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Sundance Film Review: ‘I Am Michael’
James Franco’s ongoing game of sexual-identity peekaboo gets its most provocative jolt yet from “I Am Michael,” a remarkably even-handed account of outspoken gay-rights journalist Michael Glatze’s 180-degree identity reversal, which shocked friends and admirers after he found religion, rejected his queer “lifestyle” and became a Christian pastor. While admirable in its seeming impartiality, Justin Kelly’s hot-potato directorial debut won’t be seen by many beyond the arthouse and festival circuit, but it will nevertheless rile viewers and provoke discussion on all sides, simply because it cuts to the heart of the self-doubt, fear and prejudice associated with modern homosexuality.
Coming out is a complicated process, and it probably would have made sense to start “I Am Michael” there — not at the moment Michael realized he was gay, but rather with his personal coming-out story, which nearly all gay men of a certain generation tell and retell. »
- Peter Debruge
“There is Good Fear and Bad Fear”: The Hallow | Director Corin Hardy
What fear — whether it’s personal, or one related to the development, financing, production or distribution of your film — did you have to confront and conquer in the making of your movie? Fear presented itself in so many guises throughout the making of my film, to me and I’m sure to everyone on the crew — mainly, I believe, as a result of pressure and communication and miscommunication. I guess I realised that to help everyone, myself included, to conquer “the fear” and instead concentrate on doing the best, most efficient work (and hopefully enjoy it along the way), I had to […] »
- Filmmaker Staff
Cinematographer Laela Kilbourn on Shooting Sundance Competition Doc, How to Dance in Ohio
With documentary credits such as Magic Camp, My Brooklyn and Word Wars, cinematographer Laela Kilbourn entered Alexandra Shiva’s How to Dance in Ohio with a specific challenge, which she discusses below: to sensitively film without disrupting teens and young adults with autism. How to Dance in Ohio is a film following three teenage girls as they prepare for one pivotal rite of youth passage through three months of practice, rehearsal and therapy. Below, Kilbourn discusses Canon cameras, lighting for trust and more. How to Dance in Ohio premieres in the Documentary Competition of the Sundance Film Festival on Sunday, January […] »
- Scott Macaulay
Meet the 2015 Sundance Filmmakers #29: Sarah Silverman Like You've Never Seen Her Before in 'I Smile Back'
"I Smile Back" doesn't quite smile back -- it's a very real, very dark look at just how bad things can get when you're dealing with depression, even when your life may seem perfect. Sarah Silverman stars in her most serious screen role to date, taking her character Laney through the pitfalls of disillusionment and the recklessness that follows. What's your film about, in 140 characters or less?Laney is a wife and devoted mother of two adorable children, but her perfect world is a façade, and reckless compulsion puts it all at risk. Now, what's it Really about?Laney, played by the extremely talented Sarah Silverman, is an attractive, intelligent woman who is tormented by some very complex personal demons. "I Smile Back" is about how this character came to be emotionally and psychologically broken, and how hard it is for a person like that, particularly someone with as big a heart as Laney, »
- Rosie Narasaki
Berlin Festival: Food Obsession Documentary ‘F***ing Perfect’ Set For Int’l Rollout
“Sergio Herman, F***ing Perfect,” a documentary about an obsessive Dutch chef which plays next month in the Berlin festival, is set for international distribution.
Rights to the film outside the Benelux region have been picked up by Amsterdam and Hong Kong-based sales company Fortissimo Films.
“Sergio Herman” follows the ups and downs of a Herman who is one of only two cooks ever to obtain a 20/20 score from the Gault Et Millau food guide. But after reaching the top with his Oud Sluis restaurant, Herman decides that he has sacrificed too much and closes down the world famous eatery.
