Of the two Disneynature nature documentaries that arrive on Disney + on April 3, “Dolphin Reef” is the shorter and breezier of the two, and the one that doesn’t carry the news value of having Meghan Markle as a narrator, the way “Elephant” does. The film has also followed a meandering path to its release, coming out two years ago in France under the title “Blue” and changing its narrator from Cecile de France (for the French version) to Owen Wilson to Natalie Portman along the way.
And yet despite the delays and detours, “Dolphin Reef” is a satisfying entry in the Disneynature slate, albeit one where the dolphins in the title are upstaged by some of their supporting cast, and the reef itself is even more spectacular than the creatures who get the most screen time.
Think of it, maybe, as the “Goodfellas” of nature docs, with the peacock mantis shrimp stealing the show the way Joe Pesci did in that movie; or as one of those Tim Burton movies where the production design is more interesting than the dialogue.
Our ostensible heroes are “Echo,” a three-year-old bottlenose dolphin who is, we are told, playful and headstrong and not ready to leave his mother and fend for himself; and “Kuma,” his long-suffering mom who wants junior to grow up before he gets eaten by orcas or something. As usual for Disneynature offerings, naming the animals and giving them human motivations via the narration can be problematic for all but the kids in the audience; I find it annoying, but your mileage may vary.
The central story of director Keith Scholey’s movie is Echo’s coming of age, though it’s clear that particular narrative was probably constructed in the editing room more than actually playing out on this Polynesian coral reef. The “original story by Keith Scholey” credit suggests this is one of those Disneynature films that concocts a plausible and family-friendly narrative as a way to explore animal behavior and explain it to a young audience.
But the Echo story makes for a functional way to explore the reef, with its staggering beauty and wild variety of life. “Dolphin Reef” is at its most fascinating when it introduces us to the dolphins’ neighbors, including the aforementioned peacock mantis shrimp, who look as if they were formed by an explosion in the arts-and-crafts drawer of a preschool classroom; humphead parrotfish, who eat coral and poop sand; broadclub cuttlefish, with mouths that look like octopi stuck to the front of their heads; spiky and predatory lionfish; tiger sharks, who eat other sharks; humpback whales, with apparently elaborate rituals designed to secure foster fathers; and turtles – who, Portman tells us, “hate to wait in line.”
(Um, how does she know?)
The delight in “Dolphin Reef” lies in the intricate dance of these creatures in a setting of otherworldly drama, and Scholey and co-director Alastair Fothergill are nature-doc vets who know how to get the footage. The oceans have been the setting for some of the most visually impressive nature filmmaking you’ll ever see, and this film adds a string of indelible images, from the opening shot of body-surfing dolphins, to a dramatic shark feeding frenzy in the dead of night, to close-ups of seemingly every tiny creature on the reef, to an ineffably graceful shot of the dolphins swimming in their sleep.
Portman’s narration is perky and casual; she’s here to play along more than to instruct. When she offhandedly mentions a couple of times that the reef is dying, you may want to hear why and what can be done – but Disneynature and the filmmakers behind “Dolphin Reef” would rather lure a young audience in by showing them how cute Echo and his pals are. They can leave the warnings and prescriptions for another time and a different movie.
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 4/1/20
It’s about wild animals. It’s narrated by Meghan Markle. And it’s one of the first Disneynature films to be released as a Disney+ exclusive. That ought to be enough give “Elephant” a shot of pop-culture currency rare for a nature documentary, and attract some curious viewers who’d otherwise be interested in “Tiger King” or “The Mandalorian.”
Make no mistake, though: “Elephant,” premiering on April 3 on Disney+ alongside another Disneynature doc, “Dolphin Reef,” does not have the train-wreck appeal of “Tiger King.” It’s got some big cats (lions, in this case) who briefly threaten our plucky pachyderms, but no crazy people around them. And Markle, who is listed in the credits as “Meghan, Duchess of Sussex” and who came on board in return for a hefty Disney donation to the Elephants Without Borders charity she supports, is a nondescript narrator who mostly stays out of the way; if you didn’t know it was her, you wouldn’t tag the playful narration as coming from anyone of note.
“Elephant,” directed by Mark Linfield and Vanessa Berlowitz, is simply another Disneynature documentary of the kind that are typically released in theaters in April around Earth Day. The film drops us far from civilization and brings us up close with wildlife, thanks to spectacular footage obtained over months of painstaking work, and then imbues its nonhuman characters with human names and suspiciously human motivations.
This is a lucrative market for Disney, with its nature films regularly showing up on the list of top-grossing documentaries before Disney+ and the coronavirus pushed films like this out of the now-empty multiplexes. Nature docs were even a company mainstay between 1948 and 1960, when the “True-Life Adventures” series released 14 films and won eight Oscars.
Those films were occasionally met with complaints that their filmmakers manufactured nonexistent narratives and at times anthropomorphized their characters only slightly less than, say, Bambi’s woodland friends. You wouldn’t be that harsh with “Elephant,” which chronicles an annual trek across southern Africa that has been taking place for hundreds of years — but at the same time, it’s hard to truly buy into the idea that the film’s narration is accurately describing what’s going through the minds of these animals.
After all, when two groups of elephants encounter each other on their journey across the Kalahari Desert, from the Okavango Delta to the Zambezi River and Victoria Falls, do they really treat it as “a wonderful chance to catch up with old friends,” as the narration suggests? When the going gets tough, is the elephant matriarch actually “worried she’s made a grave error”? When that leader needs to be replaced, do the other elephants genuinely wonder if “the obvious successor … has what it takes”?
Some of this creative license is par for the course, as is the fact that the three main characters are given names. (For the record, “Gaia” is the aging matriarch; “Shani” is her sister, a protective mother; and “Jomo” is the rambunctious youngster who keeps the cuteness quotient high.) The last few Disneynature movies, including the big hit “Chimpanzee,” have done the same — heck, last year’s “Penguins,” narrated by Ed Helms, was about a runty penguin named Steve and was the third highest-grossing documentary of 2019.
But in a genre that ought to be about true education under the cloak of entertainment, it also undercuts the trustworthiness of the narrative. Maybe when one elephant farted, another one really did topple to the ground in response — but maybe those two shots were unrelated and were placed back-to-back because the second makes a funny punchline to the first.
If you can’t completely trust the details of the story you’re seeing, the question becomes whether the footage itself is spectacular enough to justify the qualms you may be feeling. And on that count, “Elephant” delivers. From the dramatic overhead shots of the network of elephant trails that lead across the arid Kalahari from one water hole to another, to the remarkable footage of one elephant rescuing a baby who has become mired in the mud, to the nocturnal sights on an island of vegetation that contains the only water within 200 miles, the film supplies the kind of striking visuals that are one of the main reasons movies like this exist.
For her part, Markle doesn’t have the gravitas you’d expect from a narrator for a Disneynature film — a role that on previous films has been handled by Patrick Stewart, James Earl Jones, Samuel L. Jackson, Pierce Brosnan and Meryl Streep, among others. She’s lighter, sillier at times and always conversational, which doesn’t carry much authority but fits with a film that greets a shot of elephants hitting the water hole with “It’s time for a pool party!”
Between the informal, occasionally narration and the music that mixes African vocal chants with grandiose orchestral passages, “Elephant” is a movie that would rather tell (and occasionally milk) a dramatic, crowd-pleasing story than get too serious or informational. We’re told these are “the last elephants on Earth who still have the freedom to roam,” but there are no mentions on whether climate change or deforestation or poaching is the reason why.
Of course, Disneynature is in the family-friendly entertainment game, where knowledge must be squeezed between the lines of a fun story with a whole lot of footage of cute animals. That’s what “Elephant” delivers, even with a moonlighting duchess along for the ride.
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 3/31/20
Plastics are in the air. Not only literally. Everyone's talking about plastic pollution and the need to take action.
You don’t need to be conducting a scientific research to see that plastic waste is invading our environment, specially our oceans. With up to 12 million tons of plastic entering the oceans every year it is not surprising that we find plastic everywhere, not only polluting the water and severely impacting marine species, but also accumulating in the food chain.
Plastic-Spitting Dragon Protests at Our Oceans Conference in Malta. 5 Oct. 2017.
And so people all over the world are building up a movement to transition to a society free of single-use plastic and the throw-away culture it entails. Whether it be by individual action and changing everyday habits, by signing petitions or by creating change in their communities and local businesses.
The movement to #BreakFreeFromPlastic is on the rise and there’s no stopping it!
But where are we on policy? This week, the European Commission has released the European Plastics Strategy. A document that reflects the vision and the objectives of the Commission on this issue and that will be translated into measures and actions.
The European Union (together with countries in the North American Free Trade Agreement) is the second largest producer of plastic after China.
We need to change these numbers. It seems like this new EU strategy echoes this urgency and is certainly something worth praising. But once we get to the details, it seems to go down the usual path.
There’s certainly some good ideas, like treating microplastic ingredients (including cosmetic microbeads) as toxic pollution using the EU chemical regulation.
And it sets a target that by 2030, 100% of plastic packaging in the EU market will be reusable or recyclable, with a first legislative proposal in 2018 to tackle some single use items. Promising!
But again we find a text too focused on recycling. It’s all over the place. While reduction and reuse is hardly mentioned. Their target won’t be achieved without reducing the production and consumption of plastic packaging and single-use items, much of which are unnecessary in the first place and have already existing alternatives waiting to be scaled up.
Deposit return schemes are increasingly being implemented. Bulk stores are blooming in many places, water fountains are coming back to cities and public places, and reusable items are coming into fashion. But alternatives need to be backed up by bold and ambitious political measures.
So if you are a European citizen, watch out for changes in our legislations and be ready to ask your national government to ensure single-use plastic item bans are fast tracked as the crisis is urgent and the EU process can take years. It’s a real opportunity for change and we mustn’t let it slip!
And even if you’re not in Europe, we still need your support. In a globalised world, whatever happens in the European region will have impact in other regions, through companies headquartered in the EU, trade or by simply, and most importantly, setting an example for others to follow that ambitious measures can be taken to phase-out single-use plastic.
While we wait for the next political move, you can still do your part. Whether it be refusing straws, bags, using refillable bottles or taking community action. Every step counts, no matter how big or small. Pick yours and start today to join the movement! We can all #BreakFreeFromPlastic!
Elvira Jiménez is EU Plastics Project leader with Greenpeace Spain
feedproxy.google.com | 3/29/20
The 2020 Cannes Film Festival has extended deadlines and is still hoping to reschedule the May event for late June or early July — but in a Q&A posted on the official festival site on Thursday, Cannes organizers also conceded that this year’s festival could be canceled altogether.
“A postponement might be, we repeat, ‘might be,’ possible,” read the first answer in the nine-question Q&A. The festival, it added, “plays an essential role in the economy of world cinema. When the decision to cancel the event in May was considered, every stakeholder in the sector asked us not to give up on holding it this year.”
But at the same time, the festival admitted that it “one way of looking at the situation” to think that a rescheduling is unrealistic given the ongoing effects of the coronavirus in Europe and around the world. “We are working towards a deferred event, if at all possible,” it said. “And if it is not possible, we will accept that.”
The Q&A also noted that festival staffers are currently working from home, including programmers who are screening films that have been submitted. The deadline for registering films will be extended by one month or more, until at least the end of May, while accreditation deadlines have been extended for about a month and a half.
The lineup of films, which was originally scheduled to be announced at a Paris press conference on April 16, will not take place on that date. If the festival is rescheduled, the lineup will be announced about one month prior to that date.
And the festival also admitted, “It would be absurd to fixate on the dates of a cultural event when the whole world is living through such a painful time.”
Read the full Q&A here:
1/ WHY DIDN’T THE FESTIVAL CHOOSE TO CANCEL, RATHER THAN CONSIDERING A POSTPONEMENT?
Because a postponement might be, we repeat, “might be”, possible. Although Cannes is mainly famous for its arts and media side, it also plays an essential role in the economy of world cinema. When the decision to cancel the event in May was considered, every stakeholder in the sector asked us not to give up on holding it this year.
We therefore decided, after a rapid, broad, national and international consultation, that it was necessary to investigate all routes which would allow a postponement rather than a simple cancellation. This applies to the whole Festival, including the Marché du Film, which is due to take place as part of the Festival, over the same dates.
No one knows what will happen in the near future, but Cannes must work towards solutions with the sector stakeholders who wish the event to take place. The Festival will therefore be acting in line with this perspective, while closely monitoring the changes in the global health situation. Ultimately, it is the public authorities (The Ministry of Health, the Ministry of the Interior, the Alpes-Maritimes regional authority, and the Cannes City Council) who will give the green light, just as they authorised us to announce a possible deferrment.
2/ HAVEN’T YOU TAKEN THIS DECISION TOO LATE ?
We made this announcement two months before the Festival. If you take the example of sport, the Monaco Grand Prix, which takes place during the Festival dates, was postponed on the same day. The spring cycling races in Belgium and France were postponed less than three weeks before they were due to begin. The European football championships were cancelled while already in progress.
The physical preparation (setting up, construction, etc.) of the Festival de Cannes begins one month before the event and had not begun in mid-March. We had until April 15th to evaluate the situation and we did so one month before that, although there were many who called on us to “stand firm”. It is not a matter of standing firm, but of analysing the situation with clarity and responsibility.
According to the professionals, for whom the festival is essential, the calendar used for May and the announcement of the deferral, three months in advance, was the most suitable one. In addition, on the subject of sport, our “athletes” are the artists and most of them are working. Our raw material is films, which we receive electronically. “Technically” (please take note the use of quotation marks), the selection process is taking place as usual.
