Kenneth Kokin - News Poster


North American Briefs: Nordic, Us focus at Strategic Partners 2016

  • ScreenDaily
North American Briefs: Nordic, Us focus at Strategic Partners 2016
Plus: Open Road dates Before I Fall; Eben Davidson joins Paramount TV; and more…

Top brass at the Atlantic Film Festival have selected more than 100 projects from 60 producers hailing from 19 countries to take part in Strategic Partners 2016, set to run in Halifax, Nova Scotia, from September 15-17.

This year’s event will highlight Nordic and Us producers.

Participants include Denmark’s M&M Productions and Finland’s Luminoir Oy and Pauli Pentti, and Dodgeville Films and Infinitum Productions from the Us.

Open Road Films will distribute Awesomeness Films’ Before I Fall directed by Ry Russo-Young on April 7, 2017.Eben Davidson will join the growing team at Paramount TV as senior vice-president of development and will lead the company’s first foray into unscripted television and oversee the development of cross-format content including scripted and live programming. Davidson most recently served as senior vice-president of acquisitions and production.Lennie James is the latest addition to Alcon Entertainment’s [link
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‘Blood Moon’ Echoes Greek Tragedy in a Wicked Comic Spirit

Kenneth Kokin’s brilliant directorial debut ‘Blood Moon’ is an engaging and gripping tragedy that’s worthy of being seen. Written by Oscar Nominated Nicholas Kazan, ‘Blood Moon’ stars his daughter, Maya Kazan (‘The Knick’), Frank Medrano (‘The Shawshank Redemption’) and James Callis (‘Battle Star Galactica’, ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’).

Kokin also produced and directed second unit on several award-winning films that include the ‘The Usual Suspects’, ‘Captain Abu Raed’,’The Way of the Gun’ and ‘Mortdecai’.

Haunting, yet stylistically beautiful, the story follows a young woman who is raped and how she executes retribution on her attacker. It explores the transition from of a perky, pretty teen-ager to someone who is forever warped from abuse and degradation. ‘

Blood Moon’ is a culturally relevant story and a reminder that the issue of rape is too often ignored, especially in a country where abortion sharply divides its people and where women have to pay for their own rape kits to gather legal evidence – the equivalent of having to pay the police to dust for prints in a robbery.

Kokin first learned of ‘Blood Moon’ in Larry Moss’s Master acting class. It was written and produced in the 1980’s as an off-Broadway play and starred a teenage Dana DeLaney.

Kokin reflects on the story and working with Kazan:

Moss’s comments on the piece were so provocative, that I was compelled to run out and read it the next day. Even now, the ending continues to haunt me. I knew if I could get this play made into a film, it would be impactful for viewers…

It was an honor to work with Kazan, because I have so much respect for him as a filmmaker. His support was a blessing, and his material gave me tremendous confidence, because I knew it could hold itself up.

I felt like we were on the same creative plane. We went through the screenplay word-by-word, and always agreed on the nuances that we found interesting and humorous.

Writer of ‘Blood MoonNicholas Kazan shares the history of ‘Blood Moon’ and its adaptation to film:

I couldn’t make a living writing for the theatre, so I moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles. I started to write for film, and eventually was fortunate enough to get some films made. Over the past 15 years, I’ve mostly been writing my own scripts and selling them when I can. That’s how I enjoy my life.

The play on which this film is based was done in New York in 1983. First I wrote plays in Berkeley, for the Magic Theater; subsequently most of my plays have been done in New York and Los Angeles. This play has been produced in New York, Washington DC, California, and many other places. It will have have a run again in New York in the spring.

One of the difficult things about a play is that you can’t edit it. In film, you can edit it and pick the best given take of any moment. You put all the best takes together and, you hope, end up with something fairly reasonable.

Why did you write ‘Blood Moon’?

I was told this story in college about a girl who was raped, which is essentially the first act of the play. I didn’t even know if it was a true story, but it stuck in my imagination. And then the second act of the play, the woman’s revenge, was my dramatic conceit.

How has the audience responded over the years?

Some people receive it as a piece of theater - especially when it’s well done – and the response has been very good. Occasionally, there have been a few people who are horrified by the second act. In the theatre, what the protagonist Mayna does is justified. It has its roots in Greek myth. There’s an ‘eye for an eye’ quality to it.

Was it challenging to change ‘Blood Moon’ into a screenplay?

There are some things that work better in theater than they do on film. In the film, we had to intercut between the two acts, which you obviously don’t do on stage.

There’s a tradition of tragedy on stage, where you watch in horror as you realize what’s going to happen. That’s the definition of tragedy – you’re horrified, and then you watch it happen. That’s the first act of the play, then in the second act, you don’t know what’s going to happen, but you know she’s going to do something. You don’t know what it is until the very end.

