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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)

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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)

Berlinale FILM CAPSULE: Have a Nice Day (Liu Jian, 2017) China

Posted by Larry Gleeson.

Liu Jian mortgages the house to make films! Chinese artist/filmmaker Liu Jian delighted the house at the Berlinale Palast Theater during the 67th Berlin International Film Festival.

Utilizing a warm color palette and an exceptional musical score mixing classical American jazz with traditional Chinese sounds, Liu Jian takes the viewer on a colorful journey through a southern Chinese city drawing several people from diverse backgrounds with different motives into bloody conflict in the darkly comedic, animation feature film, Have a Nice Day.  But wait, there’s more!

Have a Nice Day is Liu Jian second foray into feature animation film. His first Piercing I, a cold, hard look at the 2008 global financial crisis. Liu Jian is now in production on his third film, a self-reflective animation feature, School Town, an autobiographical look at Liu Jian’s own life.

In Have a Nice Day, Liu Jian allows a bag containing a million yuan to take center stage. Greed and selfish motives take over. The gangster boss who lays claim to the bagful of yuan holds court and wistfully recalls days from future past while pontificating to a subordinate who has spunk and maintains he’s an artist. Some philosophical discourse takes place on what exactly constitute art and who can call themselves a true artist. The bag has been lost and/or stolen and a butcher/hitman is sent to recover the money-laden bag.

The bag representing progress continues to move from one point to another. Various, vicarious and unsuspecting, dialoguing individuals reveal social and moral issues issues while clutching the bag of money tightly in hopes of securing a better life. In the end, it’s all just an illusory pipe dream fantasy.

Nevertheless, Modern China is in flux and a real war for control is ripe with violence and dangerous activities. With the animation format, Liu Jian is adeptly able to circumvent and soften some of the more distasteful aspects of this movement toward progress while heightening and stylizing the mood in China today.

Along the way, Liu Jian adds some subtle Western influences as he develops nuances of character. For example, the Hitman is a butcher when he’s not working for the mob boss. To add depth to the butcher, Liu Jian inserts a Rocky movie poster starring Sylvester Stallone on the Hitman’s locker at the meat processing plant.

In recent time, much is made of China’s growing economic power and goal of world dominance and, by the film’s end, one of the film’s protagonists, the Hitman, laments, “without high-technologies we just can’t win.” The film closes with an earthy mise-en-scene as a large city-scape with shades of browns and grays sits silently while a long, steady rain cascades across the screen in a vertical fashion.

Another beautiful film in the Berlinale Competition. While Chinese animation short films have been in previous Berlinales, Liu Jian’s Have a Nice Day, is the first feature-length, Chinese animation film to be screened at a Berlinale. It’s a touching expose. And, it’s a worthy contender for the Golden Bear. Warmly recommended.

*Featured photo: Courtesy of Liu Jian/Berlinale.de

 

 

 

BERLINALE TALENTS 2017: COURAGE IN ACTION!

Posted by Larry Gleeson.

The 15th edition of Berlinale Talents was rounded off yesterday by Berlinale International Jury member and artist Olafur Eliasson as well as director Raoul Peck, who is at the festival this year with the Oscar-nominated I Am Not Your Negro (Panorama) and Le jeune Karl Marx (Berlinale Special). During the last six days, over 100 experts, 250 Talents and well over 6,000 visitors turned HAU Hebbel am Ufer into an international hub of discussion and networking for film lovers.

 

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Prof. Monika Gruttes, the Federal Commissioner for Culture and Media (Photo via monika-grutters.de)

“Once again, this year’s Berlinale Talents proves to be the festival’s innovation lab. Where else can young filmmakers and experienced experts from every culture, country and profession have such open, inspiring exchange and collaborate on bringing new films to life? I wish these Talents success as they turn their ideas into reality. And above all: Have courage!” said the Federal Commissioner for Culture and the Media, Prof. Monika Grütters, on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of Berlinale Talents.

