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1-20 of 22 items from 2017   « Prev | Next »


‘Blame’: First-Time Filmmaker Quinn Shephard’s Buzzy Feature Debut Set for Winter Release

15 August 2017 12:48 PM, PDT | Indiewire | See recent Indiewire news »

Samuel Goldwyn Films has announced today the acquisition of Quinn Shephard’s teen drama “Blame,” which bowed earlier this year at the Tribeca Film Festival.

The New Jersey native was just 15 when she came up with the idea for what would become her feature directorial debut, a modern high school-set take on Arthur Miller’s classic play “The Crucible.” Seven years later her ambitious idea, Shephard debuted the film at Tribeca, one that she not only stars in, but also wrote, directed, edited and produced. At 22, she’s reached a benchmark that usually takes most filmmakers a few more years of work.

Read More:‘Blame’ Review: Quinn Shephard Makes a Strong First Impression in Her Debut as Writer, Director, and Star

The film follows Shephard as high school outcast Abigail Grey, who returns to high school after a mysterious incident the year before, only to form a taboo bond with »

- Kate Erbland

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Film News Roundup: ‘License to Drive’ Gets Female-Driven Film Reboot

15 August 2017 12:47 PM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

In today’s roundup, Fox is remaking its 1988 coming-of-age comedy “License to Drive,” Val Kilmer is starring in a new comedy, and Spirit Award nominations have opened. 

Film Development

Fox is rebooting the 1988 teen comedy “License to Drive,” which starred Corey Feldman, Corey Haim, and Heather Graham.

The studio has set up the project with Fox-based producer John Davis, who produced the original. The writing team of Alisha Brophy and Scott Miles have been tapped to script the female-centric remake.

The original film centered on Haim’s 16-year-old character who sneaks out to party with his girlfriend, played by Graham, and damages his grandfather’s 1972 Cadillac, after failing his driver’s license tests. The original was directed by Gregory Beerman and grossed $22.4 million at the box office.

Michael Ireland is overseeing “License to Drive” for the studio. The writers are repped by Paradigm, Circle of Confusion, and attorney Lev Ginsburg. The »

- Dave McNary

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Disney's Newsies, My Neighbor Totoro and Deconstructing the Beatles make our July Events list!

30 June 2017 8:01 AM, PDT | Cineplex | See recent Cineplex news »

Disney's Newsies, My Neighbor Totoro and Deconstructing the Beatles make our July Events list!Disney's Newsies, My Neighbor Totoro and Deconstructing the Beatles make our July Events list!Scott Goodyer6/30/2017 10:01:00 Am

It's no secret that we at Cineplex adore movies. But there are plenty of other reasons to visit our theatres - every month we bring special features and old classics to the big screen as part of Cineplex Events programming. Check out some highlights from our July Events list below.

For full details and showtimes for each event, click on their titles! The Old Vic's The Crucible - July 2nd

From London's West EndRichard Armitage stars in Arthur Miller’s classic American drama, based on Salem’s infamous witch trials, brought vividly to life in this visceral new production by internationally acclaimed director Yaël Farber.

In a small tight-knit community in Salem, Massachusetts, personal grievances collide with lust and superstition, »

- Scott Goodyer

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Why Daniel Day-Lewis' Retirement Is a Major Loss to the Movies

21 June 2017 6:20 AM, PDT | Rollingstone.com | See recent Rolling Stone news »

Daniel Day-Lewis has earned many accolades and awards over the last 35 years, but perhaps no one has more perfectly encapsulated this actor's appeal than comedian Paul F. Tompkins. Cast in a tiny part in 2007's There Will Be Blood opposite Day-Lewis, the stand-up comic later related what their first on-set encounter was like. "Now, I had been told that Daniel Day-Lewis was kind of an intense person," Tompkins says. "And he's really not. He's really … The Most Intense Person that has ever lived on Earth. He's not doing anything – he's »

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Daniel Day-Lewis to quit acting

20 June 2017 2:19 PM, PDT | ScreenDaily | See recent ScreenDaily news »

Three-time Oscar-winner’s last film will be Phantom Thread.

Daniel Day-Lewis, regarded in some quarters as the greatest film actor of his generation if not of all time, is to quit acting, his spokesperson said in a statement released on Tuesday.

The statement read: “Daniel Day-Lewis will no longer be working as an actor. He is immensely grateful to all of his collaborators and audiences over the many years. This is a private decision and neither he nor his representatives will make any further comment on this subject.”

The three-time Oscar winner is working on what now appears to be his final film, Paul Thomas Anderson’s London haute couture drama Phantom Thread, which is scheduled to open on December 25 through Focus Features. Universal handles international distribution and Annapurna Pictures is producing the project, now in post.