“We all love a great meal at a great restaurant »
- Patrick Frater
Five Questions for Western Directors Bill and Turner Ross
“Ravishing cinema verite” is how the Sundance catalog describes the work of Bill and Turner Ross, whose elegiac American portraits crackle with a lovely lo-fi buzz. Following their New Orleans-set music travelogue Tchoupitoulas, the brothers immerse themselves here in Western within a world considerably tougher — two towns on either side of the Mexican border grappling with the sudden onslaught of cartel violence. Below, we ask them about incorporating that criminal storyline into their film and sticking with the same camera for three pictures. Western premieres today in the Documentary Competition of the Sundance Film Festival. Filmmaker: Your documentaries have […] »
- Scott Macaulay
Sundance 2015 review: I Am Michael – James Franco's gay pastor hits the straight and shallow
Even though he’s straight, it sometimes seems like James Franco, the star of Milk and Howl and director of Interior. Leather Bar, is this generation’s foremost gay actor, toying with ideas of gender and sexuality in his artwork and even his Instagram account. It’s commendable he wants to try something slightly different in I Am Michael, a new movie where he plays a gay activist who decides he’s not gay anymore. Sadly, just like the movie’s main character, the film around him – the feature debut of Justin Kelly – is fatally unsure of its own identity.
Michael is Michael Glatze, who moves to San Francisco with his partner, Bennett (Zachary Quinto) and lands a job at Xy magazine, »
- Brian Moylan
Rotterdam: Meet and Greet
“Meet And Greet” is Iffr’s new initiative to allow the public and industry visitors to encounter filmmakers in an informal setting.
The idea falls somewhere between a social event and a mini press conference.
Ludmila Cvikova, a programmer at International Film Festival Rotterdam (Iffr) for many years and a former head of international programming at the Doha Film Institute, is overseeing the afternoon sessions, which take place at the bar in the corner of the Doelen, close to the box office, at around 4pm every day.
“The idea is to give a special attention to filmmakers who are bringing films as premieres to Rotterdam,” Cvikova explains.
Each afternoon, Cvikova interviews up to four directors on stage. The interviews are scheduled to be after the press and industry screenings - but before the public screenings - of these directors’ films. For journalists and industry delegates, it is an opportunity to ask questions about films they have seen »
- email@example.com (Geoffrey Macnab)
Girard seeks Euro support for Cunningham
The film will follow Cunningham from his early days as a struggling dancer in New York to his eventual emergence as one of the most influential choreographers of the Twentieth Century.
“It is one of those very ambitious projects about modern artists that has a lot of technology,” Girard said of a film that, inevitably, has been compared to Wim Wenders’ 3D Pina Bausch film, Pina (2011).
The project has already secured support from the Cnc in France and from the Rockefeller Foundation. Around a third of the €3.4m budget will come from the Us but Girard is in Rotterdam looking for European partners as well »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Geoffrey Macnab)
‘Birdman’ Soars As PGA Sets A New Course For Wide Open Best Picture Oscar Race
During the cocktail reception before Saturday night’s Producers Guild Awards began I ran into Oscar-nominated Screenwriter (and Director) Dan Gilroy and wife Rene Russo, there supporting one of the ten PGA Darryl F. Zanuck Best Picture nominees, Nightcrawler. Russo , admittedly not a staple at this type of awards season banquet asked me if they were going to serve food at this event. I replied ‘yes, it’s a dinner’. “So what do you think will win? Boyhood or Birdman?” she wondered. That was an interesting , and somewhat surprising way to distill what has been thought to be a wide open race to Oscar until Boyhood basically cleaned up on the critics circuit , capping its run with Golden Globe and Critics Choice Movie Award wins while Birdman scored for Michael Keaton but actually lost to Fox Searchlight stablemate The Grand Budapest Hotel in both respective comedy categories. But now with »
- Pete Hammond
Rotterdam director talks festival future
International Film Festival Rotterdam (Iffr) is expecting to record 280,000 cinema visits over the festival period, making it one of the biggest public film festivals in Europe.
There are more tickets sold here than in Cannes or Venice - and only slightly fewer than in Berlin. Even so, the consensus among distributors and sales agents is that Rotterdam-style, auteur-driven arthouse cinema is in near crisis.
