‘Bad Hair’ day at San Sebastian Film Festival: Venezuelan film wins Golden Shell
Mariana Rondón’s Bad Hair / Pelo malo won the Golden Shell at the 2013 San Sebastian Film Festival, which wrapped up today, Sept. 28, in northern Spain’s coastal city also known as Donostia (in Basque). The Venezuelan / Peruvian / German co-production tells the story of a nine-year-old boy (Samuel Lange Zambrano) with “bad hair,” who decides to have his unruly curls molded pop-singer style (Justin Bieber’s?) for his yearbook picture. His mother (Samantha Castillo), however, is against it – the boy’s new hairdo is just not manly enough. Family conflicts ensue.
The San Sebastian Film Festival’s Special Jury Prize went to newcomer Fernando Franco’s Wounded / La herida, a Spanish drama about a 30-year-old ambulance driver whose life falls to pieces as a consequence of her undiagnosed Borderline Personality Disorder. Wounded also earned star Marian Álvarez the Silver Shell for Best Actress.
The Silver Shell for Best Director was given to Mexican filmmaker Fernando Eimbcke for Club Sandwich / Club Sándwich, about an adolescent’s sexual and romantic stirrings that are about to radically change his close relationship with his mother. In the Club Sandwich cast: Lucio Giménez Cacho, María Renée Prudencio, and Danae Reynaud.
San Sebastian Film Festival 2013 Awards: Best Actor Jim Broadbent, Bertrand Tavernier movie wins Best Screenplay
Veteran British actor Jim Broadbent – a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award winner for Iris (2001) – took home the Silver Shell for Best Actor for his performance in Roger Michell’s British drama Le Week-end – which is not a remake of Jean-Luc Godard’s 1967 classic of sorts. Also featuring Lindsay Duncan and Jeff Goldblum, Le Week-end follows a couple of British teachers attempting to rekindle their moribund marriage while visiting Paris, the site of their honeymoon. Screenplay by Hanif Kureishi (My Beautiful Laundrette, Venus).
Veteran director Bertrand Tavernier’s Quai d’Orsay received the Jury Prize for Best Screenplay. Written by Tavernier, Antonin Baudry, and Christophe Blain, Quai d’Orsay is based on a graphic novel by Baudry and Blain (as Blain & Lanzac). Nope, there is no Iron Man, The Dark Knight, or The Avengers in this one. Instead, Quai d’Orsay is a political satire about French Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexandre Tallard de Vorms (Thierry Lhermitte), “a man who calls on the powerful and invokes the mighty to bring peace, to calm the trigger-happy, and to cement his aura of Nobel Peace Prize winner-in-waiting.” Besides Lhermitte, the Quai d’Orsay cast features, Niels Arestrup, Julie Gayet, Didier Bezace, Thomas Chabrol (son of Claude Chabrol and Stéphane Audran), Anaïs Demoustier, Raphaël Personnaz, Thierry Frémont, Joséphine de La Baume, and veteran Jane Birkin.
Additionally, Quai d’Orsay won the International Film Critics’ FIPRESCI Prize.
More 2013 San Sebastian Film Festival Awards: Serial killers, clever horses, ETA members
Pau Esteve Birba was the winner of the Jury’s Prize for Best Cinematography for his work on Manuel Martín Cuenca’s Cannibal / Caníbal. This international co-production – Spain / Romania / Russia / France – is described as “the tale of love with a demon: Carlos is not only Granada’s most reputed tailor, he’s also a closet murderer.” Unlike most other closet cases, Carlos (Antonio de la Torre) performs his deeds without any feelings of guilt – that is, until he meets a woman named Nina (Olimpia Melinte).
The New Directors Award went to actor-turned-director Benedikt Erlingsson for the well-received Of Horses and Men / Hross í oss, a German / Icelandic dramatic comedy about the strong bond between humans and horses. Among Erlingsson’s acting credits is Lars von Trier’s The Boss of It All.
The San Sebastian Film Festival’s Horizontes Award, for films produced in Latin America, went to first-timer Fernando Coimbra’s Wolf at the Door / O Lobo Atrás da Porta, a Brazilian drama sharing elements in common with the current Hugh Jackman / Jake Gyllenhaal movie Prisoners: following the kidnapping of a child, the victim’s parents (Milhem Cortaz and Fabiula Nascimento) and the main suspect – the father’s lover (Leandra Leal) – give contradictory evidence, slowly revealing the complex relationships among the involved parties.
