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.
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.
EXCLUSIVE: Annette Bening and The Artist‘s Bérénice Bejo have signed on to star in Oscar winner Michel Hazanavicius‘ drama The Search. Hazanavicius also penned the screenplay. Pic will reunite Hazanavicius with producer Thomas Langmann and his award-winning production team from The Artist. Worldview Entertainment’s Christopher Woodrow, Molly Conners, Maria Cestone and Sarah E. Johnson will executive produce. The Search is the story of an NGO worker who forms a special relationship with a young boy in war-torn Chechnya. It’s based on Fred Zinnemann’s Oscar-winning 1948 film, which is set in post-World War II Berlin. Shooting is underway in the country of Georgia, then will move on to France. Bening and Bejo are repped by CAA.
An esteemed party, led by Costa Gavras, Michel Hazanavicius and The Weinstein Company co-chairman Harvey Weinstein, crashed a parlay at the Palais on “Strengthening The Cultural Exception In Tomorrow’s Europe”, where MPAA head Chris Dodd was among the policy-maker panelists today. Weinstein spoke on an issue that currently has European filmmakers fighting to preserve the autonomy of their individual film industries. The U.S. and the European Union will enter trade talks later this year which could result in the removal of trade barriers between the world’s two biggest economies. But included in the draft negotiation mandate for the talks are the audiovisual and film industries. Filmmakers want the arts excluded. Hazanavicius said, “Our fear is if they kill our regulatory system, it will crush us.”
Weinstein recalled that when preserving the cultural imperative wasn’t as important in Italy, filmmakers there began turning out clones of American movies, which they felt they needed to do to compete. “We never bought any of those films,” Weinstein said. Costa Gavras and Hazanavicius also showed their support and then the whole crashing party was gone.
Earlier, as they made their way to the Palais, the filmmakers explained the stakes to Deadline. Costa Gavras said, “The big risk is having the same movies in all of these places. That is our concern.” Culture and the production of culture shouldn’t be treated “like any industry, like cars. This is different.” Each state should “have the possibility to decide how to deal with its cinema and its art.”
Filmmakers believe the European Commission’s inclusion of the audiovisual and film industries in the proposed trade talks flies in the face of the Cultural Exception. That concept has its roots in 1993 when Hollywood tried to make the arts a part of the GATT negotiations. Europe, led by France, balked at what they saw as a threat to their subsidy systems, putting them in danger of total Hollywood hegemony. Europe prevailed. But tensions are running high once again. The past month has seen a petition circulated entitled “The Cultural Exception Is Non-Negotiable!” which now has 5,000 signatories including Costa Gavras and Hazanavicius, and a lot of non-European directors, too (Walter Salles, Jane Campion, David Lynch…).
The European Union and the U.S. are expected to begin discussions later this year that could result in the removal of trade barriers between the world’s two biggest economies by October 2014. But, in an uproar reminiscent of the tensions surrounding the 1993 GATT talks, European filmmakers are up in arms over a perceived threat to their “cultural exception.”
Last month, the European Commission adopted a draft negotiation mandate that includes the audiovisual and film industries in the proposed talks with the U.S. Their inclusion, which goes against the cultural exception’s raison d’être of treating cultural goods and services differently than others, led dozens of filmmakers last week to sign a petition entitled “The Cultural Exception Is Non-Negotiable!” Signatories include Michael Haneke, Michel Hazanavicius, Pedro Almodovar, Stephen Frears, Roger Michell, Costa Gavras, Paolo Sorrentino, Thomas Vinterberg and Cristian Mungiu as well as non-European directors Walter Salles, Jane Campion and David Lynch.
The cultural exception has its roots in 1993 when a furor erupted as Hollywood, notably led by late MPAA chief Jack Valenti, wanted to include the audiovisual industries in the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) negotiations. Europe, led by France, balked. Member states claimed that including the arts would threaten their quota and subsidy systems and put them in danger of total Hollywood hegemony. Hours from the deadline, a deal was struck and Europe got its way.