 

 

Courageous Mutual Exchange

screen-shot-2017-02-17-at-9-48-23-pmIn a time of political and social upheaval, this year’s theme has been a call to take a clear stance on cinematic narratives and aesthetics as well as a reminder against discouragement to rally our optimism and work together to bring about change. Throughout over 100 events and workshops, Talents discussed and worked with renowned experts and mentors, including Paul Verhoeven and Maggie Gyllenhaal, Christo, Agnieszka Holland, Ana Lily Amirpour, Isabel Coixet, Andres Veiel, Gurinder Chadha, Laura Poitras, Timothy Spall and many more.

Sunday’s opening panel, with this year’s Berlinale International Jury President Paul Verhoeven and Berlinale International Jury member Maggie Gyllenhaal set the tone for this year’s edition. “Be courageous and step into the unknown,” was Paul Verhoeven’s encouragement for the Talents. Christo, in his 90-minute discussion with the audience, called for creative work to be based in real contexts: “The most important thing of all our work is that it is about real things: real wind, real wet, real dry, real fear.” The days to come were a journey towards discovering personal, creative and filmic moments of courage. Talents alumna Ana Lily Amirpour, who returned this year as an expert, summed up what makes Berlinale Talents so special: “I loved it here when I came in 2010, and I still feel the same. It’s invigorating to be around so many people from everywhere in the world who are just madly in love with their ideas.”

Prizes during Berlinale Talents

Once again, prizes were awarded to filmmakers during Berlinale Talents.

As part of the “Talent Project Market,” the VFF Talent Highlight Award, endowed with € 10,000, went to the project The Bus to Amerika by producer Nefes Polat and director Derya Durmaz (Turkey). Cash prizes of €1,000 each were awarded to the Cuban producer Maria Carla del Rio and the Singaporean producer Jeremy Chua for their nominated projects.

For the fifth time, the Robert Bosch Stiftung awarded during Berlinale Talents film prizes to promote international cooperation between German and Arab filmmakers, endowed with up to € 60,000 each.

Animation: Night by director Ahmad Saleh (Jordan) and producers Jessica Neubauer (Germany) and Saleh Saleh (Jordan)

Short Film: The Trap by director Nada Riyadh (Egypt) and producers Eva Schellenbeck (Germany) and Ayman El Amir (Egypt)

Documentary: Behind Closed Doors (Mor L’Bab) by director Yakout Elhababi (Morocco) and producers Karoline Henkel (Germany) and Hind Sah (Morocco / France)

Co-Partner Nespresso kicked off the vertical video contest “Nespresso Talents 2017” during Berlinale Talents. The competition is open for entries until April 17, 2017, at nespresso.com/talents. Winners will be officially announced during the Cannes Film Festival and receive a cash prize and participation in a mentoring programme.

And tonight, Berlinale Talents and Perspektive Deutsches Kino will jointly award the inaugural Kompagnon-Fellowship during the closing evening of Perspektive Deutsches Kino.

For press information and interview requests please contact:

Malte Mau

Phone +49.30.259 20.518
Fax +49.30.259 20.534

Berlinale Talents is an initiative of the Berlin International Film Festival, with the support of the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, Creative Europe – MEDIA Programme of the European Union, Robert Bosch Stiftung, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, the Federal Foreign Office and the German Federal Film Board.

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(Source: Berlinale Press Office)

#SBIFF Announces 3rd Weekend

Posted by Larry Gleeson.

sbiff_app_updateThe Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) announced its 3rd Weekend featuring Festival highlights for FREE!

All screenings this year will be at the Fiesta Theatre at 916 State Street.
Seating is first-come first served.

Info on each film is available at schedule.sbiff.org and on the new SBIFF app available on iOS and Android.