And finally, the Irizar Basque Film Award went to Amaia Merino and Aitor Merino’s Asier AND I / Asier ETA biok, a documentary about a man who joins the Basque separatist organization ETA (the word “eta” also translates as “and” in Basque); while the Otra Mirada (“Another Look”) Award went to François Ozon’s Cannes Film Festival entry Young and Beautiful / Jeune et jolie, described as the “portrayal of a 17-year-old girl in four seasons and four songs.” Last year, Ozon took home the San Sebastian Film Festival’s Golden Shell for In the House / Dans la maison.
Samuel Lange Zambrano Bad Hair photo: San Sebastian Film Festival.
Catalina Film Festival honorees Sharon Stone & Jon Favreau
Sharon Stone and Jon Favreau were two honorees at the 2013 Catalina Film Festival, which ran Sept. 18-23 in the small town of Avalon on the island of Catalina, located southwest of the Los Angeles Basin. Stone, best known for her role as Michael Douglas’ bisexual lover-cum-murderess in Paul Verhoeven’s Basic Instinct, received the Stanley Kramer “Social Artist” Award. Kramer was a producer-director whose movies tackled social issues, e.g., racism in The Defiant Ones and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, nuclear weapons in On the Beach, and the post-World War II Nazi trials in Judgment at Nuremberg.
Actor-director Jon Favreau, best known as the director of Iron Man and Iron Man 2, both starring Robert Downey Jr., was the recipient of the Charlie Chaplin ICON Award. As an actor, Favreau’s comedies include I Love You Man, with Paul Rudd and Jason Segel; Four Christmases, with Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn; and The Break-Up, with Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston.
More Catalina Film Festival honorees
Other Catalina Film Festival honorees were Patricia Arquette (Fast Food Nation, Lost Highway), the recipient of the Catalina Career Tribute Award; Bailee Madison (Parental Guidance, The Magic Bracelet), who took home the Catalina Crest Award; and The Magic Bracelet director Rina Goldberg, who was given the Catalina Young Filmmaker Award. Tony Scott, among whose credits are The Hunger, with Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon, and Top Gun, the movie that turned Tom Cruise into an international superstar, was the posthumous recipient of the Catalina Majestic Award.
Among the Hollywood celebrities attending the 2013 Catalina Film Festival were Shelley Long, Ben Davies, and Kate Bosworth.
According to the Catalina Film Festival’s website, about 75 films were screened at various venues on the island, including the art deco, 1,200-seat Avalon Theatre, billed as “the world’s first sound theatre.”
Sharon Stone photo via the Catalina Film Festival tumblr page.
’12 Years a Slave’: Toronto Film Festival People’s Choice Award winner
12 Years a Slave, already touted as a top contender for the 2014 Best Picture Academy Award, was the not unexpected People’s Choice Award winner at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival. Steve McQueen’s biopic tells the story of Solomon Northup, a freeborn 19th-century black man from Upstate New York who is kidnapped and sold as a slave in the American South. Twelve years later, he succeeds in regaining his freedom. Fox Searchlight will be releasing 12 Years a Slave, surely to be plugged as a people- and Oscar-friendly Triumph of the Human Spirit tale, on October 18 in North America.
The prestigious 12 Years a Slave cast features Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup, in addition to Michael Fassbender (Steve McQueen’s lead in both Hunger and Shame), Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sarah Paulson, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Garret Dillahunt, Quvenzhané Wallis, Lupita Nyong’o, Ruth Negga, Alfre Woodard, Scoot McNairy, Taran Killam, Kelsey Scott, and Dwight Henry. John Ridley wrote the 12 Years a Slave screenplay, based on Northup’s book of memoirs of the same name.
Toronto Film Festival’s previous People’s Choice Award winners
The 2012 Toronto Film Festival’s People’s Choice Award winner was David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook. Distributed by the Oscar-savvy Weinstein Company, Russell’s comedy-drama earned a surprising eight Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay (Russell), Best Actor (Bradley Cooper), Best Actress (Jennifer Lawrence), Best Supporting Actor (Robert De Niro), and Best Supporting Actress (Jacki Weaver). Coincidentally, 12 Years a Slave screenwriter John Ridley was credited for the “story” for Russell’s 1999 Iraq War movie Three Kings, starring George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg.
