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Just as Telluride, Toronto and, increasingly, New York are now viewed as the go-to launchpads for best picture contenders, the foreign-language race has its own key festivals — and they lie a bit further afield. About 70% of foreign-language film nominees in the past decade made either their world or international premieres at one of the so-called Big Three European fests: Cannes, Berlin and Venice.
Foreign-lingo films seem to appreciate the long-lead of sustained festival buzz. Almost every nominee in the category comes to the Academy’s attention via some variety of fest appointments — whether voters are aware of its provenance or not.
Among the record-breaking 83 titles submitted by individual nations for Oscar consideration this year are multiple established sprocket opera successes, from Cannes Palme d’Or winner “Winter Sleep” (Turkey’s submission) to Sundance Grand Jury Prize champ “To Kill a Man” (Chile’s pick).
“With any foreign-language movie, festivals are more than critical, »
- Guy Lodge
Well that was easy! On this day 25 years ago in 1989, after four and a half decades of tense stand-off, the leaders of the United States and the Soviet Union got together on Malta (of all places) and declared the Cold War fini. (It was, at the time, officially scored as a tie, subject to later recount). “We are at the beginning of a long road to a lasting, peaceful era,” declard Soviet Premiere Mikhail Gorbachev. "We can realize a lasting peace and transform the East-West relationship to one of enduring co-operation. That is the future that Chairman Gorbachev and I began right here in Malta." echoed Us President George H.W. Bush. After generations spent perched on the brink of global annihilation, the world took a deep breath - before moving on to finding other ways of making a mess of itself. The Cold War is now a distant memory; the »
- Richard Rushfield
Editor's Note: For the next ten days, we'll be featuring individual Team Experience Fyc's for various longshots in the Oscar race. We'll never repeat a film or category so we hope you enjoy the variety. And if you're lucky enough to be an AMPAS, HFPA, SAG, Critics Group voter, take note! Here's Amir on Under the Skin.
Generally speaking, if you drop the adjective Best and replace it with Most, you come to a better understanding of what the Academy Awards are often about.”
That statement is taken from Nick Davis’ review of The Lives of Others written several years ago, but it’s a sentiment I have not only shared, but have come to recognize as the defining element of my relationship with the Oscars, responsible for the bulk of my disagreements with their choices. Nick called the application of his theory to the visual effects category “self-explanatory” and »
- Amir S.
Most films about The German Democratic Republic, commonly known as East Germany, tend to be in the spy thriller variety. This makes sense, since bureaucratic backstabbing and political paranoia were more readily available than food and water behind The Iron Curtain during its heyday. Masterful genre-bending works like 1965’s immensely influential John le Carré adaptation “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold” and 2006’s Best Foreign Language Film Oscar winner “The Lives of Others” took full advantage of a bleak society where even the most close-knit families couldn’t fully trust one another in order to create truly immersive and unpredictable mysteries. Based on Uwe Tellkamp’s novel “The Tower: Tales from a Vanished Land”, a positively reviewed best seller in Germany, “The Tower” is a two-part mini-series that attempts to bring an original angle to a story about The Gdp. By electing to present a drama instead »
- Oktay Ege Kozak
By Anjelica Oswald
Damian Szifron’s Wild Tales (Relatos Salvajes) has been met with rave reviews since its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival for its humorous stories and unconventional methods. The feature film consists of six thematically similar, yet unrelated shorts. Wild Tales is Argentina’s submission for best foreign-language film at the Oscars and is one of 83 films up for consideration. Nine films will make the shortlist in January, but only five will be nominated. Looking at films that have been nominated in the 21st century, comedies haven’t had much success at being submitted or nominated, but Wild Tales could be one of the exceptions.
Pedro Almodovar is one of the producers for Wild Tales, which may help the film find success at the Oscars. Almodovar’s twisted sense of humor has been appreciated by the Academy in past years. 1988’s Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown »
- Anjelica Oswald
“But no man moved me till the tide / Went past my simple shoe /And past my apron and my belt / And past my bodice too / And made as he would eat me up / As wholly as a dew…”
Whether or not this poem by Emily Dickinson, published under the title By the Sea, served as inspiration for Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s new film of the same name, the spirit seems to match up with its story of a woman caught in an undertow of passion and rejuvenation while visiting a seaside village with her husband.
- Anthony Breznican
The distributor has picked up North American rights to Giulio Ricciarelli’s directorial debut ahead of Friday’s world premiere.
Labyrinth Of Lies takes place in postwar Germany as a young attorney sets out to prosecute a man suspected of being a former guard at Auschwitz.
Claussen + Wöbke + Putz Filmproduktion produced Labyrinth Of Lies in co-production with Naked Eye Film Production.
Spc, which called Labyrinth Of Lies “the gem under the rock” at Toronto, negotiated the deal with Beta Cinema, from whom it previously acquired The Lives Of Others, The Counterfeiters, In Darkness and The Notebook. »
- email@example.com (Jeremy Kay)
Sony Pictures Classics announced today that they acquired North American rights to Giulio Ricciarelli's directorial debut Labyrinth of Lies from sales agent Beta Cinema. The film, based on a true story, exposes the conspiracy of certain prominent institutions and government branches to cover up the crimes of Nazis during WWII.