3/ ARE FESTIVAL STAFF WORKING ?
Yes. It is above all important to remember the imperative nature of the measures in place: “stay at home”, “infection prevention measures” and “social distancing”. The Festival team is not contravening the rules. Our offices are closed and no one is to go out for work purposes.
Since the lockdown measures were announced, the Festival staff have worked remotely and continue to prepare for Cannes via written messages, telephone conversations and group chats.
As for screenings, the films now come via an internet link and are viewed by members of the selection committee in the context of the usual discussion which takes place at this time of year with artists and rights holders. Many remarks from professionals from all over the world are also coming to the fore through this exchange.
4/ WILL THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE OFFICIAL SELECTION STILL TAKE PLACE ON APRIL 16TH?
No. The traditional press conference announcing the selection will not take place on April 16th. If the Festival is confirmed for the end of June or beginning of July, it will take place around one month beforehand, in Paris, at a date which is yet to be arranged. The Festival will issue more information when circumstances permit.
5/ ARE ACCREDITATION APPLICATIONS REMAINING OPEN, AND IF SO, WHAT ARE THE APPLICATION DATES?
Yes, accreditation applications will remain open. The various dates for registration have been extended by one-and-a-half months. The details will be updated on the website very soon.
6/ WHAT ABOUT PEOPLE WHO ARE ALREADY ACCREDITED? DO THEY NEED TO SUBMIT A NEW REQUEST?
7/ WHAT ABOUT “3 DAYS IN CANNES” ?
8/ IS THE DEADLINE FOR REGISTERING FILMS ALSO EXTENDED?
Yes, the Films Department has decided to extend the registration deadline by one month. The new cut-off date will be specified in due course. it will certainly be extended until the end of May. At the moment everything is open. And for any further information, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
9/ ISN’T IT UNREALISTIC TO THINK THE FESTIVAL CAN TAKE PLACE IN 2020?
That is one way of looking at the situation, but we will not take that view until the evidence compels us to abandon this year’s event. At the time of writing, the 2nd round of the Municipal Elections has been announced for June 21st and the Tour de France sets off on June 27th.
It is obviously not possible to give precise dates yet. We have decided to opt for the end of June because we cannot plan further ahead than that. The lockdown which France, as well as many other countries, is under is only in its second week and we will need time, patience, calm and goodwill before we know when we will come out of it. We will also need to show solidarity. It would be absurd to fixate on the dates of a cultural event when the whole world is living through such a painful time.
People count on us: from Japanese film distributors to Cannes café owners. When the moment comes for us to all get ourselves back on our feet,to welcome festival goers, show films, open the theatres to the entire world, meet the artists, the journalists, the professionals and welcome those for whom seeing the creation, distribution and production coming back to life is important, the Festival must be ready. The Festival staff have a duty and a mission to commit themselves to that, in the name of the entire international sector.
We are working towards a deferred event, if at all possible. And if it is not possible, we will accept that. Because we are acting with humility and discretion, without ever losing sight of the national and international health priorities caused by the crisis, nor of the difficulty and pain of the days in hospitals for patients and health professionals. We want to express our solidarity and our admiration for the health workers and for all those who, where ever they are, are giving their time, their energy and their empathy.
And our thoughts are in particular with three great filmmaking countries: Italy, Spain and Iran, who have been particularly hard hit by the epidemic.
We will provide further information as soon as possible.
We will be in touch very soon,
The Festival de Cannes Team
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 3/26/20
The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences is fielding a conference call with TV network and studio executives on Monday afternoon to discuss the current Emmy season and the possibility of pushing back the awards calendar amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, an individual with knowledge of the situation tells TheWrap.
The call, which began at 2 p.m. PT and is expected to last 90 minutes, includes representatives from the Television Academy, as well as communications and awards execs from half a dozen of the networks, studios and streaming services that are usually the top Emmy contenders, the person told us.
According to the insider, networks are concerned about holding For Your Consideration campaigns and lobbying for votes for their TV shows and stars amid the COVID-19 outbreak, which has brought productions to a screeching halt throughout Hollywood and beyond.
Representatives for the Television Academy did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
Almost all TV series shot in the U.S. have had to suspend or delay production over the last few weeks due to the COVID-19 outbreak, a measure that was at first precautionary, but quickly followed by the statewide lockdowns of both California and New York. Numerous productions shot in Canada and Europe have also been halted.
This means that many series have yet to finish filming their current seasons and some have yet to even begin shooting, which is a big concern for studios and networks that want to see those episodes make the eligibility window (which closes May 31).
Currently, the nominations round of voting (Phase 1) for the 2020 Emmys begins June 15 and closes June 29. Nominations are set to be announced July 14. The final round of voting (Phase 2) begins Aug. 17 and ends Aug. 31. The 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards are scheduled to take place Sept. 20.
According to Variety, which first reported news of the call, executives at the top networks and studios want to see the FYC calendar pushed back more into June and July and for there to be a shorter period between voting windows, as well as the ability to campaign and hold more events during the second round of voting.
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 3/23/20
Netflix has dropped the trailer for Mindy Kaling’s coming-of-age series “Never Have I Ever,” and it opens with the teenage protagonist asking the Hindu gods and goddesses to send her “a stone-cold hottie who can rock me all night long.” Is that too much to ask?
The comedy series follows the complicated life of Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), a modern-day first-generation Indian American high school sophomore with a short fuse that gets her into difficult situations.
“It’s the first day of school, and I thought we should have a check-in. I think we can all agree that last year sucked for a number of reasons. So I thought of a few ways you guys can make it up to me,” Devi says while kneeling in prayer. “I’d like to be invited to a party with alcohol and hard drugs. I’m not gonna do them, I’d just like the opportunity to say, ‘No cocaine for me, thanks. I’m good.'”
But the most important thing Devi wants is to procure a boyfriend.
“But not some nerd from one of my AP classes,” she adds. “Like a guy from a sports team. He can be dumb, I don’t care. I just want him to be a stone-cold hottie who can rock me all night long.”
Watch the trailer above.
Mindy Kaling created and executive produced the series, with Lang Fisher serving as executive producer, showrunner and writer. The series also stars Poorna Jagannathan, Richa Moorjani, Adam Shapiro, Ramona Young, Darren Barnet and Martin Martinez.
In addition to Kaling and Fisher, the Universal Television project is also executive produced by 3 Arts Entertainment’s Howard Klein, David Miner, and Tristram Shapeero.
“Never Have I Ever” premieres April 27 on Netflix.
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 3/19/20
As cinemas shutter for the foreseeable future across the U.S. and Europe in a historically unprecedented wave of closures to lower risks of exposure to coronavirus, a handful of cinemas in China have already re-opened and all signs indicate that many more will soon follow in their wake. “Our cinema is preparing to re-open, but […]
variety.com | 3/19/20
There is no historical precedent for the financial drain that the coronavirus is about to do to the movie business, but multiple box office and financial analysts told TheWrap that the growing wave of theater closures and postponed film releases may sink 2020 domestic grosses to levels not seen since the turn of the 21st century.
Domestic grosses for 2020 may well sink below $8 billion for the first time since 2000, analysts said, while admissions may fall below 1 billion tickets sold for the first time since 1976.
This past weekend, overall grosses dropped 45% from the previous weekend, to $55.3 million, lower than even the box office weekends following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. To find a total that low, we have to go back all the way to Halloween weekend of 1998, when overall ticket sales fell to $50.8 million before inflation adjustment. With the postponement of “A Quiet Place Part II” and “Mulan,” two films that were expected to drive springtime moviegoing, those numbers are going to sink even lower even if some theaters manage to stay open.
Others, however, said that trying to put any sort of estimates on how big the drop will be is a fool’s errand at this point.
“We are still at the earliest stages of this slump, and we still don’t know just how long theaters will have to remain closed, how many films this will affect, or what studios will do whenever this all ends,” Exhibitor Relations analyst Jeff Bock said. “How could anyone try to make a prediction when the situation changes almost on an hourly basis?”
The American movie theater industry tried longer than other countries to maintain a “business as usual” mantra. As recently as last Wednesday, theater owners and regional trade organizations were assuring the public that theaters would remain open. But as millions have been encouraged to stay home and local officials in major cities have begun forcing closures, their hand has been forced.
On Sunday night, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti ordered that all bars, nightclubs, and yes, movie theaters be closed for at least the remainder of March while restaurants will only be open for delivery and takeout.
Then, after the Trump Administration recommended at a White House press conference on Monday that the public avoid gatherings of more than 10 people, Cineworld announced that all 543 Regal Cinemas locations in the U.S. would close indefinitely, joining countries across Europe and major Asian markets like China, where over 70,000 cinemas have remained dark since late January.
For the theaters that haven’t received orders to close, seating capacity has been severely curtailed. After first reducing screening capacity by 50%, AMC Theaters announced early Monday that it would cap the number of tickets sold for each screening at 50, in keeping with the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control to prevent community spread of the virus. But now that Regal has made the first big move, other nationwide chains are expected to follow suit and announce they are closing soon.
The CDC also recommends that this 50-person limit be enforced for at least the next eight weeks, a time period that extends to the first two weekends of May. That would likely force Disney to postpone the release of the Marvel Studios blockbuster “Black Widow,” a film that was supposed to kick off the summer moviegoing season, with an opening weekend topping $100 million.
If health officials are correct in their prediction that social distancing will have to continue for two months or more, domestic grosses for the box office will sink below $8 billion while estimates of financial losses for the film industry will likely spiral well above $20 billion.
The Trump administration on Monday even suggested that the crisis could last into “July or August,” which would effectively shut down the entire summer blockbuster season for the first time in movie history. Dennis Carroll, former director of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Global Health Security and Development Unit, told USA Today that it is difficult to predict exactly how long the crisis will last as there is so little information known about the virus. Strong containment efforts in China and South Korea, the first countries to face outbreaks, have led to significant reductions in new cases over the past week, but those cases are still being reported.
“By May we could be returning to some state of normalcy,” he said. “But, again, what we don’t know about this virus is epic. Holding a May date as a beacon of hope may soothe some of the angst but who knows?”
And there’s a new wrinkle that even further complicates matters for theaters: day-and-date releasing. As streaming and video-on-demand have become more popular over the past decade, theater owners have resisted even the idea of theatrical releases hitting the home market before the long-sacrosanct three-month theatrical window. That standoff has prompted clashes with Netflix over Oscar-contending films like “Roma” and ‘The Irishman” that opened in select theaters but began streaming well before then.
But as the coronavirus has thrown out all industry norms, Universal on Monday decided to pull the trigger on Monday and announce that while “Trolls World Tour” will be released to theaters on April 10 — assuming theaters are still open — the animated sequel will also be available for 48-hour digital home rental on the same day for a suggested price of $20. Universal is also cutting short the exclusive theatrical window of current releases like “The Invisible Man” and “The Hunt” with plans to put them up for digital rental as early as this Friday.
“It can’t be a positive sign for any theater owner, regardless of the circumstances, that Universal decided to make this move so quickly,” Bock said. “‘Trolls World Tour’ wasn’t going to be a massive hit. The first film made less than $400 million (worldwide). But it wasn’t a small release either. It was going to be a strong draw for families. Not even Disney announced any streaming moves for ‘Mulan’ when they pulled it, so now it’s going to be interesting to see if any other studios see Universal’s move as a green light to try and go straight to home release with some of these spring blockbusters.”
While it could simply be a temporary, extraordinary measure for extraordinary times, Universal’s video-on-demand move shows how coronavirus has so severely damaged an industry long viewed as recession-proof. The resiliency of movie theaters through the decades has been a point of pride for owners and mentioned in speeches by leaders like Motion Picture Association CEO/Chairman Charles Rivkin, who boasted of it in his keynote speech last year at CinemaCon — the annual industry convention whose 2020 edition was canceled just last week.
“Since that first nickelodeon theater opened in Pittsburgh 114 years ago, we’ve been hearing about our demise for more than a century,” Rivkin said. “Through two world wars, the Depression, and calls for censorship and through new technologies — each one of them guaranteeing the end.”
While the immediate outlook looks bleak, movie theaters as a whole should survive this. Analysts expect a quick rebound to normal business and possibly even a boost for theaters in some regions as many Americans will be looking to finally get out of the house after weeks or months in isolation. But what the landscape of the industry will look like on the other side of this crisis is unclear.
“My best guess is that this could permanently shrink the movie theater market in terms of locations that are open,” Bock said. “It’s no secret that the theatrical industry was already on thin ice, and this is the worst possible time for any of this to happen. They will have a hard time in the short term for them to convince people to come out the longer this goes. Theaters that were already having a hard time financially might not get back up from this.”
“Larger chains like AMC and Regal might survive, but it may not make business sense for some theaters that go bankrupt because of this to be replaced. The days of having two different cineplexes across the street from each other or a few blocks apart may be over.”
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 3/16/20
Just as things in Europe were getting really bad, they’ve gotten a lot worse. Cinema shutdowns across Europe on Friday, in addition to travel bans and multiple film and TV shoot postponements, have left Europe’s film industry facing a perfect storm — and sent shockwaves across the whole of its movie industry. They also saw […]
variety.com | 3/13/20
Kino Lorber acquired the U.S. and anglophone Canadian distribution rights to “Epicentro,” Hubert Sauper’s documentary about post-colonial Cuba that won the World Documentary Grand Jury Prize, the distributor announced Monday.