Here’s an interesting experiment: As it looks to analyze the viability of day-and-date theatrical and VOD releasing, the EU is coughing up over $1M in P&A and marketing costs for the near-simultaneous release of four films in at least five territories each over the next year. The project is supported by the likes of Oscar winning director Michel Hazanavicius, president of France’s writers, directors and producers group, ARP, which is a partner. But the scheme has also met with opposition – notably in France – where the industry is concerned about cannibalization.
The first title to go out under the TIDE Experiment, one of three initiatives given grants by the EU as part of its “Circulation of European films in the digital era” action, is music documentary Viramundo: A Journey With Gilberto Gil. Announced this week, the movie begins its rollout in ten territories in May. ARP’s Lucie Girre explains that the program works like this: TIDE’s four partner sales companies – France’s Urban Distribution, Italy’s Fandango Portobello, the UK’s Goldcrest Films International and France’s Wide – each put forth a title to participate (Viramundo is Urban’s). Distributors from across Europe then decide if they want to join in on the proposed title’s day-and-date VOD/theatrical release with aggregator Under the Milky Way guaranteeing VOD distribution on Sony, iTunes and other platforms. The EU foots the bill for P&A and transversal marketing via subsidy and box office reverts to the rights holders in the usual fashion
‘The Artist’s Michel Hazanavicius In Talks To Helm Tom Hanks In Pre-WWII Thriller ‘In The Garden Of Beasts’
EXCLUSIVE: Michel Hazanavicius, who won the Oscar in February for helming The Artist, is in talks to direct the Universal Pictures/Playtone adaptation of the Erik Larson nonfiction book In The Garden Of Beasts. Tom Hanks will star in the film and produce it with partner Gary Goetzman, and I’m hearing that they are courting Natalie Portman to play his daughter in the harrowing pre-WWII tale.
Hanks will play William Dodd, a mild-mannered Chicago professor who becomes America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Germany before the Nazis began to assert an iron grip across Europe. At first, his family embraces the vibrant scene in Berlin, and his young daughter Martha (the role they want Portman to play) in particular falls hard for the seduction and engages in a series of affairs with the handsome men of the Third Reich and even the first chief of the Gestapo. Soon enough, the ambassador gets reports of violence against Jews and even though his dispatches to the State Department are met with indifference, he continues to be concerned with the growing press censorship and the passage of shocking laws. It leads to the gradual realization of the horrific genocide that Hitler actually has planned for Europe and the world. Portman isn’t set yet, but I hear Hazanavicius is preparing to work on a draft with a writer that will soon be hired.
While writer/director Michel Hazanavicius hasn’t made a film since winning all those Oscars for The Artist, he’s circling Will, and his interest might give the project a second life at Paramount. Hazanavicius likes the picture, and could do it after his next assignment, a pic about an NGO worker in Chechnya. It’s early days, but worth watching.
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.
Michel Hazanavicius had never been nominated for an Oscar. In fact, he has never been to the Academy Awards. But he’s making up for that in a big way this year as director-writer-editor of the much acclaimed black-and-white silent film The Artist, the awards-season darling that has become a front-runner for the Best Picture Oscar among its 10 nominations overall — including for Hazanavicius specifically Best Director, Original Screenplay and Editing. He made his first feature Mes amis in 1999 but since then has focused on his James Bond spoofs: the 2006 international comedy hit OSS 117: Cairo, Nest Of Spies and its 2009 sequel, OSS 117: Lost In Rio. Both starred Jean Dujardin and Hazanavicius’ wife Bérénice Bejo, who also headline and are Oscar-nommed for The Artist. Deadline Awards Columnist Pete Hammond sat down with Hazanavicius to talk about his film, which has taken the world by storm since its May debut at Cannes. That’s where The Weinstein Company acquired it and sent it along its awards-season way.