Labyrinth of Lies will have its world premiere on Friday at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. The film is produced by Claussen + Wöbke + Putz Filmproduktion in co-production with Naked Eye Film Production and stars Alexander Fehling (Inglourious Basterds, Young Goethe in Love), Andre Szymanski, Johann von Bülow and Friederike Becht (The Reader, Young Goethe in Love) and Gert Voss.
In Labyrinth of Lies the economic miracle is changing the life of Germans in post-war Germany 20 years later. Most of them are sick of the war and prefer to push their guilt to the back of their mind. »
Sony Pictures Classics has acquired North American rights to post-World War II drama “Labyrinth of Lies,” a day before its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival.
The German production, Giulio Ricciarelli’s directorial debut, was sold by Beta Cinema.
The film is produced by Claussen + Wöbke + Putz Filmproduktion in co-production with Naked Eye Film Production, and stars Alexander Fehling, Andre Szymanski, Johann von Bülow, Friederike Becht and Gert Voss.
The story is set amid the economic miracle that is changing the life of Germans 20 years after the war when a journalist (Szymanski) identifies a teacher in the playground as a former guard from Auschwitz. A young prosecutor (Fehling) takes on the case and can‘t be stopped, even by his boss.
“Of all the films available for acquisition at the Toronto International Film Festival, ‘Labyrinth of Lies’ is the gem under the rock,” Sony Classics said. “A riveting, true »
- Dave McNary
In Czechoslovakia circa 1983, a state under the grip of a seemingly all-powerful communist regime, a talented young sprinter risks her career by resisting the “special care” program designed to boost her competition times in the solid, well-acted drama “Fair Play.” In her straightforward but involving third feature, Czech helmer-writer Andrea Sedlackova uses a sports story to explore how totalitarianism exacted a high price from those aspiring to preserve their dignity and principles. The result should see plenty of play on the international fest circuit; its domestic rollout in March garnered some 60,000 viewers.
Despite her dubious family background (a father who emigrated to Germany and a mother with dissident sympathies), 18-year-old Anna (rising Slovak star Judit Bardos, saddled with an unflattering hairstyle) is being groomed for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. She is expected to unquestioningly follow the edicts of coaches and trainers at the National Sports Center, even when it »
- Alissa Simon
The acclaimed German actress, here in Jerusalem on the Israeli Feature Film Jury, will star alongside Devid Striesow in the cast of the Ufa and Warner Bros Germany production, adapted by Jane Ainscough and Christoph Silber from Hape Kerkeling’s best-selling comedic book about a man’s pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.
Shooting is due to take place later this summer on the German-language feature.
Gedeck is then due to star alongside Thomas Kretschmann in Arsen A Ostojic’s Second World War drama Man In The Box about an Austrian family who take a Jewish doctor into hiding.
Also on the »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Andreas Wiseman)
The 10 pics championed by variety critics selected to screen at the Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival next month are an eclectic mix of the year’s best-reviewed Euro-backed features. Representing a wide sample of different genres, countries and languages (and yet still managing to include two films with “Blind” in the title), the choices range from French indie “Insecure” (fresh from Cannes) to Fantastic Fest favorite “Grand Piano” (an ultra-tense Spanish thriller starring Elijah Wood), pictured above.
The sidebar is presented in conjunction with European Film Promotion.
A lithe, quicksilver portrait of a woman whose loss of sight only serves to sharpen her creative imagination, this standout debut feature for screenwriter Eskil Vogt retains many of the literate, self-reflexive touches Vogt brought to his collaborations with helmer Joachim Trier while finding its own alternately droll, sexy, heartbreaking rhythms.
About the director: Though Vogt graduated from the directing »
- Peter Debruge
The Weekend Watch is an open thread where you can share what you’ve recently watched, offer suggestions on movies and TV shows we should check out (or warnings about stuff to avoid) and discover queue-filling goodies from other Fsr readers. The comments section awaits. I’ll get the ball rolling with the movies/TV my eyeballs took in this weekend. The Final Member is a documentary about a guy who collects penises, but don’t let that fool you. For one thing it’s a Drafthouse Films release — they’re the folks who also gave a home to docs like A Band Called Death and Act of Killing — but for another it’s a damn fine film. It feels like something that would be silly on its face, but it’s actually a fairly profound and endearing look at what motivates us in life and in death. For as much as I love international cinema, I »
- Rob Hunter
You can find Part one of our interview here.
The birth of Hinterland and the emergence of its title character find Thomas and Harrington walking out onto the vast landscape of a genre. Despite being at the beginning of his journey, Tom Mathias has joined a heritage of crime detection, and therein has become a chapter in its storied history. From a discussion of the birth of Hinterland to the place of Tom Mathias within this heritage; to the creation of a world caught between genre and reality is now the “traffic of our stage.”
