Film Festivals

feature telluride last day

The Venice Film Festival is in a unique position to capture the first blush of a film that might ultimately do well during Oscar season.  This was true of Gravity and it was true of Birdman. The next stop after Venice is Telluride, which is its own kind of launch pad that doesn’t necessarily need Venice, but once a film is highly praised in Venice the feeling is often contagious. What is it about Venice and Telluride that lends itself to this kind of impact? Timing. It’s all about timing.

As the summer comes to an anti-climactic close, it becomes more and more clear every year that the kinds of films critics are best suited to write about, the ones that keep them employed, the ones the adults will pay to see, are usually only let out of the gate in the fall season. By that point, there are hundreds of fingers waiting to hit the keypad. There is too much coverage for not enough material so being relatively “first” on the scene is crucial. This is as true of Venice and Telluride as it is of the New York Film Critics and the National Board of Review (no, I do not distinguish between them anymore).

Right around now, critics and bloggers are preparing for these two festivals and waiting to be enthralled. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t. We have no idea what kind of a year this will be, because so many of the films that are most anticipated aren’t making the festival rounds at all. The pattern has followed the same steps in the last few years — high anticipation builds for the Big Oscar Movies that are shown in October, November and sometimes December, while the movies seen at Telluride hover in the background and are mostly taken for granted (The Artist, The King’s Speech, Argo, Birdman). Last year the Oscar predictors were placing high on their lists films like Unbroken, Into the Woods and two that would make it in — American Sniper and Selma. Little attention is paid to possibilities seen at Telluride because there are so many big movies still waiting to be seen.

And yet, as we keep repeating here at AwardsDaily, the win always comes down to the girl next door — the familiar and reliable underdog that never felt like the frontrunner. The psychology of the voting consensus is as maddening in the Oscar race as it is in political elections. The moment you become a threat, forces work actively to take you down. It’s good but it’s not THAT good. Really, that’s the film that’s supposed to win Best Picture? I can guarantee you that both Birdman and Argo would have suffered that same fate if they were the predicted winners heading into the voting season. A few people (Kris Tapley) disagree with me on this — they think the movie is the movie is the movie. I think it’s a matter of perception; where our expectations lie determines how we perceive a film.  Last year, what really was the “little movie that could” and the “scrappy underdog,” Boyhood, was morphed into the mean ol’ frontrunner because it won so many critics awards. It might not have won Best Picture anyway but its formidable status in the race made it a punching bag.

Of course, none of this makes any difference if you’re holding onto a film like Slumdog Millionaire. It came into Telluride with the lowest possible expectations — rumors of it being released “straight to video” persisted. Once it hit big it never took a tumble, not even when the “poverty porn” accusations blew up, not even when the scandal involving the poor stars of the films took hold. Nothing was going to take that movie down.

Here we are once again facing the Venice Film Fest and the Telluride Film Fest colliding during Labor Day weekend. Jeff Wells at Hollywood-Elsewhere made a short list of movies he expects to see on the list:

Steve Jobs, Suffragette, Black Mass, Spotlight, Son of Saul, Beasts of No Nation, Carol, Amazing Grace, Marguerite, CharlieKaufman‘s Anomalisa (probably), He Named Me Malala (maybe), Room, Hitchcock/Truffaut.

And our good pal Michael Patterson also put in his latest predictions:

15) “Taxi”
14) “Marguerite”
13) “Hitchcock/Truffaut”
12) “Anomalisa”
11) “Amazing Grace”
10) “Room”
9)   “Spotlight”
8)   “45 Years”
7)   “He Named Me Malala”
6)   “Carol”
5)   “Steve Jobs”
4)   “Black Mass”
3)   “Suffragette”
2)   “Beasts of No Nation”
1)   “Son of Saul”

What’s playing Venice that might be that seat-rocking out-of-body experience that sends the critics into a tailspin? In competition there is Cary Fukanaga’s Beasts of No Nation. It could launch big and then hit Telluride shortly thereafter generating that one-two punch we’re looking for. Out of competition Everest and Black Mass. Ditto. Although Everest was screened recently by critics thus it can’t have that first flush of the season when viewers see something no one else has yet seen, which only adds to the intensified landing.

45 Years is currently being hyped by Anne Thompson and others who’ve seen it. Charlotte Rampling has some great early buzz.  Do you see any potential Best Picture winners on this list?

We don’t yet know the Telluride lineup and it might not even include Beasts of No Nation, though Everest and Black Mass both seem likely. It will be a curious thing to see if Netflix can break into the game of Oscar. The Academy is ruled mostly by the five families with the sole recent exception of The Hurt Locker. Best Picture is usually Best Bread and Butter Picture existing within the confines of the Hollywood structure. Either way, as we sit perched on the edge of the free fall we wait with eager anticipation.

AwardsDaily rolls into Telluride on the 3rd of September. Watch for diaries, photos, periscoping, twitter and more.



The BFI are set to bestow it’s highest honor on Cate Blanchett at this year’s London Film Festival. Blanchett will be the receipient of the BFI Fellowship Award, the award is given to individuals in recoginition of their contribution to film or TV.

Blanchett will make two appearances at the London Film Festival when Carol and Truth both play. Greg Dyke, BFI Chairman said, “Cate Blanchett is a compelling and brave actress whose mesmerizing screen presence has captivated audiences since her earliest roles. We are absolutely delighted to honor her extraordinary talents with a BFI Fellowship at this year’s LFF awards.”

The 2015 BFI London film festival runs from 7-18 October. The BFI Fellowship will be awarded on Saturday, October 17 at London’s Banqueting House.

Carol opens on November 20.


The 40th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 10 to 20, 2015. Paco Cabezas’s Mr. Right will be the Closing Night. The rest of the lineup include a few to look foward to, like Catherine Hardwick’s Miss You Already, and two of my favorite filmmakers Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden return with Mississippi Grand.

Disorder (Maryland) Alice Winocour, France/Belgium
In this masterfully engineered thriller, a young ex-soldier suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder protects a beautiful woman and her child from a brutal home invasion. Starring Matthias Schoenaerts and Diane Kruger.

Man Down Dito Montiel, USA North American Premiere In a savage post-apocalyptic America, U.S. Marine Gabriel Drummer searches desperately for the whereabouts of his estranged son and wife. Accompanied by his best friend, a hard-nosed Marine whose natural instinct is to shoot first and ask questions later, the two intercept Charles, an apocalyptic survivor carrying vital information about the whereabouts of Gabriel’s family. By revisiting the past, audiences are guided in unravelling the puzzle of Gabriel’s experience, and what will eventually lead to the origin of this war-torn America. Starring Shia LaBeouf, Kate Mara, Gary Oldman and Jai Courtney.

Miss You Already Catherine Hardwicke, United Kingdom World Premiere This honest and powerful story follows two best friends, Milly and Jess, as they navigate life’s highs and lows. Inseparable since they were young girls, they can’t remember a time they didn’t share everything — secrets, clothes, even boyfriends — but nothing prepares them for the day Milly is hit with life-altering news. A story for every modern woman, this film celebrates the bond of true friendship that ultimately can never be broken, even in life’s toughest moments. Starring Toni Collette, Drew Barrymore, Dominic Cooper, Paddy Considine, Tyson Ritter and Jacqueline Bisset

Mississippi Grind Ryan Fleck, Anna Boden, USA Canadian Premiere Gerry is a talented, but struggling poker player about to be swallowed up by his unshakeable gambling habit. But his luck begins to change after he meets the young, charismatic Curtis. Gerry convinces his new lucky charm to hit the road with him, towards a legendary high stakes poker game in New Orleans. The highs and lows unveil the duo’s true characters and motivations, and an undeniable bond forms between them. Starring Ben Mendelsohn, Ryan Reynolds, Sienna Miller, Analeigh Tipton and Alfre Woodard.
North American Premiere

Closing Night Film.
Mr. Right Paco Cabezas, USA World Premiere Martha is unlucky in love, but when she finally meets her Mr. Right it seems like she’s found her match — even if he’s an international hitman on the run from the crime cartels who employ him. On the bright side, as long as Hopper or Shotgun Steve don’t kill them first, these two may actually have a chance at happily ever after. Starring Sam Rockwell, Anna Kendrick, Tim Roth, James Ransone, Anson Mount, Michael Eklund and RZA.

45 Years Andrew Haigh, United Kingdom
While preparing for their 45th anniversary, Kate and Geoff’s marriage is shaken with a discovery that calls into question the life they’ve built together, in this emotional tour-de-force. Starring Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay.

About Ray Gaby Dellal, USA World Premiere The touching story of three generations of a family living under one roof in New York as the life-changing transformation by one ultimately affects them all. Ray is a teenager who realizes that she isn’t meant to be a girl and decides to transition from female to male. His single mother, Maggie, must track down Ray’s biological father to get his legal consent to allow Ray’s transition. Dolly, Ray’s lesbian grandmother, struggles to accept that she now has a grandson. They must each confront their own identities and learn to embrace change and their strength as a family, in order to ultimately find acceptance and understanding. Starring Naomi Watts, Elle Fanning, Susan Sarandon, Tate Donovan, Linda Emond, Sam Trammell and Maria Dizzia.

Angry Indian Goddesses Pan Nalin, India World Premiere A comic drama about a group of Indian women finding their hearts and losing their heads! A wild bunch of girls from all over India descend upon Goa. Their closest friend Frieda has invited them to her family home for a surprise announcement: she’s getting married. Thus begins an impromptu bachelorette. Starring Tannishtha Chatterjee, Sandhya Mridul, Sarah Jane Dias, Pavleen Gujral, Anushka Manchanda, Rajshri Deshpande and Amrit Maghera.

Being Charlie Rob Reiner, USA World Premiere Being Charlie is based on a compilation of real-life experiences written by two friends who lived through being stuck in the cycle of rehab. Eighteen-year-old Charlie Mills is a sharp-mouthed addict fighting to get back home, while his father constantly stiff-arms him to limit the distractions during a big election for governor of California. Charlie’s parents are at odds about their son’s return to rehab. Following a feeble attempt at an intervention, he agrees to work the program at a new adult rehab facility where he meets a handful of misfit personalities; among them is Eva, a beautiful but troubled girl, and Travis, a supportive house manager. Charlie’s internal struggle with his addiction is confronted by the envy for his best friend and his separate addiction with Eva. Starring Nick Robinson, Morgan Saylor, Devon Bostick, Cary Elwes, Susan Misner, Common and Ricardo Chavira.

Body (Body/Cialo) Małgorzata Szumowska, Poland North American Premiere Set in Poland, this absurdist dark comedy follows the intertwined stories of a criminal prosecutor, his anorexic daughter, and her therapist who claims she can communicate with the dead. Starring Janusz Gajos, Maja Ostaszewska and Justyna Suwala.

Equals Drake Doremus, USA North American Premiere In a futuristic, utopian society known as the Collective — where inhabitants have been bred to be peaceful and emotionless — a man and a woman discover that they have feelings for one another. Together, they attempt to understand this connection. Starring Kristen Stewart, Nicholas Hoult, Guy Pearce and Jacki Weaver.

