Film Festivals

Some trailers don’t need accompanying synopsis or explanation. This isn’t one of those. Joshua Oppenheimer’s documentary about Indonesian Death Squads will screen in Toronto as well, and the TIFF site is where I found the best observations about the bizarre proceedings.

“I have not come across a documentary as powerful, surreal, and frightening in a decade,” wrote Werner Herzog after seeing an early preview of The Act of Killing, and both he and Errol Morris were impressed enough to sign on as executive producers. A chilling and revelatory exploration of the sometimes perilously thin line between film violence and real-life violence, the film investigates a murderous, oft-forgotten chapter of history in a way that is startlingly original and bound to stir debate: enlisting a group of former killers to re-enact their lives (and deaths) in the style of the film noirs, musicals and westerns that they love.

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Telluride 2012 feat

  • THE ACT OF KILLING (d. Joshua Oppenheimer, Denmark, 2012)
  • AMOUR (d. Michael Haneke, Austria, 2012)
  • AT ANY PRICE (d. Ramin Bahrani, U.S., 2012)
  • THE ATTACK (d. Ziad Doueiri, Lebanon-France, 2012)
  • BARBARA (d. Christian Petzold, Germany, 2012)
  • THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE (d. Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, David McMahon, U.S., 2012)
  • EVERYDAY (d. Michael Winterbottom, U.K., 2012)
  • FRANCES HA (d. Noah Baumbach, U.S., 2012)
  • THE GATEKEEPERS (d. Dror Moreh, Israel, 2012)
  • GINGER AND ROSA (d. Sally Potter, England, 2012)
  • THE HUNT (d. Thomas Vinterberg, Denmark, 2012)
  • HYDE PARK ON HUDSON (d. Roger Michell, U.S., 2012)
  • THE ICEMAN (d. Ariel Vromen, U.S., 2012)
  • LOVE, MARILYN (d. Liz Garbus, U.S., 2012)
  • MIDNIGHT’S CHILDREN (d. Deepa Mehta, Canada-Sri Lanka, 2012)
  • NO (Pablo Larraín, Chile, 2012)
  • PARADISE: LOVE (d. Ulrich Seidl, Austria, 2012)
  • PIAZZA FONTANA (d. Marco Tullio Giordana, Italy, 2012)
  • A ROYAL AFFAIR (d. Nikolaj Arcel, Denmark, 2012)
  • RUST & BONE (d. Jacques Audiard, France, 2012)
  • THE SAPPHIRES (d. Wayne Blair, Australia, 2012)
  • STORIES WE TELL (d. Sarah Polley, Canada, 2012)
  • SUPERSTAR (d. Xavier Giannoli, France, 2012)
  • WADJDA (d. Haifaa Al-Mansour, Continue reading…

Inspired by a true story, THE SAPPHIRES follows four vivacious, young and talented Australian Aboriginal girls from a remote mission as they learn about love, friendship and war when their all girl group The Sapphires entertains the U.S. troops in Vietnam in 1968. Cynthia (Tapsell), Gail (Mailman), Julie (Mauboy) and Kay (Sebbens) are discovered by Dave (O’Dowd), a good-humored talent scout with a kind heart, very little rhythm but a great knowledge of soul music. As their manager, Dave books the sisters their first true gig giving them their first taste of stardom, and travels them to Vietnam to sing for the American troops.

This Thursday, I will be flying out to Telluride for the first legit stop on the slow train to Oscar in this 2012/2013 season. The fest will run from Friday through Monday and I’ll be back by Tuesday. I will be taking pictures of the place and writing up film reviews, possibly some interviews and tweeting from @awardsdaily a lot.

The rumblings about the titles was discussed on the latest Oscar Poker. Essentially, the Telluride lineup has not yet been fully announced — and that happens on Thursday as well.

Last year, The Descendants was really the big get, but The Artist playing on the outdoor theater screen was still the movie almost everyone was talking about. The talk started in Cannes and didn’t stop until the film won Best Picture. Our Best Picture for this year is still hidden. Will it pop up in Telluride or Toronto? Or will it reveal itself later in the year?

David Chase’s NOT FADE AWAY announced by THE FILM SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER as the Centerpiece Gala Selection for the 2012 NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL

NEW YORK, August 15, 2012 — The Film Society of Lincoln Center announced today that David Chase’s NOT FADE AWAY will make its World Premiere on Saturday, October 6 as the Centerpiece Gala selection for the 50th New York Film Festival (September 28-October 14).

