16 items from 2015
Read More: 5 Tips for Grassroots Film Distribution from Producers of 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' "Adventureland" (Greg Mottola, 2009) Greg Mottola's "Adventureland" is a superb followup to his hilarious and much-beloved "Superbad." The film follows James (Jesse Eisenberg), a recent college grad in the late 1980s who works at a theme park the summer before he's supposed to go to grad school. While there, he meets a series of interesting characters, including "Em," a troubled girl and eventual love interest played by Kristen Stewart. In the "Adventureland" fireworks scene, the two take a break from exploring their awkward, inevitable relationship and get a nice view of the Fourth of July treat. "Beasts of the Southern Wild" (Benh Zeitlin, 2012)In Benh Zeitlin's Oscar-nominated drama, six-year-old Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) sees the beauty in the world -- even as she confronts her father's ailing health and an »
Eight filmmaking teams receive the grants to push their projects into the next stage of their creative process, from screenwriting to production. Awarded twice annually, the grants are intended for narrative features that impact the burgeoning Bay Area film community. These are promising projects to watch for. Past films have enjoyed indie success on the festival circuit and theatrically, including Ira Sachs' "Love Is Strange," Destin Cretton's "Short Term 12," Ryan Coogler's "Fruitvale Station," which went all the way to win a Cannes prize, and Benh Zeitlin's Best Picture-nominated "Beasts of the Southern Wild." Read More: Melissa Leo Joins James Franco in Ian Olds' Wartime Drama "The Fixer" Several of this year's winners, from Travis Mathews to Ian Olds, already have considerable traction in the indie film scene and received Film Society backing in 2014. Also, "Jones" writer/director Sally El Hosaini was Sffs's »
- Ryan Lattanzio
The first annual Mammoth Lakes Film Festival will make it’s debut this week. Set in the scenic and majestic setting of Mammoth Lakes, California, and will take place May 27-31, and will open with acclaimed Academy Award winning filmmaker Alex Gibney’s new documentary Steve Jobs: The Man In The Machine.
The festival will present sixteen films in Narrative and Documentary Competition. I recently spoke with Artistic Director/Director Shira Dubrovner about choosing the films for the festival. She said:
“[The films] have a common thread. The one thing I did with this festival is give the full power to Paul Sbrizzi, who is a veteran at programming. He’s been programming for Slamdance for the past fifteen years, he programs for La film fest and many other film festivals in the country. I knew his artistic taste, and I know that he also has an eye for talent. He »
- Melissa Howland
Inarritu will be honored with the Vanguard Leadership Award for the originality and independent spirit of his films.
Inarritu’s films include “Amores Perros” (2000), “21 Grams” (2003), “Babel” (2006), “Biutiful” (2010) and “Birdman,” which won him three Oscars for best picture, director and original screenplay. He has produced three films that appeared at the Sundance Film Festival: “Nine Lives” (2005), “Mother and Child” (2010) and “Rudo y Cursi” (2009).
Inarritu will be the fourth recipient of the Vanguard Leadership Award, joining philanthropist and former institute trustee George Gund, journalist and film critic Roger Ebert, and actress and arts advocate Glenn Close.
- Dave McNary
Hailing from Africa, their eyes set on Europe, they come with empty hands and infinite dreams, drawn across deserts and oceans by the promise of a better life. Occasionally, they make the news, when a boat sinks en route or police crack down on the other side, but by and large, these immigrants remain invisible, despite the fact their personal struggles would make for incredible stories. In “Mediterranea,” director Jonas Carpignano recognizes that potential and yet resists many of the filmmaking choices that would make the trek from Burkina Faso to Italy easily relatable to a mainstream audience, opting instead for a more rarified art-film format. Though it allows us to share in their ordeal, the film doesn’t presume to “know” its protagonists by the end, yielding a more complex and challenging portrait, one whose greatest impact will occur on the festival circuit, from which Carpignano should emerge a breakout. »
- Peter Debruge
Cannes — In a first sale that speaks well of the title’s sales potential, France’s Haut et Court, producer of Cannes Palme d’Or winner “The Class,” has closed French distribution rights on Jonas Carpignano’s buzzed-up Cannes Critics’ Week player “Mediterranea.”