AWARDSLINE: Why did you want to do a black-and-white silent film? Nobody has really had that idea in about 80 years.
HAZANAVICIUS: I don’t know. I guess I just wanted to do it. You know these movies; it is a very special experience to watch a silent movie with other people. I really like the way the story is told in a silent movie. As an audience you take part in the storytelling process. In a way I did a sort of crook thing. I cheated. I have the benefit of 80 years of sophistication, of narration, and I took the old movies and I did a modern one with the oldest ones.
EXCLUSIVE: Last night Jimmy Kimmel asked his guest John Goodman, co-star of the silent awards season darling The Artist, if there was actually a script for the film since it was completely silent. “It must have been four pages,” Kimmel said. But Goodman corrected him and said it was actually quite impressive and in order to get him to do the role of the studio boss writer/director Michel Hazanavicius actually presented him an elaborate presentation with detailed description and even photos. Kimmel’s initial thought that because it’s silent, it doesn’t have to be written is a fairly common one, except from actual writers who obviously know scripts are not all about how much dialogue you have. Indeed Hazanavicius’ original screenplay is one of the film’s ten Oscar nominations but because it is perceived as more of a directorial achievement than a written one, it is not currently favored to win by most pundits. Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris is the front runner at both the Oscars and this weekend’s WGA awards (where the French produced The Artist is not eligible). Even Hazanavicius thinks his idol Allen will win. But with its surprising Original Screenplay victory at last Sunday’s BAFTA awards over Allen’s script and others, the possibility arises that perhaps The Artist could pull off an upset in the Oscar writing category too. Best Picture winners more often than not also carry their writers to victory and Artist is heavily favored to take Picture and Director in its Oscar haul February 26. …
UPDATE, 12:38 PM: The Artist‘s distributor The Weinstein Company got blindsided this morning by the full-page ad that Kim Novak bought in a trade complaining about the Oscar-buzzed pic’s use of Bernard Herrmann’s score from Vertigo. Instead of commenting itself, TWC supplied a comment on the matter from The Artist writer-director-editor Michel Hazanavicius: “The Artist was made as a love letter to cinema, and grew out of my (and all of my cast and crew’s) admiration and respect for movies throughout history. It was inspired by the work of Hitchcock, Lang, Ford, Lubitsch, Murnau and Wilder. I love Bernard Herrmann and his music has been used in many different films and I’m very pleased to have it in mine. I respect Kim Novak greatly and I’m sorry to hear she disagrees.” Separately, I’m told by our Oscar expert Pete Hammond that the music branch of the Academy reviewed the eligibility of The Artist for Best Score, because the film employed Herrmann’s music. Because 80% of the music was original, and because the inclusion of Herrmann’s memorable music was meant as an homage in that rarity of rarities, an old-style silent film full of music, the film was deemed eligible. The Weinstein Company continues not to comment on the matter.
EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, 9:02 AM: Kim Novak has gone public with a press release and a trade ad to express her ire over The Artist‘s use of Bernard Herrmann’s music from Vertigo as backdrop for the silent film. I just spoke with Novak’s longtime manager Sue Cameron, and she told me that the actress is an Oscar voter. When the actress popped in a screener of the film to figure out her ballot, she recognized the music immediately and didn’t feel flattered that a signature song from one of her best-known films got an encore. “She was sitting in her living room, she put the DVD in, and then went into an absolute state of shock and devastation,” Cameron said. “When you sit in a theater and familiar music comes on that engenders ready-made emotion from a past film, and they use that music to evoke those same emotions, it’s quite hurtful. We know that they had the legal right to use the music, but it’s the music that was the backdrop for classic scenes, like Kim and Jimmy Stewart kissing by the tree, driving along the coast in the car. She is very, very upset.”
