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Latest Trailer For Kubo And The Two Strings Tees Up An Epic Adventure

28 April 2016 9:03 AM, PDT | We Got This Covered | See recent We Got This Covered news »

Laika, the stop-animation maestros behind such visual treats as Coraline and the ghastly ParaNorman, return later in 2016 with Kubo and the Two Strings, and today brings forth the third and likely final trailer for Travis Knight’s mythic adventure.

Thrusting Game of Thrones actor Art Parkinson into the title role, Knight – who is making his directorial debut with Kubo – has brought together a who’s who of A-listers to join Parkinson in the voice booth, making for a casting docket that comprises Rooney Mara, Ralph Fiennes, Art Parkinson, George Takei, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa and Brenda Vaccaro

Looking after an ailing mother, Kubo and the Two Strings opens at a time when our wholesome and good-natured hero accidentally summons an ancient deity hellbent on raining down chaos on the land he calls home. And so, in a bid to prevent said destruction and save his family, Kubo enlists a team of adventurers »

- Michael Briers

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Qumra: James Schamus Discusses the Filmmaking Process in Extensive Master Class and Interview

3 April 2016 9:05 AM, PDT | Sydney's Buzz | See recent Sydney's Buzz news »

In the Qumra Master Class 2016 where James Schamus and Richard Peña, former long-time head of Lincoln Film Society in NYC, carried on an informal and open-ended discussion, James gave a personal view of himself before going into the professional ins and outs of his film production and distribution life.

I was surprised to hear that James, who seems like a quintessential New Yorker, is not a native New Yorker but is an Angeleno and attended Hollywood High in Los Angeles.

When I spoke with him afterward, he said that he actually was from North Hollywood but had attended Jd Melton at Hollywood High.  On looking the school up for this article, I was even more pleasantly surprised to see that their branding is serendipitously, “Home of the Sheiks”.

James grew up in L.A. in the 70s and Hollywood High was equivalent to Jodie Foster’s school in “Taxi Driver” only it was in L.A.  It was a working class and poor school where only half of the student body took the SATs (College qualifying exams), and he was definitely the nerd in the herd.  He would spend his Friday nights watching a little known TV show on the local Channel 13 moderated by the L.A. Times critic Charles Champlin.  The show was of silent films and there he saw “Birth of a Nation” and the German Expressionist movies among others.  Later he wrote his PhD dissertation Carl Theodor Dreyer's ‘Gertrud’: The Moving Word, and it was published by the University of Washington Press. He moved to New York to write it after completing his Bachelors, Masters and PhD studies at Uc Berkeley.

He said he does not remember much about his high school days, but recently as he was unpacking some old boxes, he came across his high school yearbook.

 You know how people signed with little paragraphs?  One of these said ‘Thanks for persuading me to skip school with you and going on the 93 bus to see movies’ and it was signed ‘Frank’.  I had no idea who Frank was but as I tried to remember, I recalled skipping school to go to L.A.’s only film festival which was new and called ‘Filmex’. 

 (Editor’s note: Filmex was the creation of ‘The two Garys’, Gary Essert and Gary Abrahams, both of whom died of Aids during the Aids epidemic. Gary Essert was a UCLA Film School student in the 60s where he started Filmex with marathon screenings in the Quonset hut which was the film school.  The two Garys are both vividly remembered today by the American Cinematheque crews and others of us from L.A. because the Cinematheque was their creation.)

 It was at Filmex that I saw a film made by a film student from USC.  It was a sci-fi film and there was a Q&A afterward.  The film was called ‘Thx-1138’ and it was by George Lucas.  Then I remembered!  Frank was Frank Darabont!  And we were now sharing the same agent, so I gave him a call and yes, he went to Hollywood High too.

James combines his acclaimed filmmaking career with other roles within the industry: he is a revered film historian and academic.  He is also a multi award-winning screenwriter, director and leading U.S. indie producer, best known for his long creative collaboration with Taiwanese director Ang Lee. He has worked with Lee on nine films, including “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000), which won four Academy Awards, including Best Foreign Language Film and Best Cinematography, and remains the highest-grossing non-English-language film in the U.S. He was the screenwriter for Lee's “The Ice Storm”, for which he won the award for Best Screenplay at the Festival de Cannes in 1997 and co-wrote “Eat Drink Man Woman” (1994), the first of Lee’s films to achieve both critical and commercial success.