Canadian Premiere

I Saw the Light Marc Abraham, USA World Premiere This film tells the story of legendary country western singer Hank Williams, who in his brief life created one of the greatest bodies of work in American music. The film chronicles his meteoric rise to fame and its ultimately tragic effect on his health and personal life. Based on Colin Escott’s award-winning biography. Starring Tom Hiddleston, Elizabeth Olsen, Bradley Whitford, David Krumholtz Cherry Jones and Maddie Hasson.

London Fields Matthew Cullen United Kingdom/USA World Premiere Set in 1999 London, this noir crime thriller based on Martin Amis’ novel of the same name features a star-studded cast, including Johnny Depp, Amber Heard, Cara Delevigne, Theo James, Billy Bob Thorton and Jim Sturgess.

ma ma Julio Medem, Spain/France International Premiere This is the story of Magda. Confronted with tragedy, she reacts with a surge of life that flows inside of her, from the imaginable to the unimaginable. Accompanied by her closest circle, she will live the most unexpected situations filled with humour and delicate happiness. Starring Penélope Cruz, Luis Tosar and Asier Etxeandia.

The Meddler Lorene Scafaria, USA World Premiere Marnie Minervini, recent widow and eternal optimist, moves from New Jersey to Los Angeles to be closer to her daughter. Armed with an iPhone and a full bank account, Marnie sets out to make friends, find her purpose, and possibly open up to someone new. Starring Susan Sarandon, Rose Byrne and J.K. Simmons.

Mr. Six (Lao Pao Er) Guan Hu, China North American Premiere With his son captured, Mr. Six and his old pals stand up to the new, younger generation of hooligans, defending their dignity as once respected gangsters in the neighbourhood. Starring Feng Xiaogang.

Mustang Deniz Gamze Ergüven, Turkey/France/Germany North American Premiere It’s the beginning of the summer in a village in the north of Turkey; Lale and her four sisters come home from school, innocently playing with boys. The supposed debauchery of their games causes a scandal with unintended consequences. The family home slowly turns into a prison, classes on housework and cooking replace school, and marriages begin to be arranged. The five sisters, driven by the same desire for freedom, fight back against the limits imposed on them. Starring Gunes Sensoy, Dogba Doguslu, Tugba Sunguroglu, Elit Iscan, Ilayda Akdogan, Ayberk Pekcan and Nihal Koldas.

My Mother (Mia Madre) Nanni Moretti, Italy/France North American Premiere Margherita is a director shooting a film with the famous American actor, Barry Huggins, who is quite a headache on set. Away from the shoot, Margherita tries to hold her life together, despite her mother’s illness and her daughter’s adolescence. Stars Nanni Moretti, Margherita Buy, John Turturro and Giulia Lazzarini.

Our Brand Is Crisis David Gordon Green, USA World Premiere A Bolivian presidential candidate enlists a management team led by damaged but brilliant strategist “Calamity” Jane Bodine, who seizes the chance to beat her professional nemesis Pat Candy, coaching the opposition. But as Pat zeroes in on every vulnerability, Jane faces a personal crisis as intense as the one her team exploits to boost their numbers, in this drama revealing the machinations of political consultants for whom nothing is sacred and winning is all that matters. Starring Sandra Bullock, Billy Bob Thornton, Anthony Mackie, Joaquim de Almeida, Ann Dowd, Scoot McNairy and Zoe Kazan.
A Tale of Love and Darkness Natalie Portman Israel/USA North American Premiere Based on Amos Oz’s international best-seller, this is the story of his youth at the end of the British Mandate in Palestine and the early years of the state of Israel. The film details young Amos’s relationship with his mother and his birth as a writer, looking at what happens when the stories we tell become the stories we live. Starring Natalie Portman, Gilad Kahana and Amir Tessler.

A Tale of Three Cities (San Cheng Ji) Mabel Cheung, China International Premiere Based on the miraculous true story of Jackie Chan’s parents, this film is about the unbreakable bond of love between an opium- peddling widow and a former spy on the run. Together they witness love and humanity in the face of war, famine, and overwhelming danger. Starring Tang Wei and Sean Lau.

Truth James Vanderbilt, USA World Premiere In the vein of All the President’s Men and The Insider, this is the incredible true story of Mary Mapes, an award-winning CBS News journalist, and Dan Rather’s producer. The film chronicles the story they uncovered of a sitting U.S. president that may have been AWOL from the United States National Guard for over a year during the Vietnam War. When the story blew up in their face, the ensuing scandal ruined Dan Rather’s career, nearly changed a U.S. presidential election, and almost took down all of CBS News in the process. Based on Mapes’s book Truth and Duty. Starring Cate Blanchett, Elisabeth Moss, Robert Redford, Topher Grace, Dennis Quaid and Bruce Greenwood.

The Wave Roar Uthaug, Norway International Premiere Experienced geologist Kristian Eikfjord accepts a job offer out of town. As he’s getting ready to move from the city of Geiranger with his family, he and his colleagues measure small geological changes in the underground. Kristian worries that his worst nightmare is about to come true, when the alarm goes off and disaster is inevitable. With less than 10 minutes to react, it becomes a race against time in order to save as many people as possible, including his own family. Starring Kristoffer Joner, Ane Dahl Torp and Jonas Oftebro.

The Witch Robert Eggers, USA/Canada Canadian Premiere A colonial family leaves plantation life and attempts to reap their harvest on a fledgling farm at the edge of an imposing ancient New England forest. Superstition and dread set in as food grows scarce, a family member goes missing, and the children’s play takes on a frenzied and menacing undercurrent. As they begin to turn on one another, the malevolent machinations of an ethereal presence from within the woods exacerbate the growing corruption of their own nature. Starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw, Ellie Grainger and Lucas Dawson.


The New York Film Fest looks a lot like the Cannes lineup with several repeats that were well received there, like The Lobster, Carol and The Assassin. Steve Jobs, Bridge of Spies and The Walk are the big movies to land there and I suspect among the most popular screenings. Of the films I’m personally excited about this year I have to say that any time a Steven Spielberg film is in play it’s a pretty good year for me (yes, even including War Horse). Ditto Steve Jobs. I’m also curious to see what Rebecca Miller is doing. And of course, we’re jazzed about seeing Michael Moore confront America’s thirst for war in Where to Invade Next.

Thanks to Paddy for the list and the heads up.

Arabian Nights: Volume 1, The Restless One (Miguel Gomes)
Arabian Nights: Volume 2, The Desolate One (Miguel Gomes)
Arabian Nights: Volume 3, The Enchanted One (Miguel Gomes)
The Assassin (Hou Hsiao Hsien)
Bridge of Spies (Steven Spielberg)
Brooklyn (Nick Hornby)
Carol (Todd Haynes)
Cemetery of Splendour (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
Les Cowboys (Thomas Bidegain)
Don’t Blink: Robert Frank (Laura Israel)
Experimenter (Michael Almereyda)
The Forbidden Room (Evan Johnson and Guy Maddin)
In the Shadow of Women (Philippe Garrel)
Journey to the Shore (Kurosawa Kiyoshi)
The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos)
Maggie’s Plan (Rebecca Miller)
The Measure of a Man (Stephane Brize)
Mia Madre (Nanni Moretti)
Microbe & Gasoline (Michel Gondry)
Miles Ahead (Don Cheadle) – closing night gala
Mountains May Depart (Jia Zhang Ke)
My Golden Days (Arnaud Desplechin)
No Home Movie (Chantal Akerman)
Right Now, Wrong Then (Hong Sang Soo)
Steve Jobs (Danny Boyle) – centrepiece gala
The Treasure (Corneliu Porumboiu)
The Walk (Robert Zemeckis) – opening night gala
Where to Invade Next (Michael Moore)


The Toronto International Film Festival has announced more films to be screened in its line up. Je Suis Charlie, a documentary about the attack on the victims of Charlie Hebdo will receive its World Premiere.

Patrick Stewart’s highly anticipated Green Room will open Midnight Madness. The Midnight Madness slate will also include The Girl In The Photographs, The Mind’s Eye and Southbound.

Amazing Grace, a documentary about a recording session Aretha Franklin did in 1972, and He Named Me Malala, a documentary about Malala Yousafzai will also be shown at TIFF.

The Midnight Madness additions are below:

Directed by Can Evrenol
A squad of unsuspecting cops go through a trapdoor to Hell when they stumble upon a Black Mass in an abandoned building, in the tour-de-force feature debut from ferociously talented director Can Evrenol.

Directed by Davy Force, Nick DenBoer
The Shining gets a digital remix in this poultry-infused reworking of Stanley Kubrick’s horror classic.

Directed by Sean Byrne
A struggling painter is possessed by satanic forces after he and his young family move into their dream home in rural Texas, in this creepily oppressive haunted-house tale from Australian writer-director Sean Byrne (The Loved Ones).

Directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson
A group of young friends is sucked into the onscreen world of a cult 1980s slasher flick, in this clever horror-comedy packed with real heart, goofy gore and plenty of laughs.

Directed by Nick Simon

Directed by Jeremy Saulnier
A punk band on the road find themselves besieged by neo-Nazi white supremacists in a backwoods Oregon club, in this nail-biting thriller from the director of the cult hit Blue Ruin.

Directed by Ilya Naishuller
A cybernetic super-soldier kicks, punches and parkours his way across Russia to save his wife from a psychotic paramilitary psychic bent on world domination, in this non-stop, white-knuckle, crackerjack thrill ride.

Directed by Joe Begos
A drifter with psychic powers takes on an evil doctor and his crew of telekinetic assassins.

Directed by Roxanne Benjamin, David Bruckner, Patrick Horvath, Radio Silence
From the makers of the horror anthology V/H/S, these five interlocking tales of terror follow the fates of a group of weary travellers who confront their worst nightmares — and darkest secrets — over one long night on a desolate stretch of desert highway.

Directed by Soi Cheang
Hong Kong
Martial-arts greats Tony Jaa (Ong-bak) and Wu Jing team up in this bone-crunching action epic.

Directed by Takashi Miike
Japanese cinematic extremist Takashi Miike (13 Assassins) returns to his gonzo roots with this mind-melter that finds room for vampires, gangsters, earthquakes, volcanoes, monsters, martial arts, and even a yakuza knitting circle.

The Toronto Film Festival will run from September 10 – September 20.


Michael Patterson has been predicting the Telluride lineup for a while now and has compiled what he thinks are the ten most likely titles to land. Why it matters: Telluride has screened the Best Picture winner for the past ten years. Not since The Departed has the eventual winner not screened — or premiered — either at Telluride or somewhere else before Telluride.

2014 – Birdman — Venice/Telluride
2013 – 12 Years a Slave — Telluride
2012 – Argo — Telluride
2011 – The Artist — Cannes/Telluride
2010 – The King’s Speech — Telluride
2009 – The Hurt Locker — (year prior)
2008 – Slumdog Millionaire — Telluride
2007 – No Country for Old Men — Cannes

Why this rule continues to apply has to do, I think, with the Academy’s decision to push their ceremony date back one month, which eventually shifted everything back, which now means the race is decided behind the scenes. It also could be the safe harbor Telluride represents. Unlike other film festivals, critics and bloggers must pay their own way in at $750 a pop. Thus, the attendance is limited to those who are either being sent there by bigger outlets or there because their passion for film compels them to be there. Also, the Telluride people who select the films could have similar tastes to industry voters.

Patterson has chosen ten films he thinks will go. Is the eventual Best Picture winner among them? Or will this be the year the streak is finally broken?

