s nearly four-hour-long opus “The Woman Who Left”, which won the Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion, is set for theatrical release in Italy by local niche distributor Microcinema, Variety said.
Microcinema has acquired Italian rights to the revenge drama from Berlin-based Films Boutique and plans to distribute it theatrically in coming months, in spite of comments in the press and on social media that the movie’s 228-minute running time made it too hard a sell.
Sam Mendes, who presided over this year’s Venice jury, said during the awards ceremony that one of the jury’s jobs is “to encourage people to come to the cinema and see original films,” while also noting that the jurors in discussions “talked about all movies the same way.”
“Mendes and the jury chose to give the Golden Lion to a film that thinks outside the box,” said Microcinema managing director Roberto Bassano. “And we are also planning to think a bit different.”
Bassano acknowledged that releasing “The Woman Who Left,” which stars Charo Santos-Cancio as a wrongly convicted schoolteacher facing the outside world after 30 years behind bars, would be “a business challenge” both in terms of finding ticket buyers and exhibitors unfazed by the “double screen time” taken up by the movie.
But he said that several art-house exhibitors, and also some Italian multiplexes in metropolitan areas, have already expressed interest. “It’s a slow burner, the kind of film you open small and expect to have legs on a few screens,” Bassano said.
An Italian release of “The Woman Who Left” would mark the first time a movie directed by Diaz made it into Italian cinemas, and also a rare release of one of his films in Europe.
Upcoming Italian releases by Microcinema, which uses a satellite transmission system to beam movies into movie theaters, include Argentinian romcom “No Kids,” directed by Ariel Winograd.
“The Woman Who Left,” shot in black-and-white with long fixed-camera takes, is considered one of Diaz’s more accessible works, with a “restrained run-time by the Filipino director’s standards,” as Variety critic Guy Lodge put it.
Earlier this year, the prolific Diaz won the Berlin Film Festival’s Silver Bear for his eight-hour historical epic, “A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery.” That film was released theatrically in the Philippines by Star Cinema and elsewhere only screened in festivals.
The first Venice Production Bridge – the Festival film market’s evolution into a specialized meeting point for completing projects – was held from September 1-5, 2016 at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival. The VPB re-proposed and expanded on the Venice Gap-Financing Market and Final Cut in Venice programs, making the most of the experience of the Biennale College – Cinema.
This first edition of the Venice Production Bridge registered 1,767 accreditations, including 758 Industry Goldaccreditations (a 35% increase in this latter figure, compared to 2015).
Here are the final figures of the 2016VENICE PRODUCTION BRIDGE:
· GAP FINANCING MARKET (2-4 September): 448 pre-organized meetings were held for the 25 Fiction and Documentary projects, and 158 meetings for the 15 Virtual Reality/TV series/Web series. Fifty meetings were added directly on-site for all 40 projects. Thus, a total of 606 encounters were re-organized, for a grand total of 656 meetings for the 40 projects over the two and a half days.
· BOOK ADAPTATION RIGHTS AREA (2-3 September): over 250 meetings were organized over the two days for the 15 editors.
· FINAL CUT IN VENICE (3-5 September): of the 6 projects presented in the selection, 4 films won the Final Cut prizes (***)
· EUROPEAN FILM FORUM OF THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION
The European Film Forum was held on September 3-4, with the participation of the European Commissioner for the Digital Single Market,Günther Oettinger, and the Director-General of DG Connect, Roberto Viola. The European Film Forum organized two workshops, on access to financing for the creative industries and on the future of cinemas.
· 6 STANDS OPERATED IN THE VPB EXHIBIT AREAS:
REGIONE FRIULI VENEZIA GIULIA
CHINA FILM PROMOTION
SHANGAI FIL FESTIVAL
· PANELS AND EVENTS ORGANIZED AT THE MEETING SPACE
A total of 22, including 17 international panels and events
· VPB MARKET SCREENINGS ORGANIZED
A total of 35, including 13 Private Screenings
· DIGITAL VIDEO LIBRARY:
51 films were available for viewing at the Digital Video Library, including:
6 films from Out of Competition, 18 from Orizzonti, 7 from Venice Classics, 4 from Biennale College Cinema, 2 from Cinema nel Giardino, 5 from SIC, 6 from Venice Days, 1 from Final Cut
(***) FINAL CUT Awards:
FELICITY / FÉLICITÉby Alain Gomis (France/Senegal/Belgium) Producer: Arnaud Dommerc received the following prizes:
– Sub-Ti Ltd. (London) will offer up to € 7,000 to make a DCP master and Italian or English subtitles;
– Sub-Ti Access Srl (Turin) will offer up to € 7,000 for a version accessible to people with sensorial disabilities;
– Rai Cinema will offer € 5,000 to purchase the broadcasting rights for two years;
– Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) will offer € 5,000 to reimburse costs incurred during post-production.
