14 items from 2015
Mandalay Sports Media and Campbell Grobman Films will begin production this month in New York on The Bleeder, with Ray Donovan‘s Liev Schreiber to play heavyweight boxer Chuck Wepner, and Naomi Watts to play his wife Linda. Philippe Falardeau, the Canadian helmer of The Good Lie and the Oscar nominated Monsieur Lazhar, is set to direct a script written by Jeff Feuerzeig & Jerry Stahl and Michael Cristofer. Schreiber, coming off his third season as the title character in… »
The story follows the New Jersey liquor salesman and boxer who at age 35 got a shot to fight Muhammad Ali right after the infamous 'Rumble in the Jungle' bout. The 40-1 underdog Wepner surprised everybody when he became only the third man to knock Ali to the canvas.
Ali got up and pummeled Wepne until the fight ended, but Wepner became a folk hero and an inspiration for Sly Stallone's "Rocky" script. The film will also deal with Wepner's sudden fame and hard partying lifestyle.
Philippe Falardeau ("The Good Lie," "Monsieur Lazhar") helms from a script by Jeff Feuerzeig & Jerry Stahl and Michael Cristofer. Schreiber, Mike Tollin, Carl Hampe, Christa Campbell and Lati Grobman are producing and shooting kicks »
- Garth Franklin
Welcome to the ever-shifting and oft-delayed world of indie filmmaking, with projects whipped by the seas of changing fortune and scheduling issues. One film, boxing biopic The Bleeder, has been waiting for its shot in the production ring for nearly four years now and appears to be coming together with a new director, Monsieur Lazhar/The Good Lie’s Philippe Falardeau. Back in 2011, we brought word that Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts had signed on to star as boxer Chuck Wepner and his wife Linda, cannily going method by becoming a real-life couple in 2005 (all right, not that last bit, though they have been together since then). Wepner got his start in the ring when he boxed as a Us Marine before turning pro, becoming a popular fighter in New Jersey. But he never quite found real fame and fortune, earning the nickname “The Bayonne Bleeder” for some of his more serious injuries, »
In Canada, the power to declare war lies squarely in the hands of the Cabinet. In “My Internship in Canada,” that responsibility falls to a single Member of Parliament who, owing to a deadlock between both sides, has the deciding vote but no clue as to handle the situation. It’s an amusing premise for what should have been a razor-sharp political satire, a la Armando Iannucci’s “In the Loop,” although the protagonist here, a dopey MP from backwoods Prescott-Makadewa-Rapides-aux Outardes, couldn’t be farther out of the loop. Passing up the opportunity to make a sharp international commentary, director Philippe Falardeau (“Congorama,” “Monsieur Lazhar”) plays the dilemma for folksy, feel-good laughs, severely minimizing this Canuck comedy’s export potential.
“This film is based on events that have not yet happened,” the opening titles impishly disclaim. For those living south of the border in the over-militarized United States, there »
- Peter Debruge
Locarno – “Tikkun,” “Schneider vs. Bax,” “Wonderful” lead early business announcements at an ever busier Locarno Fest Industry Days, now packed with a full roster of events, where Philippe Le Guay’s “Floride” and Catherine Corsini’s “Summertime” both gleaned positive reviews, boding well for sales off what one sales agent called the “Locarno-Toronto express.”
Energized by a rising presence of Hollywood stars – Edward Norton, Andy Garcia and Amy Schumer, in town to tubthump “Trainwreck” – Locarno’s industry presence shows no signs of curbing growth hitting 1,200 attendees for its Aug. 8-10 Industry Days, 14% up on 2014.
In a banner industry deal at Switzerland’s Locarno Festival, L.A-based Bleiberg Entertainment will represent U.S. and world sales rights on “Tikkun,” from Israel’s Avishai Sivan, one of the outstanding titles – it swept top honors at July’s ever-more relevant Jerusalem Fest – to hit Locarno without an international sales agent.
Marking another key deal, »
- John Hopewell and Emilio Mayorga
The Toronto International Film Festival announced its program of Canadian films on Wednesday, with homegrown features including Ethan Hawke as jazz musician Chet Baker, Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood in a futuristic drama, and documentaries about poet Al Purdy and accused terrorist Omar Kadr. Directors represented in the program will include Patricia Rozema (“Into the Forest,” with Page and Wood), Philippe Falardeau (“My Internship in Canada,” his second film since the Oscar-nominated “Monsieur Lazhar”), Andre Turpin (“Endorphine,” which interweaves the lives of three women), Bruce McDonald (the horror film “Hellions”) and Guy Maddin (two co-directed films in the adventurous. »
- Steve Pond
Locarno – Digital; the world cinema revolution. Forging a new global movie landscape, these paradigms look set to pump up attendance and drive discussions at Switzerland’s 68th Locarno Fest’s Industry Days.
Three days out from the world premiere of Meryl Streep-starrer “Ricki and the Flash” (above) which opens the 68th Locarno Fest Wednesday night, 1,142 industry pros had signed up for this year’s Industry Day, which run Aug. 8-10. That’s 9% up on the last year’s final delegate total, and 26% higher 2013’s final count.
