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OSCARS: Foreign Shockers From Spain, Italy

By | Thursday September 29, 2011 @ 3:10am PDT
Pete Hammond

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 Bread), an eerie mystery set in the years following the Spanish Civil War. It swept the Goya awards in February, winning 9 out of 14 nominations. (Almodovar’s film just opened in Spain this month and won’t be eligible until next year’s Goya contest.) It is true that Almodovar has been consistently snubbed by the Spanish Film Academy, which makes the selections. The renowned director was bypassed for Talk To Her and Broken Embraces after winning the Oscar for Spain for All About My Mother in 1999. The situation got so contentious for a while that Almodovar actually resigned from the Spanish Academy as a protest against what he perceived as unfair voting practices. However, letting bygones be bygones, he did rejoin in April of this year. It was expected that goodwill gesture would be enough to put him back in the driver’s seat when it came time to vote for the Academy submission. But once again Spain’s most famous director has been overlooked in favor of another: the talented Agusti Villaronga, who does not nearly enjoy the international reputation of Almodovar. Sony Pictures Classics picked up Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In and will release it stateside on October 21st. Pa Negre has played … Read More »

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NY Film Fest Adds Galas For David Cronenberg And Pedro Almodovar Films

Mike Fleming

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.”

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CANNES: Almodovar Awaits Verdict As Final Competition Films Premiere

Pete Hammond

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? Read More »

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Pathé UK Swaps Warner Bros For Fox

The London-based arm of the French film company has switched Warner Bros for Fox to handle physical distribution of its theatrical releases. Back in April 2009 Pathé announced that Warner Bros would be handling its theatrical distribution in the UK and Ireland with Fox handling home entertainment. Now Pathé UK bosses Francois Ivernel and Cameron McCracken have decided to put all their oeufs in one basket. The new Fox deal will kick off with one of either two foreign-language titles, Daniel Auteuil’s The Well-Digger’s Daughter or Pedro Almodóvar’s The Skin I Live In. The Fox deal will cover the 3-4 films Pathé makes each year — filming began yesterday on The Iron Lady, starring Meryl Streep as Mrs Thatcher –- as well as any French Pathe productions likely to do well in Britain. “We felt it made sense for one studio to manage the licensing process across all rights,” says Ivernel.

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