This is the Rotterdam paradox. Festivalgoers are prepared to pay to see films during Iffr that they wouldn’t attend at any other time of year. For 12 days at least (Jan 21-Feb 1), the Pathé multiplex is full of the most diverse selection of films imaginable, with not a Marvel superhero movie in sight.
“I guess that is the strength of Rotterdam,” said Iffr business director Janneke Staarink. “There is a big trust in us with our audience. They go to these films with us during the 12 days that maybe they wouldn’t if it »
- email@example.com (Geoffrey Macnab)
Oscars 2015: they should have been contenders…
No nomination for Jake Gyllenhaal? And surely Selma deserved better… And why are genre pictures routinely ignored? Following this year’s Academy Awards nominations, we asked actors, directors and producers for their pick of the year’s films and performances that were unfairly overlooked
Actor, Les Misérables, Snatch
I have gone for choices that were not only overlooked by the Academy but have also been ignored in conversations and column inches dedicated to “snubs” and “omissions” from this year’s list.
Continue reading »
- The Observer
Iffr: Iranian film flourishing
Iranian writer-director Reza Mirkarimi’s Today, Iran’s Oscar submission, has been screening at the International Film Festival Rotterdam (Iffr) this week.
Speaking at Iffr (Jan 21-Feb 1), Mirkarimi gave a relatively upbeat assessment of the Iranian film industry.
Under President Hassan Rouhani, he said, the filmmakers have been allowed to re-establish “The House Of Cinema,” the syndicate/guild to which almost every Iranian filmmaker and technician belongs. This is the non-governmental institution that defends filmmakers’ rights.
The syndicate was closed in 2011 when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was still in power but was re-opened under Rouhani in 2013. Meanwhile, Iranian directors are finding it easier to get their movies into cinemas - not least because of the lack of Hollywood competition.
“There is a supportive politics in Iranian cinema which does not allow American movies to be shown in the theatres,” he said. “The cinemas work for Iranian movie makers. Art movies have more opportunity to be shown.”
The director »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Geoffrey Macnab)
The Wonders producer boards UK film
Producer of Cannes award-winner The Wonders takes on first UK production.
Italian London-based producer Carlo Cresta-Dina has boarded British writer and director Cathy Brady’s debut feature Wildfire.
Up until now, he has focused on Italian filmmakers, which he produces through his Bologna-based company Tempesta Italy.
His recently launched twin company Tempesta UK will produce Wildfire with London-based production company Cowboy Films with development support from the Irish Film Board and the Wellcome Trust, which funded research for the film.
“The script will come out of a long process of work-shopping »
Sundance Film Review: ‘Sleeping With Other People’
At a time when audiences are more friendly to raunch-coms than rom-coms, writer-director Leslye Headland tries to split the difference in “Sleeping With Other People.” Essentially an updated “When Harry Met Sally…” with texting (or, as Headland described the characters at the Sundance preem, “with assholes”), two quippy New Yorkers spend over 90 minutes trying to answer whether a man and a woman can be friends without romance entering the picture. Adhering pretty strictly to rom-com conventions, pic feels too broad for the arthouse and too small for the multiplex, leaving it in an uncomfortable commercial grey area.
Headland gets the meet cute out of the way in the first scene, as Lainey (Alison Brie) makes a spectacle in a college dorm yelling at the top of her lungs and banging on the door of the unseen object of her affection. Jake (Jason Sudeikis) pulls her away to cool off in »
- Geoff Berkshire
Paul Miller launches firm in Netherlands
Upcoming productions include Ahd Kamel’ s My Driver and I.
Former Doha Film Institute (Dfi) director of film financing Paul Miller is setting up shop in the Netherlands.
The veteran producer, who has moved to the country for family reasons, has recently launched consultancy firm Internal Affairs with Us-based producer Dan Lindau and is working on several feature projects under his Escape Pictures company banner.