As producers, Schamus and Ted Hope (today head of production at Amazon) co-founded the U.S. low- to no-budget production company Good Machine in the early 1990s. 

It was macho to brag about how we made films with no money.  ‘I made my movie for $5,000.’ ‘Well, I made mine for $4,000.’

Ted also loves lists and he made a list of all the short films made in the past 10 years by filmmakers who had yet to make feature films.  We got the VHS tapes and one of the films we saw was by Ang Lee when he was studying at Nyu.  It was called “Fine Line” and was Chazz Palminteri’s first film.

“Fine Line” was about an Italian guy on the run from the mob.  It takes place in New York’s Little Italy and Chinatown.  Ang Lee had an agent and we called him.  He said Ang Lee was working on three great films before hanging up on us…

To hear James tell this story, watch him speaking here with Richard Peña.

What was cut out of the above online story was that at the time of “Pushing Hands”

Ang had no idea we had just contacted his agent and he also thought we would steal all his money.  He was 38 years old, an unemployed stay-at-home parent with a working wife and two kids living in a little apartment in New York. In his spare time he had become a great cook.  He came in and pitched a comedy for one hour.  It was awful.  We were such no-money producers; our office was upstairs from a strip club and the music would blast into our offices starting at 2:00 every day. With this pounding beat, he pitched the worst pitch we ever heard.  But there was a $5,000 fee for us.  I then said that though his pitch was poor he had actually described the entire movie in his head to us scene by scene.  He was not trying to sell the film. 

So we made the film and then made his second film “Wedding Banquet” which shared a first prize in Berlin.  The third film was “Eat Drink Man Woman” from an original idea with a Taiwanese writer, very TV in the open-endedness of all the characters feeling the push and pull of letting it happen.  But in this was a Hollywood 40s style screwball comedy that could be imposed.

Again, when James and I spoke together, I challenged him on the claim that “Dim Lake” was Chazz’s first film because my own partner in life and business, Peter Belsito, claims to have produced Chazz’s first film, “Home Free All” at which time Chazz took Peter aside and said, 'I am not just a dumb guinea hoodlum, I am a real actor destined for better roles. I can act serious.' So James and I checked IMDb to see and sure enough, “Dim Lake” was his first film and “Home Free All” was his second, but it was Chazz’ first feature film.  We then looked at the rest of his 68 film credits and in every single one, he is playing the Italian.

Doing this with James gave me a momentary feel of his love for research.

“For my first time writing with Ang I needed to research food in Taiwan for ‘Pushing Hands’, the position and placement of food, families and food….The script would be translated from English to Chinese, but Ang was not satisfied with it.  I was having trouble tapping into the mentality of the Chinese family so I took all the characters’ names and changed them to Jewish names and rewrote the script totally as a Jewish family.  Then I changed the names back to their Chinese names.  Ang read the script and said ‘This is really Chinese!’  And so I got ‘the cross-cultural idea’ -- not really…I still don’t get that.

The first day in Taiwan we were shooting the film in a fast food restaurant and I as I watched the rushes, one of the character’s name was Rachel and I realized I had forgotten to change the name back. I asked if we needed to reshoot, but at that time it was a fad to change Chinese names to Anglo names and no one thought it was out of place, and so it stayed.

The most difficult part of the film was shooting the opening title sequence of the father cooking a meal.  It went over schedule because it had to be perfect.  We used the food so many times it was held together by glue by the end.

Preparing a shot list is very important for Ang and he constantly reduces the list and his vision jells as he does this.  By his third film, the process was very internalized.  Next he had to communicate it.  The plan is always the result of the overall idea.  That’s why his style always changes.

As he shoots, the relationship with the editor is very close.  He has a long-time relationship with his editor Tim Squyres.

The “Wedding Banquet” was the first film edited on Avid.  Before “Wedding Banquet”, four minutes was the full length of films edited on Avid which is now ancient technology.

Tim cuts several versions and talks them through with Ang.  They have spent more time in the dark together than most married people.  Ang is in the editing room from the beginning to the end.  Tim talks very directly, like he might say Ang should have spent more time on a scene or should have shot a scene from a different angle.  I used to watch Ang’s face tense up as he listened to Tim’s criticism and often they would fight, but they have spent 25+ years together.

