Film Festivals

wzzwq53e

(Press Release) LOS ANGELES, CA, October 31, 2014 – AFI FEST 2014 presented by Audi, a program of the American Film Institute, announced today that it will offer a first look at director Ava DuVernay’s highly anticipated film SELMA on Tuesday, November 11. The presentation will feature 30 minutes of exclusive footage from the film followed by a conversation with producers Oprah Winfrey, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, DuVernay and actor David Oyelowo at the Egyptian Theatre.

SELMA, from Paramount Pictures, Pathé and Harpo Films, is the story of a movement. The film chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. The epic march from Selma to Montgomery culminated in President Lyndon B. Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most significant victories for the Civil Rights Movement. DuVernay’s SELMA tells the story of how the revered leader and visionary Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Oyelowo) and his brothers and sisters in the movement prompted change that forever altered history. The film is produced by Christian Colson, Oprah Winfrey, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner. The film is written by Paul Webb and directed by Ava DuVernay.

AFI FEST will take place November 6 through 13 in Hollywood, CA, at the Dolby Theatre®, the TCL Chinese Theatres, the Egyptian Theatre and the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

Free individual tickets to AFI FEST screenings and Galas are available to the general public online at AFI.com. AFI FEST Patron Packages and Passes include access to sold-out Galas and other high-demand films and events. Passes are on sale now at AFI.com/AFIFEST, and AFI Members receive special discounts. The American Film Institute is a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational and cultural organization, and Patron Packages are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.

The AFI FEST mobile app is now available for download. Festival-attendees can create their own personalized festival schedule; learn all about this year’s films and events; receive instant messages and breaking news; and purchase passes and get free tickets. Download the iOS version or the Android version for free here.

For the 11th year, Audi is the festival’s presenting sponsor. Additional top sponsors include AT&T, Coca-Cola, VIZIO, American Airlines (the official airline of AFI), Dunkin’ Donuts, Netflix and Stella Artois. The festival’s venue sponsors include the Dolby Theatre, TCL Chinese Theatres, the Hollywood & Highland Center, the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and the Egyptian Theatre.

About the American Film Institute
AFI is America’s promise to preserve the history of the motion picture, to honor the artists and their work and to educate the next generation of storytellers. AFI programs include the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and AFI Archive, which preserve film heritage for future generations; the AFI Life Achievement Award, the highest honor for a career in film; AFI Awards, honoring the most outstanding motion pictures and television programs of the year; AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies television events and movie reference lists, which have introduced and reintroduced classic American movies to millions of film lovers; year-round and special event exhibition through AFI FEST presented by Audi, AFI DOCS and the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center; and educating the next generation of storytellers at the world-renowned AFI Conservatory. For more information about AFI, visit AFI.com or connect with AFI at twitter.com/AmericanFilm, facebook.com/AmericanFilmInstitute and youtube.com/AFI.

About AFI FEST presented by Audi
A program of the American Film Institute, AFI FEST presented by Audi is a celebration of global cinema and today’s Hollywood – an opportunity for master filmmakers and emerging artists to come together with audiences in the movie capital of the world. AFI FEST is the only festival of its stature that is free to the public. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognizes AFI FEST as a qualifying festival for both Short Film categories for the annual Academy Awards®. This year’s edition takes place November 6–13, 2014. Additional information about AFI FEST is available at AFI.com/AFIFEST. Connect with AFI FEST at facebook.com/AFIFEST, twitter.com/AFIFEST and youtube.com/AFIFEST.

Checking out of the hostel prior to 10:00 left me in a peculiar predicament: not having a lot to do. Nine days of solid work, thereabouts, have equally left me exhausted and left me baffled when confronted with a rare space of more than five minutes of free time. With my first film on my final day in London not getting underway until 15:30, I spent that time as wisely as I could – watching reality TV. When I’m not staring at a cinema screen, I’m staring at a television screen. Or, most often of all, a computer screen. I’m not sure I’d even be here were it not for online catch-up TV services.

Can we not go into The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom? Jacob Cheung’s wuxia film was, by some considerable margin, the weakest of the 23 films I saw at the festival (and I’ve seen film #23 at the time of writing, and it’s very good). Actually, it’s had rather more competition for the sad title of Worst Film of LFF 2014 than the selection I saw last year, though I’ve had perhaps even more fun. White Haired Witch stars Fan Bing Bing, whom I adore on a red carpet, less so on the big screen, and features Hark Tsui as ‘artistic consultant’. One can detect his penchant for maximalism in Cheung’s film, though with extraordinarily little of his sense of invention. This is a silly film. The Q&A (naturally, there was a Q&A, because when is there not?) after the film, which I could only attend part of (naturally, because when do I ever have the time to attend a whole Q&A?), didn’t shed much light on what artistry there was supposed to be in the film, so I don’t think there was supposed to be much. Cheung did reveal, during the first part of the Q&A, that Hark had been asked to serve as producer on the film, but had been tied up directing Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon, which is a far superior film, so more power to him.

On a side note, some grumpy old cunt seated next to me in the cinema groaned when he spied the packet of crisps I’d brought in with me. He wasn’t impressed either when I messaged my boyfriend as the trailers began, muttering ever louder and louder about the daft young kid beside him – alas, how could I ever know anything about cinema and what was I doing at a film festival? I just told him to mind his own fucking business. Funny how little it takes to shut people up.

If only I didn’t have to hurry from The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom to The Duke of Burgundy, because the hurrying was far from over. Hooray for Peter Strickland! What a revolting sweat I’d broken into, clad in my most generously-proportioned outfit of the week, lugging around a shoulder bag and a suitcase, sprinting around the tube. Peter Strickland saved the day. The Duke of Burgundy is dense, funny, erotic, playful, artistic, bizarre, confounding, enlightening, completely magnificent. It’s a puzzle that yearns to be solved yet begs not to be, a sado-masochistic curio to rival the central relationship in itself, a monumental work of art that sings the praises of non-narrative cinema (in glorious atonality), all the while with its own narrative, apparently simple yet remarkably multi-stranded. It’s as bewildering and as beguiling as all that sounds too. And it’s a great way to cap off my London 2014 experience.

It might not have been, though. After a slightly late start, I had a mere one hour and 45 minutes to make it onto my plane. After missing my homeward flight last year, it was looking precariously possible that the same might occur this year. I was perched, a few stairs already out of the screen, at the rear of Curzon Mayfair’s lovely Screen 1, waiting for the credits to roll. As soon as they did, I dashed all the way to gate 55D at London Gatwick airport. This involved a dearth of available taxis, several wrong turns at the airport, a queue jump and an inexplicable search of my hand luggage, and at last I could relax: against the odds, I’d made it in time, albeit only by one minute – not even exaggerating, one minute. Or it would have been a long, hard sleep on a long, hard airport floor.

For more coverage of all kinds of film, all year round, you can take a look at my blog – screenonscreen.blogspot.co.uk – or follow me on Twitter @screenonscreen. It doesn’t get any better there, alas, but it could hardly get worse.

Suck it, bitches.

Cheung 01 Cheung 02 Cheung 03

71vz8uft

I arrive back in Belfast tomorrow night, hopefully some time before 23:00. Fourteen hours later, I’ll be at work. I’ll have blog work to complete, including the remainder of my LFF coverage, films to see before they are removed from theatres, housework that I neglected, unwisely, before I departed for London, and sleep to catch up on, in my own bedroom, alone, nice and chilly. I want more time, I need more time. Not here, alas the festival finishes tomorrow, but just time to relax and come to terms with all I have to do before starting back at bloody work. Since festival season commenced at the end of August, it’s been almost non-stop graft for me. What will become of me over Christmas, I wonder? What to do when all of my favourite TV shows have ended, when there’s no film news to report on, when I’m – and here’s a word I genuinely don’t think I’ve used about myself for many weeks now, not once – bored? I don’t think anyone ever gets used to boredom. We human beings will always find something to make us happy, something to make us irate, something to make us sad, something to make us bored.

Is life in London ever boring? I don’t think I’d like to have grown up here – it’s just too big, in a standard, centralised kind of way. Not like, say, New York, with its districts. London is one massive city with one massive centre – however to feel at home in it? I suppose one must live within said centre, like the affluent new upper class, as inbred as they ever were but now with pretensions toward relevance and a supposed connection to the rest of the world. They turned out en masse for the 11:45 screening of Song of the Sea, the highly-acclaimed new film from Irish animated film director Tomm Moore, whose last film The Secret of Kells received an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature five years ago. What’s more annoying than a cinema full of children? A cinema full of children with nannies. Not that the nannies are any extra bother, just that children with nannies are. They don’t just have nannies, they have £20 to fork out on a single ticket to a European gala premiere in central London… on a Saturday fucking morning. The exquisitely beautiful but dramatically lacking film is fun and full of delight; it’s not quite the classic it has been hailed as by some, not quite the equal of the Studio Ghibli films that the creative team, in attendance for a disappointingly frothy Q&A (they were playing to their audience, granted), needed to admit were their inspiration, but very much worth a watch. Just maybe not for £20. Any foreign audience would surely appreciate the lovely Irish humour strewn through Song of the Sea; not so much this crowd – I suspect what’s needed to tickle their funny bones is a daft old chap named Rafe and a jolly good case of misunderstanding involving a chimney sweep, a crystal decanter and a rather smashing plate of pork pies. Spiffing.

Are my diaries ever boring? I bet they are, especially when I go on about jolly shitty cases of faulty internet connections, misplaced pen drives and a rather horrid display on the ATM machine when I check my balance. I’ll move on to the second film of my busy day, and one which I rly rllllllly needed to start on fucking time. I knew precious little about Chiung Chiang Hsiu’s The Furthest End Awaits, also receiving a European premiere at LFF although not at y screening, prior to booking a ticket to see it – I only became aware of the Japanese film from the Taiwanese director upon reading about it in the festival programme I received in the mail some weeks back. It didn’t even have a proper IMDb page until recently. The film is about a woman who moves from Tokyo to remote coastal Japan to revisit her childhood home, the only asset left to her by her missing father, now believed dead. She forms a bond with a neighbouring girl living with her younger brother and her absent mother, and there’s a lot of learning and growing and moving on from the past etc. in the process. That’s not very kind of me, because actually the film is a total delight, made with a soothing sensitivity in every aspect of its production, rightfully causing many critics to reminisce on Ozu Yasujiro’s works in its fine depiction of family life in the Japanese countryside. But did it start on fucking time? Did it shit. I waited five fucking minutes for the introduction to begin, then another five fucking minutes before the director had been introduced and translated, leaving me with a mere seven minutes to get from Leicester Square to the South Bank. I had my belongings packed before the film had ended, forewent the credits and didn’t even get close to attending the post-screening Q&A. Like the one I’d unfortunately missed with Frederick Wiseman, and the one I’d had to cut short yesterday with Viggo Mortensen, it was a Q&A I was very keen to participate in, but was unable to. Still, the important thing is that I see all the films I’m booked to see.

Were those seven minutes of travel boring? Lol plz. I don’t think I’ve sweated so much nor smelt so bad since I was being given birth to. Despite making it to the cinema five minutes late – and that’s an impressively quick journey – the curtains were still pulled upon my arrival, a sure sign that, as expected, there’d be a Q&A after the film, and they were waiting for the special guests to turn up to introduce the film. Why as expected? Well, since Viggo Mortensen was in town for a Q&A yesterday for Jauja, he’d likely be here for today’s screening of Far from Men, David Oelhoffen’s film in which he stars opposite Reda Kateb as two unlikely outsiders caught in the Algerian war in the 1950s. It’s based on an Albert Camus story, and functions basically as a North African Western. The Q&A didn’t seem to have very much to elaborate upon, since the film is mostly just what one would expect upon, say, reading the synopsis or watching the trailer; those in attendance answered questions from interviewer Damon Wise and audience members, who reacted about as enthusiastically as any I’ve experienced this year, perplexingly. Actually, it’s not that perplexing – this probably wasn’t the type of audience that would have even stayed to the end of From What Is Before a week ago. The film’s panel did a good job, though, illuminating the film’s strongest and most persuasively intelligent points, if occasionally dodging the question. And what a panel, a truly international one, featuring Viggo, David, Reda, producer Matthew Gledhill and composers Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. The only one who didn’t speak was Cave, but he had a lovely pair of shoes on.

An evening in which to work… at last! Lol fuck it I got a few bits done in between dilly-dallying, eating, listening to Gwen Stefani’s new song (naturally) and getting as early a night as I could. Only I couldn’t, because it was a legitimate sauna in that motherfucking dorm, I mean it’s October fs, what’s the deal here? Who did that? How am I gonna get up tomorrow morning at 8:30 to check out?

Not spiffing, not smashing, just poppycock. Utter poppycock.

Cast 01

Chiung 01

Chiung 02

Ellis 01

Kateb 01

Mericeau 01

Mericeau 02

Moore 01

Moore 02

Mortensen 01

Odeon 01

Oelhoffen 01

Oelhoffen 02

Panel 01

Panel 02

Panel 03

Panel 04

Parkour 01

Keaton, Birdman

The event will pay tribute to Keaton, a Santa Barbara resident, and frontrunner for Best Actor this year.
Keaton gives easily his best performance to date in Alejandro G. Inarritu’s Birdman where he plays a former superhero actor trying to become legit by “adapting, directing and starring in” the Raymond Carver short story What We Talk about when we Talk About Love. Press release as follows:

Santa Barbara International Film Festival will honor Michael Keaton with the Modern Master Award for the 30th anniversary edition of the Fest, which runs January 27 – February 7, 2015, it was announced today by SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling. The Tribute will take place on Saturday, January 31st, 2015 at the historic Arlington Theatre.

The Modern Master Award is the highest honor presented by SBIFF. Established in 1995, it was created to pay tribute to an individual who has enriched our culture through his/her multi-faceted accomplishments in the motion picture industry. Keaton joins past recipients including Ben Affleck, Christopher Nolan, Michael Douglas, Jodie Foster, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Diane Keaton, Sean Penn, Jeff Bridges, Bruce Dern, Peter Jackson, George Clooney, Will Smith, Cate Blanchett, Clint Eastwood, Christopher Plummer and James Cameron.

Michael Keaton will be honored for his distinguished career, including his most compelling performance to date in Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, a black comedy that tells the story of an actor (Keaton) — famous for portraying an iconic superhero – as he struggles to mount a Broadway play. In the days leading up to opening night, he battles his ego and attempts to recover his family, his career and himself.

SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling commented “There is no actor more befitting of the Modern Master Award than the legendary Michael Keaton. His performance in Birdman is tremendous, showing the range of decade’s long experience.”

Michael Keaton first gained national attention in the hit comedy Night Shift, followed by starring roles in such films as Mr. Mom, Johnny Dangerously, and The Dream Team. In 1989, he earned the ‘Best Actor’ award from the National Society of Film Critics for Clean and Sober and Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice. Keaton later re-teamed with Burton to play the title role in the blockbusters Batman and Batman Returns.

In 2002, Keaton played ‘Robert Weiner’ in HBO’s critically-acclaimed Live from Baghdad, based on a true story of the CNN crew who reported from Baghdad during the Gulf War, and he received a Golden Globe® nomination for his performance. In 2005, Keaton was featured in Game 6, a story centered on the historic Game Six of the 1986 World Series, and in the following year, he starred in the feature film The Last Time.

