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1-20 of 27 items from 2016   « Prev | Next »


Toronto Film Review: ‘Brotherhood’

14 September 2016 9:36 AM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

A decade ago, “Kidulthood” — a tough, multiracial British teen drama, written by and starring eventual BAFTA winner Noel Clarke — was justly praised for its vibrant energy; two years later, follow-up “Adulthood” saw the actor-scribe step up to add directing duties to the mix. Opening with a montage sketching the salient events of the story so far, third installment “Brotherhood” sees the return of West Londoners Sam Peel (Clarke), nemesis Uncle Curtis (Cornell John) and other familiar faces from the first two films. In this par-for-the-course conclusion to Clarke’s “‘Hood” saga, the key transition is the evolution of the main character’s philosophy: From a trenchant warning not to mess with a boy that has nothing to lose, to the realization that perhaps “the only person more dangerous than someone with nothing to lose is someone who stands to lose everything.”

Having served his time for killing a boy with »

- Catherine Bray

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As ‘Jackie’ Crashes the Oscar Party, Venice’s Kingmaker Status Is Confirmed

13 September 2016 10:13 AM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

When it comes to the tricky business of monitoring Oscar-season hype, the Venice Film Festival doesn’t get talked about quite as its fall festival counterparts Telluride and Toronto, or even its European sister Cannes — largely because most of the journalists whose chief job it is to monitor Oscar season don’t attend.

After all, it’s far away, it clashes with those aforementioned North American fests, and its program is heavy on the kind of hard-art world cinema that many Academy members will never hear of, let alone see. This year’s Golden Lion winner was “The Woman Who Left,” a four-hour, black-and-white drama of ethics and revenge from Filipino iconoclast Lav Diaz — a rewarding challenge, but not exactly the definition of an Oscar heavyweight. (Though some ironic tweets I posted immediately after the Venice awards ceremony were taken a little too literally by media outlets in the Philippines. »

- Guy Lodge

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The Best Films at the 2016 Venice Film Festival

12 September 2016 9:43 AM, PDT | The Film Stage | See recent The Film Stage news »

With the jury winners announced this past weekend (see at the bottom), the 73rd Venice International Film Festival has now come to an end. As always, it was a strong kick-off to the fall festivals, with some premieres of dramas that we’ll see over the next few months, as well as a great many that won’t arrive until next year (or perhaps later, pending distribution). We’ve wrapped up the festival by selecting our 9 favorite films, followed by our complete coverage. Check out everything below and let us know what you’re most looking forward to.

Austerlitz (Sergei Loznitsa)

Having experimented with feature-length fiction films, shorts, and archival-footage documentaries in the course of his career, Sergei Loznitsa’s output since his 2014 Ukrainian crisis documentary Maidan has both garnered him greater acclaim than before and zeroed in on cinema as a collectively generated form. – Tommaso T. (full review)

Hacksaw Ridge »

- The Film Stage

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A Fine Pair And The Limits Of Claudia Love

11 September 2016 9:00 AM, PDT | Trailers from Hell | See recent Trailers from Hell news »

This fall semester I started taking an Italian language class two evenings a week with my daughter, and Thursday night I was looking to decompress after our first big quiz. (Scores haven’t been revealed yet, but I think we did just fine.) So I started rummaging through my shelves and came across the Warner Archives DVD of Francesco Maselli’s A Fine Pair (1968), an ostensibly breezy romantic caper comedy which reteams Rock Hudson and Claudia Cardinale, a pairing their public was presumably clamoring for after their previous outing together in Blindfold (1965), a Universal programmer written and directed by Phillip Dunne, the screenwriter of, among many other notable movies, How Green Was My Valley. I’ve had a mad crush on Claudia ever since I first saw her in Circus World (1964) with John Wayne when I was but a youngster, and I always welcome the chance to visit movies of »

- Dennis Cozzalio

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[Venice Review] Jackie

7 September 2016 9:29 AM, PDT | The Film Stage | See recent The Film Stage news »

Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín certainly isn’t beating around the bush with his latest film, Jackie, a strange, refreshingly cynical, and unexpectedly cerebral account of former First Lady’s Jacqueline Kennedy’s actions in the immediate aftermath of John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963. It’s one of three films to be released by the prolific director in 2016 (alongside El Club and Neruda), as well as his first to be made in the United States and English. Such changes in surroundings might have thrown a lesser director off, or at least compromised their style, but Larraín’s conviction, signature moves, and leftward-leaning politics appear to have remained intact. Produced by Darren Aronofsky and boasting a staggering, disorientating string-based soundtrack from Mica Levi (Under the Skin), Jackie has the sophisticated psychological aesthetic of a Jonathan Glazer movie but focuses on one of the most contentious and traumatic events in U.S. »