Here are the features he’s predicting
Steve Jobs
Beasts of No Nation
Black Mass
Son of Saul

These will represent the underdogs expected to beat the Big Oscar Movies coming out in October or later in the year and those include: Bridge of Spies, The Revenant, Spotlight, etc.  And the ones already seen in Cannes that could have a shot: Sicario, Youth and the already mentioned Carol.

Telluride begins at the end of this month, right on the heels of the Venice Film Festival.

La Biennale di Venezia has announced all 7 slates at once.  Here’s the delicious list. (Thanks to Paddy Mulholland at ScreenOnScreen)
Venezia 72
  • 11 Minutes (Jerzy Skolimowski)
  • Anomalisa (Duke Johnson and Charlie Kaufman)
  • l’Attesa (Piero Messina)
  • Beasts of No Nation (Cary Fukunaga)
  • Behemoth (Zhao Liang)
  • A Bigger Splash (Luca Guadagnino)
  • El Clan (Pablo Trapero)
  • The Danish Girl (Tom Hooper)
  • Desde Alla (Lorenzo Vigas)
  • The Endless River (Oliver Hermanus)
  • Equals (Drake Doremus)
  • Francofonia (Aleksandr Sokurov)
  • Frenzy (Emin Alper)
  • Heart of a Dog (Laurie Anderson)
  • l’Hermine (Christian Vincent)
  • Looking for Grace (Sue Brooks)
  • Marguerite (Xavier Giannoli)
  • Per Amor Vostro (Giuseppe M. Gaudino)
  • Rabin, The Last Day (Amos Gitai)
  • Remember (Atom Egoyan)
  • Sangue del Mio Sangue (Marco Bellocchio)
Out of Competition
  • Afternoon (Tsai Ming Liang)
  • Black Mass (Scott Cooper)
  • La Calle de la Amargura (Arturo Ripstein)
  • de Palma (Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow)
  • l’Esercito Piu Piccolo del Mondo (Gianfranco Pannone)
  • The Event (Sergei Loznitsa)
  • Everest (Baltasar Kormakur)
  • Gli Uomini di Questa Citta Io Non Li Conosco (Franco Maresco)
  • Go with Me (Daniel Alfredson)
  • Human (Yann Arthus-Bertrand)
  • In Jackson Heights (Frederick Wiseman)
  • Janis (Amy Berg)
  • Life and Nothing But (Bertrand Tavernier)
  • Mr. Six (Hu Guan)
  • Non Essere Cattivo (Claudio Caligari)
  • Spotlight (Thomas McCarthy)
  • Winter on Fire (Evgeny Afineevsky)
Out of Competition Short Films
  • The Audition (Martin Scorsese)
  • Boi Neon (Gabriel Mascaro)
  • The Childhood of a Leader (Brady Corbet)
  • A Copy of My Mind (Joko Anwar)
  • Free in Deed (Jake Mahaffy)
  • Interrogation (Vetri Maaran)
  • Interruption (Yorgos Zois)
  • Italian Gangster (Renato de Maria)
  • Madame Courage (Merzak Allouache)
  • Man Down (Dito Montiel)
  • Mate-Me Por Favor (Anita Rocha da Silveira)
  • Un Monstruo de Mil Cabezas (Rodrigo Pla)
  • Mountain (Yaelle Kayam)
  • Pecore in Erba (Alberto Caviglia)
  • Taj Mahal (Nicolas Saada)
  • Tempete (Samuel Collardey)
  • A War (Tobias Lindholm)
  • Wednesday, May 9th (Vahid Jalilvand)
  • Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me? (Hadar Morag)
Orizzonti – Short Films
  • 55 Pastillas (Sebastian Muro)
  • Backyards (Ivan Salatic)
  • Belladonna (Dubravka Turic)
  • Champ des Possibles (Cristin Picchi)
  • En Defensa Propia (Mariana Arriaga)
  • E.T.E.R.N.I.T. (Giovanni Aloi)
  • It Seems to Hang On (Kevin Jerome Everson)
  • Monkey (Shen Jie)
  • New Eyes (Hiwot Admasu Getaneh)
  • Oh Gallow Lay (Julian Wayser)
  • Seide (Elnura Osmonalieva)
  • Tarantula (Marja Calafange and Aly Muritiba)
  • Violence en Reunion (Karim Boukercha)
  • The Young Man Who Came from the Chee River (Wichanon Somumjarn)
Orizzonti – Short Films (Out of Competition)
  • Zero (David Victori)
International Critics’ Week
  • The Black Hen (Min Bahadur Bham)
  • The Journey (Adriano Valerio)
  • Light Years (Esther May Campbell)
  • Motherland (Senem Tuzen)
  • Mountain (Joao Salaviza)
  • The Return (Green Zeng)
  • Tanna (Martin Butler and Bentley Dean)
International Critics’ Week (Out of Competition)
  • Bagnoli Jungle (Antonio Capuano)
  • The Family (Liu Shu Min)
  • Orphans (Peter Mullan)
Venice Days – Official Selection
  • Arianna (Carlo Lavagna)
  • As I Open My Eyes (Leyla Bouzid)
  • The Daughter (Simon Stone)
  • Early Winter (Michael Rowe)
  • First Light (Vincenzo Marra)
  • Island City (Ruchika Oberoi)
  • Klezmer (Piotr Chrzan)
  • Long Live the Bride (Ascanio Celestini)
  • The Memory of Water (Matias Bize)
  • Retribution (Dani de la Torre)
  • Underground Fragrance (Song Peng Fei)
Venice Days – Special Events
  • Argentina (Carlos Saura)
  • Harry’s Bar (Carlotta Cerquetti)
  • Innocence of Memories – Orhan Pamuk’s Museum and Istanbul (Grant Gee)
  • Ma (Celia Rowlson Hall)
  • Milano 2015 (Roberto Bolle, Cristiana Capotondi, Giorgio Diritti, Elio, Silvio Soldini and Walter Veltroni)
  • Viva Ingrid! (Alessandro Rossellini)
Venice Days – Special Projects
  • Bangland (Lorenzo Berghella)
  • Il Paese Dove gli Alberi Volano – Eugenio Barba e i Giorni dell’Odin (Davide Barletti and Jacopo Quadri)
  • I Sogni del Lago Salato (Andrea Segre)
Venice Days – Lux Prize
  • Mediterranea (Jonas Carpignano)
  • Mustang (Deniz Gamze Erguven)
  • Urok (Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov)
Venice Days – Miu Miu Women’s Tales
  • De Djess (Alice Rohrwacher)
  • Les 3 Boutons (Agnes Varda)
Venice Classics
  • Aleksander Nevsky (Sergei M. Eisenstein)
  • Amarcord (Federico Fellini)
  • Bitter Reunion (Claude Chabrol)
  • The Boys from Feng Kuei (Hou Hsiao Hsien)
  • Hardly a Criminal (Hugo Fregonese)
  • Heaven Can Wait (Ernst Lubitsch)
  • Hope (Yilmaz Guney)
  • Leon Morin, Priest (Jean-Pierre Melville)
  • A Matter of Life and Death (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger)
  • I Mostri (Dino Risi)
  • The Power and the Glory (William K. Howard)
  • Ray of Sunshine (Pal Fejos)
  • Red Beard (Kurosawa Akira)
  • Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom (Pier Paolo Pasolini)
  • She Wolf (Alberto Lattuada)
  • The Thirsty One (Guru Dutt)
  • The Trial of Vivienne Ware (William K. Howard)
  • To Sleep with Anger (Charles Burnett)
  • Venise
  • We Want the Colonels (Mario Monicelli)
  • White Paws (Jean Gremillon)
Venice Classics – Documentaries
  • The 1,000 Eyes of Dr. Maddin (Yves Montmayeur)
  • Alfredo Bini, The Unexpected Guest (Simone Isola)
  • Dietro gli Occhiali Bianchi (Valerio Ruiz)
  • A Flickering Truth (Pietra Brettkelly)
  • For the Love of a Man (Rinku Kalsy)
  • Helmut Berger, Actor (Andreas Horvath)
  • Jacques Tourneur Le Medium (Filmer l’Invisible) (Alain Mazars)
  • Mifune: The Last Samurai (Steven Okazaki)
Biennale College – Cinema
  • Baby Bump (Kuba Czekaj)
  • Blanka (Hasei Kohki)
  • The Fits (Anna Rose Holmer)


The first of the Toronto Film Festival announcements just in.  If it says World or North American premiere I assume that means it’s not going to Telluride. If it says Canadian Premiere, it is.

Opening Night Film
Demolition Jean-Marc Vallée, USA World Premiere In Demolition, a successful investment banker, Davis (Jake Gyllenhaal), struggles after losing his wife in a tragic car crash. Despite pressure from his father-in-law (Chris Cooper) to pull it together, Davis continues to unravel. What starts as a complaint letter to a vending machine company turns into a series of letters revealing startling personal admissions. Davis’ letters catch the attention of customer service rep Karen (Naomi Watts) and, amidst emotional and financial burdens of her own, the two strangers form an unlikely connection. With the help of Karen and her son (Judah Lewis), Davis starts to rebuild, beginning with the demolition of the life he once knew.

Beeba Boys Deepa Mehta, Canada
An adrenaline-charged violent Indo-Canadian gang war mixes guns, bhangra beats, bespoke suits, cocaine, and betrayal. Gang boss Jeet Johar and his loyal, young crew are audaciously taking over the Vancouver drug and arms scene from an old-style crime syndicate. Hearts are broken and family bonds shattered when the Beeba Boys (known as the “nice boys”) do anything “to be seen and to be feared” — in a white world.

The Dressmaker Jocelyn Moorhouse, Australia World Premiere Based on the best-selling novel by Rosalie Ham, The Dressmaker is a bittersweet, comedy-drama set in early 1950s Australia. After many years working as a dressmaker in exclusive Parisian fashion houses, Tilly Dunnage, a beautiful and talented misfit, returns home to the tiny middle-of-nowhere town of Dungatar to right the wrongs of the past. Not only does she reconcile with her ailing, eccentric mother Molly, and unexpectedly falls in love with the pure-hearted Teddy, but armed with her sewing machine and incredible sense of style, Tilly sets out to right the wrongs of the past and transforms the women of the town but encounters unexpected romance along the way. Starring Kate Winslet, Liam Hemsworth, Judy Davis and Hugo Weaving.

Eye in the Sky Gavin Hood, United Kingdom World Premiere
Forsaken Jon Cassar, Canada World Premiere Tormented by a dark secret, an aging gunfighter abandons a life of killing and returns home, only to discover his mother has died. He’s forced to confront his estranged father and the life he left behind. Starring Donald Sutherland, Kiefer Sutherland and Demi Moore.

Freeheld Peter Sollett, USA World Premiere Based on the Oscar-winning documentary and adapted by the writer of Philadelphia, Freeheld is the true love story of Laurel Hester and Stacie Andree and their fight for justice. A decorated New Jersey police detective, Laurel is diagnosed with cancer and wants to leave her hard-earned pension to her domestic partner, Stacie. However the county officials — the Freeholders — conspire to prevent Laurel from doing so. Hard-nosed detective Dane Wells and activist Steven Goldstein come together in Laurel and Stacie’s defense, rallying police officers and ordinary citizens to support their struggle for equality. Starring Julianne Moore, Ellen Page, Michael
Shannon and Steve Carell.