Put these attendance hikes down to several factors. Film fests’ functions have evolved dramatically this decade, in synch with industry needs. There are few better cases in point than Locarno. Nadia Dresti, Locarno’s head of international, originally launched its Industry Days in 2010 to allow producers and sales agents to screen all the films in Locarno’s major sections over just three days. »
- John Hopewell
It's a good time to be a filmmaker from Quebec these days. With the international successes of the Quebecois directors- Denis Villeneuve (Incendies, Prisoners, Sicario and tapped to direct upcoming Blade Runner sequel), Jean-Marc Vallée (C.R.A.Z.Y., Dallas Buyer's Club, Wild), Philippe Falardeau (Monsieur Lazhar, The Good Lie), Quebec is once again recognized as a great incubator for cinematic talent. I discovered director/musician Stéphane Lafleur at this year's New Directors/New Films series. His lovely film Tu dors Nicole had me searching for all his previous films. Unlike the above mentioned directors, Lafleur possesses altogether different sensibilities: his droll, absurd humor and portrayal of loneliness are often akin to that of many Scandinavian filmmakers or Urlich Seidl or even early Tsai Ming-Liang. I had a chance to...
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★★★☆☆ It's not often that an actor who is arguably the fourth lead in a film gets top billing, an unfortunate but necessary marketing tactic for The Good Lie (2014), which uses Reese Witherspoon's face prominently in all advertising despite not being the star. The English language debut of director Philippe Falardeau - Monsieur Lazhar (2011) - tells the story of four Sudanese refugees (known as the 'Lost Boys of Sudan'), forced to walk hundreds of miles to escape war in their country and find a new life in America. Foreign conflict, particularly in Africa, has always been met with patchy portrayals by Hollywood studios. All too often underdeveloped African characters simply wait for a Hollywood actor to come in and save the day.
- CineVue UK
You cannot fail to be moved by this story of young Sudanese refugees - and not just to tears either. Director Philippe Falardeau (working in similar territory to his Oscar-nominated Monsieur Lazhar) deftly treads the boundaries between tragedy and comedy to depict major upheaval for three brothers who eventually look to Reese Witherspoon's brassy employment agent to settle them into the American way of life.
The changing tone is marked by bends in a very long road, first leading from a small Sudanese village to a refugee camp in Kenya. Mamere (Brixton-based actor Arnold Oceng), Jeremiah (Ger Duany) and Paul (Emmanuel Jal), along with their sister Abital (Kuoth Wiel) and the eldest, Theo (Femi Ogun), survive a massacre by soldiers in the country's second civil »
Written by Philippe Falardeau (based on play by Évelyne de la Chenelière)
Directed by Philippe Falardeau
Recent years have seen a tectonic shift in how the homegrown Canadian citizens understand, perceive, interact with newcomers whose origins lie in the Middle East and Maghreb. Blame the media, blame misunderstandings, blame racism, blame frightful activities transpiring in the countries of origin of said immigrants and that has, as recently as the fall of 2014, even hit Canadian soil. New Canadians of Arab descent are, often despite themselves, given the spotlight in the news and various other forms of media for less than enviable reasons. What is it like, therefore, being a newcomer in Canada with ties to a region of the globe that has been earning the worst of reputations since September of 2001? The 2011 Academy Award nominated film from director Philippe Falardeau, Monsieur Lazhar, takes a glance at the experience and so much more, »
- Edgar Chaput
Berlin – Music Box Films has acquired North American rights to “The Pilgrim-Paulo Coehlo’s Best Story,” a biopic about the best-selling writer sold by Picture Tree Intl., which is screening the title at Berlin Festival.
Written by Karolina Kotscho, and produced by Brazil’s Iona de Macedo and Kotscho and Spain’s Angelica Huete, the fiction feature debut of Daniel Augusto narrates Coelho’s spiritual journey, taking in a flirtation with death, escape from madness and making Brazilian rock and roll history.
The buy is a typical purchase for Music Box, with a strong and highly eclectic line in international buys, ranging from auteurist drama (“Monsieur Lazhar”) to gross-out comedy (“Torrente 4”), breakout international hits (“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”) and exquisite European arthouse, such as the Oscar-nominated “Ida.”
“The Pilgrim” will make its international premiere at March’s Miami Intl. Film Festival.
- John Hopewell
Madrid – Philippe Falardeau, whose Oscar-nominated “Monsieur Lazhar” proved a U.S. sleeper and sold worldwide, is re-teaming with “Lazhar’s” sales agent, Paris-based Films Distribution, for his new film, “My Internship in Canada” (“Guibord s’en va-t-en Guerre”).
Billed as a laugh-out-loud political satire, and produced by “Lazhar’s” Luc Dery and Kim McCraw for Canada’s Micro_scope, “Internship” is the third Falardeau film which Films Distribution is handling after 2008’s “It’s Not Me I Swear” and 2011’s “Monsieur Lazhar.”
The comedy tells the story of Steve Guibord (Patrick Huard, “Starbuck,” “Mommy”), an independent member of parliament in Northern Quebec whom, in an unusual twist of fate, finds himself holding the decisive vote in a national debate that will decide if Canada will go to war in the Middle-East or not.
Guibord has no staff but accepted Souverain, a Haitian student in political science, as his new intern. »
- John Hopewell
By Anjelica Oswald
The nine foreign-language films shortlisted by the Academy hail from three continents: South America, Europe and Africa. From South America, Argentina’s Wild Tales and Venezuela’s The Liberator made the list. From Africa, Mauritania’s Timbuktu did as well. From Europe, Estonia’s Tangerines, Georgia’s Corn Island, the Netherlands’ Accused, Poland’s Ida, Russia’s Leviathan and Sweden’s Force Majeure all made the top nine.
This year could mark the first Oscar nomination for Estonia, Georgia, Mauritania (whose film was the country’s first Oscar-submitted film) and Venezuela. Argentina, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden have each received two Oscar nominations in the past 14 years. Of those four countries, Argentina is the only one to win an Oscar, which it did in 2010 for The Secret in Their Eyes. If Russia lands a nomination, it will be the country’s second in the 21st century. »
- Anjelica Oswald
14 items from 2015
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