“Internal Affairs is a consultancy advising clients on everything from best practices to film financing to production in the filmed entertainment as well as commercials,” said Miller, who is attending the International Film Festival Rotterdam (Jan 21-Feb 1) as a speaker on one of the industry panels as well as at the producer-focused Rotterdam Lab.
“We’re already working with a company in Qatar and are probably going to start working with some companies in the Netherlands,” added Miller, who retains good contacts in the Middle East after his Dfi stint.
“I’m going »
Sundance Film Review: ‘Mistress America’
Midway through Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig’s “Mistress America,” the movie arrives at a long, zany set piece so inspired and brilliantly sustained that it alone would be worth the price of admission (or the wait in a long Sundance queue). But there’s much else to admire in “Mistress,” which finds the crown prince of New York intellectual self-loathing and his ebullient co-writer/muse returning to the terrain of their 2012 “Frances Ha” — intense female friendships and eager young people trying to find their places in the world — while pushing even closer to full-tilt screwball farce. One of Baumbach’s warmest and purely funniest films, this Fox Searchlight pickup may lack the name cast of the filmmaker’s other 2015 release, “While We’re Young,” but positioned properly it could reach Baumbach’s broadest audience since 2005’s “The Squid and the Whale.”
If nothing else, “Mistress America” confirms Gerwig as one of the great, »
- Scott Foundas
Samuel L Jackson: ‘I create characters – it keeps me from being me all day’
With more than 100 films under his belt, Samuel L Jackson is celebrated as one of Hollywood’s warmest and most intuitive actors. But behind the charm is a workaholic straight-talker who hasn’t time for social niceties – as Megan Conner discovers
If only the real Samuel L Jackson were half as enthusiastic or engaging as he is on Twitter. On the internet, Samuel L Jackson practically sings. “Daaaaaaaaym!!!” he writes. “C’mon y’all!!” he shouts to some 4.5 million followers. “Be da best Muthapfuqqah U Can Be!!!” He talks constantly in exclamation marks and expletives, made-up words and spellings (someone once worked out that there are more than 57 versions of the word “motherfucker” on his Twitter account). And he commentates soccer games, snaps amusing selfies, socialises with celebrities (in a picture with Mo Farah: “Bad Mufukkah meets Fast Mufukkah!!” On going to see Ed Sheeran in concert: “This Muffuggah is da real deal! »
- Megan Conner
Film Review: ‘Mississippi Grind’
The moody, measured intelligence and exceptional skill with actors long evinced by filmmakers Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden (“Half Nelson,” “Sugar”) once again serves them well in “Mississippi Grind,” a bittersweet, beautifully textured road movie that plays like a conscious throwback to the lost souls and open highways of 1970s American cinema. Starring a never-better Ben Mendelsohn as a desperate poker player who embarks on a high-stake gambling trip through the South with his personal good-luck charm (Ryan Reynolds) in tow, this low-key but emotionally rich journey may not deliver the narrative oomph that some audiences may crave from their tales of addiction and redemption, spelling modest commercial impact. Still, discerning arthouse-goers will warm to the film’s superb performances, haunting sense of place and willingness to meander, as well as its sly rumination on the mysterious interplay of fate and friendship in shaping an individual’s destiny.
Arriving just »
- Justin Chang
Rotterdam Film Review: ‘Norfolk’
Urban legend has it that doctors in the region devised the code “Normal for Norfolk” — “Nfn” for short — to describe the average mental state of the English county’s supposedly eccentric population. Fair or otherwise, it’s a handy term to keep in mind when unparceling some decidedly abnormal goings-on in “Norfolk,” Martin Radich’s unwieldy but arresting third feature. A pastoral tragedy detailing the fallout between a vengeful rural mercenary and his more idealistic teenage son, Radich’s film has queasy atmospherics to spare and a stony human center in the improbably but compellingly cast Denis Menochet. The pic’s violently stylized directorial flourishes, however, occasionally impede the coherence of its allegorical narrative. The challenging result will be more broadly embraced by festival programmers than by international distributors.
- Guy Lodge
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