In “Epicentro,” Sauper explores a century of interventionism and myth-making together with the extraordinary people of Havana — particularly its children, whom he calls “young prophets” — to interrogate time, imperialism and cinema itself.
The film is a metaphorical portrait of post-colonial, “utopian” Cuba, where the 1898 explosion of the USS Maine still resonates. This Big Bang ended Spanish colonial dominance in the Americas and ushered in the era of the American Empire. At the same time and place, a powerful tool of conquest was born: cinema as propaganda.
Kino Lorber will give the documentary a theatrical rollout beginning this fall, followed by a DVD release as well as a streaming release on KinoNow.com.
Sauper previously directed the 2006 Oscar-nominated “Darwin’s Nightmare” and “We Come As Friends.” “Epicentro” was produced by Daniel and Martin Marquet, Paolo Calamita and Gabriele Kranzelbinder, and the executive producers are Dan Cogan and Jenny Raskin of Impact Partners, Michael Donaldson and Vincent Maraval.
The deal for “Epicentro” was negotiated by Kino Lorber president Richard Lorber and SVP Wendy Lidell with head of international sales of Wild Bunch Eva Diederix, as well as CAA Media Finance, at the European Film Market this weekend.
“Hubert Sauper has created a work of pure cinema. As always, his warm rapport with his subjects makes for compelling personal storytelling. ‘Epicentro’ is a history lesson disguised as a crowd pleaser…with Oona Chaplin singing to boot. We look forward to invading America with Sauper’s Cuba,” Lidell said in a statement.
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 2/24/20
With production in China suffering a coronavirus-imposed slowdown, “The Italian Recipe” is one co-production between Europe and China that is poised to potentially capitalize on the resulting dearth of Chinese content. It is positioned to advance European cinema’s efforts to make inroads in China. “The Italian Recipe,” in which a famous Chinese pop singer travels […]
variety.com | 2/23/20
“Nine Days,” starring Winston Duke, Zazie Beetz and Bill Skarsgard, has been acquired by Sony Pictures Classics following its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival last month, the distributor announced Friday.
Directed by Edson Oda, “Nine Days” takes place in a house, distant from the reality we know, and centers on a reclusive man named Will (Duke) who interviews prospective candidates Emma (Beetz), Kane (Skarsgård), Kyo (Benedict Wong), and Mike (David Rysdahl), who are each personifications of human souls, for the privilege that he once had: to be born in the real world. The others however, will cease to exist.
Oda also wrote the screenplay. Arianna Ortiz also co-stars.
SPC took North American rights, along with Latin America, Eastern Europe, Middle East, India, Australia, New Zealand, Scandinavia, South Africa, Benelux, and Thailand and on all airlines worldwide.
The film is a co-production between Juniper Productions, Mandalay Pictures, Nowhere, MACRO Media, and The Space Program, in association with Mansa Productions, Oak Street Pictures, 30WEST, Baked Studios and Datari Turner Productions. The film premiered last month at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award in the U.S. Dramatic Competition.
The project is produced by Jason Michael Berman of Mandalay Pictures, Mette-Marie Kongsved and Laura Tunstall of Nowhere, Matthew Lindner of Juniper Productions and Datari Turner. Executive producers are Charles D. King, Kim Roth, Gus Deardoff, Kellon Akeem, Yandy Smith, Renée Frigo, Beth Hubbard, Trevor Groth, Winston Duke, Caroline Connor, Will Raynor, Mark C. Stevens, Mark G. Mathis, Kwesi Collisson, Larry Weinberg, George A. Loucas, Michelle Craig, and Piero Frescobaldi.
“Nine Days is one of those rare movies that will have a long life and stand the test of time,” Sony Pictures Classics said in a statement. “It’s about alternate realities–Black Mirror on the big screen, with touches of Wings of Desire and The Matrix. It offers surprises galore and marks the birth of a major filmmaker. We are excited to be introducing ‘Nine Days’ to audiences around the world.”
“I grew up watching and admiring countless Sony Pictures Classics’ movies,” Oda said in a statement. “So many of their films–and the filmmakers they supported–ignited my passion for cinema and also propelled me to become a filmmaker. I’m so happy, humbled and honored to be working with them and can’t wait to share ‘Nine Days’ with the world.”
“It’s a dream come true to have made a film that Tom, Michael and Dylan love and want to give a theatrical release. Their sincere passion for ‘Nine Days’ has been infectious and, in handing over our film, we can think of no better partners than Sony Pictures Classics,” the producers Berman, Kongsved, Lindner, Tunstall, and Turner said in a statement.
The deal was negotiated by Larry Weinberg of Mandalay Pictures, and 30WEST and CAA Media Finance who are co-repping North American rights on behalf of the filmmakers.
Sony Pictures Classics ultimately had a busy Sundance, as the distributor is releasing “Charm City Kings” this spring and also acquired “The Father” starring Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman, the international documentary “The Truffle Hunters” and the drama “I Carry You With Me.”
THR first reported the news.
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 2/21/20
"But is to be killed... an absolute evil?" Shellac has debuted the first official promo trailer for a loquacious historical drama titled Malmkrog, premiering in the "Encounters" section at the Berlin Film Festival this month. Malmkrog, which translates to Manor House, is the latest film from acclaimed Romanian filmmaker Cristi Puiu (The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, Sieranevada) and runs a full 3 hours, 20 minutes (no surprise from an Eastern European filmmaker). The film is made up almost entirely of conversations between guests at a house. A landowner, a politician, a countess, a General and his wife, all gather in a spacious manor and discuss death, war, progress and morality. As the time passes by, the discussion becomes more serious and heated. Starring Frédéric Schulz-Richard, Agathe Bosch, Diana Sakalauskaite?, Marina Palii, Ugo Broussot, and István Téglás. If you're into this kind of intellectual cinema, then you don't want to miss this. But I fully understand if you're not that interested ...
www.firstshowing.net | 2/17/20
The last few weeks have shown that n avigating Latino identity is a minefield that can set off an explosion at any moment in American culture. Such as: Is Antonio Banderas Latino or not?
This and other hot-button debates — including the unalloyed joy at Shakira and JLo performing at the Super Bowl — expose the complexity of what it means to be Latinx. These heated discussions drive home why Hollywood desperately needs gatekeepers who understand what these cultural firestorms are really about.
That’s because the unspoken rules regarding Latino identity shift depending on the context. (We can’t even agree on what to call ourselves, but that’s a topic for another time.)
Let me break down the firestorms of the past month as a way to unpack the lessons embedded within.
1. Antonio Banderas: Colonist or Hollywood trailblazer for Latinos?
Exactly on queue, on the morning Oscar nominations were announced last month, outrage among Latinxers erupted on social media. Aside from widespread frustration with JLo’s nomination snub, despite her head-turning role in “Hustlers,” debate raged over Banderas’ nomination for his leading role in Pedro Almodóvar’s “Pain and Glory.”
The rub? For some, Banderas, who was born in Spain, does not represent diversity in Hollywood. The outrage at the suggestion that his nomination was a small win for all Latinos was so strong, one would think Banderas makes it a habit of waking up in the morning and dressing in Spanish conquistador armor before heading to Hollywood meetings. Others within the Latinx community dismissed the debate as divisive — a win for someone with Spanish-speaking roots should be a win for all.
Perhaps a more constructive conversation would be examining how Hollywood’s executive elite perceives Banderas. Have studio heads historically seen him as one of their own, a slam dunk for quintessential Hollywood roles? Or has Banderas, in his 30+ years in Hollywood, too been perceived as an “other” in those closed-door, career-defining conversations by gatekeepers?
The response to Banderas’ nomination among the Latinx community should have come as no surprise: The entertainment industry would do well in trying to understand the nuances of representation.
Mexican director Alfonso Cuarónlast year captured the ongoing struggle about the lack of representation of U.S. born Latinos in an interview with media company Remezcla.
“There is so much talk about diversity, and I mean some progress has been made, but definitely the Hispanic Americans — and specifically Chicanos — are really, really badly represented still,” Cuarón said after winning an Oscar for the feature film “Roma.” “It’s amazing, you know? It’s a huge percentage of the population.”
Why Hollywood darling “American Dirt” turned to ash
Before copies even hit the bookshelves, the Mexican migrant novel by Jeanine Cummins unleashed the wrath of many Mexican Americans and other Latinos for what has been described as the book’s unsophisticated narrative — a tale laced with stereotypes, clichés and a hollow understanding of the journey to cross the border.
Imperative Entertainment, the production company behind Clint Eastwood’s “The Mule,” acquired the rights to the novel after a publishing bidding war resulted in a seven-figure sum for Cummins. In the author’s note, Cummins now famously says she wished “someone slightly browner than me” had written the novel, before conceding she had the “capacity” to be some sort of a cultural bridge, presumably because her husband was an undocumented immigrant (from Ireland, it was later known) and her grandmother is Puerto Rican.
Barnes & Noble
Did Hollywood jump before doing its due diligence? How we tell the important stories of our time is just as important as deciding what stories to tell.
The “American Dirt” controversy reminds me of a time early in my career when I was tapped by newsroom editors as a lead writer to help chronicle California’s changing demographics. I was being dispatched to the border to tell the story of the explosive population growth among Latinos, which for the first time was more a result of births than of immigration.
Barely out of college from my hometown of Miami — where Latinos dominate every layer of business, politics and culture — I felt the assignment was all wrong. So I mustered up the courage to ask for a meeting with editors to discuss the direction of the story.
Journalists, as with entertainment execs, are fans of storytelling extremes — when, in fact, most of our daily lives are lived within the gritty, ambiguous in-between. My twenty-something self sat in a chair inside a small office, flanked by three veteran journalists, all white men. I proceeded to explain what I saw as flaws of the story idea.
Latinos, it seemed from our conversation, were something to observe through a fishbowl. “Why do Latinos have so many babies? Let’s go see them in the wild,” it felt as though they were asking.
When I pushed back, one of the journalists who was standing inside of the cramped office asked if I felt as though I was “too close to the story” and couldn’t be impartial.
Would it be better, he asked, “if a Bavarian wrote it?” He was the said Bavarian.
I’m not exactly sure how I managed to pick up my metaphorical mouth from the floor and continue my pitch, but it remains a moment of pride that I walked out of that office with a completely different assignment of my own choosing. I would spend several months reporting and writing — alone, without the Bavarian.
It helped that I came to the meeting prepared, having spent hours analyzing census and private polling data. I found that if you look deeper at the trends over time, Latinos across generations very much begin to resemble white America when it comes to birth rates.
So I set out and found the perfect family (who hadn’t settled on the poverty-stricken border) from which to tell a generational story that begins at the Rio Grande, migrates to California’s crop-picking fields and finishes (or begins again) on college campuses.
It’s too late to change the immigrant tale at the center of “American Dirt,” though its publisher, Flatiron Books, backpedaled on its marketing push and book tour after the fervent backlash:
“We should never have claimed that it was a novel that defined the immigrant experience; we should not have said that Jeanine’s husband was an undocumented immigrant while not specifying that he was from Ireland…” the statement read. “We can now see how insensitive those and other decisions were, and we regret them.”
Does it come as a surprise that Latinos made up just 3 percent of the publishing workforce in 2018, according to a 2019 Publisher’s Weekly study?
No, not really.
3. How Shakira and JLo’s performance united Latinos
“I’ve often wondered why Latinos, particularly considering our share of the population, have struggled to make the same headway in Hollywood as African Americans and Asian Americans.
Then I think about some of the complicated conversations with my friends. For context: I’m the daughter of Cuban immigrants; my husband is second-generation California Mexican American; our friends are a mix of children and grandchildren of Mexican, Peruvian, Argentinian and European immigrants; and several also proudly represent Boyle Heights and East L.A.
On a recent night, we went from debating the Banderas nomination to discussing the Latino director of some obscure film. The assumption was that he was of Mexican heritage. Then we Googled his name.
“Oh, he’s Puerto Rican,” my friend, a self-described Chicana, said.
“You sound disappointed,” I responded, as her shoulders slightly slumped.
“I thought he was Mexican.”
In that disappointment lies the crux of why what Shakira and JLo did Sunday night felt so significant. For 12 minutes, these power women brought pan-ethnic Latinos together, forcing us to forget our differences and instead focus on our shared culture, experience and love of Spanglish.
We were one. And when JLo draped herself in a feathered Puerto Rican flag, Latinos collectively cheered, regardless of what country our parents or grandparents immigrated from; whether or not we speak Spanish; and no matter if we identify as Latinx or not.
Because in the context of making entertainment history on the most significant of stages, Latino identity transcended divisions.
So, yes, Latinos can gripe about whether a Banderas Oscar nomination counts toward Latino representation — and still see ourselves in “Pain and Glory.” We can tear apart the immigrant story central to “American Dirt” — and still demand more stories about the struggles south of the border. We can wear our different nationalities as badges of honor — and still come together as one when our culture is center stage.
Rather than see us as too difficult to understand, Hollywood should value us for being complicated and dynamic and flawed — a true American story.
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 2/7/20
‘Mucho Mucho Amor’ Film Review: Rapturous Documentary Pays Tribute to Scintillating Oracle Walter Mercado
A radiant documentary with the power to send Latinos into a frenzy of uplifting nostalgia, Argentine-American filmmaker Cristina Costantini and Kareem Tabsch’s “Mucho Mucho Amor” thoroughly and lovingly eulogizes revered Puerto Rican astrologer Walter Mercado, in a film that mixes celebrity cameos and heart-to-heart chats with the late icon himself.