Making his feature directing debut, David Chase’s (The Sopranos) coming-of-age movie is set in New Jersey in 1964 where a group of friends are inspired to form their own rock band fronted by a gifted singer-songwriter (terrific newcomer John Magaro). The film masterfully captures the era’s conflicting attitudes and ideologies, all set to a dynamic soundtrack produced by the legendary Steven Van Zandt. The film also stars Jack Huston, Will Brill, Bella Heathcote, James Gandolfini, Brad Garrett and Christopher McDonald. To be released by Paramount Vantage, the film’s roll-out will begin on December 21, 2012.

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If the imaginary Oscars were held today, that is, if everything went as it’s expected to go, the Best Director category would look something like this:

Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
Tom Hooper, Les Miz
Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master
Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild

The next tier would be:

Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight Rises
Peter Jackson, The Hobbit

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In advance of its September 6 kickoff, TIFF has announced the addition of several hotly anticipated titles to its already stellar  2012 lineup.  (thanks to Joseph for the heads up!)


Song for Marion Paul Andrew Williams, UK Closing Night Film
A feel-good, heart-warming story about how music can inspire you. Song for Marion stars Terence Stamp as Arthur, a grumpy pensioner who can’t understand why his wife Marion (Vanessa Redgrave) would want to embarrass herself singing silly songs with her unconventional local choir. But choir director Elizabeth (Gemma Arterton) sees something special in the reluctant Arthur and refuses to give up on him. As she coaxes him out of his shell, Arthur realizes that it is never too late to change.

Emperor Peter Webber, Japan/USA World Premiere In the aftermath of Japan’s defeat in World War II and the American occupation of the country, a Japanese expert (Matthew Fox) on the staff of Gen. Douglas MacArthur (Tommy Lee Jones) is faced with a decision of historic importance, in this epically scaled drama from director Peter Webber (Girl With a Pearl Earring).

What Maisie Knew Scott McGehee, David Siegel, USA World Premiere Based on the Henry James novella, the story frames on 7-year-old Maisie, caught in a custody battle between her mother – a rock and roll icon – and her father. What Maisie Knew is an evocative portrayal of the chaos of adult life seen entirely from a child’s point of view. Starring Joanna Vanderham, Onata Aprile, Alexander Skarsgård, Julianne Moore, and Steve Coogan.

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THE FILM SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER announces the World Premiere of Ang Lee’s LIFE OF PI as the Opening Night Gala selection for the 50th Anniversary of the NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL

New York, NY, August 13, 2012 – The Film Society of Lincoln Center announced today that Ang Lee’s LIFE OF PI will make its World Premiere as the Opening Night Gala presentation for the upcoming 50th New York Film Festival (September 28 – October 14). The screening will mark the Academy Award-winning director’s return to NYFF, 12 years after CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON served as the Closing Night Gala presentation (2000). The selection of LIFE OF PI also allows Lee to join Robert Altman, Pedro Almodóvar and François Truffaut as the only directors to have had more than one film chosen to open NYFF. (THE ICE STORM was the Opening Night Gala selection in 1997.)

A respected presence at the New York Film Festival and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, in 2009 FSLC celebrated Lee’s career with a complete retrospective of the director’s work at the Walter Reade Theater. The LIFE OF PI screening will also mark the first time a film has been presented in 3D for NYFF’s Opening Night Gala.

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Toronto – The Toronto International Film Festival® today announced the Canadian features lineup including first-time feature filmmakers Jason Buxton, Brandon Cronenberg, Igor Drljaca and Kate Melville, as well as filmmakers returning to the Festival —including Bruce Sweeney, Sarah Polley, Xavier Dolan, Michael McGowan and Bernard Émond.

“Through comedy, thrills, drama and suspense, films in the lineup present stories of youth and violence, coming of age, the environment, dysfunctional families, sex and celebrity,” said Steve Gravestock, Senior Programmer, TIFF. “From intimate, affecting stories with big impact to films with global scope, the Canadian films in this year’s Festival will move audiences.”

Some of the films announced today will be eligible for the City of Toronto + Canada Goose Award for Best Canadian Feature Film — given out annually to a Canadian filmmaker — and the SKYY Vodka Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film — presented annually to a Canadian filmmaker for an impressive debut feature. The Canadian awards jury responsible for selecting this year’s winners includes producer and filmmaker Jody Shapiro, CPH PIX Festival Director Jacob Neiiendam, actor and filmmaker Valerie Buhagiar and director, writer and producer Patricia Rozema.


Antiviral Brandon Cronenberg, Canada/USA North American Premiere
Syd March is an employee at a clinic that sells injections of live viruses harvested from sick celebrities to obsessed fans. When he becomes infected with the disease that plagues superstar Hannah Geist, he must unravel the mystery surrounding her before he suffers the same fate. Starring Caleb Landry Jones and Sarah Gadon.

