Roman Polanski‘s 1971 feature documentary Weekend Of A Champion is being sold at Cannes this week after Brett Ratner’s Rat Documentary Films acquired the docu in February as part of a 12-picture deal with Netflix to produce and acquire feature-length documentaries. Never shown in the U.S., Weekend offered up a portrait of legendary Formula 1 champ Jackie Stewart during his victory at the Monte Carlo Grand Prix — it also shows a pair of icons (Polanski and Stewart) at the height of their powers. Pathe is handling international and Submarine is handling all other U.S. rights beside Netflx. Polanski, meanwhile, has just completed filming Venus In Fur, which is here in competition. Here’s the exclusive first look at the poster:
Marina Zenovich found more fodder for her docu lens when the subject of her 2008 film Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired landed in hot water with Swiss authorities in September 2009. Her feature-length follow-up Roman Polanski: Odd Man Out covers the ensuing media circus surrounding Roman Polanski‘s 10-month …
EXCLUSIVE: Movies periodically get fixated on auto racing, like the great documentary Senna and the upcoming Ron Howard-directed Rush. Now we’ll find out how a barely seen documentary shot by Roman Polanski can do, one shot back when he and his cameras were granted the kind of access to the track in Monaco that you just couldn’t buy today. And the way Polanski shot it, you can tell in just a few seconds that if the average person tried driving that course, you’d need to call your insurance agent by the first hairpin turn.
Rat Documentary Films, Brett Ratner‘s documentary film arm, has acquired the North American rights to Weekend Of A Champion, Polanski’s 1971 portrait of the legendary Formula 1 race car driving Champion Jackie Stewart on the weekend of his victory at the Monte Carlo Grand Prix. This is a film that was shot while Polanski was at his peak, and it has never been released in the United States. This becomes the first in a 12-picture deal that Rat Documentary Films has with Netflix; his objective is to produce or acquire cool feature documentaries. Here, Ratner and Polanski began talking about this deal and Polanski recalled with fondness the experience of shooting with Stewart. I’ve seen footage and it is pretty compelling stuff.
PARIS, FRANCE / LOS ANGELES, CA – May 9 , 2012 — Roman Polanski announced today that his next feature film project will be the political thriller “D,” based on the Dreyfus affair, one of the most sensational political scandals and miscarriages of justice in history.
“D” reunites the team behind Polanski’s 2010 award-winning movie The Ghost Writer. Polanski will direct from a screenplay written by Robert Harris, with long-time Polanski collaborators Robert Benmussa and Alain Sarde serving as producers. The independently financed film will begin casting shortly and currently plans to be in production in Paris by the end of this year. Lionsgate/Summit International will represent the film’s international sales. ICM will represent North American rights.
Online film investment site Slated announced today that they have helped raise financing for a modern retelling of Anton Chekov’s The Seagull and a follow-up to the Emmy-winning documentary Roman Polanski: Wanted And Desired. First announced at the Sundance Film Festival this year, Slated seeks to link up experienced and vetted filmmakers with investors to help indie movies secure financing.
The Oscar race for best director is chock-full of major names and past winners who are back with some of their most acclaimed and anticipated films in years. Consider this: Woody Allen, a past winner in the category for Annie Hall (1977), is back this year with Midnight In Paris, not only his most acclaimed film in years but his most successful at the box office ($131 million worldwide). Martin Scorsese, a winner in 2006 for The Departed, has in Hugo a film that many are calling a masterpiece and one that is perhaps his most personal. Steven Spielberg, a two-time winner in the category for 1993’s Schindler’s List and 1998’s Saving Private Ryan, is having a banner year not only with a possible nomination for best animated feature for his first-ever ’toon The Adventures of Tintin, but he is also expected to be a major player as director of the film adaptation of this year’s big Tony-winning play War Horse. Roman Polanski, 2002 winner for The Pianist, also has a pony in the race with Carnage, the film version of the Broadway smash and Tony winner God Of Carnage. Two-time winner Clint Eastwood (Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby) is competing with J. Edgar, his biopic of controversial FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. Past nominees Alexander Payne, Terrence Malick, Stephen Daldry, Bennett Miller, David Fincher, Jason Reitman and George Clooney are also in the hunt in what promises to be one of the most competitive races in years. But could the big prize actually go to a first-time nominee who made a black-and-white silent film?