One of the few true pan-Latino figures, ageless Mercado reached millions of households across the United States, as well as throughout Latin America (including Portuguese-speaking Brazil), and even Europe for decades on TV, radio, and print media.
Entire families hung on his every word and shushed one another to hear what he had to say about their respective futures. For those of us who interacted with his image every day, during his long stint on Univision’s “Primer Impacto” or his solo show, that’s a shared memory that evokes the comfort of familiarity. If Walter Mercado was on, you’d listen. Leaning repeatedly on that resonantly accurate piece of anecdotal information from varied famous sources helps the co-directors further stress how ubiquitous his presence was.
Horoscopes delivered with an authoritative and theatrical flair were just part of his larger-than-life magnetism. Outfits gleaming with flamboyant fabulousness and the unwavering positivity of his message of love and peace, reflected in his signature farewell that gives the film its title, completed a mesmerizing persona in an astral league all of his own.
Delightful animated sequences of tarot cards segment the doc as through it were a reading of Mercado’s own destiny in retrospect, starting with the divine incident that in 1930s Ponce, Puerto Rico, that revealed the young boy’s uniqueness. Interviewed at home, an elderly Mercado, still exuding glamour despite the toll time has taken on his mortal body, enthusiastically reminisces on his past glory and promises there’s more to come. His certainty is convincing.
“To be different is a gift, to be ordinary is common,” Mercado recalled his mother instilling in him. A natural-born performer, he was a dancer, a stage actor, and then a telenovela cast member before his gift as an emissary of the stars sent him on the path to small-screen immortality.
Necessary biographical context aside, Costantini (“Science Fair”) and Tabsch (“The Last Resort”) deftly inquire about less pleasant subjects, such as psychic scams in his name or the legal battle with former associate Guillermo Bakula, who declares himself remorseless, over the fortuneteller’s name and likeness, which he crossed over into the English-speaking market. On brand, Mercado speaks no ill of anyone, though those in his inner circle — like confidant Willy Acosta, his right-hand and “also the left one” as he would say — do verbalize their indignation.
Valiantly, Mercado also spent a lifetime challenging established parameters on gender and sexuality, not outspokenly but via the feminine aura of his polished presentation. “Embraced and othered” by a homophobic and religious culture, he was a queer pioneer, and a referent for non-binary identity; even if he never officially came out, his existence validated that of many others.
When Mercado speaks to the camera, he is fearless, and he is able to sincerely spread goodwill, because he’s loved himself enough to mitigate the hurtful judgments from the outside. He preached his non-denominational beliefs by example.
A lucid editing job, courtesy of Tom Maroney and Carlos David Rivera, seamlessly strings together the large array of topics that comprise the personal history and public legacy of Mercado, including how Latino millennials have reclaimed him as a cultural emblem. They do so both with archival footage and thoughtful and quotidian shots of the aging hero that let the movie breathe and prevent it from ever resembling a checklist.
From Eugenio Derbez, a Virgo, whose impression of Mercado — named Julio Esteban — became one of the Mexican comedian’s most popular characters, to acclaimed journalist Jorge Ramos, a skeptical Pisces, several famed personalities proclaim their appreciation. However, it’s Mercado’s encounter with Lin-Manuel Miranda, a Capricorn, that instantly melts hearts. Its beauty resides in that this wasn’t a meeting between two Boricua titans, but an overwhelmed admirer in the presence of a legend he associates with grandma’s affection more so than with spiritual advice.
Believing in Mercado, as Costantini and Tabsch make clear, had little to do with relying in his practice as a feasible predictor for what’s to come, and more with having a champion that could persuade you to have hope for a new day. Even if the predictions didn’t come true, what wasn’t false was the encouragement that came with it. So to no one’s surprise, when the HistoryMiami Museum arranges an exhibit celebrating 50 years since Mercado’s first broadcast in August 1969, the halls were flooded with well-wishers who came to see him honored. Each bedazzled cape on display was, obviously, adorned not with mere sequins but his rarified magic.
Sure to break the Latino internet the second it starts streaming on Netflix in Summer 2020, as people gather one more time around a screen to get a dose or Walter Mercado’s zingers and eternal mysticism, “Mucho Mucho Amor” is a tribute as inspired and jubilant as its majestic subject, a true original, who “used to be a star and now is a constellation.”
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 1/24/20
A new cinema and a European-style food hall are suggested to reverse the decline of the high street.
www.bbc.co.uk | 1/24/20
Japanese art house Studio Ghibli has found a home on Netflix.
Starting Feb. 1, 21 films from the Academy Award-winning Studio Ghibli will be available on Netflix through distribution partner Wild Bunch International, the streaming platform announced Sunday.
The deal excludes the U.S., Canada and Japan. HBO Max acquired the U.S. rights to the animated library last year, with the films debuting on the platform in the spring of this year.
Studio Ghibli’s catalogue, which will include Academy Award-winner “Spirited Away,” “Princess Mononoke,” “Arrietty,” “My Neighbor Totoro” and “The Tale of Princess Kaguya,” will be subtitled in 28 languages and dubbed in up to 20 languages.
“In this day and age, there are various great ways a film can reach audiences,” producer Toshio Suzuki at Studio Ghibli said in a statement. “We’ve listened to our fans and have made the definitive decision to stream our film catalogue. We hope people around the world will discover the world of Studio Ghibli through this experience.”
Director of Original Animation at Netflix Aram Yacoubian added: “This is a dream come true for Netflix and millions of our members. Studio Ghibli’s animated films are legendary and have enthralled fans around the world for over 35 years. We’re excited to make them available in more languages across Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia – so that more people can enjoy this whimsical and wonderful world of animation.”
Studio Ghibli is one of the most acclaimed animation studios in the world, having brought content to the forefront for the last 30 years. “Spirited Away” won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2002, while “Howl’s Moving Castle,” “The Wind Rises,” “The Tale of The Princess Kaguya” and “When Marnie Was There” were all nominated for an Oscar. Director and co-founder Hayao Miyazaki was given an Honorary Award at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Governors Awards in 2014, and he will also receive a tribute with a special exhibit of his artwork when the Academy Museum opens in 2020.
See the release schedule for Studio Ghibli films on Netflix below.
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 1/20/20
Don Savant, a former executive at IMAX Corporation, will be named CEO of CJ 4DPlex Americas, the US subsidiary of the Korean conglomerate responsible for the 4DX movie theater technology, the company announced Monday.
Savant will be responsible for growing both the 4DX and ScreenX formats in the Americas while also collaborating with movie studios to adapt films to the premium formats.
In 2019, CJ expanded its two formats to over 1000 locations nationwide. In that time, the 4DX format also saw a 41% increase at the box office compared to 2018. Further, the ScreenX technology, which is a 270-degree viewing experience, nearly tripled its revenue last year.
“I am incredibly excited to join CJ 4DPLEX, and the CJ Group. I had worked with CJ CGV Cinemas for 18 years at IMAX. Their commitment to the development of the overall cinema experience and the film business worldwide created a deep and lasting impression with me and I am thrilled to be part of an organization committed to innovation and excellence,” Savant said in a statement.
“Don has a proven track record of growing premium theater concepts globally and will help continue our record-breaking growth for both 4DX and ScreenX. His has an excellent reputation among exhibitors and the overall entertainment industry, and we are excited to have him oversee our presence in the Americas and take it to the next level,” Jong Ryul Kim, CEO of CJ 4DPlex, said in a statement.
Savant previously spent 19 years at IMAX Corporation and was most recently president of global sales between 2016 and 2018, at which time he helped expand the company’s footprint with the development of 730 new theater locations in North America, Europe, India, China and Asia. He also helped establish China as the company’s largest market, leading to the IPO of IMAX China with a valuation of over $1.45 billion.
Prior to IMAX, Savant was the senior vice president of sales and marketing at Iwerks Entertainment in Burbank, California, where he launched the company’s first 4D theaters.
Savant is a board member APPlife Digital Solutions Inc., a business incubator and portfolio manager that invests in and creates e-commerce and cloud-based solutions. He is also an active member of his community, having set up the Savant Fellowship with his wife Elizabeth at the UCLA Center for Autism Research & Treatment.
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 1/6/20
A region bustling with the winds of change throughout the 2010s — both progressive and retrograde — Latin America enjoyed a banner decade that witnessed the rise of films grappling with economic inequality, indigenous discrimination, and LGBTQ+ issues.
Mexico’s production continued to skyrocket (from Amat Escalante to Eugenio Derbez), Chile emerged as a powerhouse in both the arthouse and mainstream markets (with the Larraín brothers’ Fabula production company and the unofficial movement known as Chilewood), and countries like Panama (“Invasion”), the Dominican Republic (“Woodpeckers”), and Paraguay (“The Heiresses”) made strides towards a more consistent output of noteworthy offers. Although far from a definitive list, these 11 features give the world the opportunity to take a peek at the varied perspectives of Latin American creators, veterans and up-and-comers:
Vigorous and sensual, Sonia Braga commands director Kleber Mendonça Filho’s vital character study in her career-best work playing Doña Clara. The timeless Brazilian star astounds as a woman resolute on safeguarding her apartment from rapacious developers. Brilliantly, Mendonça Filho anchors her story to their country’s greater sociopolitical context, while providing a resounding reminder of Braga’s long underused excellence. At its Cannes premiere, cast and crew denounced Brazil’s political situation, a warning of what was to come in the Bolsonaro era, where the director has become a major target.
“Boy and the World” (2013)
Handcrafted whimsy with social commentary weaved in make Alê Abreu’s debut an animated triumph. Without relying on a single line of intelligible dialogue, the colorful and enchantingly designed film depicts a boy’s dazzling quest to find his father amid a realm under a tyrannical rule. Horrifying deforestation and the loss of dreams to an exploitative economic system are also addressed in this incredibly poignant and musical adventure. It’s also the first and so far the only Latin American animated feature to be nominated for an Oscar.
“Devil’s Freedom” (2017) and “Tempestad” (2016)
Documentarians Everardo González and Tatiana Huezo addressed, respectively, the human cost of the ongoing Mexican Drug War — and such peripheral evils as rampant corruption — with uniquely intimate portraits of a country in turmoil based on first-hand accounts. Searing interviews with victims and perpetrators all wearing identical face-tight masks blur the lines between both sides in González’s “Devil’s Freedom.” Huezo’s “Tempestad,” meanwhile, gives voice to two women whose lives were upended by cartel-related violence. Similarly haunting, these non-fiction gems are essential viewing to understand Mexico today.
“Embrace of the Serpent” (2015)
Wrapped in mysticism, Ciro Guerra’s cinematic knockout on the harrowing legacy of European colonialism earned Colombia its first nomination for the since-renamed Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award. Told in two different time periods from the point of view of Karamakate (Nilbio Torres/Antonio Bolivar), a wise Amazonian indigenous man, this transcendental accomplishment chronicles his fateful encounters with two separate white visitors and the ancestral beliefs that reign over the land. David Gallego’s black-and-white cinematography heightens the film’s dreamlike quality.
“A Fantastic Woman” (2017)
In addition to winning Chile’s first Oscar for what’s known today as the Best International Feature Film category, Sebastián Lelio’s genre-defying success introduced transgender actress Daniela Vega to the world. On screen she soars as Marina, a transgender woman mourning her boyfriend in a society that refuses to acknowledge their love as valid, but it’s the visibility the role brought to gender-identity issues in the South American country that turned the film to a watershed event. Further attesting to its cultural significance, Vega also became the first trans performer to present at the Oscars.
“From Afar” (2015)
Seasoned actor Alfredo Castro and newcomer Luis Silva star in this darkly tantalizing Venezuelan drama from Lorenzo Vigas. Set against the backdrop of chaotic Caracas, the two-hander studies the power dynamic between a middle-aged gay man and a young criminal hired to fulfill his desires and carry out a deadly mission. Audacious writing and starling turns from both actors wowed the jury at the Venice International Film Festival, where it was awarded the Golden Lion, becoming the country’s highest profile production ever.
Guatemalan auteur Jayro Bustamante has single-handedly revitalized his homeland’s national cinema with three features that scrutinize its past and present particularly in relation to the indigenous population and LGBTQ+ people. His visually stunning debut unfolds within the Maya Kaqchikel community and centers on a teenage girl (María Mercede Coroy) and her mother (María Telón) navigating an unplanned pregnancy in a country that has marginalized them both. Testament to the director’s commitment to create an inclusive artistic scene, both Telón and Coroy have appeared in Bustamante’s subsequent works.
Easily the most prolific Latin American director of the decade — with six features under his belt in the 2010s alone — Pablo Larraín’s career reached a new level of international exposure with this Oscar-nominated historical dramedy. Marking his first collaboration with Mexican actor Gael García Bernal, the film revolves around an advertising expert tasked with mounting a campaign that will inspire hope among Chileans to finally vote ruthless dictator Pinochet out of office. Formally inventive and sharply humorous, “No” remains among Larraín’s best in an enviable filmography.
Ten Academy Award nominations (including one for Best Picture) and countless other accolades established Alfonso Cuarón’s memory masterpiece about 1970s Mexico City as the most celebrated Mexican film in history. And yet, beyond all the industry recognition, its most invaluable legacy is having confronted the general public back home with the deep-seated racism that has perpetually plagued the collective consciousness. First-time actress Yalitza Aparicio, playing an indigenous housekeeper, became a beacon of diverse representation, while Netflix’s massive marketing strategy proved to be a near limitless force.
