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Last summer, Jon Stewart took a break from The Daily Show in order to work. Specifically to work on directing his first movie, Rosewater, based on the 2009 story of a Iranian-born journalist (played by Gael Garcia Bernal) who returned home to cover the national election only to be jailed for nearly four months. The film had its world premiere Friday evening at the Telluride Film Festival. John Horn, host of The Frame — a new daily arts and entertainment show that Southern California Public Radio's Kpcc will be launching soon — is at Telluride and spoke to Stewart about how working on The Daily Show prepared him for his directorial debut and about what Stewart most wanted to avoid doing with the movie. You can listen to the interview at The Frame show page or subscribe over at iTunes here. »
- Vulture Editors
Exclusive: Prolific jack-of-all-artistic-trades James Franco arrives on the Lido this week to accept the Venice Film Festival’s Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to the Filmmaker Award, which goes to a personality who has made an original contribution to innovation in contemporary cinema. Fitting then that his latest directorial effort, The Sound And The Fury, will have its world premiere out of competition at the fest (see the exclusive clip above).
The film is based on the novel of by William Faulkner; it’s Franco’s second time adapting the author — a notoriously tough challenge given the author’s penchant for stream of consciousness. Franco tells me he nevertheless stayed faithful to the book, which is broken into four sections and focuses on the decline and fall of the Compsons, a once-proud, aristocratic Southern family. A major obstacle to translating their story »
- Nancy Tartaglione
After its smash international World Premiere in Venice, director Ramin Bahrani’s 99 Homes — an absolutely riveting drama about the 2008 home foreclosure crisis — had its North American premiere here at the Telluride Film Festival, and it has set this place ablaze. Despite lots of interest, as there should be, from domestic distributors, Bahrani told me immediately after this morning’s screening that the financiers behind the film are waiting until its Toronto debut next week to finalize anything. Starring Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon in career-best performances, this movie is not only a no-brainer for a quick distribution deal, it could be the rare — here comes that five letter word you hate so much, studios — drama that also could be a commercial powerhouse. Few films I have seen in recent years have cut so close to the bone as this one does. Americans, in particular, will respond strongly, and if ever there was a word-of-mouth movie, »
- Pete Hammond
Happy Labor Day everyone, and welcome to September as well. Over the past week or so, the Telluride Film Festival has unspooled a number of Academy Award contenders, in effect launching the Oscar race ahead of the start of the New York Film Festival as well as Toronto Film Festival. Those other two festivals will screen titles over the months of September and October, but with Telluride in the books, it’s one fest that we can analyze a bit to see what’s what. With their unique format (they never announce what films are playing in advance, so you never know what will screen), Telluride is always an X factor, but this year especially they’ve had no shortage of Oscar hopeful movies in their lineup. Some flicks upped their stock, while some need to be downgraded, but overall it’s a fest well worth discussing. First off, here »
- Joey Magidson
As the four-day Telluride Film Festival wraps Sept. 1, the big awards question is: Did we see the 2014 Oscar best-pic winner?
Since Telluride has screened the winner in five of the last six years, it’s a valid question. The answer is that there was no slam dunk. But three films that debuted here are clear possibilities for a best-pic nomination and maybe more: “Birdman,” “The Imitation Game” and “Wild.” The festival also offered Sony Classics’ “Foxcatcher,” which had bowed at Cannes and which seems destined to be a golden player in all categories.
“Foxcatcher” is universally admired; no one seems to dislike it, and some love it. “Birdman” is inspiring the most animated discussions, with many enthusing about the content and the technical magic. But it is too early to declare either film a front-runner.