- Rory O'Connor

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Mulholland Drive Tops BBC's 100 Best Movies of the 21st Century List

23 August 2016 12:21 PM, PDT | MovieWeb | See recent MovieWeb news »

The modern movie landscape can make some people feel like the best days of film are behind us. With remakes, reboots and adaptations very abundant, and original movies seemingly not raking it in at the box office, that is an understandable sentiment. But the BBC felt like there are a lot of recent movies worth celebrating, and that is why they set out to make a list of the 100 greatest movies of the 21st century. The list they came up with is nothing if not interesting, and it is definitely a reminder that there are a lot of great movies that have been made in the last 16 years.

BBC published the list on Tuesday morning, after taking months to put it all together. In order to come up with this list, they used nearly 200 critics from both print and online publications, as well as academics and curators. The contributors that were used spanned the globe, »

- MovieWeb

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The 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century: BBC Polls Critics From Around The Globe

23 August 2016 8:44 AM, PDT | Indiewire | See recent Indiewire news »

Last year, the BBC polled a bunch of critics to determine the 100 greatest American films of all time and only six films released after 2000 placed at all. This year, the BBC decided to determine the “new classics,” films from the past 16 years that will likely stand the test of time, so they polled critics from around the globe for their picks of the 100 greatest films of the 21st Century so far. David Lynch’s “Mulholland Dr.” tops the list, Wong Kar-Wai’s “In The Mood For Love” places second, and Paul Thomas Anderson and the Coen Brothers both have 2 films in the top 25. See the full results below.

Read More: The Best Movies of the 21st Century, According to IndieWire’s Film Critics

Though the list itself is fascinating, what’s also compelling are the statistics about the actual list. According to the the BBC, they polled 177 film critics from every continent except Antarctica. »

- Vikram Murthi

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Mullholland Drive tops critics' list of best 21st century films

23 August 2016 2:33 AM, PDT | Den of Geek | See recent Den of Geek news »

Ryan Lambie Aug 23, 2016

A critics' survey puts Mullholland Drive at the top of the list of the best films since 2000. Did yours make the cut?

Movie critics love Linklater, Studio Ghibli, the Coens and the surrealist stylings of David Lynch. At least, that's if a newly-published list of the 100 greatest films of the 21st century is anything to go by.

BBC Culture commissioned the poll, which took in responses from 177 film critics from all over the world. As a result, the top 100 includes an eclectic mix of the mainstream to independent movies, from dramas to sci-fi and off-beat comedies. Feew would be surprised to see things like Paolo Sorrentino's handsome Italian confection The Great Beauty propping up the lower end of the list, or that such acclaimed directors as Wes Anderson or the aforementioned Coens feature heavily. 

What is pleasing to see, though, is how much good genre stuff has made the cut, »

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The 21st Century’s 100 Greatest Films, According to Critics

22 August 2016 6:23 PM, PDT | The Film Stage | See recent The Film Stage news »

Although we’re only about 16% into the 21st century thus far, the thousands of films that have been released have provided a worthy selection to reflect on the cinematic offerings as they stand. We’ve chimed in with our favorite animations, comedies, sci-fi films, and have more to come, and now a new critics’ poll that we’ve taken part in has tallied up the 21st century’s 100 greatest films overall.

The BBC has polled 177 critics from around the world, resulting in a variety of selections, led by David Lynch‘s Mulholland Drive. Also in the top 10 was Wong Kar-wai‘s In the Mood For Love and Terrence Malick‘s The Tree of Life, which made my personal ballot (seen at the bottom of the page).

In terms of the years with the most selections, 2012 and 2013 each had 9, while Wes Anderson, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Christopher Nolan, the Coens, Michael Haneke, and »

- Jordan Raup

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This Jackie Kennedy biopic's score is going to be insane

16 August 2016 12:29 PM, PDT | Hitfix | See recent Hitfix news »

Under the Skin is a film that truly lives up to its title. Writer/director Jonathan Glazer's modern sci-fi masterpiece hasn't left me since I saw it in theaters two years ago, and part of the reason for that is Mica Levi's haunting score, which serves as the perfect accompaniment to Glazer's sensual, horrifying visual world. The feat was all the more impressive given that Under the Skin was Levi's first time crafting music for a film; owing to the alien origins of Scarlett Johansson's character, the viola-driven score sounds positively otherworldly thanks to Levi's penchant for distortion, which lends the proceedings an unnerving undercurrent of throbbing, sexual dread. "I like the way that it perverts your comfort and your reality," Levi told Pitchfork of the sound-manipulation process she employed. "It’s a different kind of distortion to me—perverting sound into a different field." Along with »