In 2007, Keaton was in the TNT mini-series The Company, a dramatic story of how the CIA operated during the Cold War, and that same year, he made his directorial debut and also starred in the drama The Merry Gentleman, which was accepted into the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. Also, in 2009, Keaton co-starred in the Fox Searchlight comedy Post Grad. In 2010, Keaton was the voice of ‘Ken’ in Toy Story 3, the latest addition to the successful and endearing Pixar franchise, and he also co-starred in the comedy feature The Other Guys, with Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson for Columbia Pictures. In 2013, Keaton appeared opposite Michelle Monaghan in the feature film Penthouse North, and earlier this year, he was featured in both Robocop and Need for Speed.
The Santa Barbara International Film Festival runs January 27 – February 7, 2015. The Modern Master Award will be presented at the historic Arlington Theatre on Saturday, January 31, 2015. Passes and Tickets are available now and can be purchased through www.sbiff.org or by calling 805-963-0023.

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival, presented by UGG® Australia, is dedicated to discovering and showcasing the best in independent and international cinema. Now celebrating its 30th anniversary, SBIFF offers 200+ films, tributes and symposiums that range from American indie films to world cinema and everything in-between. With its commitment to cultural diversity and powerful storytelling, SBIFF transforms beautiful downtown Santa Barbara, CA into a rich destination for film lovers which attract more than 85,000 attendees. SBIFF brings to the forefront the importance and power of filmmaking and continues its commitment to providing free children’s education and community outreach programs through its 10-10-10 Student Filmmaking and Screenwriting Competitions, Mike’s Field Trip to the Movies, AppleBox Family Films, 3rd Weekend and educational seminars. For more information, please visit www.sbiff.org

girlhood 3

Director Céline Sciamma talks about her film Girlhood at which received an honorary commendation at the BFI Festival Awards. Danny Leigh at ft.com says its “one of the LFF’s freshest experiences, a film with life in its bones and a vivid aesthetic zing. In place of wagging a finger at her audience, Sciamma shows us Mariéme and her friends miming rapturously to Rihanna in shoplifted dresses with the antitheft tags still attached. Do you want to judge them? La vie, Girlhood says, est complexe.

The official BFI summary seconds that emotion:

“Céline Sciamma (Water Lilies, Tomboy) continues her exploration of the effects of social conventions on delicately forming female identities in her triumphant third film. Sixteen-year-old Marieme (Karidja Touré) must navigate not only the disruptive onset of womanhood, but also the inequalities of being black and living in the underprivileged suburbs of Paris. Excluded from school and in fear of her overbearing brother at home, Marieme escapes into the shielding environment of a girl gang. She renames herself ‘Vic’ for ‘Victory’ and gives up on asking for the things she wants and learns to just take them. Formally meticulous, the film is divided into four distinct segments in which Marieme changes her physical appearance to suit the different worlds she must navigate (school, home, street). Each transformation magnificently captures the heavy burden that visibility and image play in Marieme’s life, whilst Crystel Fournier’s stunning photography that favours a distinctive blue palette ensures that Marieme remains a defiantly vital presence on screen even while it appears she is disappearing from society’s view. The jubilant soundtrack infuses the film with vigour and passion, from the opening juddering electro-goth of Light Asylum’s ‘Dark Allies’ to a full length lip sync to Rhianna’s ‘Diamonds’. With Girlhood Sciamma flawlessly evokes the fragile resilience of youth.”

girlhood 2

zo2uqv53

I woke up with a Cannes-do attitude. Sorry about the pun, but I’ve got to bulk these diaries out somehow. This is the second of three days, and the first of two consecutive, during my stay in London where I’ll be catching three films, a task that is made more difficult by the necessity to write reports on all three, plus a daily diary, and all without wifi on this malfunctioning laptop. What work I could get done before screening #1, I’d have to do quickly, as my film-watching day was set to commence at 12:00.

All three of today’s films were Cannes competition entries: from the official selection, Foxcatcher and Leviathan, and, sandwiched between them, Un Certain Regard selection Jauja. That’s the kind of thing that makes you question the Cannes selection process. First was Foxcatcher, a film which I’d been looking forward to as a promising mainstream American product, but was also approaching with a critical eye – would this studio film probe as deeply as the best films I’ve seen here at LFF, or would it be just atmospheric fluff, handsomely made but hollow, effective but forgettable. I was very pleased with how the film turned out to be: sharp, subversive, and most handsomely made indeed. It represents an even more radical deconstruction of the classic American man, whether defined by wealth, physical strength or decent, family-man integrity, than Miller’s first narrative film, Capote, and it’s a whole world away, thematically, from Moneyball. Though its real-life story and straightforward style may seem to reject the notion of multiple interpretations, there’s at least one that rings out very loudly – Foxcatcher is an alternative homoerotic tragedy, gay porn disguised as wrestling thriller, its three central characters each identifiable gay archetypes and each falling prey to the true foxcatcher, the culture that insists on their conformity, then punishes them when they fail to meet their expectations. That’s what I took from the film, at least. Perhaps I was just transfixed by the outline of Channing Tatum’s cock.

With the wifi remaining determinedly down on the laptop, I was forced to seek out an internet cafe. Not the first one, it was shit, the internet barely worked, which only aggravated my anxiety. I tried a second, and was much more successful, getting the work I needed to get done completed efficiently. So efficient was I that I even shed some weight in the process – not a lot, just the equivalent of a pen drive. It wouldn’t be until I returned to the hostel to complete my day’s work after the next two films that I’d realise my mistake. It didn’t end up making m work impossible, just another obstacle to overcome in what was already a stressful experience. Never mind, I have films to watch. That’s why I’m here, and I’m still enthused about seeing each and every one of them, and still exhilarated by the experience. Obviously I’ll be returning to London next year.

Jauja was the one film I resolutely did not want a Q&A for today. I’d have roughly 50 minutes to get out of Leicester Square and make it down the road to Curzon Mayfair; that’s a journey that can be made by foot in 20 minutes, but who knows, maybe the film would start late, and maybe there’d be an introduction, and maybe that introduction would be long, and maybe all that actually did happen and my travel time would be cut to 30 minutes. And maybe the Q&A would be with the film’s lead actor, producer and composer, Viggo Mortensen. And maybe he’d be eloquent and insightful and funny and personable and smartly-attired. By the time I’d ran to and from the tube to the Curzon for Leviathan, I bet he was still talking. He was worth listening to – it’s nothing to do with his stardom, it’s due to all of the above qualities that made his interview thereabouts the most illuminating and interesting of the festival so far, and he’s not even the film’s director or writer. Leaving that session early was almost as great a disappointment as needlessly missing the Q&A with Frederick Wiseman after National Gallery. Jauja, btw, is a beautiful, mystical, intoxicatingly wonderful film, director Lisandro Alonso applying his inimitable style to a narrative with more clarity than his former films, but with an equal amount of cryptic philosophical wisdom, so stylishly rendered via Alonso’s incredible mastery of cinematic language.

Here’s a foreboding detail: Curzon Mayfair don’t like to start their films on time. Last year, when I was late for a screening of Borgman at this cinema, I missed the first part of the film – that’s how it ought to go, right? Perhaps I could have hung around longer to listen to more of what Viggo Mortensen had had to say, because their screening of Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan didn’t get underway until 21:10, ten minutes later than officially scheduled. That’d be forgivable were there special guests to wait for, but there weren’t; that’d be acceptable for my final screening on Sunday, The Duke of Burgundy, were I not booked on a flight that leaves less than two hours after that film finishes. They’d better fucking start that screening on time. They’d srsly better. Leviathan was met at Cannes with such enormous critical praise that Jane Campion’s jury’s decision to reward the film with the Screenplay prize was considered, by many, to be a snub. What nonsense. Leviathan is a good film, ambitious and forceful, an epic satire on an intimate scale. One of the reasons I’d been so satisfied attending the Q&A with Viggo Mortensen was how he remarked on the increased power of cinematic text as universal allegory when its specificities are refined as diligently as possible – this is precisely how Leviathan functions, a narrow portrait of a family’s fight against brutish local authorities to maintain control over their land, but also an expansive portrait of humankind and our irresponsible, destructive nature, both over ourselves and over one another. It’s a film that comments on our species’ need to have a home of our own, but also on our outrageous self-importance in believing that we could ever own a piece of this planet.

And then I noticed my pen drive was missing. It had already been a long day. #sickofthisshit. The films were good, though, very good, in fact. I’d readily watch all of them again – they’d surely all reward repeat viewings. Leviathan has been touted as a potential Oscar contender – against all the odds, Russia selected it as their official submission for the Foreign Language Film category, their first smart choice in years. I’m not certain it’ll get in: it might have to rely on the committee vote, despite its broad appeal and frontrunner status, and that vote could be very competitive in a formidable year in his category. It’s gonna get a main category eligibility run too; the writers might pick up on it, as the Cannes jury did, and the critics’ groups could show it some love. Foxcatcher ought to make a splash in major categories come awards season, it’s good enough, frankly. All of the main performers are worthy nominees for big awards; Steve Carell is just marvellous, utterly outstanding. It’d be a worthier Best Picture winner than most.

Tomorrow, I see Tomm Moore’s animated Song of the Sea, Chiung Chiang Hsiu’s The Furthest End Awaits, and David Oelhoffen’s Far from Men. It’ll be a quick turnaround between those last two, so let’s hope The Furthest End Awaits kicks off on time. And let’s also hope that Viggo’s still in town, cos I’ve plenty of time after Far from Men and would love to hear more from this immensely talented artist.

Please come back tomorrow. Please don’t leave me here. Come back to cold mountain fs

====

[Scroll down to find links to all seven of Paddy’s LFF Journal entries featured this past week – Ryan]

Covent Garden 01

Gates 01

Hippodrome 01

Odeon 01

Viggo 01

Viggo 02

Viggo 03

Viggo 04

Viggo 05

Viggo 06

Viggo 07

Viggo 08

Viggo 09

LFF Day One
LFF Day Two
LFF Day Three
LFF Day Four
LFF Day Five
LFF Day Six
LFF Day Seven

Paddy Mullholland’s blog: ScreenOnScreen
Twitter: @screenonscreen

Sorry, Thomas. People who stay in hostels tend to be of a select few varities, two specifically. There are the loners, like myself, often silent and solitary, though occasionally the opposite: over-eager to socialise. And then there are the groups, usually between three and six in number, more often male than female, generally young, slim and Mediterranean. So, yeh, sorry Thomas, but I’ve been perving. There’s just too much talent in The Royal Bayswater Hotel for me not to. These boys deserve to be ogled. You’re not here, Thomas, I need something to look at. Plus, a lot of them wear tight white briefs. That’s not even fair.

Here are the rules regarding the films I’m seeing at LFF: they have to be films, and they have to be showing at LFF. Bruno Dumont’s Li’l Quinquin was made as a mini-series, and it’s easy to detect its mini-series structure even as it shows here as a feature film, since the four episodes are each preceded by a chapter title. It premiered at Cannes in May, though, as a feature, rather like last year’s Behind the Candelabra, and that was before its TV broadcast in France (or anywhere else in the world), so technically I’m justified in considering it a film. As a director, Dumont – whose films include 1999’s excoriating Humanity, and the recent Camille Claudel 1915, starring Juliette Binoche at her incomparable best – is tough to love, and sometimes even tough to admire, but his defiant singularity and his command of his craft always provide his films with much to ponder, far more depth than their stark, breezy aesthetic and enigmatic stares imply. Li’l Quinquin sees Dumont turn his hand to comedy, at least for as long as he can sustain it (his predilection for human horror eventually inescapable), and with impressive ease: Li’l Quinquin doesn’t feel like the work of someone stretching their abilities or testing their boundaries, and the humour feels ingenuous and wholly appropriate. The story involves one of Dumont’s specialities, a rural community in Northern France, and the fumbled investigation into an ongoing series of murders in the region. One can see why it was opted for TV – similar stories have been at the heart of so many recent European TV successes, like The Killing, The Bridge and Sean Durkin’s under-appreciated Southcliffe. I found the film as oblique as ever from Bruno Dumont, but unfortunately not as stimulating as his best work. It’s hilarious, though, absurd and politically incorrect, and also chilling – in particular the horrible, unforgettable final scene.

With Li’l Quinquin running over two hours, I had mere minutes to use as wisely as I could before my next film, so obviously food. The National Film Theatre, or BFI Southbank, has an unnerving procedure of announcing upcoming films, declaring things such as “Last call for _____” about five minutes prior to the scheduled start time. For someone such as myself, obsessively punctual, that’s the sole ingredient required to create the perfect panic pie, though I understand why they do it – middle class people have a tendency to expect everybody else to wait for them, including cinema staff, and middle aged people have a tendency to be extremely slow to boot. The audience for Pedro Costa’s Horse Money reminded me of why I’d been so glad to return to dirty Belfast blockbuster audiences after last year’s LFF. Some guy who looked like he’d packed up have of South London in his numerous bags was in my seat for some inexplicable reason, so he moved over one into a seat which also wasn’t his, as I discovered when a late arrival resigned herself to taking another seat rather than asking him to pack up and fuck off, because we didn’t have all year. Two seats away from me sat a pair of bona fide nerds, essentially pimples with legs and opinions. Pleeeease not more opinions. Opinions on films! Definitive opinions, straight out of the school thesaurus by way of Total Film, real faux-intellectual bullshit. They discussed Ulrich Seidl’s In the Basement with a misplaced assurance that left me with the certainty that they’d never even heard of Ulrich Seidl before booking those tickets. Why were these philistines seeing a Pedro Costa film?

I felt like a bit of a philistine myself exiting the screen, though. I just have to keep reminding myself that I did explore Horse Money, I did examine it, I did attempt to interpret its design as something less obvious, more complex than it appears. I suppose I failed, and I don’t know if I’m to blame or if Costa is. Horse Money allegorically concerns the legacy of Portuguese occupation in Cape Verde, the film a heady sensorial and cerebral poem about a nation’s collective pain and grief. That poem is expressed in the disturbed and detached experiences of Costa’s lead, Ventura – a thoroughly magnetic performer. But, no matter the film’s considerable beauty in a great many regards, Costa’s technique is too blatant and too direct to probe as deeply and as broadly as it intends to, the themes he engages in too obvious. For a film of such artistic integrity, it doesn’t break any new ground, not really. As poetry porn, it’ll attract limitless raves, and hopefully extensive discussion over years to come, perhaps making it as viable an artistic document, in my eyes, as Costa’s other works to date.

I had intended to do quite a lot of work, plus catch up on quite a lot of missed TV shows, in the evening of Day Seven: Horse Money was over by 17:30, and I hoped to avail of the serviceable Wifi at BFI Southbank to achieve all of this. But this old laptop was not playing ball, not at all. Wifi issues at every location I visited made accessing the internet on this poor old dear an impossibility, and money woes prevented me, initially, from being able to afford computer access at the hostel’s internet cafe, this after a long and stressful journey back from the cinema. Eventually, I got as much done as I could on the hostel’s computer system, and tried to get an early night. I tried, but for the energy that an evening of anxiety, furious work and plentiful Dr. Pepper had stimulated in me, and there wasn’t a lot of hope that sleep would arrive soon. And then, this happened: a commotion erupted in the hostel room which, in my half-sleep and in whispered voices was fairly difficult to make sense of. By the time one of the hostel employees had arrived in the room and switched on the lights for a good half hour, the entire room learned – one particularly soused individual had pissed himself… in bed… on the top bunk. Basically, he pissed on some poor sod’s face, and all over his and his girlfriend’s belongings. Escorting him out of the room was far from an easy task. Getting to sleep was scarcely any simpler.

Writing this diary, on the morning of Day Eight, I still don’t know if Wifi plans to operate properly, and Im about to find out. I’m not sure that I want to. It’s been a relatively optimistic morning so far, despite the woes of last night, principally due to the fact that on my slate today I have Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher, Lisandro Alonso’s Jauja and Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan, three films which I’ve been very keen to see since they premiered at Cannes. Wish me luck with Wifi, bitches!

byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Art 01

NFT01

Posters 01

basement

It was the day I hadn’t been looking forward to. Isn’t it a shame that my LFF experience would entail such a day? The films, they were there, they always will be. The travelling, it too, this being London, and how great to be in London! The company, it was there too, and then it wasn’t.

