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One of the biggest sleeper hits of the Toronto International Film Festival this September was the British coming-of-age drama X + Y. In the film, Asa Butterfield plays Nathan Ellis, an autistic teen hoping to land a berth in the International Mathematical Olympiad. Co-starring Sally Hawkins, Rafe Spall and newcomer Jo Yang as Zhang Mei, a Chinese girl who befriends Nathan, the film received accolades and much enthusiasm from its opening night crowd.
Earlier this week, I had the chance to sat down with director Morgan Matthews and the two young stars of X + Y during Tiff to discuss their new film. They spoke about the young man who inspired Asa’s character, shooting in Taipei and, ahem, eating stinky tofu.
Check it out below and enjoy!
What drove you make a documentary about the Math Olympiad in the first place? How did that turn into a feature film?
- Jordan Adler
Directed by Morgan Matthews.
A socially awkward teenage math prodigy finds new confidence and new friendships when he lands a spot on the British squad at the International Mathematics Olympiad.
An autistic boy is in a fatal car accident which results in the death of his father who was extremely attentive and good to him; he is discovered to have a talent for mathematics and is taught by a teacher who suffers from multiple sclerosis. A disconnect exists between the son and mother but not from a lacking of trying on her part as she is desperate to establish an emotional bond with her socially awkward child.
At the centre of the story is the International Mathematics Olympiad where the high school student attempts to be one of the six participants which will represent the UK. »
- Trevor Hogg
, “X+Y” zeroes in on a young math whiz who only gradually comprehends the basics of establishing relationships with other people. Deconstructionist critics and mainstream moviegoers alike may find it difficult not to reference “Rain Man,” “A Beautiful Mind” and “David and Lisa” while describing the movie to potential ticketbuyers. But even though such comparisons are hardly inapt, director Morgan Matthews’ debut fiction feature — inspired by his acclaimed 2007 documentary “Beautiful Young Minds” — proves potent on its own terms as a satisfying, compelling drama with definite crossover potential on screens of all sizes.
Much like its nonfiction predecessor, “X+Y” focuses on student competitors in the Intl. Mathematics Olympiad (Imo). In concert with scripter James Graham, Matthews has spun off a scenario about a character not unlike one of the more memorable subjects in “Beautiful Young Minds,” a neurodevelopmentally challenged math prodigy named Daniel Lightwing.
In the world according to “X+Y, »
- Joe Leydon
There are not many films made about kids like Nathan Ellis. Sure, the story of a young social outsider trying to break out of his shell is not a unique one (as I wrote about in my review for fellow Tiff selection Wet Bum), but Nathan is autistic and has a very deliberate way of doing things. For instance, he cannot order chicken balls from the local Chinese restaurant unless the number of balls he gets is a prime number. Besides his picky eating, Nathan gets distracted by noise and has a hard time working in a room with a ticking clock or other students tapping their fingers on a desk loudly. He fears handshakes, is unable to understand the social cues involved with that greeting gesture, and calms himself by saying the Fibonacci sequence out loud.
Few films focus on boys who can be coldly sincere, their personality almost hidden from view. »
- Jordan Adler
Size definitely mattered for the teenage stars of "Ender's Game" ... who had a mine's-bigger-than-yours attitude on the set ... at least as far as their dressing room trailers were concerned. Both Asa Butterfield and Hailee Steinfeld made sure they didn't get stuck with a dinky or crappy trailer ... by including specific language in their minor's contracts. Studios are required to file these with the court for all actors under 18. According to the legal docs obtained by »
- TMZ Staff
Autumn has always been my favorite time of year, and for the past few years, the pleasure of the arrival of crisp air and turning leaves has been increased, because it means that London Film Festival time has come around again. Though the public festival runs for 12 days — this year it’s October 8th though 19th — for the press it runs for a full month. (Press screenings will start on September 22nd.) It is a veritable orgy of cinema, and I love it. It’s exhausting, but I love it.
Yesterday morning the full program for the 58th BFI London Film Festival was announced. I already knew that two of my most anticipated films of the fall were on the slate: The Imitation Game, Headhunters director Morten Tyldum’s film about Alan Turing and the WWII Enigma codebreaking project, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the mathematician; and Fury, »
- MaryAnn Johanson
As we look in the rearview mirror of the summer blockbusters, September heralds the start of the fall movie season. Filled with Hollywood heavyweights and A-listers, here’s our Big list of the most anticipated movies coming to cinemas this autumn and during the holidays.
Our exhaustive list includes films that are playing at the upcoming Toronto Film Festival as well the ones that already have a theatrical release date. With the awards season on the horizon, we also added a few bonus films at the end to keep your eye out for in the months ahead.
Pull up a chair, grab a pen and paper and get ready for Wamg’s Guide to the 100+ Films This Fall And Holiday Season.
