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Global Showbiz Briefs: Jonathan Demme’s ‘Fear Of Falling’ To Premiere At Rome Fest; ‘We Are The Best!’ Lines Up Sales; More

Jonathan Demme’s ‘Fear Of Falling’ To Premiere At Rome Fest
Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme‘s Fear Of Falling will have its world premiere at the eighth annual Rome Film Festival in November. The film is based on a theater production — performed only a few times to friends — created for the stage by the actor-filmaker André Gregory, based on Henrik Ibsen’s The Master Builder, translated and adapted by actor-playwright Wallace Shawn. Gregory and Shawn also star in the film. Fear of Falling is produced by Rocco Caruso. The Rome fest runs November 8-17.

TrustNordisk Sells ‘We Are The Best!’ In Australia, Italy, Taiwan
TrustNordisk has closed multiple deals on Lukas Moodysson’s We Are The Best!, which premiered at Venice premiere and screened at Toronto. The Swedish teen punk film has sold to Australia (NewVision Films), Italy (Bim Distribuzione) and Taiwan (Maison Motion), with talks ongoing for other territories. We Are The Best! revolves around three young outsiders in 1980s Stockholm who find unity in music and form a punk band without having any instruments. Lars Jönsson for Memfis Film produced the film, which bows October 11 in Sweden.

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Toronto, Venice, Telluride Fest Wrap-Up: ‘Silver Linings’, ‘Argo’, ‘The Master’ Are Clearly Early Best Picture Contenders

Pete Hammond

With today’s wrap of the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, the Fall festival trifecta of Venice, Telluride and Toronto officially kicked off the six-month movie awards season. What does it say, if anything, about where the race for Oscar is at this early point? As it turns out, quite a bit. It is very early in the game. And we also have to remember there is one more key early Fall festival on the horizon when the New York Film Festival kicks off September 28th with Ang Lee’s much anticipated Life Of Pi and closes October 14th with Robert Zemeckis’ Flight starring Denzel Washington. These two Oscar-winning directors have much buzzed-about new films so obviously the race is still taking shape. But Toronto, for instance, has featured six of the last seven Oscar-winning Best Pictures in its lineup, an impressive feat.

The MasterComing out of Venice with media spotlight blazing was Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, a multi-award winner there (although in a bit of controversy not the top Golden Lion). The Weinstein Company film also played well in Toronto and has now opened this weekend to a record-breaking limited release gross, something that won’t harm its Oscar chances down the line. But only if it can sustain critical and box office momentum.

Roaring out of Telluride, and later Toronto, was … Read More »

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Toronto: ‘Silver Linings’, ‘Seven Psychopaths’ Win People’s Choice Awards

By | Sunday September 16, 2012 @ 10:08am PDT
Pete Hammond

David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook has been named the big winner of the BlackBerry People’s Choice Award at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival. Fest Artistic Director Cameron Bailey leaked the news via Twitter as the ceremony was taking place. The critically acclaimed comedy which stars Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro won unanimous praise across the board and is not a surprising choice. It’s a real crowd-pleaser and follows in the footsteps of recent TIFF audience award winners like Slumdog Millionaire and The King’s Speech which both also went on to win Oscars for Best Picture. American Beauty also took the People’s Choice Award and went on to win Best Picture at the Oscars over a decade ago. However last year’s TIFF winner, the Lebanese Where Do We Go Now didn’t even manage to get a Foreign-Language Film Oscar nod and quickly disappeared from theatres when Sony Pictures Classics released it in the U.S. It surprisingly won the TIFF honor over eventual Best Picture Oscar winner The Artist. Still this should be a big boost in further establishing  the Weinstein Company’s November 21st release as a major awards contender. Additionally, Seven Psychopaths took the Audience Award for movies that screened for the festival’s Midnight Madness sidebar. TIFF doesn’t offer up a major juried list of award winners like Cannes or Venice so the People’s Choice Award is the best barometer of what really scored at the fest.

From the press release:
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Toronto: Fox Searchlight Brings ‘The Sessions’ To Reignite Awards Talk

Pete Hammond

Fox Searchlight brought its Sundance pickup and Oscar hopeful, The Sessions, to the Toronto International Film Festival today to kick-start the film’s October launch. (Now set for October 26 but very possibly moving up a week to the 19th). Last January, the film debuted under the title The Surrogate and immediately sparked early 2012 awards talk, particularly for the performances of John Hawkes and Helen Hunt. It’s a small but surprisingly funny and ultimately quite touching film that drew so many big laughs at today’s Elgin Theatre screening the dialogue was drowned out during some scenes, usually those between Hawkes and William H. Macy. There were three standing ovations for the director and principal stars, a very enthusiastic response to be sure.

Fox Searchlight Co-Presidents Steve Gilula and Nancy Utley were there and said after the Sundance sale no cuts were made to the film and none requested by the MPAA in order to get the ‘R’ rating (for some explicit but tastefully shot sexual content).