Ending a nine-year hiatus, Argentine master Lucrecia Martel returned with her most ambitious narrative to date, an 18th century epic adapted from Antonio di Benedetto’s novel published in the 1950s. With Mexican actor Daniel Giménez Cacho as its eponymous protagonist, a frustrated Spanish official, Martel’s sardonic take on the greedy stubbornness of colonial powers called to mind why she’s considered a singularly iconoclastic voice in modern cinema. Sultry, sun-drenched frames and a cleverly disorienting soundscape amount to an experience that’s as cerebral as it is sensory.
www.thewrap.com | 12/28/19
Claudine Auger, a French actress best known for her work as the Bond girl Domino in the 1965 James Bond movie “Thunderball” opposite Sean Connery, has died. She was 78.
The official James Bond Twitter account shared the news of her passing Friday.
“It’s with great sadness we have learnt that Claudine Auger, who played Domino Derval in ‘Thunderball” (1965), has passed away at the age of 78,” @007 said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with her family and friends.”
Auger, born Claudine Oger, was a French star who first won the Miss France pageant in 1958 and was the runner up for Miss World that same year. She studied dramatic acting at the Conservatory in Paris and made her uncredited film debut in 1958 in a film called “Christine.” She was then discovered by the French auteur Jean Cocteau and appeared in his film “Testament of Orpheus” in 1960. She would later star in films such as “The Iron Mask” and “In the French Style.”
Though the part of Domino was originally written as an Italian woman, Auger met “Thunderball” producer Kevin McClory while on vacation in Nassau, and McClory rewrote the part to better fit Auger’s strengths.
Since her Bond days, Auger became a bigger star in European cinema, including in films and shows such as “Fantastica” and “The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.”
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 12/20/19
NBCUniversal will be heading into the streaming era with a different man at the helm. On Thursday, word broke out that NBCU’s longtime CEO Steve Burke would be stepping down next summer, ending a nearly 10-year tenure running the media conglomerate.
And according to experts and analysts who spoke with TheWrap, Burke leaves behind a long shadow, but one that Jeff Shell, who is expected to succeed Burke, seems capable of filling. Tom Nunan, founder and partner of Bull’s Eye Entertainment and a lecturer at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television, said Burke has been “an iconic figure in broadcasting for his entire career.”
“There are few people with his track record of success,” Nunan said. “He’s definitely in that elite circle that [Disney Chairman Bob] Iger is a part of and a few others.
“Frankly, I would be surprised if this is the end of his media career, because he’s still relatively young,” Nunan said, “and he comes from classic TV stock being the son of Dan Burke.” Nunan touted Burke’s “humility” as “one of his great assets.” He called Burke “a smooth operator” and “a steady hand” who “doesn’t overreact to things.”
“He’s not an attention-grabbing star executive the way that [Les] Moonves insisted on being,” Nunan said.
“[Burke] is kind of a classic, old-school executive in that regard,” Nunan said. “When I say old-school executive, I mean more from the corporate mold as opposed to the entertainment mold, which is more the impresario.”
Bob Thompson, Trustee Professor of Television and Popular Culture at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, sees Burke’s legacy in the Comcast/NBCUniversal merger and the much more recent Sky deal. Thompson actually believes Burke’s greatest contribution may be an unsung one: jacking up the price of Disney’s 21st Century Fox takeover.
Thompson also offered another, less-flattering way Burke may be remembered by the general public.
“If anybody knows Steve Burke as a household name, it’s got nothing to do with all of that stuff he did to usher NBCUniversal into the Comcast era, which was a significant job, which I think he did pretty adeptly,” Thompson said. “What most lay people would remember would be his name associated with the likes of… Matt Lauer and reports by Ronan Farrow.”
Perhaps the stress of such an association and the calls for heads to roll at the top made this tough decision a little easier for Burke, Thompson wondered.
Burke’s upcoming departure is timed for next August, which would put it right after the 2020 Summer Olympics from Tokyo, which will air in the U.S. across NBCUniversal. It will also come just a few months after the launch of Peacock, NBCU’s streaming play. For one, Nunan is “surprised” by the Burke news — especially considering how close it would happen after Peacock’s debut.
“Peacock is going to become their most important venture in the next two to three years,” Nunan said. “It seems strange to me that [Burke] would walk away from building that at this time, but maybe his interests lie elsewhere.”
Whether or not Burke is still around to see Peacock take flight, Thompson’s not sure what took them so long.
“If I’m looking in the grand scheme in the history of the media, they strike me as coming kind of late to that fair,” he said. “It seems like an awful lot of people have crossed the finish line, and everybody’s off watching that stuff and nobody’s even watching the race anymore as Peacock comes waddling through.”
Thompson does not share Nunan’s surprise on Burke’s pending departure.
“It seems to be that things have been put in place, ducks have been placed in a row,” Thompson said of NBCU’s recent restructuring moves. “I don’t think it’s sending any industry people in the know into some kind or surprise tailspin or anything.”
Burke has been the only CEO NBCUniversal has known in its decade-long tenure under Comcast, which acquired NBCU from GE at the end of the last decade (though that deal did not close until 2011). While Burke has overseen NBCU during a time period of massive change for the entertainment industry — one that threatens the traditional cable model that has been the lifeblood of Comcast — he has been more than a net positive for Comcast.
NBCU revenue has grown from just above $21 billion in 2011, when he was installed as CEO, to nearly $36 billion in 2018; Comcast will report full-year earnings for 2019 next month. Under Burke, NBCUniversal bought DreamWorks Animation in 2016 for $3.8 billion. Last year, Comcast bought European pay-TV company Sky in a bidding war with 21st Century Fox.
So no pressure, Jeff. But both men believe NBCUniversal will be in fine hands with Shell. Thompson simply pointed to Shell’s successes running his current entertainment assignments.
Shell has served as chairman of the Universal film group since 2013. During his tenure leading the studio, Universal experienced four years of record profit, as well as two of the most profitable years in the studio’s 107-year history thanks, in part, to highly profitable franchises such as “Fast & Furious,” “Jurassic World” and Illumination’s “Despicable Me.” Earlier this year, Shell was was tapped to be chairman of NBCUniversal film and entertainment group, expanding his role beyond the film business to include oversight of NBC Entertainment, Telemundo and NBCU’s international operations.
That new appointment alone appeared to groom Shell for Burke’s job.
Shell is “a lot like Steve,” Nunan said. “He has a low-key style, he’s willing to stay behind the scenes, he likes to push the creative people out in front and give them credit where it’s due and give them support when they need it. That’s the hallmark that’s been handed down from Brian [Roberts, Comcast chairman and CEO] and Steve to the rest of the staff is, ‘You’re allowed to fail. You’re allowed to take big swings and if it doesn’t work, it won’t be off with your head.'”
“I suspect Jeff is just going to try to walk in Steve’s footsteps as successfully as he can,” Nunan said.
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 12/14/19
Eleven months after receiving 10 Academy Award nominations, Yorgos Lanthimos’ black comedy “The Favourite” dominated the European Film Awards on Saturday night in Berlin, winning four awards including the top honor, European Film.
Although the film was released in the U.S. in 2018, it was eligible for the EFA because it was released in January 2019 in the U.K.
Lanthimos also won the best director award, and his film about intrigue in the court of Queen Anne was named the year’s best European comedy. Olivia Colman was named best actress for the role that won her an Oscar in February.
Best-actor honors went to Antonio Banderas for Pedro Almodovar’s “Pain and Glory.”
Ladj Ly’s “Les Miserables” won the European Discovery award, “For Sama” was named the best European documentary and “Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles,” an animated Spanish film about director Luis Buñuel shooting his 1933 film “Land Without Bread,” won the award for animated feature.
Celine Sciamma won the screenwriting award for “Portrait of a Lady on Fire.”
Honorary awards went to actress Juliette Binoche and director Werner Herzog.
Going into the ceremony, Roman Polanski’s “An Officer and a Spy” was tied for the lead in nominations, four, with “Pain and Glory,” “The Favourite” and Marco Bellocchio’s “The Traitor.” The Polanski film did not win in any category.
Also at the ceremony, which was filled with playfully surreal skits, the European Film Academy announced that it was joining with the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam and the International Film Festival Rotterdam to create the International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk, an organization “aimed at supporting filmmakers facing political persecution for their work.”
Over the last 10 years, seven European Film Award winners have gone on to receive Oscar nominations for Best Foreign Language Film, and three of those – “Amour” in 2012, “The Great Beauty” in 2013 and “Ida” in 2014 – have won the Oscar. “Amour” is one of three EFA winners to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, along with “The Full Monty” in 1997 and “Life Is Beautiful” in 1998, but none have won in that category.
European Film: “The Favourite”
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 12/7/19
French premium format movie company ICE Theaters is expanding into the U.S. with its first location at Regal/AEG’s L.A. Live cinema, which will open December 12 with the release of Sony’s “Jumanji: The Next Level.”
Launching in Europe in 2016, the ICE format — short for Immersive Cinema Experience — boasts non-reflective LED panels that match the color palette of the feature film and fill the audience’s peripheral vision. Luxury recliners surround sound technology and RGB laser projection are also included in the format.
CGR Cinemas, the French exhibitor that first introduced the ICE format, said that the 35 locations in France that have an ICE theater, box office revenue for films supported by the format doubled those of standard screens. The L.A. Live location is the first ICE theater opened outside of France, with locations planned for theaters in Saudi Arabia and Northern Africa through a deal with VOX Cinemas.
ICE Theaters is entering the American premium format market at a time when more audiences are giving premium large formats (PLF) like 4DX and ScreenX a try when going to see major blockbusters. The top PLF company, IMAX, reports that it is on pace for its highest global annual grosses ever in 2019 thanks to blockbusters like “Avengers: Endgame” and the release of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” later this month.
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 12/5/19
Issa Rae to Write, Star and Produce Feature Comedy ‘Perfect Strangers’ for Spyglass and Eagle Pictures
Spyglass Media and Eagle Pictures have teamed up to produce an English-language adaptation of Paolo Genovese’s Italian film “Perfetti Sconosciuti,” with “Insecure” star and co-creator Issa Rae attached to write, produce and star in the comedy.
The film, “Perfect Strangers,” centers around a dinner party in which a group of friends decide to play a risky game where they place their phones face-up on the table and agree to make all texts and phone calls public in an attempt to prove they have nothing to hide. The film takes a comedic approach to dealing with the friendship, love and betrayal that forces the friends to confront the fact that they may actually be “perfect strangers.”
“I’m really looking forward to bringing this funny and compelling story to a new demographic and could not be happier about partnering with the Spyglass team to make it happen,” Rae said in a statement. “I loved the original film and think the story will resonate with audiences here as well.”
The original Italian version, “Perfetti Sconosciuti,” was released in 2016. A number of local-language remakes followed the film’s initial release, including in China, Spain, Russia, France, and Korea. The Italian film won two David di Donatello Awards for best film and best screenplay as well as the best screenplay for an International Narrative Feature at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Spyglass is banking that Rae, who has become one of Hollywood’s premiere creators, will bring her signature style to the adaptation. Rae has received critical praise, including Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for her HBO series, “Insecure,” which is set to return in 2020.
“Issa is the perfect choice to adapt Paolo Genovese’s brilliant film given her bold and comedic authenticity,” Spyglass’s vice president of development and production Chris Stone said in a statement. “As one of the most sought-after creative talents, we are excited to see Issa’s vision come to life.”
Rae will next star in Universal’s romantic drama, “The Photograph,” which is set to hit theaters in February 2020. She’ll also star in the 2020 romantic comedy “Lovebirds” with Kumail Nanjiani.
Principal photography on “Perfect Strangers” is expected to start in the early part of next year. The film is being produced by Spyglass and Eagle Pictures, as well as 3 Marys Entertainment, alongside Rae.
Issa Rae Productions’ Montrel McKay will executive produce. Chris Stone will oversee production on behalf of Spyglass and Tarak Ben Ammar, chairman and owner of Eagle Pictures, will oversee the film on behalf of Eagle.
“I am proud to be working alongside our partners at Spyglass and the immensely talented Issa Rae on this socially resonant and provocative comedy that not only became a success in Europe, but went on to capture the attention of audiences around the globe,” Ben Ammar said in a statement.
Spyglass was launched earlier this year by former MGM CEO Gary Barber, in partnership with Lantern Entertainment co-presidents Andy Mitchell and Milos Brajovic. Lantern recently bought the assets of The Weinstein Co. out of bankruptcy, making Spyglass now the home to more than 250 film library titles, scripted and unscripted TV series, such as “Project Runway,” as well as Academy Award winners “The King’s Speech” and “The Artist,” and box office hits “Inglourious Basterds,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “The Hateful Eight” and “Django Unchained.”
Spyglass has strategic investment backing from Warner Bros, Eagle Pictures; the largest independent distributor in Italy, and Cineworld Group.
Rae is represented by UTA, 3 Arts Entertainment and attorney John Meigs.
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 12/4/19
The 2019 UN IGF is right now being held in Berlin and entering the last day. There has been a wide range of exciting discussions. It is a huge step forward that this year's IGF has been able to bring a plethora of topics together under a framework of thinking after the efforts done by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres' High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation (The Age of Digital Interdependence) and by German scholars' engagement with all the stakeholders (Towards a Global Framework for Cyber Peace and Digital Cooperation: An Agenda for the 2020s).
A central underlying topic of this year's IGF is about the conceptions about digital sovereignty. It is totally predictable that Chancellor Merkel would use Berlin Wall metaphor to enshrine the value of free speech. It is rare, however, to hear that she emphasizes digital sovereignty, which is said to be neither censorship nor protectionism, but a way through which individuals are capable of determining their own digital development.
