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1-20 of 52 items from 2015   « Prev | Next »


The Year in Movie Superlatives

28 December 2015 9:03 AM, PST | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

With the year winding down, it’s time for an In Contention tradition: Checking off a list of superlatives, from the Academy’s 21 feature categories, to a few traditional critics’ award fields, to a handful of fun categories of our own. This is just how I saw the year, but perhaps you saw it differently. Feel free to use the comments section to take your stand.

***

Best Supporting Actor: Paul Dano, “Love & Mercy” (Runner-up: Sylvester Stallone, “Creed”)

An impressive number of critics groups have gone lead in classifying Dano’s brilliant performance as Brian Wilson the younger, likely deeming it a co-lead with John Cusack’s older depiction. And that’s fair. I would call them co-supporting, myself. Meanwhile, Stallone offered up his most nuanced work to date, breathing even more life into a screen icon.

Best Costume Design: “Mad Max: Fury Road” (Runner-up: “Brooklyn”)

Jenny Beavan came off »

- Kristopher Tapley

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Daily | Lists and Awards | Slant, Sffcc, Toronto

14 December 2015 6:41 AM, PST | Keyframe | See recent Keyframe news »

Those following the year-end lists and awards will note that George Miller and Mad Max: Fury Road have had a good run over the past few days, topping lists at Slant and the Playlist and winning accolades from the San Francisco Film Critics Circle and the Online Film Critics Society. Meantime, the New Yorker's Richard Brody explains why Spike Lee's Chi-Raq is his #1 film of 2015, while Mark Kermode goes for Inside Out, Charles Mudede for Kornél Mundruczó's White God, Kenneth Turan for John Crowley's Brooklyn, the Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy for Miroslav Slaboshpitsky's The Tribe—and we're gathering more lists as they come in. » - David Hudson »

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Mark Kermode: the best films of 2015

13 December 2015 1:30 AM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

A female Iranian vampire, forbidden love and Pixar’s brilliant depiction of a teen’s inner turmoil helped make 2015 a great year for cinema

• Observer critics’ reviews of the year in full

You can tell how good a year was by how hard it is to compile a list of the top 10 highlights! Such was the diversity of films released in the UK in 2015 that I struggled to whittle down a longlist of about 30 contenders into a top 10 with which I was, if not happy, then at least content. As always, it’s the films that didn’t quite make the cut that tell the real story. For example, Julien Temple’s terrifically life-affirming documentary The Ecstasy of Wilko Johnson features in my top 10, but this was also the year of Sean McAllister’s heartbreaking A Syrian Love Story, Matthew Heineman’s gripping Cartel Land, and Jeanie Finlay’s unexpectedly »

- Mark Kermode, Observer film critic

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Caine, Rampling Take Home 2 Efa Awards Each

12 December 2015 6:52 PM, PST | Alt Film Guide | See recent Alt Film Guide news »

2015 European Film Awards winners and nominations Best European Film A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence. En Duva Satt På En Gren Och Funderade På Tillvaron. Sweden, France, Germany, Norway, 96 min. Written and directed by: Roy Andersson. Produced by: Pernilla Sandström. Mustang. France, Germany, Turkey, 100 min. Directed by: Deniz Gamze Ergüven. Written by: Deniz Gamze Ergüven and Alice Winocour. Produced by: Charles Gillibert. Rams. Hrútar. Iceland, Denmark, 93 min. Written and directed by: Grímur Hákonarson. Produced by: Grímar Jónsson. The Lobster. U.K., Ireland, Greece, France, Netherlands, 118 min. Directed by: Yorgos Lanthimos. Written by: Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou. Produced by: Ed Guiney, Lee Magiday, Ceci Dempsey and Yorgos Lanthimos. Victoria. Germany, 138 min. Written and directed by: Sebastian Schipper. Produced by: Jan Dressler. * Youth. Youth – La Giovinezza. Italy, France, U.K., Switzerland, 118 min. Written and directed by: Paolo Sorrentino. Produced by: Nicola Giuliano, Francesca Cima and Carlotta Calori. Best »