Hyena Road (Hyena Road: Le Chemin du Combat) Paul Gross, Canada World Premiere A sniper who has never allowed himself to think of his targets as humans becomes implicated in the life of one such target. An intelligence officer who has never contemplated killing becomes the engine of a plot to kill. And a legendary Mujahideen warrior who had put war behind him is now the centre of the battle zone. Three men, three worlds, three conflicts — all stand at the intersection of modern warfare, a murky world of fluid morality in which all is not as it seems.

LEGEND Brian Helgeland, United Kingdom International Premiere The true story of the rise and fall of London’s most notorious gangsters, brothers Reggie and Ron Kray, both portrayed by Tom Hardy in an amazing double performance. LEGEND is a classic crime thriller that takes audiences into the secret history of the 1960s and
the extraordinary events that secured the infamy of the Kray twins.

Lolo Julie Delpy, France North American Premiere
London-based military intelligence officer Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) is remotely commanding a top secret drone operation to capture a group of dangerous terrorists at their safe-house in Nairobi, Kenya. The mission suddenly escalates from a capture to a kill operation, when Powell realizes that the terrorists are about to embark on a deadly suicide mission. American drone pilot Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) is poised to destroy the safe-house when a nine-year-old-girl enters the kill zone just outside the walls of the house. With unforeseen collateral damage now entering the equation, the impossible decision of when to strike gets passed up the kill chain of politicians and lawyers as the seconds tick down. Also stars Alan Rickman, Barkhad Abdi and Iain Glen. While on holiday in the south of France, Parisian sophisticate Violette falls in love with carefree geek Jean-René. As their relationship blossoms, Jean-René heads to Paris to spend more time with Violette but finds himself up against her possessive teenage son Lolo who is determined to sabotage their relationship by any means necessary. A razor-sharp comedy from Julie Delpy.

The Man Who Knew Infinity Matthew Brown, United Kingdom World Premiere A true story of friendship that forever changed mathematics. In 1913, Ramanujan, a self-taught mathematics genius from India, travelled to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he forged a bond with his mentor, the eccentric professor GH Hardy, and fought to
show the world the magic of his mind. Starring Dev Patel and Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons.

The Martian Ridley Scott, USA World Premiere During a manned mission to Mars, astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. Millions of miles away, NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring “the Martian” home, while his crewmates concurrently plot a daring, if not impossible rescue mission. Based on a best-selling novel, and helmed by master director Ridley Scott, The Martian features a star-studded cast that includes Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Donald

The Program Stephen Frears, United Kingdom World Premiere From Academy Award-nominated director Stephen Frears (The Queen, Philomena) and producers Working Title (The Theory of Everything), comes the true story of the meteoric rise and fall of one of the most celebrated and controversial men in recent history, Lance Armstrong. Starring Ben Foster, Dustin Hoffman, Chris O’Dowd and Guillaume Canet.

Remember Atom Egoyan, Canada North American Premiere Remember is the contemporary story of Zev, who discovers that the Nazi guard who murdered his family some 70 years ago is living in America under an assumed identity. Despite the obvious challenges, Zev sets out on a mission to deliver long-delayed justice with his own trembling hand. What follows is a remarkable cross-continent road-trip with surprising consequences. Starring Academy Award winners Christopher Plummer and Martin Landau.

Septembers of Shiraz Wayne Blair, USA World Premiere A thriller based on the New York Times bestseller, this is the true story of a secular Jewish family caught in the 1979 Iranian revolution and their heroic journey to overcome and ultimately escape from the deadly tyranny that swept their country and threatened to extinguish their lives at every turn. Starring Salma Hayek and Adrien Brody.

Stonewall Roland Emmerich, USA World Premiere This fictional drama inspired by true events follows a young man caught up during the 1969 Stonewall Riots. Danny Winters (Jeremy Irvine) finds himself alone in Greenwich Village, homeless and destitute, until he befriends a group of street kids who introduce him to the local watering hole, The Stonewall Inn — however, this shady, mafia-run club is far from a safe haven. As Danny and his friends experience discrimination, endure atrocities and are repeatedly harassed by the police, the entire community of young gays, lesbians and drag queens who populate Stonewall erupts in a storm of anger. With the toss of a single brick, a riot ensues and a crusade for equality is born. Starring Jeremy Irvine, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Ron Perlman and Joey King.

Anomalisa Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson, USA Canadian Premiere A man struggles with his inability to connect with other people. Starring Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Noonan and David Thewlis.

Beasts of No Nation Cary Fukunaga, USA/Ghana Canadian Premiere — NETFLIX
Based on the highly acclaimed novel, director Cary Fukunaga’s Beasts of No Nation brings to life the gripping tale of Agu (newcomer Abraham Attah), a child soldier torn from his family to fight in the civil war of an African country. Idris Elba dominates the screen in the role of Commandant, a warlord who takes in Agu and instructs him in the ways of war.

Black Mass Scott Cooper, USA Canadian Premiere In 1970s South Boston, FBI Agent John Connolly persuades Irish-American gangster Jimmy Bulger to act as an informant for the FBI in order to eliminate their common enemy: the Italian mob. The drama tells the story of this unholy alliance, which spiraled out of control, allowing Whitey to evade law enforcement while becoming one of the most ruthless and dangerous gangsters in Boston history. Starring Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Rory Cochrane, Jesse Plemons, Kevin Bacon, Dakota Johnson, Julianne Nicholson, Corey Stoll and Peter Sarsgaard.

Brooklyn John Crowley, United Kingdom/Ireland/Canada Canadian Premiere Set on opposite sides of the Atlantic, this drama tells the profoundly moving story of Eilis Lacey, a young Irish immigrant navigating her way through 1950s Brooklyn. Lured by the promise of America, Eilis departs Ireland and the comfort of her mother’s home for the shores of New York City. The initial shackles of homesickness quickly diminish as a fresh romance sweeps Eilis into the intoxicating charm of love. But soon, her new vivacity is disrupted by her past, and Eilis must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within. Starring Saoirse Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson, Emory Cohen, Jim Broadbent and Julie Walters.

The Club Pablo Larraín, Chile North American Premiere Four men live in a secluded house in a seaside town. Sent to purge sins of the past, they live under a strict regime and the watchful eye of a caretaker. Their fragile stability is disrupted by the arrival of a fifth man who brings with him their darkest secrets.

Colonia Florian Gallenberger, Germany/Luxembourg/France World Premiere Colonia tells the story of Lena and Daniel, a young couple who become entangled in the Chilean military coup of 1973. Daniel is abducted by Pinochet’s secret police and Lena tracks him to a sealed off area in the south of the country called Colonia Dignidad. The Colonia presents itself as a charitable mission run by lay preacher Paul Schäfer but, in fact, is a place nobody ever escapes from. Lena decides to join the cult in order to find Daniel. Starring Emma Watson, Daniel Brühl and Michael Nyqvist.

The Danish Girl Tom Hooper, United Kingdom North American Premiere The Danish Girl is the remarkable love story inspired by the lives of artists Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener (portrayed by Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander), directed by Academy Award winner Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, Les Misérables). Lili and Gerda’s marriage and work evolve as they navigate Lili’s groundbreaking journey as a transgender pioneer.

The Daughter Simon Stone, Australia North American Premiere A man returns to his hometown and unearths a long-buried family secret. As he tries to right the wrongs of the past, his actions threaten to shatter the lives of those he left behind years before. Starring Geoffrey Rush, Paul Schneider, Miranda Otto and Sam Neill.

Desierto Jonás Cuarón, Mexico World Premiere Moises is traveling by foot with a group of undocumented workers across a desolate strip of the border between Mexico and the United States, seeking a new life in the north. They are discovered by a lone American vigilante, Sam, and a frantic chase begins. Set against the stunningly brutal landscape, Moises and Sam engage in a lethal match of wits, each desperate to survive and escape the desert that threatens to consume them. Starring Gael García Bernal and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

Dheepan Jacques Audiard, France North American Premiere To escape the civil war in Sri Lanka, a former Tamil Tiger soldier, a young woman and a little girl pose as a family. These strangers try to build a life together in a Parisian suburb.

Families (Belles Familles) Jean-Paul Rappeneau, France World Premiere When Shanghai-based businessman Jérome Varenne learns that his childhood home in the village of Ambray is at the centre of a local conflict, he heads there to straighten things out and finds himself at the centre of familial and romantic complications. Starring Mathieu Amalric.

The Family Fang Jason Bateman, USA World Premiere Annie and Baxter Fang have spent most of their adult lives trying to distance themselves from their famous artist parents. But when both siblings find themselves stalled in life, they return home for the first time in a decade where they become entangled in a dark mystery surrounding their parents’ disappearance. Jason Bateman directs and stars, along with co-stars Nicole Kidman and Christopher Walken, in this film based on the New York Times bestseller.

Guilty (Talvar) Meghna Gulzar, India World Premiere Based on true events that set off a media frenzy all over the world, Guilty follows the 2008 Noida Double Murder Case of an investigation into the deaths of 14-year-old Aarushi Talwar and 45-year-old Hemraj Banjade, a domestic employed by Aarushi’s family, in Noida, India. The controversial case lives on in the mind of the public, despite a guilty verdict that sentenced the parents of the murdered girl to life in prison. Starring Irrfan Khan.

I Smile Back Adam Salky, USA Canadian Premiere Adapted from the acclaimed novel by Amy Koppelman, I Smile Back explores the life of Laney (Sarah Silverman), a devoted wife and mother who seems to have it all — a perfect husband, pristine house and shiny SUV. However, beneath the façade lies depression and disillusionment that catapult her into a secret world of reckless compulsion. Only very real danger will force her to face the painful root of her destructiveness and its effect on those she loves.

The Idol (Ya Tayr El Tayer) Hany Abu-Assad, United Kingdom/Palestine/Qatar World Premiere A young boy in Gaza, Mohammad Assaf, dreams of one day singing in the Cairo Opera House with his sister and best friend, Nour. One day, Nour collapses and is rushed to the hospital where it is discovered that she needs a kidney transplant. Nour leaves Mohammad with a dying wish that someday, he will become a famous singer in Cairo. Escaping from Gaza to Egypt against unbelievable odds, Mohammad makes the journey of a lifetime. From two-time Academy Award nominee Hany Abu-Assad comes this inspirational drama inspired by the incredibly true story of Mohammed Assaf, winner of Arab Idol 2013.

The Lady in the Van Nicholas Hytner, USA/United Kingdom World Premiere Based on the true story of Miss Shepherd, a woman of uncertain origins who “temporarily” parked her van in writer Alan Bennett’s London driveway and proceeded to live there for 15 years. What begins as a begrudged favour becomes a relationship that will change both their lives. Filmed on the street and in the house where Bennett and Miss Shepherd lived all those years, acclaimed director Nicholas Hytner reunites with iconic writer Alan Bennett (The Madness of King George, The History Boys) to bring this rare and touching portrait to the screen. Starring Maggie Smith, Dominic Cooper and James Corden.

