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Home Movie News Swedish Lesbian Film: AFI FEST Favorite + Oscars: AIDS & West Memphis 3 Documentaries?

Swedish Lesbian Film: AFI FEST Favorite + Oscars: AIDS & West Memphis 3 Documentaries?

Swedish lesbian film: With Every Heartbeat Liv Mjönes Ruth Vega Fernandez
Swedish lesbian film: Ruth Vega Fernandez and Liv Mjönes in With Every Heartbeat.
Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise


Breakthrough Section (award accompanied by a $5,000 cash prize)

WITH EVERY HEARTBEAT by Alexandra-Therese Keining

New Auteurs Section

BULLHEAD by Michaël R. Roskam

World Cinema Section

A tie: JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI by David Gelb and KINYARWANDA by Alrick Brown

Young Americans Section

WUSS by Clay Liford


As in previous years, a jury determines the AFI FEST 2011 Live Action and Animated Short Film Section Awards. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences recognizes each winner as a qualifier for the annual Academy Awards. The Short Film Jury — comprised of filmmakers Barry Jenkins and Gerardo Naranjo (AFI Conservatory Class of 2001) and festival programmer Kim Yutani — announced the awards with their statements.

Live Action Short Film Section

Grand Jury Prize: FROZEN STORIES from Grzegorz Jaroszuk “for its world of meta-reality suffused with enough context to rend a beautifully nuanced story for the most heightened elements.”

Honorable Mention: BABYLAND by Marc Fratello “for its assured direction, stunning lead performance and the ability to balance humor and pathos all the way up to its shocking conclusion.”

Animated Short Film Section

Grand Jury Prize: THE EAGLEMAN STAG by Michael Please “for its ambitious and elegant storytelling, both narrative and aesthetically, in which the bigness of life and the concept of time are deftly unpacked in a moving nine minutes.”

Honorable Mention: THE VOYAGERS by Penny Lane “for its skillful juxtaposition of archival footage and personal narrative to tell a moving story of exploration, romance and space travel.”


This year AFI FEST debuts its New Auteurs Critic’s Prize selected by an esteemed panel of international critics: Justin Chang (Variety), Mike Goodridge (Screen International), Mark Olsen (The Los Angeles Times) and Jean Oppenheimer (American Cinematographer).

Grand Jury Prize: THE LONELIEST PLANET by Julia Loktev “for its bold exploration of societal structures and gender roles, set against a landscape that conveys both profound beauty and profound alienation.”

Special Jury Prize: ATTENBERG by Athina Rachel Tsangari “for its wit, distinct voice and playful sense of storytelling.”

Acting Award Prize: BULLHEAD’s Matthias Schoenaerts “for his nuanced and intensely physical embodiment of bruised masculinity.”

With Every Heartbeat picture: Rolf Konow / AFI FEST.

Bullhead Matthias Schoenaerts
Matthias Schoenaerts, Bullhead.

AFI FEST 2011, currently being held in Los Angeles, has announced the winners of its audience and jury awards. The Breakthrough section Audience Award winner was Alexandra-Therese Keining’s Swedish romantic drama With Every Heartbeat, starring Ruth Vega Fernandez and Liv Mjönes as two women who meet and fall in love at a family wedding.

Michaël R. Roskam’s Belgian [not Dutch, as previously stated in this post] crime drama Bullhead, that country’s Best Foreign Language Film Oscar entry, was the winner in the New Auteurs section. The film’s star, Matthias Schoenaerts, was given the Acting Award for his portrayal of a Limburg cattle farmer enmeshed in shady activities.

In the Young Americans section, the winner was Clay Liford’s comedy Wuss, the story of a high-school teacher whose life takes a turn for the worse after he gets beaten up by his own pupils. David Gelb’s Philip Glass-scored documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, about sushi master Jiro Ono, and Alrick Brown’s Rwanda-set Kinyarwanda shared the Audience Award in the World Cinema section.

Kinyarwanda is one of several AFI FEST winners dealing with the Rwanda genocide/ethnic tensions: Terry George’s Hotel Rwanda was the Audience Award winner in 2004; Lee Isaac Chung’s Munyurangabo won the Feature Film Jury Prize in 2007.

The New Auteurs Jury Prize went to Julia Loktev’s The Loneliest Planet, a thriller featuring Hani Furstenberg, Gael García Bernal, and Bidzina Gujabidze. Athina Rachel Tsangari nabbed the Special Jury Prize for Attenberg, Greece’s submission for the 2012 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

In the short film categories, the Grand Jury Prize winners were Grzegorz Jaroszuk’s Frozen Stories (live action) and Michael Please’s The Eagleman Stag (animation). The runners-up were, respectively, Marc Fratello’s Babyland and Penny Lane’s The Voyagers.

