14 items from 2015
There are still three weeks to go before the Cannes Film Festival unveils its official-selection lineup, but so far, the latest Pixar 3D animated extravaganza and new films from Woody Allen, Todd Haynes, Jeff Nichols, Denis Villeneuve and Arnaud Desplechin appear to be securing their positions in the event’s 68th annual edition (May 13-24).
In keeping with his longtime habit of avoiding festival accolades, Allen will likely receive an out-of-competition berth for his 45th feature, “Irrational Man,” starring Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone (who starred in the director’s “Magic in the Moonlight”). Among other U.S. fare, Cannes will get an early start on the summer blockbuster season with Disney/Pixar’s feature toon “Inside Out,” marking a second trip to the Croisette for director Pete Docter (who co-helmed with Ronaldo Del Carmen) after his “Up” opened the festival in 2009. As already announced, George Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road, »
- Justin Chang and Elsa Keslassy
The trophy will be presented to del Toro at the San Francisco Film Festival’s awards night April 27 at the Armory. He will also be honored at “An Evening With Guillermo del Toro” on April 25 at the Castro Theatre with an interview, selection of clips, a sneak peek at upcoming projects and a screening of “The Devil’s Backbone.”
“Guillermo del Toro’s remarkable ability to shift between intimate political drama and blockbuster action is shared with only a very few select filmmakers at the top of the field,” said Noah Cowan, executive director of the society, in a statement. “This award is a tribute to his boundless imagination and to his deep understanding of cinema history. Del Toro is both a great teacher and a boisterous communicator of why »
- Dave McNary
Jayro Bustamante’s debut “Ixcanul,” the flagship of a burgeoning Guatemalan cinema, continued its triumphant festival march, winning Official Fiction Competition best picture at Colombia’s 55th Cartagena Festival, which wrapped Tuesday night.
A Berlin Festival Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize winner, “Ixcanul” took top honors – best Ibero-American picture and director – just last Saturday at Mexico’s Guadalajara Fest. 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’),” “Ixcanul” has now achieved the near unthinkable for a Guatemalan movie just a few years back: a French co-producer, Edgard Tenembaum’s Paris-based Tu Vas Voir, whose credits also include Walter Salles’ “The Motorcycle Diaries”; a sales agent, Vicente Canales’ Film Factory, now one of the biggest dealers in not only Spanish but Latin American films; top fest plaudits and major territory sales to distinguished distributors, »
- John Hopewell
American Ultra stars Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg will be reunited later this year in another project: Woody Allen's next as yet untitled feature. Bruce Willis is the third cast member whose name has been publicly announced. The source for this information is an "exclusive" report via Deadline.com's Mike Fleming Jr. So far, as Fleming explains in his brief piece, Woody Allen and "his people" haven't confirmed the casting. In other words, things could change in the not-too-distant future. See also: Kristen Stewart Joins Kelly Reichardt Movie Project, also featuring Laura Dern and Michelle Williams. Unsurprisingly, no plot details about the upcoming Woody Allen project have been forthcoming. In fact, one wonders if Kristen Stewart, Jesse Eisenberg, and Bruce Willis – in case they have indeed joined the fold – know what the movie is going to be about. Allen's latest collaborators – Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum and Edward Walson – will be producing the film. »
- Zac Gille
Kristen Stewart joins Untitled Kelly Reichardt Project (photo: Kristen Stewart in 'Clouds of Sils Maria') This news bit has been everywhere online, but just in case you've missed it: History-making César Award winner Kristen Stewart has joined three-time Oscar-nominee Michelle Williams and two-time Oscar nominee Laura Dern in an as yet untitled drama set in Montana and to be directed by Kelly Reichardt.* Deadline.com first broke the story last week (Feb. 27, 2015). If all goes as planned, Kristen Stewart will play Boise lawyer Beth, who, nervous after accepting a teaching position in a small Montana town, befriends a local woman, Jamie, auditing her class.† Kelly Reichardt's usual partners Neil Kopp and Anish Savjani are producing the project, which is supposed to consist of a series of vignettes based on short stories by Maile Meloy. Also in the cast: James Le Gros (Point Break), Jared Harris (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows »
- Zac Gille
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
14 items from 2015
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