Toronto’s other recent People’s Choice Award winners include Nadine Labaki’s musical Where Do We Go from Here?, Lebanon’s submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award that failed to get a nomination; Tom Hooper’s Best Picture Oscar winner The King’s Speech, starring Best Actor winner Colin Firth; Lee Daniels’ Best Picture nominee Precious, starring Best Actress nominee Gabourey Sidibe and Best Supporting Actress winner Mo’Nique; and Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, a Fox Searchlight release that went on to win the 2009 Best Picture Oscar.
Runners up in the 2013 Toronto Film Festival’s People’s Choice Awards were Stephen Frears’ Philomena, starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, and Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners, starring Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, and Melissa Leo.
More 2013 Toronto Film Festival winners
The Best Canadian Feature Film was Alan Zweig’s documentary When Jews Were Funny, while the Best Canadian First Feature Film was Shayne Ehman and Seth Scriver’s animated road movie Asphalt Watches.
The Best Canadian Short Film went to Walter Woodman and Patrick Cederberg’s Noah, described as “a commentary on the ephemeral, disposable, A.D.D. culture that many of us are consumed by and living in.” Needless to say, this particular Noah is not to be confused with Darren Aronofsky’s upcoming biblical epic starring Russell Crowe and Anthony Hopkins.
The International Critics’ FIPRESCI Prize was given to Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida, about a young Catholic novice (Agata Trzebuchowska) who discovers that she’s actually Jewish. The other FIPRESCI Prize winner, for the Toronto Film Festival’s Discovery program, was awarded to Claudia Sainte-Luce’s Mexican comedy-drama The Amazing Catfish.
The People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award went to Sion Sono’s Why Don’t You Play in Hell?, about two men who hate each other, but whose lives are connected by the daughter of one of them. The two runners-up were Mike Flanagan’s Oculus and Alex de la Iglesia’s Witching and Bitching.
The winner of the People’s Choice Documentary Award was Jehane Noujaim’s The Square, about Egypt’s still unresolved path towards (what passes for) democracy. The runners-up were Alanis Obomsawin’s Hi-Ho Mistahey! and Leanne Pooley’s Beyond the Edge.
And finally, the NETPAC Award for Best Asian Film was given to Anup Singh’s Qissa, the Discovery Award went to Gia Milani’s All the Wrong Reasons, and Christoph Rainer’s Requiem for a Robot won the Emerging Filmmakers Competition.
Chiwetel Ejiofor 12 Years a Slave photo: Fox Searchlight.
J.R.R. Tolkien descendant’s movie to be screened at Bel-Air Film Festival: Nicholas Tolkien’s Holocaust-themed drama ‘Terezin’
The 2013 Bel-Air Film Festival, to be held Oct. 7-13 in the Los Angeles area, will present the World Premiere of 23-year-old British writer-director Nicholas Tolkien’s Terezin at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 13, at the UCLA James Bridges Theater in Westwood. (Image: Terezin.)
According to the Terezin press release, the film chronicles the travails of two Jewish sisters who are deported to the World War II concentration camp of Terezin, northwest of Prague. After losing their parents, they eventually manage to escape with the help of “a German man with Jewish sympathies.” Some serious problems arise when “a psychotic Nazi” starts looking for the two fugitives.
Terezin was co-written by Nicholas Tolkien, Anna Tolkien, Frances Rozhko, and Robert D. Steffen – the last three also have roles in the film. Other Terezin cast members include Cody Wood, Kristine Blackburn, David Brainard, and Nick Marinoff.
Nicholas Tolkien: J.R.R. Tolkien’s great-grandson
Nicholas Tolkien’s previous feature film, the Hollywood-set mockumentary Masquerade, premiered at the 2012 Santa Barbara Film Festival. Terezin‘s David Brainard, Robert D. Steffen, and Nick Marinoff were also featured in the movie, along with Daniel Steven Lopez as Johnny Depp and Howie Slater as Steven Spielberg.
And in case you’re wondering, Tolkien, who is currently living in Southern California, is the great-grandson of the Lord of the Rings trilogy author J.R.R. Tolkien.
J.R.R. Tolkien movies
Speaking of that particular J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, like the book split into three parts, became a trio of major blockbusters at the dawn of the 21st century. Peter Jackson directed Elijah Wood, Orlando Bloom, Ian McKellen, Christopher Lee, Cate Blanchett, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Ian Holm, Liv Tyler, and Hugo Weaving in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003).
Following a couple of underwhelming box office and critical performers – King Kong (2005) and The Lovely Bones (2009) – Jackson returned to Tolkien territory with his The Hobbit trilogy (based on one Tolkien book): The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012), The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013), and The Hobbit: There and Back Again.