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 17

5:00PM “DOCUMENTARY SHORTS: REFUGEES”
Including “REFUGE” and “REFUGEE” – Winners of the Best Documentary Short Film Award

7:30PM “THE CONSTITUTION”
Winner of the Jeffrey C. Barbakow Award – Best International Feature Film

9:30PM “GAVIOTA: THE END OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA”

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 18

11:00AM “REBELS ON POINTE”

2:00PM “THE GOOD CATHOLIC”
Winner of the Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema
Preceded by “IT’S BEEN LIKE A YEAR” – winner of the Bruce Corwin Award for Best Live Action Short Film

5:00PM “SÁMI BLOOD”
Winner of the Valhalla Award for Best Nordic Film

7:30PM “MY HERO BROTHER”
Winner of the Audience Choice Award and Best Documentary Award

9:30PM “GIVEN”

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 19

11:00AM “TAMARA”
Winner of the Nueva Vision Award for Spain/Latin America Cinema

2:00PM “ANGRY INUK”
Winner of the Social Justice Award for Documentary Film

5:00PM “STRAWBERRY DAYS”
Winner of the ADL Stand Up Award
Preceded by “CONFINO” – Winner of the Bruce Corwin Award for Best Animated Short Film

7:30PM “JERICO, THE INFINITE FLIGHT OF DAYS”

(Source: sbiff.org)

HELPING FILMS GET MADE AT THE BERLINALE CO-PRODUCTION MARKET

Posted by Larry Gleeson.

THREE PRIZES AND 1,200 MEETINGS

Three monetary prizes were awarded to selected narrative film projects at the Berlinale Co-Production Market (February 12 to 15).

On Sunday evening, the Eurimages Co-Production Development Award, with an endowment of 20,000 euros, was awarded to The Wife of the Pilot (director: Anne Zohra Berrached), which Razor Film Produktion from Germany presented here. The prize money is intended as a development grant from the European film fund Eurimages.

The three members of this year’s jury were renowned industry professionals Pablo Pérez de Lema (Spain), Leontine Petit (The Netherlands) and Manfred Schmidt (Germany).

Two additional prestige prizes were also awarded. The VFF – Verwertungsgesellschaft der Film und Fernsehproduzenten from Munich awarded its VFF Talent Highlight Award, with an endowment of 10,000 euros, to the project The Bus to Amerika, presented at the market by producer Nefes Polat from Turkey and director Derya Durmaz. Since 2004, the VFF has each year honoured a promising project by up-and-coming filmmakers from the “Talent Project Market”, organised by the Berlinale Co-Production Market in cooperation with Berlinale Talents. Nominated for the VFF Talent Highlight Award this year in addition to Nefes Polat were Cuban producer Maria Carla del Rio, with her project Shock Labor, and producer Jeremy Chua from Singapore, with Tomorrow is a Long Time. Each project received a recognition of 1,000 euros as well as the opportunity to pitch their projects to participants of the Berlinale Co-Production Market.

This year, the renowned ARTE International Prize, which has been presented since 2011, was awarded to the project Lost Country by Serbian director Vladimir Perišić, which is represented by KinoElektron (France), MPM Film (France) and Trilema Films (Serbia). ARTE bestows the 6,000 euro prize on an artistically outstanding project drawn from the entire Berlinale Co-Production Market.

The 14th Berlinale Co-Production Market, which runs until February 15, is a place where the producers of the 36 selected narrative film projects can also meet with potential co-producers and funding partners. Over the four days, some 600 participants take a total of more than 1,200 individual meetings. In the coming days, this Berlinale partner hub will also focus on “Books at the Berlinale”, the presentation of books that could be adapted into films, and “CoPro Series” for TV series. The platform received more than 2,000 requests for meetings this year. More than 240 films that came to the market looking for partners have since become completed films, and seven of those are screening this year alone in the film festival programme.

The main partners of the Berlinale Co-Production Market are MDM – Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung and the European Union Creative Europe MEDIA programme.
Another partner, and also the market venue, is Berlin’s House of Representatives (Abgeordnetenhaus).

