July 11, 2015

Tag Archives: United States

Roger Ebert was an inspiration to all of us who loved movies

Roger Ebert has died, but the art form he loved is very much alive. We honor him not so much by remembering his reviews of North but rather his and Gene Siskel’s raves for Do The Right Thing during a time when pundits were sure that Spike Lee’s drama would cause race riots. We honor him by remembering his essays and his and Gene Siskel’s relentless championing of Hoop Dreams. We honor him by remembering what films and what filmmakers we never would have discovered at a young age had Ebert (and yes Siskel) not introduced us to them.
If the film critic has any kind of noble purpose, it is to shine a light on the good and the unexpectedly great in film.
No one gets into film criticism because they hate movies. We got into this because we love the cinema and we love the singular experience of watching great movies. If we have any kind of noble goal, it is to highlight what we love, even if its a minority opinion and even if it opens us up to ridicule from our peers.
If we have a social good, it is in highlighting the great movies that may have slipped under the radar. It is in highlighting the little-seen independent film that desperately needs the publicity to stand out alongside its peers.
It is also in highlighting the genuine artistry found in mainstream studio pictures, especially in a time when so many film scholars are all-too willing to write off every would-be ‘big movie’ and thus declare that cinema is dead. Cinema is not dead. Cinema is as alive as it’s ever been.
To read more go to Mendelson’s Memos
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Oscar® Announces New Dates for 2014 and 2015

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the ABC Television Network today announced the dates for the 86th and 87th Oscar® presentations. The 86th and 87th Academy Awards® will air live on ABC on Oscar Sunday, March 2, 2014, and February 22, 2015, respectively.
Key dates for the Awards season are:
Saturday, November 16, 2013: The Governors Awards
Monday, December 2, 2013: Official Screen Credits due
Friday, December 27, 2013: Nominations voting begins
Wednesday, January 8, 2014: Nominations voting ends 5 p.m. PT
Thursday, January 16, 2014: Oscar nominations announced
Monday, February 10, 2014: Nominees Luncheon
Friday, February 14, 2014: Final voting begins
Saturday, February 15, 2014: Scientific and Technical Awards
Tuesday, February 25, 2014: Final voting ends 5 p.m. PT
Oscar Sunday, March 2, 2014: 86th Academy Awards
Oscar Sunday, February 22, 2015: 87th Academy Awards
The 86th and 87th Academy Awards ceremonies will be held at the Dolby Theatre™ at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be televised live by the ABC Television Network.
# # #
ABOUT THE ACADEMY
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is the world’s preeminent movie-related organization, with a membership of more than 6,000 of the most accomplished men and women working in cinema. In addition to the annual Academy Awards–in which the members vote to select the nominees and winners–Academy presents a diverse year-round slate of public programs, exhibitions and events; provides financial support to a wide range of other movie-related organizations and endeavors; acts as a neutral advocate in the advancement of motion picture technology; and, through its Margaret Herrick Library and Academy Film Archive, collects, preserves, restores and provides access to movies and items related to their history. Through these and other activities the Academy serves students, historians, the entertainment industry and people everywhere who love movies.
FOLLOW THE ACADEMY
www.oscars.org
www.facebook.com/TheAcademy
www.youtube.com/Oscars
www.twitter.com/TheAcademy
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Meryl Streep and Katie Couric join together against cancer

