February 2012 - Posts

Sony Pictures Classics Buys Worldwide Rights to Amy Berg's "West of Memphis"

Full release below. More details to come.  Sony Pictures Classics announced today that they have acquired worldwide rights to Academy Award®nominated filmmaker Amy Berg’s (DELIVER US FROM EVIL) high profile documentary WEST OF MEMPHIS.  The film debuted at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival in the Documentary Premiere Section to great critical acclaim.  WEST OF MEMPHIS is produced by the Academy Award-winning team of Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson, and first time producers Damien Echols and Lorri Davis. WEST OF MEMPHIS is a powerful documentary that chronicles the new investigation surrounding the “West Memphis Three,” which ultimately broke the case open and led to the freedom of three innocent men: Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr. Beginning with a searing examination of the fatally flawed police investigation into the 1993 murders of three, eight year old boys in the small town of West Memphis, Arkansas, the film goes...
Posted by Indiewire

Author Jonathan Lethem Will Deliver the State of Cinema Address at the San Francisco Film Festival

File this under unexpected but cool: the San Francisco Film Society has announced that author Jonathan Lethem will deliver the ninth annual State of Cinema address at this year's San Francisco International Film Festival. Lethem's talk will investigate the "ecstasies of influence" in cinema and discuss how cultural movements like Occupy Wall Street, new media like YouTube and grassroots arts movements have the capacity to affect film culture. Previous speakers include Christine Vachon, film editor Walter Murch, Wired publisher Kevin Kelly, actress Tilda Swinton, writer/director Brad Bird and cultural commentator B. Ruby Rich. "Jonathan Lethem is the perfect person to explore current social and cultural movements and their possible aesthetic, political and commercial influences," said Film Society director of programming Rachel Rosen. "An insightful thinker and an enormous movie fan, Lethem is sure to deliver a lively and...
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Emma Watson Joins Sofia Coppola's 'Bling Ring'

Proving there really is life after "Harry Potter," Emma Watson has taken yet another high-profile role in Sofia Coppola's next film "The Bling Ring." The film, based on true events, follows a group of teenagers who burglarize the homes of celebrities in Los Angeles. It is based on an original screenplay by Coppola. In addition to her role this fall in "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," Watson has also signed on for David Yates' "Your Voice in My Head" and Guillermo del Toro's "Beauty and the Beast." "The Bling Ring" will begin shooting this spring. Full press release below: OSCAR-WINNING FILMMAKER SOFIA COPPOLA CASTS EMMA WATSON IN NEW FILM, “THE BLING RING”   LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA (February 29, 2012) – Sofia Coppola has cast Emma Watson (HARRY POTTER franchise) in her new film, THE BLING RING. Inspired by real events, the film follows a group of teenagers...
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Critical Consensus: Jamsheed Akrami and Godfrey Cheshire Discuss Jafar Panahi's 'This Is Not A Film'

Editor’s note: Critical Consensus is a biweekly feature in which two critics from Indiewire’s Criticwire network discuss new films with Indiewire’s chief film critic, Eric Kohn. Here, Iranian-born film critic and documentarian Jamsheed Akrami and Iranian cinema expert Godfrey Cheshire talk about Jafar Panahi's "This Is Not a Film," which opens at New York's Film Forum today. You were both involved in organizing a 2010 petition to secure Jafar Panahi's release from prison. As valuable as it was to gather the signatures of American filmmakers like Steven Spielberg to speak out against Panahi's imprisonment, Panahi's own complaints featured in "This is Not a Film" about the conditions of his oppression literally put a face on the situation as nothing else can. The alleged movie -- if we can get away with calling it that -- was rumored to have been smuggled into Cannes this year inside a cake. Since then, it has continued to...
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France Gets Its Politics On: 6 Must-See Titles from the Rendez-vous with French Cinema series

In an election year, the 2012 Rendez-vous with French Cinema is largely about politics past and present. “Farewell my Queen” offers a “downstairs” view of the French Revolution through the eyes of a servant at Versailles, while “Free Men” reveals how the Muslim community in Paris worked with the Resistance during WWII. And in present-day Marseilles “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” is a virtual paean to blue-collar workers that follows a retired union rep after a theft forces him to reexamine his ideals. Even dramas that contain no overt political themes nest within a social context.  When the eponymous “17 Girls”decide to become pregnant at the same time, it's a move to push back at the dismal lack of options in a town the economy has left behind, lending fresh meaning to “the personal is political.”  Meanwhile “Les Intouchables,” the irrepressible buddy farce that kicks off the fest, takes...
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First Person: Writer Nick Flynn Saw Paul Dano and Julianne Moore Flash His Life Before Him in 'Being Flynn'