The development immediately transforms Day-Lewis’ reunion with Anderson following his Oscar-winning turn in There Will Be Blood into an even »

- jeremykay67@gmail.com (Jeremy Kay)

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Cross-Post: Lillian Hellman’s Regina Giddens: The Theatre’s Original “Nasty Woman”

20 June 2017 2:01 PM, PDT | Women and Hollywood | See recent Women and Hollywood news »

Cynthia Nixon as Regina Giddens in Lillian Hellman’s “The Little Foxes”: Joan Marcus/littlefoxesbroadway.com

The following has been reposted from The Interval with the author’s permission.

When I set out to write a piece on “The Little Foxes,” I headed right to the Drama Book Shop in New York City, to browse and research all things Lillian Hellman. Shockingly, there were no biographies of her in stock or on order. She was not even included in the Drama Book Shop’s most basic book series outlining the lives of accomplished American playwrights. I perused Barnes and Noble and independent bookstores with large theatre sections, but all to no avail. The most recent Hellman biography (less than five years old and provocatively titled “A Difficult Woman”) was even hard to obtain on Amazon; I had to purchase it through a third party seller. Not only are Hellman biographies in short supply, so too are Hellman revivals. Her plays have only been brought back to Broadway six times total, as opposed to the 25 Broadway revivals for Arthur Miller, or the 31 Broadway revivals for Tennessee Williams. To this day, she has never won a Best Play or Best Revival of a Play Tony Award. The sixth and current Hellman revival is of her most acclaimed play, “The Little Foxes,” which is about the unconventional Southern matriarch Regina Giddens, who manipulates her brothers’ moneymaking scheme with grit, ambition, and business acumen.

Of course, Hellman was a fairly unconventional woman herself. Born into a Southern Jewish family, Hellman was, as a woman and a Jew, automatically placed in the periphery of society, twice over. Nevertheless, she grew up to become a popular playwright, spinning successful stories depicting strong women. Independent and outspoken, at the time of her first Broadway hit she was a divorcée engaged in a fairly public love affair with a married man. Hellman was even blacklisted in the McCarthy Era for refusing to cooperate with the Huac [House Un-American Activities Committee], instead famously claiming, “I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year’s fashions.” But these things were part of her notoriety and celebrity appeal, not the cause of her downfall. Despite her apparently unladylike lifestyle, Hellman was adored throughout the middle of the 20th Century. Her reputation only became irreversibly tarnished in the 1970s, when a fellow female writer accused her of plagiarism. By the time of her death in 1984, this once celebrated woman had fallen into a state of semi-obscurity in comparison to her contemporaries.

A recent New York Times article by Jason Zinoman (in response to an article by Washington Post critic Peter Marks) questioned whether Hellman actually belonged in “the same elite club of 20th-century masters” as Miller and Williams. Zinoman concluded that Manhattan Theatre Club’s current revival of “Foxes” would be an opportunity for the piece to prove itself. (He neglected to mention that this Mtc production is the only revival of a play on Broadway this season that was written by a woman. Furthermore, it is the first time a woman has produced this play on Broadway; a woman has still never directed it.) It is absurd to think that nearly 80 years after “Foxes” debuted, the play is still fighting to prove its worth. For the record, reviews of the Mtc revival from The Washington Post, Variety, and The Hollywood Reporter described “Foxes” as “worthy of exalted rank in the American canon,” “astonishingly well-constructed,” and “too seldom revived on Broadway,” respectively. Even The New York Times review — albeit not by Zinoman — conceded that “Foxes” certainly “comes pretty close” to deserving “a place in the first rank of American theater.”

Curious to know how earlier productions of “Foxes” had been received by theatrical critics, I downloaded some reviews from The New York Times archives. Three Broadway revivals ago, a 1981 article by Frank Rich described Regina, the tour-de-force protagonist of “Foxes,” as a “malignant southern bitch-goddess.” The same paper that refused to print the full title of the play “The Motherfucker with the Hat” in 2011 had no problem printing the word “bitch” 30 years earlier. These days, the word “bitch” is used fairly casually (and it is certainly not likely to be considered as potentially offensive as “motherfucker”), but it is still a derogative, gendered word for which there is no male equivalent. “Motherfucker” might well be the next closest thing.

A 2014 article by Justin Peters on the Times’ “profanity policy” quoted Standards Editor Philip B. Corbett, who explained that Times writers “are prepared to make exceptions if the use of a vulgarity is newsworthy or essential to the story, or if avoiding it would deprive readers of crucial information.” The position of standards editor had not yet been created at the Times when Frank Rich published his 1981 review, but the profanity policy was based on rules from the paper’s style guide at the time. Was it “essential” to refer to Regina as a “bitch”? Would readers have been “deprived crucial information” if another word had been used instead? Not likely, considering that Brooks Atkinson managed to review the original production for the Times back in 1939 without resorting to profanity (although the character of Regina was described there as “heartless,” “ambitious,” “avaricious,” “malevolent,” “calculating,” “hateful,” “rapacious,” “cunning,” and “odious.” Synonyms for bitch, perhaps?).