I’m still pretty far behind on my work. With Thomas around, I’ve been making the most of what free time we have here to, well, make the most of him. As much as one can make in a hostel room with 18 others… Work would be forced to take a serious backseat in the first half of today, or as much of a backseat as I can bear to resign it to. Thomas’ flight leaves this evening, and Ulrich Seidl’s In the Basement, showing at 15:00, would be our final film together at the festival. What nonsense, that I should feel so downbeat as we explore the roads around Leicester Square, looking for a suitable place for lunch and a drink. What nonsense, that I should feel so bereft as I lie in my hostel bed, a snoring stranger where Thomas was lying not 24 hours ago. I’ll see him again on Sunday, and we’ll see thousands more films together in our lifetime. But fs I wish he could stay.

I’m a fan of Ulrich Seidl, to an extent. He can try one’s patience, but his films are regularly impressive and intriguing pieces of work, and his position within international cinema is important. No-one does sardonic distraction like him, not even his neighbour in both geography and style, Michael Haneke. In the Basement is interesting and enjoyable, not very probing but it doesn’t need to be – it may peel back the prim, pristine curtains of Austrian society, or in this case peer down the trapdoor ‘Im Keller’, to reveal dirty, shameful secrets we all suspected were there, but Seidl’s latest document is both his most concise and his most open-minded yet. It’s like a distillation of everything he’s done since he last produced a documentary thesis on the curious habits of his countrymen in 1996’s Animal Love, by now wholly lacking in freshness, nevertheless as incisive as ever. It’s caustically funny, and it shocked – most intentionally – many audience members (Thomas included, though did anyone in the theatre find scrotal stretching especially enjoyable?). I believe there was a sole walkout that caught my attention. This audience probably knew what it was getting itself into to begin with, and we Brits don’t normally make a habit of walking out of films, but I’d expected more. There were more walkouts during Hard to Be a God on Sunday.

We navigated our way to King’s Cross / St. Pancras (or, as Thomas unfailingly and unironically referred to it, St. Pancreas) Station to send my beloved away to the distant shores of Derryadd. They’re not that distant, but they might as well be. I see the charity ads on the Tube stating that 200,000 children a year die while fetching water, and I wonder if Thomas will be next. What if he drops his candle and falls in the well? Even with a breather of several hours between screenings, there’s still not enough time. We stop for refreshments at the station, and suddenly it’s time to separate. He descends the escalator toward the train, and I wonder if I’ll ever see him again. Not because something terrible might happen, just that he’ll probably catch the train to fucking Timbuktu by mistake or some shit. Lol jk I’m the one who got the wrong train (kinda) back to the cinema, to see Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy’s The Tribe.

A Ukrainian film featuring a cast of deaf actors, The Tribe is told entirely by use of Ukrainian sign language, and without translation, subtitles or voiceover. The packed screening included a high proportion of deaf attendees. Festival programmer Damon Wise introduced director Slaboshpytskiy and creative director Elena Slaboshpytskaya, alongside a vocal translator, to the stage to introduce the film. Between the translations and Slaboshpytskiy’s verbosity, this wasn’t a brief introduction, but it was a valuable and informative one. It wasn’t a popular one, though, as many in the audience were most dissatisfied with the lack of a sign language interpreter on the stage to accompany those already there. Too many speakers, too many languages, too few microphones and too little patience – it wasn’t wise of the BFI not to think to provide a signer for the planned post-screening Q&A, but who’d have thought that the introduction would stretch on for so long. The disquiet was dispelled as soon as Wise revealed that the film was going to make as little sense to speakers as to non-speakers anyway, and the film finally began. It’s a bold, intense film about tribal community values and structures, its themes and its plot highly effective in their given context, but also easily applicable to a limitless array of stories and situations in reality. Slaboshpytskiy’s decision to forego conventional verbal or written communication is, in fact, a terrific one, forcing the viewer to explore other aspects of the filmmaking in order to derive meaning, a requirement that is both simple and rewarding. It’s a powerful, perfectly-formed film. The Q&A was fairly short – a late start time, itself delayed, a film that ran over two hours, an enforced cut-off time of 23:30. Slaboshpytskiy’s responses to the questions posed were lengthy and veered off in any direction his mind allowed them to, but they were consistently intelligent and illuminating. He dismissed the notion that the film was an intentional allegory of recent political events in Ukraine, though didn’t dismiss the validity of such a notion in relation to his film should anyone find it suitable to it, and demonstrated a love for film that’s often at its strongest with debut filmmakers (as he is, extraordinarily). Perhaps most notable about the Q&A session was its accidental connection to the film, and to the process of understanding those who, either literally or figuratively, don’t speak our language. The BFI, by this stage, had gotten its act together and found a signer to interpret both questions and answers – signed questions verbally interpreted by the signer, translated by the translator, answered by Slaboshpytskiy, whose answers then went back along the same chain of translation. Curious to wonder what was getting lost, or altered, along the way. Curious to wonder if it matters.

The MPAA would have had a field day with these two films today – copious amounts of sex and nudity, and not of the kind they tend to appreciate. I hope to appreciate tomorrow’s movies, which include Bruno Dumont’s mini-series Lil’ Quinquin, being presented here as a single feature, and Pedro Costa’s Horse Money. And then I might have time to get some fucking work done again.

Night night bitches

Bar 01

Bridge 01

Southbank 01

Tribe 01

Tribe 03

Tribe 04

Tribe 05

Tribe 06

Tribe 07

Tribe 08

eden_51

The pleasure of being able to relax, the quality of the films and the plain old good company made Day Five the best day yet at the London Film Festival, for me at least. I don’t think I’ll be able to top it during the second half of my ten-day stint here in the capital. Rushing from one location to another is, surprisingly, no less stressful when accompanied by a loved one – their welcome presence is mitigated by one’s concern for not only yourself but for them as well. So to be able to remain in Leicester Square, a homely hub of the LFF, for the duration of Tuesday was something of a delight. Thomas and I took in a few sights, had a few moderately-priced sit-down meals, and generally tried not to wander too far from Vue West End. At least, I did. Thomas has a curious habit of turning the wrong way out of near every exit we pass through; I don’t know if Londoners think he’s trying to escape, the number of times I’ve had to pull him off the tube in the direction of the Way Out signs.

A lunchtime stop at the imaginatively-titled London Chinatown restaurant (at least that’s what was on its menus, but don’t hold me to it), after which I had planned to scribe a review of yesterday’s A Girl at My Door, ran too close to the commencement of film #1 today, which left me worryingly far behind on my work. Never mind, once Thomas goes home tomorrow I’l have plenty of free time – too much, possibly, if I’m lucky! Film #1 was the documentary Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait, a film that I booked to see purely on the strength of its critical reception out of Cannes. It’s a compilation of raw video footage from the Syrian conflict in 2011, taken from dozens of video libraries from ordinary Syrian citizens, and new videocamera footage from the doc’s creators, Ossama Mohammed, a director in exile in Paris, and Wiam Simav Bedirxan, a woman trapped in the ravaged city of Homs. It’s the kind of film that rly should be thoroughly horrifying, and that it is. The heartfelt honesty of Mohammed and Bedirxan’s artistry and the sheer visceral power of the footage they’ve been granted access to combine to produce the most harrowing film I’ve witnessed in a very long time. The screen at Vue was unfortunately empty – it’s not a film that has received much publicity, and it probably never will, though it deserves to; it would probably have fared better in one of the festival’s many arthouses. The audience was remarkably still and silent, however, even for a British crowd, and, tellingly, there was no applause after the film. Not that it wasn’t appreciated by those in attendance: one viewer toward the rear of the screen tried to start up an ovation, but that was roundly rejected by the rest of us. It was clearly not only me who was so intensely moved by the film, and Thomas, who’d expressed that this had been the film he had least been looking forward to seeing, exited the cinema proclaiming it as his favourite of his trip so far.

With the time we had between screenings, I completed some work, indulged in a Costa Creamy Cooler, accompanied Thomas to Trafalgar Square – home of the National Gallery, the subject of Frederick Wiseman’s documentary which I viewed on Sunday – and stopped in at a pub for a few beers. After all, this evening’s film was Mia Hansen-Love’s French house music scene biopic, Eden, so what better condition to take it in than in utter inebriation?! That wasn’t my plan, ok, and it wasn’t what occurred either – I was only a little tipsy by the time the film commenced, thankfully. On the way to the cinema, we passed by the red carpet hosting the premiere of LFF’s centrepiece gala film, Testament of Youth, and caught a glimpse of Kit Harington, one of the film’s stars. Funny that he spends much of his year living in the same city as me, and it’s only now that we meet… lol jk we didn’t meet plz with all my bodyguards he couldn’t get fucking near me. And, inside Vue for the screening of Eden, I observed Mia Hansen-Love, there to introduce the film and to participate in a Q&A afterwards, and actor Alba Rohrwacher, who was seemingly there on recreational grounds, since she’s not in the film.

Kate Taylor, a festival programmer who has been a presence at a number of the screenings I’ve attended, is a wise and eloquent interviewer with an incisive understanding of cinema. She introduced Hansen-Love, who introduced Eden, which introduced me to a wealth of terrific dance music I feel ashamed at not having noticed until now. A film can do that to me, enhance my appreciation of music I’d previously ignored – I almost became a Stone Roses fan after watching Shane Meadows’ recent documentary on the band last year. But much of Eden’s soundtrack is right up my street, and it was perhaps that element, alongside the general excellent filmmaking courtesy of Hansen-Love, that elevated Eden for me, beyond being a basic biopic. It’s a vibrant and deeply-felt portrait of its musical subject, and the film’s human protagonist, based very closely on Mia’s brother Sven, who co-wrote the film. And the Q&A thereafter was an enlightening experience, no matter how urgent my need to go for a slash might have been. Mia’s responses, in a second language, were dense and detailed, and illuminated upon the very finest aspects of a very fine film, providing valuable contextual information, and enriching my appreciation of Eden and the events it catalogues with admirable precision and a palpable respect.

Thomas leaves tomorrow. I’m not looking forward to that, but I am certainly looking forward to the first film I’ll catch without him since National Gallery, Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy’s Cannes Critics Week winner The Tribe, which promises to be one of the most unique films on my schedule this year. Before that, though, we’ll together be seeing Ulrich Seidl’s documentary In the Basement, not to be confused with Todd Field’s In the Bedroom, by any means. More on that tomorrow, though. For now, just be happy I bothered to write five fucking paragraphs for your perusal. It’s more than you deserve!!

#rly #yesrly #yehiwentthere

Chinatown 01

Cock 01

Leicester Square 01

National Gallery 01

Nelson's Column 02

Trafalgar Square 01

Vue 01

Alba 01

Background 01

Mia 03

dearest

The process of selecting my programme when attending the London Film Festival, though I’m only in my second year here, is a complicated one. Between scheduling conflicts, tube timetables and the plain old ticket price, there’s also the question of whether the films I’ll elect to see are likely to be any good. From last year’s 18 films, I enjoyed all 18. By the fourth of 23 this year, there had already been one disappointment – Corn Island – though it was far from a dud. And it made perfect sense to see Corn Island too, considering that it had won the Crystal Globe at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival in the summer and had also been chosen as Georgia’s official submission to the Academy for their Best Foreign Language Film category. So I can’t say I was kicking myself that it made my selection – it just wasn’t a bad enough film to do that.

Today was my first day of three this year in which I have three films booked, though it thankfully came with a built-in lie-in. Thomas and I awoke as late as we could to start our day, which would be a busy one involving three different films in three different parts of town, and no time in between any of them to waste. What time we had beforehand, however, was not wasted, as it was spent in the honourable fashion of catching up on Strictly Come Dancing, which means, if nothing else, another translation: Strictly is the British version of Dancing with the Stars, and it is my lifeblood. There’s only so much culture a gal can take. If only I’d known that it was going to be about the most culture I’d get to take all day.

The bar at Vue West End was being prepared for what looked like an LFF photoshoot, though there were no stars in sight. Film #1 today was Peter Chan’s Dearest, a Chinese film based on a true story of a child abduction case that takes some unexpected, emotional twists. Why did this make my selection? The out-of-competition Venice screener had a promising trailer which showcased excellent acting, and reviews for the film confirmed as much. And though their general appraisal of the film wasn’t quite as positive as the majority of other films on my LFF programme, there was no reason to suggest that Dearest would actually be a bad film. And indeed, it is not a bad film, and that acting – the main reason I chose to fork out to see Dearest – was certainly as excellent as it had appeared. The cast of Dearest fully meets the emotional requirements made of them by the immense gravity of the subject matter; in particular, the child actors were heartbreaking, delivering the kinds of performances that make me wonder why trained Hollywood actors even bother. If Dearest sounds and seems like gratuitous melodrama – what I had hoped might be a welcome counterpoint to the intellectual austerity of many of the other films I had booked to see – that’s probably because it is just that, which, alongside some questionable directorial choices, brought the quality of the film down significantly from the high level of the performances. Chan was the only star on show, in a film pretty packed full of them, for a Q&A session in which he provided an eloquent commentary on the film and its role within contemporary Chinese society – exactly the kind of contextual material an audience would want to hear from a filmmaker. His detailed responses to questions were much appreciated, but he failed to elucidate on his technical intentions as a director, instead leaving one with the impression that his focus was as hazy and as wayward as it appears in the film.

Poor Thomas and his poor feet. Why had he brought such uncomfortable footwear? They’d done his feet right in yesterday, so today he sported a pair of my own (I found a boyfriend with measurements almost identical to my own, so he’s never getting away, oh no – Amazing Amy ain’t got shit on me). Not that that was much of a help – the next two cinemas were venues I’d never even come close to visiting before, and their locations in relation to whatever tube stations we could navigate to weren’t entirely clear, and even less so in the fucking driving rain. By the sounds of his relentless huffery and puffery, he was no longer in possession of feet by the time we reached Rich Mix cinema on Bethnal Green Road, he was instead in possession of two ginormous blisters. Tough shit, because I wasn’t about to miss a second of any of my 23 films this year. Showing a Rich Mix was July Jung’s A Girl at My Door, which was, by a clear way, the best film of the day. A police officer and alcoholic is reassigned from Seoul to a remote seaside town to serve as chief, after an unspecified event landed her in hot water with superiors. There, she comes to care for and eventually take charge of a teenage girl, rejected by the townspeople, ridiculed by her schoolmates, abused by her family, abandoned by her mother. Jung nicely juxtaposes the sweetness of their relationship and the delicacy of the environment she has created with an oppressing sense of fear and menace, and some provocative statements on the effects of abuse and on the individual’s response to it. A Girl at My Door is not the festival’s most psychologically rich film, nor its most compelling, but it’s a well-mounted, well-balanced human drama, written, directed and acted with insight and sensitivity.

