Brick Lane (2007) - News Poster



Opening This Week

  • IFC
By Neil Pedley

While Steve Carell and Mike Myers face off at the multiplexes this week, indie theaters fight back with a wide range of quirk, including a meter maid romance, a doc on balloon animals and a horror flick about killer hair extensions.

"Brick Lane"

"Brick Lane" in London's East End might be just a relatively short jaunt down the M1 from Salford, but it's still a million miles (and a decade) away from the careful multi-ethnic empathy of another film that dealt with south Asian refugees in England, the 1970s-set "East is East." This story follows 18-year-old Nazneem (Tannishtha Chatterjee), who steps off a plane from Bangladesh and into an arranged marriage with middle-aged Chanu (Satish Kaushik). Bored and lonely, she's forced to question her beliefs when the charismatic and secular Karim (Christopher Simpson) knocks on her door. Director Sarah Gavron landed herself a Bafta nomination for this
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'Atonement' leads BAFTA noms

LONDON -- Joe Wright's "Atonement" leads the field of nominations for this year's British Academy Film Awards, securing 14 noms, ahead of the Coen brothers' "No Country for Old Men" and Paul Thomas Anderson's "There Will Be Blood", both of which took nine slots.

The trio of titles are all in the race for the best film award along with Ridley Scott's "American Gangster" and last year's foreign-language Oscar winner Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's "The Lives of Others". Both "Gangster" and "Others" scored five nominations.

Wright, Joel and Ethan Coen, Anderson and Henckel von Donnersmark also will battle it out with Paul Greengrass for the evening's best director nod, with Greengrass nominated for "The Bourne Ultimatum".

The best British film award, one of 23 awards dished out by the British Academy of Film and Television, will go to one from "Atonement", "Ultimatum", "Control", "Eastern Promises" and "This Is England".

George Clooney ("Michael Clayton"), Daniel Day-Lewis ("There Will Be Blood"), James McAvoy ("Atonement"), Viggo Mortensen ("Eastern Promises") and Ulrich Muehe ("The Lives of Others") all secure nominations for best actor.

Cate Blanchett has two nominations, for leading actress in "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" and supporting actress in "I'm Not There".

Blanchett will have to triumph over Julie Christie ("Away From Her"), Marion Cotillard ("La Vie en Rose"), Keira Knightley ("Atonement") and Ellen Page ("Juno") to secure the best actress nod.

And Kelly Macdonald ("No Country"), Samantha Morton ("Control"), Saoirse Ronan ("Atonement") and Tilda Swinton ("Michael Clayton") might have something to say in the supporting actress race.

Javier Bardem and Tommy Lee Jones (both for "No Country"), Paul Dano ("Blood"), Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Charlie Wilson's War") and Tom Wilkinson ("Michael Clayton") are slugging it out for supporting actor.

The prize for best animated film will be drawn by "Ratatouille", "Shrek the Third" or "The Simpsons Movie".

Nominations for the Carl Foreman Award for special achievement by a British director, writer or producer in their first feature include Chris Atkins for writing and directing the documentary "Taking Liberties", Mia Bays for her producer role on documentary "Scott Walker: 30 Century Man", Sarah Gavron for helming "Brick Lane", Matt Greenhalgh for penning "Control" and Andrew Piddington for writing and directing "The Killing of John Lennon".

The original screenplay prize is a contest between Steven Zailian ("American Gangster"), Diablo Cody ("Juno"), Henckel von Donnersmarck ("Lives of Others"), Tony Gilroy ("Michael Clayton") and Shane Meadows ("This Is England").

Nominations for adapted screenplay are Christopher Hampton ("Atonement"), Ronald Harwood ("The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"), David Benioff ("The Kite Runner"), the Coens ("No Country") and Anderson ("Blood").

The winners will be announced Feb. 10 at London's Royal Opera House.

A complete list of nominations follows:

Best film

"American Gangster" -- Brian Grazer/Ridley Scott

"Atonement" -- Tim Bevan/Eric Fellner/Paul Webster

"The Lives of Others" -- Quirin Berg/Max Wiedemann

"No Country for Old Men" -- Scott Rudin/Joel Coen/Ethan Coen

"There Will Be Blood" -- JoAnne Sellar/Paul Thomas Anderson/Daniel Lupi

British film

"Atonement" -- Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Paul Webster, Joe Wright, Christopher Hampton

"The Bourne Ultimatum" -- Frank Marshall, Patrick Crowley, Paul L.