“Mediterranea’s” German producer, Dcm, will distribute in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Sold by Paris and Mexico City-based Ndm, “Mediterranea” is the feature debut of Carpignano, a filmmaker based out of Rome and New York who won Cannes Critics’ Week main prize with his short “A Ciambra.” The film is produced, among many others, by U.S. director-producer Chris Columbus. After Carpignano worked on Benh Zeitlin’s Sundance sensation “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Mediterranea” was developed out of Zeitlin’s company Court 12, and Zeitlin came on board to compose the film’s music with Dan Romer.
- John Hopewell
The summer edition of Sundance Institute's growing Directors and Screenwriters Labs takes place May 25 through June 25 at the Sundance Resort in Utah. Projects and participants selected for the 2015 June Directors and Screenwriters Labs hail from the United States, Brazil, China, France, Georgia and the United Kingdom. Under Sundance Institute Feature Film Program heads Michelle Satter and Gyula Gazdag, directors will work intensively with creative advisors, professional actors and production crews to shoot and edit key scenes from their scripts. Directors Lab fellows will then join five additional projects for the week-long Screenwriters Lab in an immersive environment geared toward innovation and risk-taking. The Labs have launched many hot indie writers and directors including Marielle Heller, Robert Eggers, Ryan Coogler, Haifaa Al Mansour and Benh Zeitlin. This year, notable entrants including Oscar-nominated doc director Dan Krauss' feature film version of "The Kill »
- Ryan Lattanzio
I have yet to see Ryan Gosling's directorial debut Lost River, but word-of-mouth for the film, including here on the site, has been less-than-favorable. Unabashedly weird and yet very respectful to its peers, based on what I've seen and read, it's not your average actor-turned-director vehicle. It's with that in mind that a select group, including fellow filmmakers, suggest Gosling's film would got more love had critics separated the art from the artist. The filmmaker in question for these acquisitions of late is Terence Nance (An Oversimplification of Her Beauty), who wrote an odd little email-themed piece for The Talkhouse about Gosling's film. Written as if he were to give the fellow filmmaker criticism of his work before it made its premiere last year at Cannes, Nance is critical of Lost River but he makes an interesting point. He notes how if the film, as the "current cut," were made by an unknown filmmaker, »
- Will Ashton
15 finalists are up for San Francisco Film Society/Kenneth Rainin Foundation grants. Up to $300,000 will be awarded to one or more narrative feature films now in various stages of production. These grants are given out twice annually, and the spring 2015 recipients will be announced in May. These are promising projects to watch for. Past films have enjoyed indie success on the festival circuit and theatrically, including Ira Sachs' "Love Is Strange," Destin Cretton's "Short Term 12," Ryan Coogler's "Fruitvale Station," which went all the way to win a Cannes prize, and Benh Zeitlin's Best Picture-nominated "Beasts of the Southern Wild." There are a few familiar names on this list with their next projects, like documentary filmmaker Jesse Moss ("The Overnighters"), Ian Olds ("The Fixer," starring James Franco), Travis Mathews, who co-directed "Interior Leather Bar" with Franco, and Boots Riley, the frontman of hip »
- Ryan Lattanzio
Amid the massive changes and financial challenges facing Hollywood, the six major studios managed largely to maintain the status quo on their on-lot film production pacts. Ironically, Sony Pictures, despite being under pressure to slash its annual spending by $250 million, and having cut hundreds of jobs, actually amped up its roster over the past year.
Sony’s increase to 30 first-look deals from 22 represents by far the biggest hike in several years for any major, and drove the overall number of studio-funded arrangements to 142, an increase of four over the same time last year. The new deals at Sony include an ultra-lucrative agreement for ousted studio chief Amy Pascal; a three-year pact for “Captain America” directors Joe and Anthony Russo; deals for Channing Tatum and Josh Donen, former execs Elizabeth Cantillon, DeVon Franklin and Michelle Raimo Kouyate and for up-and-comers, Josh Bratman’s Immersive and Joby Harold’s Safehouse.