Aside from those four, Telluride offered films that had premiered at other fests and that »
- Tim Gray
The line-up at this year's Toronto Film Festival has a much different feel than year's past and coming up with a list of most anticipated films isn't nearly as easy as previous years. Not because there's any lack of possible greatness, but in fact perhaps because the possibility is even greater, though in corners we may not expect. This year's fest is without what I would call a "big" film. David Dobkin's The Judge is opening the festival but at 141 minutes and with a trailer that does very little to convince me of its quality I have a hard time expecting much from it. Reese Witherspoon's Wild from director Jean-Marc Vallee is certainly one I will be seeing, but the anticipation level isn't entirely there and the somewhat muted Telluride response of respect with caveats has lessened my anticipation ever so slightly, the same could be said for Jon Stewart's Rosewater, »
- Brad Brevet
When Jon Stewart first announced he was taking time off to write and direct a feature film the expectation was for some kind of comedy. Sure it would probably be smart and most likely woven through with political or social commentary, but the main narrative would surely be something goofy. Happily that wasn’t what Stewart was interested in pursuing though and instead took up a far greater challenge. Maziar Bahari is an Iranian-born journalist who was arrested in Tehran while covering the elections and subsequent riots for Newsweek. His jail time lasted several months and included both physical and emotional torture, and the story Stewart wanted to tell on film is the one Bahari told in his memoir, “Then They Came for Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity and Survival.” It’s an alternately engaging, terrifying and inspiring story, and while that’s enough of a reason to bring it to the screen Stewart »
- Rob Hunter
Telluride — If you asked me to pick between the three commanding, sure-fire awards-contending lead actor performances on display at this year's Telluride Film Festival, I'd have a break down. Yet that's just what Academy voters will surely be asked to do in a few months' time, with added pressure in the form of whoever fills out the rest of the competitive category. In "Birdman," Michael Keaton may well end up putting forth the most compelling case for a win. Not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but some things are just patently obvious. Keaton is resurrected by this film, a tried-and-true narrative that we just saw play out last year with Matthew McConaughey. More than that, he's revealing shades of a character that will no doubt connect with actors, presenting the very id of a soul desperate to perform but hamstrung and even quarantined by the realities of the "business" of "show business. »
- Kristopher Tapley
Telluride — Mr. Stewart, if you read this article I believe the first few paragraphs may make you chuckle. Now, it's not because I'm a master wordsmith or unheralded comedic voice waiting to be discovered. No, after saying goodbye after our memorable interview on the patio of a Telluride restaurant Sunday afternoon, I turned and walked toward the street with my iPhone in hand. I'd stopped the recording of our chat and two choices appeared before me: delete or save. And, perhaps like a crazy person, I hit delete. Then I realized I hit delete. At that point, it was a mad dash back to my accommodations to jot down as much as I remembered from our conversation. Granted, this is something that has happened to the best reporters and journalists out there. Many times readers will read stories online or in print without realizing the content came from immediate memory. »
- Gregory Ellwood
By Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter
On Friday evening, Telluride Film Festival moviegoers became the first members of the public to see the fruits of the three-month hiatus that Jon Stewart took from The Daily Show in the summer of 2013 — during which John Oliver‘s solo career took off — when the world premiere of Rosewater, Stewart’s feature directorial debut, unspooled at the Galaxy Theatre and was met with warm applause.
Read the rest of this entry…
- Anjelica Oswald
Amir here, anxiously over-analyzing the trailer for Jon Stewart’s directorial debut. Rosewater tells the story of Maziar Bahari, an Iranian-Canadian journalist who was arrested following the Green Revolution riots, when Iranians protested against the controversial presidential elections of 2009. At the time, Daily Show host Jon Stewart followed the story in great detail. That publicity was instrumental in Bahari’s eventual release and Stewart's interest in the events has evidently not subsided since. Rosewater stars Tfe favorite Gael García Bernal as Bahari.
The trailer and our usual Ynms treatment after the jump...
- Amir S.
I ran into a producer and Academy voting member after this morning’s smash screening of The Daily Show host Jon Stewart’s impressive writing and directorial feature debut, Rosewater. He – and his wife – were raving about it, but also perplexed by a handful of early mixed reviews of the gripping political drama that had created some negative buzz among festgoers here even before the movie had its first screening (when it World Premiered Friday night at 9pm). “We were telling other friends of ours that we planned to see Rosewater and they immediately said they had heard it wasn’t great and were not enthusiastic about going. Strange. It was a tremendous film,” he said. That seemed to be the general reaction of the early morning Telluride crowd who picked off every single seat in the very large Werner Herzog theatre at 9Am this morning. They rewarded Stewart’s »
- Pete Hammond
Premiering at the 2014 Telluride Film Festival is Jon Stewart's Rosewater, his directorial debut based on a true story he was involved in about Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari, played by Gael García Bernal. The film tells a rather straightforward version of the story, focusing on the weeks leading up to and surrounding Bahari's arrest, eventually leading to his time in prison. While the film has some impressive creative choices (including a hashtag moment and some other sleek visuals) it's obviously made by a first-time director, and lacks a bit of the nuances that more experienced directors include. That said, its heart is in the right place. Rosewater, titled because Bahari's "specialist" tormenter in prison smelled of rosewater, is about Bahari's experiences written as the book Then They Came for Me. After traveling to Iran in 2009 to cover the controversial and potentially rigged elections, Bahari filmed interviews on his own and »