- Mont. Steve

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Rampling, Stewart, DiCaprio (tie): Boston Society of Film Critics 2015 Winners

6 December 2015 3:51 PM, PST | Alt Film Guide | See recent Alt Film Guide news »

Charlotte Rampling in '45 Years.' Charlotte Rampling, Kristen Stewart winners: Boston Society of Film Critics Awards 2015 Those following the movies' awards season will enjoy a smorgasbord of winners, runners-up, and WTFs/How could they? today, Dec. 6, '15. The Boston Society of Film Critics, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the New York Film Critics Online, and the British Independent Film Awards are all announcing their winners (and, by extension, non-winners). But not to worry, in case your favorite is not to be found on their lists, there's always next year. The Boston Film Critics named their winners and runners-up at the Brattle Theater in Cambridge. On Sunday morning, they tweeted: “We're here! There's coffee! Dues paid! Wifi working! Pizza ordered! Let the debating begin!” 'Studio tactic' leads to voting woes There was quite a bit of debating, it seems, as two hours later they had announced only a handful of winners. »

- Steve Montgomery

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The Best of Movie Poster of the Day: Part 12

23 October 2015 1:19 PM, PDT | MUBI | See recent MUBI news »

1961 Spanish poster for Funny Face (Stanley Donen, USA, 1957). Artists: “McP” (Ramon Marti, Joseph Clave, Hernan Pico).Of all the posters I’ve selected for Movie Poster of the Day over the past three months, I would not have expected this Spanish Funny Face to be the most reblogged and “liked” of all, but I am pleasantly surprised that it is. A gorgeous poster, credited to a triumvirate of artists, that repaints photographic images from the Us half-sheet in unexpected shades of purple and orange, it somehow caught Tumblr’s attention. Or maybe it was just those eyes.It tends to be true that the posters that catch fire the most are unusual and striking designs for well known films, like the Japanese Beetlejuice, the Polish Ran, the British Breathless, and the French On the Waterfront. Which makes it all the more heartening that the fourth most popular poster was a »

- Adrian Curry

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‘White God’ DVD Review

3 August 2015 11:39 AM, PDT | Blogomatic3000 | See recent Blogomatic3000 news »

Stars: Zsófia Psotta, Sándor Zsótér, Lili Horváth, Szabolcs Thuróczy, Lili Monori, Gergely Bánki, Tamás Polgár | Written by Kornél Mundruczó, Viktória Petrányi, Kata Wéber | Directed by Kornél Mundruczó

Some films are hard to classify, they do not want to be stuck in just one genre, and they just want to tell a story. White God is a story that could be described as Homeward Bound with teeth or even The Birds with dogs. In truth, it is a film that shows you the story, and then lets you take from it what you will.

When Lili (Zsófia Psotta) is sent to stay with her father her pet dog and best friend Hagen is thrown out onto the street to fend for himself. Lost and confused he learns to survive, used and mistreated by the humans that he meets, until one day he has enough and decides to lead a band of »

- Paul Metcalf

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DVD Review – White God (2014)

3 August 2015 6:37 AM, PDT | Flickeringmyth | See recent Flickeringmyth news »

White God, 2014.

Directed by Kornél Mundruczó.

Starring  Zsófia PsottaSándor ZsótérLili Horváth and Lili Monori.

Synopsis:

When a young girl and her pet dog are separated, each begins a journey to find each other again, whatever the cost.

White God is a Hungarian film about a 13-year-old girl called Lili (Zsófia Psotta) and her pet dog Hagen, who get separated and have to find each other again, proving that love will conquer all and the oppressive powers-that-be can’t keep you down when you have desire in your heart. That may sound like the theme of a 1970s European kids TV show and possibly not the stuff of more mature movies but White God is a film that journeys beyond a simple plot and has a lot more depth to it than a simple summary could ever describe.