- Chris Eggertsen

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‘Under The Skin’ Composer Mica Levi Scoring Pablo Larrain’s ‘Jackie’ Starring Natalie Portman

15 August 2016 10:55 AM, PDT | The Playlist | See recent The Playlist news »

It’s hard to think of a film score debut in the past few years more electrifying, singular and flat out fantastic than Mica Levi‘s work on “Under The Skin.” Jonathan Glazer‘s film itself defies easy description, which surely would’ve presented a challenge to anyone taking on the score, but surely it was a higher mountain to […]

The post ‘Under The Skin’ Composer Mica Levi Scoring Pablo Larrain’s ‘Jackie’ Starring Natalie Portman appeared first on The Playlist. »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Side-by-side comparisons of 'Stranger Things' and its movie inspirations

27 July 2016 1:37 PM, PDT | Hitfix | See recent Hitfix news »

Netflix's Stranger Things is the hit of the summer, and that's thanks in part to the nostalgia it brings to mind for a lot of people. You probably noticed a lot of nods to films of the past while watching but check out this side-by-side comparison. Besides its fantastic cast and the nostalgia factor, I also really appreciated Stranger Things' score (which, funny enough, made me think a lot of AMC's Halt and Catch Fire score). Vimeo user Ulysse Thevenon utilizes the main theme by the group Survive (Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, who also worked on Adam Wingard's The Guest) in his video detailing just a few of the many '70s and '80s films referenced in the series. While it leaves out more modern movie references, this is a pretty fun project. The most obvious newer film that comes to mind for me is Jonathan Glazer »

- Jill Pantozzi

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The Kids Are Alright: How Ya Stars Have Become The Unlikely Saviors Of American Indie Film

28 June 2016 10:18 AM, PDT | Indiewire | See recent Indiewire news »

Our national nightmare is over: After more than a decade of dystopian futures, obtuse love triangles, and weak Charli Xcx singles, Hollywood’s flash-in-the-pan love affair with Ya film adaptations has finally run its course. You can feel it in the air, and you can see it in the dwindling box office returns. The climactic installments of “The Maze Runner” and “The Divergent Series” are still on the horizon, and an unusually promising adaptation of John Green’s “Looking for Alaska” continues to percolate in pre-production, but bodies tend to wriggle for a little while after they’re officially pronounced dead. The fact of the matter is that Voldemort has been vanquished, the people of District 12 have overthrown The Capitol, and Bella Swan has stopped pouting. There will always be movies made for the tween audience, but make no mistake: The Ya world as we know it has come to an end. »

- David Ehrlich

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The Neon Demon Review

20 June 2016 10:00 AM, PDT | We Got This Covered | See recent We Got This Covered news »

My, what a treat it’d be to spend even five nanoseconds in the mind of Nicolas Winding Refn. Neon strobes, vile torture, cannibalistic corpse-kissing nymphos – Refn’s style blends sinister sleaze with posh, club-centric pop artistry that glows a vibrant, sadistic hue. We all knew The Neon Demon would submerge Los Angeles’ modeling scene in a dead-sexy taste of dog-eat-dog warfare, but with such little storytelling? Even for Refn? Don’t get me wrong, he’s the master of style over substance – and that’s coming from an Only God Forgives apologist – yet his latest piece of work comes off as egotistically narrow-minded.

If you need to be reminded how important that whole “substance” thing is, here’s a perfect example.

Elle Fanning stars as Refn’s muse, a not-quite-legal midwestern beauty with dreams of becoming runway model royalty. As soon as she arrives in town, Fanning’s supple »

- Matt Donato

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Watch: Teaser Trailer for Sci-Fi Horror 'Morgan' Starring Kate Mara

25 May 2016 10:16 AM, PDT | firstshowing.net | See recent FirstShowing.net news »

"Don't let it out." 20th Century Fox has unveiled a teaser trailer for a mysterious new sci-fi horror thriller called Morgan, with the tagline "what is Morgan?" It's obviously not "who", but "what", making me wonder if this is some weird alien creature they've captured that is pretending to be human. A bit like Under the Skin but if that film was made by Hollywood and not Jonathan Glazer. Morgan is the first feature directed by Ridley Scott's son Luke Scott, and stars Kate Mara as a corporate troubleshooter sent to investigate this "person". The full cast also includes Anya Taylor-Joy, Toby Jones, Rose Leslie, Boyd Holbrook, Michelle Yeoh, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Paul Giamatti. I'm certainly intrigued, this is a good tease. Here's the first teaser trailer (+ poster) for Luke Scott's Morgan, direct from Fox's YouTube: A corporate troubleshooter (Kate Mara) is sent to a remote, top-secret location, »