In the film, we had to intercut between the two acts because the first act, the tragedy gradually unfolding, just didn’t work as well on film. In the theatre, you’re having a communal experience where you’re witnessing this awful thing. On film, you’re not a witness. By intercutting, we brought an element of tension to the whole that made it work.

What has been the overall response to ‘Blood Moon’?

Sometimes there were nights when people didn’t understand what was happening until the play clearly revealed it. There were other nights when people got a sense of it earlier. You would know it because someone in the audience would go ‘oh my God!’ with a gasp. It was really similar to the way that laughter is contagious in an audience. One person would gasp, and then you’d feel other people wondering what they were gasping about. And then they’d go ‘Oh My God’ and get what was happening on stage. The play worked either way: it’s a communal experience, so it didn’t really matter when the audience “saw” what was really going on.
See full article at Sydney's Buzz »

Captain Abu Raed

Captain Abu Raed
Sundance Film Festival

PARK CITY -- Middle Eastern cinema has been thriving recently, with strong entries from Israel, Lebanon, and Iran. Now one of the first films from Jordan to enter the international arena has its premiere at Sundance. Captain Abu Raed belies the inexperience of its makers, for it's a substantial, deeply moving film that has the potential to captivate audiences everywhere. If it finds a savvy distributor willing to handle it with the loving care it deserves, it could click on the arthouse circuit.

Writer-director Amin Matalqa was born in Jordan but grew up in the U.S. and studied film at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. He was determined to make his feature directorial debut on a story filmed in Jordan. His protagonist, Abu Raed (Nadim Sawalha), is a widower and a janitor in the Amman airport. He has never left Jordan but dreams of traveling the world. When some of the young boys in the shabby apartment complex where he lives notice him wearing a pilot's hat, they assume he is a pilot and beg him to recount his adventures. Reluctant at first, Abu Raed eventually decides to humor the boys and indulge some of his own daydreams by spinning tales of fictitious travels. But an older neighborhood boy, Murad (Hussein Al-Sous), is suspicious of Abu Raed and eventually finds out the truth and exposes him. There is a heartbreaking moment when Murad takes the other boys to the airport, where they see Abu Raed cleaning the floor; the look of disillusionment on their faces is beautifully caught. Yet that is just the beginning of the story, for the antagonists Murad and Abu Raed eventually form an alliance that changes both of their lives.

Matalqa incorporates a wealth of revealing character details. At the beginning Abu Raed lives a narrow, sheltered life. When he hears a violent domestic dispute in a nearby apartment, he merely closes the window. The dispute is taking place in Murad's apartment. He lives with an abusive father, and this toxic environment has fostered Murad's cynicism.

Both Murad and Abu Read are gradually and believably transformed by their encounter. Abu Raed fnds the courage to take a stand, while Murad learns to trust and respect the older man. A subplot concerns a female pilot, Nour (Rana Sultan), who befriends Abu Raed. She has to contend with her parents' determination to marry her off to men who bore her. All of the characters are observed with affection and precision. Even Murad's abusive father is presented in three dimensions; we see that his own failures at work lead him to lash out at the people closest to him.

Performances are superb. Sawalha captures the dignity of Abu Raed without turning him into a plaster saint. In fact, it's clear that in trying to improve the lives of the local kids, he sometimes blunders and makes things worse. But Sawalha illuminates his humility and understated nobility. Al-Sous has a wonderfully expressive face, and Sultan radiates intelligence and quiet strength.

Working with cinematographer Reinhart Peschke, Matalqa makes excellent use of the Jordanian locations. One false note is struck by the music composed by Austin Wintory. It sounds too Western and sometimes falls into sentimentality. The film is too potent to need such underlining. Matalqa has crafted a stirring tribute to the invisible people in our world who may end up changing our lives more profoundly than high-profile leaders. Nothing is more difficult than making an honest film about a good man, but Captain Abu Raed accomplishes the feat.


Paper & Pen Films

Gigapix Studios

Credits: Writer-Director: Amin Matalqa

Producers: Kenneth Kokin, Nadine Toukan, Laith Al-Majali, Amin Matalqa

Executive producers: David Pritchard, Aida Jabaji Matalqa, Isam Salfiti

Director of photography: Reinhart Peschke

Production designer: Gerald Sullivan

Music: Austin Wintory

Co-producers: Chris Blauvelt, Chris Corabi

Costume designer: Jamila Alaeddin

Editor: Laith Al-Majali.


Abu Raed: Nadim Sawalha

Nour: Rana Sultan

Murad: Hussein Al-Sous

Tareq: Udey Al-Qiddissi

Abu Murad: Ghandi Saber

Um Murad: Dina Ra'ad-Yaghnam

Hilal: Mohammad Quteishat

Sameh: Nadim Mushahwar

Ziad: Faisal Majali

Running time -- 105 minutes

No MPAA rating

See also

Credited With | External Sites