Academy Award®-winning actress Meryl Streep encourages people to get screened for colon cancer in new broadcast public service announcements (PSAs) that launch in March, in conjunction with National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.
The PSAs, which will premiere today on Katie!, are the latest collaboration between the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance (EIF’s NCCRA), co-founded by Katie Couric, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the CDC’s Screen for Life: National Colorectal Cancer Action Campaign. This initiative is a multi-year effort to educate Americans about the importance of regular colorectal cancer screening for men and women aged 50 years and over.
Streep is one of the world’s most renowned actors, having won three Academy Awards as well as multiple Golden Globe, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and Screen Actors Guild awards, in addition to Primetime Emmys and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute. She is the third Oscar-winning actor to appear in the Screen for Life campaign, along with Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton.
Of cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, taking the lives of more than 50,000 Americans every year. Yet the disease is highly preventable through screening. Screening can detect pre-cancerous growths called polyps that can be removed before they develop into colorectal cancer. Screening can also detect colorectal cancer at an early stage, when treatment is most effective.
Streep explains these benefits of screening in the PSA, titled Control, adding that, “For me, screening was simple and quick. It was no big deal, except for the huge sense of relief you feel afterwards.”
The colorectal cancer death rate has declined steadily for several years. According to the CDC, half of this decrease can be attributed to more people getting screened. Despite that progress, one third of U.S. adults age 50 and over are still not up to date with recommended screening.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends colorectal cancer screening for men and women aged 50–75. (The decision to be screened after age 75 should be made on an individual basis. People older than 75 are advised to ask their doctors if they should be screened.)
The CDC considers Screen for Life one of the most effective campaigns it has undertaken to encourage screening.
Streep said she was motivated to get screened after seeing Katie Couric’s […]

Tribeca Film Festival announced the lineup for the 7th annual Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival

The Tribeca Film Festival (TFF) today announced the lineup for the seventh annual Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival. Founded to broaden the audience for independent film through stories about sports and competition, this year’s Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival will consist of nine films, including four titles from ESPN Films’ highly anticipated “Nine for IX” series which celebrates the fortieth anniversary of Title IX with nine documentary films about women in sports directed by outstanding female filmmakers.
The 2013 Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival will run during the 12th edition of TFF, presented by American Express, April 17 – April 28 at locations around New York City.
The Festival revealed that the world premiere of Big Shot, directed by Kevin Connolly, will serve as the gala premiere of the program on Friday, April 19. Connolly is returning to Tribeca having debuted his feature film Gardener of Eden in 2007. In Big Shot, Connolly chronicles John Spano’s fraudulent purchase of the New York Islanders. In 1997, Spano bought the New York Islanders for a staggering $165 million. The scheme behind Spano’s acquisition of the team is revealed as Big Shot takes viewers behind the scenes of the biggest fraud in hockey history.
“The sports film offerings at this year’s Festival give sports fans and movie buffs tremendous opportunities to experience the many ways that sports intersect with our culture,” said Genna Terranova, Tribeca Film Festival Director of Programming. “We are excited that Big Shot, which chronicles one of the most infamous sagas in professional sports management history, will kick-off this year’s Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival, and to share the range of these personal stories seem through the lens of sports.”
“I’ve always thought the expression ‘passion project’ was kind of a cliché until I started working on Big Shot for ESPN,” said Kevin Connolly. “Working side by side and spending time with guys that I literally grew up idolizing has been a once in a lifetime opportunity. The whole experience, including having the film premiere in New York at the festival, has been a dream come true.”
“There are many vibrant, independent voices out there telling incredible sports stories and we’re honored to be involved with the Tribeca Film Festival where together we can shine a light on these documentaries and filmmakers,” said Connor Schell, vice president of ESPN Films. “We produce our films with the intention of capturing both the glory and the heartbreak of […]

Magnolia Pictures Acquires Music Doc ‘MUSCLE SHOALS’