For more information about the 2013 Bel-Air Film Festival, visit www.belairfilmfestival.com.
Terezin photo: Courtesy of the Bel-Air Film Festival.
Paula Wagner: Former Tom Cruise partner to produce the Academy’s Governors Awards
Paula Wagner, a former partner of Tom Cruise, will produce the 2013 Governors Awards for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs has announced. At the Governors Awards, to be held on Saturday, November 16, 2013, at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award will be presented to Angelina Jolie, while Honorary Oscars will be handed to Angela Lansbury, Steve Martin, and Piero Tosi.
Previous Honorary Oscar winners range from D.W. Griffith and Mary Pickford to Robert Redford and Sophia Loren, from Greta Garbo and Cary Grant to Paul Newman and Jean-Luc Godard. Recent honorees at the Governors Awards include Lauren Bacall, Roger Corman, Gordon Willis, James Earl Jones, and Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award recipients Oprah Winfrey and Jeffrey Katzenberg.
Paula Wagner movies, television, and stage credits
Paula Wagner has produced or executive-produced more than 20 feature films. Among those are the first three Mission: Impossible films starring Tom Cruise, in addition to Cruise’s star vehicles Vanilla Sky, directed by Cameron Crowe; The Last Samurai, directed by Edward Zwick; and War of the Worlds, directed by Steven Spielberg. Wagner also produced Alejandro Amenábar’s horror thriller The Others, starring Cruise’s then wife Nicole Kidman; Crowe’s Elizabethtown, with Orlando Bloom, Kirsten Dunst, and Susan Sarandon; and the 2012 Tom Cruise thriller Jack Reacher, directed by Christopher McQuarrie.
Paula Wagner’s key television credit is the TV movie Five, a compilation of five short films directed by Jennifer Aniston, Penelope Spheeris, Demi Moore, Alicia Keys, and Patty Jenkins. Five‘s extensive cast includes Ginnifer Goodwin, Kathy Najimy, Patricia Clarkson, Tony Shalhoub, Jennifer Morrison, Jeanne Tripplehorn, and Annie Potts.
On Broadway, Wagner produced the Tony-nominated play The Heiress, starring Jessica Chastain in the role played on the big screen by Olivia de Havilland and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Other Broadway credits include Grace, starring Paul Rudd, Michael Shannon, Kate Arrington, and Edward Asner; and Terrence McNally’s upcoming Mothers and Sons, to star Tyne Daly.
Paula Wagner’s career
Paula Wagner, who’ll turn 67 on Dec. 12, began her show business career as an actress – according to the IMDb, she had two TV roles: in the miniseries Loose Change and on the series Space Academy. Later on, she became a top talent agent at CAA, going from there to found Cruise/Wagner Productions and serve as CEO for United Artists, at the time also co-owned by Tom Cruise and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Wagner continues to independently produce films and plays through her company Chestnut Ridge Productions. She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Producers Guild of America, and The Broadway League. Additionally, she sits on the boards of the PGA, the Film Forum, the American Cinematheque, and the National Film Preservation Foundation.
Paula Wagner photo: © Richard Phibbs, via the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting 2013 finalists announced
The finalists for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting 2013 competition, selected from a record 7,251 scripts, have been announced. Next, their scripts will be read and judged by the Academy Nicholl Fellowships Committee, which, according to the Academy’s press release, may award as many as five $35,000 fellowships.
This year’s finalists, the majority of which hail from California, are the following (listed alphabetically by author):
- Scott Adams, Menlo Park, CA, “Slingshot”
- William Casey, Los Angeles, CA, “Smut”
- Frank DeJohn and David Alton Hedges, Santa Ynez, CA, “Legion”
- Brian Forrester, Studio City, CA, “Heart of the Monstyr”
- Noah Thomas Grossman, Los Angeles, CA, “The Cupid Code”
- Patty Jones, Vancouver, BC, Canada, “Joe Banks”
- Erin KLG, New York, NY, “Lost Children”
- Alan Roth, Suffern, NY, “Jersey City Story”
- Stephanie Shannon, Los Angeles, CA, “Queen of Hearts”
- Barbara Stepansky, Burbank, CA, “Sugar in My Veins”
The 2013 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting will be presented on Thursday, November 7, at a ceremony in Beverly Hills.
Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition
As per the Academy’s release, the Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition “is open to any individual who has not earned more than $25,000 writing for film or television or received a fellowship prize that includes a ‘first look’ clause, an option, or any other quid pro quo involving the writer’s work.”