THE WOUND / ISIKO by John Trengove (South Africa/Germany/France/Holland) Producer: Elias Ribeiro received the following prizes:
– Mactari Mixing Auditorium (Paris) will offer up to € 15,000 to make the sound mix;
– Titra Film (Paris) will offer up to € 10,000 for digital color correction, and to make a DCP master and French or English subtitles.
GHOST HUNTING / ISTIYAD ASHBAby Raed Andoni (Palestine/France/Switzerland) Producer: Palmyre Badinie received the following prizes:
– Laser Film (Rome) will offer € 15,000 for the color correctionof a feature film, totaling up to 50 work hours (including technician);
– The Festival International du Film d’Amiens will participate in the cost of making a DCP.
OBSCURE / OTMAHby Soudade Kaadan (Syria/Lebanon) Producer: Salma Kaf received the following prizes:
– MAD Solutions will offer marketing, advertising and distribution in the Arab world;
– The Festival International de Films de Fribourg will participate in the cost of making a DCP.
TORONTO, Sept. 17 (UPI) — IFC Films says it has acquired The Bleeder, a boxing drama that screened at the Venice and Toronto film festivals.
Directed by Philippe Falardeau, and written by Jeff Feurzeig and Jerry Stahl, the Chuck Wepner biopic stars Liev Schreiber, Elisabeth Moss and Naomi Watts. It will get a North American theatrical release in the spring.
“The Bleeder‘s journey could not have found a better conclusion. I’m thrilled that IFC Films acquired our film. I love the group’s philosophy and during the past days, their passion for The Bleeder was certainly contagious. I look forward to working with them in the near future,” Falardeau said in a statement.
“I am truly thrilled our film has found a home at IFC Films and Showtime. The team at IFC Films is pretty much leading the way in terms of effective and substantive theatrical releases right now,” added Schreiber. “As for Showtime, they’ve become family in the past five years, so to have them be a part of this movie just feels right. Such a great outcome.”
Showtime will be the pay television home for the movie after its theatrical release. The network is also where Schreiber’s series Ray Donovan airs.
Film stars and celebrities, who are currently in the Venice Lido for the Venice International Film Festival, have been visiting the Biennale Architettura 2016 (open until November 27th at the Giardini and Arsenale) and expressed great admiration for the display.
Deborah and John Landis have said: “While attending the wonderful Venice Film Festival, we had the good fortune to spend a day at the Biennale Architettura – exciting, inspiring and unmissable.”
Amongst today’s visitors of the Biennale Architettura2016, one could find Pablo Larraín, director of Jackie, one of the films in competition at Venezia 73. Actress Natalie Portman, who plays the title role in Larraín’s latest work, also visited the Exhibition yesterday morning before speaking at the film’s press conference. On the same day, the Festival’s host Sonia Bergamasco also toured the Exhibition in the Giardini and at the Arsenale.
The Biennale Architettura 2016 also welcomed several jury members, such as the presidentof Venezia 73, British director Sam Mendes, as well as others: the director and artist Laurie Anderson, actors Gemma Arterton, Nina Hoss, Chiara Mastroianni and Zhao Wei, writer Giancarlo De Cataldo, directors Joshua Oppenheimer, and the winner of the Golden Lion at Venezia 72, Lorenzo Vigas. From the Orizzonti jury, actor Moon So-ri and critic Jim Hoberman also toured the Exhibition.
Script-writer André van Heerden admits even he “got lost” in the experience of viewing the first feature-length virtual reality film.
A 40-minute preview of Jesus VR – The Story of Christ screened last month at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival, and the Ancaster resident and his wife, Carolyn, had front-row seats.
“Because it’s shown in virtual reality, it’s not really a big screen but more of an actual world that you’re suddenly immersed in. It was surreal,” said van Heerden. “…When you’re within that world and you’re able to turn and look wherever you want, you feel like you’re actually there.”
Virtual reality is a relatively new technology for film. The Venice theatre in which it was screened was equipped with 50 virtual reality headsets and individual seats that pivoted 360 degrees.
According to the show-business magazine Variety, if Jesus VR — The Story of Christ is a success, it could help shape the way virtual reality stories are produced and distributed. The film was shot entirely in Matera, Italy, and employed over a hundred crew members and hundreds of extras. It tells the story of Jesus Christ from his birth to his resurrection.
Van Heerden, who has worked in various aspects of film and video production for the past 15 years, said it took about a month to develop the script’s original draft, followed by another six weeks accommodating requests for extra scenes or additional parts to scenes.
“Because the producers were looking for a faithful and accurate telling of Jesus’ story, a lot of my writing was research based,” said van Heerden. “I wanted to make sure that I picked the most significant parts but also the moments that could be strung together to tell a complete story. Everything came back to Biblical scriptures and making sure that it lined up with them.”
Van Heerden also worked with technical advisor Father William Fulco to ensure the script was scripturally and theologically sound. Fulco was the technical advisor on the highly acclaimed movie The Passion of the Christ.
Jesus VR — The Story of Christ is slated to be released around Christmas on all major virtual reality platforms, including Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear, Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR and the HTC Vive.
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.
“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.
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 Jackieis 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)