Thomas’ feet were in for another battering as we rushed to Islington to catch my first English-language narrative film of the festival so far, and perhaps its most commercial overall: David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows. The buzz-heavy teen horror film appeared on my radar when it premiered in May at Cannes to exceptionally strong reactions for a film of its nature. Mitchell impressed critics with his handling of both the dynamics of American teenage social circles and the conventions of horror filmmaking, all set against a piquant comment on that nation’s attitudes toward sexuality. Whomever the introducer was, I’ve mercifully forgotten, but as soon as he described the film as ‘batshit terrifying’, I knew I wasn’t in for a fun evening. Not that I don’t like a good hard scare in the cinema, just that I dreaded more having to spend time in the presence of someone who uses phrases such as ‘batshit terrifying’ than I dreaded whatever terror the movie had in waiting. It had some, indeed, and the film’s sexual slant is presented with thoughtfulness and intelligence, indeed, and Mitchell handles the dynamics of American teenage social circle and the conventions of horror filmmaking simultaneously, indeed, but so what? It Follows establishes all of the above early on, before descending into a fairly average teen horror movie. The origins of what banality Mitchell resorts to are smart and original, but the devices he uses to enliven the film, once he has put those origins in place and subsequently declined to develop them, are tiresome and derivative – the self-conscious referentialism of It Follows and the naff ’80s-esque soundtrack and aesthetic aren’t half as fresh nor as clever as Mitchell seemingly intends them to be. He was in attendance at this showing for a Q&A, which mostly consisted of horror buffs and so-called movie nerds asking hollow questions for the sake of hearing their own sad voices, followed by Mitchell exalting his craft by using terms like ‘really cool’ a lot. Now there’s a disappointment: to detect an inherent shallowness in a film’s conceit and in its execution, and then to have that confirmed by the director themselves. Mitchell claims to have scripts in a lot of genres which he’d like to try out – I’m not interested in a filmmaker who’d like to ‘try out’ genres just because he’s interested in them. The session’s interviewer is looking forward to a potential sequel to It Follow – I’m not interested in sharing a planet with people who’d like to see a sequel to a film just because they liked it.

Rant over… for now. Tomorrow, I see acclaimed documentary Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait in the afternoon, then Mia Hansen-Love’s house music film Eden in the evening, separated by several hours and no tube journeys. Those films sound much better than today’s three – I ought to be a lot happier as a result. Thomas’ feet ought to be too.

loveyouuuuuuuuuuuu x

Nelson's Column 01

;/

at_berkeley-07

Though the two films that I saw today both edged three hours, they could barely be more different. That’s what makes festivals like LFF so great, and what makes keeping up to date with the full breadth of international arthouse cinema so great – this ain’t the multiplex mid-May, this ain’t the Oscar Best Picture slate. No matter how many critics awards Frederick Wiseman’s National Gallery picks up come December (At Berkeley got plenty of attention last year), no matter how much acclaim Aleksei German’s Hard to Be a God receives, neither will reach significant audiences outside of the festival circuit, at least not for several years, and neither would stand much of a chance at reaching any audiences were it not for festival bookings like these. Two such different films, not given a purpose by their presence at LFF, but whose purpose is made real by their presence here.

You’ll know, if you read yesterday’s diary entry, that I’m not a fan of hostel roommates. My hostel this year is a marked improvement on my hostel last year, though the company resolutely is not. And it’s not just their inane banter, it’s their nighttime habits. But I didn’t pay £11-odd a night for luxury conditions, so I guess I’ll just appreciate the fact that, snoring and farting and inexplicably bright phone lights being shone directly in my face aside, since Big Brother ended last month, I’m finally being permitted the time to get at least seven hours sleep per night. This morning’s lie in was cut short, however, by the arrival of Thomas. Thomas’ current occupation is as my boyfriend, a duty which he undertakes with considerably more patience and respect than he ought to, though he was pushing it by claiming that I could find him at Victoria Station on the phone. No, that won’t do it. This is central London. This is not North Armagh. We were reunited after a whopping two days apart, only for me to abandon him to attend a screening of National Gallery.

Veteran American documentarian Frederick Wiseman turns his incisive eye to the UK for the first time, though issues of national identity are irrelevant in National Gallery, prompting one to query why Wiseman hasn’t ventured outside of the US more frequently in his career to date. His portrait of London’s legendary art gallery, only a short walk from the BFI Southbank cinema at which this film, which is screening as a part of the festival’s documentary competition, was showing, is a typically long (though relatively short for this particular filmmaker), typically broad-reaching portrait of a portrait gallery, of all things. How intriguing to see Wiseman explore the nature of an institution that presents works of art, many of them as straightforwardly narrative in their nature as his own works. There’s a deep and thorough self-reflexive quality to National Gallery, then, which may explain why Wiseman chooses to jettison the variety of his film’s early scenes in favour of a more focused depiction of the art within the gallery and its presentation as the film progresses. It thus lacks the insight that one remembers his best films to possess, though itself possesses a more persuasive raison d’etre, as though Wiseman were using this experience as an opportunity to turn his camera on himself – scenes involving another camera crew interviewing employees show an expectedly non-glamorised view of working life in the National Gallery, yet also hint at Wiseman’s own processes as a director, and the nature of what he captures in such a supposedly unobtrusive manner.

Would that my brain were working properly. Not so long ago, I gave Thomas the details of all of the films that we would be seeing together in London. The first of these was to be Hard to Be a God, showing at 17:00 at Cine Lumiere, situated at l’Institut Francais, a short walk from the South Kensington tube station. Would that I had not informed him that the film, instead, and incorrectly, began at 15:00. Would that I had not misread the time on the tickets that I had packed in my laptop case the night before as 15:00. Would that I had not decided, as a result of my mistake, to stay for the post-screening Q&A with Frederick Wiseman for only as long as it took to capture a few hazy photographs, taken from a side aisle – another mistake, since this was not the extremely central seat A7 but seat B7, not nearly as close to the famed director as he began his interview session. I hastily departed for a sprint to Cine Lumiere, only to be told by the usher that I was not at the correct screening. One proper glance at the tickets, and I realised my mistake. Though I had enjoyed the privilege of a Frederick Wiseman Q&A last year at LFF, after a showing of At Berkeley, which, like this one, was also attended by his long-term DP John Davey, I had no good reason at this stage not to regret missing that event. Dipshit.

The cheap Italian meal Thomas and I enjoyed between films was tasty, though the service was poor. Never mind, I got a review written in the extra two hours and still got good seats for the late Aleksei German’s Hard to Be a God. The film premiered at the Rome Film Festival last October; a strictly niche product, it has only enjoyed a theatrical berth in German’s native Russia since that debut. And that was after over a decade in gestation, between arranging the complex production, working with it, then dealing with post-production, and German’s death, alas. His widow and son, who is also a filmmaker, completed the film, which deserves to be remembered as his magnum opus. It’s certainly his most ambitious film, and wholly worthy of the immense amount of time it took to create. An overload of effluvia, a symphony of sensory stimulation, a film of inconceivable depth and density in almost every respect, the only other films to bear any resemblance to this brilliantly crude, profane, singular work of art are German’s own, sparsely-distributed other features, and even they don’t bear any similarity to the glorious depravity of his extraordinary vision on this project. Most striking of all about it is German’s ability to turn primal, physical, visceral matter into matter whose primary mode of interpretation is intensely intellectual. Here is a film that will not merely reward repeat viewings, but effectively demands them, and many of them. What a pleasure that will be!

Repeat drinks were on the cards tonight, or at least just two – it’s a Sunday night, so last orders came sooner than we might have liked. On trips like these, the definitions between specific days have little or no meaning. Downing pints at least allows one to comprehend just how bloated one is with satisfactory rapidity. It also makes the hostel room company, chattier than ever, that bit more bearable, even the arse-crack-bearing paralytic in the doorway, whose belongings have been scattered over the bed that Thomas had marked for himself. Never mind, another bed had been freed up, right next to mine. We’d hoped to at least be sharing a room; as I write this, his head is right next to mine. My LFF experience today, as it shall be for a few days more, was not defined by the films I saw, no matter how good they were. It was defined by Thomas.

ugh gross #barf #getaroom #technicallywekindadid

Bridge 01

Lumiere 01

Lumiere 02

Southbank 01

Wiseman 01

Wiseman 02

from-what-is-before-del-filipino-lav-diaz

I hate opinions sometimes. Coming from me, that’s a slightly ridiculous statement to make – I spend half my fucking time typing up my opinions, and the other half forming them. It depends partly on what the opinions, partly on whose the are. Staying in a hostel bedroom with 19 others, one becomes acquainted with a lot of opinions very quickly. The kind of opinions I hate the most are one’s opinions about oneself, the kind of opinions that people too unintelligent to form cohesive opinions about anything else naturally formulate in order to convince the rest of the world that their self-assurance can define the perception others will create of them. I perceive these such people to be abhorrent. Luckily, today, I perceived something far more appealing, in Lav Diaz’s From What Is Before.

After the best night’s sleep I’ve had in weeks (only because I finally had the time to get some sleep at all), I was well-rested for a chock-filled day at the cinema. Film #3 at the 2014 London Film Festival for me came from Lav Diaz, the Filipino auteur whose super-long features tend to cater toward only the most devoted arthouse attendees – not so much due to their content nor style, but their duration. Last year, I opened my LFF experience with Diaz’s Norte,the End of History, which managed to be over four hours long yet over an hour short of From What Is Before’s runtime; on very little sleep, I very nearly dozed off during that screening, but emerged after eight days at the festival having seen what would remain my favourite film of 2013 for the rest of the year. From What Is Before has a strong chance at achieving the same feat. Fully awake, alert and enthralled for the entire 338 minutes, I felt an intellectual stimulation at the artistry and the psychological depth of Diaz’s latest film that sustained the whole way through. Dealing with a series of peculiar, portentous events in a remote Filipino barrio leading up to the 1972 declaration of martial law in the country, the film represents Diaz’s most elaborate and most expert rumination on, appropriately, time and duration yet. Past and future fill Diaz’s concerns and our thoughts, his characters (from his trustworthy ensemble of Diaz regulars, uniformly excellent) drawn inescapably to linger on both, as they are enveloped by the natural world, itself unceasing, timeless, memorably captured in the director’s own sodden cinematography. What an absorbing watch, beginning at 12:30 and not finishing until after 18:00.

What few snacks I’d purchased last night would have to wait – a long lie-in, plenty of work to catch up on, a packed schedule and a misbehaving laptop (that’s no opinion, now, that’s just a fact) meant that food would have to wait. It’s not often you’ll hear me say such a thing. I made my way, gradually, through a bag of sweets (*GRINGO ALERT!* – to translate: candy) during From What Is Before, and got to work on what little I could on the laptop prior to my second of two screenings today, which was due to start just ten minutes after I’d exited the first one. Luckily, the two films were showing in the same cinema, BFI Southbank, the British Film Institute’s headquarters. It would have been entirely like me to arrange to see two films at opposite ends of the city mere moments apart, but I rallied together all the brain cells I could come upon (not all of which were my own) to avoid such a scenario. As with From What Is Before, film #4 was a water-drenched, one-location, often dialogue-free drama about humankind’s relationship with nature; also like the aforementioned film, it was a summer festival award-winner: Diaz’s film won the Golden Leopard at Locarno, and George Ovashvili’s Corn Island won the Crystal Globe at Karlovy Vary.

From what was before it, Corn Island didn’t stand much of a chance. But I had rather suspected that, so I entered the screen with as open a mind as I could manage, finding a relatively clear path through all those opinions to common sense and acceptance. Cramming my last few sweets into my mouth at once, since this particular screen does not permit either eating or photography (and, yes, I was eating Canons, if you must know), I settled into Ovashvili’s film, introduced by co-screenwriter Roelof Jan Minneboo, with anticipation and apprehension. The film regards a man and his granddaughter, who spend their summer on an island of washed-up soil in the Enguri River in Abkhazia growing corn and living out of a wooden shack they built upon discovering the island. An ostensibly simple film, it’s a poetically-shot account of a curious old tradition, filmed with a direct but considerate style by Georgian helmer Ovashvili. Also central to the film, alongside the production of the corn crop, is the tension between Georgians and Abkhazians in the region, as troops from either side of the divide come by the island in boats, their suspicion and passive-aggression lending the film a layer of tension it might have suffered without. As engaging, as attractive and as well-intentioned an artistic experiment as Corn Island may be, it’s also shallow, and reverts to cliches and conventions too easily to make Ovashvili’s better intentions sing out. He handles just about any and all additional strands to the narrative core with no discernible inspiration, and renders them predictable and, frankly, uninteresting. A post-screening Q&A with Minneboo shed light on some of the filming details – it was shot not on location but in a reservoir, and actually featured no Abkhazians in the small cast, despite being a highly international production – but only confirmed what thematic material was already clear in the film itself, suggesting, to my disappointment, that I hadn’t missed the point of the film, but that its point just wasn’t that compelling instead.

Any other day, two films approaching three hours would seem daunting, but could anything after From What Is Before’s five-and-a-half? Anyway, tomorrow’s bumper-length selections come from legendary directors, so whom might I be to complain (no, not me, never)? In the morning, I head off to National Gallery with Frederick Wiseman; in the afternoon, I see Hard to Be a God by the late Aleksei German. And I won’t be alone – my boyfriend’s arriving shortly before the National Gallery screening, though he won’t attend that particular film, so I’ll have company, if you don’t mind. And, with that, I’ve a tighter sleep schedule tonight than last night, so I must be off. My eyes are halfway closed, so as long as my ears can quit their burning over the endless self-reflection they’ve been subjected to by my roommates this evening, I should be asleep in no time. I’m hoping for at least 338 minutes. If there’s one thing better than a Lav Diaz movie, it’s sleep. Actually, make that two: sleep and sex.

And doughnuts.

kthxbye 😉

==

IMAX 01

ICYMI: Day One of Paddy’s LFF excursion

Visit ScreenOnScreen to read other startling things Paddy writes, and follow on twitter if you want to stalk him or vice versa.

 

 

desert-dancer-picture-horizontal

The Santa Barbara Film Festival is sending out announcements. That must mean it’s Oscar season officially. The first of their special announcements is the US premiere of Richard Raymond’s Desert Dancer, starring Freida Pinto. They are also announcing the Richard Attenborough Award to the Cousteau family for Excellence in Nature Filmmaking. Full press release follows:

Continue reading…

Whiplash

As we reach the final stretch of what has been a decidedly divisive film fest, it would be quite common for one to look back. However, with this being the 7th day of the fest, good movies keep showing up, but also movie overload has set upon most of us here. The movies and the performances have been plentiful, and so have the abundant galas and after parties. What we’ve seen has given us a clearer picture of what to expect in the coming months, but not the whole picture. TIFF is not a place to rest easy and relax like Telluride; you come here expecting something hectic and you get it. In the coming week I’ll be posting a few interviews I had with several artists, including Richard Gere – whose performance in “Time out of Mind” might be a career best for him, same with director Oren Moverman, whose simple, poetic style makes you understand why the New York Film Fest chose his movie at their prestigiously artsy fest.

I also spoke to the Dardennes, who’s latest “Two Days, One Night” is the most brilliant movie I’ve seen about the economy crisis and one of the very best movies of the year. It was a blast talking to them about the film, Cotillard and what they thought was the best film of 2014, here’s a hint: It’s a Linklater.

The best picture contenders were not as loaded as last year: “The Theory of Everything” was the film many were talking about. It’s an expertly made movie with top notch performances, especially by Eddie Redmayne who plays the theoretical physicist in an absolute stunner of a role that reminds you of Daniel Day-Lewis in Jim Sheridan’s “My Left Foot”. Director James Marsh keeps the sentimentality at bay for a more sustained style of intimacy.

The film that might benefit the most from both of these pictures clashing against each other might be a film that debuted at Sundance in January. Damien Chazelle’s “Whiplash” got the loudest ovation of any film at the fest and has gained quite a few new fans in the last week. I’m also convinced that J.K Simmons has a good shot at not only gettin g nominated but going all the way and WINNING it. As we speak, this is the front-runner for the festival’s audience award which will be given out on Sunday.

You want another Best Picture contender? Jean-Marc Vallée struck gold last year for Matthew McConaughey in “Dallas Buyers Club” and this year he might do the same magic for Reese Witherspoon’s passionate performance in “Wild” as a grief-stricken woman who decides to go through a gruelling 1000 mile hike through the pacific crest trail all by herself. The highly talented actress has never been better than in this movie, and the film itself is bravely directed and shot by Vallée and is a clear cut contender in many categories. If the standing ovation it got at the gala a few nights ago is any indication, this will most probably be a crowd pleaser that will hit home with its target audience. It might not just be Witherspoon, watch out for Laura Dern as well come nomination time as the deceased mother of Witherspoon’s hiker.