The Wagner/Cuban Company’s Magnolia Pictures announced today that they’ve acquired US rights to MUSCLE SHOALS, a documentary about the legendary Muscle Shoals recording studio inAlabama that spawned some of the greatest records of all time. Directed by Greg ‘Freddy’ Camalier, and produced by Stephen Badger and Camalier, the film features interviews with Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Percy Sledge, Gregg Allman, Clarence
Carter, Alicia Keys, Bono and many others.
The film premiered at Sundance, and is debuting in Austin today at the Paramount Theater in the SXSW Film Festival. MUSCLE SHOALS tells the incredible and unlikely story of a small Alabama town by the Tennessee River, where a man named Rick Hall overcame crushing personal hardship to put together a recording studio and house band (the Swampers) that became legendary for its electrifying musical chemistry. Luring some of the biggest figures in 20th century pop music, like Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, theStaples Singers, the Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Simon and Garfunkle, the studio produced all time classic songs like ‘Mustang Sally,’ ‘I Never Loved a Man,’ ‘Wild Horses’ and many more, uniting black and white musicians in the deep south during an incendiary period of racial hostility.
‘MUSCLE SHOALS is a great accomplishment,’ said Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles. ‘It captures the elusive magic of a truly special place that birthed some of the most exciting music ever made. Music fans of all ages are going to find this story revelatory.’
“Stephen and I are thrilled for MUSCLE SHOALS to find such a wonderful partner in Magnolia Pictures who will help bring this amazing heretofore unknown tale to the world,” said Camalier.
The theatrical deal was negotiated by Magnolia’s SVP of Acquisitions Dori Begley with Josh Braun, Dan Braun & David Koh of Submarine. Submarine also announced it has sold US TV rights to Independent Lens for broadcast on PBS and all Canadian rights to Films We Like.
“At its heart, MUSCLE SHOALS is a social issue doc that looks at how music transformed culture,” said Lois Vossen, Independent Lens Senior Series Producer.
Those deals were negotiated by Koh, Josh & Dan Braun along with Lois Vossen, Independent Lens Senior Series Producer, and Ron Mann, President of Films We Like.
About Magnolia
Magnolia Pictures (www.magpictures.com) is the theatrical and home entertainment distribution arm of the Wagner/Cuban Companies, a vertically-integrated group of media properties co-owned by Todd Wagner and Mark Cuban that also includes the Landmark Theatres chain […]

2013 Tribeca Film Festival Slate Revealed

The 2013 Tribeca Film Festival (TFF), presented by American Express®, is pleased to announce the films selected for the World Narrative Competition category. The 2013 film selection includes feature films from 30 different countries, including 53 World Premieres, 7 International Premieres, 15 North American Premieres, 6 U.S. Premieres and 8 New York Premieres. A total of 113 directors will present feature works at the Festival, with 35 of these filmmakers marking their feature directorial debuts. Among these directors, 26 are women. The 2013 film slate was chosen from a total of 6005 submissions.
In keeping with Tribeca’s mission of nurturing dialogue between American filmmakers and their global counterparts, our competition selections embody the quality and diversity of contemporary cinema both in this country and abroad. Themes such as love, coming of age, and reinvention are relevant in all cultures and communities as these films ably demonstrate.
These tweleve features also reflect the universal power of film and storytelling that Tribeca celebrates in its competition. This year, Bluebird, written and directed by Lance Edmands and starring Amy Morton, John Slattery, Margo Martindale and Adam Driver, will have the honor of opening the 2013 World Narrative Competition.
Alì Blue Eyes (Alì ha gli occhi azzurri)
Directed by Claudio Giovannesi, written by Filippo Gravino and Claudio Giovannesi
(Italy) – International Premiere
Claudio Giovannesi’s award-winning second dramatic feature captures one week in the life of sixteen-year-old troublemaker Nader, who, despite his mother’s threats and family’s insistence that he respect his Muslim roots, fights, steals and pursues an Italian girlfriend. A stunning example of contemporary Italian neo-realism, Alì Blue Eyes is an engrossing coming-of-age story about an immigrant who will stop at nothing to fit in. In Italian with subtitles.
Before Snowfall (Før snøen faller)
Directed by Hisham Zaman, written by Kjell Ola Dahl and Hisham Zaman
(Norway, Germany, Iraqi Kurdistan Region) – International Premiere
Director Hisham Zaman brings the moral crisis of honor killing front and center in this dazzling, international drama. When his older sister Nermin flees an arranged marriage, Siyar must atone for the slight. He tracks her from Kurdistan to Istanbul, where a fateful encounter with a street girl creates cracks in his resolve. Then Nermin escapes into Europe, and Siyar must continue a search that will forever change his notions of loyalty, dignity, honor and love. In Kurdish with subtitles.
Bluebird
Directed and written by Lance Edmands
(USA) – World Premiere
On a freezing January evening, school bus driver Lesley (Amy Morton) completes her […]