- Alex Billington
One of the best documentaries I've seen this year is the Netflix original The Battered Bastards of Baseball. Directed by brothers Chapman Way and Maclain Way, the doc premiered at Sundance back in January where Matt gave it a glowing review and debuted on Netflix last month where you can still instant stream it today. The film follows the Portland Mavericks, an independent baseball team created by actor and lifelong baseball enthusiast Bing Russell in 1973. In addition to being the only professional team in America to operate without a Major League affiliate at the time, the Mavericks held open tryouts and built a roster that was made up almost entirely of players who had long been forgotten by the world of organized baseball. The result was a team that played with a supreme chip on their shoulder that not only lead to wins but also record setting attendance numbers that stand to this day. »
- Jason Barr
Telluride — In recent years, Journalists have come under siege all across the world from governments trying to minimize their influence either through subtle or not-so subtle means. One of the more dramatic instances in recent memory was chronicled in Maziar Bahari's 2011 memoir "Then They Came for Me" which has been adapted into the new film "Rosewater." The film, with director Jon Stewart on hand, debuted Friday night at the 2014 Telluride Film Festival. "They Came For Me" depicted the 118 days the noted reporter and documentary filmmaker spent in an Iranian jail after being falsely accused of acting as a spy for Western powers. The London-based Bahari had returned to Tehran to cover the 2009 presidential election where Mir-Hossein Mousavi was providing a revolutionary challenge to the president at the time, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Controversy reigned after the latter was announced the victor prompting millions of Iranians to protest the results in cities across the Islamic state. »
- Gregory Ellwood
The man who might have gotten the biggest boost from Friday's opening of the Telluride Film Festival, Benedict Cumberbatch of “The Imitation Game,” wasn't even there to enjoy his acclaim. But his ears were surely burning, because his film opened to the kind of near-universal kudos that nearly eclipsed the somewhat mixed reaction to the day's other bows. On an opening night that found Telluride hosting three Toronto-defying world premieres, Jon Stewart enjoyed newfound star power as an off-camera writer-director with the debut of “Rosewater,” while Reese Witherspoon had some festivalgoers supposing that “Wild” could have her walking a red-carpet. »
- Chris Willman
The category of Iranian prison movies with feel-good endings is a small subgenre, and one that "Rosewater" is likely to have all to itself for the near future. With his feature film writing and directing debut, "The Daily Show" host Jon Stewart clearly wanted to make a people-have-the-power message picture that would resonate at least as much with American youths as longtime students of political repression in the Middle East. That transparent desire to make the material as accessible as possible to U.S. moviegoers —starting with the old-fashioned notion of having all the Iranians speaking to each other exclusively in English—results in a sometimes overly slick take on potentially tough subject matter. For better or worse, torture-themed films don’t get too much easier to take than this one. The initially easygoing protagonist who spends the second half of "Rosewater" in solitary confinement is Maziar Bahari (Gael Garcia Bernal), an Iran-born, »
- Chris Willman
On Friday evening, Telluride Film Festival moviegoers became the first members of the public to see the fruits of the three-month hiatus that Jon Stewart took from The Daily Show in the summer of 2013 -- during which John Oliver's solo career took off -- when the world premiere of Rosewater, Stewart's feature directorial debut, unspooled at the Galaxy Theatre and was met with warm applause. Stewart, who also penned the film's script -- which he adapted from London-based journalist Maziar Bahari and Aimee Molloy's 2011 book Then They Came for Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity and Survival, about
- Scott Feinberg
“Escobar” stars Benicio del Toro as the notorious drug trafficker alongside “Hunger Games” thesp Josh Hutcherson and Brady Corbet in the new thriller. Stefano, who makes his directing debut, will be on hand for a Q&A.
The four-day festival, which started Friday, already includes the first showings of Reese Witherspoon’s “Wild,” Benedict Cumberbatch’s “The Imitation Game,” Jon Stewart’s “Rosewater” and Mia Wasikowska’s “Madame Bovary.”
Several Cannes titles are also coming to the 41st edition of Telluride — Bennett Miller’s “Foxcatcher” and Tommy Lee Jones’ frontier drama “The Homesman” — along with Venice Film Festival opener “Birdman, »
- Dave McNary
The Telluride Film Festival got started with a bang this afternoon — with a special Patrons screening in front of Friday night’s official launch — as Fox Searchlight’s December release Wild had its World Premiere and first-ever public screening. The best-selling nonfiction book by Cheryl Strayed about her hike across the 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail has been turned into a beautifully crafted cinematic journey by director Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas Buyers Club). Reese Witherspoon, who also co-produced, delivers her best screen work since her Oscar-winning turn in Walk The Line, and this three-dimensional portrayal of a woman searching for herself — after a disastrous divorce, the death of her beloved mother (perfectly played by Laura Dern), sexual promiscuity, drugs and a stint on the streets — is certain to put her back in the thick of the Best Actress race this year. It’s a whale of a tale and a great role. »
- Pete Hammond
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