Politics came to the Cannes Film Festival (as it often does) in the form of two major movie debuts in the course of 24 hours.
This morning one of the most-awaited films in the Official Competition unspooled for critics at 8:30 AM, and 2 1/2 hours after its start the verdict appeared to be critically mixed for Oscar winner Michel Hazanavicious’ The Search, first feature film since he won Best Director for his 2011 Best Picture winner The Artist. From my vantage point, his new film works on many levels — most importantly, a human one. There was applause at the end but some noticeable boos and I wouldn’t have been surprised if they came from the Russians. They don’t come off well in this story set in the second Chechen War in 1999 as Russians invade, and a young boy and his new baby brother are separated from their family after his parents are killed. Thus begins an incredible journey — and this film hooked me right in – in this contemporary remake of the post-World War II Fred Zinnemann film The Search (1948), in which a young boy is separated from his parents in a concentration camp and taken in by a caring soldier played by Montgomery Clift (Berenice Bejo has the Clift role this time, a gender change in which she plays a European Union delegation head).
The original Search won a Motion Picture Story Oscar and a special juvenile statuette for its young star, Ivan Jandl. It was also nominated for lead actor, director and screenplay. And deservedly so. Perhaps it is never a good idea to tackle a remake of such an honored film, but in this case using the basic premise to shine a larger light on a forgotten cause seems smart. And the boy’s plight is just one strand here, as there’s also the corresponding story focusing on a tough Russian street kid who is slowly turned into a killing machine when drafted into the army. It’s harrowing stuff to watch, but all of a sudden relevant again, coinciding with another Russian invasion of sorts currently happening in Ukraine. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: The Search, Michel Hazanavicius‘s follow to the Oscar-winning The Artist, is near a deal to broker Canadian rights to Remstar for around $500,000. The film is being sold by CAA and Wild Bunch for offshore sales, and the film is expected to be one that bidders jump on for U.S. rights, possibly before its Cannes premiere on Wednesday. Worldview Entertainment bought the North American rights at AFM last year, and I’ve heard that both The Weinstein Company and Fox Searchlight have been all over it to try and see the film before Wednesday. TWC would seem to have an inside track; it released The Artist and helped guide the silent black and white film to an unlikely Best Picture Oscar. And also, it made a long term alignment with Worldview just recently. The film stars Berenice Bejo and Annette Bening. It’s much different from The Artist. The Chechnya-set adaptation of 1948 Oscar winner The Search follows an NGO worker who bonds with a small boy who’s been separated from his mother in the war-torn nation. It is certainly beginning to look like good money is going to be spent before many buyers leave here.
This year’s FIPRESCI Prize for Best Foreign Language film at the Palm Springs International Film Festival went to Belgian entry The Broken Circle Breakdown, from director Felix van Groeningen. The annual desert fest also awarded acting prizes to Mads Mikkelsen (The Hunt) and Bérénice Bejo (The Past). Audience award winners will be announced Sunday. Scroll down for full list: Read More »
The Artist helmer Michel Hazanavicius just inked actresses Bérénice Bejo and Annette Bening for his next film, a Chechnya-set adaptation of 1948 Oscar-winner The Search. Now Worldview Entertainment has snagged North American rights to the pic, which follows an NGO worker who bonds with a small boy who’s been separated from his mother in the war-torn nation. Filming is underway now overseas in Georgia and will next head to France. Hazanavicius penned the script updating the original tale’s setting from post-WWII Berlin to Eastern Europe. He reunites on the film with his Artist producer Thomas Langmann and leading lady Bejo. Worldview’s Christopher Woodrow, Molly Conners, Maria Cestone and Sarah E. Johnson will executive produce. CAA brokered the deal on behalf of Worldview. Wild Bunch is repping international sales at AFM.
Related: Bérénice Bejo & Annette Bening To Star In ‘The Search’
The Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union will meet Friday to discuss proposed trade talks between the EU and the U.S. which could result in the removal of trade barriers between the world’s two biggest economies. A negotiation mandate is expected to emerge from the meeting, but 7,000 European and international filmmakers are urging officials to keep the audiovisual and film industries off the table.
A delegation including directors Costa Gavras, Cristian Mungiu, Lucas Belvaux, Radu Mihaileanu and The Artist star Bérénice Bejo was in Strasbourg today to meet with European Commission president José-Manuel Barroso. The plan was to reiterate their stance of preserving the Cultural Exception, a concept with roots in the 1993 GATT talks which holds that cultural goods and services be treated differently than others. According to ARP, the French lobby that reps writers, directors and producers, the sit-down did not go so well. Barroso was “obstinate in his refusal,” the group said. He “hid behind speech that brings no guarantee of respect for the Cultural Exception and which seriously compromises the future of European cultural policy.” The arts are part of a draft negotiation mandate for the trade talks and their inclusion, the filmmakers believe, threatens to kill the autonomy of EU member states’ individual film industries.
Related: Euro Filmmakers: Policy A “Desire To Bring Culture To Its Knees”
France has already threatened to block any talks should the Cultural Exception not be preserved and ARP noted that Barroso was also “deaf to the position of the European Parliament” which voted in favor of excluding culture from the trade talks. Read More »
Sony Pictures Classics has landed U.S. rights at Cannes to The Past (Le Passe), Iranian helmer Asghar Farhadi’s ambitious drama starring Oscar nominee Berenice Bejo (The Artist), Ali Mosaffa and Tahar Rahim. The film is an early contender for the Palme d’Or, with reaction and reviews very strong after it screened Friday in competition. (Watch the trailer here.) The Memento Films production’s twisting plot involves secrets, lies, deceit, divorce, affairs, comas, pregnancy and other traumatic situations. Bejo stepped into the lead role after Oscar winner Marion Cotillard had to exit due to a scheduling conflict. Paris-based Memento Films International is handling worldwide sales. Michael Barker and Tom Bernard’s SPC also handled Farhadi’s A Separation, which grossed $19.9M worldwide and won the foreign-language film Oscar last year.