This is because director/co-writer Kornél Mundruczó is using his story »

- Gary Collinson

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White God; Good Kill; Woman in Gold; Insurgent; La Jetée; Sans Soleil; Level Five; The Case of the Grinning Cat – review

1 August 2015 11:00 PM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Stray dogs go on the rampage in Kornél Mundruczó’s vicious twist on man-mutt relations, while Ethan Hawke is silent but deadly

There are films about dogs that are expressly for dog lovers, films about dogs designed to needle cynophobics, and then there’s White God (Metrodome, 15), a film about dogs that snappishly ticks both boxes while not really being about dogs at all. Hungarian director Kornél Mundruczó opens his extraordinary warping of the age-old romance between man and mutt with an indelible image: a vast, saliva-spilling pack of street dogs rampages through the streets of Hungary, trailing a 13-year-old slip of a girl on a bicycle. Whether she’s leading or running from them remains to be seen; dog-human relations are inverted several times over in the course of this sharp-incisored fable.

We gradually learn that the kid (fierce young talent Zsófia Psotta) has been separated from her beloved mongrel, »

- Guy Lodge

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Giveaway: Win Kornél Mundruczó’s ‘White God’ on Blu-ray

31 July 2015 10:58 AM, PDT | The Film Stage | See recent The Film Stage news »

Arriving on Blu-ray this week is Kornél Mundruczó‘s Cannes-winning drama White God. We’ve teamed with Magnolia Home Entertainment to give away three (3) Blu-rays of the film. See how to enter below and all entries must be received by 11:59 Pm Est on Tuesday, August 4th. To enter, do the first two steps and then 3 and 4 each count as an entry into the contest. 1. […] »

- TFS Staff

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Cannes Review: Laurent Larivière's 'I Am A Soldier' Starring Louise Bourgoin And Jean-Hugues Anglade

26 May 2015 6:45 AM, PDT | The Playlist | See recent The Playlist news »

Around about this time last year in the Un Certain Regard sidebar of Cannes we were discovering eventual winner Kornél Mundruczó's "White God" which features incarcerated, maltreated dogs taking revenge on their human captors. So a little deja vu was inevitable when at a key moment in Laurent Larivière's debut feature "I Am A Soldier" a character gets mauled to unconsciousness by a riled-up German Shepherd escaped from its joyless cage. But while canine captivity is definitely a part of Larivière's debut film, his focus is resolutely on the human characters, the sordid decisions they make in order to keep their heads above water in a drowning economy, and the relationships that crumble and coalesce in that crucible. It is narrow in scope, solid in execution but a little too familiar and too unfocused to take to heart. It does however boast a strong, un-self-pitying performance from model/TV-presenter-turned-actress Louise Bourgoin. »

- Jessica Kiang

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Andy Vanya toasts Hungary Fund

17 May 2015 10:00 PM, PDT | ScreenDaily | See recent ScreenDaily news »

A bullish Andy Vajna has hailed the work of the Hungarian Film Fund in galvanizing film production in the country and “cleaning up the mess” left after the dissolution of the debt-ridden Hungarian Motion Picture Foundation (Mmka).

The Terminator 3 and Die Hard With a Vengence producer also confimred he would stay at the helm of the Fund until at least 2018.

Holocaust drama Son Of Saul from young director Laszlo Nemes, riding high in Screen’s Cannes Competition critics’ poll, was developed and financed by the Fund. This follows on from the success another Fund-backed film, Kornél Mundruczó’s Un Certain Regard award winner White God enjoyed last year.

“We hope to continue trying to create films that provide interest for festivals and we are working very hard on create movies that work for audiences at home,” Vajna commented of the twin-pronged strtagey the Fund is pursuing.