Dern also appeared in “99 Homes”. Ramin Bahrani’s tense, terrific film starring Andrew Garfield as a man whose family home gets foreclosed by an arrogant, money-hungry real estate mogul played by Michael Shannon. This is a movie for its time with more than enough relevance to pack a punch. Late film critic Roger Ebert was a staunch supporter of Bahrani’s films and for good reason. He’s a unique voice that finally makes his big studio picture debut here. You can tell there’s a studio behind him here, as not everything works and some concessions clearly had to be made. “99 Homes” is not a perfect movie but the artistry is major and Bahrani creates a movie that you’ll keep thinking about it.

If I was disappointed by the fact that David Cronenberg’s “Map to the Stars” got delayed to 2015, after watching “Still Alice”, I’m less disappointed by that decision. Julianne Moore might take advantage of a weak best actress field to finally get the Oscar she deserves. In the film she plays a mother of three who finds out she’s in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Suffice it to say that what happens next is incredibly hard to watch, yet also incredible moving as Moore and first-time filmmakers Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer try to show us how the disease can easily sneak up on a human being. The effects are disastrous on the victim and their families – “I’d rather have cancer” she yells in the movie. You can feel her pain with every scene and you can also hear all the accolades that are about to come her way.

If this was a fair world, then both lead actors from Xavier Dolan’s terrific new film “Mommy” would get nominated. Antoine Olivion Pilon is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode as the son from hell and Anne Dorval, showing more pain with her eyes than with her words, is his mother. They’re both at the core of this vitally alive movie. There currently isn’t a release date for “Mommy”, hell Dolan’s previous film “Tom at the farm” didn’t even get released yet, but when you do see it you won’t stop thinking about it.

I’ve always had a fascination with Brian Wilson’s music, I mean who hasn’t? I’ve also been just as fascinated with how this pop music genius, a Beethoven for our time, went insane with the obsessiveness he brought to his music and band The Beach Boys. “Love and Mercy” has two very talented actors playing him, the younger Wilson of Pet Sounds/SMILE era is played by Paul Dano and the older Wilson, all drugged up due to apparent Schizophrenic tendencies, is played by John Cusack. Both do admirable jobs playing the legend, but Dano comes out on top with a performance that will likely be remembered for years to come. It’s fascinating watching Wilson compose, produce and arrange his masterpiece “Pet Sounds” in the studio – an album that is now considered one of the greatest records of all time – all in the while struggling with inner demons so dark they end up making him stay in his room for close to three years.

TIFF 2014 – Best of the Fest

Best movies I saw (in no particular order)
Whiplash (Damien Chazelle)
Two Days, One Night (Dardennes)
Nightcrawler (Dan Gilory)
The Theory of Everything (James Marsh)
Alleluia (Fabrice Du Welz)
Eden (Mia Hansen-Love)
99 Homes (Ramin Bahrani)
Mommy (Xavier Dolan)
Still Alice (Wash Westmoreland & Richard Glatzer)
Foxcatcher (Benneth Miller)

Best Actress
Julianne Moore (“Still Alice” & “Map to the Stars”)
Runner-up: Marillon Cotillard (“Two Days, One Night”), Reese Witherspoom (“Wild” & “The Good Lie”), Felicity Jones (“The Theory of Everything”), Anne Dorval (“Mommy”)

Best Actor
Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything”)
Runner-Up: Jake Gyllenhall (“Nightcrawler”), Steve Carrell (“Foxcatcher”), Antoine Olivier Pilon (“Mommy”), Timothy Spall (“Mr. Turner”), Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Imitation Game”), Bill Murray (“St. Vincent”), Paul Dano (“Love and Mercy”)

Best Supporting Actor
J.K Simmons (“Whiplash”)
Runner-Up: Michael Shannon (“99 Homes”), Mark Ruffalo (“Foxcatcher”), Channing Tatum (“Foxcatcher”), Adam Driver (“While We’re Young” & “Hungry Heart”)

Best Supporting Actress
TIE: Laura Dern (“Wild” & “99 Homes”), Keira Knightley (“The Imitation Game”), Kristen Stewart (“Still Alice”)

maxresdefault-3

The Best Picture lineup of 2014 has one more pit stop before it reveals itself. That moment has, for the past ten years, felt obvious. Like George Bailey with hopes of traveling the world and perhaps marrying someone mysterious and exotic, at some point he realizes that the girl of his dreams has been living right there in Bedford Falls the whole time. And so it goes with Best Picture these days.

If you’ve been following along with AwardsDaily you’ll know we talk about the date change a lot and how it’s shaped the Best Picture race. Around 2003 the Academy pushed the date back one month from late March to late February — apparently it was a decision to cash in on ratings for their TV show. Little did they know how it would ultimately shape the Oscar race and probably shape how studios roll out movies overall. That caused a domino effect that ultimately would mean the Oscar race is decided by critics and industry voters long before the public has a chance to see many of the films — their opinion of those films has little to do with the outcome of the race.

The most dramatic change, though, has been that the Best Picture winner has not come from any film seen after October since Million Dollar Baby in 2004. Clint Eastwood was one of the few filmmakers who really could just show up and win the whole game without a lot of kowtowing to tastemakers and critics. But since then, the films that have won have been Mary Baileys — right in front of your eyes the whole time, seen either before Telluride/Toronto or during.

Titanic – no festival, open to public
Shakespeare in Love – no festival, open to public
American Beauty – no festival, open to public
Gladiator – no festival, open to public
A Beautiful Mind – no festival, open to public
Chicago – no festival, open to public
Return of the King – no festival, open to public
DATE CHANGE
Million Dollar Baby – no festival, open to public
Crash – (Toronto)
The Departed – no festival, open to public
No Country for Old Men (Cannes)
Slumdog Millionaire (Telluride)
The Hurt Locker (Toronto)
The King’s Speech (Telluride)
The Artist (Cannes)
Argo (Telluride)
12 Years a Slave (Telluride)

The old way: films were rolled out during what we used to think of as Oscar season — from September to December. By year’s end, the box office take was recorded, as were the reviews, and THEN the voters made their decisions. What films were popular with the public (Gladiator, Titanic) mattered more than what the critics and tastemakers thought.

I’ve been here to watch the transformation, and have been part of it, and I remember how it used to be. There didn’t used to be an entire industry devoted to awards watching. Back then, everybody wasn’t an expert. You actually had to have some qualifications to be a film critic (journalist, educated, experienced) and not just anyone could ‘publish.’ But the internet leveled the playing field and, suddenly, anyone could cook. And they did. That has impacted the race, taking it mostly out of the hands of the studios — who were really trying to give the public what it wanted, make money and maintain the status quo, and into the hands of people who think the Oscars should matter more than that — that they should reward the best films.

Voters have resisted the change, especially lately. They do not want things to evolve so fast and, thus, they continue to lean towards those traditional crowdpleasing nuts and bolts films driven by the Big Three: Acting, Directing, Writing. In that order. They are less inclined towards effects-driven films, which explains why they have a single category to honor that genre: Best Visual Effects. Occasionally they crowd into the other tech categories like Sound, Art Direction, Cinematography. But to voters that is mostly where they belong. Alfonso Cuaron winning for Gravity and Ang Lee winning for Life of Pi, signal a tiny shift in that direction. In ten years you might see effects-driven films dominating the Oscar race.

That brings us to this year. Now that Toronto is mostly over, it seems to have delivered one Best Picture contender and maybe firmed up another. Films so far this year seem to be divided into a few key categories. The first, Great British Men Doing Great Things: The Theory of Everything, The Imitation Game and Mr. Turner. The second will be the dark reveal of the ugly side of American culture: Foxcatcher, Birdman, and soon to be Gone Girl.

Then there will be true stories of American heroes: Selma (Martin Luther King, Jr.), Unbroken (Louie Zamperini), American Sniper (Chris Kyle), and Fury, a fictional account of the last push to defeat Nazi Germany.

And finally, fantasy — with Interstellar and Into the Woods.

Toronto has delivered The Theory of Everything, which appears headed straight for the major categories, and Whiplash, which Indiewire’s Anne Thompson had on her radar since Sundance. If that film wins Tiff’s Audience Award that gives it even more heft heading into the race.

There is one more game-changer this year, or there could be, and that’s the New York Film Festival unfurling at the end of this month. The two films that will be introduced into the race there will be David Fincher’s Gone Girl and Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice. Neither of these directors make movies for Oscar voters. They just don’t think: how can I make a movie that’s going to win Best Picture? The first reason, they don’t need to. Neither of their legacies are going to be defined by the 6 thousand or so Oscar voters whose lives are so comfortable they resent being made Uncomfortable.

Being that Oscar voters tend to be softies, especially lately, you can pretty much count on turning on your heart-light once again as we look towards what will dominate the Best Picture race and why.

Right now, as September comes to a close, one film continues to define 2014 and that’s Richard Linklater’s Boyhood. If you’re looking for a film right now that has the best chance to WIN Best Picture, this is it. Just making that statement, of course, puts it in a vulnerable spot. But the thing about this film, and most recent Best Picture winners, it can take the heat because it isn’t divisive. Right now it’s quietly hovering in the background with the nicest people in Hollywood representing it. If you are underestimating Boyhood right now you are not paying attention.

Its position could shift dramatically as films we have seen roll out — Interstellar, Into the Woods, Unbroken, Fury, and Clint Eastwood showing up once again at the last minute with American Sniper — they are all gambling on end of the year releases to cinch Best Picture, which hasn’t been achieved since 2004. BUT that doesn’t mean this won’t be the year all of that changes.

Again, the public has nothing to do with the race right now except for those who keep coming out to see Boyhood, sometimes twice. In the real world the movie people are talking about is Boyhood. Its challengers so far are films that have become the most talked about at the various festivals so far.

For the record: One thing In Contention’s Kris Tapley said on Twitter was a funny comment that could only have been made by an old school Oscarwatcher. He said that Clint Eastwood could just show up and clear the room with American Sniper. He did it with Unforgiven and did it again with Million Dollar Baby and very nearly did it again with Letters from Iwo Jima.

Top Tier

1. Birdman. Talking about this film is how the whole process gets dumbed down. No one should come out of Telluride saying the film won’t win because it will be too divisive. That might true but they say that like it’s a bad thing. That it’s divisive means it’s doing SOMETHING RIGHT. It’s pushing buttons, challenging its audience. In short: delivering brilliant, groundbreaking, unforgettable CINEMA. Remember cinema? Remember when movies were judged on how great they were rather than their so-called “Oscar potential?” Think about what James Rocchi always says about how little he cares about the Oscar race because of WHO THEY ARE. Remember who the Oscar voters are. Remember how little what they think actually matters. If they huddle up to a film like Birdman (or if they had for Inside Llewyn Davis last year) that makes THEM look GOOD, not the other way around. They need to catch up to the artists, have their own realities shaken a bit, be given something other than a warm blanket and a cuddle and a goodnight kiss from mommy saying it will all be all right. Guess what? It isn’t all right. Nothing about our culture right now is all right. We can continue to look backwards in time and vote for films that reflect those moments we understand OR we can celebrate those sensitive writers and directors who are getting at truths that aren’t so comfortable. Life is a bucket of shit with the handle on the insides. The Oscars aren’t about rewarding that which denies this basic truth about life in 2014. It’s a mixed bag of beauty and shit. Let’s keep our aperture as wide open as possible, shall we?

2. The Imitation Game. Though it isn’t setting the critics on fire yet, critics can’t be measured the same way they used to be. Who they are has shifted too dramatically. Thus, one can’t count on them to give you an accurate reading of films that might appeal to voters since many critics these days get a whiff of “Oscar” and recoil in horror. They judge the film as “Oscar bait” rather than a film meant for actual audiences. And yes, perception is everything in the Oscar race. When the HFPA can make a difference you know perception is everything. The Imitation Game would fare far better if it had the critics on its side the way they’re on Boyhood’s side but it was still the most or the second most talked about film at Telluride. It is a moving, entertaining, heartbreaking crowd pleaser. It’s socially relevant and most importantly, it is backed by Harvey Weinstein and the Weinstein Co.

3. Foxcatcher. See number 1. Add to that: Bennett Miller has made a quiet, disturbing meditation on the secluded, padded, protected life of the 1% — a group of people who think the rules do not apply to them. This movie is about one person but it could be about the Koch brothers or Donald Trump. Sure, the real life guy was psychotic, truly mentally ill. And yes, much of the true story is not included in Miller’s film. It isn’t required to be. This is a film that operates on a gloriously metaphorical level. It is our American story as much as Fitzgerald’s Gatsby is. It is brilliant, expert filmmaking that simply tops almost anything anyone else brought to Cannes. So if you want to dumb things down and worry about what “they” will think, go ahead. In the end all that will mean is that you a mind reader of a group of very predictable people for whom life has become altogether too easy. That isn’t the real world and there is no room for such limited thinking in the vibrant world of American film.

4. The Theory of Everything. Though I’ve not seen the film, it is clear that this was one of the films that moved people attending the Toronto Film Festival. It is about one of the great thinkers of our time who was stricken with ALS. From the looks of it the film is headed for the major categories.

On the Edge

5. Mr Turner
6. Whiplash
6. Wild

Hovering on the Fringe

7. The Grand Budapest Hotel
8. Rosewater
9. The Homesman
10. The Judge

Films that should be considered for Best Picture but won’t:

1. Mommy
2. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
3. Leviathan

The heavy hitters still to come

Gone Girl
Inherent Vice
Selma
Interstellar
Into the Woods
Fury
American Sniper

Either way, we are still in the morning fog of Oscar season. We don’t know the outcome yet because we don’t know what’s coming.  And so we wait, and we wait.

pawn-bobby

The performances keep getting the attention at the fest. Last year “12 Years a Slave” and “Gravity” were Oscar bound the minute they got screened (and were declared as such by Telluride), but this year there is no such movie.

Foxcatcher, directed by Bennett Miller is the dark side of the American dream with an eerie understated score accompanying its tremendous performances, none better than Steve Carell, creepy as hell, playing a billionaire wannabe wrestling coach trying to get his recruit athlete, played by Channing Tatum, a gold medal at the Olympics. It’s a performance constantly talked about since Cannes, but it really is that good.

If “The Imitation Game” was a major hit at Telluride, it has some competition here with James Marsh’s “The Theory of Everything”, most notably because of Eddie Redmayne’s performance playing Stephen Hawking. You can’t take your eyes off of Redmayne. He doesn’t play Hawking, he IS Stephen Hawking. Whenever I get into a conversation with somebody about this movie, it always comes back to Redmayne, a 32 year old British actor known to Americans for his role as Marius Pontmercy in Les Miserables. Felicity Jones is also fabulous as Hawking’s wife Jane Hawking, a woman who stuck by her man until the task became too overwhelming.

You want electric? Look no further than J.K Simmons in “Whiplash”, one of the best movies to have played at the fest so far and one that warranted a rousing standing ovation. I’ve bumped into many TIFF-goers who are telling me this could win the Audience award and I wouldn’t be surprised if it did. It’s a blisteringly made crowd pleaser that makes excitingly high art out of jazz drumming. J.K Simmons is the teacher from hell, pushing his students to limits they might not even have –- think Sgt. Hartman from “Full Metal Jacket” but turned into a Jazz band professor at the best music school in the U.S. Don’t be surprised if Simmons gets tons of Awards attention by years end, he’s incredibly good. The movie asks us moral and ethical questions near its end but its rousing conclusion is the most exhilarating and sensational end to a movie I’ve seen so far this year.