The Berlinale Co-Production Market is part of the European Film Market.

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(Source: Berlinale Press Office Release)

Berlinale FILM CAPSULE: The Party (Potter, 2017): Great Britain

Posted by Larry Gleeson.

Director Sally Potter and her new dark comedy, The Party, found a receptive audience at the Berlin International Film Festival with a near-capacity crowd at the spacious Berlinale Palast Theater. Filmgoers were abuzz after the screening. Potter is most well-known for films Orlando (1992), Tango Lesson (1997),The Man Who Cried (2000) and Ginger & Rosa (2012). She is also an accomplished writer and performance artist.

Potter artfully chooses to portray The Party feature in black and white over color. The film opens with an unusual dutch angle-style frame of Bill, portrayed by Timothy Spall, the drunkard husband to Janet, played by Kristen Scott Thomas,  a recent ministerial appointment in the British government. The two have decided to celebrate her appointment with a few close friends.

Without much adieu, the film’s other characters are adeptly brought into the fold with revealing details as they begin arriving one-by-one. Janet, the aforementioned appointee and wife of Bill, is having a clandestine affair. Gottfried, played by Bruno Ganz, is the husband of Janet’s most ardent admirer, April, played by Patricia Clarkson. Gottfried has taken up with meditation in public spaces and is a practicing life coach. Tom, portrayed by Cillian Murphy is a high financier – emphasis on high as after he makes a grand entrance he retreats to Janet and Bill bathroom to ingest a fair amount of cocaine and to get a grip on a semi-automatic pistol complete with a hidden body holster.

Next to join the group are Jinny, played by Emily Mortimer and Martha, played by Cherry Jones, a same-sex couple expecting a child. Jinny is three months pregnant fresh off an overwhelmingly successful ultrasound while Martha is a drab, pseudo-intellectual, college professor. Quite an eclectic set of characters to celebrate with!

Imaginatively, Potter intertwines innuendo, double entendre and some wickedly pointed dialogue exchanges in setting the stage for the ensuing drama hiding in The Party’s underbelly. Meanwhile, Director of Photography, Alexey Rodionov is utilizing deep focus and ultra low angle framing, ala Gregg Toland in Citizen Kane, with satirical affect. Editors Anders Refn and Emilie Orsini keep the viewer’s eye moving from frame to frame matching pace with the characters’ rapid-fire bantering.

Expertly, Potter leads the viewer to the precipice where it’s all about to implode into a dark chasm as tempers are starting to flare when Bill flips the entire scenario inside out. The drunkard declares he is terminally ill and then collapses unconscious! The fury seething beneath the surface has found a fissure for its release as the characters all come rushing to aid Bill in his time of need.

The film’s narrative notches up a warp here with some philosophical musings, snarky female comments and Gottfried’s Eastern meditative point-of-view insights. Gottfried’s comments bring some resounding comic relief while also beginning to make sense now in the teetering moments of crisis. As the characters begin revealing their innermost sacrosanct feelings and beliefs, the situation comes to a climax.

Thanks to the casting of Irene Lamb and Heidi Levitt, Potter has considerable talent to work with and she does a nice job of  providing ample space for character development. She uses the intellectual bantering very effectively to tap into the charatcer’s emotional reserves revealing some serious sensibilities while keeping the viewer guessing at what is coming next.

And, Potter’s efficiency is remarkable. One character action leads right into another as the plot advances in whirlwind fashion. It is lean and mean and before you can say Jack Robinson, it’s over and and it’s complete.

Very nimbly and quite adeptly Potter and The Party make a seamless, nearly compass accurate, full circle narrative from opening to close with nary a dull moment in between. A highly recommended film.

The Party was a bonafide 2017 Golden Bear contender and was Potter’s eighth feature film. Potter previously took part in the Berlinale Competition in 2009 with Rage.

 

*Featured photo credit: Adventure Pictures Limited 2017