Disappointment over the tasteless antics of host Seth MacFarlane

By Michael Russnow
In the aftermath of my review of the Oscars and that of many others who seemed to agree Seth MacFarlane’s humor was often wanting, I thought I’d offer a postscript as to why for most people the John Wilkes Booth joke didn’t work.
It had nothing to do with Lincoln being a sacred cow and, no, paraphrasing MacFarlane, who defensively rejoindered sarcastically when his joke bombed, it wasn’t a case of it being too soon since Lincoln’s death.
Simply put, along with a host of national critics I found Seth MacFarlane sophomoric, appealing to the basest form of humor, rather than seeking what many might prefer as a cleverer approach, finding unexpected irony while satirizing a situation. And before you point out that the ABC ratings were higher than last year’s, it had little or nothing to do with MacFarlane. The host’s popularity or lack thereof has only a small degree of audience pull. It’s been proven that the highest ratings usually accompany the popularity of the year’s nominees, and most of the 2012 best picture nominees grossed more than $100 million.
Nonetheless, in a discussion with a young actor Monday night, he said he found the Oscar host quite funny, including the John Wilkes Booth remark. I tried to explain my point of view, which was that, rather than cutting edge, to me it was cheap, sort of like banana peel humor. He responded that there were many fans of MacFarlane and that there should be room for that sort of humor on the Oscar show, in order to appeal to all segments of society. I should add that, during all this, he was most respectful and accepting of my point of view, as opposed to the personally insulting comments my review engendered from mostly anonymous readers.
I don’t mind the sort of argument my friend put forth, but still believe the Oscar show should elevate itself above playground or frat party humor. A lot of tween types find gross situations very humorous, and this extends into the teen years and for some even into their third decade. However, it is also true that life among school-age kids can be hell for those who are dissimilar, with cliques abounding, separating the in-crowd from those it deems wanting.
If you’re different, maybe not athletic or pretty or, God forbid gay (yes, even in today’s more tolerant age) life can be pretty horrid. Fortunately, […]

‘Identity Thief’ tops weekend box office again

I can’t confirm this offhand, but I’m pretty sure Snitch has the biggest opening weekend of all time for a film based on a Frontline documentary.
The ‘mandatory minimum sentences are evil’ action drama debuted with $13 million this weekend. That’s not a huge figure, but it’s above the sub-$8 million debuts from Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jason Statham in the last two months. Lionsgate/Summit procured the film for just $5 million, so this is a solid win all-around. The picture played 77% 18-49 and 53% male, earning a B from Cinemascore.
The solid 3.17x weekend multiplier, especially considering the predicted Oscar drop today, means that the film may have legs and an outside shot at $45 million. It’s not a massive success, and it means that Dwayne Johnson needs a viable franchise to be ‘box office’, but for a film with nothing but The Rock to sell, this isn’t a bad debut at all (it’s higher than the $8 million debut for 2010’s Faster, for example). Johnson still has G.I. Joe: Retaliation next month and the sure to be *huge* Fast & Furious 6 on tap for May, so this almost qualifies as his “one for me” art film. It’s a good movie that I hope finds an audience and it’s clearly a better choice for action junkies than A Good Day to Die Hard.
To read more go to Mendelson’s Memos
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Dustin Hoffman Dishes on His Directorial Debut Quartet

Dustin Hoffman, one of the most celebrated actors of our time, opens up in the February/March issue of AARP The Magazine about stepping out of his comfort zone for his directorial debut Quartet, redefining retirement in Hollywood and how his latest film drove him to ponder how far he’s come and how little he’s changed.
The Academy Award® winner is also being recognized for his Breakthrough Achievement in directing by AARP The Magazine with a 2012 Movies for Grownups® award.