'Hallam Foe' takes top prize at Dinard fest

PARIS -- David Mackenzie's Hallam Foe took the top prize at the 18th Dinard Festival of British Cinema, which wrapped Sunday in the Brittany resort town.

A jury led by French actress Josiane Balasko and including actresses Linh Dan Pham, Sylvie Testud and Cecile Cassel bestowed the Hitchcock d'Or Grand Prize upon Mackenzie's coming-of-age comedy, which stars Jamie Bell as a 17 year-old misfit mourning his mother's sudden death who spies on the world from his treehouse.

The jury gave an honorable mention to John Carney's musical comedy Once, which took the audience award this year at the Sundance Film Festival.

"Foe" also went home with the Hitchcock Blanc, Kodak Limited prize for best photo direction.

Sarah Gavron's Brick Lane won the Grand Marnier Lapostolle award for best screenplay and the Hitchcock d'Argent audience award.

Lenny Abrahamson's Garage was awarded the Hitchcock de Bronze prize, which provides distribution to the winner in 40 movie theaters in the west of France.

The British Council gave it's €1,500 ($2,123) "Entente Cordiale" award for the best short film made by a graduate of French film school to Marcal Fores' Friends Forever.

The four-day festival kicked off Thursday with Ken Loach's It's a Free World and closed Sunday with Pascal Thomas' Gallic title L'heure zero.

Brick Lane

Brick Lane
Toronto International Film Festival

TORONTO -- Brick Lane adds another shrewd, poignant film to a growing genre of immigrant stories. This one stems from Monica Ali's debut novel, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 2003. Where her book follows the life of Nazneen, a Bangladeshi village girl who moves to London at age 17 for an arranged marriage to an older man, the film version chooses to focus on a single fateful year, 2001, to capture the essence of how Nazneen, now a mother of two daughters, finds her identity, her strength and her voice after years of self-sacrifice.

The film, directed by Sarah Gavron, who helmed a well-received BBC TV movie and here makes her feature debut, has genuine warmth in its portrayal of this woman and her family and wisdom in how it subtly makes its points without resorting to melodrama or forced conflict. While the film should find eager adult audiences in the U.K. and other territories with large South Asian populations, in the U.S., Sony Pictures Classics will need rely on the easy access the film allows into Nazneen's life, making the foreign familiar and family situations universal.

Flashes of Nazneen's idyllic childhood in Bangladesh, playing carefree with her beloved sister, run through the film, in sharp contrast to her East London home -- a grim, unlovely street named Brick Lane and a mean flat, hemmed in by too much furniture and her husband's unjustified yet boundless optimism.

The film has skipped over 13 years of her adjustment to British society and the loss of her first born, a son. She has made a peace of sorts with her destiny, cutting her husband's corns, raising her daughters and leaving the flat only to shop. Indian actress Tannishtha Chatterjee gives Nazneen a keen intelligence and inner frustration, both of which are well disguised. With little dialogue initially other than voiceovers, Chatterjee must signal Nazneen's discontent in her eyes and the occasional stoop of her body.

Satish Kaushik, a well-known comic actor and film director in India, is wonderfully cast as the husband, Chanu, a character of Dickensian richness. Chanu is pompous and kind, full of plans that never pan out and convinced of future success when all signs indicate otherwise. Chanu is a poor match for his lovely and lonely wife. He is overweight, too old and exasperating, yet completely unaware of any shortcomings.

Letters from her younger sister back home give Nazneen a kind of parallel life. For her sister rebelled against family and ran off for true love, rejecting an arranged marriage. Then everything changes for Nazneen when the passionate Karim (Christopher Simpson) enters her life.

Nazneen has acquired a sewing machine and Karim brings her work in the form of men's pants to stitch. He is much more assimilated into British culture, yet is angry at the racial intolerance and anti-Moslem sentiment rife in that society.

