5 items from 2015
Majid Majidi, the first Iranian helmer nominated for the foreign-language film Oscar (for 1997’s “The Children of Heaven”), delivers his country’s most expensive film to date with the lumbering, old-fashioned and overlong historical epic “Muhammad: The Messenger of God.” Budgeted in the neighborhood of $40 million, and boasting big names behind the scenes such as lenser Vittorio Storaro and composer A.R. Rahman, as well as craft departments bristling with foreign technicians, the 171-minute pic is the first of a projected trilogy that took seven years to complete. It hasn’t been worth the wait: The end result is something more akin to 1950s Hollywood biblical fare rather than Darren Aronofsky’s recent “Noah” or anything in Majidi’s previous oeuvre.
- Alissa Simon
Madrid – Pacting with Wild Bunch, Enrique Gonzalez-Kuhn’s Madrid-based Caramel Films has acquired Spanish rights to Hou Hsiao-hsien’s “The Assassin,” Cannes ‘ best director winner, one of the best reviewed of its 2015 competition titles and Variety’s favorite – like many others’ – for Sunday’s Palme d’Or.
Buys come as Caramel topper Enrique Gonzalez-Kuhn has teamed with Laurent Danielou to launch Loco Films, a new Paris-based sales company unveiled at Cannes focusing on world cinema and TV series.
In other buys Caramel has also tied down Iranian Ida Pananhandeh’s “Nahid,” joint-winner on Saturday of a Un Certain Regard Special Prize for a Promising Future, and Naomi Kawase’s Un Certain Regard opener “An,” one of five Official Selection films sold by Paris-based Mk 2.
From 1994’s “The Puppetmasters” through 2007’s “Flight of the Red Balloon,” Hou’s films have punched €33,000-€47,000 ($36,300-$51,700) in Spain. A switch of gears, »
- John Hopewell
Grimur Hákonarson’s Rams has picked up the Un Certain Regard prize at the 68th Cannes Film Festival.
Review: RamsINTERVIEW: Grimur Hákonarson
Following 2010’s Summerland, Icelandic director Hakonarson’s second feature centres on two estranged brothers who have to reunite to save their sheep during an outbreak of disease.
It proved a hot title for New Europe Film Sales, which sold the film around the world during the Cannes Marché, having sold French rights to Arp Selection before the festival.
As winner, Rams will be shown at the end of Cannes’ closing ceremony tomorrow (May 24).
Review: The High Sun
The Zagreb-born writer-director is best known for his 2002 feature Fine Dead Girls but has also had two shorts »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Michael Rosser)
Were the title not already taken, “Nahid” writer-director Ida Panahandeh could easily have called her debut feature “A Separation,” for its similarly fraught portrait of the byzantine legal complications and social stigmas concerning divorce and remarriage in Iran. That thematic connection is hardly lost on Panahandeh, who has cast “A Separation” co-star Sareh Bayat in the title role here, as a small-town divorcee who finds herself navigating a peculiar minefield known as “temporary marriage.” The result is a reasonably absorbing, well-acted melodrama that lacks the taut dramatic construction and universal resonances of Asghar Farhadi 2011 Oscar winner, but adds another valuable voice to the cinematic chorus concerning the generally deplorable position of women in Islamic society. Further festival play and minor arthouse exposure should follow the film’s Cannes premiere.
Nahid (Bayat) is a single mother living in a northern Iranian coastal town where low grey clouds seem to hang perpetually in the skies, »
- Scott Foundas
Star-studded English-language dramas from Todd Haynes, Gus Van Sant, Denis Villeneuve, Justin Kurzel, Paolo Sorrentino and Matteo Garrone will vie for the Palme d’Or alongside new films by Valerie Donzelli, Jacques Audiard, Hou Hsiao-hsien and Jia Zhangke at the 68th annual Cannes Film Festival, which unveiled its official selection lineup on Thursday.
While there are only two U.S. directors in competition — Haynes with “Carol,” a 1950s lesbian love story starring Cate Blanchett, and Van Sant with his suicide drama “The Sea of Trees,” pairing Matthew McConaughey and Ken Watanabe — this year’s Palme race looks to feature more high-profile Hollywood talent than any in recent memory. Canada’s Villeneuve (“Prisoners,” “Enemy”) will bring his Mexican drug-cartel drama “Sicario,” with Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin, while Australia’s Kurzel (“The Snowtown Murders”) secured a Palme berth for “Macbeth,” his Shakespeare adaptation toplining Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard. »
- Justin Chang and Elsa Keslassy
5 items from 2015
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