- Alex Billington

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Daniel Battsek Takes Over as Director of Film4

14 April 2016 3:50 PM, PDT | Sydney's Buzz | See recent Sydney's Buzz news »

Channel 4 Chief Executive David Abraham has announced that Daniel Battsek will join the corporation as Director of Film4, following the news that David Kosse is to step down to join Stx Entertainment.

Battsek will join Film4 in July, relocating to the UK from New York after fulfilling his contract as President of Cohen Media Group - where he has overseen the acquisition and release of projects including back-to-back Oscar® nominees "Timbuktu" and "Mustang," as well as a development and production slate of films that includes John Williams’ renowned novel Stoner, a co-production with Film4.   Prior to this role Daniel was President of National Geographic Films, and before that President, Filmed Entertainment at Miramax Films.

David Kosse will continue working for Film4 during the transition period on a consultancy basis until October.

Battsek will inherit the increased spend announced by David Abraham and David Kosse in February 2016 of £25 million for the year, with the ambition of maintaining similar increased levels of Film4 funding in future years.

Under Battsek’s leadership, Film4 will continue to seek out new partnerships like those announced with Fox Searchlight and Fp Films in February, which allow the company to take a greater stake in certain projects, with a view to seeing more of the returns flowing back to Film4 for investment in the company’s future slate.

Battsek also inherits a development slate which includes new work from Lenny Abrahamson, Yorgos Lanthimos, Andrew Haigh, Steve McQueen, Martin McDonagh, Clio Barnard, Bart Layton, Garth Davis and Mike Leigh. as well as completed or near completed films from Andrea Arnold, Ben Wheatley, Ang Lee, Paddy Considine, Susanna White, John Cameron Mitchell, acclaimed theatre director Benedict Andrews, newcomer Toby Macdonald and Danny Boyle.

Channel 4 Chief Executive David Abraham commented: “Daniel Battsek’s passion for independent, filmmaker driven cinema, and experience in film production, development and distribution at the highest level in both the Us and UK markets, are second to none. He’s a perfect fit for the Film4 brand. We’re thrilled to bring this talented British executive back to the UK.

“As demonstrated by our record breaking year at both the Oscars and the BAFTAs, Daniel will inherit a Film4 business in fine creative and commercial health from David Kosse.  We’re sad he couldn’t have been with us longer but he’s had an incredible impact in the time he has led the division.  Both the exciting upcoming slate and the increased funding for original film we announced earlier this year are testament to the successful strategy implemented by David.   I’m delighted that he will be working alongside Daniel on a smooth transition over the summer and ensuring that it is business as usual for Film4 over this period.”

Daniel Battsek added: "I am hugely honored to have been offered this opportunity. My career began with so many of Film4's early productions and I have retained strong ties with British filmmakers throughout my time in the Us. Joining Film4 feels almost like coming full circle. I look forward to returning to the UK and putting the experience I've gained on both sides of the Atlantic to good use."

David Kosse said: "Film4 is a unique organization and a very special brand and it was a difficult decision to leave, but joining Stx at this stage is an opportunity that I couldn't pass up.  Over almost two years, I'm incredibly proud to have put in place a new strategy for Film4 which has boosted funding for the film industry to a record level and to have introduced an exciting new slate of high quality productions and developments with a diverse group of filmmakers.  David Abraham and the Channel 4 leadership team have been fantastic partners since day one and I look forward to continuing to work with them over the coming months."

Having worked at the cutting edge of the independent sector on three continents, Battsek brings 30 years’ production, development and distribution experience to Film4. For the last three years Battsek has served as President of New York based Cohen Media Group, where he has overseen the acquisition and release of arthouse/crossover releases including back-to-back Oscar® nominees "Timbuktu" and "Mustang," as well as a development and production slate of films that includes John Williams’ renowned novel Stoner, a co-production with Film4. Prior to that he spent 2½ years at National Geographic Films, where as President he acquired projects for development and production including the  Oscar® nominated documentary Restrepo, as well as National Geographic branded large screen and Imax 3D projects.