Sovereignty in cyberspace has long been labeled by Western mainstream literature as a "monopoly" by China. But this is no longer the case, perhaps has never been. This column piece wants to share a different narrative: Washington DC is, in reality, the strongest supporter of the notion of cyber sovereignty in the military domain; China pays more attention to the content category; EU is more concerned about big tech giants.
Or, an easier way to put it might be this. All nations and every individual like nice words and they all support freedom and free flow. The important thing is how they make exceptions. China has social stability exceptions. U.S. has national security exceptions. Germany has privacy exceptions. All the three nations, however, attach great importance to political stability, who is the core for a society to function.
I shared my ideas in the IGF 2019 Digital Sovereignty & Internet Fragmentation session. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p55_LZmJ-2o&t=3795s). Below is a rewriting of what I said about how national sovereignty has made its extensions into cyberspace — with different degrees, in different categories, by different stakeholders — which shapes the complexities and contradictions in the articulation of digital sovereignty by different nations and stakeholders. There are five contexts.
Category No. 1 Military or legitimacy of cyberspace as military domain and the rules for it if it is legitimate. We see in this category the most hardcore extension of traditional national sovereignty into cyberspace by some nation-states. You will be given a Nobel Peace prize if you can find a multi-stakeholder solution to this unilateral or multilateral issue. If we can reduce the tensions in this category, all the rest of the challenges will become irrelevant and evaporate. China remains reluctant to admit that cyberspace has become a military zone but still eagerly promotes national sovereignty for defensive purpose against the possibility that the same two words — national sovereignty — might be used for offensive purposes by some other countries. That is a rather paradoxical situation.
Category No. 2 Crime or cybercrime governance. This is also a sovereignty story, but there are some transnational initiatives and mechanisms installed. EU has the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime. Russia has submitted a UN Convention on the Fight against Information Crimes. U.S. and UK have signed the first bilateral data-sharing agreement under CLOUD. China follows a practical approach and is busy taking back suspects committing telecommunication fraud from abroad. Cybercrime is now No.1 type of crime in China, which is also good news because the crimes in the streets have significantly reduced.
Category No. 3 Trade or digital economy and digital trade rules. The most recent update is Osaka Track. It is another challenging field that brings together a lot of elements that call for multi-ministry and multi-stakeholder coordination. This is where free flow is upheld and may lead to the removal of many practices of data localization. The word trust in the principle of "data free flow with trust" is problematic and subjective. A plain use of free flow is much clearer.
Category No. 4 Code or technical communities and management of core Internet resources. This is where institutional innovation really happens and should be more widely exported to inform other categories. China is happy about the current situation. Multi-stakeholder is firmly supported. The words have been spread and repeated by Chinese President for quite some years at the World Internet Conference WuZhen Summit. All the WuZhen gatherings have carried a theme of "Digital Commons." The values nurtured by the technical communities are highly appreciated and resonate with some universal values deeply rooted in Chinese culture. The Chinese philosopher Zhao Ting-yang captures this Chinese worldview in his books about global governance. He concluded his dialogue with his French counterpart Régis Debray that the Internet changed the world more than revolutionaries like Marx, Lenin, and Mao Zedong.
Category No. 5 Content or social media governance. China so far prefers a sovereignty approach in this category. But domestically, It is important to pay attention to the diversity of media ownerships in China. There are state media like People's Daily. There are commercial media such as Tick-Tok. There are grassroots media like half a billion users' Microblog or WeChat accounts. The rise of private media ownership is quite reassuring.
Therefore, there are different extensions and projections of national sovereignty in different cyber contexts. A U.S. military version of hardcore cyber sovereignty assumes certain enemies, bases itself basically purely on imaginations, and makes China and perhaps many other developing parts of the world feel extremely uneasy. However, the Chinese way of protecting cyber sovereignty in the content domain makes the U.S. cry foul over human rights principles.
German Chancellor Merkel and her more outspoken French counterpart President Macron share the same U.S. worries about Chinese domestic practices in the content domain, but are more urgently concerned about the big U.S. Internet platforms, and this is perhaps the direction of a European version of digital sovereignty is pointing to. All of these are further enhanced by the uncertainties and competition for huge opportunities brought by emerging technologies.
Solution: return to the insights and values of the Founding Fathers of the Internet and flexibly combine multistakeholderism and multilateralism in global digital policy-making.
Written by Peixi (Patrick) Xu, Professor, Communication University of China
www.circleid.com | 12/1/19
Legendary bands and Nuclear Blast label mates, Belphegor and Suffocation, are teaming up once again for the second edition of Europe Under Black Death Metal Fire, brought by The Flaming Arts Agency. This time the package is strengthened by the well-known Polish blasphemers Hate. Extremely wide European geography, from the very south to the very nor... Read More/Discuss on Metal Underground.com
www.metalunderground.com | 11/21/19
Gaming is on the verge of becoming the biggest entertainment sector in the world.
That was one of the key takeaways from IDG Consulting CEO Yoshio Osaki’s opening presentation on Tuesday at TheWrap’s GamingGrill at Herringbone in Santa Monica. Gaming, according to IDG’s research, already brings in more revenue globally than the music business, movie ticket sales and home entertainment combined. Overall, the gaming industry is on pace to bring in nearly $180 billion in revenue this year — marking a 24% jump in revenue from only two years ago.
By the end of 2020, IDG projects gaming to surpass television as the most lucrative form of entertainment, with annual revenue rising to $195 billion.
(Courtesy of IDG Consulting)
It’s probably best to think of major video game releases in the same way we think of blockbuster movies, Osaki said. And in many cases, the biggest video games trump the latest comic book epic coming out of Hollywood.
For example, “Avengers: Infinity War” brought in $640 million globally during its opening weekend last year — or about $85 million less than “Red Dead Redemption 2,” from Rockstar Games, made during its opening weekend in October 2018.
What’s behind gaming’s continued rise? There are a few dynamics at play. First off, as illustrated by “Red Dead Redemption 2,” gaming is truly international. Major releases in the U.S. drive huge sales in Europe and Asia. It applies in the opposite direction as well, as the FIFA soccer franchise from EA Sports indicates; the FIFA game sold nearly 14 million copies last year, according to IDG’s research, with 29% of those players coming from North America. Europe, where the game is especially popular, accounts for 69% of the game’s sales.
New industry entrants and new ways for gamers to play are also spurring the industry’s growth. Osaki pointed to companies like Nike, Facebook and Amazon that are traditionally not gaming-oriented but are now venturing into the industry. Amazon’s involvement in gaming has grown exponentially since buying Twitch in 2014. Twitch is now the go-to streaming service for gamers around the world, and the company recently enjoyed its peak concurrent viewership for a single event, with 1.7 million people streaming a Fortnite event.
Snapchat also launched its own in-app gaming arcade earlier this year — around the same time Apple revealed it would also be getting into gaming, too. The smartphone, just as it’s making it easier for users to watch TV shows and movies on the go, is now becoming an integral part of the gaming industry.
Another gaming trend to watch: esports. More people than ever before are watching people, well, play video games. This may seem like a niche development to those outside gaming, but the numbers are staggering. The Super Bowl pulls in about 100 million viewers at its peak, and it’s still dwarfed by major esports events like the 2019 League of Legends World Championship, which drew 200 million viewers at its peak, according to IDG.
It’s no wonder Twitch, Mixer and YouTube are duking it out — and often poaching popular streamers from their rivals — for gaming viewers.
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 11/20/19
The second week of public hearings in the Donald Trump impeachment inquiry begins Tuesday morning at 6:00 a.m. PT/9:00 a.m. ET with testimony from two people who listened in on the July 25 call between Trump and Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky: Jennifer Williams, a State Department aide to Vice President Mike Pence, and Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman.
After a short break, the proceedings will resume at 11:30 a.m. PT/2:30 p.m. ET with testimony from former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker, and former White House Russia adviser Tim Morrison, both of whom are on the list of witnesses requested to appear by Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee.
In addition to broadcasts from the major television networks, C-SPAN will once again air the full uninterrupted hearings. Watch the testimony from Williams and Vindman at the top of this page starting at 6:00 a.m. PT/9:00 a.m. ET; watch Volker and Morrison’s testimony in the video below, beginning at 11:30 a.m. PT/2:30 p.m. ET:
Then on Wednesday at 6 a.m. PT/9 a.m. PT, all eyes will be on Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union who said he personally told Zelensky’s top aide that U.S. aid to Ukraine was linked to the Biden investigations. The afternoon session will include testimony from Laura Cooper and David Hale.
Fiona Hill, a top Russian specialist on the National Security Council, and David Holmes, the aide who heard the conversation between Sondland and Trump, will testify on Thursday.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced in September that the House of Representatives would begin a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump.
The decision came in light of a whistleblower complaint that the president sought to use foreign power from Ukraine for his own political gain. During a phone call with Ukraine’s president, Trump reportedly pressured Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the son of former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden; earlier that week, Trump admitted that he had brought up Biden’s family during the call but told reporters that he did so because “we don’t want our people like Vice President Biden and his son creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine.” The president also confirmed that his administration withheld nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine but denied that it was done for leverage.
Week one of the impeachment saw testimony three career public servants: William Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine; George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs; and Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 11/19/19
On Monday’s “The Late Show,” Stephen Colbert took a moment in his opening monologue to talk about this week’s new round of public hearings in the ongoing Donald Trump impeachment inquiry — and to dunk a little on U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland.
Sondland is set to testify before the House intelligence committee on Wednesday, and Colbert ran down what Sondland might talk about. For instance, a report by The Daily Beast said that Sondland at one point stormed into a White House room and “demanded ferociously that Ukrainians open the Biden investigation,” and that he “got very emotional” and yelled about it.
A temper tantrum in the White House? Do you expect me to believe that a man who looks like this is a giant baby,” Colbert joked while a photo of Sondland, which you can see at the top of the page.
Colbert also noted the report that according to a State Department witness, Sondland once called Trump on a personal cell phone from a restaurant in the Ukraine, and during the call, Sondland told the president that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “loves your ass.”
“Oh, who doesn’t,” Colbert said while visibly cringing. Colbert then asked for a “taste” of that, at which point a very unflattering photo of Trump playing tennis in tight white shorts was displayed onscreen. If you can handle that accursed image, watch the full clip below:
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 11/19/19
Last May, SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted "6 more launches of 60 sats needed for minor coverage, 12 for moderate" and SpaceX President and CEO Gwynne Shotwell recently said they planned to be offering service in parts of the US in mid-2020, which would require six to eight 60-satellite launches. The first of those launches will be in the middle of this month on a thrice-flown Falcon 9 booster. (They will also need customer terminals and Elon Musk has used a prototype to post a tweet from his home).
Six to eight launches would bring them up to Musk's "minor" coverage by mid-2020 and, if they maintain the same launch rate, they will achieve "moderate" coverage around the end of the year. But, what is meant by "minor" and "moderate" coverage? A simulation by Mark Handley, a professor at University College London, provides an approximation of the answer.
The first Starlink "shell" will have 24 orbital planes. Each orbital plane will have 66 satellites at an inclination of 53 degrees and an altitude of 550 km. Handley ran simulations of the first six and first twelve orbital planes — corresponding roughly to the SpaceX plan for 2020. Snapshots of the coverage area "footprints" from the two simulations are shown below:
The blue areas — around 50 degrees north and south latitude — are regions with continuous 24-hour coverage by at least one satellite. With six orbital planes, there will be continuous connectivity in the northern US and Canada and much of western Europe and Russia, but only southern Patagonia and the South Island of New Zealand in the sparsely populated south. Note that the financial centers of London and (just barely) New York will have continuous coverage, but, since these early satellites will not have inter-satellite laser links (ISLLs), SpaceX would have to route traffic between them through an undersea cable.
(At this point, you should stop reading and watch the video (6m 36s) of the simulation which shows the footprints moving across the surface of the planet as it rotates).
With 12 orbital planes, all of the continental US and most of Europe, the Middle East, China, Japan, and Korea will be covered. Shotwell says that once they have 1,200 satellites in orbit, they will have global coverage (with the exception of the polar regions) and capacity will be added as they complete the 550 km shell with 1,584 satellites. That should occur well before the end of 2021 since she expects to achieve a launch cadence of 60 satellites every other week.
Shotwell also said they planned to include ISLLs by late 2020, implying that around half of the satellites in this first shell will have them. Those ISSLs will give SpaceX an advantage over terrestrial carriers for low-latency long-distance links, a market Musk hopes to dominate. ISLLs will also reduce the need for ground stations. (Maybe they can lease ground-station service from SpaceX competitor Amazon in the interim)
All of this is cool, but what will it cost the user?
It sounds like SpaceX is serious about pursuing the consumer market from the start. When asked about price recently, Shotwell said millions of people in the U. S. pay $80 per month to get "crappy service." She did not commit to a price, but homes, schools, community centers, etc. with crappy service would pay that for good service, not to mention those with no service. Some customers may pay around $80 per month, but the price at a given location will be a function of SpaceX capacity, the price/demand curve for Intenet service, and competition from terrestrial and other satellite service providers — so prices will vary within the U. S. and globally. In nations where Starlink service is sold by partner Internet service providers, they will share in pricing decisions.
Since the marginal cost of serving a customer is near zero as long as there is sufficient capacity, we can expect lower prices in a poor, sparsely-populated region than in an affluent, densely-populated region. Dynamic pricing is also a possibility since SpaceX will have real-time demand data for every location. "Dynamic pricing of a zero marginal cost, variable-demand service" sounds like a good thesis topic. It will be interesting to see their pricing policy.