This Oscar season has so far been tame in terms of bad-mouthing, and I don’t think I’ve heard a complaint quite like this one before. How many will recognize music from a film released in 1958? Cameron said Novak felt strongly enough to pay for the full-page trade ad, which isn’t cheap. One looming question is whether Novak has jeopardized her status as a voter, and violated the rules by publicly maligning a movie that is a frontrunner for Best Picture. I will provide updates as I get some clarity, and reaction from The Weinstein Company, which released The Artist. Here is Novak’s reaction, in her own words:
Los Angeles: “I want to report a rape,” said Kim Novak, the legendary star of “Vertigo,” “Picnic,” and many other revered classics. “My body of work has been violated by ‘The Artist.’ This film took the Love Theme music from “Vertigo” and used the emotions it engenders as its own. Alfred Hitchcock and Jimmy Stewart can’t speak for themselves, but I can. It was our work that unconsciously or consciously evoked the memories and feelings to the audience that were used for the climax of ‘The Artist.’”
Hazanavicius is a French filmmaker who previously was best known for directing the spy comedy series OSS 117. He was in high demand among the agencies and will look to make his English language debut. He’s married to Berenice Bejo, who plays the ingenue in The Artist.
CAPRI, Italy, December 16, 2011 – One of the year’s most highly acclaimed films, “The Artist” the multi Golden Globe nominee directed by Michel Hazanavicius, will receive the 2011 Film of the Year Award from Capri, Hollywood – The International Film Festival. Lina Wertmuller, honorary chairperson of the Festival, will present the award on December 30th to the French director, who is a leading Oscar and Golden Globe contender according to journalists and awards pundits around the world. Both Hazanavicius and the film’s female lead, Bérénice Bejo, who will receive the Festival’s Best Actress Award, will attend the ceremonies. Michael Fassbender will receive the Best Actor Award for Shame.
New York Film Critics Online added its ranks to Sunday’s parade of honors. From the group’s website:
Film – The Artist
Actor – Michael Shannon (Take Shelter)
Actress – Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)
Director - Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
Supporting Actor – Albert Brooks (Drive)
Supporting Actress – Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids)
Breakthrough Performer – Jessica Chastain (The Tree Of Life, The Debt, The Help, Take Shelter, Coriolanus, Texas Killing Fields)
Debut Director – Joe Cornish (Attack the Block)
Ensemble Cast – Bridesmaids
Screenplay – Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash (The Descendants)
Documentary – Cave Of Forgotten Dreams
Foreign Language – A Separation
Animated – The Adventures of Tintin
Cinematography – Emmanuel Lubezki (The Tree of Life)
Use of Music - Ludovic Bource (The Artist)
UPDATE: ‘The Artist’ Is NY Film Critics Circle Best Picture; Meryl Streep Best Actress For ‘Iron Lady’, Brad Pitt Best Actor
The NY Film Critics Circle has just bestowed its Best Picture award for 2011 to Michel Hazanavicius’ black-and-white silent film The Artist, putting the Weinstein Co drama squarely in the race for the Best Picture Oscar. The NYFCC announced its winners today via its Twitter feed. Hazanavicius also won Best Director from the critics group. Meryl Streep won Best Actress for the Weinsteins’ The Iron Lady, the first shot fired in what is sure to be a heated awards-season race in that category. Brad Pitt picked up the Best Actor nod for his work in Moneyball and The Tree Of Life, while Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin won Best Screenplay for Moneyball. Terrence Malick’s Tree Of Life had a good day, also nabbing wins for Best Cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki) and for Best Supporting Actress Jessica Chastain, who also was noted for her work in The Help and Take Shelter. Here’s the final list:
Best Picture: The Artist
Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki (The Tree of Life)
Best Screenplay: Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin (Moneyball)
Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
Best Foreign-Language Film: A Separation
Best Actor: Brad Pitt (Moneyball, The Tree Of Life)
Best Actress: Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)
Best Supporting Actress: Jessica Chastain (The Tree Of Life, The Help and Take Shelter)
Best Supporting Actor: Albert Brooks (Drive)
Best Nonfiction Film: Cave Of Forgotten Dreams
Best First Feature: Margin Call
2011 Special Award: Raoul Ruiz (posthumous)
Across town, as President Barack Obama was drawing every celebrity not in contention for awards this season, the 15th annual Hollywood Awards Gala was taking place at the Beverly Hilton. All of the Oscar hopefuls who agreed to show up to accept an award were there in their Monday finest as this was a place to be seen if you want an ego boost at this early point in the season.
