The North American premiere of Pedro Almodóvar’s I’m So Excited! has been named the opening-night film of the 19th annual Los Angeles Film Festival on June 13. It comes ahead of the Spanish-language comedy’s U.S. platform release June 28 via Sony Pictures Classics. The pic bowed March 8 in Spain and is currently opening throughout Europe. Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas are among the ensemble cast of the comedy, set on an airplane flight where nothing goes right. The fest, produced by Film Independent, teamed with SPC last year to premiere Searching For Sugar Man, which ended up winning the Feature Documentary Oscar. LAFF runs through June 23 and will feature more than 200 feature films, shorts, and music videos, representing more than 30 countries.
Joe Utichi contributes to Deadline’s UK coverage.
Grace Jones, Kristen Scott Thomas and Miranda Richardson were amongst the guests to hear tributes to the Oscar-winning filmmaker (Original Screenplay for Talk …
With just a little more than two weeks to go before its opening-night world premiere gala of Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar on November 3, the American Film Institute has just announced the long list of Centerpiece Galas and Special Screenings for its 25th edition — AFI FEST 2011 presented by Audi. Unlike the Eastwood coup, the lineup doesn’t include any other world or North American premieres and instead is made up of films recently seen in Toronto, Venice, Telluride or New York or combinations of all of the above festivals.
The AFI Fest, which runs November 3-10, is becoming known as the festival of galas, with at least one big red-carpet event every night of the week. Slated as Centerpiece Galas this session are Luc Besson’s The Lady (November 4), which played the Mill Valley Film Festival last week in a version now several minutes shorter than its well-received Toronto Film Festival premiere; Roman Polanski’s Carnage (November 5); My Week With Marilyn (November 6); The Artist (November 8); and Steve McQueen’s controversial Shame (November 9). Also on November 7, the fest will present an evening with Pedro Almodovar, this year’s Guest Artistic Director, who will be presenting his 25-year-old classic Law of Desire and participating in a special onstage conversation. All will be presented at the Chinese theater in Hollywood.
BREAKING: Just before the New York Film Festival closed tonight with the premiere of the Alexander Payne-directed The Descendants, the Film Society of Lincoln Center announced that its longtime program director and Selection Committee head Richard Pena will stepping down after next year’s 50th annual festival. Pena will have been involved in 25 of those fests by the time he leaves. The festival said that he will stay on to help design and organize a new educational initiative at the Film Society after he steps down.
“For the past 24 years, Richard Pena has served as the chairman of the Selection Committed for the Festival as well as the Program Director of the Film Society,” said FSLC Board of Directors president Dan Stern. “Richard has informed the Board at the end of 2012–after the Festival’s 50th anniversary and his 25th at its helm–he will step down from both posts. Richard has been with the Film Society through the opening of the Walter Reade Theater as well as the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center and we are please that he has accepted our invitation to stay on to help create a new educational initiative at the Film Society.”
The choice was made by Pena, who said that “Heading into the 50th anniversary of the Festival, it seems a perfect time for a transition, both for me personally and for the organization. Working at the Film Society has been beyond a dream come true, but in the years left me would like to possibly explore other areas of interest, both within and beyond the cinema. I also feel that, like at any other cultural institution, change can be important as it will bring in fresh ideas and approaches to lead the Film Society into its next fifty years.”
EXCLUSIVE: I’ve just learned that Oscar’s ever-growing Foreign-Language Film lineup has received shockers from Spain and Italy. Spain didn’t select the presumed favorite, two-time Oscar winner Pedro Almodovar with his The Skin I Live In starring frequent Almodovar collaborator Antonio Banderas. Instead, Spain chose the more obscure Pa Negre (Black …
With the deadline for submitting films in the Foreign Language Oscar race looming, the competition is taking shape. Some 44 films have been entered by Deadline’s count. Last year, 65 films were entered, so expect 20 or so more to be announced. After the October 3rd cutoff, the Academy’s Foreign Language Executive Committee, led by Oscar-winning producer Mark Johnson (Rain Man) will vet the list and approve the final rundown before the 3-month screening process begins to pick 9 finalists and the eventual 5 nominees. Already, Johnson has indicated to me there is controversy. Albania has entered The Forgiveness of Blood, the hit at Telluride and Toronto directed by LA-born and -bred Joshua Marston. Apparently, other Albanian filmmakers are balking at the nationality of the movie’s helmer. It will be up to the committee to determine whether the film has enough Albanian elements to qualify despite being in the unique situation of having an American director (and co-writer). The very internationally inclined Marston had the official 2004 Colombian entry, Maria Full of Grace, before it was disqualified for not being Colombian enough. It did eventually win a Best Actress nod for Catalina Sandino Moreno.
The Russians are also squabbling over their official entry, Nikita Mikhalkov’s Burnt By the Sun 2: Citadel, the sequel to his 1995 Oscar-winning foreign language film. Even though the full Russian Oscar selection committee voted for it, Mikhalkov has been “burnt” by committee head Vladimir Menshov, who is against putting the critical and box office flop forward to the American Academy. (Despite a $45 million budget, it grossed only $1.5 million). He is awaiting Mikhalkov’s formal response to his request that he pull the film. He has until October 1, according to the Russian rule book.