Battsek relocated from the UK to New York in 2005, where he served for five years as President, Filmed Entertainment at Miramax Films. Projects he greenlit and/or acquired there included Oscar® winners "The Queen," "No Country For Old Men" and "There Will Be Blood" and Oscar® nominees "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" and "Happy-Go-Lucky". From 1991 to 2005, Battsek held the position of Evp and Managing Director, UK Distribution and European Production & Acquisitions at Buena Vista International, UK, where he oversaw all aspects of UK distribution for 18-25 releases per annum from Walt Disney Studios and their partners including Pixar and Miramax Films. At Bvi, Battsek also set up a Comedy Production Label in 2001 which financed and produced three films, including "Calendar Girls" and "Kinky Boots." Prior to that, Battsek spent six years as Managing Director of Palace Pictures, where he was responsible for the acquisition and distribution of quality independent titles from around the world for release in the UK, and he also spent three years as a Sales & Marketing Executive for Hoyts Entertainment in Australia, where he first cut his teeth in distribution.

Film4 is Channel 4 Television’s feature film division, which develops and co-finances films and has an established track record for working with the most distinctive and innovative talent in UK and international filmmaking.  Film4 has developed and/or co-financed many of the most successful UK films of recent years - Academy Award-winners such as Steve McQueen’s "12 Years a Slave," Danny Boyle’s "Slumdog Millionaire," Lenny Abrahamson’s "Room," Alex Garland’s "Ex Machina," Asif Kapadia’s Amy, Andrew Haigh’s "45 Years" and Phyllida Lloyd’s "The Iron Lady," in addition to critically-acclaimed award-winners such as Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner, Chris Morris’ "Four Lions," Shane Meadows’ "This is England," Martin McDonagh’s "Seven Psychopaths," Yann Demange’s "71," Ben Wheatley’s "High-Rise," Clio Barnard’s "The Selfish Giant," Jonathan Glazer’s "Under the Skin" and David Mackenzie’s "Starred Up." »

- Sydney Levine

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Oscars 2016: Variety Critics Pick Who Should Win

24 February 2016 10:51 AM, PST | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Oscar night is nearly upon us. Variety critics Justin Chang, Peter Debruge and Guy Lodge don’t get ballots, but if they did, here’s how they would vote in the top eight categories.

Justin Chang

Best Picture: “Mad Max: Fury Road.” Leave it to Hollywood to give its top three guild prizes to three completely different films — “The Big Short,” “Spotlight” and “The Revenant” — and still manage to overlook the best of the lot. No matter: Long after the awards-season dust has settled, “Mad Max: Fury Road” will loom ever larger as the year’s crowning achievement, the sort of auteurist-populist triumph capable of restoring even the most jaded moviegoer’s faith in the system. To watch George Miller’s women-in-the-dunes masterwork is to believe once more in the resilient, resurgent possibilities of franchise fare; in the wisdom of giving someone big honking trucks, flame-throwing guitars and a massive »

- Variety Staff

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Equals Poster & Teaser

15 February 2016 7:00 AM, PST | FilmExperience | See recent FilmExperience news »

Manuel here. After premiering at Toronto last year, Drake Doremus's (Like Crazy) sci-fi romance Equals is headed our way soon via A24. And perhaps as a way to dispel the mixed-reaction this Kristen Stewart/Nicholas Hoult flick got at the busy Canadian festival, we've been given two beautiful pieces of marketing: a gorgeous one-sheet poster (with the nevertheless corny tagline, "Find your equal") and a Chromatics-scored teaser trailer that shows us the sleek and slate future Doremus has cooked up.

In case the beautifully bleak futuristic visuals don't give it away, the film centers on a dystopian future where human emotions have been eradicated...or have they? There really is only one way a plot like that develops but it'll make a nice addition to this growing romance-deconstruction-via-sci-fi genre to which Spike Jonze, Alex Garland, and Jonathan Glazer have treated us in these past few years.

Check out the »

- Manuel Betancourt

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Artist Richard Billingham to direct first feature film

10 February 2016 11:30 AM, PST | ScreenDaily | See recent ScreenDaily news »

The producers are launching a kickstarter campaign to unlock further funding for Ray & Liz.

Turner prize-nominated photographer and artist Richard Billingham is moving into feature films with Ray & Liz, a drama recounting his childhood in a Birmingham council flat.

Billingham has been developing the project with producer Jacqui Davies (The Sky Trembles And The Earth Is Afraid And The Two Eyes Are Not Brothers) for four years, with the support of the BFI and fashion designer agnes b.

The film has its genesis in Ray, a single-screen video artwork that Billingham premiered at the Gylnn Vivian Art Gallery in Wales in June 2015.