The haunted genius of Bobby Fischer comes to us in “Pawn Sacrifice”, a by-the-books account of Fischer’s endless genius and torment. As played by Tobey Maguire, Fischer was one hell of a chess player but he also had paranoiac delusions that ultimately led to his downfall. That downfall is sadly not touched upon during the film, which mostly has to do with Fischer’s rivalry with soviet chess champion Boris Spassky, as played by always reliable Liev Schreiber. I don’t think Maguire’s ever given us such a performance, one that keeps you on the edge throughout and brings real humanity to a very conflicted human being. Edward Zwick, whose helmed “Glory” and “Blood Diamond” in the last, knows what kind of performance he’s getting from Maguire and he does what he should do, lets him rip.

Al-Pacino-Barry-Levinson-Gotti

So far the Toronto International Film Festival has been more about the performances than the movies themselves. Some of us are still awaiting “The Theory of Everything”, “The Imitation Game”, “Rosewater”, “The Good Lie”, “Time out of Mind” and “Wild” among others to finally screen. As many have pointed out, there hasn’t been that wow factor we keep looking for here at the fest, in other words a game-changer. Jason Reitman’s newest film “Men, Women and Children” screened to a polite reaction. The film garnered decidedly mixed reaction after its early-morning screening on Saturday. It’s an immensely ambitious project about sex in the internet age that had Owen Gleiberman raving to no end and others calling it a disappointment. Tom McCarthy’s “The Cobbler” was definitely the biggest disappointment thus far, given the director’s track record you had the right to expect much more — as one producer told me after the morning screening “what the hell was that?”

There are still 5 days left before the end but there have been quite a few solid contenders in the acting field. David Cronenberg’s “Map to the Stars” got pushed back to 2015, in spite of the probability that Julianne Moore’s performance could have easily nabbed a best actress nod. She plays a down-and-out actress, desperate for her next big shot. In fact, every time she’s on screen the film ignites with excitement. Moore hasn’t been this great since 2002 when she played that lonely Sirkian housewife in Todd Haynes’ “Far From Heaven”. I really hope people will remember her performance a year from now, as she fully deserved her Best Actress prize at Cannes earlier in May.

In “The Judge,” Robert Duvall steals the show from an otherwise stellar cast. Playing opposite an impressive cast which includes Robert Downey Jr., Vera Farmiga and Vincent D’Onoforio, Duvall plays a judge accused of murdering an ex-con he convicted more than a decade ago. His performance is raw and riveting and the highlight of the film. He shows the aches and pains that come with aging and the inner demons that need to get fought in the process. He hasn’t been this good in god knows how long.

Talking about an aging actor giving a great performance, in Barry Levinson’s “The Humbling” Al Pacino is dynamite and might garner some major Oscar buzz once the films gets released this fall. Playing a has-been actor known for his Shakespearean roles, Pacino’s performance isn’t just unusually subdued it’s also hilariously spiced with humor. He falls in love with his good friends’ daughter — played by Greta Gerwig — a girl that has had a crush on the actor ever since she was eight. They start an unusual, sex-free relationship that you know will implode in any second. This is primo Pacino and deserved of all the buzz its been getting so far at the festival.

Add Marion Cotillard’s name to the shortlist of Best Actress contenders. She is mesmerizing in her role as Sandra, a young Belgian mother that discovers her co-workers were pressured to choose between getting a significant pay bonus only if she got fired from her job . The way Cotillard approaches each and every co-worker, pleading — sometimes even begging — for them to change their votes is heartbreaking. The movie ain’t that bad either, making you cringe and heartbroken with every scene.

In “Nightcrawler,” Jake Gyllenhaal lost close to thirty pounds to give his creepiest performance ever. With shades of Travis Bickle, this astoundingly intense movie has Gyllenhaal chasing down murder scenes and videotaping them for L.A news outlets in exchange for cash. It’s a shady business and Gyllenhaal’s character is a dirtbag trying to make it to the bigtime, even if it means having to blackmail, lie or murder his way through fame and fortune. This is the best acting performance I’ve seen thus far at TIFF and everybody is talking about it. It’s the kind of performance that just can’t get away unnoticed — and maybe the best of his career.

SteveCarellFoxcatcher1

The Toronto Film Festival always brings the big names. Maybe that’s the problem and the reason why many in the industry are starting to skip it in favor of Telluride. I know quite a few people doing both this year, and at Telluride last week, almost all of them were cringing at the thought of going to Toronto. That’s just the way it’s been the last few years with Telluride being the more intimate and friendly festival with less of the glitz and glamour of TIFF.

2013 was a landmark year for movies, which translated into one hell of a festival season. I remember Sasha raving about the dynamic duo of “12 Years a Slave” and “Gravity” at Telluride and yours truly following suit not too long after at TIFF. It doesn’t look like there will be such intense, invigorating movie-going experiences this year until the New York Film Festival when “Gone Girl” and “Inherent Vice” screen in October.

Want to know how strong 2013 was? Some of last year’s fest films can already count as some of the best released of this year: “Under the Skin”, “Only Lovers Left Alive”, “Stray Dogs”, “Ida”, “Enemy”, “Snowpiercer”, “Stranger By the Lake”, “The Double”, “Abuse of Weakness” and “The Immigrant” all had their debuts at various films fests last year, the majority of them at TIFF. So with that in mind, can the 2014 festival season actually live up to 2013? Of course not – it’s not possible to maintain that kind of high quality year after year. Think of 1999, a year that many – including myself – believe to be one of the greatest cinematic years in movie history. It was followed by one of the worst the following year – a year that pitted “Gladiator” vs. “Erin Brokovich” vs. “Traffic” in the Oscar Race, the first two aforementioned movies coincidentally released in

March and May. Those ain’t Oscar months, but 2000 was so weak that that year they were.

And so we come to 2014, where we already have three strong – although bewildering – contenders emerging from Telluride: “Foxatcher”, “Birdman” and “The Imitation Game”. Two of those three will be at Toronto and it will be interesting to see the reception they both get. “The Imitation Game” looks to be a crowd pleaser that might sneak out with a bigger high once the fest ends at the end of the next week, or it might not and another contender will emerge instead. With that in mind, here are the burning questions I have about the festival, which will start tomorrow morning with its first batch of screenings.

1) “The Imitation Game”

Telluride loved it but the critics have so far been safe and cautious about their enthusiasm for this movie. If you take a look at Metacritic, its 9 reviews and score of 70 will tell you this won’t be a critic’s darling like “Foxcatcher” or “Birdman”, but it will have something more powerful on its side: word of mouth. “The Imitation Game” looks like it will be THE crowd pleaser to beat once its first screenings start this week. Will it sustain what it built up at Telluride? I’m on the fence about it but I sure hope Sash, Kris and Co. are right about this one – which also features an unproven filmmaker at its helm. From what I’ve been hearing, Benedict Cumberbatch is emerging as a force to be reckoned with in
the Best Actor category, but that the film itself is routinely pleasing.

2) “Foxcatcher”

The momentum will most likely not stop for this Benneth Miller film. Miller has become a real fixture of the Oscar race with “Capote” and “Moneyball”, but more importantly has become one of the genuinely brilliant American filmmakers out there. His classical style of filmmaking is done so well and with such genuine passion that I can just picture “Foxcatcher” coming out of TIFF with its profile skyrocketing. Especially when it comes to Steve Carrell, who’s been carrying a wave of praise ever since Cannes.

3) Witherspoon in “Wild” and “The Good Lie”

Reese Witherspoon is loved, we all know that. Her performance in “Wild” seems to be the real deal as well. She went all out to nail this role and I have no doubt that her buzz will continue onwards at TIFF. However, don’t discount this movie as just a strong central performance kind-of-movie. I reside in Montreal and have seen the staggering rise of Quebecois filmmakers in Hollywood the last few years. Denis Villeneuve (“Prisoners”, “Enemy”) is just one of many French-Canadian filmmakers trying to make art out of commerce in Tinseltown, and Xavier Dolan – who’s “Mommy” is also screening at the fest – is on his way to big things.

Jean-Marc Vallée is clearly another good example. I met Vallée 4 years ago at the premiere of his then new film “Café de Flore”. He seemed happy with what he was doing – making homegrown, personal movies – but I have a feeling he likes the freedom Hollywood is giving him at the moment. With “Dallas Buyers Club” he proved his worth and with “Wild” he will likely continue his rise among the best mainstream filmmakers working today.

Another Quebecois filmmaker at the fest? Philippe Falardeau, Oscar nominated for “Monsieur Lazhar” a few years ago and making his American film debut directing – again – Witherspoon in “The Good Lie”, a film that is getting its fair share of buzz as well and might make it a banner year for the incredibly talented actress.

4) “The Theory of Everything”

Oh, boy. Here’s a film that no one really knows what to make of. This is the story of Stephen Hawking’s life as told by James Marsh, who made the brilliant documentary “Man on Wire”. He might just break through with this film, or it might be one of many films that have come out of Toronto down, out and defeated. The potential is there. They will be screening the film in Los Angeles at the same time as TIFF. It’s about time someone made a movie about the brilliant Hawking, a man whose life was filled with so many ups and downs that I’m surprised Hollywood didn’t come knocking at his door sooner. We’re going to have to just wait and see with this film, but since the comparisons I’ve been hearing and seeing to “The Imitation Game” are dumb and unfounded, I’m not sure what people are thinking comparing these two genuinely different movies. They are looking at them from an Oscar campaigning perspective (because everyone is an expert) and assuming that both men are geniuses, both men are struggling with disabilities. But there is a huge difference between contracting a body debilitating illness and being gay at a time when it was illegal, not to mention these being two different time periods and two different countries. But hey, they look like Oscar movies!

5) Two Adam Sandler movies? “Men, Women and Children” & “The Cobbler”

Yea, you heard me right: Sandler has two films premiering here, and not just by any directors. I remember a time when Sandler had a small teeny weeny phase where he decided to make more mature, serious fare with well renowned filmmakers such as Judd Apatow, James L. Brooks and Paul Thomas Anderson. Remember “Punch-Drunk Love”? Still Sandler’s best movie and performance.

The Sandler film most people are talking about is “Men, Women and Children”, which is directed by Jason Reitman, who really needs another well received film after last year’s decent but average “Labor Day” walked out of Toronto with practically nobody talking about it. His new movie looks more socially relevant and seems to harken back to the style of his older more mature efforts like “Thank You for Smoking” and “Up in the Air”. This new film tackles the internet age and our communication breakdown in the age of the internet.

Although I am looking forward to seeing “Men, Women and Children”, the Sandler film I am most looking forward to see also closely resembles “Punch-Drunk Love” in terms of its magical realist style, or at least that’s what I gathered when reading the synopsis for Tom McCarthy’s new film “The Cobbler”. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t McCarthy one of the singular, most underrated American directors around today?

“The Station Agent”, “The Vistor” and “Win Win” are all movies that get better with age, and his minimalist approach to filmmaking is really a breath of fresh air. Having Sandler star in one of his movies is as big a what-the-fuck as Paul Thomas Anderson casting him in 2002. It worked then and I hope it works now. Can’t wait.

6) Richard Gere and Jennifer Aniston for an Oscar? “Time Out of Mind” and “Cake”

So here’s the deal, Gere and Aniston have never been nominated for an Oscar. In fact, the year we thought Gere had a shot at winning a supporting actor trophy he ended up not even getting a nomination for “Chicago”. He’s continued giving us stellar work over the years, most notably a few years ago in “Arbitrage” which was a strong performance, but sadly that year was one of the strongest Best Actor lineups in years. Sucks, bad luck. Not even a nomination over the years for far ranging work like “American Gigolo” or “Primal Fear”. In “Time Out of Mind” he is directed by Oren Overman, an Israeli born filmmaker who now resides in New York. Overman has turned some heads over the last few years, directing “The Messenger” and “Rampart” back to back. No matter what happens in this year’s Oscar race, Gere is and always will be an underrated talent.

On the other end of the spectrum is Jennifer Aniston. Her new film is “Cake” and it looks to be the darkest role she’s ever tackled. She’s proven her worth as a serious actress in the past, most notably in Miguel Arteta’s “The Good Girl”, but never has she fully been taken seriously on the big screen. Some actors just can’t get past their iconic small screen roles, and Aniston’s Rachel is and always will be her legacy, and so her most successful big screen endeavors have all been in comedies. However, “Cake” is her chance. It really is. She is surrounded by a top notch cast of talents which include Anna Kendrick, William H. Macy and Felicity Huffman, and the role seems to dig into some of the darkest territory the actress has ever pursued. I think she can pull through and hit this out of the park.

7) “Cannes” they do it? “Leviathan”, “Timbuktu”, “Mommy”, “Winter Sleep”, “Goodbye to Language”, “Two Days, One Night”, “Wild Tales”

This year’s Best Foreign Film race kick-started at Cannes and continues over at TIFF. These are not films that are “Oscar material” and that’s sometimes a good thing. They don’t follow anything about formula and they go by their own furious beat. Here are films by filmmakers trying to reinvent the language of cinema and tell their stories in ways that have never been attempted before. “Wild Tales” had such an impressive showing at Telluride last week that people were demanding another screening at a bigger location and they got it. Word of mouth is building and this could be our next Foreign Language winner.

8) What to make of “The Judge”

I have my reservations about this courtroom drama starring Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall. For starters, the director is David Dobkin, who’s more known for his work in comedy (Wedding Crashers) than drama. However, I wouldn’t bet against the cast. Downey Jr. especially. He’s proven to us time and time again what a great actor he can be – just take a look at “Chaplin”, “Tropic Thunder” and “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” for proof. The guy has talent. He’s never won an Oscar and this is major Oscar bait. If he hits it out of the park he can become a major player in the race. As for Robert Duvall, well…it’s Robert Duvall.

9) Will American indies have a surprise up their sleeves?

Remember when the Oscars was just five nominees for Best Picture? And usually one of those spots was reserved for a small indie gem”? “Juno”, “Little Miss Sunshine”, “In the Bedroom” and in later years “Precious”, “Winter’s Bone”, “An Education”, “The Kids Are All Right” and “Beasts of the Southern Wild”. It happens. Most of the time these movies start off at Sundance and only grow in momentum as the year goes. This year the only film that can possibly do that is also a film that won the Grand Jury prize at Sundance: “Whiplash”. I have already seen Damien Chazelle’s film and it really is an amazing watch. Miles Teller and J.K Simmons are both phenomenal and would most likely garner an instant Oscar nomination if we didn’t live in such a cruel world. Reality is that there will be a struggle for “Whiplash” to even nab one Oscar nom, but I’m betting that if it garners the reception that I think it deserves in Toronto, then watch out, because this is a movie that deserves everything that might be coming its way.

10) The fate of “Mr. Turner”

Ever since its triumph at Cannes, Mike Leigh’s newest film hasn’t kept up with the momentum that it built at La Croisette. TIFF is most likely the make or break moment for the film and will tell us a little more of what to expect come awards season. I just want it to be a great movie, awards or not. That’s why I’m here watching 3-4 movies a day – I want to watch stuff that’ll knock me out, put me on a high and have me talking about it for days on end. That is why most of us are here in the first place.