Len and Company Tim Godsall, USA A successful music producer shattered when both his estranged son North American Premiere quits the industry and exiles himself in upstate New York, but the solitude he seeks is and the pop-star (Juno Temple) he’s created come looking for answers. (Rhys Ifans) (Jack Kilmer)

The Lobster Yorgos Lanthimos, Ireland/United Kingdom/Greece/France/Netherlands North American Premiere In a dystopian near future, single people are obliged to find a matching mate in 45 days or are transformed into animals and released into the woods. Starring Colin Farrell, Academy Award winner Rachel Weisz, John C. Reilly, Léa Seydoux and Ben Whishaw.

Louder than Bombs Joachim Trier, Norway/France/Denmark North American Premiere An upcoming exhibition celebrating photographer Isabelle Reed three years after her untimely death brings her eldest son Jonah back to the family house, forcing him to spend more time with his father Gene and withdrawn younger brother Conrad than he has in years. With the three men under the same roof, Gene tries desperately to connect with his two sons, but they struggle to reconcile their feelings about the woman they remember so differently. Starring Isabelle Huppert, Gabriel Byrne and Jesse Eisenberg.

Maggie’s Plan Rebecca Miller, USA World Premiere Maggie’s plan to have a baby on her own is derailed when she falls in love with John, a married man, destroying his volatile marriage to the brilliant Georgette. But one daughter and three years later, Maggie is out of love and in a quandary: what do you do when you suspect your man and his ex-wife are actually perfect for each other? Starring Julianne Moore, Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke, Bill Hader and Maya Rudolph.

Mountains May Depart (Shan He Gu Ren) Jia Zhang-ke, China/France/Japan North American Premiere
Office Johnnie To, China/Hong Kong International Premiere Billion-dollar company Jones & Sunn is going public. Chairman Ho Chung-ping has promised CEO Chang, who has been his mistress for more than 20 years, to become a major shareholder of the company. As the IPO team enters the company to audit its accounts, a series of inside stories start to be revealed. Starring Chow Yun Fat, Sylvia Chang, Tang Wei and Wang Ziyi.

Parched Leena Yadav, India/USA World Premiere Three ordinary women dare to break free from the century old patriarchal ways of their village in the desert heartland of rural India. Starring Tannishtha Chaterjee, Radhika Apte and Surveen Chawla, this unforgettable tale of friendship and triumph is called Parched.

Room Lenny Abrahamson, Ireland/Canada Canadian Premiere Told through the eyes of five-year-old-Jack, Room is a thrilling and emotional tale that celebrates the resilience and power of the human spirit. To Jack, the Room is the world… it’s where he was born, where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. But while it’s home to Jack, to Ma it’s a prison. Through her fierce love for her son, Ma has managed to create a childhood for him in their 10-by-10-foot space. But as Jack’s curiosity is building alongside Ma’s own desperation — she knows that Room cannot contain either indefinitely. Starring Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, Sean Bridgers and William H. Macy.

Sicario Denis Villeneuve, USA North American Premiere In the lawless border area stretching between the U.S. and Mexico, an idealistic FBI agent (Emily Blunt) is enlisted by an elite government task force official (Josh Brolin) to aid in the escalating war against drugs. Led by an enigmatic consultant with a questionable past (Benicio Del Toro), the team sets out on a clandestine journey that forces Kate to question everything that she believes.

Son of Saul (Saul Fia) László Nemes, Hungary Canadian Premiere October 1944, Auschwitz-Birkenau. Saul Ausländer is a Hungarian member of the Sonderkommando, the group of Jewish prisoners isolated from the camp and forced to assist the Nazis in the machinery of large-scale extermination. While working in one of the crematoriums, Saul discovers the body of a boy he takes for his son. As the Sonderkommando plans a rebellion, Saul decides to carry out an impossible task: save the child’s body from the flames, find a rabbi to recite the mourner’s Kaddish and offer the boy a proper burial.

Spotlight Tom McCarthy, USA International Premiere Spotlight tells the true story of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe investigation that would rock the city and cause a crisis in one of the world’s oldest and most trusted institutions. When the newspaper’s tenacious “Spotlight” team of reporters delves into allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church, their year-long investigation uncovers a decades-long cover-up at the highest levels of Boston’s religious, legal, and government establishment, touching off a wave of revelations around the world. Starring Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Stanley Tucci, Brian d’Arcy James and Billy Crudup.

The new film from master filmmaker Jia Zhang-ke (A Touch of Sin) jumps from the recent past to the speculative near-future as it examines how China’s economic boom has affected the bonds of family, tradition, and love.

Summertime (La Belle Saison) Catherine Corsini, France North American Premiere Delphine, the daughter of farmers, moves to Paris in 1971 to break free from the shackles of her family and to gain her financial independence. Carole is a Parisian, living with Manuel, actively involved in the stirrings of the feminist movement. The meeting of the two women changes their lives forever. Starring Cécile De France, Izia Higelin, Noémie Lvovsky and Kévin Azaïs.

Sunset Song Terence Davies, United Kingdom/Luxembourg World Premiere Terence Davies’ epic of hope, tragedy and love at the dawning of the Great War follows a young woman’s tale of endurance against the hardships of rural Scottish life. Based on the novel by Lewis Grassic Gibbon and told with gritty poetic realism by Britain’s greatest living auteur, Sunset Song stars Peter Mullan and Agyness Deyn.

Trumbo Jay Roach, USA World Premiere The successful career of 1940s screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) comes to a crushing end when he and other Hollywood figures are blacklisted for their political beliefs. Trumbo tells the story of his fight against the U.S. government and studio bosses in a war over words and freedom, which entangled everyone in Hollywood from Hedda Hopper (Helen Mirren) and John Wayne to Kirk Douglas and Otto Preminger.

Un plus une Claude Lelouch, France World Premiere Charming, successful, Antoine (Jean Dujardin) could be the hero of one of those films he composes the music for. When he leaves for a job in India, he meets Anna (Elsa Zylberstein), a woman who isn’t like him at all, but who attracts him more than anything. Together, they are going to experience an incredible journey.
Victoria Sebastian Schipper, Germany Canadian Premiere

Where to Invade Next Michael Moore, USA World Premiere Oscar-winning director Michael Moore returns with what may be his most provocative and hilarious movie yet. Moore tells the Pentagon to “stand down”— he will do the invading for America from now on. Discretely shot in several countries and under the radar of the global media, Moore has made a searing cinematic work that is both up-to-the-minute and timeless.

Youth Paolo Sorrentino, Italy/France/United Kingdom/Switzerland North American Premiere
Youth explores the lifelong bond between two friends vacationing in a luxury Swiss Alps lodge as they ponder retirement. While Fred (Michael Caine) has no plans to resume his musical career despite the urging of his daughter Lena (Rachel Weisz), Mick (Harvey Keitel) is intent on finishing the screenplay for what may be his last film for his muse Brenda (Jane Fonda). And where will inspiration lead their younger friend Jimmy (Paul Dano), an actor grasping to make sense of his next performance? From Italy’s Oscar-winning foreign language film writer and director Paolo Sorrentino, Youth asks if our most important and life-changing experiences can come at any time — even late — in life.


Documentarian filmmaker Michael Moore announced via Twitter that his new film, Where to Invade Next, will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival this September. He made the announcement via Twitter.

More Tiff announcements coming later today.


The New York Times just announced that the Danny Boyle film, “Steve Jobs,” starring Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet will be the centerpiece gala for the New York Film Fest. With a crackling script by Aaron Sorkin, Steve Jobs will be poised to take the Oscars by storm, or certainly get invited into the room.

In a statement, the event’s director, Kent Jones, described the film as “extremely sharp,” adding, “It’s wildly entertaining, and the actors just soar — you can feel their joy as they bite into their material.”

The fest kicks off September 25th, after Telluride and Toronto, leaving me to wonder whether Steve Jobs will be headed to Telluride…

The NYFF can have a major Oscar impact and then sometimes it can do more harm than good if the critics turn on the movie. It is then in the hands of the left coast to turn that boat around, as happened with Life of Pi.

Tomorrow, we get our first taste of the Toronto Film Fest lineup. Telluride will not announce until the day before Labor Day weekend, at the end of August. Supposedly if Toronto says “international premiere” that means it could theoretically play at Telluride first.

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 2.00.24 PM

The Venice Film Festival launched last year’s Best Picture winner into the Oscar race, and very nearly launched the previous year’s winner, Gravity. It comes on just moments before Telluride and the one-two punch of it hitting big and receiving raves in Venice, coupled with an enthusiastic, hyped up response in Telluride usually drives the momentum through to the end of the year. Of course, no one really thought Birdman could or would win last year, not until the Producers Guild picked it and the rest is Oscar his-story. By putting Everest in there they’re going for a big move, like Gravity I would guess, rather than a smaller move like Birdman. Gravity was big on visual effects – dizzying even — and high on emotions. Anyone who knows the TRUE story of what happened on Everest in 1996 knows that this will also be high on emotions.

Everest is the story of the disastrous journey to the top of Everest when a big storm came in. Jon Krakauer’s book Into the Thin Air is required reading of the event, if you have not yet read it. It is the story of rich people throwing money at the sherpas to get them to the top of the mountain. It is a story of why getting back down off the mountain is far more dangerous than going up. It’s about oxygen tanks, the need for them and the lack of them. It is about teamwork and looking out for your fellow climber and it’s about those who break the codes, clog up the lines and leave lots of dead bodies in their wake. It was a cautionary tale in 1997 when the Krakauer book was released. The earthquake in Nepal this year now holds the record for single day deaths on Everest and can’t be laid at the feet of human error, as the 1996 tragedy could.

I’m very much looking forward to Everest but all must go in not expecting a happy ending. Still, I’m sure it will be thrilling to watch.

Pic is directed by Baltasar Kormákur.

Here is a featurette:


SIFF celebrates its films and filmmakers with the Golden Space Needle Audience Awards. Selected by Festival audiences, awards are given in five categories: Best Film, Best Documentary, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Short Film. This year, nearly 90,000 ballots were submitted.