In a First Person piece for Indiewire, titled "Being Me," writer Nick Flynn opens up about what it was like seeing his life brought to screen in "Being Flynn," Paul Weitz's ("About a Boy") adaptation of his 2004 hit memoir, "Another Bullshit Night in Suck City." In the film, Paul Dano ("There Will Be Blood") portrays Nick in his younger years, as a writer seeking to define himself. Still coping with the loss of his mother (Julianne Moore) who took her own life, Flynn is thrown for a loop when his father, Jonathan Flynn (Robert De Niro), reenters his life after an 18-year abscence. Jonathan, like his son, is a writer, but one who never delivered on his promise and ended up serving time in prison for cashing forged checks. With Jonathan back in Nick's life, the two make an effort to reconcile their fractured bond. Nick, whose most recent book is "The Captain Asks for a Show of Hands" (2011), currently...
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Tribeca Film Festival Opens April 18 with 'Five-Year Engagement' Starring Emily Blunt and Jason Segel

The Tribeca Film Festival will open April 18 with Nicholas Stoller’s “Five-Year Engagement,” starring Jason Segel and Emily Blunt. Universal releases the comedy April 27. “Five Year Engagement” picks up where many romantic comedies end -- after the engagement. Co-written by Segel, it follows what happens when a couple keeps getting tripped up on a long walk down the aisle. Rhys Ifans, Chris Pratt and Alison Brie co-star. Stoller produced with Judd Apatow (“Bridesmaids”) and Rodney Rothman (“Get Him to the Greek”). Said Stoller: “We are so honored that the festival organizers have given us this platform to premiere the film. To be honest, this is all just a ploy to stand on top of a building with Robert De Niro and look out over New York City at dusk.” The Festival runs through April 29; here’s more.
Posted by Indiewire

Matt Singer Joins Indiewire With the Launch of the Criticwire Blog

If If you believe the hype, film criticism faces extinction. Indiewire sees it differently: Provocative voices steeped in knowledge and enthusiasm for every strain of movie experience never went away. It just got harder to find them. If you believe the hype, film criticism faces extinction. Indiewire sees it differently: Provocative voices steeped in knowledge and enthusiasm for every strain of movie experience never went away. It just got harder to find them. If you believe the hype, film criticism faces extinction. Indiewire sees it differently: Provocative voices steeped in knowledge and enthusiasm for every strain of movie experience never went away. It just got harder to find them.   Media cutbacks mean fewer critics are dedicated to a single publication -- but there are hundreds of voices contributing insightful commentary across the web. And some of the best daily film criticism, at least according to many readers, appears on Twitter...
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Does "The Snowtown Murders" Get a Little Too Personal With Killer Rage?

The 1999 serial murders that took place in a sleepy town in Southern Australian don't just provide the inspiration for "The Snowtown Murders," Justin Kurzel's nightmarish directorial debut. The movie embodies the murdering process with undeniably frightening results that call the film's motives into question. When it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last year, "The Snowtown Murders" was merely called "Snowtown," placing emphasis on the locale rather than the grisly events that took place there. The new title is more accurate; it conveys that the film displays a devotion to those acts and virtually nothing else. The filmmaker convincingly portrays the evolution of killer instinct nearly to the point of fetishization. There's skill behind Kurzel's execution -- of the story, that is. The main arc involves abused teen outcast Jamie (Lucas Pittaway), whose bleak home life with his two brothers and their dispassionate mother...
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Decide Who Talks to the Sundance Institute: Vote for February's Project of the Month!