National governments will also have a say on pricing and service. While the U. S. will allow SpaceX to serve customers directly, other nations may require that they sell through Internet service providers and some — maybe Russia — may ban Starlink service altogether.
The price and quality of service also impact long-run usage patterns and applications. Today, the majority of users in developing nations access the Internet using mobile phones, which limits the power and range of applications they can use. Affordable satellite broadband would lead to more computers in homes, schools, and businesses and reduce the cost of offering new Internet services, impacting the economy and culture and leading to more content and application creation, as opposed to content consumption.
Looking further into the future, SpaceX has FCC approval for around 12,000 satellites and they recently requested spectrum for an additional 30,000 from the International Telecommunication Union. Their next-generation reusable Starship will be capable of launching 400 satellites at a time, and they will have to run a regular shuttle service to launch 42,000 satellites as well as replacements since the satellites are only expected to have a five-year lifespan. (One can imagine Starships dropping off new satellites then picking up obsolete satellites and returning them to Earth).
This sounds rosy. As we said in the NSFNet days, what could possibly go wrong? SpaceX seems to have a commanding lead over its would-be competitors. Might they one day become a dominant Internet service provider in a nation or region and abuse that position? Also, before they launch 42,000 satellites — or even 12,000 — SpaceX better come up with a foolproof plan for debris avoidance and mitigation. I hope they have a vice-president in charge of unanticipated side-effects.
Update Nov 5, 2019
Speaking at an investment conference, Shotwell said that a single Starship-Super Heavy launch should be able to place at least 400 Starlink satellites in orbit. Doing so would reduce the per-satellite cost to 20% of today's 60-satellite launches.
Written by Larry Press, Professor of Information Systems at California State University
www.circleid.com | 11/6/19
Stoner death metal icons, Cannabis Corpse, will be starting the new year with a headlining European tour in which they will be supported by label mates, Withered. The rampage will kick off at the Cinema in Aalst, Belgium on January 3, and continues to wreck havoc through 13 more countries until a final curtain at the Temple of Boom in Leeds, UK.... Read More/Discuss on Metal Underground.com
www.metalunderground.com | 11/5/19
Magnolia Pictures has acquired the U.S. rights to “About Endlessness,” a Swedish drama from director Roy Andersson, the distributor announced Monday. Magnolia plans to release the film theatrically in 2020.
Andersson, the director of “You, The Living” and “A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence,” won Best Director at the Venice International Film Festival where the film made its premiere. It made its North American premiere at TIFF.
His latest film, “About Endlessness,” is a reflection on human life in all its beauty and cruelty, its splendor and banality. We wander, dreamlike, gently guided by our Scheherazade-esque narrator. Inconsequential moments take on the same significance as historical events: a couple floats over a war-torn Cologne; on the way to a birthday party, a father stops to tie his daughter’s shoelaces in the pouring rain; teenage girls dance outside a cafe; a defeated army marches to a prisoner-of-war camp. Simultaneously an ode and a lament, “About Endlessness” presents a kaleidoscope of all that is eternally human, an infinite story of the vulnerability of existence.
Magnolia released Andersson’s previous film, “A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence,” in 2015 which emulated the deadpan vignettes of his latest film but was geared more as a comedy.
“Roy Andersson is a cinematic master and he’s crafted another extraordinary film in ‘About Endlessness,'” Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles said in a statement. “We’re honored to be bringing this film to American audiences.”
“I’m so happy that Magnolia will be our U.S. distributor,” Andersson said. “They did a great job releasing my last film, so I’m confident that they will take care of ‘About Endlessness’ in the best possible way. I’m so proud of the new film and very much looking forward to the US release.”
Andersson wrote and directed “About Endlessness.” The movie is a Roy Andersson Filmproduktion AB in co-production with 4 ½ Fiksjon AS, Essential Films, in association with Parisienne de Production, Sveriges Tele-vision AB, Arte France Cinéma, ZDF/Arte, and Film CapitalStockholm Fund.
The film is produced by Pernilla Sandström and Johan Carlsson and co-produced by Philippe Bober and Håkon Øverås. The executive producers are Sarah Nagel and Isabell Wiegand. The film is supported by Swedish Film Institute, Eurimages Council of Europe, Nordisk Film & TV Fund, Norwegian Film Institute, Film-und Medienstiftung NRW, and Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg.
The deal was negotiated by Magnolia EVP Dori Begley and Magnolia SVP of acquisitions John Von Thaden with CAA Media Finance on behalf of the filmmakers. Coproduction Office is overseeing international sales.
Variety first reported the news of the sale.
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 11/4/19
Developments in the telecommunications industry and the broader digital economy have opened up many new markets over the last few decades. Telecoms has changed from a more or less standalone, horizontally-organized industry to one that has become a key facilitator in a range of vertical markets.
The keyword that is used to indicate that change is "smart." We are talking about smart transport, smart energy, smart cities and so on. Essentially what this means is that internet and communication technology (ICT) technologies are increasingly being strategically added on and embedded in these industries.
The technological developments have been mindboggling: broadband, mobile communications, cloud computing, data management, storage, AI and analytics. Combined, these have created the ideal environment for the development of technology platforms on which social and economic transformations can be developed. These platforms are often called "labs" — places where innovation, sharing, collaboration and piloting can take place.
The telecoms industry was right at the forefront of the digital explosion, but for a long time, telcos concentrated on protecting their very lucrative incumbent voice businesses.
And so companies such as Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and many others in the internet market had free rein to develop over-the-top (OTT) business models, using the existing telecoms infrastructure to build their own platforms from which to distribute their own services to end-users.
Despite what could be called "missed opportunities" for telcos, they were able to maintain a strong market position in the basic telecoms market (connectivity). The massive increase in OTT services also stimulated a far greater use of the telecoms network. In most cases, telcos remain strong and healthy players in the connectivity market. However, it has become a low-margin utility service. Within their current business models, there is little room for them to develop more value-added products with opportunities for premium-based revenue models.
There are various obvious scenarios for the telcos to pursue:
I would like to concentrate on the third option.
The nature of the telecoms business, its culture, and its business models is not very well-suited to a more vertical approach that can be provided through platform-based models.
For example, let's look at the massive transformations that are taking place in transport, cities and energy. What is needed is a holistic approach to these developments. Telcos could take control of such a platform, rather than just being a supplier to some of the underlying elements of new smart models.
Looking around the globe, we see the car industry, cities and energy companies trying to take charge of the platform. As they often lack in-house ICT skills, the success of these platforms is a hit-and-miss situation. In other cases, IT companies are taking charge (such as Cisco, IBM and Huawei) or companies such as PWC and Accenture. The problem with these latter organizations is that their clients have become increasingly wary of proprietary solutions.
So far, very few telcos have taken a leading position in such developments. Key reasons are that their financial, technology and business models are not well-suited to starting a platform and taking risks involved in setting them up. Instead, we see IT companies taking the lead, like Google (Alphabet), for example, in Smart City Toronto.
Their business models are much better suited to such opportunities, and they are prepared to take risks and accept that several investments may fail. However, this allows them to learn on the job. They know that the total value of the platform markets that will be developed over the next 10-20 years will be in the trillions of dollars.
Perhaps Spain's Telefonica has gone the furthest of all the telcos. While still not adopting the full platform approach, they are taking the lead in a range of international smart city projects. KPN in the Netherlands is another example of a leading participant, but again not a full platform operator.
Of course, telcos quickly become partners in such projects, but most of the time, they are relegated to providing basic telecoms services. Often, these services are tendered for by the project leader, and competition makes sure that the margins for the telcos remain rather subdued.
Looking at the very upbeat messages that the telcos are sending out regarding 5G, the situation will become even more complex. In order to deliver the applications that the technology promotes, such as Internet of Things (IoT) and the much-promoted connected car business, platforms will require cooperation between telcos. Such applications can't rely on one supplier alone. You cannot have a driverless solution that only uses the Telstra network or the Optus one.
Telcos are not used to partnering with competitors. Often the message is "let's partner, but you have to do it my way." Car manufacturers in Europe have already indicated that they are not going to build the roadside IoT platforms and are looking at the telcos to collaborate. So who will develop the "build it and they will come" business model?
If the telcos do want to monetize their network better, they will have to move up the value chain, and this will require a totally different business model. Most likely, this will require setting up structurally separated new companies, each individually specialized, based on the markets they are selecting. The platform would largely be built around a virtual "telco" model, mainly operating in the cloud. They should be open to external developers and partners, securing an ongoing development of new and innovative offerings.
In such a model, the telcos' unique skill sets allow them to take a greater controlling role. Rather than being asked to be a partner, they should set up the ecosystem for the platform, select the partners, develop the financial models around the platform, and be in control. Their independent position also allows them to scale this business model and replicate it where opportunities arise.
There is no doubt that such an approach holds significant risks. Some initiatives will fail. Of course, such a model should be thoroughly assessed through scenario design, but that shouldn't lead to procrastination. If done well, the rewards will be substantial.
The telcos arguably have the deepest insight into customers' behavior, but if they are to move up the value chain, they will need to use this insight to move out of partnerships and establish themselves in a controlling position.
Written by Paul Budde, Managing Director of Paul Budde Communication
www.circleid.com | 10/31/19
Bob Berney and Jeanne R. Berney have relaunched their label Picturehouse and have acquired the North American rights to faith-based drama “Fatima,” the couple announced on Sunday along with James T. Volk, chairman and founder of Origin Entertainment.
The film is directed by Marco Pontecorvo and produced by Origin Entertainment along with Elysia Productions and Rose Pictures. Picturehouse has set a release date for the film on April 24, 2020.
Bob Berney was the head of marketing and distribution at Amazon Studios and left the company in June of this year. He headed Picturehouse in 2005 as a joint venture between HBO and New Line Cinema, and he and his wife relaunched the label in January 2013 as an independent distributor before he joined Amazon in 2015.
“Fatima” is a feature film starring Stephanie Gil, Lúcia Moniz, Joaquim de Almeida, Goran Visnjic, Sonia Braga and Harvey Keitel. It’s the story of a 10-year-old shepherd and her two young cousins in Fátima, Portugal, who report seeing visions of the Virgin Mary. Their revelations inspire believers but anger officials of both the Church and the secular government, who try to force them to recant their story. As word of their prophecy spreads, tens of thousands of religious pilgrims flock to the site in hopes of witnessing a miracle. What they experience will change their lives forever.
“Marco Pontecorvo has created a beautiful and inspirational film telling the emotional story of three young children whose visions captured a nation at a time when World War I was ravaging Europe,” Bob Berney and Jeanne R. Berney said in a joint statement. “We are extremely excited to bring this film to North American theatergoers.”
Directed by Marco Pontecorvo and written by Pontecorvo, Valerio D’Annunzio and Barbara Nicolosi, “Fatima” is produced by James T. Volk, Dick Lyles, Stefano Buono, Maribel Lopera Sierra, Rose Ganguzza, Marco Pontecorvo and Natasha Howes. The film features the original song “Gratia Plena” (“Full of Grace”) performed by Andrea Bocelli and composed by Italian composer Paolo Buonvino.
“Fatima” is the second feature by Pontecorvo following the drama “Pa-ra-da.” He’s also credited as a cinematographer on “Game of Thrones” and “Rome.”
“It is amazing to realize that in 1917, before television, the internet or any reliable mass communication, 70,000 people gathered at this remote site to witness an anticipated miracle,” Volk said in a statement. “It’s truly a remarkable story, based on real events, and we are excited to partner with Picturehouse in the release of this film.”
“Fatima is not a film about religion,” Ganguzza said in a statement. “It is a film about the power of faith in times of conflict and turmoil.”
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 10/28/19
As much as we have confronted rape culture and the patriarchal control of female bodies, there is still an area that has too often remained untouchable in the conversation: the specific roles religious and cultural norms have played in the persecution, abuse and suppression of women’s sexuality. That is where director Barbara Miller squares her uncompromising new film, “#Female Pleasure.”
Miller somewhat wobblily opens the documentary with images of objectified women in recognizable male-designer commercials and ads, highlighting how mainstream culture has long normalized the problem. But then, she (with cinematographers Jiro Akiba, Gabriela Betschart, and Anne Misselwitz) takes audiences across the world to illuminate the condemnation of female sexuality as the international pandemic that it is. This is where “#Female Pleasure” soars.
The filmmaker presents the stories of five different but equally courageous women in various countries: Deborah Feldman from Brooklyn, Vitika Yadav in India, Rokudenashiko in Japan, Leyla Hussein in the Somali Muslim diaspora, and Doris Wagner in Europe, all hell-bent on obliterating harmful cultural practices — like genital mutilation and the shaming of the female orgasm — that lie at the root of rape culture and patriarchy. While doing so, the director empathetically yet boldly points to theological text as something that has historically failed to protect women.
From the Bible to the Qur’an, the director flashes across the screen such religious messaging as, “Women are the root of all sinners,” which Wagner utters as she recounts being repeatedly raped by a priest when she was a nun in the Catholic church. It is that juxtaposition of holy text, which suggests that women are inherently sinful because their bodies are men’s weakness and should be covered at all times, that establishes a standard for women of the clergy like Wagner to be demoralized and violated.
Similarly, Hussein recalls undergoing horrific genital mutilation at just seven years old. Considered a cultural rite of passage and emblematic of purity and female beauty, it is so normalized that other young girls her age didn’t even socialize with her until she’d had the procedure. Feldman talks about taking marriage preparation classes as a 16-year-old Jewish girl who was forced to have sex with a man she didn’t know and to have his baby.
