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Toronto: Naomi Watts To Star In Errol Morris-Helmed ‘Holland, Michigan’

Mike Fleming

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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Venice: Errol Morris On “Cheshire Cat” Donald Rumsfeld & ‘The Unknown Known’

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 »

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Hot Festival Clip: Donald Rumsfeld In Errol Morris’ ‘The Unknown Known’

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 MorrisThe Unknown Known is a portrait of former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. Oscar-winner Morris (The Fog Of War) interviews Rumsfeld in the pic and below is a clip parsing one of the politician’s so-called “snowflake” memos. Rumsfeld says of Morris’ terming him obsessive, “I’m not. I’m cool, I’m measured.” Radius-TWC will release Stateside later this year.

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Venice Film Festival Update: ‘Parkland’ Added To Lineup; Stephen Frears’ ‘Philomena’, Terry Gilliam’s ‘Zero Theorem’ Also Among Competition Pics

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 »

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Errol Morris Tapped To Helm ‘Holland, Michigan’ – And It’s Not A Documentary

By | Wednesday July 10, 2013 @ 10:41am PDT

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 »

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Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson, Kristen Wiig And Chris Walken Circle Cryogenics Film

By | Wednesday January 4, 2012 @ 11:40am PST
Mike Fleming

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 producing with This American Life‘s Ira Glass and Alissa Shipp.

Inspired by the memoir We Froze The First Man and an episode of This American Life, the film tell the true story of Bob Nelson, a 1960s Los Angeles television repairman who tried to pioneer the field of cryogenics by freezing humans. He quickly discovered that it was more difficult than he imagined.

The cast is pretty much locked — Rudd has been attached for months to play Nelson — though Bridesmaids star Wiig is the variable: she’s completing her run on Saturday Night Live and poring over several offers. The producers and the film’s reps at WME and UTA are starting to talk up the film with financiers. The intention is to shoot for a mid-2012 start date. Wilson, Wiig and Zaillian are up for Golden Globes this year. WME reps Morris and Film Rites; UTA reps Rudd, Wilson, Wiig and This American Life; and ICM reps Walken.

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BAFTA Guru Launches To Advise On Industry Careers

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 on how to get into the content game. Its first big initiative is a live stream Sunday of BAFTA’s David Lean lecture from its London headquarters. Documentary filmmaker Errol Morris is giving the talk, and viewers can tweet questions for a post-lecture Q&A. Here’s a clip of an interview with Quentin Tarantino, one of the first videos to go up today on the site:

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Errol Morris Sued By Subject Of ‘Tabloid’ For Misrepresentation, Misappropriation, Defamation, Fraud, Emotional Distress

By | Thursday November 3, 2011 @ 7:51pm PDT

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 »

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West Memphis 3 Freed After Plea Deal, And Toronto-Bound Docu Directors Need Ending Change

Mike Fleming

UPDATE: The West Memphis 3, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley were just freed in an Arkansas hearing after being in prison 18 years for the murder of three children in 1993. The three were freed after pleading guilty and drawing a sentence equal to the time they already served. The original conviction, which was derived despite any physical evidence tying the trio to the murders, became a cause celebre and the West Memphis 3 have received moral and financial support from the likes of The Hobbit director Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, Johnny Depp, Eddie Vedder and Natalie Maines. The case has also be the subject of two Paradise Lost HBO documentaries by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky. A third installment will premiere at the Toronto Film Festival next month, followed by the New York Film Festival and a January airing on HBO.

Peter Jackson & Fran Walsh To Reveal Financial And Legal Support For ‘West Memphis 3′ Freedom Effort

EARLIER, AUGUST 18, 8:20 PM EXCLUSIVE: It’s just days before the directors lock their third documentary on the “West Memphis 3″  for premieres at the Toronto and New York Film Festivals. But Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory helmers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky raced to Arkansas to prepare to add a new ending. They’ll bring their camera Friday morning to … Read More »

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Sundance Selects Errol Morris Docu ‘Tabloid’

Mike Fleming

New York, NY (January 18, 2011) – Sundance Selects announced today that the company is acquiring North American rights to Errol Morris’ highly acclaimed documentary TABLOID. The dark, funny and altogether surreal film was one of the standout hits at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival winning indieWIRE’s critics poll for Best Documentary. The film was produced by Morris regular collaborators Julie Bilson Ahlberg (THE FOG OF WAR, STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE), and Mark Lipson, (THE THIN BLUE LINE, co-produced FAST, CHEAP AND OUT OF CONTROL). The company plans to play the critically acclaimed film at key film festivals before aggressively rolling it out theatrically and on their video on-demand platform in the summer of 2011.

The deal was negotiated for Sundance Selects by Arianna Bocco, Senior Vice President, Acquisitions & Productions, and by Josh Braun of Submarine Entertainment on behalf of the filmmaker. Robert Fernandez and Angus Wall executive produced the project, with Moxie Pictures presenting.

With TABLOID, Errol Morris further redefines and pushes the boundaries of documentary film with the tale of Joyce McKinney and the infamous “Case of the Manacled Mormon.” In 1977, Miss Wyoming Joyce McKinney flew to England with a pilot and a bodyguard to abduct the love of her life. Or was it to liberate him from a cult? Joyce, all of the people that cross her path, and the British tabloids help construct an epic RASHOMON-like tale that is as hilarious as it is unbelievable.

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