11) Noah Baumbach’s “While We’re Young”

This finally leads me to Noah Baumbach’s newest film. Here’s a director I greatly admire who has never gotten the awards recognition he deserved. Well, that’s too bad. That means people have missed out on such Baumbach gems as “The Squid and The Whale” and “Frances Ha”. Not surprisingly, this Brooklyn born filmmaker started out as a writer for another Oscarless but brilliant filmmaker: Wes Anderson. “While We’re Young” is one of my most hotly anticipated films of the fest, yet I doubt it will get recognized in any categories. Consider that a good thing. It means he doesn’t play by the rules and has a unique vision all his own, and I wouldn’t want it another way. Word of mouth is building and this could be our next Foreign Language winner.

puiu

London, Wednesday 3 September 2014: – The programme for the 58th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express® launched today, with Festival Director Clare Stewart presenting this year’s rich and diverse selection of films and events. As Britain’s leading film event and one of the world’s oldest film festivals, it introduces the finest new British and international films to an expanding London and UK-wide audience, offering a compelling combination of red carpet glamour, engaged audiences and vibrant exchange. The Festival provides an essential profiling opportunity for films seeking global success at the start of the Awards season; promotes the careers of British and international filmmakers through its industry activities and awards line-up and positions London as the world’s leading creative city.

The Festival will screen a total of 245 fiction and documentary features, including 16 World Premieres, 9 International Premieres, 38 European Premieres and 19 Archive films including 2 Restoration World Premiere’s.[1] There will also be screenings of 148 live action and animated shorts. A stellar line-up of directors, cast and crew are expected to take part in career interviews, master classes, Q&As and other special events. The 58th BFI London Film Festival will run Wednesday 8 – Sunday 19 October 2014.

Taking place over 12 days, the Festival’s screenings are at venues across the capital, from the West End cinemas – Odeon West End, Vue West End and the iconic Odeon Leicester Square; central London venues – BFI Southbank, Odeon Covent Garden, the ICA, Curzon Mayfair, Curzon Soho and Ciné Lumière; and local cinemas – Ritzy Brixton, Hackney Picturehouse, Vue Islington and Rich Mix. Additional screenings and events will take place at the Odeon BFI IMAX, Empire Leicester Square, Curzon Chelsea and Queen Elizabeth Hall. Audiences across the UK can enjoy the Festival via simultaneous screenings in their local cinemas.

GALAS

OPENING & CLOSING NIGHT GALAS

The Festival opens with the European Premiere of THE IMITATION GAME, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley. Director Morten Tyldum returns to the Festival with a film about Alan Turing, one of the world’s greatest innovators and pioneer of modern-day computing, who is credited with cracking the German Enigma code.

The European Premiere of FURY will close the Festival, directed by David Ayer whose End of Watch appeared in LFF Official Competition in 2012, this Second World War epic stars Brad Pitt as Wardaddy, a battle-hardened army sergeant who commands a Sherman tank and her five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines.

Both Opening and Closing events will have a cinecast from the red carpet and simultaneous screenings taking place at cinemas across the UK.

HEADLINE GALAS

Among the other highly anticipated Galas are the previously announced American Express Gala of Bennett Miller’s FOXCATCHER, the dark and fascinating story of the unlikely and ultimately tragic relationship between an eccentric multimillionaire and two champion wrestlers, starring Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo. The Accenture Gala is the audacious thriller WHIPLASH, about a young jazz drummer under the tutelage of a ruthless and fearsome maestro starring Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons. We are delighted to welcome a new Official Airline Partner to this year’s Festival, Virgin Atlantic who will present the European Premiere of Jason Reitman’s MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN starring Adam Sandler and Ansel Elgort with a racy voiceover by Emma Thompson. The May Fair Hotel Gala is the European Premiere of biopic-drama WILD starring Reese Witherspoon, adapted for the screen by Nick Hornby from Cheryl Strayed’s extraordinary account of her 1,100-mile solo hike along the Pacific Crest Trails. The Centrepiece Gala supported by the Mayor of London is the World Premiere of TESTAMENT OF YOUTH based on Vera Brittain’s memoir of World War 1 starring Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, Hayley Atwell, Emily Watson and Dominic West. The Festival Gala is Mike Leigh’s MR. TURNER starring Timothy Spall as the great British artist J.M.W. Turner whose paintings evoked the moving image before there was cinema. The Archive Gala is the World Premiere of the BFI National Archive restoration of THE BATTLES OF CORONEL AND FALKLAND ISLANDS.

STRAND GALAS

The nine programme strands are each headlined with a gala, they are: the Love Gala, Alan Rickman’s A LITTLE CHAOS (European Premiere); the Debate Gala, Jon Stewart’s ROSEWATER (European Premiere); the Dare Gala, Xavier Dolan’s MOMMY; the Laugh Gala, Damián Szifron’s WILD TALES; the Thrill Gala, Kristian Levring’s THE SALVATION; the Cult Gala, Jacob Cheung’s THE WHITE HAIRED WITCH OF LUNAR KINGDOM (International Premiere); the Journey Gala, Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s WINTER SLEEP; and the Family Gala is Tomm Moore’s SONG OF THE SEA (European Premiere). In addition to which, the previously announced Sonic Gala is Peter Strickland and Nick Fenton’s concert film BJÖRK: BIOPHILIA LIVE.

AWARDS AND COMPETITIONS

The Best Film Award will again be handed out in Official Competition; the Sutherland Award in the First Feature Competition and the Grierson Award in Documentary Competition. Each section is open to international and British films.

OFFICIAL COMPETITION

The Official Competition line-up, recognising inspiring, inventive and distinctive filmmaking, includes the following:

  • · Peter Ho-Sun Chan, DEAREST
  • · Peter Strickland, THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY (European Premiere)
  • · Carol Morley, THE FALLING (World Premiere)
  • · Ana Lily Amirpour, A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT
  • · Céline Sciamma, GIRLHOOD
  • · Daniel Barber, THE KEEPING ROOM (European Premiere)
  • · Andrey Zvyagintsev, LEVIATHAN
  • · François Ozon, THE NEW GIRLFRIEND
  • · Christian Petzold, PHOENIX
  • · Mohsen Makhmalbaf, THE PRESIDENT
  • · Julius Avery, SON OF A GUN (European Premiere)
  • · Abderrahmane Sissako, TIMBUKTU

FIRST FEATURE COMPETITION

Titles in consideration for the Sutherland Award in the First Feature Competition recognising an original and imaginative directorial debut are:

  • · Yann Demange,‘71
  • · Josephine Decker, BUTTER ON THE LATCH
  • · Daniel Wolfe, Matthew Wolfe, CATCH ME DADDY
  • · Zeresenay Berhane Mehari, DIFRET
  • · Franco Lolli, GENTE DE BIEN
  • · Guy Myhill, THE GOOB
  • · Adityavikram Sengupta, LABOUR OF LOVE
  • · Sudabeh Mortezai, MACONDO
  • · Debbie Tucker Green, SECOND COMING
  • · Ester Martin Bergsmark, SOMETHING MUST BREAK
  • · Naji Abu Nowar, THEEB
  • · Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy, THE TRIBE

DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION

The Grierson Award in the Documentary Competition category recognises cinematic documentaries with integrity, originality, and social or cultural significance. This year the Festival is screening:

· Nadav Schirman, THE GREEN PRINCE

· Jean-François Caissy, GUIDELINES

· Randall Wright, HOCKNEY (World Premiere)

· Jason Sussberg, David Alvarado, THE IMMORTALISTS (European Premiere)

· Ulrich Seidl, IN THE BASEMENT

· Sergei Loznitsa, MAIDAN

· Frederick Wiseman, NATIONAL GALLERY

· Sabine Lubbe Bakker & Niels van Koevorden, NE ME QUITTE PAS

· Edward Lovelace & James Hall, THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS (European Premiere)

· Ossama Mohammed & Wiam Simav Bedirxan, SILVERED WATER, SYRIA SELF-PORTRAIT

· Debra Granik, STRAY DOG

· Lynette Wallworth, TENDER (European Premiere)

BEST BRITISH NEWCOMER

Closing the Awards section is the prize for Best British Newcomer which highlights new British talent and is presented to an emerging writer, actor, producer or director. This year’s nominees are:

1. Guy Myhill – Writer/Director THE GOOB

2. Florence Pugh – Supporting Actor THE FALLING

3. Sameena Jabeen Ahmed – Actor CATCH ME DADDY

4. Rebecca Johnson – Writer/Director HONEYTRAP

5. Taron Egerton – Actor TESTAMENT OF YOUTH

6. Daniel Wolfe & Matthew Wolfe – Writers/Directors CATCH ME DADDY

7. Alex Lawther – Supporting Actor THE IMITATION GAME

FILM GUESTS

Key talent due to attend the Festival’s gala screenings include: Morten Tyldum, Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Allen Leech, Alex Lawther, Charles Dance, Rory Kinnear, Mark Strong, Matthew Beard, David Ayer, Brad Pitt, Bennett Miller, Steve Carrel, Sienna Miller, Damien Chazelle, J.K Simmons, Jason Reitman, Ansel Elgort, Kaitlyn Dever, Reese Witherspoon, Nick Hornby, Cheryl Strayed, James Kent, Kit Harrington, Dominic West, Emily Watson, Colin Morgan, Mike Leigh, Jon Stewart, Maziar Bahari, Alan Rickman, Damian Szifron, Kristian Levring, Jacob Cheung, Nick Fenton, Peter Strickland, Björk, Tomm Moore, Brendan Gleeson, Fionnula Flanagan and David Rawle.

Additional talent attending for films in competition include: for Official Competition: Peter Ho-Sun Chan, Peter Strickland, Sidse Babbet Knudsen, Chiara D’Anna, Fatma Mohammed, Monika Swinn, Eugenia Caruso, Carol Morley, Ana Lily Amirpour, Celine Sciamma, Daniel Barber, Francois Ozon, Julius Avery, Mohsen Makhmalbaf and Abderrahmane Sissako; First Feature Competition: Yann Demange, Jack O’Connell, Gregory Burke, Josephine Decker, Daniel Wolfe, Matthew Wolfe, Sameena Habeen Ahmed, Conor McCarron, Gary Lewis, Zeresenay Berhane Merhari, Franco Lolli, Guy Myhill, Adityavikram Sengupta, Sudabeh Mortezai, Debbie Tucker Green, Ester Martin Bergsmark, Naji Abu Nowar and Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy; Documentary Competition: Nadav Schirman, Jean-Francois Caissy, Randall Wright, Jason Sussberg, David Alvarado, Frederick Wiseman, Edward Lovelace, James Hall, Edwin Collins and Lynette Wallworth.

The Festival will announce its complete guest line-up for all sections in early October.

STRANDS / PATHWAYS

The Festival programme is organised into categories clustered around the themes of Love, Debate, Dare, Laugh, Thrill, Cult, Journey, Sonic and Family – an approach designed to help Festival-goers find the films that appeal the most to them and to open up the Festival for new audiences.

LOVE

Love is strange, and cinema reaps the fruit of its strangeness. The Love Gala is the European Premiere of Alan Rickman’s sophomore feature A LITTLE CHAOS set in the Court of Versailles starring Rickman himself as King Louis XIV, Kate Winslet as landscape gardener Sabine De Barra, Matthias Schoenaerts as the famous architect Le Nôtre and Stanley Tucci in hilarious form as a court dandy.

Other titles in this section include: Benoît Jacquot’s 3 HEARTS starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, Chiara Mastroianni and Catherine Deneuve; Daniel Ribeiro’s romantic tale of the joys and woes of young love, THE WAY HE LOOKS; Ira Sachs’ LOVE IS STRANGE starring Alfred Molina and John Lithgow as life-long lovers; the European Premiere of Shonali Bose’s portrait of a Punjabi teenage girl MARGARITA, WITH A STRAW; a new adaptation of Gustave Flaubert’s classic MADAME BOVARY directed by Sophie Barthes and starring Mia Wasikowska as the eponymous lead; the World Premiere of Corinna McFarlane’s SILENT STORM starring Andrea Riseborough and Damian Lewis; Susanne Bier’s SERENA starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, and the European Premiere of BAFTA-winning documentary filmmaker Morgan Matthews’ debut feature X + Y.

DEBATE

Debate presents films that rush headfirst and unafraid into some of the stormiest issues of the day. This year’s Debate Gala is the European Premiere of Jon Stewart’s directorial debut ROSEWATER starring Gael Garcia Bernal and based on the real-life ordeal of London-based journalist Maziar Bahari.

Other highlights in this section include: the European Premiere of Michael Winterbottom’s THE FACE OF AN ANGEL about an American student charged with the murder of her British housemate; the World Premiere of Tom Harper’s House of Commons-set political thriller War Book; Gabriel Mascaro’s haunting tale of the effects of climate change on a coastal community in Brazil, AUGUST WINDS; Annalet Steenkamp’s documentary about the four generations of her Afrikaner family I, AFRIKANER; Dieudo Hamadi’s NATIONAL DIPLOMA following a group of Congolese high schools students preparing for their exams; Steve James’ newly restored 1994 documentary HOOP DREAMS about the ultra-competitive world of college basketball; and Shira Geffen’s SELF MADE and Eran Riklis’ DANCING ARABS which both explore life on either side of the Palestinian-Israeli divide.

DARE

Here you’ll find cinema’s troublemakers and boundary pushers, with films for those who take their movies strong, no sugar. The Dare Gala is Xavier Dolan’s MOMMY which jointly won the Jury Prize in Cannes earlier this year.

Other highlights in this strand include: Jean-Luc Godard’s first foray into 3D, GOODBYE TO LANGUAGE which jointly won the Jury Prize in Cannes in May and will be presented here at BFI IMAX; New Queer Cinema alumnus Gregg Araki’s WHITE BIRD IN A BLIZZARD starring Eva Green and Shailene Woodley; the World Premiere of Rebecca Johnson’s HONEYTRAP based on the 2008 case of Samantha Joseph, dubbed the ‘honeytrap killer’; Duane Hopkins’ social melodrama BYPASS; Aleksei German’s black and white epic HARD TO BE A GOD completed by his wife and son following German’s death in 2013; and Abel Ferrara’s PASOLINI starring Willem Dafoe as the Italian filmmaker.

LAUGH

This year’s comedic crop mine potentially treacherous terrain that some might consider no joke. This year’s Laugh Gala is WILD TALES, a delirious black comedy directed by Damián Szifron with Augustín and Pedro Almodóvar as producers.

Other titles in this strand include: Director-writer-star Desiree Akhavan’s fearless feature debut APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR; Hungary’s most innovative and controversial director György Pálfi’s new film FREE FALL; the International Premiere of Justin Simien’s razor-sharp satire DEAR WHITE PEOPLE; Martha Stephens and Aaron Katz’ delicate and heart-warming comedy LAND HO!; Josh Lawson’s whip-smart sex comedy THE LITTLE DEATH; Emilio Martínez-Lázaro’s SPANISH AFFAIR, a massive box-office hit in its native Spain; and John Boorman’s semi-autobiographical film, QUEEN AND COUNTRY.

THRILL

The Thrill strand covers noir, neo-noir, sci-fi, pulp, crime, action and adventure in a programme that’s as sure to inspire wanderlust as it is to set your pulse racing. The Gala presentation for this strand is Kristian Levring’s THE SALVATION, a gripping tale of revenge set in the Old West starring Mads Mikkelsen and Eva Green.

Other highlights in this section include: Diao Yinan’s murder mystery and Berlin winner BLACK COAL, THIN ICE; the European Premiere of Toa Fraser’s thriller THE DEAD LANDS made entirely in the Maori language; Michaël R. Roskam’s THE DROP starring Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and the late James Gandolfini; the European Premiere of Kriv Stenders’ boldly enjoyable comedy thriller KILL ME THREE TIMES starring Simon Pegg; the World Premiere of Tom Green’s MONSTERS: DARK CONTINENT, a sequel to Gareth Edwards’ 2010 debut Monsters; and Andrew Hulme’s crime thriller, SNOW IN PARADISE.

CULT

In the Cult strand, you’ll find a curious selection of films guaranteed to provoke, excite and take you entirely off guard. Welcome to the weird side. The Cult Gala is the International Premiere of Jacob Cheung’s lavish wuxia epic THE WHITE HAIRED WITCH OF LUNAR KINGDOM starring Chinese superstar Fan Bingbing.