We kick it off with what’s showing in Toronto at the film festival that runs September 4 – 14.
- Movie Geeks
In 2007, director Morgan Matthews delivered his TV documentary "Beautiful Young Minds," which centered on a group of students participating in the International Mathematics Olympiad. Among the nods it received was a BAFTA TV nomination for Best Single Documentary, and now Matthews hopes the feature version of that story will get even more attention. Asa Butterfield, Sally Hawkins, Rafe Spall and Eddie Marsan have joined forces for "X+Y." With a script by playwright James Graham, it tells the story of a borderline autistic kid whose love of numbers gets him on the British Math Team, where a trip to Taipei for the International Mathematics Olympiad brings the possibility of romance, and opens him up to a whole new life. Gotta say, we never felt this inspired while doing long division. Here's the official synopsis: For most of us, equations are just a means to an end. But for teenage math »
- Kevin Jagernauth
"If beauty is truth, and truth is beauty, well, then surely mathematics is the most beautiful thing of all." Check out this trailer for a film titled X+Y, not the best title but I see what they were going for, a drama about a talented young math prodigy diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. Asa Butterfield plays the boy, Nathan, who is being raised by a single mother, played by the always impressive Sally Hawkins, and he befriends his teacher, played by Rafe Spall. He ends up on a big trip to Taiwan on the British team of the International Mathematics Olympiad, joined by Eddie Marsan there. It's a great cast, and while the trailer occasionally gets a bit sappy, there is something unique about it and I'm curious to see. Give it a look. Here's the first official festival trailer for Morgan Matthews' X+Y, from »
- Alex Billington
The lineups for the Mavericks, Discovery, and Tiff Kids parts of the Toronto Film Festival were announced, wrapping up a series of lineup announcements for the Toronto International Film Festival.
With the added films, the festival’s entire slate is now a whopping 393 movies. Two hundred eighty-five of those movies are feature films, of which 143 are world premieres.
The Mavericks portion of the festival includes onstage discussions following the screening of each film. Do I Sound Gay? will be followed by a talk between director David Thorpe and sex-advice guru Dan Savage. Also premiering in that space is The 50 Year Argument, »
- Jacob Shamsian
Bill Murray is coming to Toronto folks. Actually, the film he stars in (Theodore Melfi’s St. Vincent) is having its official World Premiere launch at the jaw-dropping 285 feature film 2014 Tiff line-up. In the final batch of items we finally get the confirmation that 2014′s Palme d’Or Winner Winter Sleep (which gets added along with a trio of others to the Masters Programme) will show, and Tomm Moore’s highly anticipated Song of the Sea (among the four item line-up for Tiff Kids) also lands. Worth mentioning are the sprinkling of add-ons to the various other sections (Marjane Satrapi’s Sundance preemed The Voices, Matt Shakman’s Cut Bank and the world preem of Danis Tanovic’s Tigers) with a Studio Ghibli docu item being fitted into the Tiff Docs, but it is the Discovery Programme that finally takes shape.
The “up-and-comers” include Berlin Film Fest (and future Nyff »
- Eric Lavallee
Jennifer Aniston, Juliette Binoche, Steve Carell, Michael Douglas, Tina Fey, Jake Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, Diane Keaton, Melissa Leo, Bill Murray, Bill Nighy, Al Pacino, Vanessa Redgrave, Adam Sandler, John Travolta and Kristen Wiig are among the array of stars expected to alight on the red carpet of the 2014 Toronto Film Festival.
The fest today revealed an impressive roster of helmers and thesps planning to boost their latest work in Toronto next month. And with the critical four-day opening weekend packed exclusively — as per the new fest policy — with world premieres and North American premieres of studio awards contenders, buzzy acquisition titles, and hot U.S. and international arthouse fare, you can expect media frenzies, flash mobs of buyers, and intense afterparty rivalries like never before.
Slates for Mavericks, Discovery, and Tiff Kids were also unveiled today, as were a handful of late-breaking adds to other programs, bringing this year’s grand total to 393 films, »
- Jennie Punter
While fans of Donna Tartt's beloved 1992 novel The Secret History have been waiting well over a decade for the long-stalled movie adaptation to get the green light, there was some good news this week as Warner Bros confirmed that they have acquired the film rights to her Pulitzer winner The Goldfinch.
Spanning two decades, the novel follows Theo Decker, who loses his mother at the age of 13 and is subsequently drawn into the criminal underworld through his possession of a valuable work of art.
If you're yet to read The Goldfinch, you may want to come back once you have as there will be Spoilers in the text below. Otherwise, read on for Digital Spy's dream cast...
Theo Decker (Ages 13-16)
The difficulty with casting the young Theo, whose perspective the first half of the book is told from, is that all the actors we have in mind will »
Mentored by unconventional and anarchic teacher Mr Humphreys (Rafe Spall), Nathan’s talents win him a place representing Gb at the International Mathematics Olympiad.