The following are excerpts from the February/March issue of AARP The Magazine cover story, available in homes today and online NOW at www.aarp.org/magazine.
On his directorial film debut, Quartet:
“An honest answer: I directed a play on Broadway. I blamed my own demons for waiting 35 years to do it again. Why did I fight it? Because it’s a thrilling opportunity to be the one who holds the paintbrush.”
“As we were working on the film, I asked Billy Connolly [one of its stars], ‘What’s the movie about?’ And he said, ‘Don’t die until you’re dead.’ I thought that nailed it.”
On what drew him to Quartet:
“It’s an affirmative movie but still reality. There’s this cloud of mortality hovering over the characters and blinding them.”
On using real musicians ages 70-plus in Quartet:
“Brilliant artists—and no one had rung their phone for 30 or more years. They showed up at 6 every morning and worked sometimes 14 hours a day without a whimper, with such dedication and joy. It infected all of us.”
On retiring:
“I think ‘retirement’ goes hand in hand with people who make a living by having a ‘job.’ I don’t think we—the .00001 percent of the population who are so fortunate to love passionately what we do—consider it a ‘job.’”
On his ideal age and growing older:
“I wouldn’t trade now for anything.”
“What we all want is to continually grow and expand. I’ve discovered that as the body becomes more limited, the soul expands.”
On the differences between men and women:
“I think men are the weaker of the genders and live a more limited life than women. For whatever reasons, men run from intimacy. If you run from intimacy, you’re running from what life can give you.”
On mortality:
“My wife says I’ve been worrying about it since we started going out. But at a certain point your icons change. There’s Manoel de Oliveira, who’s still directing at 104. And I recently read about a 94-year-old guy who had just […]

Academy Presents “Oscar’s Docs, 1955–2002: American Stories” at MoMA

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) will present “Oscar’s Docs, 1955–2002: American Stories” from February 2 through February 14 at MoMA in New York City. This annual collaboration highlights Oscar®–winning and nominated short and feature-length documentary films that explore the history, culture and politics of the United States. All prints are from the Academy Film Archive’s collection. The filmmakers will be present at several screenings (visit MoMA.org for details).
The schedule is as follows:
Sat., Feb. 2, 2 p.m.
American Dream (1990)
Barbara Kopple. This stirring film depicts the effects of a mid-1980s strike by the workers of a Hormel meatpacking plant in Austin, Minnesota. 98 min.
Sat., Feb. 2, 8 p.m.
Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision (1994)
Freida Lee Mock. A profile of Maya Lin, the young artist who created the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington and other politically motivated artistic creations. 105 min.
Sun., Feb. 3, 2:30 p.m.
Princeton: A Search for Answers (1973)
Julian Krainin and DeWitt Sage. At one of the world’s premiere universities, where great thinkers dare to ask simple questions, men and women are involved in the intense, exciting process of discovery-from music composition to Shakespeare to the nature of the cosmos. 28 min.
The Stone Carvers (1984)
Marjorie Hunt and Paul Wagner. A tight-knit group of Italian Americans has been working for years on the Washington Cathedral, and their dedication and spirit is evident in the way they bring inanimate stone to brilliant life. Stone carving is delicate and satisfying work, and these artists point with pride to the product of their efforts. 30 min.
The Personals: Improvisations on Romance in the Golden Years (1998)
Keiko Ibi. At a community theater in Manhattan, a group of senior citizens rehearse and perform an original play about their romantic lives. 37 min.
Sun., Feb. 3, 5:30 p.m.
Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt (1989)
Robert Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman. Common Threads brings the AIDS epidemic into sharp personal focus through the stories of five people memorialized on the NAMES Project’s Memorial Quilt. 79 min.
Mon., Feb. 4, 7 p.m.
Marjoe (1972)
Howard Smith and Sarah Kernochan. Marjoe is an extraordinarily charismatic young man making a living on the Christian revivalist circuit. His fiery antics in the name of the Lord are as much performance art as fire and brimstone preaching, and he’s adept at getting the faithful to part with their money. Preserved by the Academy Film Archive. 88 min.
Sat., Feb. 9, 2 […]

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