Gilula notes that with so many movies competing for attention at TIFF it’s tough for a movie that debuted at Sundance or Cannes. Media, he says, just want to spotlight the newest movies even though this one doesn’t even open until next month. At this point it is the mini-major’s only fall/holiday release, and it’s hoping to build strong word of mouth and awards attention. The studio is still trying to determine whether to push Hunt for lead or supporting. (The Oscar winning star of As Good As It Gets could probably slip comfortably into either slot.) Fox Searchlight also have summer releases Beasts Of The Southern Wild  and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel on their potential awards plate. And there still is the possibility of a last-minute contender coming in December if they decide to rush Hitchcock. Read More »

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Toronto: Weinstein Finds ‘Silver Linings’ At World Premiere For Another Oscar Race

Pete Hammond

As the Toronto International Film Festival maintains its intense pace, the race for Oscar is clearly heating up. And after last night’s rousing world premiere for David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook, you can chalk up yet another major Best Picture contender. The tweets about its inevitable awards potential began almost immediately. The response to this strikingly original and human film was ecstatic, not only during the screening and standing ovation but from everyone I cornered at the Soho House after-party - including several awards pundits who are supposed to be jaded about such things.

Harvey’s Silver Linings almost certainly puts stars Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro in contention for acting nominations. Lawrence and Cooper play two very broken people trying to put their lives back together by helping each other. It reminded me of Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine  in The Apartment (1960), deftly navigating the tricky terrain of a film that can change tone from comedy to drama on a dime without ever seeming forced. Both simply inhabit these characters and make a great screen team. And just like Lemmon and MacLaine did after The Apartment when they reteamed on Irma La Douce, Cooper told me they have already completed a second film together, Serena.

Lawrence leaps to the front of the pack with a revelatory performance that seemed to knock most observers out. Cooper also was terrific in a challenging role in The Place Beyond The Pines (acquired today by Focus Features). He had nothing but praise for his co-star who at just 22 years old takes on a part that would challenge much older stars. Writer-director David O. Russell told me  at the after-party she was actually a last-minute casting. “We were seeing just about every major actress for the role but thought she was just too young. Then when she ‘Skyped’ in her audition from her home, there was no question. Lawrence was nominated for Best Actress for Winter’s Bone (2009) and should start preparing now to go through it all over again. So should Russell who was in the Oscar race with The Fighter two years ago for the first time and should be right back in there this year. Read More »

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Toronto: New Film With Ryan Gosling & Bradley Cooper Draws Distributors

Pete Hammond

The Place Beyond The Pines is perhaps the most eagerly awaited acquisition title of the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival. And Friday night it premiered to an enthusiastic reception from a sold-out crowd. With stars Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper and Eva Mendes lighting up the Princess of Wales theatre’s Red Carpet, there was much anticipation about this unique crime thriller from director and co-writer Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine also starring Gosling). At the 19 Mercer Street after-party, producer Jamie Patricof (Lynette Howell and Alex Orlovsky co-produced with him for Sidney Kimmel Productions) told me they have kept this film under lock and key until the TIFF showing. Because no one had seen it, a lot of distributors were in the audience eager to get a look. Patricof and helmer Cianfrance both said they are looking for a company who is most passionate about the film. Whether it gets out this year (in time for the Oscar race) or later is secondary to that. Cianfrance did add that his natural inclination is always to “have the film out tomorrow” if he could.

Related: Ryan Gosling To Make Directing Debut On ‘How To Catch A Monster’

A snap poll of reaction after the screening indicated the film had true impact. There’s no doubt buyers will be circling this one – and snapping it up fast. Clearly the movie has a lot of marketing potential with Gosling and Cooper in the leads. Gosling  said that working with Cianfrance “has changed my life and changed me as an actor”. He plays a bank robber and said he always had a fantasy about making his getaway by riding a motorcycle into a U-Haul truck which was incorporated here. Cooper might have the most difficult role. ”But I was ferocious in wanting to work with these two guys. It was one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had acting,” he said. Read More »

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Toronto: ‘Looper’, ‘On The Road’, Marion Cotillard Kick Off Festival Packed With Oscar Hopefuls

Pete Hammond

The Toronto International Film Festival officially kicked off tonight with gala screenings of FilmDistrict’s time-tripping sci-fi action flick Looper starring Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon Levitt, plus two Cannes premieres making their official North American bows. On The Road, the 1950s beat movie about Jack Keroauc, drew stars Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst and others, while French helmer Jacques Audiard’s Rust & Bone arrived with stars Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts in tow. Cotillard, as a killer whale trainer who loses her legs in a tragic accident, delivers another show-stopping performance that seems sure to earn her a shot at a second Best Actress Oscar. She looked great after travelling from her Telluride tribute last weekend to Toronto for the big opening tonight. I told her I felt like I have been stalking her, following her from Cannes to Telluride and now Toronto. “Yes, it’s has been quite a trip, hasn’t it?” she said as she entered Michael’s restaurant (also having a Grand Opening) for the pre-screening Moet and Chandon dinner.

Related: Toronto 2012: High Optimism As Business Reshaped By Filmmaker-Driven Fare And Shifting Formats Reinvigorates Indie Biz

Co-star Schoenaerts, who made a splash last year in Belgium’s surprise Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee Bullhead, has everything it takes to be a major star but told me he wants to take it slow. “When all this started happening I did have talks regarding the lead in … Read More »

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