Just as there is no male equivalent for “bitch,” there seems to have historically been no real equivalent critical response to similarly strong, complex female characters in plays by the men who made up Zinoman’s “elite club of 20th-century masters.” In the Times’ 1945 review of the original “Glass Menagerie,” critic Lewis Nichols is almost an apologist for Amanda, to whom he frequently refers not by name but as “The Mother.” He sympathetically describes her as “a blowsy, impoverished woman living on memories,” and “trying to do the best she can for her children.” Brooks Atkinson’s Times review of the original 1947 “A Streetcar Named Desire” is similarly apologetic. He glosses over the darker sides of Blanche’s personality, tactfully considering her to be “one of the dispossessed whose experience has unfitted her for reality.” Both Amanda and Blanche, creations of the male imagination, are given far more credit and understanding than Regina. Granted, these women do not appear to be quite as greedy as Regina; Amanda wants security for herself, through her children, while Blanche wants to return to her glorified past. But it’s worth keeping in mind that Regina wants to make money in order to go to Chicago, where she envisions leading a freer, more cosmopolitan life.

Perhaps a more fitting comparison would be to “The Crucible,” which features the selfish, destructive Abigail (though even she can be viewed empathetically if one believes that she acted out of desperate love for John Proctor). However, there is barely any mention of the character Abigail — and none at all by name — in the original 1953 New York Times review of “The Crucible,” written, once again, by Brooks Atkinson. The actress who played her is only briefly referenced, as “the malicious town hussy,” one in a long list of supporting performers. In contrast, Ben Brantley observed how the “frustrated lust in [Abigail’s] condemnation of her fellow townspeople [turned] self-serving duplicity into self-deluding mania,” and devoted multiple paragraphs to that character in his review of the 2002 Broadway revival.

“Malicious” and “hussy” are certainly words that fit right in with the sexist criticism of Regina Giddens, but they are a far cry from the litany of negative barbs ascribed by Brooks Atkinson to Regina. It’s as though it were easier in this case for Atkinson to take the strong, rebellious woman out of the equation, erasing the love triangle at the play’s core. Isn’t that “depriving readers of crucial information,” more so than profanity? Ought we give Atkinson credit for not altogether excluding Regina from his “Foxes” review, or should we criticize his seemingly limited ability to recognize when unladylike women are central to the plot of a play (and only when the playwright is female too)? Either way, the bar seems pretty low.

It was only when I left off scouring mid-20th century theatrical reviews of plays by men and went further back in time, to Scandinavia in the late 19th century, that I discovered a true equivalent to the critical response to Regina. The playwright was Henrik Ibsen and the central character in question was Nora Helmer (ironically, there is a new sequel to “A Doll’s House” on Broadway this season; it was far better received by critics than was the original source material). When “A Doll’s House” first premiered in Denmark in December of 1879, critics attacked Nora’s moral character. As archived and translated by the National Library of Norway, the Danish newspaper Illustreret Tidende wrote that “her faults were many; she was used to making herself guilty of many small untruths, she taught the children falsehood, she was imprudent and wasteful; her ideal nature she kept hidden, almost willfully.” Such intense scrutiny of a woman’s behavior feels more suited to the muckraking journalists of the early 20th Century, or of 21st century Republican political ads targeting opponents, than theatrical criticism.

In contrast, a century later, “A Dolls House” had become an established classic and Liv Ullmann was described as giving “a rich, many-layered performance that has about it the quality of a moral force,” in Clive Barnes’ review of the 1975 Broadway production. Critics in 20th century America didn’t judge Nora as harshly as they had when the play originally debuted, and yet they seemed to apply those 19th century standards to Regina Giddens in “The Little Foxes.” It would seem that the harsh response to Regina’s character was more in line with the critical response to Nora in 1879 than it was to reviews of Nora, or Blanche DuBois, or Amanda Wingfield, or any other strong female character in a mid- to late-20th century production of a play written by a male playwright.

But it is not my intention to throw shade at 19th century Danish critics, nor at The New York Times. They aren’t the only ones fond of derogative words when it comes to Regina. Elizabeth Hardwick of The New York Review of Books called her a “greedy bitch” in reference to the 1967 “Foxes” revival. While she acknowledged that Regina and her brothers (her fellow co-conspirators in the financial scheme) were “the very spirit of ruthless Capitalism,” Hardwick used the far weaker word “coarse” to describe the brothers, in parallel sentence structure to Regina’s “bitch” adjectives. It is as though she is implying that ruthlessly capitalistic men are coarse while ruthlessly capitalistic women are greedy bitches. It seems Regina’s unladylike behavior has historically perturbed some female theatre critics as well as male. And lest any readers think that the current “Foxes” revival has escaped the clutches of such language, Deadline’s Jeremy Gerard used the phrase “queen bitch” to describe Regina (while simply referring to her brothers as “greedy”) in his review from April 2017.

