EXCLUSIVE: Naomi Watts is in talks to star in Holland, Michigan, a thriller that will be directed by Oscar-winning documentarian Errol Morris from a script by first time screenwriter Andrew Sodroski. The script is described as a suburban thriller with pitch black humor. Le Grisbi Productions’ John Lesher and Adam Kassan are producing and Sean Murphy will be co-producer. Production will start in April.
Watts will be seen next as Princess Diana in the Oliver Hirschbiegel-directed biopic Diana. She just wrapped the Ted Melfi-directed St. Vincent De Van Nuys with Bill Murray and the Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu-directed Birdman, the latter of which Lesher produced.
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Errol Morris’ Donald Rumsfeld portrait, The Unknown Known, debuted in Telluride over the weekend and is running in competition here in Venice. Morris, the Oscar-winning director of The Fog Of War, which looked at former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, says he decided to concentrate on Rumsfeld after the publication of the latter’s 2011 autobiography Known And Unknown: A Memoir. It was then that Morris became aware of the Bush administration Defense Secretary’s “snowflake” memos — the thousands of missives that Rumsfeld wrote during his time at the Pentagon — which became a key element in the film (see video here). His curiosity piqued, Morris wrote Rumsfeld a letter and enclosed a copy of The Fog Of War. “His lawyer told me that I was delusional. ‘This man will never under any circumstances talk to you’.” But within a week, he had an invitation to Rumsfeld’s office in Washington, Morris told reporters today. Ultimately, he conducted 33 hours of interviews with Rumsfeld over 11 days in a studio outside Boston.
Despite both having held the same post, Rumsfeld, a key architect of the Iraq War, and the late McNamara, a key architect of the Vietnam War, are “very, very, very different.” The latter is “The Flying Dutchman”, Morris said, “traveling the world searching for redemption and never finding it.” Rumsfeld, on the other hand, is more like the “Cheshire Cat, who at the very end vanishes and is left with just a smile.” Read More »
As the U.S. and others weigh intervention in Syria, a documentary relating to the Iraq War has scored a triple-play of berths at Venice, Telluride and Toronto. Errol Morris‘ The Unknown Known is a portrait of former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. … Read More »
UPDATE: Peter Landesman’s Parkland was announced as a competition entry after the initial slate was unveiled. Zac Efron, Marcia Gay Harden, Billy Bob Thornton, Jacki Weaver, Paul Giamatti, Tom Welling, Mark Duplass, James Badge Dale and Colin Hanks star in the film that recounts the events at Dallas’ Parkland Hospital on the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
PREVIOUS: The Venice Film Festival opens with the out-of-competition world premiere of Gravity on August 28, making for a glitzy start to the 70th edition. The roster of 19 competition films was unveiled this morning by artistic director Alberto Barbera who returned to the post last year after leaving the Lido in 2002. The lineup is a mix of U.S., European and Asian fare. Among the high-profile films are Stephen Frears’ Philomena, Jonathan Glazer’s Under The Skin, David Gordon Green’s Joe, Terry Gilliam’s The Zero Theorem and James Franco’s Child Of God. For the moment, the competition doesn’t have much overlap with Toronto. Films that will unspool in both fests include sci-fi road movie Under The Skin with Scarlett Johansson; The Weinstein Co.’s Philomena; Nicolas Cage-starrer Joe; John Curran’s Tracks with Mia Wasikowska and Girls‘ Adam Driver; and Kelly Reichart’s Night Moves – which many had expected would be in Cannes – starring Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard. Among other films in competition are the latest from Canadian wunderkind Xavier Dolan, Tom At The Farm – another one many expected in Cannes. There are also two documentaries, including Errol Morris’ Donald Rumsfeld examination, and an animated film from Japanese master Hayao Miyazaki in the main section. Notable in the non-competitive category are Kim Ki-duk’s Moebius – he won the Golden Lion last year with Pieta – and Warner Bros.’ Japan’s world premiere of the Unforgiven remake. Also, Gia Coppola’s Palo Alto is in the Horizons section. It’s still possible there will be further pics announced. Last year, Barbera added Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master about two weeks after the initial lineup was unveiled. Following are the in- and out-of-competition slates, plus the Horizons selections that were announced today: Read More »
Errol Morris made his bones as a feature documentary director and won the 2003 Oscar for The Fog Of War about Robert McNamara. Now he has come aboard Le Grisbi Productions’ Holland, Michigan, a suburban thriller laced with black humor based on a script by first-timer Andrew Sodroski. Le Grisbi’s John Lesher and Adam Kassan are producing, and they’re aiming for a spring 2014 start date. Sean Murphy brought the project into the company and will be co-producer.
Morris’ docu credits include The Thin Blue Line and Tabloid, and he serves as executive producer with Werner Herzog on the Indonesia-set documentary The Act Of Killing, the buzzed fest title that Drafthouse Films opens in the U.S. on July 19. Morris latest docu, The Unknown Known: The Words Of Donald Rumsfeld, is in postproduction after TWC-Radius acquired it in Toronto last fall. Morris, repped by WME, only has a couple of narrative features under his belt, including the 1991 mystery The Dark Wind. He is currently also attached to the narrative feature Freezing People Is Easy, the Zach Helm-scripted pic that has Paul Rudd, Kristen Wiig, Owen Wilson and Christopher Walken involved in a story about the early history of cryogenics. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson, Kristen Wiig, and Christopher Walken are circling Freezing People Is Easy, a script by Zach Helm (Stranger Than Fiction) that Academy Award-winning filmmaker Errol Morris will direct. Film Rites’ Steve Zaillian and Garrett Basch are … Read More »
BAFTA Guru has kicked off with the aim of offering entertainment industry expertise via a library of interviews, lectures, master classes and debates culled from the UK academy’s access to “some of the best minds in film, TV and video games.” Its target is 18- to 30-year-olds looking for advice … Read More »
Joyce McKinney, subject of Errol Morris’ documentary Tabloid, has filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court against the filmmaker and other individuals and associated companies such as Moxie Films, Sundance Select and IFC Films. McKinney alleges among other things misappropriation of likeness, defamation, misrepresentation, fraud, intentional infliction of emotional distress and breach of contract. McKinney asserts in the suit that she was approached in 2009 and led to believe that her cooperation in a project for a Showtime series would help clear her name in connection with a long-ago scandal. Instead, she claims, the resulting movie held her up to public ridicule and reinforced a false image of her as having kidnapped a Morman missionary in England in 1977 and holding him against his will and repeatedly raping him. She was arrested and British tabloids and TV had a field day with what became known as the “Manacled Mormon” story. McKinney maintains that she was rescuing her fiance from a cult. Read More »