Some of the material shot for that project will be used in the first part of Ray & Liz, which will be dividied into three distinct chapters.

Patrick Romer has been cast to play Billingham’s father, while Deidre Kelly, aka White Dee on Channel 4’s reality TV programme Benefits Street as well as Channel »

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FILM4 is the Company with 15 Academy Award Nominations Nobody is Talking About but Should Be

9 February 2016 4:04 PM, PST | Sydney's Buzz | See recent Sydney's Buzz news »

Titles backed by Film4 this year have a total of 15 Oscar nominations including a Best Picture and Best Director nomination and three of the five Oscar Best Actress Nominees: Cate Blanchett, Brie Larson, Charlotte Rampling.  The total tally of Film4’s awards nominations and wins across the Academy, BAFTA, critics groups, guilds, etc. in 2015 to date is: 181 wins out of a total 581 nominations (95% of which were in the U.S.) across 11 films -  “Room”, “Carol”, “Suffragette”, “Youth”, “The Lobster", "Ex Machina", "45 Years”,  “Amy”, “Macbeth”, “Slow West”, and “Dark Horse”.

Film4 has already had two Academy Best Picture wins in recent years with "Slumdog Millionaire" and "12 Years A Slave" amid other Academy Award nominations, so we can declare they are a force to be reckoned with.

This year again they have more nominations than most Hollywood Studios!  The New York based Distribution and Production Company A24 has seven nominations, and people are talking about them as serious players in the Oscar race, so let’s talk about Film4

Film4 is known for working with the most distinctive and innovative, both new and established, talent. It develops and co-finances films and is well known for its involvement with “The Last King of Scotland” (2006), “Slumdog Millionaire” (2008), “This is England” (2006), “Seven Psychopaths” (2012), “12 Years a Slave” (2013) as well as its most recent crop of successes in the current awards season which has also already garnered a record number of BAFTA nominations this year - 22 in all.

Sue Bruce Smith is the head of distribution and brand strategy at Channel 4’s feature film division, Film4.  She supports the building and financing of projects from the U.K. broadcaster. She works in some capacity across most of the Film4 slate but has been particularly associated with films like “Room”, “The Lobster”, “Slumdog Millionaire”, “The Last King of Scotland”, “Tyrannosaur”, “The Imposter” and “Le Weekend”,

Sue has been at Film4 over 12 years. Prior to this she has worked variously in U.K. distribution, broadcaster investment in film, international sales and independent production at Palace Pictures, BBC Films, Littlebird and Film4.

Sl: Can you define what exactly you do at Film4?

Sue Bruce Smith: What I do varies quite a bit from film to film.  Some of the seasoned producers are more adept at finding partners and don’t need much in the way of help putting their finance together.  However, we also work with emerging producers and directors who require more guidance so I am on hand to help them access the right co-production or distribution partners to ensure the film is built in the best possible way.  Once the film is completed, I again get involved in the strategy for the launch of the film and I oversee the distribution activity.  Protecting and maximizing the strength of our Film4 brand is a key consideration in everything I do.  We are also the only free-to-air channel dedicated to film in the U.K. so this really helps define our strong brand.

 

Sl: How are productions greenlit at Film4?

Sue Bruce Smith:The creative and commercial team within Film4 will guide a project through development to final greenlight.  David Kosse, Director of Film4 is a key part of the whole progression of the film and his final decision, based very much on the soundings he gets from his senior team, also obviously draws heavily on his valuable experience and understanding of film investment and the international marketplace.  The Film4 team is a very inclusive team of about 23 people working across development, production, finance and distribution.  it is also able to draw upon additional resources within the Channel4, most specifically in marketing and press.

Sl: Do you do co-productions?

Sue Bruce Smith: If you mean financial co-productions, yes lots.  These tend to be U.S. set financial co-productions or they might come out of Europe.  But official co-productions are relatively rare as it is more difficult and takes longer to set up.  “Room”, however, was an official co-production with Telefilm Canada and “The Lobster” was the result of a wonderful collaboration of over five different European co-producers.

Sl: What sort of budget parameters do you work with?

Sue Bruce Smith: We span from the very low to sometimes quite high.  We try not to limit ourselves and allow the project to find its optimum level.   When we developed “Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk” with Ink Factory, in the course of looking for partners we found a fan in Tom Rothman who at that time was in the process of rebuilding production at TriStar and we have ended up, as a result, being involved in an Ang Lee film!  However these are the exceptions and the range is usually between Us $3m to Us$15m.