“Every detective is a cliché in lots of ways, because you are trying to compare him to the one’s that have gone before” offers Harrington. “I grew up with the Columbos, and I was a massive fan of Hill Street Blues. But the one thing I was consciously avoiding was portraying Mathias like anyone else. »
- Paul Risker
TrustNordisk has picked up the international sales rights for the hacker-thriller WhoAmI.
The company will be introducing an early sneak peek from the upcoming thriller, which is currently in post-production, to international buyers for the first time in Cannes.
The outsider Benjamin and the charismatic Max share one mutual interest: hacking. Together with Max‘s friends, they form the subversive hacker group Clay, which provokes with hilarious hacks and connects with a whole generation. But when Clay is suddenly investigated by German Secret Service and Europol, Benjamin must face the consequences of his actions.
WhoAmI is director Baran bo Odar’s second feature film. His debut feature in 2010, The Silence, was nominated for numerous awards and won the Director’s to Watch Award at Palm Springs International Film Festival »
- email@example.com (Michael Rosser)
TrustNordisk will be unveiling in Cannes an early sneak peek of the pic which is now in post.
Pic turns on Benjamin, an outsider who forms a subversive hacker group known as Clay becoming very popular and suddenly gets investigated by German Secret Service and Europol.
Baran bo Odar’s feature debut “The Silence” played at Palm Springs. Odar also made it into Variety´s 10 directors to watch list in 2011.
“Woami” is produced by Quirin Berg and Max Wiedemann for Wiedemann and Berg Film, the team behind “The Lives of Others.” Justyna Muesch is exec producing. Seven Pictures and Deutsche Columbia Pictures and co-producing. Sony Pictures Releasing will distribute in German Speaking territories on Oct. »
- Elsa Keslassy
Godzilla 1954, Mickey Rooney, Giant Ants, Fascists, and rarely seen ‘Musty Stuffer’: Eclectic Packard Theater movies in May 2014 (photo: ‘Godzilla’) Godzilla 1954, Mickey Rooney, military fascists, deadly giant ants, racing car drivers, and The Mishaps of Musty Suffer, a super-rare slapstick comedy series from the 1910s, are a few of the highlights at the Library of Congress’ Packard Campus Theater in May 2014. Godzilla 1954 and fellow movie monsters Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla 2014, starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, Ken Watanabe, and Bryan Cranston, opens on May 16 in much of the world. On May 8 at the Packard Theater, you’ll get the chance to check out Ishiro Honda’s Godzilla 1954 aka Gojira — in the original, Toho-released, Japanese-language version (i.e., without Raymond Burr). As part of its Godzilla double bill, the Packard Theater will also present Motoyoshi Oda’s Gigantis, the Fire Monster aka Godzilla Raids Again (1955). Besides Godzilla, the Packard Theater will »
- Andre Soares
With a big budget, great writers and two beautiful stars, this could have been a classic. Instead it's boring mumblefest with a rubbish twist – and it's on Channel 4 at 9pm tonight
[Warning: contains spoilers]
"This man is a tourist!" – Elise
The Tourist should have been a raging success. A sumptuous $100m Hitchcockian thriller, set in the most impossibly scenic slivers of Europe, starring two of the most intimidatingly beautiful people alive. A script by Christopher McQuarrie from The Usual Suspects and Julian Fellowes from Downton Abbey. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, who won an Oscar for The Lives of Others, in the director's chair. What could have possibly gone wrong?
A lot, it turns out. Although blame has been assigned to everything from a constant churn of writers, directors and stars to the incredibly short production turnaround, the fact is that The Tourist is a colossal hodgepodge of wasted opportunity. Or at least »
- Stuart Heritage
Has the current gaggle of cinematic releases gotten you down? Perhaps it’s time for a small screen pursuit.
Set in the early 1980′s, The Americans follows two deep-cover Kgb spies posing as ordinary suburbanites, Philip and Elizabeth Jennings (Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell). The pair, who are part of an arranged marriage, have also raised two children as part of their cover and over the years have seen their Russian identities wither away. While they continuously risk their lives for the Motherland, and do so while sporting some fabulous disguises, the two have found that their faux relationship has grown into something authentic.
These real feelings pose a grave threat to the two, who must brush emotions aside when they’re killing and/or bedding a string of different people. The Jennings must also be extra cautious as they live next door to Stan (the magnificent Noah Emmerich), an FBI agent. »
- Justine Browning
The battle for the Foreign Language Film Oscar has been one of the most interesting races in the past few Oscar years. We’ve had a mix of classics (A Separation, Amour), solid wins and upsets (The Secret in Their Eyes, The Lives of Others). So what will the category leave us with this year?
Two films that seem to be in the “happy to be nominated” roles are Omar and The Missing Picture. Omar was a film many prognosticators had in their lineups. It’s a Palestinian film that has an incredibly dense structure and is thematically pretty weighty. If you were to look over the recent history of the Academy a film such as this has upset a few times. But unfortunately there are bigger contenders and given the politics of the film will probably keep it from triumphing. The Missing Picture was »
- Terence Johnson
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