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A lot of Best Picture hopefuls each year have documentary counterparts. It makes sense, because biopics and other true stories are great fodder for Oscar bait. Some are as easy as Monster and Milk being linked to Nick Broomfield’s Aileen Wuornos films and The Times of Harvey Milk, respectively, in part because the dramas were directly influenced by their doc predecessors. Others, like Dallas Buyers Club and How to Survive a Plague and Captain Phillips and Stolen Seas are not as officially linked but certainly go together by being about the same real-life subject matter. Occasionally even the fictional contenders are informed by docs, as was Gravity heavily modeled after footage from the IMAX movie Hubble 3D. Lately I’ve noticed a phenomenon where a lot of the 2014 Best Picture candidates are not just easily tied to past documentaries but specifically correspond quite perfectly with docs that are also in contention for Academy Awards this year »
- Christopher Campbell
Last year, the final five included “The Act of Killing” and “The Square,” two films that deserve to be on anyone’s must-see list of recent nonfiction; the film that won was the feel-good “20 Feet from Stardom,” a film with plenty of musical distractions but which wasn’t even sure what it wanted to be. (A celebration of backup singers? Or a whine about why they weren’t stars?) The year before, doc voters got to to choose between “5 Broken Cameras,” the essential “How to Survive a Plague,” “The Gatekeepers” and “The Invisible War.” And they gave it to the feel-good “Searching for Sugarman,” a movie whose big reveal wasn’t a reveal at all and which was the limpest entry in the field. This year? “It’s Citizenfour, right?” people have said. “How can it lose?” Don’t make us laugh. Laura Poitras’ movie about Edward Snowden and domestic »
- John Anderson
After a documentary premieres, what happens to the people that are its focus? SundanceNow Doc Club offers Toh! four exclusive videos that will bring you up to speed on the subjects of acclaimed docs "Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry," "We're Not Broke," "Hot Coffee" and Oscar nominee "How to Survive a Plague," all of which contended for the Sundance Grand Jury Prize in recent years. These director interviews are part of SundanceNow Doc Club's latest curation Fight the System, a slate of docs that dig into contemporary American issues and are now available to stream. "Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry" - Dir. Alison Klayman "Hot Coffee" - Dir. Susan Saladoff "How to Survive a Plague" - Dir. David France "We're Not Broke" - Dirs. Victoria Bruce, Karin Hayes »
- Ryan Lattanzio
The Paley Center for Media has added to its roster for the upcoming gala benefit celebrating television’s impact on Lgbt equality. Portia de Rossi, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Sean Hayes, Norman Lear and NBA star Jason Collins have been added to the lineup of talent to present at the event, to be held on Nov. 12 in Los Angeles.
New donors to the fundraising event include A+E Networks, Tie The Knot, Jessie Tyler Ferguson, Accenture, Neal Baer, CAA, Wme, UTA and the NHL Foundation, as well as additional support from Lionsgate and the David Geffen Foundation.
Lgbt media advocacy organization GLAAD will also offer support.
“As we continue to strive for more inclusive programming, it’s important to recognize the groundbreaking images and stories that »
- Shelli Weinstein
Featuring Lgbt mascots Margaret Cho, Tim Gunn, Dan Savage and George Takei, among others, "Do I Sound Gay?" explores the link between sexuality and speech, and the all the anxiety and cultural baggage that come with "the gay voice." Produced by Howard Gertler ("Shortbus," Oscar nominee "How to Survive a Plague"), "Do I Sound Gay?" was hailed by Toronto doc guru Thom Powers as "a winning and sympathetic guide who doesn't shy away from confronting taboos and vulnerabilities that often go unexpressed." The November 13 Doc NYC presentation marks the film's Us premiere. The full lineup for this IFC-produced festival, which promises a slate of over 125 films, arrives October 15. Meanwhile, watch the crowdfunding trailer below: »
- Ryan Lattanzio
While red-carpet preems and celeb parades aren’t stopping anytime soon, the close of Toronto’s opening weekend brings a mood shift that widens the spotlight for festival docs and related biz.
“Sunshine Superman,” Marah Strauch’s portrait of Base-jumping pioneer Carl Boenish, soared into auds hearts at its two weekend screenings, scoring positive early reviews and, according to Submarine’s Josh Braun, now has momentum with multiple offers on the table.
Nick Broomfield’s look at the unsettling impact of alleged serial killer “Tales of the Grim Sleeper,” which Variety chief film critic called the veteran U.K. director’s “sharpest, most substantial work in at least a decade,” turned buyer heads in Telluride, with Sunday’s [Sept 7] industry screening timed to heat up talks in advance of Wednesday’s international preem.