China’s choice of three-time nominee Zhang Yimou’s (Ju Dou, Raise the Red Lantern, Hero) period epic The Flowers of War (formerly known during production as Heroes of Nanking), starring Oscar winner Christian Bale, is China’s most expensive film ever. It’s reportedly 40% English-language and 60% Mandarin, which lets it squeak by under Academy rules. Twenty minutes of footage from the film, which opens its regular run December 16 in China, was shown to buyers and press in Toronto and was well-received. Executive producer and former Universal Pictures honcho David Linde told me in Toronto that if the film gets a domestic distribution deal in time, it is entirely possible to open in the U.S. to qualify for all categories – presumably including a Best Actor bid for Bale. (Linde was non-committal on that, so we will have to wait and see.) If it gets nominated and the film is held from American release until next year, that would make it ineligible for other categories in 2012.
Among the countries still waiting to be heard from are frequent nominees Italy, Spain and Turkey. I fully expect those countries to select films that were all in the official competition in Cannes this year: Italy’s Habemus Papam from Nanni Moretti; Turkey’s Cannes Grand Prize winner Once Upon a Time in Anatolia from director Nuri Bilge Ceylan; and Spain’s The Skin I Live In, the first “horror” effort from two-time Oscar winner Pedro Almodovar. The latter has had a spotty track record with the Spanish Academy that makes the selections, but the rift is said to have eased. If they are in their right mind, they will certainly select Skin, which I think is one of Almodovar’s best and most entertaining films.
I am a bit surprised to see Belgium select Bullhead over Cannes prizewinner The Kid With a Bike from the highly respected Dardenne Brothers and also over Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight grand prize winner, the brilliant coming-of-age story Les Geants.
France usually picks something out of the main competition in Cannes, especially because festival director Thierry Fremaux is also on France’s official Oscar selection committee. But this year the country chose the well-received film that opened the smaller Critics Week competition, Declaration of War, an emotional story of young parents trying to deal with their child’s cancer diagnosis. Perhaps after seeing the Academy ignore last year’s home-grown Cannes Grand Prize winner Of Gods and Men they decided to go in a different direction. They ignored potential candidate Polisse, which won the Jury Prize in this year’s main competition at the fest. They also passed over another French-bred competition entry, the enormously popular The Artist (which added to its laurels by winning the Audience Award today at the San Sebastian Film Festival). The black-and-white silent film set and shot in Hollywood is probably not perceived as French enough, despite the Gallic credentials of director Michel Hazanavicius and star Jean Dujardin (Best Actor in Cannes). A Weinstein Company source told me they aren’t upset as they are aiming for a Best Picture slot and don’t necessarily want the film perceived as a foreign language picture.
Highlights among other official selections so far:
New York, NY, August 15, 2011 – The Film Society of Lincoln Center announced the first-time addition of two Galas to join the Opening, Centerpiece and Closing Night Galas for the upcoming 49th New York Film Festival (September 30 – October 16) with David Cronenberg’s A DANGEROUS METHOD set to screen on Wednesday, October 5 and Pedro Almodovar’s THE SKIN I LIVE IN on Wednesday, October 12.
“We’re delighted to be welcoming David Cronenberg to the festival for the first time and to be welcoming back one of the NYFF’s closest friends, Pedro Almodovar,” says Richard Peña, Selection Committee Chair & Program Director, The Film Society of Lincoln Center. “It’s a special pleasure to introduce our audiences to exciting new work by two of contemporary cinema’s most challenging artists.”
It’s all over but the verdict. Sunday night will bring the Cannes Film Festival to a close with the announcement of winners for the various awards given for the Official Competition of this 64th Cannes affair. And it looks like a wide-open race for the coveted Palme d’Or. No one film seems to have jumped clearly ahead as there is still lots of speculation about whether it could be the Malick (cineaests here refer to the movies by their directors’ last names, not the film title), the Dardennes for the third time, the Kaurismaki, the Winding Refn, the Hazanavicius, the Almodovar or, heaven forbid(!), the von Trier. Or maybe, as so often happens, it will go to the unexpected or something no one is really buzzing about on the Croisette.
Saturday night brought the final two films in the competition. Radu Mihaileanu’s French entry La Source Des Femmes (The Source) was rapturously received at its 7 PM Lumiere premiere with a prolonged standing ovation and much applause even during the film itself. The story, or fable, of a group of women in a small village (somewhere between North Africa and the Middle East) who decide to wage a controversial sex strike unless their men help them fetch the water is entertaining and enlightening and could figure as a last-minute contender (as well as a strong possibility to be France’s entry for the Oscars). I doubt that will be the case for the final film, which premiered at 10:30 PM: Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s two-hour-and-37-minute Once Upon A Time In Anatolia, which I think may still be going on. The longest in 20-film group of contenders feels twice that length, a contemplative minimalist art film with no music and no real plot beyond anything a typical episode of CSI covers in its first five minutes. It is one of those movies fest directors love where people stare a lot, ponder a lot and talk about being bored. At least it provided some much-needed nap time; maybe the jury will give Ceylan a prize for letting them catch up on their sleep. He won an award here in 2008 for the overrated Three Monkeys, so you never know, but Robert De Niro’s jury has a lot better choices than this. Can you tell I am not a fan?