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Band Killings Are Tragic Denouement For Cannes Prize Winner ‘No One Knows About Persian Cats’

By | Tuesday November 12, 2013 @ 4:30am PST

Iranian director Bahman Ghobadi’s No One Knows About Persian Cats was the opening night film of the Cannes Un Certain Regard sidebar in 2009. A hot title at the time, it was plagued with political controversy when Ghobadi’s girlfriend and co-screenwriter was arrested in Tehran a month before the festival. An American-Iranian journalist, Roxana Saberi was convicted of espionage after a one-day trial and given an eight-year prison sentence. The news made headlines when then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for Saberi’s release. Ultimately, there was a happy ending when her conviction was overturned on appeal and the film about underground musicians trying to escape censorship in Tehran went on to win the UCR Special Jury prize. It later landed in several international festivals, and IFC Films released it in the U.S. Fast-forward to this week, and life has imitated art for the movie that itself ends on a note of tragedy. The Yellow Dogs, a band that was featured in the film, lost two of its members on Monday in a shooting in Brooklyn. Brothers Soroush and Arash Farazmand were killed at their home in East Williamsburg along with another man who toured with the band this year. The suspected killer, a musician who was not part of the Yellow Dogs, is then beleived to have turned a high-powered assault rifle on himself. The band … Read More »

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New York Lawmakers Want To Tweak Tough New Gun Law For Movie, TV Shoots

By | Saturday March 2, 2013 @ 11:06pm PST

Following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. state legislators in New York rushed the nation’s toughest gun control measure into law. Now the state is looking to tweak the law with an exemption that will allow movie and TV producers to film gun battles on New York City streets, the AP reports. New York and other states have courted film and TV producers with tax incentives to create local production jobs and increased revenues in the community. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who wants to expand the film and TV tax credit, says productions might use fake guns that wouldn’t be subject to the new law, but the industry wants “certainty” and Cuomo and other officials don’t want to jeopardize the production business. The revised law would allow filmmakers to use real weapons without real ammunition. Cuomo described the changes as “technical corrections”. The so-called Hollywood exemption is just one of several possible revisions, one of which would allow police officers more leeway with their weapons. Separately, Fox News reported that a New York state judge agreed Friday to consider whether the tough new gun restrictions were rushed into law in violation of the state Constitution which usually requires a three-day review before lawmakers vote on legislation.

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UPDATE: President Obama Urges Study Of Links Between Media And Violence

By | Wednesday January 16, 2013 @ 1:13pm PST

UPDATE, 1:13 PM: Entertainment organizations are weighing in to support Obama‘s gun initiatives. The MPAA, NAB, NCTA and Independent Film & Television Alliance just issued this joint statement: “We support the President’s goal of reducing gun violence in this country. It is a complex problem, and as we have said, we stand ready to be part of the conversation and welcome further academic examination and consideration on these issues as the President has proposed.”

PREVIOUS, 9:32 AM: The Presidential Order directs the Centers for Disease Control to investigate “the relationship between video games, media images and violence.” The president also asked Congress for the $10M needed to fund research into the impact of the graphic images “on young minds,” he said in an announcement this morning where he unveiled 23 executive actions to reduce gun violence. “We don’t benefit from ignorance. We don’t benefit from not knowing the science of this epidemic of violence.” Other measures in his executive order will make it easier for government agencies to check the background of gun buyers, launch a campaign advocating “safe and responsible” gun ownership, and develop emergency responses for schools and houses of worship. “I will put everything I’ve got into this,” he said. He urged ordinary citizens to support these and other changes following the murder last month of 20 school children in Connecticut. “It can’t just be the Read More »

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Are Gun Control Pleas By Movie Stars Undermined By Onscreen Violence?

By | Wednesday January 2, 2013 @ 3:06pm PST
Mike Fleming

Well, you had to know this was coming from the gun crowd. A bunch of celebrities got together to speak out for gun control. In this video making the rounds, their pleas are superimposed with footage of the same actors taking part in gratuitous and sometimes cartoonish scenes of gunfire carnage in movies they’ve made over the years. This video goes overboard, but Hollywood has put itself on rocky moral footing by relying so heavily on violence, and when rampant gunfire is such a staple of features, TV shows and the commercials that sell them. We are not just talking about cheesy action films here–when I was at Variety and we had issues overstuffed with ads for AFM and Cannes B-films, it seemed like every one showed someone holding a gun–but also major film releases.

While Jack Reacher pulled back the gun violence in early trailers and now just shows Tom Cruise breaking the bones of bad guys even though the film’s plot is triggered by sniper fire, it seemed like every movie trailer I saw over the holidays had gunfire galore. That included Gangster Squad and The Last Stand, the latter an Arnold Schwarzenegger film where he and his cohorts are seen shooting a machine gun out of the back of a school bus (talk about tacky). I still maintain it’s the height of lunacy for an organization like the NRA to blame Hollywood for the carnage in Newtown, Read More »

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