Deadline Awards Columnist Pete Hammond and host David Bloom talk about the Toronto Film Festival’s attempt to throw its considerable weight around on would-be premieres; remember the late former Academy president Tom Sherak, one of Hollywood’s biggest and most influential personalities; and ponder the potential Oscar impact of Alfonso Cuaron’s win at the DGA Awards for Gravity. David and Pete also survey the Oscar Best Song field after the Academy disqualified the surprise entry, Alone Yet Not Alone, for improper campaigning tactics.
Toronto Vs Telluride: Are These Top Festivals Already Preparing For Battle Over NEXT Season’s Oscar Contenders?
The old Toronto vs Telluride rivalry has reared its ugly head again after Indiewire’s Anne Thompson wrote yesterday (and others followed) that Festival Director Cameron Bailey told her last Fall that they would enforce an ironclad rule that any films playing the Toronto International Film Festival’s first four days would have to be World or North American premieres. And that means “premiere” in the purest sense of the word. The World Premieres must be the first time the films are seen publicly anywhere and North American means U.S., Canada and Mexico. Any others would not get slots until the first Monday (traditionally when the heat starts progressively diminishing). This is what TIFF is telling studios and distributors. It is clearly saber rattling towards Telluride which most recently debuted films like 12 Years A Slave, Gravity and Prisoners before Toronto’s “official” World and North American Premieres.
Telluride, unlike Toronto, doesn’t reveal its schedule until the start of the Labor Day weekend fest and does not label any of its films as “premieres”. Sometimes, as in the case of 12 Years and Prisoners they don’t even include them then, and try to serve them up as unannounced sneak previews during the course of the weekend. Gravity was coming from the Venice Film Festival opening night so that was not kept as a secret. Other Telluride pictures, first seen at the Cannes Film Festival in May, were Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska and All Is Lost. They all skipped Toronto entirely after Telluride and headed to the New York Film Festival later in the month.
As the 40th Annual Telluride Film Festival winds down, The Weinstein Company has kept a relatively low profile for most of the fest. But TWC caused a stir in offering up the World Premiere and first public screening ever of Salinger, writer/director/producer Shane Salerno‘s riveting and stunning portrait of reclusive author J.D. Salinger. The documentary begins its theatrical run on Friday and will appear on PBS‘ American Masters in January. It should be a certain Oscar contender for Best Documentary Feature, not only for its superb execution but also as an investigative piece that has elicited major revelations about never-before-known Salinger literary works left behind by the author who died in 2010, which are scheduled now to be released to the world between 2015 and 2020.
The film got a one-time only “surprise” sneak preview (but was tipped over the weekend by Deadline’s Mike Fleming) at the Palm at 9 AM this morning and was followed by an onstage conversation moderated by filmmaker Ken Burns. Salinger historian David Shields, cinematographer Buddy Squires, one-time Salinger muse and friend Jean Miller were in attendance joined via Skype by Salerno and Salinger friend/one-time editor A.E. Hotchner. Early reaction from the packed screening was thumbs up, even for a movie-satiated crowd who have been watching one great film after another since the festival began on Thursday.
Several distribution companies were checking out the acquisition title Tracks this weekend as the 40th Telluride Film Festival rolled on. But as Deadline exclusively reported The Weinstein Company had the real inside ‘track’ out of the Venice Film Festival premiere. The film financed by EOne in the UK and Transmission in Australia first screened here last night and again this morning as the filmmakers hightailed it out of Venice to get to the remote Rockies for their next stop.
The true story of Robyn Davidson’s 1977′s 2000 mile solo trek with four camels and a black dog across the Australian desert to the Indian Ocean stars Mia Wasikowska, was directed by John Curran (The Painted Veil), and next heads to Toronto. Producers Iain Canning and Emile Sherman, who won Oscars for The Weinstein Company’s The King’s Speech two years ago, told me they are relieved after the enthusiastic reception the film has received in both Venice and now Telluride. Curran said the nerves were flowing for him as well before the North American debut here but he also is happy with response so far. Several specialty film distributors checked out the film in Telluride and two top execs I spoke with after the screening were impressed but obviously Weinstein is doing the deal. After seeing the film I thought this fascinating adventure picture would have no trouble at all finding domestic distribution. If it did we should all get out of this business. It’s that good. I don’t think Weinstein will want to release in this crowded awards season and their plate is already full. Spring seems right to me.