On the transnational global reach of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”:

Critics said it was not an authentic chop-socky movie.  But the Hong Kong chop-socky genre itself was a regional hybrid.  The origins of chop-socky were from Shanghai and Singapore.  It was not so “Cantonese” as critics claimed.  Bruce Lee himself was U.S. based.  So the transnational aspect was already there.

From 2002 to 2014 Schamus was CEO of Focus Features, the motion picture production, financing and worldwide distribution company whose films during his tenure included Wes Anderson's “Moonrise Kingdom” (2012), Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), Roman Polanski's “The Pianist “ (2002), Henry Selick's “Coraline” (2009) and Sofia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation” (2003).

On actors:

Character is secondary to the action.  You only have action and words in a script.  Working with good actors, you need images.

Actors are at such high risk, they are very vulnerable.  They need respect.  Sometimes they act out.

On casting and directors:

During the casting process, the director must direct the actor, set the tone for the part.  Most of the film’s directing can be done during the casting process. 

On storyboarding: 

Ride with the Devil” was the first film Ang Lee storyboarded.  He also storyboarded “Life of Pi”.  Storyboarding could take the life out of a movie.

On production design:

It takes lots of research.  It includes the worldview of the film and everything ties in to that.  It first starts with costumes.  Research is not done only by the department but by everyone.

On film distribution and Focus:

Where is distribution now for specialized films?  Focus was everything, attached to the studio system as its specialized film division, Focus’ model was not Fox Searchlght’s which is locked into the domestic U.S. market.  Seachlight bought global rights and produced by way of its international TV deals.  Focus didn’t have that.  It had to presell theatrical rights to independent distributors worldwide.  Driven primarily by the international marketplace, it could not be driven by U.S. Its primary focus for production was London.  It was all international but also driven by flagship releases in the U.S.

In 2014, Schamus turned his hand to directing with the short documentary “That Film About Money” (2014).

Paul Allen of Microsoft started Vulcan with a commitment to shorts. I did a doc with a crew of people I had never worked with before.  And it was about people like Paul.

In 2016 James made his feature directorial debut with an adaptation of Philip Roth's “Indignation”.  It had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2016 and screened at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival in the Panorama section.

Schamus is also Professor of Professional Practice at Columbia University’s School of the Arts, where he teaches film history and theory.

On Doha’s newest foray into Hollywood:

Doha-based beIN Media Group’s acquiring Miramax could be a great deal depending on the price paid.

Much of the 600-plus films in the Miramax library is probably locked into licensing deals already around the globe, but depending on when those deals are up for renewal and what other rights can be exploited, if the price point was right, it’s a great way to get into the game because they are sitting on top of so much intellectual property.

Just integrating into the deal structures and understanding the economics, from the end point where the money is coming from to the rights holder, is a good idea.

Miramax, under the leadership of Zanne Devine, has also co-acquired with Roadside Attractions, the 2016 Sundance premiering feature, “Southside with You”, the narrative feature of Barak Obama and Michelle’s first date.  That will bring beIN into the Roadside Attraction/ Lionsgate sphere of distribution and international sales.

On Hollywood interest in territories like China, India and the Middle East:

The less successful pattern is to find a Hollywood producer who flies in on his private jet and give him hundreds of millions (ed: Stx?) to make movies. This is a very different version, this is owning intellectual property - it’s a good first step.

On moviegoing in the Gulf:

The next step is to build a cinema culture that makes movie-going a practice in the region far more than it is now - movie exhibition and movie-going as a power lever.

On TV in the Middle East:

My intuition says new media, television in particular, is going to be a space that is very dynamic once it breaks open, here in the Gulf or elsewhere.

During this week at Qumra, James is also mentoring 10 filmmakers working on five Dfi-backed projects: Mohamed Al Ibrahim’s “Bull Shark”; Hamida Issa’s “To The Ends Of The Earth”; Sherif Elbendary’s “Ali, The Goat And Ibrahim”; Mohanad Hayal’s “Haifa Street” aka “Death Street”; and Karim Moussaoui’s “Till The Swallows Return”.