Bullhead picture: AFI FEST.

Steven Soderbergh ‘Haywire’ Secret Screening: AFI FEST

Nov. 6: Steven Soderbergh’s action-thriller Haywire, starring Channing Tatum, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Michael Angarano, Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas, Bill Paxton and martial arts star Gina Carano (photo) is AFI FEST 2011’s “Secret Screening.” Haywire will be presented tonight at 9:30 p.m.

The synopsis below is from the AFI FEST press release:

Haywire tells the story of Mallory Kane, a highly trained operative who works for a government security contractor in the dirtiest, most dangerous corners of the world. After successfully freeing a Chinese journalist held hostage, she is double crossed and left for dead by someone close to her in her own agency. Suddenly the target of skilled assassins who know her every move, Mallory must find the truth in order to stay alive. Using her black-ops military training, she devises an ingenious – and dangerous – trap. But when things go haywire, Mallory realizes she’ll be killed in the blink of an eye unless she finds a way to turn the tables on her ruthless adversary.

Relativity Media will release Haywire on Jan. 20. Soderbergh’s previous credits include Sex, Lies, and Videotape; Kafka; Out of Sight; Traffic; Ocean’s Eleven; Erin Brockovich; Che; The Good German; and Contagion.

Admission to Haywire is available to AFI FEST 2011 pass holders and free tickets for the screening can be obtained at the AT&T Box Office located in suite 219 at the Hollywood and Highland Center between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. today. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The Rush Line will begin forming at 8:30 p.m.

Haywire picture: Relativity Media.

Morgan Freeman Next Cecil B. DeMille Award Recipient: Golden Globes

Morgan Freeman, this year’s recipient of the AFI Life Achievement Award, will also take home the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 2012 Golden Globe Awards ceremony. As per the HFPA, the DeMille Award is given to “talented individuals who have made an incredible impact on the world of entertainment.”

Though now in his mid-70s, Freeman became a film personality only a little over two decades ago. His performance in Street Smart (1987) earned him excellent notices and an eventual Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Two years later, he was nominated in the lead category for Driving Miss Daisy. Among Freeman’s recent movies are the sleeper hit Red; Invictus, which earned him his fifth Oscar nod; The Dark Knight; and the box office flop The Bucket List, with Jack Nicholson.

Perhaps it’s only a coincidence, but black performers are getting their due this year. Oprah Winfrey will receive the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Jean Hersholt Award, while James Earl Jones will get an Honorary Oscar at the Academy’s Governors Awards. Sidney Poitier is the only previous black person to be given the HFPA’s Cecil B. DeMille Award.

Other Cecil B. DeMille Award recipients include Cecil B. DeMille himself, in addition to Gregory Peck, Joan Crawford, Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Warren Beatty, Doris Day, Anthony Hopkins, Robin Williams, Michael Douglas, Gene Hackman, Harrison Ford, Audrey Hepburn, and Al Pacino.

The 2012 Golden Globe Awards will be held on Sunday, Jan. 15.

Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory West Memphis 3 Joe Berlinger Bruce Sinofsky
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory.

AIDS, War, the Environment, the West Memphis Three: Oscar Documentary Semi-Finalists

The West Memphis Three: Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky’s Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory

AIDS, American football, horses, the environment, war, the American Injustice System, Harry Belafonte. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced the 15 semi-finalists for the 2012 Best Documentary Feature Academy Award. Included on the list are James Marsh’s Project Nim, a nominee for the British Independent Film Awards; Wim Wenders’ Pina, Germany’s submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar; and Cindy Meehl’s Buck, about the man who inspired the book The Horse Whisperer and the ensuing Robert Redford movie.

Now, before anyone freaks out because of the inclusion of Undefeated: rest assured that this is Dan Lindsay and T. J. Martin’s documentary about underprivileged football players – Lindsay and Martin’s effort has nothing to do with the Sarah Palin movie The Undefeated, a shoo-in Razzie nominee.

Lorenz Knauer’s Jane’s Journey, and Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman’s If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front deal with environmental (and political) issues; David Weissman and Bill Weber’s We Were Here discusses the early years of the AIDS pandemic in San Francisco; and Susanne Rostock’s Sing Your Song tells the story of actor-singer-activist Harry Belafonte. Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory tells the story of three teenagers wrongfully convicted of murdering three boys in Arkansas. Martyn Burke’s Under Fire: Journalists in Combat and Danfung Dennis’ Hell and Back Again deal with the effect of the various ongoing wars on North Americans who have been there.

