Sheila O’Malley writes:The visuals are, quite literally, overwhelming. There were shots that were so beautiful I practically could not take it in, in one glance: it’s like trying to “take in” the Grand Canyon. Thankfully, Hou’s camera is not of the quick-cut variety. He lets scenes breathe, and the shots are very long. I had time to settle in, to look up at the misty ranks of mountains in the background, the vast space in the foreground, the line of trees reflected perfectly in the dawn-blue water, the row of fog breaking up a vertical cliff of green trees. Nature photography? Well, yes, kind of. But it’s part of the story and the atmosphere. This is one of the most beautiful looking films this year, or any year.
Hou Hsiao-Hsien is such a world-class visionary filmmaker (the hyperbole fits) and yet it’s been relatively rare that his stuff makes it to our shores. The Assassin won him the Best Director award at Cannes, thrilling news for those of us who love his work and were already eagerly anticipating The Assassin….(read more)
Polish police are currently investigating the death, according to family friend and publicist Jim Dobson.
Wrona was preparing for the Polish premiere of “Demon” at the Gdynia Film Festival. The movie was also set to bow at the upcoming Fantastic Fest in Austin and the Sitges Film Festival. It was slated for a theatrical release in Poland in October.
“As the organizers of the festival and at the same time friends of Marcin, we are deeply shocked and saddened by this information. We would like to express our sincere condolences to the wife of the director and all the people who were close to him.”
“We are all deeply shocked and saddened at the news of the sudden death of Marcin Wrona,” the Toronto Film Festival said in a statement. “His film ‘Demon’ truly marked the emergence of a strong new voice on the world cinema stage. Our thoughts go out to his friends and family, especially his wife and producing partner, Olga Szymanska, who was with him at the premiere in Toronto.”
Considered by lily-livered wags, art-film know-alls and self-describing cinephiles as one of the greatest movies ever made, Federico Fellini’s 8 ½ is getting another run-out on the UK’s big screens, an opportunity which has been afforded by those kind folks over at BFI. It’s now a matter of course that repertory films which get re-released are given the brand new trailer treatment, and this one is no exception. Read the rest of this entry »
UPDATE: Miley Cyrus’ porn film pulled from NYC festival
Tim Donnelly writes: For a while now, Miley Cyrus has been inching closer to pornography with her increasingly revealing outfits and scandalous dance moves. Now she’s going to appear in an actual pornography festival.
Miley ain’t so wild after all. After the Post and other outlets reported Monday the singer had submitted a film for the first-ever NYC Porn Film Festival, her representatives have had the film removed from the Bushwick event and its website…(read more)
Cyrus’s short film, “Tongue Tied” — which depicts the almost-nude “Wrecking Ball” singer in bondage gear and sexually suggestive poses — will appear in the NYC Porn Film Festival, which begins in Bushwick on Feb. 27.
“It’s not pure pornography — the video has no sex, and though she writhes around in her underwear, she keeps her nipples covered. But it’s full of bondage imagery: Cyrus dons a blindfold, has her legs constrained by straps and is tied to a chair with only black tape covering her nipples.”
“It’s a pop take on S&M,” festival founder Simon Leahy says. “She’s starting to become more of a contemporary artist.”
Warning: Video NSFW
The video was released online in May, and Cyrus used it during her shows on her Bangerz Tour last year.
“It’s a touch ‘Fifty Shades’ with a pinch of Madonna’s ‘Justify My Love’ video.”
Leahy says they contacted Cadence, the production company that made the film with director Quentin Jones. Read the rest of this entry »
After 10 days of premieres and deals in Park City, the Sundance Film Festival jury handed out honors across a range of categories on Saturday evening.
“This movie was about processing loss and, but really to celebrate a beautiful life and a beautiful man, which is my amazing father. So this is to his memory and to celebrate him through humor, so thanks again for this opportunity.”
— Me and Earl Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
“This movie was about processing loss and, but really to celebrate a beautiful life and a beautiful man, which is my amazing father. So this is to his memory and to celebrate him through humor, so thanks again for this opportunity,” said Earl director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon upon accepting the grand jury prize.
Meanwhile, The Wolfpack, a look at a family of six siblings living in Manhattan, claimed the U.S. grand jury prize for a documentary. Robert Eggers, whose film The Witch was acquired by A24 films shortly after the festival opened, claimed the directing award for U.S. dramatic title.
Rick Famuyiwa‘s Dope, which was acquired by Open Road and given a June 12 theatrical release, claimed the special jury honor for excellence in editing while Kyle Patrick Alvarez’s The Stanford Prison Experiment took home the U.S. dramatic screenwriting award. Read the rest of this entry »
“It’s part of our mission to expand beyond our own borders.”
— John Cooper, director of the Sundance Film Festival
Dean Napolitano writes:
Movie lovers in Hong Kong won’t have to travel all the way
to Park City, Utah, to catch the best in American independent films. The Sundance Film Festival is coming to Hong Kong in an abridged edition that will screen eight films from this year’s film bash.