Elia Suleiman, the Artistic Advisor to Doha Film Institute, recalls how he and James “grew up together” in New York as long-time friends. James introduced him to the Chilean master filmmaker Raul Ruiz.  While at Good Machine, Schamus helped him with his short film.  He helped edit the script and was his guardian angel helping with his first contract.  They even had a code for “urgent”.  When Elia was in Jerusalem and James in London, they used the code whenever Elia was overwhelmed by the paperwork needed.  James would answer within 15 minutes.  Now James has come full circle on his own, from being one of the most important producers of the decade to directing his own film.

When asked by Qumra what was most important, he said “first time filmmakers are the most important”.  And he has always been able to spot the most talented of emerging filmmakers. »

- Sydney Levine

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‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ Trailer Teases Mystical Journey

10 March 2016 1:08 PM, PST | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Laika and Focus Features have released a magical second trailer for their stop-motion animated film “Kubo and the Two Strings,” directed by Laika topper Travis Knight.

The movie opens worldwide on Aug. 19.

The film follows a young storyteller who goes on an epic adventure after he accidentally releases a spirit bent on carrying out an ancient vendetta. Kubo, voiced by “Game of Thrones” actor Art Parkinson, must battle gods and monsters to save his family and solve the mystery of his fallen samurai father with help from his magical musical instrument, a shamisen. The film, set in Japan, also features the voices of Matthew McConaughey, Charlize Theron, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara and George Takei.

Laika’s previous films are “Coraline,” “ParaNorman” and “The Boxtrolls,” which have all been nominated for the animated feature Academy Award.

»

- Terry Flores

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Magical New Trailer For Kubo And The Two Strings Makes Its Bow

10 March 2016 11:25 AM, PST | We Got This Covered | See recent We Got This Covered news »

Gods and monsters await in the magical new trailer for Kubo and the Two StringsTravis Knight’s hotly-anticipated animation that is arriving by way of Laika and Focus Features.

As the studio behind such instant animated classics as Coraline and ParaNorman, there’s a crackle of excitement going into the release of Kubo, particularly considering that the feature acts as Knight’s directorial debut. He’ll be flanked by Laika alum Marc Haimes and Chris Butler, who penned the script for this summer’s swashbuckling epic.

Centering on the magical journey of the title hero (played by Game of Thrones actor Art Parkinson), Kubo and the Two Strings opens with our kindhearted and humble protagonist caring for an ageing mother. But when he inadvertently summons an ancient spirit from the past, he recruits a crack team of adventurers, including Monkey (Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Matthew McConaughey).

Kubo and the Two Strings »

- Michael Briers

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A Magical Adventure Begins in New Trailer For Laika’s ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’

10 March 2016 8:43 AM, PST | The Film Stage | See recent The Film Stage news »

If the CGI-heavy studio animations can start to feel similar, leave it to Laika, whose foundation is stop-motion animation, to deliver something different, and beautiful. After the wonderful trio of Coraline, ParaNorman, and The Boxtrolls, they’ll release their latest film this summer and today brings a new trailer.

The animation company is back with Kubo and the Two Strings, this time CEO Travis Knight helming solely. Coming from an original script by Marc Haimes and Chris Butler (ParaNorman) the stop-motion/CGI hybrid (like their last work) is described as a sweeping, swashbuckling adventure set in a mythical ancient Japan. With a voice cast featuring Art Parkinson, Matthew McConaughey, Charlize Theron, Rooney Mara, Ralph Fiennes, George Takei, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, and Brenda Vaccaro, check out the new trailer below.

Clever, kindhearted Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson of Game of Thrones) ekes out a humble living, telling stories to the people of »

- Jordan Raup

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'Kubo and the Two Strings' Trailer #3 Introduces a New Kind of Hero

10 March 2016 7:31 AM, PST | MovieWeb | See recent MovieWeb news »

Kubo and the Two Strings is an epic action-adventure set in a fantastical Japan from acclaimed animation studio Laika. Clever, kindhearted Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson of Game of Thrones) ekes out a humble living, telling stories to the people of his seaside town including Hosato (George Takei), Akihiro (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), and Kameyo (Academy Award nominee Brenda Vaccaro). But his relatively quiet existence is shattered when he accidentally summons a spirit from his past which storms down from the heavens to enforce an age-old vendetta.