Bypassed by the Documentary Branch Screening Committee were Werner Herzog’s death-row documentary Into the Abyss; Asif Kapadia’s widely acclaimed Senna, about Brazilian racecar drive Ayrton Senna; Clio Barnard’s The Arbor, an experimental work that is up for five British Independent Film Awards; and Steve James’ The Interrupters, which focuses on those trying to prevent violence in several Chicago communities. James hasn’t been very lucky with the Academy’s Documentary Branch; despite numerous critics awards, his 1994 film Hoop Dreams was bypassed by the Academy’s documentary filmmakers when nominations were announced in early 1995. (We’ll see if the Hoop Dreams-sounding Undefeated ends up getting a nod early next year.)

One hundred twenty-four pictures had originally qualified in the category. As per the Academy’s press release, “the Documentary Branch Screening Committee viewed all the eligible documentaries for the preliminary round of voting. Documentary Branch members will now select the five nominees from among the 15 titles on the shortlist.”

Considering the movies already out of the running for the 2012 Oscar, it’s quite possible that film critics’ awards for Best Documentary Feature and the Academy’s list of semi-finalists in that category won’t have all that much in common this year.

The 15 films are listed below in alphabetical order by title, with their production company:

Battle for Brooklyn (RUMER Inc.)
Bill Cunningham New York (First Thought Films)
Buck (Cedar Creek Productions)
Hell and Back Again (Roast Beef Productions Limited)
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front (Marshall Curry Productions, LLC)
Jane’s Journey (NEOS Film GmbH & Co. KG)
The Loving Story (Augusta Films)
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (
Pina (Neue Road Movies GmbH)
Project Nim (Red Box Films)
Semper Fi: Always Faithful (Tied to the Tracks Films, Inc.)
Sing Your Song (S2BN Belafonte Productions, LLC)
Undefeated (Spitfire Pictures)
Under Fire: Journalists in Combat (JUF Pictures, Inc.)
We Were Here (Weissman Projects, LLC)

The 2012 Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Tuesday, Jan. 24, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

The Academy Awards ceremony will take place on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center. In the United States, the telecast will be broadcast live on ABC. The Oscarcast will also be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.

Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory photo: HBO.

Best Animated Feature Oscar Entries: From ‘Rango’ to ‘Rio’

Those who were wondering if Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin would be considered a full-fledged “animated feature,” now have their answer – sort of. Spielberg’s film adaptation of Hergé’s work is one of 18 features in consideration in the Best Animated Feature Film category for the 2012 Academy Awards.

However, the Academy press release adds that in addition to a qualifying Los Angeles run, “submitted features must fulfill the theatrical release requirements and meet all of the category’s other qualifying rules before they can advance in the voting process.” In other words, one or more of the titles below may be disqualified because of some technicality or other. (Not that a Los Angeles release would be considered a “technicality.”)

Below is the full list of submitted animated feature films. It includes hits (The Smurfs) and flops (Mars Needs Moms); movies released earlier in the year (Rio, Rango) and movies that’ll be released only at year’s end (Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-wrecked).

  • The Adventures of Tintin
  • Alois Nebel
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-wrecked
  • Arthur Christmas
  • Cars 2
  • A Cat in Paris
  • Chico & Rita
  • Gnomeo & Juliet
  • Happy Feet Two
  • Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil
  • Kung Fu Panda 2
  • Mars Needs Moms
  • Puss in Boots
  • Rango
  • Rio
  • The Smurfs
  • Winnie the Pooh
  • Wrinkles

As per new Academy rules, at least eight qualifying movies are required to “trigger” the Best Animated Feature category. Additionally, “in any year in which 8 to 12 animated features are released, either two or three of them may be nominated. When 13 to 15 films are released, a maximum of four may be nominated, and when 16 or more animated features are released, a maximum of five may be nominated.”

So, if all 18 submitted films are released in Los Angeles this year and meet the Academy’s other requirements, the 2012 Best Animated Feature category may have up to five nominees.

Also, it bears remembering that movies submitted in the Best Animated Feature Film category may also qualify for Academy Awards in other categories, including Best Picture, as long as they meet the requirements for those categories.

The Academy Awards ceremony will take place on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center. In the United States, the telecast will be broadcast live on ABC. The Oscarcast will also be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.

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