Hesitantly yet excitedly, Nazneen falls into an ardent affair with Karim. For a time, she and her sister no longer live such different lives. Can this love for Karim save her?

The tragedy of 9/11 hits this community especially hard and Chanu more than ever feels the pull of home. He makes plans to return his family to Bangladesh. But his daughters are confirmed Londoners, and his wife no longer feels that pull as she once did.

Brick Lane is beautifully acted and written (by Abi Morgan and Laura Jones) so its themes are touched upon glancingly rather than with full force. The journey of all three major characters, Nazneen, Chanu and Karim, happens with remarkable subtlety so you can accompany them, so you can feel the emotions and experience delicate mental shifts. Behind the camera, everyone has done his job so that here too you can experience an environment and sense how it acts upon character.

Just walk through a bookstore in this city on your way to the films of the '07 Toronto International Film Festival and you can't help but be aware that the themes of multicuturalism and immigration will continue to recur in literature and cinema. Brick Lane is one of the better examples of how these themes can be expressed through characters that strive for self-determination in an increasingly complex but vibrant world.


R&C Prods., The French Connection, RAI Cinema


Director, writer: Vincenzio Marra

Producers: Tilde Corsi and Gianni Romoli

Director of photography: Luca Bigazzi

Production designer: Beatrice Scarpato

Costume Designer: Daniella Ciancio

Editor: Luca Benedetti


Caterina: Fanny Ardant

Filippo: Michele Lastella

Francesca: Giulia Bevilacqua

Captain Salvi: Augusto Zucchi

Donati: Atonio Gerardi

Anna: Barba Valmorin

Patrizi: Nicola Labate

Prisco: Maurizio Tesei

Running time -- 95 minutes

No MPAA rating

'Free World' to open Dinard fest

'Free World' to open Dinard fest
PARIS -- The 18th Dinard Festival of British Film, which unspools in the Brittany resort Oct. 4-7, will open with Ken Loach's It's a Free World, organizers said Wednesday.

The four-day event will see six U.K. movies vie for the fest's top prize. Competition titles this year include David McEnzie's Hallam Foe, Julian Jarrold's Jane, Asif Kapadia's Far North, Mark Jenkin's The Midnight Drive, Sarah Gavron's Brick Lane and John Carney's Once.

Gallic actress and director Josiane Balasko will lead a jury composed of fellow French female thesps Cecile Cassel, Linh Dan Pham, Claire Nebout and Sylvie Testud, actor Robin Renucci, comedian Laurent Gerra, British actress Imelda Staunton and documentary filmmaker Michael Grigsby.

Loach's Free World will open the fest and Pascal Thomas' Gallic title L'Heure Zero will close it.

Dinard-bound cinephiles will also be treated to 20 French premieres including such titles as Anthony Byrne's How About You, Kevin Macdonald's documentary Mon Meilleur Ennemi and Lenny Abrahamson's Garage. The public will vote on a short film prize awarded by the British Council.

Shane Meadows and his producer Marc Herbert will be in the spotlight with films This is England, Dead Man's Shoes, A Room for Romeo Brass, Twenty 4 Seven" and Once Upon a Time in the Midlands."

SPC on path to Gavron's 'Brick Lane'

NEW YORK -- Sony Pictures Classics has acquired North American and South American rights to Sarah Gavron's debut feature, Brick Lane, which centers on a young woman brought from Bangladesh to London to enter a loveless arranged marriage.

Based on Monica Ali's acclaimed 2003 novel, the film follows the evolution of plain 18-year-old Nazneen (Tannishtha Chatterjee) who lives a sheltered life with an unpleasant middle-aged husband (Satish Kaushik) in 1980s London. She stands in stark contrast to her free-spirited sister (Zafreen) until a Muslim radical (Christopher Simpson) takes her out of her shell and wins her heart.

Lane, produced by Alison Owen and Christopher Collins, is a Ruby Films production and is presented by Film4 Four, Ingenious and the U.K. Film Council's New Cinema Fund. Abi Morgan and Laura Jones adapted the screenplay.

Gavron earned a BAFTA TV Award for best new director for her 2003 BBC feature This Little Life.

The Works International's Joy Wong negotiated the deal with SPC's Michael Barker, Tom Bernard and Dylan Leiner.

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