The story of a determined woman with breast cancer and a pioneering geneticist comes to the big screen with a pretty impressive cast. Samantha Morton and Helen Hunt star as patient and doctor, respectively, in Decoding Annie Parker, which also features a long-haired Aaron Paul, Bradley …
Cari Lynn is an AwardsLine contributor.
Academy Award winner Helen Hunt might have another shot at Oscar in what’s certainly her most “revealing” role to date — playing the real-life sex surrogate Cheryl Cohen-Greene hired by quadriplegic Mark O’Brien (John Hawkes) in the Sundance darling, The Sessions. Hunt discusses playing a real person, self-acceptance, and what it’s like to be that naked.
AwardsLine: I’m taking a stab here that prior to this script you hadn’t ever heard of sex surrogacy?
Helen Hunt: No, I knew nothing about it. I thought there couldn’t be much difference between prostitution and that, no matter how you dress it up. But then I spoke to the real Cheryl — which, often, as an actress, isn’t as helpful as people would think because when you’re using your own imagination and experiences to build a character, speaking to the real person can be disorienting. But in this case, I didn’t have any idea, and I needed to get one really quickly. The real Cheryl is louder, more frank, and has a more enthusiastic quality than I have. So I got excited about the idea of at least starting like that and with a certain amount of bluster walking into the room: This is what it is to be naked, this is what it is to talk about parts of the body, and let (John Hawkes, playing Mark O’Brien) catch up a little bit.
Fox Searchlight brought its Sundance pickup and Oscar hopeful, The Sessions, to the Toronto International Film Festival today to kick-start the film’s October launch. (Now set for October 26 but very possibly moving up a week to the 19th). Last January, the film debuted under the title The Surrogate and immediately sparked early 2012 awards talk, particularly for the performances of John Hawkes and Helen Hunt. It’s a small but surprisingly funny and ultimately quite touching film that drew so many big laughs at today’s Elgin Theatre screening the dialogue was drowned out during some scenes, usually those between Hawkes and William H. Macy. There were three standing ovations for the director and principal stars, a very enthusiastic response to be sure.
Fox Searchlight Co-Presidents Steve Gilula and Nancy Utley were there and said after the Sundance sale no cuts were made to the film and none requested by the MPAA in order to get the ‘R’ rating (for some explicit but tastefully shot sexual content).
Gilula notes that with so many movies competing for attention at TIFF it’s tough for a movie that debuted at Sundance or Cannes. Media, he says, just want to spotlight the newest movies even though this one doesn’t even open until next month. At this point it is the mini-major’s only fall/holiday release, and it’s hoping to build strong word of mouth and awards attention. The studio is still trying to determine whether to push Hunt for lead or supporting. (The Oscar winning star of As Good As It Gets could probably slip comfortably into either slot.) Fox Searchlight also have summer releases Beasts Of The Southern Wild and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel on their potential awards plate. And there still is the possibility of a last-minute contender coming in December if they decide to rush Hitchcock.
NEW YORK, November 1, 2010 – SOUL SURFER is the true story of competitive teen surfer Bethany Hamilton, who lost her arm in a shark attack and courageously overcame all odds to become a champion again, inspiring millions worldwide through her sheer determination and unwavering faith. Coming to theaters nationwide on April 15, 2011, this exciting feature film stars Dennis Quaid, Helen Hunt, AnnaSophia Robb, and Carrie Underwood in her film debut. The cast also includes Lorraine Nicholson, Kevin Sorbo and Jeremy Sumpter.
The first film to be released under the new deal between FilmDistrict and Sony Pictures, SOUL SURFER will go out as a wide release via TriStar Pictures with a broad-based and integrated marketing campaign managed by FilmDistrict.
EXCLUSIVE: While most buyers at Toronto are paying close attention to the World Premiere midnight screening of Ambush Entertainment’s Super, the producer/financier has just closed a U.S. distribution deal on another title. Image Entertainment has acquired U.S. distribution rights to Every Day, the Richard Levine-directed drama that stars Helen Hunt, Liev Schreiber, Brian Dennehy and Carla Gugino. The film, which made its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival followed by a stop in Deauville, will be released theatrically in January by Image Entertainment, which will also handle DVD and digital in the spring. The deal was made by Image acquisitions chief Bill Bromley, who said, “The film has an award-winning cast and Richard Levine delivers a smart and