The Dark Horse, directed by James Napier Robertson (New Zealand 2014)

First runner-up: Inside Out, directed by Pete Docter (USA 2015)
Second runner-up: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (USA 2015)
Third runner-up: Shaun the Sheep, directed by Richard Starzak, Mark Burton (UK 2015)
Fourth runner-up: Good Ol’ Boy, directed by Frank Lotito (USA 2015)

Romeo is Bleeding, directed by Jason Zeldes (USA 2015)

First runner-up: Paper Tigers, directed by James Redford (USA 2015)
Second runner-up: The Glamour & The Squalor, directed by Marq Evans (USA 2015)
Third runner-up: The Great Alone, directed by Greg Kohs (USA 2015)
Fourth runner-up: Frame by Frame, directed by Mo Scarpelli, Alexandria Bombach (Afghanistan 2014)

Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (USA 2015)

First runner-up: George Ovashvili, Corn Island (Georgia 2014)
Second runner-up: Peter Greenaway, Eisenstein in Guanajuato (Netherlands 2015)
Third runner-up: Susanne Bier, A Second Chance (Denmark 2014)
Fourth runner-up: Ross Partridge, Lamb (USA 2015)

Cliff Curtis, The Dark Horse (New Zealand 2014)

First runner-up: Ian McKellen, Mr. Holmes (UK 2015)
Second runner-up: Jason Segel, End of the Tour (USA 2014)
Third runner-up: Victor Andrés Trelles Turgeon, Henri Henri (Canada (Québec) 2014)
Fourth runner-up: Jacir Eid, Theeb (Jordan 2014)

Nina Hoss, Phoenix (Germany 2014)

First runner-up: Kalki Koechlin, Margarita, with a Straw (India 2014)
Second runner-up: Rebecka Josephson, My Skinny Sister (Sweden 2015)
Third runner-up: Regina Case, The Second Mother (Brazil 2015)
Fourth runner-up: Ghita Nørby, Key House Mirror (Denmark 2015)

Even the Walls, directed by Sarah Kuck, Saman Maydáni (USA 2015)

First runner-up: Submarine Sandwich, directed by PES (USA 2014)
Second runner-up: Stealth, directed by Bennett Lasseter (USA 2014)
Third runner-up: Personal Development, directed by Tom Sullivan (Ireland 2015)
Fourth runner-up: Bihttoš, directed by Elie-Máijá Tailfeathers (Canada 2014)

Frame by Frame, directed by Mo Scarpelli, Alexandria Bombach (Afghanistan 2014)

This award is given to the female director’s film that receives the most votes in public balloting at the Festival. Lena Sharpe was co-founder and managing director of Seattle’s Festival of Films by Women Directors and a KCTS-TV associate who died in a plane crash while on assignment. As a tribute to her efforts in bringing the work of women filmmakers to prominence, SIFF created this special award and asked Women in Film Seattle to bestow it.


An – a film about sweet red bean paste and the simplicity of happiness

Naomi Kawese’s film An, which translates to Sweet Red Bean Paste, is one of the surprises, at least for me, at the festival so far. The film examines the relationship of three unlikely people coming together over the cooking and eating and appreciating of Dorayaki. The quest for the perfect red bean paste eventually brings the chef and his elderly teacher to form a close bond, as both of them discover how they’ve been trapped for too long in places that confine them.

An begins with a man (Masatoshi Nagase) in a small cafe cooking red bean paste inside pancakes, otherwise known as Dorayaki. One day an elderly woman asks him for a job. He reluctantly accepts, thinking she is too old and too tired to do the work. She teaches him the fundamental art of cooking red bean paste and eventually his dorayaki become so legendary his cafe is making a tidy profit. That is until it is found out that the old woman Tokue (Kirin Kiki) once had leprosy.

The teacher and student relationship becomes somewhat of a maternal one, while a third person, a high schooler becomes curious about Tokue. The young girl, the old woman and the grown man discover together Tokue’s backstory, being confined and exiled at a young age, never given a chance at a real life, while her only truly happy moment was helping to cook the dorayaki. It is really that simple, that beautiful. If swaying cherry blossoms are something you could look at for many silent minutes in awed appreciation, you might be enlightened enough to take on this film.

Kiki is delightful as Tokue, someone who has every reason to be a bitter and angry person yet chooses instead to tread lightly, smile often, and give of herself whenever possible. That is how she draws two introverts to her, by seeing them as they are and teaching them who they might become.

Because the film is about being trapped inside, much of Kawese’s imagery involves the beauty of outside, even the quiet mostly unacknowledged beauty of something so simple as the wind spinning a plastic bottle or water trickling down a stream. Kiki’s light works well with Nagase’s dark. Though he has no stigma of disease separating him from society he has nonetheless shut himself off, doing nothing but cooking all day and passing out at night after drinking too much.

With Mad Max this morning and An in the evening, I was treated to two films here in Cannes that depict older women in important roles. Not just older as in 40 something, but older as in 70 something. Do they ever appear in American film except to play grandmothers? What a missed opportunity to pretend they don’t exist. Kawase’s film finds the story in this invisible woman. It is a story that matters, one that is rarely told if at all.

How great to see old age treated as what it really should be — experience and knowledge is passed down through stories. Here in America we think of old age as care facilities, Depends, Alzheimer’s and dementia. We don’t think of the value of someone who has lived so long and learned so much passing on to us what we know.

Kawase’s film depicts a world where we are surrounded by so much beauty even if we choose the cage over freedom. It’s there if you know where to look, if you know how to listen, if you’re willing to see it.


Director Alfonso Cuarón will chair the jury at this year’s jury of the 72nd Venice International Film Festival which takes place this September. Cuarón will head the international competition jury which awards the Golden Lion for Best Film and other official prizes.

Cuarón is not stranger to the Venice Film Festival, Gravity was the opening film in 2013, Y Tu Mamà También won Best Screenplay in 2001, and the 2006 film, Children of Men” won the Best Cinematography the Osella Award.

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 10.07.26 AM

Looks like yet another great performance from Joaquin Phoenix, not to mention Parker Posey and Emma Stone.


The Cannes Classic sidebar lineup was revealed earlier today. The sidebar showcasing classic films and documentaries about cinema will include Jean Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bette and Musical Opium by Arielle Dombasle. Actress Kim Novak will present two Alfred Hitchcock films, Vertigo and The Birds.

1988’s Best Picture winner, Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor will screen in 3D, while Costa Gavras and Ingrid Bergman are among those to be honored.

The full line up can be found on the Cannes Website and is:

• Documentaries about cinema:

• Hitchcock / Truffaut by Kent Jones (2015, 1h28)
Co-written by Kent Jones and Serge Toubiana. Produced by Artline Films, Cohen Media Group and Arte France.

• Depardieu grandeur nature by Richard Melloul (2014, 1h)
Produced by Richard Melloul Productions and Productions Tony Comiti.

• Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans by Gabriel Clarke and John McKenna (2015, 1h52)
Produced by John McKenna.

• By Sidney Lumet by Nancy Buirski (2015, 1h43)
Produced by Augusta Films, co-produced by American Masters. Presented by RatPac Documentary Films.

• Harold and Lilian : a Hollywood Love Story de Daniel Raim (2015, 1h41)
Produced by Adama Films.

The tribute to Ingrid Bergman

• Jag Är Ingrid (Ingrid Bergman, in Her Own Words) by Stig Björkman (2015, 1h54)
Produced by Stina Gardell/Mantaray Film.

Celebrating the anniversary of the sixty years of the creation of the Palme d’or:

• The Golden Palm’s Legend (La Légende de la Palme d’or) by Alexis Veller (2015, 1h10)
Produced by AV Productions.

• Centennial Orson Welles

Citizen Kane by Orson Welles (1941, 1h59)
A Warner Bros. presentation. The 4k restoration of Citizen Kane was completed at Warner Brothers Motion Picture Imagery by colorist Janet Wilson, with supervision by Ned Price. The image was reconstructed from three nitrate fine grain master positives as the original camera negative no longer survives. Optical soundtrack “RCA squeeze duplex format.”

The Third Man (Le Troisième homme) by Carol Reed (1949, 1h44)
A Studiocanal presentation. Intermediate film print, 2nd generation of nitrate film (non-existent original negative), scanned in 4K and restored frame by frame in 4K by Deluxe in England. Restoration supervised by STUDIOCANAL.

The Lady from Shanghai (La Dame de Shanghai) by Orson Welles (1948, 1h27)
Presented by Park Circus. Restoration in 4K at Colorworks at Sony Pictures. The nitrate original negative was scanned in 4K at Deluxe in Hollywood before digital restoration, part of the work completed at MTI Film in Los Angeles. Sound restoration sonore at Chase Audio at Deluxe, color grading and DCP prepared by Colorworks.

Two documentaries about Orson Welles:

Orson Welles, Autopsie d’une légende by Elisabeth Kapnist (2015, 56mn)
Produced by Phares et balises and Arte France.

This Is Orson Welles by Clara and Julia Kuperberg (2015, 53mn)
Produced by TCM Cinéma and Wichita Films.

• An evening with Barbet Schroeder

More by Barbet Schroeder (1969, 1h57)
Restoration made by Digimage Classics in 2K. The laboratory worked with the original film and sound negatives. Color grading under the supervision of Barbet Schroeder.
The film will be screened after Amnesia (2015, 1h36) selected in Séance spéciale.

• Tribute to Manoel de Oliveira

Thanks to Manoel de Oliveira’s daughter, Adelaide Trepa, and his grandson Manuel Casimiro, whom allowed with the help of Director José Manuel Costa and Subdirector Jui Machado, of the Cinemateca Portuguesa, the Festival de Cannes will screen his posthumous film Visita ou Memórias e Confissões (1982, 1h08). Previously unseen, it would have been only screened at the Cinemateca Portuguesa in Lisboa and Porto, Manoel de Oliveira’s city of birth.

Lumière !

After Georges Méliès in the Grande Salle, to celebrate the 120 years of the birth of the Cinématographe Lumière, screening of a selection of Lumière films in the Grand Théâtre… Lumière.
A presentation of the Institut Lumière, of the Centre National du Cinéma and the Cinémathèque française. Screening in 4K DCP. 4K restoration carried out by Eclair Group, in collaboration with l’Immagine Ritrovata.

Restored Prints

• Rocco e i suoi fratelli (Rocco and His Brothers/Rocco et ses frères) by Luchino Visconti (1960, 2h57)
A presentation of The Film Foundation. 4K restoration carried out by Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata Laboratory, in association with Titanus, TF1 Droits Audiovisuels and The Film Foundation. Restoration with funding provided by Gucci and The Film Foundation.

• Les Yeux brûlés by Laurent Roth (1986, 58mn)
A presentation by the CNC and the ECPAD with Laurent Roth in attendance. Digital restoration made from 2K scanning of the 35mm négatives and the scanning of original elements if they were still existent from archive images. Restoration made by the laboratory of the CNC at Bois d’Arcy.

• Ascenseur pour l’échafaud by Louis Malle (1958, 1h33)
2K restoration presented by Gaumont. Work on the image done by Eclair, sound restored by Diapason in parternship with Eclair.

• La Noire de… (Black Girl) by Ousmane Sembène (1966, 1h05)
Restored by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project in collaboration with the Sembène Estate, Institut National de l’Audiovisuel, INA, Eclair Laboratories and the Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée, CNC.
Restoration carried out at Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovata Laboratory.

Preceded by the documentary:

SEMBENE! by Samba Gadjigo and Jason Silverman (2015, 1h22)
Produced by Galle Ceddo Projects, Impact Partners, New Mexico Media Partners, SNE Partners.

• Insiang by Lino Brocka (1976, 1h35)
Insiang was the first Filipino feature film to be presented at Cannes.
Restored by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project.
Restored by Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovata. Restoration funding provided by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project and the Film Development Council of the Philippines.

• Sur (The South / Le Sud) by Fernando Solanas (1988, 2h03)
Presented by Cinesur and Blaq Out in partnership with UniversCiné and the INCAA. HD restoration made by Cinecolor laboratory-Industrias Audiovisuales S.A, headed by Roberto Zambrino and supervised by Fernando Solanas upon the occasion of the restoration of all his films which will be released as a DVD boxset (Blaq Out editions).

• Zangiku Monogatari (The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum / Le Conte du chrysanthème tardif) by Kenji Mizoguchi (1939, 2h23)
A presentation of Shochiku studio. The digital restoration is from a 4K film transfer (2K projection) by Shochiku Co., Ltd.

• Jingi Naki Tatakai (Battles without Honor and Humanity aka Yakusa Paper / Combat sans code d’honneur) by Kinji Fukasaku (1973, 1h39)
A presentation of TOEI COMPANY, LTD. The film has been restored from 4K 35mm print original negative into 2K digital by TOEI LABO TECH. The film will be distributed in France by Wild Side Films.

• Szegénylegények (The Round-Up / Les Sans espoir) by Miklós Jancsó (1965, 1h28)
A presentation of the Hungarian National Film Fund and of the Hungarian National Digital Film Archive and Film Institute (MaNDA). In competition at the Festival de Cannes in 1966. 2K film and sound restoration by the Hungarian Filmlab from the 35mm negative.

• Les Ordres (Orderers) by Michel Brault (1974, 1h48)
A présentation of « Éléphant, mémoire du cinéma québécois. » HD scanning from three sources: original negative 35 mm A and B colors, 35 mm intermediate film print and internegative. Restored sound from a 35 mm three-track magnetic mix. Restorations lead by Marie-José Raymond, and the color grading lead by Claude Fournier with director Michel Brault at Technicolor Montréal.

• Panique by Julien Duvivier (1946, 1h31)
Presented by TF1 DA. As the original negative has disappeared, a 2K restoration from the nitrate intermediate film print done at Digimage.

• Xia Nu (俠女 / A Touch of Zen) by King Hu (1973, 3h)
A presentation of the Taiwan Film Institute. The first Taiwanese film and the first film in Mandarin presented at the Festival de Cannes. 40th anniversary of the Grand Prix de la Commission Supérieure Technique in 1975. Digital restoration made in 4K by the Immagine Ritrovata in Bologna from the negative. The director of photography supervised the color grading.

• Dobro Pozhalovat, Ili Postoronnim Vkhod Vospreshchen (Welcome or No Trespassing) by Elem Klimov (1964, 1h14)
A presentation of the Open World Foundation and Mosfilm. A 2K scanning, sound and film restoration by Mosfilm and Krupny Plan.

• La Historia Oficial (The Official Story / L’Histoire officielle) by Luis Puenzo (1984, 1h50)
A presentation of Historias Cinematográficas. Award for Best Actress Ex-aequo at the Festival de Cannes 1985 for Norma Aleandro and Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1986. A 4K Restoration from the original négative. New color grading done by the director and the director of photography. Digitization of the sound from a restoration of the magnetic tapes the remixed in 5.1 with new effects and additional orchestrations. Funding provided by the Argentinian National Film Institute (INCAA) and work done at Cinecolor Lab under the supervision of director/producer Luis Puenzo.

• Marius by Alexander Korda (1931, 2h), script and dialogues by Marcel Pagnol
Restoration by the Compagnie méditerranéenne de film – MPC and La Cinémathèque française, with the support of the CNC, the Fonds Culturel Franco-Américain DGA-MPA-SACEM- WGAW, the help of ARTE France Unité Cinéma and the Archives Audiovisuelles de Monaco, with SOGEDA Monaco. 4K restoration supervised by Nicolas Pagnol and Hervé Pichard (La Cinémathèque française). Works done by DIGIMAGE laboratory. Color grading carried out by Guillaume Schiffman.

Cannes Classics at the Cinéma de la Plage!

• Ran by Akira Kurosawa (1985, 2h42)
Original negative scanned in 4K and restored frame by frame in 4k by Éclair. Image and sound restoration under STUDIOCANAL supervision with Kadokawa (Japanese co-producer). Color grading approved by Mr. Ueda (cinematographer), Akira Kurosawa’s close associate on the film.

• Hibernatus by Edouard Molinaro (1969, 1h40)
2K restoration presented by Gaumont. Image works done by Eclair, sound restored by Diapason with Eclair.

• Le Grand blond avec une chaussure noire by Yves Robert (1972, 1h30)
2K restoration presented by Gaumont. Image works done by Eclair, sound restored by Diapason with Eclair.

• Jurassic Park 3D by Steven Spielberg (1993, 2h01)

• Ivan the Terrible 1 and 2 by Sergueï Eisenstein (1944, 1h40 et 1945, 1h26)
Digital restoration of image and sound by MOSFILM Cinema Concern. Producer of restoration Karen Shakhnazarov.

• The Terminator by James Cameron (1984, 1h48)
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios’ presents the feature ahead of Park Circus’ worldwide reissue of the film in over 20 territories this June.

• The Usual Suspects by Brian Singer (1995, 1h46)
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios will be presenting the film on DCP (in digital format) for the first time, 20 years after it made its premiere at the Festival de Cannes.

• Hôtel du Nord by Marcel Carné (1938, 1h35)
Restoration presented by MK2 with the support of the CNC. 2K image restoration (from a 4K scan of the image nitrate negative) done by Digimage Classics.

• Joe Hill de Bo Widerberg (1971, 1h50)
2K restoration presented by Malavida Films and the Swedish Film Institute which carried out the works from the original negative.

Besides, the Cinéma de la Plage will screen as a world premiere Rabid Dogs by Eric Hannezo (2015, 1h40) starring Lambert Wilson, Guillaume Gouix et Virginie Ledoyen.
Produced by Black Dynamite and JD Prod.

Cannes 2015 runs from May 13 to May 24.


The Weinstein Co. debuted three stills from the eagerly anticipated film version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It contains what I believe is the best quote ever put down on paper (later appropriated by Faulkner – also used, alas, in Birdman last year):

She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

I really hope Justin Kurzel does not screw up what looks to be one of the best films we will see next year.




Introducing Dante, Photo Credit: Rick Segal

The Riviera Maya Film Festival is a young festival with young ideas and an innovative way of presenting films to the broader international film community. One of the big gets was Joe Dante who brought Anton Yelchin to present Burying the Ex to the crowd. Dante cautioned that it was really the kind of film that needed to be seen with an audience as opposed to watching on a little screen or, god forbid, in front of a house of poker faced critics with their notepads out jotting down observations and analysis. This isn’t that kind of movie and isn’t intended to be. It was made in the Roger Corman tradition (Corman gave Dante his start way back when) and was filmed in an astonishing 20 days.

Dante and Yelchin attended a press conference at one of the locations for the film festival. We were all aided greatly by the professionalism and generosity of Luis Carrillo, who drove us to each location, packing us into a tiny air-conditioned Mercedes which zoomed along the highways of Playa Del Carmen to wherever we needed to be. One such location held members of the press to find out what Dante had to say about his new movie.

The press conference turned out to be more than just information about Burying the Ex. Dante is quite voluble on the subject of Hollywood, how it’s changing and where it’s going. He has had many projects in the works but they never seem to see the light of day as Hollywood finds itself in the grips of fear — fear of the future, fear or risk taking, fear of the changing audiences. They don’t know where films are headed and, thus, are gun-shy about taking risks. In other words, they no longer have the balls to lead so they must insist on playing it safe.

So you think, okay fine, that’s the same old story. And it might be. But Dante thinks the whole thing is headed for collapse. The studios will have to reinvent themselves (once again) and if they can do that, Hollywood might thrive once again.

Later that night, Burying the Ex would screen for audiences and press back at the film festival’s homebase, the Yucatan Princess, which set up a theater in its opulent complex.

Burying the Ex is funny, with Anton Yelchin playing a young man eager to dump his pretty but a tad needy girlfriend (Ashley Green). When she’s killed unexpectedly she morphs into a zombie and from then, funny/scary chaos. Sure, it’s not Citizen Kane and it’s not meant to be. It reminded me of the movies I used to see in the valley in the 1970s, rocking a pair of orange Dittos, a satin and terry cloth halter top, with my shag cut. Escaping the summer heat with a big bag of popcorn to watch something that silly was the stuff of a young cinema lover’s dream.

Dante’s thumbprint exuberance is alive and well, so are the gross-outs here and there. Burying the Ex is sure to develop a cult following and become a favorite midnight movie.

The screening was followed by a party on a rooftop in the very lively downtown Playa Del Carmen. They were serving some kind of cucumber tequila mixed drinks as movies screened on the side of a building. There were small pools on the rooftop in a place that is defined by blue water.

Impossibly beautiful young men and women flitted about, danced at will while munching on barbecued shrimp. Elvis Mitchell, Ben Lyons, Claudia Puig and Ryan Lattanzio all gathered around Yelchin and Dante for conversation while the hard working team behind the festival had their annual celebration.

I wasn’t much in a partying mood, having gotten a tad baked the night before at a dinner for Dante and Yelchin with the governor of Quintana Roo. I remember the dining table shaped in a square. I remember Elvis Mitchell finishing his cigar with the photographer I’d brought along on this trip, Rick Segal on another rooftop with a cool breeze and a hell of a view. I remember drinking a lot of tequila, champagne and wine. Yes, wine. I remember a toast to the guests and then some of us stumbling out and heading back to the hotel where I’m pretty sure we proceeded to hunker down in their only open kitchen eating hot, salty fries and drinking yet more champagne.

I remember laughing with Lattanzio until I could not breathe and I remember Rick Segal’s camera snapping away, catching all manner of crazy things. We somehow made it back to our hotel rooms though that’s not the part I remember that well.

I was waking up in Vegas in Mexico and my head was pounding. That meant there was no way I could have endured, at my age, another one of those parties. So Segal and I headed out of the Joe Dante party and headed down the streets towards the beach, to get a look at the lapping night waves and their eternal dance with the gusty humid winds. To get there we had to walk through disco row. You’ve never heard music that loud. You can’t out-sexy these women. You have to either submit or withdraw to the bumping and grinding of the discoplosions happening every five feet.

We finally made it to the beach. Boats had been tied to the shoreline with ropes that you had to strategically step over without tripping. We passed a few more hard-charging discos until at last we came upon the gringo wedding. You could tell by Neil Diamond droning on through on their speakers. The wedding guests bobbed back and forth in marital bliss to the tune of “Sweet Caroline.” It felt like we weren’t in Kansas anymore, reversed. We were back in Kansas, baby.

Eventually we got home that night, too. Partly because the publicists were so helpful. Partly because we had to get home or else we were going to have to submit to one of those discos. I did not want to see where that might end up.

One thing about being invited to a film festival on the Mayan Riviera is that in your down time you can visit the natural beauty of the place. We had the choice of attending the Mayan ruins or taking our own side trip, which we did, to Rio Secreto. I’d already seen the ruins, though they are also highly recommended.

The underwater caves are filled with pure, clean water that takes a whole week to be turned from rainwater into underwater cave water. Naturally it will eventually dry up because of global warming (like everything else). Right now it is still the region’s major water supply. You might not know from the jungle that sat on top of it what is thriving underneath.

We all had way more fun than we were legally supposed to have. What a privilege to be there, to having nothing but natural beauty, the nicest people on the planet and movies playing non-stop. You could be an annoying American and complain if you wanted to, probably. You could find that angle if you were looking for it.

To me, it would be unseemly to complain about such a hospitable group of folks trying to make your stay as comfortable as possible. The stakes in Mexico are a lot higher than here, for instance, where customer service and entitlement rule the day. Their economy still hovers between recovering and collapsing. They offer us up their very best, which is, quite frankly, a lot better than any of us deserves.

It would be easy, for instance, to complain about it being too corporate or too touristic because your idea of a Mexican vacation is to relive Rachel Ward’s Cozumel camp in Against All Odds. You want a hut, a papaya and a bottle of tequila. Hey, you can find that here, too. But at the end of the day they are trying to build their economy and make their resort business a success. Fruity drinks all day, luxurious pools to lounge around in, chirping jungle birds fluttering about — world class bathroom facilities? As experiences go, this one was mighty fine.