Now on the run, Kubo joins forces with Monkey (Academy Award winner Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Academy Award winner Matthew McConaughey), and sets out on a thrilling quest to save his family and solve the mystery of his fallen father, the greatest samurai warrior the world has ever known. With the help of his shamisen - a magical musical instrument - Kubo must battle gods and monsters, »

- MovieWeb

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‘American Gods’: Ian McShane To Play Mr. Wednesday In Starz Series

2 March 2016 2:15 PM, PST | Deadline TV | See recent Deadline TV news »

“Yesterday was Super Tuesday. Today is Wonderful Wednesday," Neil Gaiman said today in response to the casting of Ian McShane as Mr. Wednesday in Starz’s series adaptation of Gaiman’s acclaimed contemporary fantasy novel American Gods. Deadwood and Lovejoy alum McShane will star opposite Ricky Whittle in the straight-to-series drama, set to begin filming in April, with Bryan Fuller and Michael Green as writers/showrunners. McShane previously voiced Mr. Bobinsky in Coraline… »

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Filmmakers James Schamus and Joshua Oppenheimer Unveiled as Final Two Qumra Masters

24 February 2016 12:03 PM, PST | Sydney's Buzz | See recent Sydney's Buzz news »

The second edition of Qumra, March 4 - 9, the industry development event organized by the Doha Film Institute to nurture emerging voices in cinema with a focus on first and second-time filmmakers, will include as Masters, James Schamus and Joshua Oppenheimer along with Naomi Kawase, Aleksandr Sokurov and Nuri Bilge Ceylan participating in a series of master classes and one-on-one sessions with selected Qumra filmmakers and their projects along with screenings and Q&A sessions for Doha audiences throughout the week.

Read about previously announced Qumra Masters.

Held at the incredibly beautiful Museum of Islamic Art, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect I.M. Pei, and a cultural partner of the Doha Film Institute, Qumra supports the development of emerging filmmakers from Qatar, the Arab region and around the world. Dfi has arranged a “rainbow of colors in a bouquet of participants and masters”. Elia Suleiman, Artistic Advisor for the Doha Film Institute says, “each master is very different and the event looks like an edition of poetry.”

Due to unforeseen circumstances, previously announced Qumra Master Lucrecia Martel is no longer able to participate this year.

Directors and producers attached to up to thirty three projects in development or post-production are invited to participate in Qumra, named from the Arabic term ‘qumra’ popularly said to be the origin of the word ‘camera’ and used by the scientist, astronomer and mathematician Alhazen (Ibn al-Haytham, 965-c.1040 Ce), whose work in optics laid out the principles of the camera obscura.

Qumra includes a number of emerging filmmakers from Qatar, as well as recipients of funding from the Institute’s Grants Program. The robust program features industry meetings designed to assist with propelling projects to their next stages of development, master classes, work-in-progress screenings, matchmaking sessions and tailored workshops with industry experts. This creative exchange takes place alongside a program of public screenings curated with input from the Qumra Masters.

Especially appealing about this event, seen in light of mega-events as Berlin, Cannes, Tiff and Sundance is the intimacy of everyone sharing meals, attending the same party, staying at the same hotel within the famed souk and in walking distance to the museum. Only 150 people, all working hard and all meeting every day as they work with 23 features, 11 of which are in development and 12 in post whose program has been guided by Elia Suleiman and Qumra Deputy Director Hanaa Issa. The Qumra team will also help us navigate the souk to find the best bargains in spices like saffron and sumac and tumeric, textiles and other middle eastern treasures from the silk road!

Qumra has come a long way in one year; where last year there was only one documentary, this year there are eight documentary features – four in development and four works-in-progress - and four short documentaries in development. Five of them are Qatari, five are from the Mena region and two international. There are 23 features of which five are from Qatar and 10 shorts, all from Qatar. Each Master will meet with four to five filmmakers formally but the collaboration among mentors and emerging filmmakers will extend far beyond such formal meetings.

There are also three great moderators of panels: Richard Pena, the longtime chief for the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York, Jean Michel Poignet and Paolo Bertolini of the Venice Film Festival.

Also included is a highly engaging selection of movies by the five Qumra Masters and from a selection of emerging talent during daily screenings and Q&A sessions. The selection includes Academy Award, Cannes Film Festival and Ajyal Youth Film Festival award winners.