The release adds that entry screenplays “must be feature length and the original work of a sole author or of exactly two collaborative authors. The scripts must have been written originally in English. Adaptations and translated scripts are not eligible.”
Those who receive the Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting are expected to “complete a feature-length screenplay during their fellowship year.” Also, bear in mind that the Academy “acquires no rights to the works of Nicholl fellows and does not involve itself commercially in any way with their completed scripts.”
Academy Nicholl Fellowships Committee members
The Academy Nicholl Fellowships Committee is chaired by producer Gale Anne Hurd (The Terminator). Its other members consist of screenwriters Naomi Foner, Daniel Petrie Jr., Tom Rickman, Eric Roth, Dana Stevens, and Robin Swicord; Best Supporting Actress Academy Award winner Eva Marie Saint (On the Waterfront); cinematographer John Bailey; costume designer Vicki Sanchez; producers Peter Samuelson and Robert W. Shapiro; marketing executive Buffy Shutt; and agent Ronald R. Mardigian.
Since the Academy Nicholl Fellowships’ inception in 1985, 128 fellowships have been awarded. Past Nicholl fellow Destin Cretton wrote and directed the well-received Short Term 12. Creighton Rothenberger co-wrote Olympus Has Fallen, starring Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart.
Nicholl fellows currently with projects in post-production are:
- Anthony Jaswinski wrote Random, directed by Oliver Blackburn, and featuring Lucas Till, Haley Bennett, James Ransone, and The Twilight Saga‘s Ashley Greene;
- Cecilia Contreras and Amy Garcia wrote Dear Eleanor, directed by Kevin Connolly, and featuring Isabelle Fuhrman, Jessica Alba, and Josh Lucas;
- Karen Moncrieff wrote and directed The Trials of Cate McCall, featuring Kate Beckinsale and Clancy Brown;
- James Mottern directed God Only Knows, featuring Leighton Meester, Ben Barnes, Harvey Keitel, and Kenny Wormald.
On television, Rebecca Sonnenshine is a writer and executive story editor on The Vampire Diaries, while Andrew Marlowe is a writer and executive producer, and Terri Edda Miller is a writer and consulting producer on Castle.
Ashley Greene 2013 Random movie photo via Entertainment Weekly.
‘Kinky (sex) film festival’ looking for entries: CineKink
CineKink, which bills itself as “the kinky film festival,” is looking for “films and videos, of any length and genre, that explore and celebrate a wide diversity of sexuality.” In the last decade, CineKink has screened an eclectic mix of documentaries and narrative movies, camp comedies, and experimental efforts, ranging from the “mildly spicy” to no-holds-barred sexually explicit fare.
According to its press release, CineKink is “dedicated to the recognition and encouragement of sex-positive and kink-friendly depictions in film and television.” Possible topics include “BDSM, leather and fetish, swinging, non-monogamy and polyamory, roleplay and gender bending, sex work, and sex geekery.”
At CineKink 2013, entries included Cheryl Dunye’s romantic sex comedy Mommy Is Coming; Mark Mori’s documentary Bettie Page Reveals All; Hunter Stone’s short Getting Off, in which a dying man “struggles valiantly to go out in the very moment of orgasmic bliss”; the compilation of video shorts Strange Live Acts; and Courtney Trouble’s lesbian sex feature Lesbian Curves.
CineKink 2014 will take place in February 2014. It will be followed by a national tour “showcasing favorites from the NYC festival selections.” Note: discounted, early-bird entries have a post-marked deadline of Oct. 11; the regular deadline is Nov. 15, and the final deadline is December 6. For more information, visit the (adult-oriented) CineKink website.
Oregon Independent Film Festival returns
The 2013 Oregon Independent Film Festival returns to showcase more than 60 films from Sept. 18-23 at Eugene’s Metro and Bijou Art Cinemas and at Portland’s Clinton Street Theater. Among the screening films are Andy De Emmony’s West Is West, in which a Pakistani immigrant returns with his British family to his original country; Ryan McLaughlin’s detective comedy Sunken City (the film’s title refers to San Pedro, southwest of Los Angeles), about a former cop (Hamilton von Watts) who becomes entangled with a mysterious woman after she washes ashore on a local beach; and Robyn C. Miller’s The Immortal Augustus Gladstone, about a squatter who believes himself to be 150 years old.
Strange Live Acts image: CineKink.