10 items from 2015
From photography to warfare, conservation to whistleblowing, this year’s five Oscar nominated documentaries are united by overlapping themes and topics of interest, but remain uniformly distinct in their approach.
Leading the quintet is Laura Poitras’ “Citizenfour,” the highest-grossing and highest-profile nominee. The verite-style portrait of Nsa whistleblower Edward Snowden gives audiences a voyeuristic peek inside Snowden’s week in Hong Kong when the information he leaked started going public, and shows the human side of a man who the media nearly turned into a myth.
The pic has cleaned up in Oscar precursors, garnering best doc wins from the Gotham and Intl. Documentary Assn. awards, the four top critics groups (New York, Los Angeles, London and National Society) and nominations from BAFTA and the Spirits. It also marks Poitras’ second Oscar nom. She was in contention in 2007 for “My Country, My Country” but lost to heavyweight “An Inconvenient Truth. »
- Geoff Berkshire
Before you get too excited: no, Nicolas Cage won't be playing the infamous terrorist Osama Bin Laden in this movie - although that would admittedly be pretty amazing.
THR reports that Cage will star in a satirical comedy called Army of One for Borat director Larry Charles. And though this will be based on a true story, don't expect anything serious along the lines of American Sniper or Zero Dark Thirty.
Army of One is loosely based on Chris Heath's GQ magazine article recounting the real-life misadventures of Gary Faulkner, a Colorado construction worker who took it upon himself to find Bin Laden, including trying to sneak into Pakistan and Afghanistan numerous times.
Sounds a little like the Morgan Spurlock documentary Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?, but hopefully Cage's...let's call it "unique" brand of acting will give this film a life of its own. Scott Rothman and Rajiv Joseph, »
- Ben Pearson
The hunt for Osama bin Laden was so significant that we’ve already had a few movies about missions to find and/or kill the al-Qaeda leader. Most famously, of course, is Zero Dark Thirty, which dramatizes the operation that resulted in bin Laden’s death. Before that was the comedic documentary Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?, in which director Morgan Spurlock jokingly travels through Africa and the Middle East in search of the wanted terrorist. Spurlock wasn’t the only “regular guy” on the hunt, though, as we’ll see soon enough in the comedy Army of One. Described as a satire, the movie will also be based on a true story of the “Rocky Mountain Rambo,” Gary Faulkner, a Denver-based construction worker who in 2010 went to Pakistan armed with a pistol, a knife and a samurai sword to take out bin Laden all by himself. Who »
- Christopher Campbell
The 21st Slamdance Film Festival has selected jury members for its documentary, narrative and shorts competitions at the festival, which runs Jan. 23-29.
Members for the micro short films competitition are Amber Benson (actress, “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” and writer, “The Witches of Echo Park”), Todd Berger (director, ” It’s A Disaster”), Laura Merians (cinematographer for “Björk,” “Atoms For Peace”), Kent Osborne (writer, “Adventure Time,” “Spongebob Squarepants”) and Damon Russell (producer, “Curfew” and director, “Snow On Tha Bluff”).
The fest, which takes place at the Treasure Mountain Inn in Park City, will include 13 world premieres, two North American premieres and three U. »
- Dave McNary
Lucy Spiegel, executive director for contributors and audience at CNN, is leaving the network after six years.
Senior vice president for talent and content development, Amy Entelis, informed staff in an email obtained by TheWrap.
Read Entelis’ full note below:
Lucy Spiegel, who for six years has recruited and managed all of CNN’s commentators and analysts, »
- Jordan Chariton
TV Picks: Morgan Spurlock’s hit CNN series Morgan Spurlock Inside Man is back for a third season. The compelling eight-episode season includes Spurlock’s take on Trash, Bitcoins, Modern Dating and Medical Tourism.The series, which is hosted and produced by the Oscar-nominated filmmaker, premieres on Thursday, January 22 at 9pm Et on CNN. In his trademark style, Spurlock tells compelling stories from an insider’s perspective and moves to Thursday nights in its third season on CNN, beginning January 22 at 9pm Et with an inside look at the mystery of robots and artificial intelligence.In his inimitable, inquisitive style, and with a […] »
- April Neale
The relaunch of TV Guide Network as Pop next week is an effort to tap into the ever-rising tide of pop culture fandemonium that drives so much conversation on social media.
Brad Schwartz, prexy of entertainment and media for Pop, told reporters at the Television Critics Assn. press tour on Friday that the cabler will function as a haven for the super-fan. Pop, set to bow Jan. 14, is launching with the tagline “We’re fans too.”
The focus is on viewers in their late 30s-early 40s who have nostalgia for 1980s and ’90s TV and pop culture.
“We’re building this for what we call the ‘modern grownup,’ ” Schwartz said.
There’s also an effort to capture the different facets of fandom today, from live events to the hyper-connectedness provided by social-media platforms.
“Being a fan today is an entirely different experience” than in decades past, Schwartz noted.
The relaunch »
- Elizabeth Wagmeister
The former TV Guide Network — now Pop — which is officially rebranding on Jan. 14, unveiled four new projects in development Friday at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour.
Also Read: ‘The Returned’ EPs Grapple With Ghosts of Programming During TCA Panel
Those projects include the Morgan Spurlock and John Stamos‘ docuseries “Losing It,” another show featuring Z100’s Elvis Duran, a reality series pairing celebrities and inventors, and a stage show with celebrities recounting their most embarrassing life moments.
The revamped channel also announced that “90210’s” Shenae Grimes-Beech will co-anchor and serve as an entertainment correspondent for “Popsugar Now.” Grimes-Beech »
- Tony Maglio
Lately, there has been a lot of hype about Russell Brand in the news and particularly in social media. Brand seems to be cloaking himself as a political robin-hood character who is against capitalism and corruption. According to Deadline, the South By Southwest 2015 film festival will open with the film Brand: A Second Coming. This feature-length documentary will be about the comedian’s evolution from drug addict to movie to star to political battler. The documentary will be directed by Ondi Timoner (Dig!, We Live in Public).
If you wish to hear more of Russell Brand’s controversial opinions, SXSW has announced Brand as one of 2015’s guest speakers. The panel will also include Brian Grazer and Morgan Spurlock. The panel will take place on March 13 in Austin, Texas.
Another comic actor turned independent filmmaker, James Franco, will be also be releasing an indie feature film directed by Gabrielle Demestre. »
- Tamarah Scott
South by Southwest 2015 will open with Brand: A Second Coming, a feature documentary about comedian Russell Brand directed by Ondi Timoner (Dig!, We Live In Public). The doc chronicles Brand’s evolution from addict to movie star to political disruptor and will kick off a line-up that will also include Michael Showalter’s Sally Field comedy Hello, My Name is Doris, Karyn Kusama’s The Invitation, Mavis Staples doc Mavis!, Grantland Features’ Son of the Congo about NBA star Serge Ibaka, A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story, and Alex Garland’s Ex Machina starring Oscar Isaac.
Of course, that’s not all; SXSW’s typically sprawling line-up is still being finalized and won’t be revealed until February 3, with Midnighter titles revealed alongside the shorts program on February 10.
If you’re Austin-bound, get ready for a double dose of Russell Brand. SXSW already announced that the irreverent Brit will serve as a 2015 guest speaker, »
- Jen Yamato
10 items from 2015
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