Meanwhile, Rokudenashiko is a manga artist who centers her work around vaginas and other female genitalia to expose and confront the taboo of female sexuality in her country. But as groundbreaking as her art is, it’s considered “obscene” in Japan, and she is even arrested due to the mass hysteria it causes in a country where female modesty is all but legally mandated. This is despite, as Rokudenashiko rightly explains, a global culture that has routinely exploited female porn stars and subjected other women to painful dildos and other sex toys for male pleasure.
Likewise, Yadav is also disrupting norms as head of the love and sexuality website Love Matters, where female sexuality and pleasure is prioritized in the face of a culture that birthed the Kama Sutra with only male pleasure in mind.
With “#Female Pleasure,” Miller isn’t only highlighting the issues that have contributed to the sexual marginalization of women. She’s calling these atrocities, embedded within cultural and religious norms, by their actual names: rape, assault, child trafficking, abuse. The director amplifies the platforms of female activists who were taught to be silent and shows them confronting the very entities that have oppressed them.
Feldman reflects on escaping Judaism, subsequently being ostracized by her family and later proudly posing nude and writing a book about her experiences. Wagner interrogates members of the Catholic clergy. And Hussein, Yadav, and Rokudenashiko stand up against cultural practices that have discredited female sexuality and allowed women and children to be molested and brutalized in other ways. Despite them all being defamed and persecuted — some even receiving death threats — they’ve persisted.
“#Female Pleasure,” a title that presumably connects its message to today’s era of social media-based movements, also serves as an urgent call to action for younger audiences to pay attention even to the words they use to describe certain abominations and to help them recognize forms of oppression. For instance, there’s a scene in which Hussein shows a group of school-aged boys what genital mutilation is through a clay-based art exhibit, which she disfigures with a giant pair of scissors similar to the actual tools used in the procedure.
It’s a painful scene to watch, particularly because it forces Hussein to relive her own childhood trauma, but we watch as the teenagers who have been taught to celebrate this practice become increasingly disturbed by the image in front of them. More importantly, they end up wanting to engage with the movement. Hussein also introduces us to a young African rapper who devotes his songs to condemning female oppression.
And back in India with Yadav, Miller highlights a young theatrical group putting on a street show focusing on female pain, trauma, and rage in the midst of this crisis. It’s proof that change is possible, particularly among the younger generation that, with the help of valiant women like Yadav and Hussein, is openly interrogating issues they’ve been indoctrinated to accept. After all, the thrust of today’s global movement is to reject deep-rooted practices and to re-teach ourselves and others how to do better.
“#Female Pleasure” smoothly glides from one country segment to another and engages audiences with the personal stories of the five women, told through voiceover and solo interviews, as well as a broader look at the cultures in which they live. The intimate direction and natural cinematography help to remove the shame and stigma that have long been attached to this subject.
What is left, as the postscript states, is an empowering statement for women, no matter their cultural or religious background, to reclaim their bodies and celebrate their sexuality without shame or suffering.
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 10/16/19
The nominees for this year’s Streamy Awards were announced Wednesday by Dick Clark Productions, Tubefilter and YouTube. David Dobrik leads the way with 11 nominations and murder-mystery reality web series “Escape the Night: Season 4” follows with five nominations.
Lil Nas X and Lizzo are both nominated for the first time.
The awards specifically celebrate the best in online video. This year’s ceremony, the ninth one, will be held Dec. 13 at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California. It will stream live globally on YouTube.
“Creators are the heart and soul of YouTube, so we’re excited to celebrate and honor their creativity, diversity and hard work,” Jamie Byrne, director of creator partnerships at YouTube, said in a statement. “Together with the Streamys, we’ve expanded our award categories to even more regions around the world to bring fans some of the biggest and most unforgettable moments from the past year, all from the creators they love.”
See the full list of nominees below:
Show of the Year
Action or Sci-Fi
First Person presented by GoPro HERO8 Black
International: Asia Pacific
International: Europe, Middle East, and Africa
International: Latin America
Health and Wellness
Kids and Family
Science and Education
Visual and Special Effects
Company or Brand
Nonprofit or NGO
Branded Content: Series
Branded Content: Video
Social Good Campaign
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 10/16/19
After a fallow 2017, European cinema at the Busan International Film Festival and the Asian Film Market enjoyed a renaissance in 2018. Now, this year is proving to be an improvement over 2018. European Film Promotions’ (EFP) Europe! Umbrella scheme, operated in conjunction with Unifrance has drawn 36 European sales companies, more than in recent […]
variety.com | 10/6/19
Feminist mystery “Dilili in Paris,” a new feature-length enterprise from French animation legend Michel Ocelot (“Kirikou and the Sorceress,” “Azur & Asmar”) spotlights the prominence of noxious ideologies, misogyny and racism through an occasionally dazzling, though oddly rendered, adventure set during the Belle Epoque period of the late 1800s and early 1900s in Paris.
Dilili (voiced by Prunelle Charles-Ambron in the English dub), a young biracial and bilingual Kanak immigrant from New Caledonia, a French colony in the South Pacific, snuck into a ship to reach Europe, where she now performs her tribe’s daily tasks as exotic amusement for Parisians. Speaking openly about the racially motivated discrimination she’s endured, Dilili shines as a rare heroine of color in a white world. She feels neither fully French nor Kanak, because she is either two fair or too dark depending on where she finds herself geographically.
Intrigued by her linguistic abilities, Orel (Enzo Ratsito), a local courier, befriends the petite erudite and fills her in on the recent abductions of multiple girls at the hands of a sexist sect known as the Male Masters. Its sleazy members wear nose rings and despise women who’ve attained any sort of power within French society. Naturally, the curious and socially conscious Dilili wishes to investigate in order to unclog the ideological sewer that has enabled these culprits.
Didactic in its tonal approach and narrative construction, Ocelot’s latest gives the impression of being an introductory installment in a property that could yield its own television series aimed at young audiences looking for an entertaining way to learn about France’s historical figures. Elegantly greeting anyone with whom she comes in contact, Dilili becomes acquainted with the likes of Marie Curie, Marcel Proust, Claude Debussy, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and even Gustave Eiffel. While charming and trivia-friendly, the encounters add up as if fulfilling a checklist on a lesson plan more than organically strengthening the tale.
Photorealistic backgrounds consistently stun as they clash with the more low-res CG characters, which emulate designs from early 21st century video games rather than fully accomplished animated characters for a production made this decade. Instead of being translated into more graphic or cartoonish incarnations, landmarks, buildings, and other architectural gems retain their real-life textures and lighting, as do all other elements of the production design. At first sight, their live-action look bewilders the eyes.
Stylistically, the visual divide between the human figures and their environments makes for a striking contrast. However, once movement comes into play, the precarious confection of the characters is unavoidably noticeable. Instances that surpass these ill-conceived characteristics exist, such as a blue-hued segment featuring singer Emma Calvé performing on a swan boat while inside a palatial structure built on water, or when Paris’ most iconic tower takes the foreground for a climactic action sequence.
As Dilili and the supporters she’s accumulated along her Jules Verne-inspired ordeal inch closer to resolving the mystery of the missing girls, darkness creeps into the plot once it’s revealed that the wicked group they are fighting resembles terrorist organizations like ISIS or the Taliban in the dehumanizing tactics they employ to subdue captured adult women and girls. It’s in the implementation of this twist that the French pedigree of the film becomes obvious, since animated projects there (even those considered children-oriented) dare to touch on adult subjects. American viewers may raise their eyebrows to the revelation of what the kidnappers refer to as a “four-leg” creature and to the truly disturbing, although unfortunately realistic, conversations men have about women throughout.
Patriarchal subjugation is also addressed in moments involving artists and scientists vowing never to sign their work in their husbands’ names or to allow them to take credit for their discoveries. Dilili herself isn’t shy about her affinity to write or the multiple interests that could result in a career when she grows older. Ocelot’s attempt to rewrite history as her story in this period fiction, as instructional as it is, demonstrates he has his finger on both the pulse of modern culture and the historically unresolved wrongs perpetrated by the white male establishment.
Overly explanatory dialogue at every step of the way doesn’t help “Dilili in Paris” surpass its information-dispatching structure nor does it complement it with more necessary pathos. Stilted but commendable for its intent, the movie may function as a great conversation-starter if watched with young kids who might be receptive to new material. For fans of international animation, there are sporadic diamonds of craft, but likely not enough to impress viewers accustomed to the quality of the GKIDS catalogue.
Ocelot works independently, and in today’s rapidly changing and saturated animation landscape. that could mean less resources for ventures like this. Still, finding a space within the educational market as an art-house audiovisual tool for elementary history classes could very possibly be “Dilili’s” ultimate destiny, and that’s truly where it’s most needed.
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 10/4/19
Eric Pleskow, a long-time Hollywood executive who served as the head of Orion Pictures and United Artists and oversaw the production of 14 different Oscar winners for Best Pictures, has died. He was 95.
Pleskow’s death was announced Tuesday by the Vienna Film Festival; the Austrian-born executive and film producer had served as the festival’s president since 1998.
“His death is a great loss for all of us. Eric had a fulfilled and long life and we appreciated him as a longtime friend and companion of our festival. As president and patron of the Viennale, he has always carried us with his humor and foresight,” the Viennale said in a statement. He will be missed deeply. We express our sincere condolences and heartfelt sympathy to his family.
Also Read: Jessye Norman, Opera Legend, Dies at 74
As president of United Artists between 1973 to 1978 Pleskow — the first European to lead the company since co-founder Charlie Chaplin — oversaw a three-year span in which the films “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Rocky” and “Annie Hall” all won Best Picture at the Oscars.
Pleskow then formed Orion Pictures following the takeover of United Artists by Transamerica, leading the company until 1992 and developing other classics such as “Amadeus,” “Dances With Wolves” and “The Silence of the Lambs.”
Born in Vienna in April 1924, Pleskow’s family emigrated to the United States after the Nazi Germany takeover of Austria. He was drafted by the U.S. army in 1943 and after the war served as a translator for interrogations during the denazification of Germany and Austria. Having received a brief education in film editing, he became a film officer for the U.S. war department and was assigned the task of rebuilding Munich’s Bavaria Film Studios. Shortly thereafter he joined United Artists as a European sales manager and would work his way up to president.
In 2007, he was made an honorary citizen Vienna and had a cinema hall in the Metro Kinokulturhaus named after him.
“Turning 95 doesn’t leave me cold! That sounds really old. In any case much older than I feel,” Pleskow said earlier this year at a ceremony commemorating his birthday.
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 10/1/19
Opera legend Jessye Norman died Monday at age 74.
The soprano died from septic shock and multi-organ failure secondary to complications of a spinal cord injury she had sustained in 2015, according to family statement issued to the Associated Press.
“We are so proud of Jessye’s musical achievements and the inspiration that she provided to audiences around the world that will continue to be a source of joy. We are equally proud of her humanitarian endeavors addressing matters such as hunger, homelessness, youth development, and arts and culture education,” the family statement read.
Norman was born in Georgia to a musical family. As a child, she sang in the church gospel choir and listened to the Metropolitan Opera via radio. At 16, she entered a singing competition named after her idol — Marian Anderson. Norman did not win, but was offered a full scholarship to Howard University.
After graduating with a Masters from the University of Michigan in 1968, Norman spent a decade in Europe building up her operatic repertoire, performing with German and Italian companies. It wouldn’t be until 1982 when she made her U.S. debut performing with the Opera Company of Philadelphia. She would debut at the Metropolitan Opera — the company she listened to as a child on the radio — the following year. By the mid-’80s, she was one of the most in-demand sopranos in the world.
Norman sang at the second inaugurations of presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. In 1996, she sang at the Opening Ceremony of the 1996 Summer Olympics, which were held in her home state of Georgia. She also famously sang at the 9/11 memorial in March 2002.
Norman won four Grammy Awards over her long career and won the Life Achievement Award in 2006. She was also bestowed many honors, including the Légion d’honneur, the Kennedy Center Honors, and National Media of the Arts. She received the 12th Glenn Gould Prize for her contribution to opera and the arts in 2018.
She was also a philanthropist, contributing to many causes dear to heart, including music and homeless programs, and AIDS research.
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 9/30/19
Large "megastructures" built by the Stone-Age Tripolye culture in Europe were used for storage, food prep, eating and everyday activities.
www.livescience.com | 9/25/19
The culture of Europe might better be described as a series of overlapping cultures. Whether it is a question of North as opposed to South; West as opposed to East; Christianity as opposed to Protestantism as opposed to Catholicism; many have claimed to identify cultural fault lines across the continent. There are many cultural innovations and movements, often at odds with each other, such as Christian proselytism or Humanism. Thus the question of "common culture" or "common values" is far more complex than it seems to be. The foundation of European culture was laid by the Greeks, strengthened by the Romans, stabilized by Christianity, reformed and modernized by the fifteenth-century Renaissance and Reformation and globalized by successive European empires between the sixteenth and twentieth centuries. Thus the European Culture developed into a very complex phenomenon of wider range of philosophy, Christian and secular humanism, rational way of life and logical thinking developed through a long age of change and formation with the experiments of enlightenment, naturalism, romanticism, science, democracy, and socialism. Because of its global connection, the European culture grew with an all-inclusive urge to adopt, adapt and ultimately influence other trends of culture. As a matter of fact, therefore, from the middle of the nineteenth century with the expansion of European education and the spread of Christianity, European culture and way of life, to a great extent, turned to be "global culture," if anything has to be so named .