Doha Film Institute CEO Fatma Al Remaihi said: “This year, the Qumra Screenings will showcase the work of five esteemed masters of cinema alongside some tremendously talented emerging filmmakers. By presenting these two spectrums of cinematic works, Qumra will offer audiences highly engaging film experiences that will present new insights into the language of cinema and the process behind the creation of compelling films. They will also be educational and inspirational, underlining our commitment to strengthening film culture in Qatar by promoting access to and appreciation of world cinema.”

The Masters screenings, accompanied by Q&A sessions with the visiting Qumra Masters linked to each film are “The Look of Silence” (Denmark, Indonesia, Finland, Norway, UK / Indonesian, Javanese /2014) by Qumra Master Joshua Oppenheimer, “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia” (Turkey, Bosnia and Herzegovina / Turkish / 2011) by Qumra Master Nuri Bilge Ceylan; “The Russian Ark” (Russian Federation, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Japan / Russian / 2002) by Qumra Master Aleksandr Sokurov; “The Mourning Forest” (Japan, France / Japanese / 2007) by Qumra Master Naomi Kawase; and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (Taiwan, Hong Kong, USA, China / Mandarin / 2001) by Ang Lee, co-written and produced by Lee’s longtime collaborator and Qumra Master, James Schamus.

The ‘New Voices in Cinema’ screenings include two feature films granted by the Doha Film Institute: “ Mediterranea” (Italy, France, Germany, Qatar/ Arabic, English, French, Italian; 2015) by Jonas Carpignano being sold internationally by Ndm and Wme; “Roundabout in my Head”/ “Fi rassi roun-point” (Algeria, France, Qatar/Arabic/2015); and two award-winning short films “Waves 98” by Ely Dagher (Lebanon, Qatar / Arabic / 2015), winner of the Palme d’Or for Best Short Film at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and “The Palm Tree ” (Qatar, No Dialogue, 2015) by Jasim Al Rumaihi, winner of the 2015 Ajyal Youth Film Festival Made in Qatar Award for Best Documentary.

“We are privileged to have James Schamus and Joshua Oppenheimer participate as Qumra Masters this year,” said Doha Film Institute CEO Fatma Al Remaihi. “Both filmmakers, while very different in style, are truly ground-breaking in their fields and bring a wealth of experience to Qumra that will be invaluable for the young filmmakers participating.”

“We look forward to welcoming James and Joshua to the Gulf region for the first time and enabling our Qumra 2016 participants to establish a connection with these two leaders of independent filmmaking in the Us.”

Both Schamus and Oppenheimer were born in the Us and combine their acclaimed filmmaking careers with other roles within the industry: Schamus as a revered film historian and academic; and Oppenheimer as Artistic Director of the Centre for Documentary and Experimental Film at the University of Westminster in London.

Schamus, a multi award-winning screenwriter, director and leading Us indie producer, is best known for his long creative collaboration with Taiwanese director Ang Lee. He has worked with Lee on nine films, including “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000), which won four Academy Awards, including Best Foreign Language Film and Best Cinematography, and remains the highest-grossing non-English-language film in the Us. He was the screenwriter for Lee's “The Ice Storm”, for which he won the award for Best Screenplay at the Festival de Cannes in 1997 and co-wrote “Eat Drink Man Woman” (1994), the first of Lee’s films to achieve both critical and commercial success.

As a producer, Schamus co-founded the Us powerhouse production company Good Machine in the early 1990s, and then from 2002 to 2014 was CEO of Focus Features, the motion picture production, financing and worldwide distribution company whose films during his tenure included Wes Anderson's “Moonrise Kingdom” (2012), Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), Roman Polanski's “The Pianist “(2002), Henry Selick's Coraline (2009) and Sofia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation” (2003).

In 2014, Schamus turned his hand to directing with the short documentary “That Film About Money” (2014), and in 2016 made his feature directorial debut with an adaptation of Philip Roth's “Indignation," which had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2016 and is screening at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival in the Panorama section.

Schamus is also Professor of Professional Practice at Columbia University’s School of the Arts, where he teaches film history and theory, and is the author of 'Carl Theodor Dreyer's Gertrud: The Moving Word', published by the University of Washington Press.