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UPDATE: The Master has now been added to the TIFF lineup as well.

Whether Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master would go to Venice or not seemed to be in dispute over the past few days but now it looks like The Master and Terrence Malick’s To the Wonder will take a bow at la Biennale between August 29 and September 8.  It really is a smart move for both because the Venice lineup was looking very very weak in terms of finding “Oscar movies.”  The Master, and maybe To the Wonder (but you just never know) will likely dazzle the crowd there and make a big publicity over here. Since no one has seen The Master, at least no one who will talk about it, all eyes will now be on Venice where one of the year’s most anticipated films will be seen.

Writes Anne Thompson:

Harvey Weinstein is playing games. The marketing maestro didn’t want Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master” announced with the rest of the pack for The Venice Film Festival, which unveiled its competition line-up last week.  Now “The Master,” which opens a month earlier than originally planned on September 14, along with Terrence Malick’s fervently-anticipated “To The Wonder,” will suck up the publicity oxygen in the run-up to and during the La Biennale.

It remains to be seen which fests the film will wind up playing: Venice yes, but what about Telluride, Toronto and Fantastic Fest?  This fall Harvey Weinstein has plenty of high-profile projects to juggle as well, from David O. Russell’s “The Silver Linings Playbook” to December 25 opener “Django Unchained,” written and directed by Quentin Tarantino.

I’m still hoping The Master will go to Telluride.  But yes, Venice is a very very smart move.



Over at EW, Dave Karger has put together a nice list of ten titles he’ll be watching for Oscar this September.  The festival that happens between then and now is Telluride, where many of the cream of the crop tend to pop up for Oscar scouts.   Here is Dave’s list:

Anna Karenina
Cloud Atlas
Hyde Park on Hudson
The Impossible
The Place Beyond the Pines
The Sessions
The Silver Linings Playbook
To the Wonder
Rust and Bone

His list is formidable. A veteran awards wonk, Dave Karger is gifted with keen Oscar instincts. This year, though, I’m hoping there will be less sheep herding and more focus paid to genuinely good movies, rather than those that are “Oscar movies.” Dave’s list, I think, features a good variety of quality films. He’s looking a little deeper, I think, at what will be coming our way.

I’d just like to add a few more from the Toronto list.  There isn’t much crossover between this and Venice, except the Mira Nair film. There aren’t so many titles at Venice that, sight unseen, scream Oscar.  Or even those worth pushing towards Oscar. But that might change once the fest is afoot.

We’ll keep an eye on all ten from Dave’s list and I’ll include ten more.

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50 world premieres among the films scheduled for Venice this year — but despite earlier reports, the official lineup does not include Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master.


  • “The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” Mira Nair (U.S.,Qatar)


  • “To The Wonder,” Terrence Malick (U.S.)
  • “Something in the Air,” Olivier Assayas (France)
  • “Outrage:Beyond,” Takeshi Kitano (Japan)
  • “Fill The Void,” Rama Bursztyn and Yigal Bursztyn (Israel)
  • “Pieta,” Kim Ki-duk (South Korea)
  • “Dormant Beauty,” Marco Bellocchio (Italy)
  • “E’ stato il figlio,” Daniele Cipri (Italy)
  • “At Any Price,” Ramin Bahrani (US, UK)
  • “La Cinquieme Saison,” Peter Brosens, Jessica Woodworth (Belgium, Netherlands, France)
  • “Un Giorno Speciale, ” Francesca Comencini (Italy)
  • “Passion,” Brian De Palma (France, Germany)
  • “Superstar, ” Xavier Giannoli (France, Belgium)
  • “Spring Breakers,” Harmony Korine (US)
  • “Thy Womb,” Brillante Mendoza (Philippines)
  • “Linhas de Wellington,” Valeria Sarmiento (Portugal, France)
  • “Paradise: Faith,” Ulrich Seidl (Austria, France, Germany)
  • “Betrayal,” Kirill Serebrennikov (Russia)

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(via IndieWire)
2011 Austin Film Festival Audience Award winners:

Out of Competition Feature:
“The Artist”
Writer/Director: Michel Hazanavicius

Narrative Feature Competition:
Writer/Director: Jeremiah Jones

Documentary Feature Competition: (Tie)
“Ecstasy of Order: The Tetris Masters”
Director: Adam Cornelius

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  • Best Film: We Need To Talk About Kevin – dir. Lynne Ramsay
  • Best British Newcomer: Candese Reid, actress, Junkhearts
  • Sutherland Award Winner: Pablo Giorgelli, dir. Las Acacias
  • Grierson Award for Best Documentary: Into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, A Tale of Life – dir. Werner Herzog
  • BFI Fellowship: Ralph Fiennes and David Cronenberg

Details at Cinevue. New poster for We Need to Talk About Kevin, via Hitfix, after the cut.