“We have changed a little bit the world opinion about Hungarian »

- geoffrey@macnab.demon.co.uk (Geoffrey Macnab)

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Sarasota Film Festival Announces Jury and Audience Award Winners; 'White God' Nets Prize

20 April 2015 9:12 AM, PDT | Indiewire | See recent Indiewire news »

Read More: Sarasota Film Festival Announces New Programmers The 2015 Sarasota Film Festival announced the winners of this year's jury and audience award prizes on Saturday at the Sarasota Opera House. This year's notable winners were Kornél Mundruczó's "White God," which took home the Narrative Feature Jury prize, while Eliza Kubarska's "Walking Under Water" won the Documentary Feature Jury prize. The Independent Visions Award went to Ross Partridge's "Lamb." Khalik Allah won the Terry Porter Visionary Award for "Field Niggas," while Maya Vitkova won this year's Tangerine Juice Award. The full list of winners and the jurors for each category are below. Narrative Feature Competition Winner"White God"Director – Kornél Mundruczó Narrative Feature CompetitionSpecial Jury Prize for Excellence in Acting"Radiator"Actor – Gemma JonesDirector – Tom Browne Narrative Feature CompetitionSpecial »

- Travis Clark

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'The Elite', 'Virgin Mountain' win in Copenhagen

17 April 2015 6:36 AM, PDT | ScreenDaily | See recent ScreenDaily news »

Thomas Daneskov’s low-budget Diy drama The Elite (Eliten) has won the New Talent Grand Pix at Copenhagen’s Cph Pix.

The international jury comprised Alex Ross Perry, Katrine Wiedemann and Gabe Klinger. They said they were “pleased to discover a deeply personal, relevant and contemporary new voice in Danish independent cinema with ‘The Elite’ by Thomas Daneskov, a disturbing and hilarious portrait of privileged youth made in a spirit of collectivity.”

Daneskov, 26, wins €10,000 ($10,800) towards his next film.

Interview: Thomas Daneskov, The Elite

The jury also gave a special mention to Limbo by Anna Sofie Hartmann, “which deployed stunning images through a rigorous and challenging form and which kept us thinking for days.”

The Politiken Audience Award went to Dagur Kari’s Virgin Mountain, the second Icelandic film in a row to claim the honour (after Of Horses And Men). The film is a tender portrait of a 43-year-old man who lives with is mother but wants »

- wendy.mitchell@screendaily.com (Wendy Mitchell)

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Isabella Rossellini to head Cannes Un Certain Regard jury

10 April 2015 10:54 AM, PDT | Digital Spy | See recent Digital Spy - Movie News news »

Isabella Rossellini has been announced as the President for the Un Certain Regard category at Cannes.

The actress and director will oversee the judging of 20 films in the selection next month.

The Festival de Cannes organisers have also announced that Rossellini will take part in the film awards' annual tribute, which this year is dedicated to her late mother, Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman.

Rossellini will attend a Cannes Classics screening of Ingrid Bergman, in Her Own Words‏, a documentary by Stig Björkman, as well as launching her own 'Ingrid Bergman Tribute' to celebrate the centenary of her mother's birth.

Directed by Guido Torlonia and Ludovica Damiani, the project will be based on both Bergman's autobiography and her letters to husband Roberto Rossellini. Following its debut, the show will play at major theatres around the world.

This judging of this year's In Competition selection will be overseen by the Coen brothers. »

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Cannes: Isabella Rossellini named Un Certain Regard president

10 April 2015 3:19 AM, PDT | ScreenDaily | See recent ScreenDaily news »

Italian-American actress and director to head Un Certain Regard jury.

Isabella Rossellini is to preside over the Un Certain Regard Jury at the 68th Cannes Film Festival (May 13-24).

The Italian-American actress and director will head a jury that will judge 20 films, set to be announced when the full line-up is unveiled on April 16.