Elia Suleiman , the Artistic Advisor to Doha Film Institute, recalls how he and James grew up together in New York as long-time friends. James introduced him to the Chilean master filmmaker Raul Ruiz. Schamus helped him with his short film while at Good Machine. He helped edit the script and was his guardian angel helping with his first contract. They even had a code for “urgent”. When Elia was in Jerusalem and James in London they used the code whenever Elia was overwhelmed by the paperwork needed. James would answer within 15 minutes. Now James has come full circle on his own, from being one of the most important producers of the decade to directing his own film. When asked by Qumra what was most important, he said first time filmmakers were the most important. And he has always been able to spot the most talented of emerging filmmakers.

Two-time Academy Award nominee Joshua Oppenheimer’s debut feature-length film, “The Act of Killing” (2012) was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature Film, named Film of the Year by The Guardian and the Sight and Sound Film Poll, and won 72 international awards, including a European Film Award, a BAFTA, an Asia Pacific Screen Award, a Berlin International Film Festival Audience Award, and the Guardian Film Award for Best Film.

His second film, “The Look of Silence” (2014) had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, where it won five awards including the Grand Jury Prize, the Fipresci Prize and the Fedeora Prize. It was nominated for the 2016 Oscar for Best Documentary Film, and has received 66 international awards, including an International Documentary Association Award for Best Documentary, a Gotham Award for Best Documentary, and three Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking.

Oppenheimer is a partner at the Final Cut for Real production company in Copenhagen, and Artistic Director of the Centre for Documentary and Experimental Film at the University of Westminster, London.

Many of the industry guests include returnees as well as the new guests which count Bero Beyer, Rotterdam; Tine Fisher, Cph Dox; Christophe Le Parc, Director’s Fortnight, Cannes; Vincenzo Bugno, World Cinema Fund, Berlinale; Cameron Bailey, Tiff and Carlo Chatrian, Locarno here for their second time; Sundance for its first year; Matthijs Wouter Knol, European Film Market; Mike Goodridge, Protagonist; Memento Films, Arte; Michael Werner, Fortissimo; Alaa Karkouti, Mad Solutions and Selim El Azar, Gulf Films.

Also attending for the first time will be Netflix who picked up “Under the Shadow” an elevated horror/ thriller partially funded by the Doha Film Institute, Film Movement and the Ford Foundation.

Previous Qumra Masters include Mexican actor, director and producer Gael Garcia Bernal (“Amores Perros”; “No”; “Deficit”), Mauritanian director Abderrahmane Sissako (Timbuktu - nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2015 Academy Awards); Romanian auteur and Palme d’Or winner Cristian Mungiu (“4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days”; “Beyond the Hills”); and Bosnian writer/director Danis Tanović (“An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker”; “Tigers”, “No Man’s Land” - winner of Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2001). »

- Sydney Levine

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Sci-Tech Awards Seek to Honor Those Who Stay Ahead of Conventions

18 February 2016 2:30 PM, PST | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

The Sci-Tech Awards genuinely acknowledge the most invisible aspects of filmmaking. Often the artists, engineers and scientists who receive these trophies invented technologies a decade or more before they receive an honor; it simply takes that long to see the impact of their invention.

This year we take a look at several of the achievements being honored. Chances are you’ve already watched dozens of scenes that benefitted from these advances.

If you’ve seen Laika’s “Boxtrolls,” “Coraline” or “ParaNorman,” then you’ve seen the use of rapid prototyping for character animation in stop-motion film production, which earned Brian McLean and Martin Meunier a Scientifiic and Engineering Award. In this process, multiple parts of a handcrafted puppet’s face are replaced in order to make it appear as though it’s moving. These pieces are 3D-printed in the prototyping process. First, handcrafted puppets are made and then scanned. They’re brought into Maya, »

- Karen Idelson

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Kubo And The Two Strings: Watch The Full Trailer For Laika's Latest Stop Motion Spectacular

28 January 2016 8:00 AM, PST | Twitch | See recent Twitch news »

Coraline, ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls lead animator Travis Knight graduates up to the director's chair on Kubo And The Two String, the latest from stop motion animation house Laika. And, true to typical Laika form, it looks absolutely gorgeous. Clever, kindhearted Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson of "Game of Thrones") ekes out a humble living, telling fantastical stories to the people of his seaside town. But his relatively quiet existence is shattered when he accidentally summons a mythical spirit from his past which storms down from the heavens to enforce an age-old vendetta. Now on the run, Kubo joins forces with Monkey (Academy Award winner Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Academy Award winner Matthew McConaughey), and sets out on a thrilling quest to save his family...

