14 items from 2015
Premiering at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival where it went home empty handed from the Jane Campion headed jury, Belgian directing duo Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne continue their more recent trend of working with critically acclaimed French actresses, concocting one of their most emotionally potent titles to date, Two Days, One Night. Star Marion Cotillard would lose twice to American actress Julianne Moore in the international awards area, who trumped her at Cannes for Maps to the Stars and at the Academy Awards for Still Alice. Still, it’s an increasingly intense boil of a performance, ranging from quiet desperation to an act of selfless defiance that will transcend the trappings of any such contemporary award recognition.
Married and a mother of two, Sandra (Cotillard) has recently returned to work after a period of sick leave following a bout of depression. In her absence, management at Solwal, a local solar panel company, »
- Nicholas Bell
Unfolding in the same moral gray area as “Michael Clayton,” where ethical compromises resonate louder than gunshots, Nicolas Pariser’s “The Great Game” suggests how a sophisticated French helmer might spin the ingredients of a John Grisham-style potboiler. Amusingly enough, it is a book, not a bomb, that threatens to disrupt the country’s balance of power as a burnt-out novelist (the naturally introspective Melvil Poupaud) finds himself a pawn in a political game of chess. Such a refreshing emphasis on ideas over action should suit both locals and American arthouse-goers, though it’s worth noting that Pariser’s approach, while thoughtful, leaves ample room for a romantic subplot, climactic footchase and so on.
If anything, such genre-movie concessions distract from the qualities that make “The Great Game” such a distinctively French offering, with its enticing glimpse of how the wheels turn behind the facade of Paris’ Elysee Palace. »
- Peter Debruge
French comedy added to sidebar’s competition.
The world premiere of the film, which will go on to screen at Toronto, has been secured by Venice Days following an agreement with international distributor Wild Bunch.
The satirical comedy centres on fortysomething workaholic Violette (Delpy), who finds romance while on a spa vacation. But once back home, the pair have to deal with Lolo, Violette’s brainy, tyrannical son, who has no intention of relinquishing his own control over the family, and the emotions of his mother.
Delpy’s previous features as director include 2 Days in New York (2012), Skylab (2011), The Countess (2009) and »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Michael Rosser)
The Venice Film Festival’s (September 2 - 12) independently run section will host 21 titles including 18 world premieres in its official selection.
The ten-title competition includes Matias Bize’s The Memory of Water, a drama about a young couple trying to rekindle their relationship after the death of their 4-year-old son, Vincenzo Marra’s fourth feature La Prima Luce, which stars Riccardo Scamarcio as an Italian lawyer tracking down his young son in Chile after an acrimonious divorce; Ascanio Celestini’s drama Long Live The Bride, starring Alba Rohrwacher, and Australian director Michael Rowe’s love drama Early Winter, featuring Suzanne Clement.
The Venice Film Festival’s independently run Venice Days section, modeled on the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, has unveiled its lineup of 21 titles in the official selection, comprising the world premiere of “Ma,” by New York-based filmmaker-performer Celia Rowlson-Hall, and new works by known names including Spanish veteran Carlos Saura, Chile’s Matias Bize, and Italy’s Vincenzo Marra, alongside first-time and emerging directors.
All told, Venice Days topper Giorgio Gosetti has secured 18 world preems spanning a wide range of genres and formats, including a previously announced short by influential French auteur Agnes Varda. Her “Les Tres Boutons” is sponsored by Prada women’s-only label Miu Miu as part of its partnership with Venice Days on “The Miu Miu Women’s Tales” series of shorts.
- Nick Vivarelli
A lawyer turned schoolteacher pursues her ideals to an almost pathological degree in “Paulina,” a provocative if not always persuasive parable from Argentine helmer Santiago Mitre, making his second feature. A fierce performance from Dolores Fonzi, as a heroine whose actions baffle those around her, helps to hold this conversation-starter together, but viewers’ own mileage and perceptions will vary — which is clearly by design. Critical support will be necessary to carry the movie to significant arthouse exposure; the Nespresso Grand Prix in Critics’ Week is a good start on getting the word out.
Less arid than Mitre’s 2011 feature directing debut, “The Student,” which used a story of university politics to comment on political dealmaking in Argentina, “Paulina,” inspired by the 1960 film “La Patota,” is likewise at once allegorical and concrete. The film opens, in what appears to be a pressure-cooker of a single take, with Paulina (Fonzi) and her father, »
- Ben Kenigsberg
Chinese director of A Touch Of Sin to be feted by French Film Directors Guild at Cannes Film Festival.
The French Film Directors Guild, which runs Cannes parallel section Directors’ Fortnight, is to honour Chinese director Jia Zhangke with its Carrosse d’Or (Golden Carriage) award during this year’s festival.
The guild, known as the Société de Réalisateurs de Films (Sfr) in France, will present Jia with the award on the opening night of Directors’ Fortnight (May 14-24).
The guild published an extract of a letter sent to Jia by the Sfr board, explaining why it had chosen him for the honour: “We are captivated by the boldness of your body of works. Your ability to capture the constant changes in Chinese society, to show its corruption and violence, clearly and concisely, your commitment to younger generations, resonate within each of us.
“Your films are visual poems, with the precision of each shot offering a constant »
At the finale of Robin Campillo's masterful Eastern Boys, bourgeois, middle-aged Frenchman Daniel (Oliver Rabourdin) has overhauled his relationship with the Ukrainian hustler Marek (Kirill Emelyanov) into something totally unexpected. The journey to that climax is a rollercoaster of flirtation, betrayal, larceny, lust, love, dauntless deeds, comeuppance, and finally a benevolent acceptance of the pair's interconnectedness in a manner that neither of these devoted halves could foretell.