Here’s the rundown on who are the hot helmers in the race for Oscar this year:
STEVEN SPIELBERG, WAR HORSE
Hollywood’s most famous and powerful director is going for his seventh nomination in the category and first since Munich in 2005 . Previously nominated for Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, Raiders Of The Lost Ark and E.T. The Extra Terrestrial and a winner for Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan, this is his best chance to make it a three-peat with his screen adaptation of the beloved book and play War Horse. The epic look at the adventures of a brave horse in World War I has all the elements of a winner: strong emotion, big action scenes and a major pedigree. With his well-reviewed first animated foray Tintin also being released at the same time, Spielberg is a force to be reckoned with this year.
Is Alexandre Desplat the new hardest working man in show business? The prolific French composer who has had four Oscar nominations in the last five years is just coming off his busiest year since gaining international notoriety in 2003 with Girl With A Pearl Earring. Since then he has been one …
Roman Polanski, who was placed under house arrest by Switzerland when he came to attend the Zurich Film Festival in 2009, is returning to the festival this year to accept a lifetime achievement award. According to an announcement, Polanski will not be doing interviews during the festival but will be going. Festival organizers also will not speak about the legal case. Last time, Polanski never made it to the festival, arrested at the airport and taken into provisional custody. Swiss authorities eventually freed him and declined an extradition request from the United States, where Polanski skipped out on a conviction for engaging in a sex act with an underage girl in 1978. Polanski’s latest film, Carnage, was accepted as the opening-night film of the New York Film Festival. He most certainly is not expected to attend that gathering. Here’s the announcement:
The 9/11 anniversary was a strong memory in Toronto because it happened right in the middle of 2001′s film festiva – even though it was business as usual today. In fact the pace of this place just seems to be quickening. Deals, as Deadline’s Mike Fleming reports, were slow to percolate but may be picking up. Most buyers I talk to are irritated by some sellers’ insistence that their film be released this year in time for Oscar consideration. That’s a tall order and leaves little time for creating a marketing campaign, much less an awards strategy. Nevertheless, that was one of the demands made by the sellers of the controversial Shame during negotiations. Fox Searchlight agreed, others didn’t. In fact I was told that Sony Pictures Classics, which wanted the picture, came up with a smart strategy they compared to The Weinstein Company’s for Colin Firth. That consisted of Firth doing a lot of campaigning and earning a nomination for A Single Man in 2010, thus laying the groundwork for his The King’s Speech win the next year. SPC was going to put Michael Fassbender out there and get him recognition for their November release of David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method and then release Shame later in 2012 for a one-two punch that the Academy would notice. No go. The sales people behind Shame insisted it be released this year, thereby throwing the Venice Film Festival’s Best Actor winner into an already overcrowded awards race that among others includes George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Gary Oldman, and Leonardo DiCaprio who are better known — at least at this point.
One former studio head-turned-producer complained loudly to me today that this kind of strategy is not necessarily what’s good for the movie and asked, “Isn’t that what we should be concerned with over anything else?” For example, Open Road’s Tom Ortenberg is here with his first release Killer Elite but is not rushing into a year-end release if it might end up hurting the bottom line. “Isn’t the 2012 Oscar race just as good as this year’s?” he asked. He might consider putting the Liam Neeson film The Grey into a year-end qualifying run since Neeson’s performance is said to be so strong. But only if it was in the best interest of the film. When he was at Lionsgate, Ortenberg acquired Crash at Toronto but held it for a May release. Then he did a now-legendary and successful Oscar campaign almost 1 1/2 years after the Toronto buy. The same strategy worked for The Hurt Locker two years ago. Both went on to win Best Picture.