The festival kicks off on Friday with “Whiplash,” which grabbed the Grand Jury Prize in the U.S. Dramatic competition, about a young drumming prodigy and his overbearing teacher. Other highlights include “The Skeleton Twins,” a comedy-drama about a suicidal man that’s won rave reviews, and Mark Ruffalo as a manic-depressive family man in “Infinitely Polar Bear.” Read the rest of this entry »
Started as a film forum in 2006, the festival over the years has grown to be one of the most important events for China’s independent films, but also has attracted the attention of authorities eager to regulate free speech.
BEIJING (AP) — Chinese authorities blocked an annual independent film festival from opening on Saturday, said organizers of an event that has become a rare and influential venue for the showing of films that could be critical of the government.
“It’s very clear that the Xi Jinping regime is determined to control the ideological realm, which has not been emphasized so much for a long time.”
— Chris Berry, professor of film studies at King’s College London
The Beijing Independent Film Festival’s artistic director, Wang Hongwei, and executive director, Fan Rong, said authorities had forced the cancellation of the event, which was scheduled to run through Aug. 31. Wang and Fan are with the Li Xianting Film Fund, the festival’s organizer.
— Emma Chibulu (@chibulu) August 22, 2014
Li Xianting, founder of the film fund and a movie critic, posted memos on social media over the past week saying that state security personnel had been pressuring him to cancel the festival and that he had come under police surveillance. Both Wang and Fan verified the authenticity of Li’s posts. Read the rest of this entry »
Christopher Mims writes: A pair of advocates—they do legitimate research too, but their ardor is so intense, it’s hard to call them scientists—believe that they will, within their lifetimes, make ours the first generation of humans to live forever.
“Once we are really truly repairing things as fast as they go wrong, game over. We will have the ability to live indefinitely.”
— Aubrey de Grey
Their quest is elegantly laid out in The Immortalists, a new documentary making its way around the film festival circuit. The Immortalists follows the triumphs and tragedies of three years in the lives of William H. Andrews and Aubrey de Grey, two men who prove just as interesting as the work they’re doing. The Immortalists is really a film about death, not life, which is what makes it so fascinating.
Here’s the trailer:
The goal of Andrews and de Grey is not merely to extend life, but to actually reverse the aging process. “Once we are really truly repairing things as fast as they go wrong, game over,” de Grey says in the film. “We will have the ability to live indefinitely.”
[VIDEO] CHILL: Festival Snuffs Pro-Fracking Documentary; Will Present Films Critical of Industry InsteadPosted: January 27, 2014
Speaking of controversial documentaries… The Washington Times‘ Valerie Richardson reports: A Minnesota film festival is being accused of pushing a political agenda by yanking a pro-fracking documentary from its lineup while keeping two anti-fracking films on the program.
Organizers of the Frozen River Film Festival in Winona, Minn., decided last week to cut “FrackNation,” a widely discussed 2013 documentary about hydraulic fracturing, reportedly citing concerns about the film’s financial links to the oil and gas industry and the filmmakers’ inability to attend the screening.
The decision represents the first time the festival has pulled a film in its nine-year history. Instead, the festival plans to fill Sunday’s slot with a forum discussion, “Documentaries Today: My Fact Your Fiction?”
Filmmaker Phelim McAleer, who produced the “FrackNation” with Ann McIlhenney, said he wasn’t buying the festival organizers’ explanation.
“It’s a cover story,” said Mr. McAleer. “They’re under pressure from environmental elites not to show this film.”
He noted that while “FrackNation” was pulled, the festival is still showing “Gasland2,” a follow-up to the intensely anti-fracking 2011 documentary “Gasland,” and “Dear Governor Cuomo,” a documentary about anti-fracking protests in New York.
GDYNIA, Poland — Director Roman Polanski has risked arrest and extradition to the U.S. by attending a film festival in Poland. Polanski, who fled the U.S. in 1977 after pleading guilty to sex with a 13-year-old girl, is at the Gdynia Film Festival to deliver a masterclass for film school students and present a screening of his film “Venus in Fur.” He arrived late Thursday. Both events are on Friday. Read the rest of this entry »
By: josh rudolph
After attracting the attention of authorities for years, the Beijing Independent Film Festival was cancelled at the demand of police earlier this month. Amid a government crackdown on dissent that is rapidly gaining momentum, China’s leaders seem to have deemed independent films a threat. AP reports:
Filmmakers whose edgy themes contrast with the rosier images of the country’s mainstream industry are accustomed to censorship of content deemed to show China in a negative light.
But independent filmmakers say authorities now appear to be trying to chill the sharing and discussion of their films, amid a broader clampdown under Chinese leader Xi Jinping on public discourse that could potentially undermine the country’s one-party rule, including the arrests of bloggers who post sensitive material and activists who have accused officials of corruption.
[…]“They just want us to make films about food, clothes, entertainment. They don’t want people to think, they don’t want people to have the freedom to express themselves, they don’t want people to have independent and free ideas,” said Yang Lina, an independent documentary maker whose first fictional film — about urban Chinese women — debuted at Rotterdam’s international film festival this year.