Going forward, we are keen to be bolder in how Film4 invests especially when we feel a film is a potential break out.  We operate a cross subsidy model where the bigger, more commercial investments allow us to generate revenue that then supports the new emerging talent.  It is worth noting that absolutely everything we earn from our films goes straight back into more development and film investment.

Sl: Do you have special “strands” for particular types of films?

Sue Bruce Smith: We don’t really distinguish films in strands we just work across many levels and genres. First time filmmakers tend to have smaller budgets - around Us$3m and they are built in a slightly different way.  For our larger projects I’d say our sweet spot is $10 – 15 million. 

Sl: How do you find projects?

Sue Bruce Smith:: We are constantly scouting for interesting new talent, watching shorts like “Robots of Brixton” where we found Kibwe Tavares, culling talent from our TV arm (like Yann Demange who worked with us on the TV series “Top Boy” before making “'71”) from theater (Lucy Kirkwood who we are making a short film with and developing a feature), the arts (which is where Steve McQueen originated and is still very active) and writing (Alex Garland who adapted “Never Let Me Go” for us and went on to make his striking debut “Ex Machina”)

Sl: I notice you don’t do international sales like you used to in the 80s.

Sue Bruce Smith: Yes we shed the international sales division and the U.K. Distribution arm back in 2002 and brought the focus back to our core development and co-financing activities.  We currently work with a wide range of sales agents like Protagonist, Hanway, Cornerstone, FilmNation, Westend, Pathe, Studio Canal, Independent and others.

Sl: In the early days in the 1980s operations were different.

Sue Bruce Smith: David Rose, in 1982, was the real visionary behind Film4.  He decided Channel4 would be different from all other TV channels.  Channel4 was the first U.K. broadcaster, through its film arm, Film on Four, to develop and co-finance films and, crucially, to allow these films to play in cinemas before their television transmission on Channel4. Our theatrical model became Film on Four and HBO, Sbs and Arte followed this lead. “Walter” by Stephen Frears followed this route in 1982.   Frear's next film “My Beautiful Laundrette” followed shortly after in 1985

(An aside here by Sydney Levine):

If my readers will indulge me for a little history lesson in how films change with technological change, I want to point out that in the early days of home video, in 1985, Sue and I (a couple of the pioneer women in the modern business) shared in the good fortune resulting from the shift in the movie and TV business.  

Working for the biggest TV production house in U.S. in the days of “Dallas”, I came to Lorimar to buy for home video, the fastest growing new technological distribution tool yet.  We put up $175,000 advance to acquire home video rights to the Film4 feature “My Beautiful Laundrette” for U.S.  $75,000 of that was to be used as P&A by theatrical distributor Orion Pictures Classics’ platform theatrical release – to platform first in N.Y. and L.A for critical reviews, and then, if profitable, to expand across the nation.  It was the first British film to come to U.S. in many a year (except of course for the James Bond franchise).  Orion Classics was headed by Michael Barker, Tom Bernard and Donna Gigliotti who paid no advance but used the P&A allotment wisely and well.  It was a happy association that we shared a couple of more times before they moved on to form Sony Pictures Classics and I moved on to Republic Pictures, reconstructed by Cnb’s Russell Goldsmith, former CEO of Lorimar. This Film4 picture, “My Beautiful Laundrette” was by complete unknowns in the U.S. and was a first for us all.  We did not know it would go on to gross $7 million at the box office (a huge amount at that time for an independent film) and would sell 75,000 video units (at $50 wholesale a piece = $3,750,000).  We at Lorimar made a $1 million profit and overages of $1 million went to Channel 4 and $1 million went to Working Title.  I got a $100 bonus, and we were all delighted.  My association with Film4 was followed by many loyal and loving years and reunions, but that is another lesson.  

To quote Adam P. Davies, the writer of the U.K. Film Finance Handbook 2005/6: How to Fund Your Film:

Stephen Frears’s 1985 “My Beautiful Laundrette” signalled a change in direction for the industry in that TV backed film investment started to feed local productions.  The Channel4 film encouraged the broadcasters to increase investment in filmmaking over the late 80s and also launched Working Title, initially run by Tim Bevan and Sarah Radcliffe (who left in 1992 to run her own company) and later Eric Fellner, with whom Bevan runs the company today [in a longstanding deal with Universal-Focus].  Video distributor and producer Palace Pictures, run by Nik Powell and Stephen Woolley, followed the success in 1985 of Neil Jordan’s “Company of Wolves” with “Mona Lisa” in 1986.  The British Film Commission launched in 1992 [when “The Crying Game” had its world success]. 