Among all studios, »
- Dave McNary
Founded by a group of friends in 1995, Slamdance is one of many premiere festivals with a reputation for screening truly independent films without distribution. In the case of Slamdance alone, that means films made for under $1 million. It might sound strange now, but filmmakers whose work has matched that criteria include "Interstellar" director Christopher Nolan, whose debut "Following" premiered at Slamdance in 1999. Other filmmakers who first gained notice at Slamdance include Lena Dunham, Jeremy Saulnier, Lynn Shelton, Benh Zeitlin and Marc Forster, among many others. Read More: How the Slamdance Film Festival Survived 20 Years of Counter-programming Mayhem Of course, Slamdance can't take full credit for their extraordinary successes. But the festival not only takes chances on new talent; it also pushes the boundaries of cinematic content. The programmers screen things that honestly make me squirm and turn away; I don't see this at most festivals. They »
- Josh Leake
The 2015 Sundance Film Festival is staring to wind down. There are a few films still left to unspool, but The Playlist team have returned home, Park City is beginning to empty out and people are starting to look back and reflect on this year’s crop. And, on the whole, it seems to have been a good year. Certainly commercially, with a record-breaking number of buys (though it’s interesting that three of the most-buzzed titles all went to one place, Fox Searchlight), but also critically, with a strong batch of big hits (though yes, there were a few real stinkers). But festivals have a value beyond just movie-spotting: they also showcase filmmakers and performers who might be getting their first big break, or launch them into the stratosphere, and recent years have seen the careers of people like Damien Chazelle, Benh Zeitlin, Michael B. Jordan, David Lowery, Ava DuVernay, »
- The Playlist Staff
The DGA nominee and director of Birdman will receive the Vanguard Leadership Award at the fifth annual Sundance Institute benefit on June 2 in Los Angeles.
Iñárritu will be honoured for “the originality and independent spirit of his films”, which include Amores Perros, 21 Grams, Babel, Biutiful and Birdman.
“The current health and vibrancy of independent film is best reflected in the stories from film-makers who continue to push and break boundaries,” said Sundance Institute executive director Keri Putnam.
“Alejandro G Iñárritu is among the most creative and innovative film-makers working today and the boldness, humanity and audacity of his films will inspire generations to come.”
Iñárritu said: “It comes as a great honour to receive this award from an organisation whose mission, spirit and objectives are noble and have a profound effect on many filmmakers around the world.”
The La-based Mexican film-maker will be the fourth recipient of the Vanguard Leadership Award after philanthropist and former Institute Trustee »
- email@example.com (Jeremy Kay)
The Directors Guild of America (DGA) is notable in the season for a number of reasons. First, it's a massive voting body unlike most on the circuit, so their nominations choices can often hint toward consensus. Second, their winner very often goes on to win the Academy Award for Best Director, which as we all know tends to presage the Best Picture Oscar. But... ...one wonders how those two elements are being viewed as of late. After all, the last two years have seen a split, once by necessity ("Argo" director Ben Affleck was not nominated), the second time in a close race. Could it be that the Academy will start looking at these categories differently rather than as a package deal? Maybe, maybe not. I have no real answers there. I'm just asking the question. Anyway, the DGA nominated mostly expected names today. Clint Eastwood, naturally. "American Sniper" is cruising. »
- Kristopher Tapley
By Anjelica Oswald
Screenwriter Dan Gilroy made his directorial this year with Nightcrawler, which stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a corrupt freelance crime reporter who will do anything to get a story. Since the film’s premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, it’s garnered Oscar buzz and has been compared to best picture winner Crash (2004). It holds a 95 percent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes, was named one of AFI’s top 10 films of the year and received four BAFTA nominations, as well as three Critics’ Choice Awards. Gyllenhaal has earned Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Critics’ Choice acting nominations. If Gilroy were to earn a nomination for best director, like Crash did, he would become the sixth director in the 21st century to achieve that accolade.
- Anjelica Oswald
Can you believe that Oscar nominations are less than two weeks away? Yes, on January 15th the first phase of the awards season ends with the Academy Award nominations. Wow. Time flies once the precursors start. As such, this is the second to last set of Oscar predictions that I’ll be sharing with you before the announcement. So, I better figure this all out in a hurry! The Academy has sent out ballots, members are getting ready to finalize their choices, and precursors are going on all around them. It’s truly the busy season, with all the contenders in release and no excuses left to be made. Time to put up or shut up for the Oscar hopefuls, while voters hopefully do their due diligence with all of the potential players. Earlier today the Ace Eddie announcement was made, which could give some insight into both the Best »
- Joey Magidson
16 items from 2015
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