At this year’s Cannes, Rossellini will take part in a tribute to her actress mother by attending the screening of Ingrid Bergman, in Her Own Words‏, a documentary by Stig Björkman being shown as part of the Cannes Classics. (This year’s Cannes poster features Bergman)

She will also launch her own ‘Ingrid Bergman Tribute’ to celebrate the centenary of her mother’s birth. The show, directed by Guido Torlonia and Ludovica Damiani, will be based on both her autobiography and her correspondence with Roberto Rossellini.

With the help of a soon-to-be-announced jury made up of artists, journalists and festival »

- michael.rosser@screendaily.com (Michael Rosser)

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Isabella Rossellini To Preside Over Cannes’ Un Certain Regard

10 April 2015 3:05 AM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Paris — Isabella Rossellini is set to preside over the jury of Cannes’ Un Certain Regard during the 68th edition of Cannes Film Festival.

The lineup of Un Certain Regard, which comprises 20 films, will be unveiled at a presser on April 16, along with the rest of the official selection.

It will be stellar festival for Rossellini, as her mother, Ingrid Bergman, will be celebrated with a tribute. Rossellini, whose father is the Italian helmer Roberto Rossellini, will also launch her own “Ingrid Bergman Tribute,” a show directed by Guido Torlonia and Ludovica Damianito and based on the iconic thesp’s autobiography and correspondence with Roberto Rossellini. The “Ingrid Bergman Tribute” will go on to play at some at the world’s major theaters.

Lastly, Rossellini will attend the screening of Stig Björkman’s documentary “Ingrid Bergman, in Her Own Words‏,” which will be shown as part of Cannes Classics.

Rossellini has »

- Elsa Keslassy

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A Feral Fairytale: Dir. Kornél Mundruczó on His Cannes-Winning Film “White God“

3 April 2015 7:45 AM, PDT | Sydney's Buzz | See recent Sydney's Buzz news »

In the culminant moments of Kornél Mundruczó’s latest feature, an army made up of hundreds of angry mixed-breed dogs haunt the streets of Budapest deliberately targeting their human tormentors. Such visually riveting and thematically provocative sequence makes of “White God” one of the most daring revenge films in recent memory. Yet, Mundruczó’s audacious perspective goes beyond simply showing us what a group of oppressed creatures could be capable of doing if given the chance. His film touches on real social threats like xenophobia and people’s indifference to the suffering of others, whether humans or animals.

Crafted like a brutally visceral dark fairytale, “White God” showcases topnotch cinematic technique with strong social commentary in the form of powerful metaphors. The story centers on Lili (Zsófia Psotta), a teenage girl searching for her lost dog Hagen after her father abandons the animal fearful of a law that taxes people who own mixed-breed dogs. From that moment on the film juxtaposes Lili’s struggle to fit in the complex world of adolescent relationships and Hagen’s terrifying transformation into a savage killer. Not surprisingly the film won the Un Certain Regard Prize in Cannes earlier this year for it’s very unique point of view.

“White God” is Hungary’s official submission for the Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film category. It will be released theatrically by Magnolia Pictures early next year. "White God" will also screen at the Sundance Film Festival 2015 in the Spotlight section.

Director Kornél Mundruczó was in L.A. recently and talked to us about his ferociously beautiful film.

Carlos Aguilar: This is an incredibly powerful film both in its imagery and in the themes it touches on. Particularly, it seems to me that it’s a metaphor for the power struggle between the people and the system. Those who have been marginalized suddenly rebel. Does this reflect your perception of Hungarian society and the issues the country faces?

Kornél Mundruczó: Freedom is too difficult for our nation sometimes. Politicians are usually the ones who have the power. Certainly living as part of a minority in Hungary is not easy. I tried to make this my most “Hungarian” film and to clearly criticize the society I live in. Then I recognized that at the same this is the most internationally appealing film I’ve made as well. Maybe this means that our fear is a common thing nowadays. It’s a contemporary fear. After the economic crisis there was an unfounded fear of all these different segments of the population, minorities, and refugees not only in Hungary but also all over Europe.