Sue was at Palace Productions when I was at Lorimar and Republic and our paths crossed many times and so I was quite eager to share the latest good fortune of the 2016 Academy Awards at a time when the Academy is being besieged by negative publicity.  At that time, back in ’85, I suggested to Michael and Tom that they put up Daniel Day Lewis for Best Actor Nomination and as I recall, they told me British films or British actors in British films were not acceptable to the Academy, and so neither he nor the film was put up for nomination. 

My Beautiful Laundrette” obviously had Asian actors; it was about a gay skinhead and a Pakistani.  Diversity was at its core, but it did not get past the British line of demarcation the Academy had drawn in ’85.  Its ethnic boundaries might have existed if anyone had tried to test them but that was not even an issue in 1985. “Diversity” in those days did not exist as a word one used and the very idea of diversity was even more limited than today.  

Film4 has had a key role in proactively promoting different voices and stories since the 1980s. And today diversity is a crucial consideration in the decisions Film4 makes about its developments and productions with the aim of increasing diversity across all areas of the business.  They have several films currently in development with Bame writers and directors and are successfully working with many female directors such as Andrea Arnold, Debbie Tucker Green, Susanna White, Clio Bernard, Sarah Gavron and Lynne Ramsay.

In January last year parent company Channel4 launched the 360 Degree Diversity Charter which is all about a commitment to implementing diversity on and off screen and to measuring its progress.  It is tied to Project Diamond, an industry-wide diversity monitoring system.  Its results will be published in the next few months. 

Film4 has developed and co-financed many of the most successful U.K. films of recent years, Academy Award-winners such as Steve McQueen’s "12 Years a Slave", Danny Boyle’s "Slumdog Millionaire", Phyllida Lloyd’s "The Iron Lady” and Martin McDonagh’s "In Bruges" in addition to critically-acclaimed award-winners such as Mike Leigh’s "Mr. Turner", Chris Morris’ "Four Lions", Shane Meadows’ "This is England", Ben Wheatley’s “Sightseers", Clio Barnard’s "The Selfish Giant" Jonathan Glazer’s "Under the Skin" and David Mackenzie’s "Starred Up".

Film4’s recent releases include; Lenny Abrahamson’s “Room", Todd Haynes’ “Carol", Sarah Gavron’s “Suffragette", Justin Kurzel’s “Macbeth", Yorgos Lanthimos’ "The Lobster", Asif Kapadia’s box office record breaking documentary “Amy", Andrew Haigh’s "45 Years", Alex Garland’s "Ex Machina", Paolo Sorrentino’s “Youth", Peter Strickland’s "The Duke of Burgundy", Daniel Wolfe’s "Catch Me Daddy" and John Maclean’s "Slow West".

Forthcoming releases include; Ben Wheatley’s "High-Rise" and "Free Fire", Ang Lee’s "Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk", Benedict Andrews’ “Una" and Andrea Arnold’s "American Honey".

For further information visit www.film4.com/productions, but for now, here is the Cheat Sheet on Film4’s 2016 Total Oscar Nominations numbering 15.  It will be at my side as I watch the Awards on February. Parenthetically, I am also looking forward to watching the fashions before the show, and inside the show, to catching that one loose cannon who will deliver the only inspirational speech in a rather inspirationless, basically boring, but still worthy traditional show.

3 of 5 Oscar Best Actress Nominees – Cate Blanchett, Brie Larson, Charlotte Rampling

Nomination tally by film:

Room” – 4 - Picture, Actress, Director, Best Adapted Screenplay

Carol” – 6 –Actress, Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Costume Design, Original Score

Ex Machina” – 2 –Original screenplay, Visual Effects

Amy” – 1 – Documentary Feature

“45 Years” – 1 – Actress

Youth” – 1 – Original Song

Film4-backed films Oscar® nominations in full:

Carol

Actress in a Leading Role: Cate Blanchett

Actress in a Supporting Role: Rooney Mara

Adapted Screenplay: Phyllis Nagy

Achievement in Cinematography: Ed Lachman

Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original score): Carter Burwell

Achievement in Costume Design: Sandy Powell

Room

Best Motion Picture of the Year: Ed Guiney

Achievement in Directing: Lenny Abrahamson

Actress in a Leading Role: Brie Larson

Adapted Screenplay: Emma Donoghue

Ex Machina

Original Screenplay: Alex Garland

Achievement in Visual Effects: Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington and Sara Bennett

“45 Years”:

Actress in a Leading Role: Charlotte Rampling

Youth

Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original song): Simple Song # 3, music and lyrics by David Lang

Amy

Best Documentary Feature: Asif Kapadia, James Gay-Rees

  »

- Sydney Levine

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