Nevertheless, several films for sale in Toronto are said to be eyeing a 2011 release in order to get into the Oscar race. These include Luc Besson’s The Lady, which premieres Monday night and which I have already seen. It contains two powerhouse performances from Michelle Yeoh who could jump into the lead actress race. There’s also David Thewlis for Supporting Actor. The Lady will certainly be part of any sales discussion, but I know of at least one mini-major who would like the film but just not for this year. As I mentioned yesterday, Barrymore with its sensational title performance from Christopher Plummer also wants to make a deal that includes a 2011 year-end release. Also director Zhang Yimou’s epic The Flowers of War (formerly Nanking) starring Oscar-winner Christian Bale had a 20-minute footage presentation here and hopes to get a domestic deal in place in time for a possible year-end run at Oscar. I am told it could certainly be ready what with its debut in Beijing in December.
Previously in Pete Hammond’s 3-part series:
Woody Allen, Brad Pitt, ‘The Help’ Among Early 2011 Oscar Contenders
Clooney, Clint, And Spielberg Put Major Studios Back Into Oscar Race
After looking last week at the potential awards landscape for the first eight months of 2011, and then at what Oscar-pedigreed films the major studios have in store for fall and holiday slots, it’s time to turn to the independent world, which has become such a key force in the season. For the majors, Oscars are nice but not vital. For the indies, award strategies are key and could mean the difference between a hit film or a miss. With little-pictures-that-could Best Picture triumphs in recent years like Crash, The Hurt Locker and last year’s The King’s Speech, indies have proven that with less money to spend, a savvy campaign and a little luck, the right film at the right time can grab the gold. Ever since the advent of screeners evened the playing field to some extent, it’s been a different ballgame. And the indies use the fall festival circuit (starting next week at Venice, followed by Telluride and Toronto) to start up the awards buzz. Already this year, indies like Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris and Terrence Malick’s Cannes Film Festival winner The Tree of Life are seriously in the hunt for those prized Best Picture slots and, as detailed by the soon-to-be-released contenders from the companies below, they might not be alone among upstart pictures this year.
Here’s a look at what possible award contenders from the indie sector will be coming our way in the last four — and most crucial — months of the year.
The Weinstein Company
With The King’s Speech last year, the Weinsteins scored their first Best Picture triumph since the heady days of Miramax. Can they do it two years in a row with another British bio, The Iron Lady? Just about everyone agrees Meryl Streep’s still-unseen portrait of Margaret Thatcher in this Dec. 16 release will put her in strong contention to finally win that third Oscar, but can the movie score, too? Time will tell, although it would seem to be a better shot in the Actress category.
Harvey Weinstein had a big Cannes triumph with the crowd-pleasing black-and-white French-produced silent picture The Artist (Nov. 23), and it could have the same effect on the Academy audience that it did with the French, thereby leading to one of those Best Picture slots, even though the movie might not have enough “gravitas” to sneak in. The Weinsteins will get a good idea when the film launches in the English-speaking world next week on the fest circuit. Certainly Cannes Best Actor Jean Dujardin is a great bet for a nomination no matter what.
With a busy fall, the company is hoping Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh — who play Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier in My Week With Marilyn (Nov. 4) — will land acting kudos along with Ralph Fiennes (who also directed) in the title role of the contemporary Shakespeare adaptation Coriolanus (Dec. 2). As his mother, Vanessa Redgrave is extraordinary in a beefy supporting turn. She should start getting the gowns for the awards circuit ready now.
Awards prospects are anybody’s guess for Madonna’s latest directorial stab, W.E. (Dec. 9), which with its storyline involving Wallis Simpson is certainly different for the pop star. And I hear there is the possibility of a late-season qualifying run for the Jennifer Garner film Butter that has been described as a Capra-esque comedy/drama set in the cutthroat world of competitive butter carving. Fest auds will see this first, and their reaction will probably weigh heavily in Weinstein’s decision to enter that other cutthroat competition.
The Roman Polanski-directed Carnage is up with a new trailer. The drama, an adaptation of the hit Broadway play God of Carnage, stars Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly and Christoph Waltz. The film opens the New York Film Festival and, obviously, Polanski won’t be there to take the …
Deadline told you last week that Sony Pictures Classics was wrapping up distribution on Roman Polanski’s adaptation of the Broadway hit God of Carnage. They’ve just announced the deal for the movie, with the abbreviated title Carnage: