9 items from 2015
Madrid — Described by Variety’s Scott Foundas as “a transporting, hypnotically beautiful debut feature” and “downright Herzogian (far more Herzogian than Herzog’s own ‘Queen of the Desert’),” Guatemalan Jayro Bustamante’s Berlin competition entry “Ixacanul” has broken out to major territory sales, with many more deals on the way.
From its first screening at Berlin – sales agent Film Factory opted not to send out screeners or links before Berlin –
“Icxanul” has closed Italy and Japan, both with significant indie distributors: Andrea Occhipinti’s Lucky Red and Japan’s Gaga Communications. Arp Selection, one of France’s major art film distributors, took distribution »
- John Hopewell
★★★★☆ In 1998, Walter Salles brought Central Station (1998) to the Berlinale and came home with the Golden Bear. It was here that Salles met Jia Zhangke, a then relatively unknown Chinese director premièring his debut film Xiao Wu (1997). Salles, like many others, was enthralled by Jia's singular style and unique brand of social realism. As the cultural landscape has morphed and buckled under the weight of globalisation, films such as The World (2004), Still Life (2006) and most recently A Touch of Sin (2013) have increasingly become one of the few ways to witness the real China. Now, Salles returns to the Berlinale this year to premiere his tribute to the critically revered sixth generation director.
- CineVue UK
The Second Mother
Anna Muylaert, Panorama
Playing both Sundance and Berlin, “The Second Mother” has been picked up by the Match Factory. It stood out at Locarno’s Carte Blanche showcase and is produced by Gullane Filmes. A dramedy of manners — with Regina Case playing a nanny whose daughter arrives to take exams for Sao Paulo U.’s exclusive architecture school — it also tackles head-on one key to narrowing Brazil’s gross social gulfs: Access to top-notch education. “While prioritizing story and character, ‘The Second Mother’ talks maturely about deep social change in and outside Brazil,” says Fabiano Gullane.
Lirio Ferreira, Panorama opener
Given up at age 9 to the Neptuno Circus by his mother, Pedro returns 20 years later as Zolah the Cannon Man just as his sister is getting married. Sweeping October’s Rio Fest — best fiction feature, director, supporting actor (Romulo Braga) winner — “Blue Blood” is set on a stunning volcanic isle. »
- John Hopewell
The 67th Berlin Festival looks set to go down in history for marking Latin America’s coming of age. Sporting 21 features in Competition, Panorama and Forum, Berlin’s 2015 Latin presence — comprising movies from Latin America, Spain and Portugal — outranks Asia (20) and North America (15). Including all of Berlin’s official sections and Co-Production Market, Ibero-America boasts 63 films, 49 of them features, its highest movie count in memory.
Brazil leads the charge. Though lacking competition players, it has four films in Panorama, including its opener, Lirio Ferreira’s oneiric tale of impossible love “Blue Blood.” Five more works and two installations play Forum or Forum Expanded.
Berlin has always embraced Brazil, and Latin America in general. Wieland Speck, head of the Panorama, which focuses on international cinema, and Christoph Terhechte at the Forum, which frames younger filmmakers, both visit Brazil annually.
- John Hopewell
Tomorrow, the Berlinale will premiere new films by Jafar Panahi, Werner Herzog and Andrew Haigh. In the days that follow, there'll be new work from Terrence Malick, Patricio Guzmán, Pablo Larrain, Alexey German Jr., Radu Jude, Peter Greenaway—and that's just the Competition. Today, however, we're stuck with the festival opener, Isabel Coixet's Nobody Wants the Night. The cast—Juliette Binoche, Rinko Kikuchi and Gabriel Byrne—gives its gallant best, but there's no overcoming the clunky screenplay. In this first dispatch from the festival, we also have notes on Walter Salles's new documentary about Jia Zhangke. » - David Hudson »
Sold by Film Factory, “Ixcanul” world premieres next Saturday in Competition at the Berlin Festival.
Arp Selection’s acquisition marks the first distribution deal to go down on “Ixcanul,” which is raising large expectation after it made the Berlin Competition cut last month, competing with such seasoned directors’ latest as Terrence Malick’s “Knight of Cups,” Werner Herzog’s “Queen of the Desert” or Benoit Jacquot’s “Diary of a Chambermaid.”
The fact that Arp Selection has bought “Ixcanul” is noteworthy. Buying mostly from Europe, Arp targets often art films with potentially wider audience appeal: Ari Folman’s “The Congress,” with Robin J.C. Chandor’s “Margin Call,” and Paulo Sorrentino’s Sean Penn starrer “This Must Be the Place.” Arp Selection’s biggest recent release was Steven Soderbergh »
- John Hopewell
The Berlinale will be presenting premieres of several television series this year, including the Breaking Bad prequel Better Call Saul, the latest from the Danish creators of Borgen and more. Also, "2015: A Space Discovery" is the title of the focus at this year's Berlinale Talents, a program of master classes, discussions and workshops. Among the participants in the various programs are Jury president Darren Aronofsky, Bong Joon-Ho, Andreas Dresen, Joanna Hogg, Wolfgang Kohlhaase, Marcel Ophüls, Joshua Oppenheimer, Laura Poitras, Walter Salles, Sebastian Schipper, Wim Wenders and the Yes Men. » - David Hudson »
Last week, the Berlinale's Panorama program rolled out its narrative features. Today, the section adds 18 documentaries to complete its lineup for the 2015 edition running from February 5 through 15. Notes in quotes come from the festival. Included are Liz Garbus's portrait of Nina Simone, Brett Morgen's glimpse into the life of Kurt Cobain, Walter Salles's film about Jia Zhangke and modern China and Jean-Gabriel Périot's documentary on the upheavals in West Germany in the 1970s. » - David Hudson »
Rome — A battle between rival Pope Francis biopics has just kicked off, with shooting starting this week in Buenos Aires on two feature films about Jorge Mario Bergoglio, both toplining Argentine A-list actors as the former Jesuit priest and tracing the path to his groundbreaking papacy.
Thesp Rodrigo de la Serna, who played alongside Gael Garcia Bernal in Walter Salles’s “The Motorcycle Diaries,” is playing the former Buenos Aires bishop, a son of Italian immigrants, in Italian director Daniele Luchetti’s “Call Me Francesco.” This roughly $12 million pic is being fully financed by prominent Italian producer Piero Valsecchi, who is planning a theatrical and a made-for-tv version. Luchetti’s credits include past Cannes fest contenders “Il Portaborse,” “My Brother Is an Only Child,” and “Our Life.”
- Nick Vivarelli
9 items from 2015
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