To be fair, 21st century critics have spent more time pondering Regina’s psychology and motivations than in the past, when most of the character’s (limited) praise had to do solely with how great actresses played her. In 1939, Atkinson grudgingly admitted Regina “has to be respected for the keenness of her mind and the force of her character,” but attributed all the credit to Tallulah Bankhead’s superior acting skills. In 1981, Rich praised Hellman for “throw[ing] her actors the prime red meat of bristling language,” and appreciated Elizabeth Taylor’s ability to find the humor in Regina. In the 1990s, Ben Brantley proclaimed that despite her horrific behavior, “[f]ew heroines of American theater are half as much fun as Regina Giddens.”

By 2010, critics seemed slightly more aware of the depths yet to be discussed in Regina’s character. Brantley briefly noted “a bottomless hunger that goes beyond her articulated desires,” in Elizabeth Marvel’s 2010 interpretation of Regina, and compared her to a Wall Street executive, though the majority of his review focused on an interpretation that infantilized Marvel’s Regina, depicting her as a “presexual, premoral 2-year-old, a squalling, grabby little girl.” New Yorker critic and 2017 Pulitzer Prize winner Hilton Als wrote an analysis of Regina that had sarcasm practically dripping off the page like wet ink: “Life can be hard on a privileged white woman. Just look at Regina Giddens and all the drama that Lillian Hellman forces her to cope with,” he wrote. Perhaps despite himself, however, Als revealed he occasionally sympathized with Regina, stating that “one feels a pang, every once in a while, for Regina’s dark hopes. How far could she — or any woman — really go in a small Southern town in 1900?” He even suggested that a successful revival, unlike the one he was reviewing, might “marr[y] contemporary feminist politics to Hellman’s insight into the ways in which class and race and need can eat away at an ambitious woman.”

It wasn’t until 2016, when Peter Marks detected “a humanizing rationale” in that “gorgeous enigma,” proclaiming Regina to be “less than a hero but more than a villain,” that the character really found nuanced understanding. For the most part, the reviewers this spring seemed to agree. There were, of course, a fair amount of articles trying to heighten the competition between Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon, who alternate nightly in the lead role of Regina and the supporting role of her sister-in-law Birdie. For reference, I refer you to headlines such as the oddly worded “Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon Are Doing What ‘Men Do All the Time’ in ‘The Little Foxes’” or the erroneous “Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon were both up for the lead role Broadway’s ‘The Little Foxes.’ They both got it.” In truth, Linney was offered the role and she suggested that her friend Nixon come on board to share it with her. It would’ve been nice to see more headlines focusing on and commending their friendship, as opposed to the supposed drama, between these two respected actresses.

Regina, at least, seems to be getting her due in this revival, despite Deadline’s “queen bitch” name calling. Variety’s Marilyn Stasio described Regina as “one of the strongest female characters in all of American drama,” and, “a spirited modern woman cruelly restrained by the social conventions of her time.” Entertainment Weekly’s Isabella Biedenharn praised Laura Linney as Regina for “allow[ing] the audience to feel the pain of knowing what she could have accomplished, the deals she could have closed, if she were born a man.” These depths and dichotomies were explored even further in Alexis Soloski’s insightful New York Times review of the current revival. She wittily opened her piece with the observation that “Regina Giddens is a flower of Southern womanhood. That flower is a Venus flytrap.” Soloski went on to call Regina “one of the stage’s great antiheroines,” noting how her behavior stems from the fact that she is a woman with “greater ambition and less opportunity to satisfy it than any of her kin.” Soloski did not gloss over Regina’s questionable behavior, but she urged readers to “admire her flair and her grit,” even while “loath[ing] her politics and her methods.”

When I saw “Foxes” back in April, I was struck by an exchange between Regina and her brother Ben, in which Ben tells her she’d “get farther with a smile.” How could that line not stand out, given all of the memes, tweets, late night comedy sketches, and articles all over the world devoted to discussions of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s smile through the 2016 presidential campaign? The New York Times must have been intrigued by this exchange as well. They created a video feature titled “How Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon Smile at Their Enemies.” In the video, Nixon says she considers the ensuing smile that Regina gives her brother Ben to be “almost a perversion of a smile. It’s a smile of hate.”

Times critic Soloski called Regina’s smile “weaponized” and considered her ultimately victorious. Unlike similarly formidable theatrical antiheroines Clytemnestra and Lady Macbeth, who were also willing “to sacrifice some essential femininity, rejecting wifely and maternal instincts” in order to pursue their desires, Regina’s “comeuppance never comes.” She actually gets what she wants. As Soloski wryly stated, the play “leaves her finally in command of her body and her fortune and her future. That’ll get her farther than a smile.”