[Read the whole post on twitchfilm.com...]

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'Kubo and the Two Strings' Trailer #2: Prepare for an Epic Journey

27 January 2016 5:53 PM, PST | MovieWeb | See recent MovieWeb news »

The innovative artists at Laika have revolutionized the stop motion animation industry with their critically-acclaimed hits Coraline, ParaNorman and last year's The Boxtrolls. Last month, we showed you the first trailer for their next project, Kubo and the Two Strings, set to hit theaters on October 19, but today we have a new full-length trailer with even more footage. If that wasn't enough, Focus Feaatures has debuted three new character posters, featuring Kubo (Art Parkinson), Monkey (Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Matthew McConaughey).

Kubo and the Two Strings is an epic action-adventure set in a fantastical Japan from acclaimed animation studio Laika. Clever, kindhearted Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson of Game of Thrones) ekes out a humble living, telling stories to the people of his seaside town including Hosato (George Takei), Hashi (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) and Kamekichi (Academy Award nominee Brenda Vaccaro). But his relatively quiet existence is shattered when he accidentally summons »

- MovieWeb

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A Great Journey Is Afoot In New Trailer For Kubo And The Two Strings

27 January 2016 12:30 PM, PST | We Got This Covered | See recent We Got This Covered news »

Matthew McConaughey, Charlize Theron, Rooney Mara and Ralph Fiennes are all headed to the Land of the Rising Sun in today’s new trailer for Laika (Coraline, ParaNorman) and Focus Features’ much-anticipated animation, Kubo and the Two Strings.

Orchestrating the sprawling adventure from behind the lens is Travis Knight, the head honcho of Laika who is poised to make his directorial debut. Lifted from a pitch by ParaNorman scribes Marc Haimes and Chris Butler, Kubo and the Two Strings is billed as a swashbuckling adventure situated in ancient Japan.

Game of Thrones alum Art Parkinson (Rickon Stark) leads the charge as the titular Kubo, a brash and wide-eyed adventurer who provokes the curse of a malevolent spirit. Keen to banish any evil from his hometown of Hosato and its surrounding lands, Parkinson’s hero sets out to topple gods and monsters alike, including Ralph Fiennes’ formidable Moon King.

Rounding out »

- Michael Briers

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Full Trailer: Laika's "Kubo & The Two Strings"

27 January 2016 8:27 AM, PST | Dark Horizons | See recent Dark Horizons news »

Following on from their previous collaborations on "Coraline," "ParaNorman" and "The Boxtrolls," Laika and Focus Features have premiered the full trailer for their upcoming fourth animateed feature together - "Kubo and the Two Strings" which opens August 19th.

Laika head Travis Knight makes his feature directorial debut on the film from a script by Marc Haimes and Chris Butler ("ParaNorman"). The swashbuckling adventure is set in mythical ancient Japan with a cast that includes Art Parkinson, Matthew McConaughey, Charlize Theron, Rooney Mara, Ralph Fiennes, and Brenda Vaccaro.

Scruffy, kindhearted Kubo has a humble living devotedly caring for his mother in their sleepy shoreside village. That is until a spirit from the past catches up with him to enforce an age-old vendetta. Suddenly on the run from gods and monsters, his chance for survival rests on finding the magical suit of armor once worn by his fallen father - the greatest samurai ever. »

- Garth Franklin

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David Bowie, and his film acting roles

26 January 2016 9:41 AM, PST | Den of Geek | See recent Den of Geek news »

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The late David Bowie brought something down to earth (literally, in one case) to his film acting roles. We look at his film acting roles.

Editor's note: we don't like to run material to generate clicks off the death of someone. We did, however, want to talk about the wonderful film and TV work that the late, great David Bowie has left behind. Hence, we've thus held this piece back to now. If it still feels too soon, then do give it a miss.

David Bowie's state of existence at the time of performing influenced his musical ‘personas’ enormously. Though such characters as Diamond Dogs’ Halloween Jack or Ashes To Ashes’ Pierrot seem superficially too outré and theatrical to be based in anything real, retrospectively we can see a private life exposed: Bowie’s exposure to fame and feelings of being an outsider informed the Ziggy »

- simonbrew

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