With 19 above- and below-the-line categories to plow through, this was a surprisingly fun show that, if it didn’t already exist, Hollywood would have to find some way to invent. Billed as the ”official” kickoff to awards season (if you don’t count all those film festivals we’ve just been through), The Hollywood Awards were created — and basically chosen — by executive director Carlos de Abreu, who, with Janice Pennington, founded the gala and accompanying film festival. They are the result of a months-long negotiation between him and the studios and distributors, who are using this early opportunity to get key positioning for the players they hope to advance during the long awards season leading ultimately to Oscar. The only caveat is that to get the award, you have to agree to show up.
This year, de Abreu has his pulse on some real contenders and handed out acting awards to — among many others — Michelle Williams, George Clooney and Christopher Plummer, who all could realistically be considered close to frontrunners in their respective categories.
A real highlight of the show was when Marilyn Monroe’s Oscar-nominated Bus Stop co-star Don Murray showed up to present Hollywood Actress of the Year to Williams, who plays the iconic star in The Weinstein Company’s My Week With Marilyn. “I’m the last of the the on-screen lovers of Marilyn Monroe, and I still just happen to have a body that actually works, ” the 82-year-old actor said to much laughter. “Michelle re-created moments I was so intimately familiar with as I spent 14 months working with Marilyn. There’s not one thing in this film that’s not truthful. It was a revelation. Michelle’s performance made me appreciate Marilyn Monroe so much more.”
Williams, noticeably nervous, said her friends always wanted to see her win a award so she could basically sweat through the experience. She did well though, closing with a touching perception about Monroe. “It seems to me that all Marilyn Monroe wanted was to be taken seriously as an actress, and she studied so hard and never really got there,” she said, adding that it was ironic Williams herself could get this kind of recognition that so eluded the star she played.
The Artist from director Michel Hazanavicius earned the Audience Award (Narrative) while Marc Levin’s Hard Times: Lost on Long Island was honored with the Audience Award (Documentary) to pace winners at the 19th Annual Hamptons International Film Festival announced tonight. Also taking home an Audience Award was Two’s a Crowd from directors Jim Isler and Tom Isler (for Best Short), while The Fairy – directed by Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon — was selected as winner of the Golden Starfish Narrative Feature Award. The Golden Starfish for Best Documentary went to Fellipe Barbosa’s Laura. Other winners included: The Strange Ones, from directors Christopher Radcliff and Lauren Wolkstein (Short Documentary Jury Winner); Without, from director Mark Jackson (Kodak Award for Best Cinematography and the Wouter Barendrecht Pioneering Vision Award); and You’ve Been Trumped, from director Anthony Baxter (Victor Rabinowitz and Joanne Grant Award for Social Justice). The Narrative Jury also awarded a special jury mention to Joshua Marton’s The Forgiveness of Blood.
EXCLUSIVE: John Goodman has joined the cast of the Robert Zemeckis-directed Flight, which stars Denzel Washington as an airline pilot who averts a plane crash, only to come under a cloud for possible substance abuse problems. Goodman will play a friend of the pilot who helps him come to terms with his problems. Goodman, who stars in the Michel Hazanavicius-directed silent film The Artist, is shooting the Ben Affleck-directed Argo and most recently wrapped the Stephen Daldry-directed Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which stars Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock. Goodman’s repped by Gersh.