A plane bound from Denver to the Tellluride Film Festival with 10 passengers crash-landed today when its left-side landing gear collapsed and it skidded upon landing at the Telluride airport. Salinger documentary co-author David Shields and Weinstein PR executive Emmy Chang were reported aboard. No injuries were reported.
Steven Spielberg’s Cannes Jury Duty Leads DreamWorks To Remake Deal On ‘Like Father, Like Son’
By Mike Fleming Jr – EXCLUSIVE: Who says jury duty is a waste of time? DreamWorks is negotiating right now with Fuji TV for remake rights to the Japanese film Like Father, Like Son (Soshite Chichi Ni Naru).
R.I.P. Talent Manager J.J. Harris
By Nikki Finke - Motion picture and television talent agent/manager J.J. Harris died of what is believed to be natural causes on Friday afternoon and was found today in her Beverly Hills home by her staff. She was 62
MPAA Wins Hotfile Copyright Lawsuit
By Dominic Patten - Nearly two years and a half years after first filing their suit on behalf of several studios, the MPAA today scored a victory against file-sharing service Hotfile.
Venice Film Festival: Will The Lido Shuffle Biz Into Awards Season?
By Nancy Tartaglione - The Venice Film Festival kicks off tomorrow, and with it a renewed second outing for fest chief Alberto Barbera.
Labor Day Box Office: ‘One Direction’ Winning 3-Day Weekend But Will ‘The Butler’ Take 4-Day Holiday?
By Nikki Finke - This is too close to call right now. And film order is up in the air as well. Every Hollywood studio except Sony seems certain that Lee Daniels’ The Butler from The Weinstein Company will threepeat for #1 at the end of the 4-day Labor Day holiday.
Telluride has been buzzing since last night’s first screening of Steve McQueen‘s excellent slavery drama, 12 Years A Slave. One site which shall remain nameless was so overcome that the writer already just about declared the Oscar race over and done. “Guess we don’t have to go to Toronto now,” said a publicist here with another contender. One blogger stopped me on the street today after I saw the film and asked, “So do you agree with us (bloggers) the actor race is done?” he said in referring to star Chewitel Ejiofor‘s towering and dignified performance as the slave Solomon Northup, who lived to tell his harrowing tale and write a book about it in 1853. As I said yesterday, hyperbole is a big part of any festival like this and intelligent moviegoers are so thirsty for Oscar-quality adult movie fare they might have a tendency to go overboard with praise. But it’s a disservice to a very fine but challenging film like 12 Years A Slave to build up such high expectations no movie could possibly live up to it.
As I exited the packed 650-seat Herzog Theatre, I ran into Fox Searchlight co-President Nancy Utley, who was there gauging reaction to her film, which they open in LA and NY on October 18 and then roll out slowly. She agreed it is a film that should be “discovered” but, obviously happy with the ecstatic reaction so far at its first two screenings, added that this film needs special handling. “It’s a movie that will depend on critical reaction and awards play to really tell people that despite tough subject matter it’s a film they must see,” she said.
Joel and Ethan Coen have a ton of Oscars and other awards on their shelves, but the duo is fairly elusive when it comes to touting themselves and their work. So it isn’t exactly surprising that they’d never agreed to a Telluride Film Festival tribute, until this year. And the only way — a smart and entertaining one as it turns out — to lure them here was to wrap it around the use of music in their films and in particular the remarkable work they do with T Bone Burnett, who is getting equal treatment with the Coens here at the tribute shows on Friday night and this morning. The trio received the Festival’s much-prized Silver Medallion last night from their friend Barry Sonnenfeld right after a lively musical performance of Coenesque tunes by a group called The Americans and a half-hour of superbly-chosen clips from the T Bone-infused films The Big Lebowski, O Brother, Where Art Thou, The Ladykillers and their latest, Inside Llewyn Davis, a grand prize winner at Cannes and set to open in December via CBS Films. It is also playing here this weekend.