The film begins documentary-like, and you won't be able to guess who the lead characters are for the first ten minutes or so as the camera goes sightseeing amongst a bevy of young males meandering to and fro at a train station among self-absorbed travelers. Are the lads thieves or hustlers or just out for a lark? Some men eye them warily with a slight lust unsure of whether to approach or not. One station guard's suspicions are raised due the actions »
- Brandon Judell
Sundance winner snapped up at Berlin’s European Film Market (Efm).
Edge has taken rights to the docu-drama for Scandinavia, Iceland and the Baltics, sold by Magnolia Pictures International.
The film won the Grand Jury Prize in the Us Documentary Section at the Sundance Film Festival last month.
The Wolfpack centres on the Angulo brothers, locked away from society in a New York apartment, who learn about the outside world through the films that they watch.
Nicknamed ‘The Wolfpack’, they spend their childhood reenacting their favorite films using elaborate homemade props and costumes, but find their world shaken when one of the brothers escapes.
Also from Efm, Edge acquired Laurent Cantet’s Return to Ithaca from Funny Ballons for the Scandinavian and Icelandic market; and Carlos Marques-Marcet’s 10,000km from Visit Film, a film that recently received a Spanish Goya award »
- email@example.com (Michael Rosser)
Paris – France’s Mikros Image, with headquarters in Paris and offices in Montreal, Los Angeles, Liège, Brussels, Luxembourg and Milan, plans to reinforce its animation and VFX work, revolving primarily around its three-main operation centers: Paris, Belgium and Montreal.
With a 250-strong workforce, the company is one of France’s veteran and most highly-respected VFX shingles.
Mikros rose to international recognition with its 2010 Oscar-winning toon short “Logorama” and bowed a dedicated animation division in June 2012 in Levallois-Perret, Paris.
Its first animation feature, Louis Clichy and Alexandre Astier’s €37 million ($42 million) “Asterix: the Land of the Gods,” was released in France on Nov. 26, clocking up 0.93 million admissions for distributor Snd in its opening week. The film’s cumulative 3.2 million admissions, complemented by worldwide sales, makes it one of the most successful French toon pics ever.
- Martin Dale
Berlin-based Films Boutique has snatched up international sales rights to Alexey German Jr.’s “Under Electric Clouds,” a dystopian sci-fi drama set to world-premiere in competition at Berlin.
Set in 2017 Russia, “Under Electric Clouds” follows different characters whose lives cross paths as a great new war is about to break out.
German Jr.’s follow-up to “Paper Soldier,” “Under Electric Clouds” pursues the director’s exploration of human souls and Russian politics.
“The film is visually very sophisticated in its near-apocalyptic portrayal of a large city that has been abandoned and is slowly disintegrating,” said Films Boutique’s new head of sales and marketing Louis Balsan, who just joined the company from Paris-based Funny Balloons.
Produced by Japan’s Office Kitano with Paris’ Backup Films, »
- Elsa Keslassy
Paris — A trio of well-connected, young film bizzers, former Wild Bunch sales agent Gary Farkas, former M&C Saatchi exec Olivier Muller and Full House staffer Clement Lepoutre, are joining forces to launch Paris-based production company Vixens.
Unveiled in the run-up to Berlin, the company already has four projects in the pipeline, notably an English-language film revenge thriller initiated by Noomi Rapace, who will also star.
“Vixens will mostly focus on emerging authors and directors working on genre movies, thrillers, social dramas and black comedies,” explained Farkas, who joined Wild Bunch in 2010 and worked in international sales for four years.
Muller, Farkas and Lepoutre said they named their outfit Vixens in reference to Russ Meyer’s films because they remain “cult and subversive movies that carry a strong message.”
The company’s development slate will be partly financed through Phantasm, their recently launched shingle specializing in advertising and music videos. »
- Elsa Keslassy
Few auteurs have reached the heights of emotional realism in narrative cinema as has Tunisian born director Abdellatif Kechiche. Starting out as an actor (his last stint in front of the camera was in Jeff Stanzler’s 2005 American indie Sorry, Haters with Robin Wright), Kechiche’s 2000 debut, Poetical Refugee premiered in Venice and starred a host of faces we’ve seen frequently, including Sami Bouajila, Elodie Bouchez, and Aure Atika. His coming titles would prove Kechiche’s preference for non-professional and/or character actors, including the excellent 2005 title Games of Love and Chance, which won Kechiche the Cesar for Best Film, Screenplay, and Director, and would introduce us to actress Sara Forestier. He’d win Best Film, Director, and Screenplay again at the Cesars in 2007, along with several awards in Venice, including the Special Jury Prize for The Secret of the Grain, »
- Nicholas Bell
Director: Stephane Brize // Writer: Stephane Brize
This will be the sixth film from director Stephane Brize, perhaps best known for his Cesar award winning 2009 film, Mademoiselle Chambon. Known for working class character studies, though his last feature, 2012’s Locarno premiered A Few Hours of Spring (see pic above) never received Us distribution. His latest, which will reunite Brize for the third time with Vincent Lindon, looks to be in a similar vein. While Brize’s profile has been slow to rise in the Us, he should be a name of note, recalling early works of Laurent Cantet or the Dardenne Bros. In A Simple Man, Lindon (pic above) plays Laurent, a man who starts a new job as a security guard and is asked to spy on his colleagues.
Cast: Vincent Lindon
Producers: Nord-Ouest Productions’ Christophe Rossugnon and Philip Boeffard (Les combattants)
U.S. Distributor: Rights Available. »
- Nicholas Bell
14 items from 2015
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