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Thanks to Tero for the heads up.  Full press release via MCN:

Michael Kutza, Founder and Artistic Director of the Chicago International Film Festival, Mimi Plauché, Head of Programming, and Programmers Penny Bartlett and Lee Ferdinand and Competitions Coordinator Alex Kopecky proudly announce the winners of the 47th Chicago International Film Festival Competitions. This year’s selection of more than 180 feature-length fiction films, documentaries and shorts was one of the strongest in the past decade.

International Feature Film Competition

Representing a wide variety of styles and genres, these works compete for the Festival’s highest honor, the Gold Hugo, a symbol of discovery, as well as awards for best actors, director and writer.

Gold Hugo to LE HAVRE (Finland/France) for the mastery of film director Aki Kaurismäki and his stylized yet very humane depiction of illegal immigration.

Silver Hugo for CAIRO 678 (Egypt) for addressing relevant social issues. It takes a strong stand on sexual harassment for women at home and work. It is a brave film for presenting women as an oppressor rather than a victim.

Silver Hugo for Best Actress to Olivia Colman in TYRANNOSAUR (UK) for an outstanding performance hitting every note showing her vulnerability, her power and her humor.

Silver Hugo for Best Actor to Maged El Kedwany in CAIRO 678 (Egypt) for his ability to bring balance to the story and light to a heavy tone. His presence draws you into every frame he is in.

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This year’s shortlist is:

The Artist
The Deep Blue Sea
The Descendants
The Kid With A Bike
We Need To Talk About Kevin 

The shortlist for Best British Newcomer is:

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Audience Favorite Feature

Directed by Jonathan Levine
(USA, Summit Entertainment)


Directed by Philippe Le Guay
(France, Strand Releasing)

Audience Favorite Documentary-shared

Directed by Constance Marks
(USA, Submarine Deluxe)

Directed by Alexandra Dawson and Greg Gricus
(USA, Fish Creek Films)

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(thanks to iggy, for advising us to keep an eye out)

Golden Shell for Best Film
Los Pasos Dobles by Isaki Lacuesta (Spain, Switzerland)

Special Jury Prize
Le Skylab, Julie Delpy (France)

Audience Award
The Artist by Michel Hazanavicius (France)

Sangue Do Meu Sangue by Joao Canijo (Portugal)

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The screenings of Day Eleven of TIFF provided a great way to end the festival. After the awards baity viewings of Shame, The Descendants, and Alert Nobbs, my final three films showed what the festival should be all about. My final films were all fun, yet they were also substantial, well-crafted pieces that prove that film can be art as well as entertainment. Moreover, all three are relatively small-scale films that might not receive as wide a release as they deserve. The last day of TIFF therefore yielded some of the festival’s hidden treasures.

The first gem to be uncovered was Violet & Daisy, the directorial debut by Geoffrey Fletcher, screenwriter of Precious. I was especially excited to see this film because the first TIFF Gala I ever attended was the 2009 screening of Precious. Never have I been in a room with the same level of energy that filled Roy Thomson Hall on the night that Oprah introduced Precious to the festival, where it then went on to claim the People’s Choice Award.

The screening room for Violet & Daisy was admittedly more subdued (what film wouldn’t be at nine in the morning). However, the film marks a pleasant start for Fletcher in the director’s seat, as he moves in a wholly different direction than Precious and offers something fresh and fun. Violet & Daisy is a farcical romp of girls and guns, with Saoirse Ronan and Alexis Bledel starring as a pair of hip young assassin chicks. Violet and Daisy take a seemingly simple hit on an unknown subject; however, when the man (James Gandolfini) becomes a willing accomplice in his own death, Violet and Daisy see both their work and their relationship enter territory for which they are unprepared. Think of a twin version of Hanna but without the transnational theme and the pulsating score of the Chemical Brothers.

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Cadillac People’s Choice Award: Where Do We Go Now?
· First runner-up: A Separation
· Second runner-up: Starbuck
Cadillac People’s Choice Award for Best Documentary: The Island President
Cadillac People’s Choice for Midnight Madness: The Raid
Int’l Critics Special Presentations Prize: The First Man
Int’l Critics Discovery Programme Prize: Avalon
Best Canadian Feature: Monsieur Lazhar
SKYY Vodka Award for Best First Canadian feature: Edwin Boyd
Best CDN short film goes to: Ian Harnarine’s Doubles With Slight Pepper

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