When the team go to train in Taiwan, headed up by squad leader Richard (Eddie Marsan), Nathan is faced with unexpected challenges - not least his new and unfamiliar feelings for his Chinese counterpart...
Newcomer Jo Yang who went to school in West London before returning to study in Beiijing plays the beautiful Zhang Mei.
- email@example.com (ScreenTerrier)
Don’t panic – it’s not a feature-length Coldplay video. On the contrary, X + Y appears to be something altogether lovely and uplifting. Having made his 2007 BAFTA nominated TV documentary, Beautiful Young Minds, director Morgan Matthews brings us playwright James Graham’s fictionalised version of that story – which centres around the International Mathematics Olympiad.
Starring Asa Butterfield (Ender’s Game) as Nathan – a young student whose specific ‘traits’ place him on the autistic spectrum – the film charts his time with his dedicated teacher, played by Rafe Spall (Life Of Pi), and his mother, played by Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine). Between them, they nurture his affinity for numbers and set him on the road to joining the British Math Team in Taipei for the International Math Olympiad. It is here, amidst these new circumstances that Nathan’s rigid life begins to open up to the realm of infinite possibility.
Though the »
- Sarah Myles
Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer-Prize winning novel The Goldfinch was picked up for a movie adaptation by Warner Bros. on Tuesday. The book tells the story of Theo Decker, whose mother is killed in a museum bombing and whose father wants little to do with him. During the bombing, Decker stole The Goldfinch, the 1654 painting by Carel Fabritius, which he keeps hidden from the world. The book is 800 pages long and spans decades, so compressing it all into one movie will be a challenge. The cast of characters is small but memorable, and since it’s so high-profile, could attract a »
- Jacob Shamsian
Shooting will take place on location in Yorkshire, Northern England, for four weeks.
“The Incident,” which is a working title, is the debut feature from BAFTA-nominated writer/director Jane Linfoot (“Sea View”). It also stars Tom Hughes (“Cemetery Junction”) and upcoming actress Tasha Connor (“X Plus Y”).
The film is produced by Caroline Cooper Charles (“Hush,” “Bunny and the Bull,” “All Tomorrow’s Parties”) and Sarada McDermott (“Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie,” “Tyrannosaur,” “The Swimmer”). The film is backed by BFI Film Fund with Creativity Capital, and is a Universal Spirits and Square Circle Films production.
A metropolitan couple, Annabel (Gedmintas) and Joe (Hughes) cross paths with Lily (Connor), a troubled, vulnerable teen. Annabel and Joe’s decision to ignore Lily’s plight provokes »
- Leo Barraclough
Principal photography has commenced on The Incident (working title), a psychological drama that marks the debut feature of Jane Linfoot, a Screen International Star of Tomorrow in 2008.
Shooting will take place on location in Yorkshire over four weeks.
The film centres on metropolitan couple Annabel (Ruta Gedmintas) and Joe (Tom Hughes), who cross paths with Lily (Tasha Connor), a troubled, vulnerable teen. Annabel and Joe’s decision to ignore Lily provokes an unsettling incident that disrupts the couple’s comfortable lives, forcing them to confront their shared guilt.
Gedmintas is currently starring in new FX drama The Strain, created by Guillermo del Toro; Hughes starred in Cemetery Junction and more recently Richard Curtis’s About Time; and Connor recently finished filming X Plus Y alongside Asa Butterfield, Sally Hawkins and Eddie Marsan.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Michael Rosser)
There has been a lot of talk and speculation surrounding the possible inclusion of Robin in Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Daniel Radcliffe recently expressed interest in playing the character, and it was rumored that Adam Driver (Girls, Star Wars: Episode VII) was up for the role of Nightwing. There's no confirmation on whether Robin or Nightwing will be in the movie, but there's a good chance that somewhere down the line one or both of the characters will be introduced into Snyder's DC cinematic universe.
So I came up with a list of young actors who could potentially take on the role of Robin in the film. Over the years there have been several Robins introduced in the the comics, and any one of those could be brought into the franchise. There's Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, Damian Wayne, and Carrie Kelley. Each one had a very different attitude, »
- Joey Paur
London’s biggest film export event returns with a new name and strong selection of upcoming titles.
This year’s London Screenings (June 23-26) marks the 11th edition of the capital’s biggest film export event and has been given a make-over for 2014.
It has dropped the previous title of the London UK Film Focus (Luff) and will introduce various new strands. But organisers are quick to point out this isn’t a case of reinventing the event - more of “buffing it up” after more than a decade.
The budget of around $330,000 is roughly the same as in previous years. The key difference is that the event, which generates an estimated $8m a year in international business for British films and sales agents, has secured »
- email@example.com (Geoffrey Macnab)
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