I fervently believe in equality. I believe we all share the world. We share the entire planet not only with humans but also with animals. We share the entire planet with them and humans easily forget that. Similarly, society and politicians easily forget that there should be equality amongst everyone. That's very scary, but that's why I'd like to use such unique characters for the film. This movie is a fairytale. It's not about realism at all. It looks realistic but it's much more about my personal view of the reality I'm living in. This movie is much closer to a David Lynch movie than to realism. 

Aguilar: The film has a very unique cinematic language. It changes in tone and focus throughout the story. Where you inspired by any cinematic style or genre in particular?

Kornél Mundruczó: Eastern Europe has completely changed in the last 5 to 10 years. It's not slowly paced or filled with melancholy, we are not behind the Iron Curtain anymore. Now it's the complete opposite. It's fast, aggressive, and extreme. Of course, when I recognized this about Eastern Europe today I tried to find a new cinematic language. “White God” is a horror movie, a political satire, a fantasy, and a melodrama. All the post-Soviet ideas came together [Laughs]. That’s what I wanted to use as a cinematic language for this film. There are lots of twists and turns. It starts as a Disney movie or as Spielberg’s "E.T," then it turns into a social drama and a coming-of-age story, then it’s a thriller, and the very end is like a horror film.

Aguilar: Certainly your film is very layered and deals with numerous complex ideas. There is Lili’s story, which is the human perspective, and there is Hagen’s point of view, the dog’s story. Can you tell me about the writing process of merging these two sides to create something that shows how connected both worlds are?

Kornél Mundruczó: I decided to make this film because I was very moved by something I experienced while working on a stage project from a novel called Disgrace by a South African author named Coetzee. In the novel there is a woman who works in a dog shelter. I told the actors, “Let’s go to a dog shelter and see how it looks.” We went and I was standing there looking at the dog’s eyes. I felt such shame and I asked myself, “How can this happen? I’m also part of this system.” I felt like I had the responsibility to do something against this. That’s why I started working on this film.

It’s incredible to see these animals there. They are there to die. When I talked to one of my writing partners, Kata Wéber, I told her, “I want to make a very radical movie about one dog in Budapest. “ She said, “That’s not enough” and I asked her, “Why not?” She replied, “They are in these shelters because of society, so we need to show the society behind this to mirror their experiences. This society is creating monsters. The animals are not monsters because they want to be. “

It was Kata’s idea to make the main character an innocent girl. She is in a state in between. She is not a child but not yet an adult. We decided to create a story about the friendship between the girl and the dog. In the real world these dogs’ stories end in a dog shelter were they are killed, no one comes to rescue them. Once they are there they get two weeks to live and then they can be killed. That’s the law. Therefore, I thought, “Ok, we have to “kill” the dog at the end of the movie because that’s the reality.” Then Kata said, “No, we have to root for the dogs. Let’s do a revenge story from the dog’s perspective. The dogs are the ones that have morals. Society has no morals. Let’s give the morals to the dogs.” Our two main were to build a story about friendship and then make it into a huge dog revolution against society or against bad humans. This creates the dark fairytale tone.

Aguilar: The dogs represent freedom of all those oppressed whether it’s animals or human unjustly treated. Hagen becomes a symbol for humanity without being human.

Kornél Mundruczó: Absolutely. I wanted to use a good hero who had high morals and who makes good decisions. In a normal film such a character can easily become pathetic or boring, but with a dog you can have an interesting hero. I felt that the dogs are more human than we are. This is why I was able to use a sort of classic narrative structure. Hagen, our main dog, is like Humphrey Bogart [Laughs]. Today if you have a hero like Humphrey Bogart people would find him silly because we are not as naïve anymore, but if it’s a dog I think it works.

Aguilar: I think it also works because the main human character is a young girl who is not cynical. She hasn’t been poisoned by the system yet.