You probably might be inclined to think, oh sure, they fly you down to Mexico what else are you going to say but nice things? You might have a point there. If you then use that information to write off the Riviera Maya Film Festival? Then you’d be shortsighted at best. It’s a festival that will continue to grow and evolve, along with its lineup and its coastline.


Robin Write at shares his favorite Palme d’Or winners at Cannes. First of a three-part post.

The great thing about looking back at the history of the Cannes Film Festival, and in this case the illustrious Palme d’Or, is that I can pick out five winners and say, they might be the best five victors ever. It is not long before I see five more, and I think, wait a minute. These could be the best winners of the big prize. So I could read about, watch, re-watch, talk about, write about, embrace more great movies, I thought I would break down some Palme d’Or choices into three write-ups. The more the merrier, right?

You would struggle to find anyone who chooses the following five films as the best of Cannes winners. But I would like to think many of you agree they are right up there. And as per normal I am not claiming these as my absolute favorites, I would always rather say check out these fifteen films, than say here, this one is best. So there are ten more to come. Movies about the urge to clean up the streets, a dangerous mission, returning a boy to his country. Movies that tackle war in Poland, or Ireland. Documentaries about war. Semi-autobiographical musicals, eerie road movies. Sexual coming of age, or the vast universe.

Having made fifteen choices, I’m jumping ahead a little, so let’s begin:

2009 – The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke)

Worthy Alternatives:
Bright Star (Jane Campion)
Enter the Void (Gaspar Noé)


The White Ribbon is by its own declaration a German children’s story (Das weiße Band, Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte). But it’s no fairy tale. Or at least, not as we know it. Set in the early 20th century, some time not long before World War I, in a small German village where the simple life is diluted with strange goings-on. This is not a thriller, nor a horror. The patiently-paced story seems to portray villagers of all ages, and age has no barrier to ask why or respond to the bad things that happen. At times it feels like a collection of harmonious short-stories scattered for harvest, their relation to one another not in question. A series of beautiful photographs capturing these terrible things, wonderfully crafted characters, and the importance of wondrous innocence. Haneke’s direction and writing, accompanied by the marvel that is Christian Berger’s black and white cinematography, gifts us story-telling that is never ever laborious or unappealing in its duration. A real gem indeed. A masterpiece you might say.

1994 – Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino)

Worthy Alternatives:
Exotica (Atom Egoyan)
Three Colours: Red (Krzysztof Kieślowski)


I was a teenager when Pulp Fiction exploded all over the world’s cinema. Even I, though, as the young student of film, was aware that Quentin Tarantino had made a movie that was not suited for the likes of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, let alone the prestigious Palme d’Or. Tarantino and his team must have felt they had gate-crashed the party. Well, they kind of did. The ridiculously original, incomprohensibly funny crime caper appeared to get mixed reactions when announced as the winner of the big prize, but there is no denying Pulp Fiction as a master stroke of film-making of recent times. It would go to the Oscars, but they were not quite ready to give it Best Picture (or a certain prison movie). Tarantino has since built an illustrious, booming filmography on his terms, but he has certainly not matched the bravura or excellence of this.

1967 – Blow-Up (Michelangelo Antonioni)

Worthy Alternatives:
Accident (Joseph Losey)
Mouchette (Robert Bresson)


Based somewhat on London photographer David Bailey, Blow-Up is English language film territory for Michelangelo Antonioni. The photographer (a splendid David Hemmings) is charismatic, ambitious and haphazard. He becomes the focus of attention when he is confronted by the woman he photographed in public canoodling with a man. His photos taken there reveal much more than that. And Antonioni’s attention-grabbing film has further depth still, when the incredible sequence of revelation through photographs changes the pace and your own captivation. A crime scene emerges through the photographer’s gradual scrutiny of the shots. You are reminded of Rear Window, when James Stewart is seeing horror in real-time in front of his eyes. You think of that photo enhancing scene in Blade Runner, made fifteen years later. And why do you think psychedelic and the mod parts of Austin Powers are so familiar? Then comes the final moments of Blow-Up, which really challenge your perceptions of existence and illusion.

1999 – Rosetta (Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne)

Worthy Alternatives:
All About My Mother (Pedro Almodóvar)
Wonderland (Michael Winterbottom)


Sinfully not even mentioned in my Best Actress piece, Émilie Dequenne is a simply perfect gem as the title character Rosetta. The seventeen year-old, who lives in a caravan with her wilting mother, is self-sufficient, determined, and somewhat uncompromising – she squabbles with most people she encounters at some point. Nobody gets in her way. The seemingly always on the move Rosetta, often running, appears to be in every frame of the movie, where the social hardship magicians Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne get right in her personal space or peer at her around corners. It’s the type of raw, candid, but utterly effective film-making that makes you wonder about how such a portrayal of reality can be so compelling (see last year’s Two Days, One Night). At times, and we are certainly not forced, we simply watch Rosetta briskly walk back and forth, going about her daily tasks, boiling an egg and then cracking the shell on her own head as naturally as she would fasten closed a padlock. The movie’s ultimate impact is far greater than any words here used to try and describe it.

1984 – Paris, Texas (Wim Wenders)

Worthy Alternatives:
Voyage to Cythera (Theodoros Angelopoulos)
Where the Green Ants Dream (Werner Herzog)


How great to see two of the New German Cinema generation of directors (Wim Wenders and Werner Herzog) in attendance in competition at Cannes. It was Wenders who triumphed this time around, with a story on the shoulders of the terrific Harry Dean Stanton’s Travis. A remarkable, timeless motion picture. I mean, what is not to like? LM Kit Carson and Sam Shepard’s raw and thoughtful script, Ry Cooder’s enigmatic Texan score, or the vast cinematography of Robby Müller. It also has, for me, one of the most uniquely heart-tugging scenes captured on film. Ever. When Travis tells Jane (the luminous Nastassja Kinski) his story from the other side of a one-way mirror, and she begins to realise who it really is she listening to. My goodness, every time I re-watch the movie I get a build-up of all manner of emotions just knowing that moving sequence is yet to come. Paris, Texas also scooped the FIPRESCI Prize, as well as the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the great festival.


Robin Write, longtime fixture at AwardsDaily, runs his own site at

You can follow him on twitter too.



I was lucky enough to get an invite to the Maya Riviera Film Festival as it emerges onto the scene. An early morning flight with a few other journalists and film critics took us first to Mexico City and onward to Cancun where a car would drive us down the coast of Mexico to Playa Del Carmen.

The vibe here is mostly laid back with free-flowing tequila and mango juice or mojitos handed to you in every room. At the Yucatan Princess, vertical pools lined the pathways with vacationers cooling off their sunburnt bodies always with drinks in their hands. There will be time for pools and drinks, but the first order of business was the opening night celebration, followed by dinner and the festival’s opener, Asia Argento’s Incompressa or “Misunderstood.”

It’s one of those typically depressing situations that Argento’s film has yet to find a distributor here in the US. Of course, other people in other countries have been smart enough and open-minded enough to back the film but in America, it appears that no one will touch it with a ten-foot pole, even though in Argento they have that rare breed of a cultish female director who has followed the more celebrated career of her father. She co-wrote the screenplay that concerns young Aria, whose life seems headed for one thing or another but is anything but a passive player in her fate. Aria is ping-ponging against sexuality, drinking, drug abuse — something holds her firmly to the ground even if forces are continually trying to pry her from it.

With a self-absorbed wreck of a mother (Charlotte Gainsbourgh) and equally self-absorbed father who is just not interested in his daughter, Aria sprouts up like a weed with imagination and resilience despite the chaos at home. Argento seems to be clearly drawing from her own life with this film and for that alone you’d think there’d be interest in here in the US. But thus far there isn’t. What a shame because this is a fine example of female-driven cinema that reaches far beyond the usual.

Just as it is kind of heartbreaking to watch Aria, overflowing with smarts and potential, be ignored by those she cares about most, it is equally frustrating to watch how Argento is not being given any kind of hero’s welcome for having made this film. So few stories about young women are told at all, let alone outside the boundaries of PG-13 fantasy we get in America. The film is a reminder of the full spectrum of a human life, not just the idealized one.

Argento was on hand to introduce the movie and afterwards propped a cigarette in between her lips and took photos with a few fans. With a little more encouragement than she’s getting now, Argento could become a major filmmaker. Here’s hoping.

It was a late first night. I slept off half the morning and didn’t see the light of day until noon. This was going to be a drink and pool day, and then dinner with the governor in the evening.

One tries not to feel like the ugly American when visiting “all inclusive” resorts but inevitably one begins to feel that way, despite the promise of being attended to, very politely spoken to, and served — all with no expectation of tips. One way out of feeling awkward and guilty about such treatment is to tip. It is not mandatory but I feel, as an American, it’s important to bring that custom along when traveling.

Playa Del Carmen is right by the Caribbean and sits across on the mainland from the island Cozumel. It is not uncommon to see wild dogs surviving on the streets here, nor wildlife like migrating crabs, or even giant-ish reptiles. The aqua blue water of the sea laps gently on the white sand beaches which are populated by people from all over the world eager to dip their bodies into the bathwater-like shallows of one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Uniformed employees busily keep things clean and tidy, even raking the kelp that clusters at the lip of the sea. There is too much kelp and it appears to be worrying them enough to try to rake it away. It does seem a futile task because more just keeps floating back into the bay. While walking the beach this morning two young women from the UK were marveling at a coconut they found washed up on the shore. They were wondering whether it would be any good or whether they could take it back with them. “Nah, it’s probably too heavy,” one concluded.

The high pillars and marble floors around the resort give it kind of a Romanesque feel – it is beautiful here, there’s no denying it, even if one rather longs for the simplicity of a grass hut perched on a sand dune right on the sea while someone flips a filet of freshly caught fish on the crackling beach fire nearby. This is a modern Mexico that we’re in, one that has come to join the ranks as one of the most formidable regions for cinema. Indeed, the Oscar race has given its Best Director prize to two Mexican men in two years in a row, both of whom had their roots in Mexican cinema, helping to define it, and now helping it emerge.

Film festivals are the best and only way films can be seen by adult people in today’s market as they try to build buzz, find a distributor, then land in an art house in a major city or else play on VOD. “A Netflix movie” is how I heard them referred to once by a young person. To her, an artsy independent film was the kind you get to see on the Netflix. Was a time when they were playing all over the place and people bought tickets to them. Film festivals give us that time back by creating a kind of thinking person’s amusement park/fantasy land where the point of film still rests in the realm of art.

So committed to this notion, the festival is free of charge. They’re committed to bringing cinema to the people by showing films on the beach and in public squares. It is both a way to celebrate and fortify the cinema of Latin America as it is a fest that reaches out internationally to filmmakers everywhere. Being here, the jungle divides the resort from the sea. Though we’re all nested comfortably in luxury, that feeling of wildness always threatens to emerge, whether it’s a snake sneaking its way onto the grounds, or a hurricane churning into the gulf of Mexico. It is a place that trades this wildness for exquisite beauty, with one foot in its ancient past and one foot in the inevitability of its future.

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