A 35-minute onstage conversation followed the Medallion presentation which was placed on a chain around their necks. “I’m feeling like Mark Spitz,” joked Ethan about the latest award they have received. As I said in Cannes, this film, set in the folk singing scene of the early ’60s, is one of their best. Needless to say, it has great music in addition to a terrific cast including star Oscar Isaac, who should be a contender for awards (along with a scene-stealing cat). In fact one of those “stolen scenes” was an extended sequence with Isaac forced to carry the cat through New York City after he dashes out the door of his apartment. As with the other clips shown, it really demonstrates the power of music in the films of these iconic filmmakers.
Hyperbole at film festivals is to be expected, BUT even with direct competition from Brad Pitt and the Coen brothers, the reaction to the first public screening Friday night anywhere of director Denis Villenueve’s thrilling and penetrating drama Prisoners at the 40th Telluride Film Festival was completely unexpected and significant. This was a “surprise” screening (although I predicted it) and filled the 650-seat Herzog Theatre. For weeks some I spoke to thought on the basis of the trailer and more mainstream elements of the film that it was probably an unworthy commercial film that somehow snuck into the more tony environ of Telluride. Uh, no. This is a first-class motion picture experience unlike any other that I, for one, have experienced in a long time. But it’s not an easy sell.
The applause was strong and early critical praise is over the moon. Pundits will have to add this Alcon production being released by Warner Bros on September 20 to the list of strong Oscar contenders. That is, if audiences and Academy members can handle the intensity of this superbly directed and produced film that features career-best performances, for sure, from Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman (OK, I liked Les Miz too a lot), plus a brilliant supporting cast including Melissa Leo going for another supporting win; Terence Howard; the great Viola Davis; Maria Bello; and Paul Dano, who goes through the ringer for his art. You can easily compare this gem to critically acclaimed pictures like Zodiac, Seven, Mystic River and any number of films in the genre. Director Villeneuve doesn’t shy away from the comparisons. He says he is a great admirer of David Fincher and Clint Eastwood. In fact one of his editors, Joel Cox, is an Eastwood regular.
The undisputed star so far of the 40th Telluride Film Festival, Robert Redford received his second packed-to-the-rafters tribute this morning on top of the mountain at the Chuck Jones Cinema (each tributee must do two of these here — the Coen brothers and T Bone Burnett are up next tonight and Saturday morning). Considering he just went through the two-hour program 14 hours earlier and this one started at 9 AM, Redford was in great form and perhaps more introspective about his life and career than I have heard him in this kind of setting. At Friday night’s version of the tribute he was presented with the festival’s Silver Medallion (by surprise guest Ralph Fiennes, who starred in his Quiz Show). Of course Redford is being talked about in a big way for the Best Actor Oscar for his tour-de-force one-man starring role in J.C. Chandor’s All Is Lost, so a look back at his remarkable career can’t hurt. Although it wasn’t mentioned this morning, Redford incredibly has only been Oscar-nominated once as an actor, for the light-hearted The Sting (1973). He does have Oscars for his 1980 directorial debut, Ordinary People and an Honorary Oscar for his work with Sundance.
The first hour was devoted to a wide-ranging clip-by-clip look at his acting career beginning with the live TV production of The Iceman Cometh to such iconic film roles as Barefoot In The Park, The Candidate, Downhill Racer, Jeremiah Johnson, The Way We Were, The Sting, Three Days Of The Condor, All The President’s Men, The Electric Horseman, Brubaker, The Natural and Out Of Africa. Of his nine films as a director the only clip shown was for A River Runs Through It which starred a young Brad Pitt — the one actor along with George Clooney whose career trajectory seems closest to Redford’s consistently intelligent and high-wattage movie star course over the last half century.
Listen to (and share) episode 39 of our audio podcast Deadline Awards Watch, With Pete Hammond. Deadline’s awards columnist talks with host David Bloom from the Telluride Film Festival, which opened today and will feature a lot of awards contenders; Pete’s last-minute picks for Primetime Emmy voting that closes Friday; and a smart use of home-video releases for The Place Beyond The Pines and Mud as they try to remind voters not to forget them in the coming deluge of Oscar screeners. Pete also recommends several recent specialty releases led by the smart Short Term 12 and Wong Kar Wai’s unusual take on the martial arts film The Grandmaster.