But how far have we come since 1879, 1939, 1967, or 1981, if we are still calling ambitious female characters “bitches”? If our most revered papers still crudely and unnecessarily objectify women’s bodies in theater reviews and judge respected female directors for being “too serious”? If men are still primarily the ones writing, directing, and reviewing a majority of plays about women that make it to Broadway?

To take things outside the arguably narrow sphere of theater, how far have we come since Hellman’s Huac blacklisting America if it is still acceptable for male politicians to interrupt (#manterrupt) one of the few female senators during multiple Senate Intelligence Committee hearings, and to silence their female peers in congress because “she was warned, she was given an explanation, nevertheless she persisted”? How far have we come if we as a society call female presidential candidates “nasty women” who need to smile more and who deserve to be locked up for minor email scandals while we permit men to commit treason many times over while remaining heads of state?

Not very far indeed.

Cross-Post: Lillian Hellman’s Regina Giddens: The Theatre’s Original “Nasty Woman” was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story. »

- Women and Hollywood

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"The Crucible" Is Just About Witches

9 June 2017 9:30 AM, PDT | FilmExperience | See recent FilmExperience news »

The Tony Awards are this Sunday, so all week we’ve been talking stage-to-film adaptations. Here’s Goody Jorge with the mother of all allegorical plays… 

At this point everyone knows that The Crucible is not about the Salem Witch trials.

Arthur Miller’s 1953 play is a very straightforward and less-than-obvious allegory for the McCarthy era and the prosecution of believed Communists in the U.S. It has become a staple of American theater and inspired dozens of generations to think twice before finger-pointing. 

Underneath even its Red Scare themes, the play is about much more »

- Jorge Molina

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Montclair Review: ‘Blame’ Provides Realistic, Character-Driven Thrills

14 May 2017 6:36 PM, PDT | The Film Stage | See recent The Film Stage news »

Blame, written, directed, edited, and starring 22-year-old Quinn Shephard, is an impressive debut feature that’s confident and assured, yet feels less like a feature film and more like an effective television drama with a few well-drawn characters and a multi-episode arc. Its asymmetric narrative doesn’t always work as it withholds information that might have fleshed out its supporting characters, and its message has been repeated over and over again in more dramatic thrillers. Yet, what this debut does achieve at times is an authentic portrait of high school life in the Jersey suburbs through a non-male, non-patriarchal gaze. These kids aren’t too cool for school played by young adults many years removed from high school, but in large part are realistic, three-dimensional characters with lead Melissa (Nadia Alexander), a punk rock cheerleader, being the most interesting.

Blame opens mid-school year as Jeremy (Chris Messina), a young and handsome substitute teacher, »

- John Fink

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Memo to Distributors: Buy These 2017 Tribeca Film Festival Movies

1 May 2017 3:33 PM, PDT | Indiewire | See recent Indiewire news »

The 2017 Tribeca Film Festival has come and gone, but several of its highlights face an uncertain future. While the festival opened with an iTunes-ready documentary about Clive Davis and closed with back-to-back screenings of the first two “Godfather” films, many of the films in its competition sections arrived at the festival without distribution deals and ended it in the same state. Here’s at a few significant titles from this year’s edition that deserve to get picked up.

Blame

Overachieving multi-hyphenate Quinn Shephard was just 20 when she wrote, directed, produced, edited and starred in her feature directorial debut, a modern spin on Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible,” set in the witch hunt capital of contemporary America: the suburban high school. While Shephard cast herself as the film’s Abigail Williams — an outcast with secrets to spare who gets entangled with a smoldering substitute teacher, played by Chris Messina — the »

- David Ehrlich, Eric Kohn, Jude Dry and Kate Erbland

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‘Blame’ Review: Quinn Shephard Makes a Strong First Impression in Her Debut as Writer, Director, and Star

30 April 2017 11:07 AM, PDT | Indiewire | See recent Indiewire news »

There’s good reason for “Blame” to feel lived-in and authentic: Writer, director and star Quinn Shephard is only 22 years old, making her just a few years removed from the film’s high-school environs. Given the nature of her Arthur Miller-inflected debut, one hopes she had an easier go of it than her character does.