Kornél Mundruczó: Yes, she hasn’t lost her innocence. She is on the edge of losing it. She is on the border between adulthood and childhood. I know the film is thought of as a “dog movie” and that might be the most interesting part, but for me the life of this little girl is absolutely important. She is like me. She is much more me than the dog. I’m not as heroic as the dog. I’m just a human [Laughs].

Aguilar: We believe that animals need humans to fight for them, but in your film it’s different, the dogs fight for themselves. Was it important for you to show the animals perspective prominently? In a sense you are giving them a voice.

Kornél Mundruczó: Yes. We actually had two mandates while making the film: we only used mixed-breed dogs and we didn’t use any CGI. We chose to do this so we could see the dogs’ own emotions. What you see in the film are their real emotions. I think that’s what blows people away. It’s different from a human illustrating the image of an animal or manufacturing what an animal thinks or feels. For example, in the film “Life of Pi” by Ang Lee the tiger is the idea of a tiger created by a human. It’s not better or worse than using a real animal, but it’s just totally different. I wanted to do the opposite and show what a dog’s real emotions look like. If you look into their eyes you recognize something you know in a being that’s unknown to you and through this you become closer.

Aguilar: How exciting or frightening was to wok with the dogs, which I assume can be unpredictable actors? Was losing control to an extent difficult for you?

Kornél Mundruczó: I’m such a control freak that it was difficult at the beginning [Laughs]. I think in the end in turned into a sort of therapy. It made me better personally because I learned a lot about me. Trust is better than control and I trusted the animals. We rotated between shooting one week and the following week we would dedicate it exclusively to working with the dogs. We adapted the screenplay as we went on taking into account what the dogs were or were not able to do. It was great to see that two species, humans and dogs, can cooperate in one project. [Laughs].

Aguilar: Tell me about those amazing sequences in which we see the dogs running while through the streets of Budapest. What where the challenges of creating such impressive images?

Kornél Mundruczó: Working with 280 dogs was very difficult. We tried to socialize them to avoid any fights, and they seemed to enjoy being together. They are just like actors. We were very careful not to harm any of them. They were all trained. It was difficult because of all the fences and diverse elements in the scenes. We had 50 trainers on set and 6 cameras. It was a huge set. We shot the film in 55 days, 40 with the dogs, and 15 for all of the human scenes. We had these huge, expensive scenes with the dogs and the other scenes we shot them like you would in a very low budget film. Sometimes we would do 3 or 4 scenes a day with the human actors like in a soap opera, just in a total hurry “ Come on, come on, let’s do it.” [Laughs]. All the money went to the dogs. They were the starts. [Laughs] They had their own budget, they had their specific times to rest, and they were fed regularly. They were the real stars.

Aguilar: You mention this is your most “Hungarian” film, but how has it connected with audiences abroad in countries with similar issues?

Kornél Mundruczó: The film has been very well received in Europe. Fear doesn’t only exist in Hungary, even if we are a very strange country and quiet extreme in terms of how we react to social and economic problems. Our system is slowly becoming closer to the Putin system more than to the Western European system, which is very strange. Still, everywhere in Europe and around the world people understand what this film is about. I was in Mexico recently for the Morelia Film Festival, and people there also understood the film as I intended. Mexicans know about colonization, about being a minority, or being the underdog. Regarding the U.S, I feel like the audience here is a little bit more naïve. “White God” is a emotionally strong film and I hope it can touch Americans as well. I always wonder if people will stay in the theater for the entire film because it’s tough to watch at times. If the stay to see the whole film they usually like it. I know some scenes in the film are hard to look at, but it’s important for me to tell the truth.

Aguilar: The violence in “White God” might be an issue for some people, but I feel it’s worse not to face it or to shy away from it.

Kornél Mundruczó: Yes. It’s strange what people react to because if you watch the news on TV you are exposed to tons of hours of brutal images filled with violence. On the other hand, all these issues are part of our lives and if you don’t face it you can’t solve it. Some people prefer to pretend they live in another world where they don’t have to face any real problems. I hope violence is not a problem for American audiences to see the film. The audience in the U.K. liked the film very much. Hopefully we have a similar reaction here.