- Jennie Punter
Today is Wear It Purple Day, which asks people to simply wear the color purple in support of Lgbt equality. It's appropriate then that we continue our celebration of 1989 today with a look at that year's Oscar winner for Best Documentary. Glenn is joined in a conversation by friend of The Film Experience and doco-expert Daniel Walber, writer for Nonfics and Film School Rejects.
Glenn: Daniel, thank you for joining us. While I would obviously love to hear your thoughts on the film, I think I would be just as interested to hear about how well you think Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt sits amongst Oscar's documentary history. So few films about gay issues have even been nominated, yet alone won (the only other winner of its kind is The Times of Harvey Milk, also by Rob Epstein), but does Common Threads hold up as a winner? And furthermore, »
- Glenn Dunks
The fascinating New York Times article “My Ex-Gay Friend” by Benoit Denizet-Lewis is being turned into a movie, with James Franco playing the gay-leader-turned-Christian-pastor Michael Glatze, and if Franco’s involvement in the project, titled Michael, wasn’t exciting enough, now we’ve learned that actors Zachary Quinto and Emma Roberts have also signed on for supporting roles.
Michael centers on the unusual life of Glatze, a Christian minister from Wyoming who actually founded a gay youth magazine before eventually rejecting his own homosexuality and becoming vocally opposed to gay rights. Quinto will play Glatze’s former boyfriend, while Roberts (who recently starred with Franco in the excellent Palo Alto) will be playing his girlfriend. Chris Zylka, currently starring on HBO’s The Leftovers, is on board as another past love interest of Glatze’s.
- Isaac Feldberg
Elle Fanning will star in the adaptation of the short story How to Talk to Girls at Parties.
Written by Neil Gaiman, the original story follows two teenage boys at a party in 1970s London. When they begin to mingle, they soon realise that the girls are more than they seem.
In the movie adaptation, 16-year-old Fanning will play an American tourist who escapes her tour group and ends up at the party in Croydon, The Hollywood Reporter announced.
The sci-fi piece, published in 2006, was nominated for a Hugo Award for best short story and won the Locus Award in the same category.
The title "How to Talk To Girls At Parties" might read like some sort of dumb self-help book, unless you're a deep-cut Neil Gaiman fan. The celebrated sci-fi short story is getting a big screen adaptation, and that movie just got a whole lot more allure thanks to otherworldly ingénue Elle Fanning. THR reports Maleficent's Elle Fanning is now attached to star in How to Talk To Girls At Parties, which is being produced by Neil Gaiman, James Cameron Mitchell and Howard Gertler, the Academy Award-winning producer of the documentary How To Survive a Plague. Mitchell, who is best known for directing and starring in the outlandish and outstanding rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch, is directing the project, which he has been developing since 2010. The short story "How to Talk To Girls At Parties" is set in 1970s London, where two teen boys stumble into a party. »
The short story is set in 1970s London, following two teenage boys who attend a party. While one boy has no trouble mingling with the female guests, the other shy boy comes to learn that the girls aren't exactly human. The feature adaptation, written by John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) and Philippa Goslett (Little Ashes) focuses on a punk kid versed in music and the arts, and a female alien tourist (Elle Fanning), who wants to break free from her tour group to explore the most dangerous place in the galaxy, the London suburb of Croydon.
The Academy has announced the new class of invited members for 2014 and, as is typical, many of which are among last year's nominees, which includes Barkhad Abdi, Michael Fassbender, Sally Hawkins, Mads Mikkelsen, Lupita Nyong'o and June Squibb in the Actors branch not to mention curious additions such as Josh Hutcherson, Rob Riggle and Jason Statham, but, okay. The Directors branch adds Jay and Mark Duplass along with Jean-Marc Vallee, Denis Villeneuve and Thomas Vinterberg. I didn't do an immediate tally of male to female additions or other demographics, but at first glance it seems to be a wide spread batch of new additions on all fronts. The Academy is also clearly attempting to aggressively bump up the demographics as this is the second year in a row where they have added a large number of new members, well over the average of 133 new members from 2004 to 2012. As far as »
- Brad Brevet
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is extending invitations to join the organization to 271 artists and executives who have distinguished themselves by their contributions to theatrical motion pictures.
Those who accept the invitations will be the only additions to the Academy’s membership in 2014.
“This year’s class of invitees represents some of the most talented, creative and passionate filmmakers working in our industry today,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “Their contributions to film have entertained audiences around the world, and we are proud to welcome them to the Academy.”