Related: Cannes: Backup Media, Memento Bring Heat To Fest Helmer Jim Mickle’s ‘Cold In July’
Related: Cannes Analysis: Veterans And Newcomers Mix It Up In Official Selection
Netflix Nabs ‘Hunger Games’ For The UK & Ireland
Netflix has secured exclusive rights to The Hunger Games for the UK and Ireland before it hits the streaming service in the U.S. Netflix entered the market in January 2012 where Amazon’s Lovefilm is a strong player and where Sky continues to build its business. It hit 1M subscribers last August and has UK deals with studios including Disney, Fox, NBCU, Paramount and Miramax.
Bérénice Bejo To Star In ‘Le Dernier Diamant’
The Artist star Bérénice Bejo has booked her latest French film and will start shooting next week. The Eric Barbier-directed Le Dernier Diamant co-stars Yvan Attal, Jean-François Stévenin and Annie Cordy. France’s Vertigo Productions is producing with international sales handled by Other Angle Pictures. The heist movie follows an ex-con who is coerced into participating in the theft of a celebrated diamond during an auction in Antwerp and who becomes entangled with the diamond’s owner (Bejo). Read More »
The Artist star Bérénice Bejo will replace Marion Cotillard in the next film from A Separation director Asghar Farhadi after scheduling conflicts forced a switch, Paris-based producer Memento confirms. Shooting starts in October in and around Paris on the untitled French-language picture that also stars A Prophet’s Tahar Rahim. Story details are under wraps on what’s been coined as a picture in the vein of A Separation with an element of suspense. Memento’s Alexandre Mallet-Guy is producing and Memento is handling international sales. The film is expected to be ready in spring 2013 – just in time for Cannes.
Bérénice Bejo is not in any way blasé about the acclaim showered on her and The Artist. Indeed, she remains humbled and amazed at the improbable attention the black-and-white silent film about a 1930s Hollywood romance from French director Michel Hazanavicius has received. When the New York Film Critics Circle dubbed The Artist the best movie of 2011, Bejo was already back in France shooting a new film, Populaire. Exhausted by her shooting schedule and a round of promotion for The Artist, she was less jump-up-and-down excited than her significant other Hazanavicius, the movie’s writer and director. “I’m like, oh great, oh great — I’m going to bed,” Bejo recalls. Now the 35-year-old daughter of Argentine filmmaker Miguel Bejo finds herself nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, Hazanavicius for Best Director and Original Screenplay, and the movie for Best Picture and six others. Bejo is not thinking about it… but she is thinking about it. With a little prompting she also talked with AwardsLine contributor Diane Haithman about portraying spunky young American starlet Peppy Miller in The Artist.
AWARDSLINE: Peppy is a big role. Was there a reason you were submitted for Oscar consideration for supporting actress?
BEJO: Harvey [Weinstein] said best actress is too complicated. Especially this year, with Meryl Streep and Glenn Close, Viola Davis for The Help, Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: UK distributor Momentum Pictures has acquired François Ozon’s In The House and Regis Roisnard’s period romcom Populaire, both from Wild Bunch. Ozon’s latest stars Kristin Scott-Thomas, Emmanuelle Seigner, Fabrice Luchini and Inglourious Basterds’ Denis Menochet. The comedy/thriller sees an unusual student create pandemonium in the life of his professor. It’s produced by Ozon’s Potiche collaborators Eric and Nicolas Altmayer via their Mandarin Films. Populaire is a Mad Men-era comedy set around a typing contest that stars Romain Duris, Deborah François and The Artist’s Bérénice Bejo. Tell No One’s Alain Attal is producing the film that’s partly set in New York. Momentum’s Robert Walak tells me the company is very excited to continue to diversify its slate with these French titles, giving the marketing team an extra chance to exercise its muscle. Momentum, which is a member company of Alliance Films, has had a busy EFM with other acquisitions including FilmNations’ A Most Wanted Man for the UK and Spain and Steven Soderbergh’s Bitter Pill for Spain (in Spain the titles go out under Alliance’s Aurum), Kate Hudson-starrer Everly for the UK and Canada from Sierra/Affinity, and John Michael McDonagh’s Calvary for the UK and Canada which Protagonist is selling plus Read More »
Throw them a party and they will come. Or at least a reception with good food and drink. That seems to be the case with the increasingly strong turnouts of Academy members at screenings this season. As with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and other groups studios are discovering a shrimp cocktail can be a powerful magnet for potential voters. The Academy’s new pre-nomination relaxed rules seem to be having a positive effect, at least if the evidence at recent screenings is any indication. And that was exactly the Academy’s point when they announced on September 21 that there would be a loosening of restrictions on the kinds of screenings to which Academy members could be directly invited — at least before nominations. In previous years studios and distributors might have gotten their hands slapped or Oscar tickets taken away if they dared to invite Academy members to screenings that included Q&As, receptions, food, drink and mingling with filmmakers. Members could only just attend a film, not partake in the side shows or receptions. Period. Of course consultants got around this by going to guild members instead, and obviously there is a very strong crossover membership between the guilds and the Academy. Now the shackles have been removed and members seem to be turning out in larger numbers to watch, eat and mingle.
Monday night The Weinstein Company drew a packed industry crowd to the Academy’s own 1000 seat-plus Samuel … Read More »