Aguilar: In your film the dogs rebel against those humans that have hurt them, do you think film can be a tool to ignite social change? Not necessarily to rebel but to create awareness and think about certain issues.

Kornél Mundruczó: Absolutely. My film is about a rebel, which in this case the dog. I think this is a very simple moral story but it’s still important to retell these moral stories. When it comes to art it is always very important to know from which perspective you are looking at something, It’s also interesting to see how a society reacts to stories or films like this and what results from this reaction.

Aguilar: Films with social commentary sometimes have difficulties finding audiences because some moviegoers prefer to think of cinema as entertainment rather than something more intellectually stimulating.

Kornél Mundruczó: That’s true but can you imagine a Kubrick movie without the social commentary component, or Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now” without the last half hour? I love films by Fassbinder, Douglas Sirk, or Bergman, but they can really be brutal sometimes. They are absolute tragedies. We’ve been dealing with tragedies since the Greeks, and tragedies make you think. That’s their function. I think I’m very classical in that sense in terms of my films. Watching dramas one can have a catharsis because they help you understand all the contradictions in this world and you might think “This is how the world is, but I would like to make it a better world.” When I was young and even know, I feel like I have a catharsis with certain films or novels and I think “Now I understand more about my reality than I did yesterday because of this piece of art.” This is the miracle of great art and why it has worked since the Greeks thousands of years ago.

Aguilar: You won the Un Certain Regard Prize in Cannes and “White God” is now representing Hungary at the Academy Awards. Tell about this journey with the film.

Kornél Mundruczó: All of this is always unexpected. I was so surprised and very proud after winning that prize in Cannes, but the most important thing for me was that the audience came to see the film. They had two extra screenings at Cannes and they were both sold out as well. We also won four other awards at other festivals, but I’m totally a virgin when it comes to the Oscars [Laughs]. None of my previous films had been selected by the Hungarian committee to represent the country at the Oscars. I’m very happy that they have given me their trust to represent Hungary, but you just never know what’s going to happen. In a sense is like being a first time filmmaker. It’s all very new.

»

- Carlos Aguilar

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Daily | Berlin, Kushner, Timoner

1 April 2015 7:31 AM, PDT | Keyframe | See recent Keyframe news »

In the latest entry in Escape from New York, Reverse Shot's ongoing series on cinephilia around the world, Giovanni Marchini Camia takes us to Berlin. Also in today's roundup of news and views: a major Carl Theodor Dreyer online resource, Rick Alverson on Kornél Mundruczó’s White God, Tom Dicillo on Noah Baumbach's While We're Young, Glenn Kenny on Woody Allen's reputation, interviews with Ondi Timoner, Ellen Burstyn, Keith David, Christopher McDonald and Mark Margolis—and remembering Helmut Dietl. » - David Hudson »

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‘White God’ is a curiously flat depiction of a canine uprising

27 March 2015 7:28 PM, PDT | SoundOnSight | See recent SoundOnSight news »

White God

Written by Kornél Mundruczó, Viktória Petrányi and Kata Wéber

Directed by Kornél Mundruczó

Hungary/Germany/Sweden, 2014

Kornél Mundruczó’s White God does for Budapest canines what Rise of the Planet of the Apes did for San Francisco simians. Instead of Caesar the ape, White God has Hagen the dog, who endures various means of suffering at the hands of human abusers before leading an animal uprising of his own. That plot point isn’t exactly a third act spoiler, as White God has an in medias res opening wherein Hagen and hundreds of dogs pelt through abandoned city streets, seemingly chasing a girl on a bicycle; the reveal is also the main image being used to advertise the film, so you might also draw a comparison to the Apes series there (“Statue of Liberty… that was our planet!”). It’s certainly an immediate attention-grabber, but it’s a »

- Josh Slater-Williams

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