Other highlights in this strand include: Mark Hartley’s latest celebration of exploitation films ELECTRIC BOOGALOO: THE WILD, UNTOLD STORY OF CANNON FILMS; David Robert Mitchell’s remarkable shocker IT FOLLOWS; the European Premiere of British director Oliver Blackburn’s latest horror KRISTY; Carter Smith’s ethereal coming-of-age tale JAMIE MARKS IS DEAD; Sion Sono’s Yakuza gangster flick-cum-hip hop musical TOKYO TRIBE and the World Premiere of Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s striking debut THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN inspired by the 1976 classic of the same name.

JOURNEY

Whether it’s the journey or the destination, here are films to transport you and shift your perspective. This year’s Journey Gala is Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s extraordinary WINTER SLEEP which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes this year.

Other titles in this section include: AFRICAN METROPOLIS, a collection of six short films that explore the complexity of African urban life; Rolf de Heer’s CHARLIE’S COUNTRY starring legendary Australian actor David Gulpilil who won Best Actor in Un Certain Regard at Cannes this year; Writer-Director David Oelhoffen’s FAR FROM MEN featuring Viggo Mortensen, Fatih Akin’s THE CUT starring Tahar Rahim; Israel Horovitz’s MY OLD LADY starring Maggie Smith, Kevin Kline and Kristin Scott Thomas; 18 different filmmakers including Warwick Thornton, Justin Kurzel and a debut by Mia Wasikowska contribute to an expansive adaptation of Australian author Tim Winton’s THE TURNING starring Cate Blanchett, Rose Byrne and Hugo Weaving; the World Premiere of Bryn Higgins’ ELECTRICITY starring Agyness Deyn; and the World Premiere of Gerry Fox’s MARC QUINN – MAKING WAVES documenting one year in the life of the artist Marc Quinn.

SONIC

Like cinema, music has the power to envelop us and move us, both emotionally and physically. This year’s Sonic Gala is Peter Strickland and Nick Fenton’s BJÖRK: BIOPHILIA LIVE, a concert film capturing the extraordinary closing night performance of Björk’s Biophilia project at London’s Alexandra Palace last year.

Other highlights in this strand include: the European Premiere of James Marcus Harvey’s AUSTIN TO BOSTON about a modern music tour, done the old fashioned way; One9’s documentary NAS: TIME IS ILLMATIC about one of the most influential and important records in hip hop; the European Premiere of Alan Hicks’ KEEP ON KEEPIN’ ON about the relationship between legendary Jazz trumpet player Clark Terry and his protégé Justin Kauflin; Mia Hansen-Løve’s EDEN, a fictionalised account of the French house boom that spawned Daft Punk, Michael Obert’s SONG FROM THE FOREST that explores one man’s quest to find and record the music and sound of the remotest parts of the African jungle, Fenar Ahmad’s FLOW, a portrait of Copenhagen’s hip-hop scene; and a BUG SPECIAL: FULL TIME HOBBY devoted to the 10th anniversary of the independent London record label.

FAMILY

This year’s Family section has titles from all over the world to suit all ages and tastes, and the Family Gala is the European Premiere of SONG OF THE SEA, director Tomm Moore’s sophomore feature following his Oscar-nominated debut The Secret of Kells.

Other highlights are the International Premiere of Xavier Picard’s MOOMINS OF THE RIVIERA a glorious animated tale of Tove Jansson’s much-loved characters released in time to celebrate the 100th anniversary of her birth; the World Premiere of Christian De Vita’s animated family tale YELLOWBIRD 3D; Jon Wright’s British sci-fi adventure ROBOT OVERLORDS starring Gillian Anderson and Sir Ben Kingsley; Chan Hyung-Yun kooky animated love story THE SATELLITE GIRL AND MILK COW; and Martin Miehe-Renard’s teen drama THE CONTEST – TO THE STARS AND BACK. We will show the UK’s first animated feature, ANIMAL FARM (1954) based on George Orwell’s novella, and directed and produced by John Halas and Joy Batchelor.

There is a dedicated section for animated shorts for younger audiences which include the World Premiere of Aardman’s new short film RAY’S BIG IDEA in 3D directed by Steve Harding-Hill and the World Premiere of Illuminated Films’new short film ON ANGEL WINGS directed by Dave Unwin and based on a story by Michael Morpurgo.

As part of our celeberation of 20 years of Dreamworks Animation, we present a special event for younger audiences and animation enthusiasts alike DreamWorks Animation: Taking Flight and Beyond showcasing the work of producer Bonnie Arnold and director Dean DeBlois, who will be joined by Cressida Cowell, author of the highly successful ‘How to Train your Dragon’ series of novels. Exclusive footage from upcoming release The Penguins of Madagascar will also be shown.

SHORTS

An original and innovative line-up of short films and animation that will captivate audiences young and old makes up this year’s Shorts compilation programmes presented across the Festival strands.

The Meaning of Love programme explores a range of expressions that define ‘love’ including EMOTIONAL FUSEBOX starring Jodie Whittaker, and THE KÁRMÁN LINE starring Olivia Colman. Let’s Talk About Sex is a series of shorts that question how we interact physically and emotionally with each other, such as GHOST TRAIN in which an elderly man dealing with his wife’s dementia becomes captivated by a young burlesque dancer, and in OUR SKIN IS GOING TO GRAY, a group of different characters experience the universal fear of rejection. The Life, But Is It A Dream? programme looks at the fleeting moments that can create big stories full of emotion such as IN AUGUST in which a 6 year-old girl sees that her father is leaving home, and in EMERGENCY CALLS an ageing bar hostess queries her decision to marry a long-term admirer. After Laughter Comes Tears presents six shorts that all encompass funny ha-ha, the absurdly funny and the funny strange. All Or Nothing offers shorts that reflect the passions in the hearts of their protagonists from positive love to destructive hate and all points in between. Take Me To The Other Side is the shorts programme for cult genre fans featuring zombies, crazed scientists, tattooed criminals and indescribable horrors. The Radio Live Transmission programme of short films and animations shows how sound and music are vital to cinema, no matter the genre. The London Calling section features a selection of shorts from budding filmmakers from across the capital, supported by Film London’s production schemes.

EXPERIMENTA

The LFF showcase of Experimental Cinema and Artists’ Moving Image, is programmed in partnership with LUX for a second year and is supported by Arts Council England. An extensive selection of new British work is presented including THE FILM THAT BUYS THE CINEMA by Cube Cinema, WHEN YOU FALL INTO A TRANCE by Emily Wardill, TOMORROW IS ALWAYS TOO LONG by Phil Collins commissioned as part of the Commonwealth Games, 72-82 by William Raban, NEAR REAL TIME by Gail Pickering and HOW TO MAKE MONEY RELIGIOUSLY by Laure Prouvost. International works include THE INEXTINGUISHABLE FIRE: HARUN FAROCKI 1944-2014, a tribute to the late great German filmmaker with screenings of PARALLEL I-IV and INEXTINGUISHABLE FIRE; and TRIBUTE TO MARIA KLONARIS (1950-2014) who was responsible for some of the most radical feminist and transgender films and art ever created. Preservationist Mark Toscano will present MEDITATIONS FROM OUR LADY OF THE ANGELS, a specially curated-selection of restored Los Angeles artists’ films from the Academy Film Archive. Ken McMullen’s new film OXI: An Act of Resistance. The diverse programme includes animation, conceptual and performance pieces, diaristic work, abstraction and more.

TREASURES

Treasures brings recently restored cinematic riches from archives around the world to the Festival in London. The previously announced Archive Gala is the World Premiere of the BFI National Archive restoration of a major British silent film THE BATTLES OF CORONEL AND FALKLAND ISLANDS (1927). This virtually unknown film offers a stunning recreation of two key battles faced by the Royal Navy in the early days of World War One, almost exactly a century ago. Screening at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the film will have a stirring new score, commissioned from award-winning composer Simon Dobson and will be performed by 24 members of the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines. Restoration supported by Matt Spick. Archive Gala and Score supported by Arts Council England, the Gosling Foundation, the Hartnett Conservation Trust, PRS for Music Foundation and the Charles Skey Charitable Trust.

The newly restored, iconic silent film THE GODDESS (1934) from Chinese cinema’s Golden Age starring Ruan Lingyu, is presented as part of the BFI’s year-long Electric Shadows project celebrating artistic and cultural collaborations between China and Britain. Screening at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the film will have a new score by Chinese composer Zou Ye, commissioned by the K T Wong Foundation, and will be performed live by the English Chamber Orchestra.

The latest 4k restoration by Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation and the BFI National Archive is Powell and Pressburger’s THE TALES OF HOFFMAN (1951) a dazzling take on Jacques Offenbach’s 1881 opera. The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project presents a 4k restored version of Sergei Parajanov’s THE COLOUR OF POMEGRANATES (1969).

The Imperial War Museum has restored and completed GERMAN CONCENTRATION CAMPS FACTUAL SURVEY (1945/2014), following the original filmmakers’ directions and drawing on seventeen hours of footage documenting the horrors discovered following the liberation of the concentration camps in 1944 and ’45.

Other highlights include John Schlesinger’s FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD (1967) starring Julie Christie and Terrence Stamp cast as lovers in Thomas Hardy’s epic love story; Robert Altman’s COME BACK TO THE FIVE & DIME, JIMMY DEAN, JIMMY DEAN (1982); Joseph L Mankiewicz’s GUYS AND DOLLS (1955) starring Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando, and the 40th anniversary of Tobe Hooper’s classic horror THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE now available in a new razor sharp 4K transfer.

EVENTS

We are delighted to announce this year’s programme of events, including Screen Talks with filmmakers Bennett Miller and Abderrahmane Sissako; Masterclasses with production designer Maria Djurkovic and documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman and three events to celebrate DreamWorks Animation Studios turning 20 in October.

sky

One of the best things about going to Telluride is meeting up with people I only get to see once a year, or thereabouts. Some of them will drift in and out of the upcoming events in Los Angeles but not most. They come from all over the country to attend the festival and I have to admit seeing them is always the thing I look forward to. It’s right up there with hot coffee at the morning screening up at the Chuck Jones.

I briefly chatted with film critic James Rocchi who had come to Telluride for the first time, along with his wife. He said he loved it so far but that he felt a little guilty about being “in the bubble” of it all and not being sure whether or not he liked that. He knows that the hype machine begins high up in the Colorado mountains and he is one of the few who chafes against the Oscar race because he wonders why so many people care about the opinions of a few thousand privileged old white dudes. He has a point. He’s always had a point. Most of us come to the Oscar race hoping it will mean more, that sooner or later the Oscar race is going to matter, really matter beyond the sparkle and shimmy of a celebrity parade. Do they matter? I don’t know. I dive in every year thinking that they matter in terms of politics and power in Hollywood and that winning one can make a person feel as though their time was not wasted.

This was a cool weekend in Telluride with a bright clear blue sky, the occasional gusts of chilly wind and always that piercing high altitude sunlight. You could do nothing else but walk around the town and have the best time. That they hide away screenings in Masonic temples and school auditoriums is all the more delightful. Even after coming to the fest for four years now I never know what to pack. I just never end up with the right clothes so that I never wear anything I brought, and curse myself for not bringing the right clothes. Comfortable shoes are a must. No one really dresses up because they all look like REI catalogue models. Hiking boots, jeans and fleece, the occasional puffy jacket, a scarf. Forget the groovy city ankle boots, the short dresses, and above all, the high heels.

Chris Willman has become one of my Telluride pals. We never see each other in Los Angeles, hardly ever, but for some reason we always end up hanging out here or there, waiting in line, etc. He introduced me to the Feed, something I knew nothing about. That is a meal that takes place on Friday after the first screening (this one was Wild). The Telluride fest rolls out a lavish meal for all badge holders. I had no idea. Chris dragged me into it for salmon and a beer. Imagine that. A free meal.

First Showing’s Alex Billington and Film Journal’s Tomris Laffly are part of my pack in the mountains. We tend to gravitate towards one another in line or at parties and always sit together when we can. Theirs are two of the opinions I always seek out because we all three have similar sensibilities. We don’t always agree, of course, but they are both as passionate about movies as I feel movies deserve. Telluride blogger Michael and (artist) Kristy Patterson are two I didn’t get enough time to hang out with before I headed out of town. Michael Patterson’s countdown to the Telluride Film Fest and subsequent opinion gathering are vital aspects to the season. And my old pal Jeff Wells was my roommate. He works himself late into the evening, wakes up at 6am and starts all over again. He’s tireless in his time investment. You could say we were exactly the opposite in that way. At one point I had to just check out and cook a slow meal at the condo for the teenagers and Jeff. It was just like playing house!

I will never catch up with Anne Thompson, Kris Tapley, Greg Ellwood, and other journalists who just do the work really well. As if interviewing Jon Stewart wasn’t enough, Thompson also worked in a book signing for her successful $11 Billion Year at Between the Covers. I value each of their opinions, too, especially where Oscar is concerned. But the Oscar guru is now and will always be Mr. Pete Hammond, who hangs out with Academy members. I spent a gondola ride down with Hammond and his brilliant storytelling wife Madelyn, along with Peggy Siegel and Sig Ganis. They didn’t talk movies but that’s the kind of world Pete dwells in. He knows them. He knows what they like. Actually, they did report that they loved Wild.

“If this thing goes down,” Pete said, “The whole Oscar race goes with it.” Pete and I grabbed a couple of drinks and talked hardcore Oscar at the Fox Searchlight party. We were both on the hunt for “the one.” So far, we don’t know what’s coming. After three greyhounds and two glasses of wine I stumbled out of the Sheridan as the last call lights were coming up. I walked with Pete down the road a bit to finish our conversation then I pulled my puffy jacket on and found my way back to our condo. It was a mistake to drink that much. I could not wake up and face the next day, my last, in Telluride with a raging hangover. A couple cups of coffee, some water, Advil – nothing was helping. It was time to pack it in. There was much left to do but I was facing a two-day drive back to Los Angeles with two teenagers and an abandoned puppy I was becoming more and more attached to as the weekend wore on. I am not sure I will be able to part with him, tbh.

We drove through the Four Corners and Monument Valley on our way to Kingman, Arizona, where our hotel waited for us. We let the puppy out for bathroom break – a dusty, forgotten Res dog sniffing the cracked mud dimpled with carefully assembled homes for dung beetles. One dog found and rescued but hundreds more wander the reservations in packs, gathered around the Burger King. Navajo Preservation Center presented by Burger King.

With Telluride a world away, I was thinking about real life versus the bubble I dwell in. What does any of it have to do with anything? Turns out, not much. It is reserved for remaining few who still believe films can change the world. Or maybe they just change us. There was a Birdman and a Foxcatcher, a woman who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail and women who were evacuated out of the West they hoped to help settle. These artists still care to make movies that might make a difference to someone, somewhere. I’m left with the last frame of Jon Stewart’s Rosewater — the image of youthful defiance in the face of oppression.. I just realized I went around the world and back, nestled in the higher altitudes, movies and the people who love them.

IMG_5612b

IMG_5614

IMG_5634

IMG_5557

IMG_5552

Fox Searchlight Party
Fox Searchlight Party
Jean Marc Vallee and Reese Witherspoon
Jean Marc Vallee and Reese Witherspoon
Laura Dern and Alejandro Inarritu
Laura Dern and Alejandro Inarritu
Alex and Tomris
Alex and Tomris

IMG_5549

Rosewater
Rosewater
Wild
Wild

IMG_5688b

Them teens
Them teens

IMG_5673

IMG_5667

Sign In

Register

Reset Your Password

Email Newsletter