The 2014 invitees are:
- Michelle McCue
Michael Fassbender and Lupita Nyong’o of 12 Years a Slave were two of the 271 artists and industry leaders invited to become members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which determines nominations and winners at the annual Oscars. The entire list of Academy membership—which numbers about 6,000—isn’t public information so the annual invitation list is often the best indication of the artists involved in the prestigious awards process. It’s worth noting that invitations need to be accepted in order for artists to become members; some artists, like two-time Best Actor winner Sean Penn, have declined membership over the years. »
- Jeff Labrecque
Pop quiz: What do Chris Rock, Claire Denis, Eddie Vedder and Josh Hutcherson all have in common? Answer: They could all be Oscar voters very soon. The annual Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences invitation list always makes for interesting reading, shedding light on just how large and far-reaching the group's membership is -- or could be, depending on who accepts their invitations. This year, 271 individuals have been asked to join AMPAS, meaning every one of them could contribute to next year's Academy Awards balloting -- and it's as diverse a list as they've ever assembled. Think the Academy consists entirely of fusty retired white dudes? Not if recent Best Original Song nominee Pharrell Williams takes them up on their offer. Think it's all just a Hollywood insiders' game? Not if French arthouse titans Chantal Akerman and Olivier Assayas join the party. It's a list that subverts expectation at every turn. »
- Guy Lodge
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has invited 271 individuals to become members, with the list reflecting the org’s determination to bring more diversity to its ranks.
Every year, the list of invitations includes several recent Oscar nominees. That’s true this year as well, with letters going out Wednesday to a cross-section of people including 2013 contenders Barkhad Abdi, Lupita Nyong’o, Hayao Miyazaki, Pharrell Williams, Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, plus such creatives as Megan Ellison, Chris Rock, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Steve Coogan, Jason Statham, William Chang Suk Ping, Joan Sobel, Tracey Seaward, Mads Mikkelsen and Chantal Akerman.
Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs told Variety Thursday, “This is a continuation of an initiative to bring in new voices. Filmmaking has gotten more diverse, and audiences have been responding. There are terrific filmmakers around the world at the top of their game and we want to recognize them and bring them into the Academy. »
- Tim Gray
A Million Colours finds writer-director Peter Bishai peering into South Africa’s Apartheid yesteryear for his sophomore feature. One might say not just peering, but opening up a past wound to explore the microcosm of the personal within one of history’s great struggles for freedom.
Bishai transforms the past into a vessel for storytelling, opening with a prologue that relays to us that the story we are about to see unfold is the tale of Muntu Ndebele’s (Wandile Molebatsi’s) journey from actor to thief. The theme of storytelling is woven into the fabric of the film as Bishai tailors his drama to the belief that stories are intrinsically weaved into the fabric of the everyday. With this thought to mind perhaps its title refers not to a million shades but rather to the multitude of stories of which a country is threaded together with; a series of »
- Paul Risker
A study by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found that people who watched The Colbert Report were better informed on campaign finance issues than people who got their news through traditional news sources. Remember this the next time someone laments that people say they get their news from comedy shows.
A&E found another reason for its adaptation of Les Revenants to grab your attention. Kevin Alejandro has joined the cast as the town sheriff.
I hope this turns out to be a better role than Brother Blood.
TBS has ordered a third season of King of the Nerds, according to The Hollywood Reporter. I’m thrilled, King of the Nerds has the best challenges on TV, there should be a spin-off that just reuses old challenges, like the one where competitors fly on brooms trying to land golden snitches into cauldrons.
TVLine reports that Jason Ritter will appear »
- Lyle Masaki
June is Lgbt Pride Month. What better way to commemorate the occasion than by streaming these 10 great Lgbt documentaries on Netflix (okay, we can think of some other ways)? From the love stories of photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and curator-collector Sam Wagstaff in "Black White + Gray" and the four decades long romance of Thea Spyer and Edie Windsor (which eventually led to their groundbreaking marriage ceremony once Doma was overturned) in "Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement," these documentaries portray Lgbt life and love -- as well as the challenges and tragedies faced by AIDS ("How to Survive a Plague," "Wish We Were Here"), discrimination ("Brother Outsider") and anti-gay laws in places like Uganda ("Call Me Kuchu") as well as in the U.S. ("Bridegroom"). Read More: Here are New Titles on Netflix This June After delving into the deeply serious, thoughtful and provocative "Red Without Blue," which explores the struggles »
- Paula Bernstein
In the most arresting moment from the 2012 documentary How to Survive a Plague, playwright and activist Larry Kramer observes the squabbling between the members of Act Up, a coalition that pressed for more government testing of drugs for AIDS victims. In the middle of the shouting, Kramer stands up and yells, with vitriol, “Plague! We are in the middle of a plague!” Instantly, the furor in the room subsides.
Kramer was known as a fierce, furious, iconoclastic personality who had been fighting on behalf of the virus originally deemed the “gay cancer” in the early 1980s. His views were far from mainstream, and although his rage-filled attacks toward government on evening talk shows inflamed an audience, he soldiered on. Kramer’s most remarkable artistic achievement was his 1985 Off-Broadway play, The Normal Heart, which was as angry and sanctimonious as him.
Now, The Normal Heart is a powerfully acted and fiercely »
- Jordan Adler
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