Said heroine is Abigail, and if you’ve read “The Crucible” you might know why. Recently discharged from a mental institution, the troubled teen is now tasked with resuming her studies among a clique of mean girls who write harassing messages on her locker and generally do their utmost to make life miserable. Melissa (Nadia Alexander) serves as ringleader, though Shephard makes plain that Melissa’s habit of spreading misery to others is borne of her own pain. There are more victims than villains here, even if the impulse is always to assign, well, »

- Michael Nordine

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Tribeca 2017: Five Questions with Blame Director Quinn Shephard

27 April 2017 9:40 AM, PDT | Filmmaker Magazine - Blog | See recent Filmmaker Magazine news »

Most of the conversation surrounding Blame, a new film by writer-director-producer-editor-star Quinn Shephard, focuses on her age. At 22, she seems exceptionally young to be undertaking so many roles on a debut feature, but the results attest to her talent and drive. It should be said upfront that Blame is a poignant and incisive examination of modern American adolescence, as filtered through the lens of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible and the Salem witch trials of 1692, which form the inspiration for this modern-day narrative. The film delves deepest into high school mean-girl culture — with excellent performances by Sarah Mezzanotte and Nadia Alexander, who […] »

- Randy Astle

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‘Blame’: 22-Year-Old Filmmaker Quinn Shephard Becomes One To Watch With Her Startling Debut [Tribeca Review]

26 April 2017 10:10 AM, PDT | The Playlist | See recent The Playlist news »

In “Blame,” the startlingly confident debut film by precocious 22-year-old Quinn Shephard, the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival receives its true breakout of the year, while also serving as a brutal reminder as to why you couldn’t pay me to be a teenager again.

Abigail (Shephard) is returning to school after a year away following a very public breakdown. An easy target for bullies, especially mean girl Melissa (Nadia Alexander), Abigail finds reprieve after she’s cast in the leading role in the school production of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible,” a feeling compounded when she catches the attention of her teacher, empathetic Jeremy (Chris Messina).

Continue reading ‘Blame’: 22-Year-Old Filmmaker Quinn Shephard Becomes One To Watch With Her Startling Debut [Tribeca Review] at The Playlist. »

- Ally Johnson

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How a 20-Year-Old Filmmaker Wrote, Directed and Starred In Her Feature Directorial Debut — Tribeca 2017

24 April 2017 9:17 AM, PDT | Indiewire | See recent Indiewire news »

Filmmaker Quinn Shephard didn’t go to film school — instead, she made her own. The New Jersey native was just 15 when she came up with the idea for what would become her feature directorial debut “Blame,” a modern high school-set take on Arthur Miller’s classic play “The Crucible.” Seven years later, Shephard is at the Tribeca Film Festival with the film, one that she not only stars in, but also wrote, directed, edited and produced. At 21, she’s reached a benchmark that usually filmmakers a few more years of work.

The film follows Shephard as high school outcast Abigail Grey, who returns to high school after a mysterious incident the year before, only to form a taboo bond with her new drama teacher (Chris Messina). As their relationship blossoms in very unexpected ways, Abigail’s nemesis Melissa (Nadia Alexander) observes from afar, continually threatening to bust the entire situation wide open (a witch hunt? »

- Kate Erbland

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Sophie Okonedo: ‘My body is my barometer – my instincts are physical’

23 April 2017 1:00 AM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

The celebrated actor on her new play with Damian Lewis, why performing is an adventure, and leaving London for the country

Sophie Okonedo was born in 1968 in London and studied at Rada. She has worked extensively across theatre, film and TV and was nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar for the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda. On Broadway, she won a Tony award in 2014 for A Raisin in the Sun and two years later was nominated for her performance in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. Her TV credits include The Slap, Undercover and The Hollow Crown. She is currently performing alongside Damian Lewis in Edward Albee’s 2002 play The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?; she plays Stevie, a woman who discovers her husband is having an affair with an animal.

What was your first reaction on reading The Goat?

I thought I was due a break from theatre, because I’ve been doing a lot, »

- Holly Williams

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All The World’s A Stage In This Exclusive Clip From Tribeca Film Festival Selection ‘Blame’

20 April 2017 9:21 AM, PDT | The Playlist | See recent The Playlist news »

With Arthur Miller‘s “The Crucible” a familiar staple in high-school drama departments around the country, there may be no better setting for a modern retelling of the story than, well, a high-school drama department. That’s exactly what “Blame,” the first film by writer-director Quinn Shephard, looks to do, using a production of “The Crucible” as the backdrop for its twisted coming-of-age story.

Continue reading All The World’s A Stage In This Exclusive Clip From Tribeca Film Festival Selection ‘Blame’ at The Playlist. »

- Matthew Monagle

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Tribeca 2017 Women Directors: Meet Quinn Shephard — “Blame”

20 April 2017 7:06 AM, PDT | Women and Hollywood | See recent Women and Hollywood news »

Blame

As an actress, Quinn Shepard is best known for Paul Feig’s “Unaccompanied Minors and “Hostages” on CBS. Her upcoming films include “Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl” and Desiree Akhavan’s “The Miseducation of Cameron Post.” Her directorial work includes the short film “Till Dark.” “Blame,” which she directed at just 20 years old, is her feature debut.

Blame” will premiere at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival on April 22.

W&H: Describe the film for us in your own words.

Qs: “Blame” tells the story of two girls who find themselves deeply entangled in rivalry when their new substitute drama teacher casts one over the other as Abigail Williams in their high school production of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible.”

