This Week In Movies by Pete Hammond – Festivals
By Pete Hammond
HollywoodNews.com: A plethora of Film Festivals mark this week in movies as Sundance just wrapped up with its top award going to Like Crazy, the story of a long distance relationship between an American guy and British Girl. It was picked up by Paramount for distribution and won the Grand Jury Prize for Drama and another jury prize for the charming performance of Felicity Jones. Mike Cahill’s sci-fi, Another Earth won the Alfred P. Sloan prize which carries a $20,000 cash bonus for the movie that was picked up by Fox Searchlight. Norway’s Happy Happy, about a sex starved housewife won the equivalent of the festival’s foreign film award while the documentary prize went to the ‘dignity law’ film , How To Die In Oregon.
I don’t go to Sundance, never have. I don’t like snow. Or fighting to get into movies. It’s a fest known for making it difficult to get into the hotter titles. Still Robert Redford certainly was on to something when he came up with the idea all those years ago. This show Hollywood turned up in force and the good news is there seems to be a booming market once again for independently made films. The sheer number of flicks sold was far larger than many years, and certainly way bigger than last year.
While all this was winding down , the Santa Barbara International Film Festival was just getting warmed up , beginning last Thursday with the U.S. premiere of the Weinstein Company’s Sarah’s Key,a French Holocaust drama starring Kristin Scott Thomas who won raves from fest goers for her performance. The film was well-received and SBIFF has a fine line up of movies over the course of its ten day run that ends Super Bowl Sunday with the premiere of Carmen 3D, a filmization of the famed opera complete with 3D visuals. You don’t need opera glasses for this one, just the other kind. I caught a nice little Canadian picture out of Quebec on Monday afternoon, Remain With Me, it’s part of the fest’s Focus On Quebec spotlight.
The main event for this fest, so ably run by Executive Director Roger Durling and presided over by SBIFF Board Chair and former MGM/UA head, Jeffrey Barbakow, are the myriad of tributes, panels and more tributes that permeate the festival’s vibe . Five mainstage tributes at the historic Arlington Theatre are the hot ticket events including salutes to Annette Bening, James Franco , Christopher Nolan, Geoffrey Rush which all happened between Friday and Monday evenings and upcoming, Nicole Kidman who will hit town on Saturday. And in addition to the tributees they get big names to present them with their awards. Kevin Costner showed for his Open Range co-star Annette Bening, Seth Rogen did a hilarious ten minute riff on Franco, Inception star Leonardo DiCaprio turned out for Nolan while Director Tom Hooper, Helena Bonham Carter and Colin Firth joined in toasting Rush.
In addition to these there were lots of panels focusing on Writer, Women in Show Biz, Producers and next weekend, Directors. The panel that I participated in Sunday afternoon was a first for the fest as it was all about blogging and featured a group of panelists who specialize in blogging movies and particularly , awards season doings. Technically it was entitled “The Future of Film Journalism” and we all pretty much decided that there wasn’t much of a future. It’s gone in a different way and pretty much everyone out there thinks they are an expert on this stuff, so it ‘s more of a free for all than anything else.
The interesting thing about Festivals is some movies would never see the light of a theatre’s projection room if it weren’t for the countless fests that have popped up absolutely everywhere. They are a real revenue earner for local cities and filmmakers literally can keep their movie in circulation for one, even two years just travelling the circuit. For the locals these fests offer movies they won’t see anywhere else. It’s definitely nice to give smaller towns outside of New York and LA the chance to see movies other than this weekend’s fairly dreadful new releases, The Rite, basically a rip off of The Exorcist starring Anthony Hopkins and a Jason Statham remake of the old Charles Bronson action flick, The Mechanic. The less said about either, the better.
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