February is now over, and it's time to choose one of our Projects of the Week to be named February's Project of the Month. The project that receives the most votes for Project of the Month will receive a consultation from the Sundance Institute! Voting will be open until Friday March 2 at 11 AM. Links to more information about each project and the poll are below. Good luck to all of the filmmakers! "The Sisterhood of the Night" Sisterhood is a modern version of the Salem witch trials, adapted from a short story by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Steven Millhauser (Martin Dressler, "Eisenheim the Illusionist"). The heart of the story is about how teens connect with each other through art, friendship, and the power of secrets. We also promise to do what every movie should—entertain you and take you for a ride. Sisterhood is a provocative and inspiring story that builds a network of creativity for teens to share ideas and visions....
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Project of the Day: Looking at VW Culture in 'Circle the Wagen'

Here's your daily dose of an indie film in progress; at the end of the week, you'll have the chance to vote for your favorite. In the meantime: Is this a movie you’d want to see? Tell us in the comments. Circle the Wagen Tweetable Logline: Ramshackle bus + idealistic adventurer = a cross-country miracle made possible by a teeming underground of vintage VW fanatics along US-66. Elevator Pitch: CIRCLE THE WAGEN is a feature documentary on the vintage Volkswagen subculture in America—that close-knit community for whom the joy of driving is the joy of living. It follows Dave, an idealistic adventurer and automotive neophyte, on his journey down Route 66 in a ‘72 bus won on eBay for $787. Through countless backfires, blowouts, and breakdowns the heart of the vintage VW community is revealed as they attempt to save “The Croc” from the scrap heap and rally her beleaguered owner on to California. Production Team: ...
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'Black Butterflies' Star Carice van Houten: 'I'm not a Bond girl...I'm a nerd man!'

The gorgeous and talented Dutch actres Carice van Houten, best known for her acclaimed lead turn in "Black Book" from bad boy auteur Paul Verhoeven ("Basic Instinct"), turns in another searing dramatic performance as doomed real life South African poet Ingrid Jonker, in "Black Butterlies" (opening this Friday). The difference this time around? She speaks in English, with a South African accent no less. Since garnering widespread acclaim in 2006 for her work in "Black Book" as a Jew who becomes a spy for the resistance during World War II, van Houten transitioned to Hollywood fare, but found herself relegated to playing 'the wife' in films like "Repo Men," "Valkyrie" and the upcoming "Intruders" opposite Clive Owen. She's found greater success overseas in her home country, where she played a number of meatier roles in Dutch productions following "Black Book," including leads "All is...
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SXSW Buys Begin: Strand Buys 'Crazy Eyes' Starring Lukas Haas

Strand Releasing has acquired US rights to Adam Sherman’s "Crazy Eyes" starring Lukas Haas and Madeline Zima, which will have its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival.  It's the story of a young man whose obsession for a girl he calls Crazy Eyes drives him to the brink. The cast also includes Jake Busey, Ray Wise and Tania Raymonde. Strand plans to release the film in early summer. Strand also released Sherman's "Happiness Runs" in 2009.  The deal was negotiated between Strand Releasing’s Jon Gerrans and attorney Irwin Rappaport.
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TWC's "Bully" Plot Thickens, Theater Owners Threaten NC-17 Treatment

The Weinsteins have encountered a new hurdle with their documentary "Bully." The National Association of Theater Owners has threatened that, if "Bully" is released unrated, they may ask theater owners to treat the film as if it were classified as NC-17, which would bar all moviegoers under 18 even with the consent of a parent. Which would make a movie about junior-high students available for viewing only by those college age and older.  "Bully," the anti-bullying documentary we covered this morning has already engaged in a ratings battle with the MPAA and is now being supported by a popular online petition. The film received an R-rating for "some language" and The Weinstein Company believes the film would impact bullying in schools, but the film would need a PG-13 for its intended audience to see it. Weinstein has said he may have to release the film unrated. This new warning was justified by John Fithian, CEO of NATO,...
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Weinstein's MPAA 'Bully' Battle Hits Internet With Web Petition

The Weinstein Company will be releasing Lee Hirsch's documentary "Bully" this year, and were hoping to screen the film in schools nationwide. However, by a one-vote margin, the MPAA gave the film an R-rating for "some language." Weinstein has successfully fought the MPAA before. This time, he appealed in person and brought along one of the bullying victims featured prominently in "Bully." When the film was screened for a high school audience in Los Angeles, students called the film's language mild. The MPAA has thus far decided to stick by their original rating for the film, which includes no explicit sex or bloody violence. It turns out the MPAA believes that kids can use foul language in front of a camera, but they shouldn't be allowed to hear themselves on screen. And because of the rating, the film can't be screened in high schools, where Weinstein believes it will do some good for both bullies and their victims. ...
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