The film draws many parallels to the play, and it delves into the psyche of modern teens in a way that vacillates between the raw and dreamlike, mirroring the perspective of the young protagonists’ coming-of-age.

W&H: What drew you to this story?

Qs: When I was a sophomore in high school, I was cast as Abigail Williams in a regional production of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible.” At 15, it was the most mature role I’d ever played, and the experience had a tremendous impact on me.

Beyond my fascination with the play, embodying Abigail had a strong influence on my day-to-day life. It changed the way I perceived both myself and the world around me. The role innately tied into my own coming-of-age; I felt powerful for the first time.

The script for “Blame” was born, not only from imagining what Abigail’s story would look like set in a modern day high school, but also from observing the way she changed my own perspective, and heightening that to a fictional level.

W&H: What do you want people to think about when they are leaving the theater?

Qs: “Blame” begins with a lot of familiar characters in a prototypical all-American high school; it plays into tropes and stereotypes in a way that pokes a bit of fun. But by the end, all of that is turned on its head. We see a lot of films about student-teacher relationships, about girl-to-girl rivalries, but this rarely portrayed from such a young and brutally honest perspective.

I hope the final act makes people question the judgements they made at the beginning of the film — and maybe even reactions they’ve had to films on similar subjects in the past. It’s important to me that every character is intimately understood and humanized by the time the credits roll.

W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?

Qs: Ha! Can I say everything? “Blame” was pretty much a two-woman show. My mom and I produced the film together — by ourselves. We did everything — and I mean everything. It was all-day, everyday, for years. I totally gave up on having a normal life. We literally poured every bit of energy and money we had into this film!

We were doing so many things for the first time, learning as we went. But what came out of it is something beautiful that we are both tremendously proud of.

If I was going to single out a challenge, music is the part I completely underestimated. I found every musician you hear in the film myself. My mom and I had to teach ourselves music law. I was there for the writing and production of 90 percent of the songs.

It was months and months of work, but luckily I gathered a team of generous and talented artists, including my amazing composer Peter Henry Phillips, who I found by chance at a Quebec City music festival! I was literally walking past the venue on the street and heard his music. I was so drawn in that I convinced my family to stay for the show. My mom encouraged me to approach him after his set and he ended up scoring the film.

W&H: What does it mean for you to have your film play at Tribeca?

Qs: It’s an incredible honor. I am an east coast girl through and through, and I truly love New York. I have been to Tribeca many times as an audience member, but never as a director. They have shown tremendous support for the film, which means a lot. And my entire cast and crew is NY-based, so it is shaping up to be one big reunion for us!

W&H: What’s the best and worst advice you’ve received?

Qs: The best advice I’ve received was the repeated advice to just go for it, over and over, from my mom. Even when I was 15, it was, “You can direct a movie! You can get your favorite actor to star in it! We can make this happen!” I never doubted my ability to achieve my dreams because I was repeatedly told, “Why not?”

Years before “Blame” happened, we used to watch Chris Messina in movies and talk about him starring in the film as if it was already a reality. I don’t think I would have had the guts to track down his email and write to him if my mom didn’t constantly tell me my dreams were plausible, realistic goals. It gave me so much confidence from such an early age.

In my opinion, the worst advice I’ve received was during our early test screenings. I was advised to cut a few scenes from “Blame” that made test audiences uncomfortable. From my perspective, there is nothing about the topics I examine in my film that should be easy to swallow. The point is to shoot a scene that is beautifully composed, sexy, and familiar, but make it raw and realistic to the point where you start to question the beauty of it, and you’re forced to face what the scene is really about.

I want people to be uncomfortable. And if those scenes don’t make you uncomfortable — that’s part of the self-reflection. Why not?

W&H: What advice do you have for other female directors?

Qs: To stick to their vision with full confidence and have faith in their gut instinct. All of the female directors I admire have unwavering, exceptionally strong visions for their films.

It’s easy in an industry like this to feel like women’s voices need to be softer, flexible, or more apologetic. Screw that. Women know what they want, and their stories and ideas are just as important as those of their male colleagues — maybe even more so!

W&H: Name your favorite woman-directed film and why.

Qs: It is so hard to pick a favorite. I’d have to say it’s a toss-up between Andrea Arnold’s “Fish Tank,” Marielle Heller’s “The Diary of a Teenage Girl,” and Céline Sciamma’s “Girlhood.”

Fish Tank” and “Girlhood” are big tonal references for me as a filmmaker. The magical realism and distinctive color palette of “Girlhood” and the intimacy of certain scenes in “Fish Tank” — the scene where Michael Fassbender and Katie Jarvis are wading in the pond comes to mind — just take your breath away.

“Diary of a Teenage Girl” is perfect. It’s funny, tragic, relatable, heartbreaking, and celebratory. Most importantly, the film shows not a shred of judgement for its protagonist.

Runners up are Kimberly Peirce’s “Boys Don’t Cry,” Elizabeth Wood’s “White Girl,” Lynne Ramsay’s “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” and, of course, Sofia Coppola’s “The Virgin Suicides.”

W&H: There have been significant conversations over the last couple of years about increasing the amount of opportunities for women directors yet the numbers have not increased. Are you optimistic about the possibilities for change? Share any thoughts you might have.

Qs: I am optimistic because women are amazing, and we’ll fight ten times harder for what we deserve. It’s a tough industry, and unfortunately gender bias is very real. But, the more I see festivals like Tribeca taking strides towards more diversified lineups of directors, the more I see possibility for change.

Hopefully, the major production companies will eventually stop seeing certain films as designated “women’s stories” and will recognize that the pool of working female directors out there in the world are equipped to tackle any topic with the same versatility as men!

Tribeca 2017 Women Directors: Meet Quinn Shephard — “Blame” was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story. »

- Kelsey Moore

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Tribeca 2017: 9 Breakout Talents From This Year’s Festival

19 April 2017 9:00 AM, PDT | Indiewire | See recent Indiewire news »

Every festival offers up the possibility of discovering something new — new stars, new films, new shows, new platforms — and this year’s Tribeca Film Festival is no different. Now in its sixteenth year, the New York City-set festival continues to grow and change, while constantly embracing what’s new and what’s next. The 2017 edition of the festival includes plenty of rising names to get excited about, from writers and directors to actors and actual platforms for hot content delivery. Who’s going to change the industry in the coming years? We’ve got some ideas.

This year’s Tribeca Film Festival takes place April 19 – 30. Check out some of the hottest breakouts to watch out for at the fest.

Read More: Tribeca 2017: 14 Must-See Films From This Year’s Festival

Brian Shoaf, writer and director, “Aardvark

Not much is known about Brian Shoaf, whose IMDb page is currently topped »

- Indiewire Staff

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Tribeca 2017: 9 Breakout Talents From This Year’s Festival

19 April 2017 9:00 AM, PDT | Indiewire Television | See recent Indiewire Television news »

Every festival offers up the possibility of discovering something new — new stars, new films, new shows, new platforms — and this year’s Tribeca Film Festival is no different. Now in its sixteenth year, the New York City-set festival continues to grow and change, while constantly embracing what’s new and what’s next. The 2017 edition of the festival includes plenty of rising names to get excited about, from writers and directors to actors and actual platforms for hot content delivery. Who’s going to change the industry in the coming years? We’ve got some ideas.

This year’s Tribeca Film Festival takes place April 19 – 30. Check out some of the hottest breakouts to watch out for at the fest.

Read More: Tribeca 2017: 14 Must-See Films From This Year’s Festival

Brian Shoaf, writer and director, “Aardvark

Not much is known about Brian Shoaf, whose IMDb page is currently topped »

- Indiewire Staff

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2017 Tribeca Film Festival Preview

13 April 2017 2:23 AM, PDT | HeyUGuys.co.uk | See recent HeyUGuys news »

Author: James Kleinmann

The Tribeca Film Festival hits New York next week and runs from April 19 – 30 th. Now in its sixteenth year, the annual event was co-founded by screen legend Robert De Niro in the wake of the September 11th attacks in an effort to revitalise Lower Manhattan. Retaining an element of its original commitment to Us indie cinema, it has evolved to encompass TV, Vr, online work, music and gaming. As ever, the festival will welcome a dizzying array of big name guests including Tom Hanks, Emma Watson, Jon Favreau, Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Quentin Tarantino, Scarlett Johansson and Ron Howard. Here are just some of the highlights, for the full line up and to buy tickets check out the official festival website here.

Opening and Closing night Galas at Radio City Music Hall

Kicking off the festival is the world premiere of music doc Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives. »

- James Kleinmann

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There’s Only One Melanie Lynskey, But These 5 Stories Will Make You Wish There Were More

12 March 2017 10:22 AM, PDT | Indiewire Television | See recent Indiewire Television news »

“I thought I was going to get fired.”

In a perfect world, such a thought would never cross Melanie Lynskey’s mind, for the talented actress would literally never be in danger of getting canned. She could throw fits next to crafty, punch a grip in the face, or burn down the sets, and we’d still forgive her because… Well, because Melanie Lynskey would never do any of that. She’s Melanie Lynskey.

But the actor you fell in love with during “Beautiful Creatures,” “Togetherness,” or the 2017 Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning film “I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore” did have the thought cross her mind for the strangest of reasons: Tom McCarthy found out she was a recurring cast member on “Two and a Half Men.”

Read More: The 2017 IndieWire SXSW Bible: Every Review, Interview and News Item Posted During the Festival

Lynskey, speaking during a SAG-sponsored conversation at SXSW, »

- Ben Travers

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