“Hunters,” the new series from Amazon Prime Video which dropped on Friday, is a work of historical fiction. Which means the actual plot is made up, but the story is firmly rooted in real historical events.
Those roots manifest in many ways on “Hunters.” Like the flashbacks to Nazi concentration camps. The very real 1977 New York City blackout that was not just a freak accident in this version of history. And, of course, the United States government sweeping up a bunch of prominent Nazis and giving them important jobs in America.
Though so far as the public record goes the Nazis did not make a concerted effort to establish the Fourth Reich in the US, it is true that after the war the government brought a large number of Nazi scientists to America instead of punishing them. A lot of important folks got a free pass because of their skills, most notably Wernher von Braun, who got a high placement at NASA and has lots of stuff named after him. Von Braun was just one of many Nazis who worked at NASA back in the day.
This whole thing, dubbed Operation Paperclip, is the spark of the plot in “Hunters,” which is all about a squad of vigilante spies, basically, verifying these folks and taking them out. Though in this version of history those Nazis weren’t just hanging out living their lives — they were plotting to take over the country.
If you want to know more about Operation Paperclip, you’ve come to the right place. Below we’ll run down the basics of the real-world version of Paperclip, but we’ll avoid spoilers for the sake of those who aren’t finished with “Hunters” season 1 yet.
So despite a reputation in popular culture for almost science fiction level technology, Nazi Germany actually lagged far behind its rivals in several key fields, like nuclear physics.
But in some other fields, particularly rocketry, Nazi German scientists were actually ahead of the U.S. and USSR. In the latter months of World War II Germany developed the first guided ballistic missiles, which they used to attack cities in England and Belgium, among others. By contrast, the otherwise far more advanced America had to use standard issue bomber planes to deploy the first nuclear bombs.
After Nazi Germany surrendered in May, 1945, the country was divided up under zones of US and Soviet control, who ended up with custody of a lot of those scientists. This is where it gets complicated.
The German scientists were of course Nazis, in many cases high ranking Nazis. Which meant there was a high probability they were personally involved in Nazi atrocities like biological weapons research, concentration camp deaths, slave labor and human experimentation.
This was less of a problem for the Soviets, whose zone of control included the site where Germany developed its most advanced rockets, giving them a huge advantage just as relations with the US were turning sour. The USSR reverse engineered the whole thing and rebuilt it inside Soviet borders. They also forcibly conscripted more than 2000 scientists.
The situation was different for the US, who was in the process of very publicly declaring itself the defender of human rights in the postwar era. No matter — America wanted to get an advantage over the USSR, and also had real concerns that Nazi scientists might take their skills to other countries (there were several nations that didn’t participate in WWII but nonetheless were Nazi allies).
In late 1946 President Truman issued a secret directive authorizing “operation overcast,” which fast-tracked immigration papers for more than a thousand former Nazi scientists. It was later renamed “Operation Paperclip” because a paper clip would be attached to someone’s file, indicating they were to be allowed in without too much scrutiny.
Once in the US, they formed the core that developed America’s nuclear missile array during the 1950s — they also developed weapons for America that almost certainly violated international law.
In 1960, they were reassigned to newly-created NASA, where they oversaw the staggering scientific and engineering advances during the space race. Among them was Wernher von Braun, Germany’s top rocket scientist during the war. He designed the rocket that sent Apollo 11 to the moon.
But about those aforementioned war crimes: Operation Paperclip, ahem, papered over the records of recruited Nazi scientists, some of whom were outright monsters. Here are just a few examples:
-According to Annie Jacobson in her 2014 book Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America, Walter Schreiber, a medical researcher who served as a key witness for the prosecution in the Nuremberg trials, was brought to the US under Paperclip in 1951. Just weeks later the Boston Globe exposed his ghastly human experimentation research at Ravensbrück concentration camp, and he fled to Argentina (with US military help).
-Rocket scientist Arthur Rudolph was brought into the US in 1945 and for the next 40 years served US military and scientific interests. He became a US citizen and even received NASA’s highest award. Then in 1984 it came out that he made heavy use of slave labor from Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp during World War II. Rudolph renounced his US citizenship and left the country in order to avoid a war crimes trial.
-Hubertus Strughold, former head of medical research for the Luftwaffe, came to the US in 1947 and through his subsequent work was honored as “the father of space medicine.” The Aerospace Medical Association even named its most prestigious award after him. Unfortunately he almost certainly conducted insidious experiments on humans, including children, at Dachau concentration camp. While he was never punished during his lifetime, the SMA retired the Strughold Award in 2013 following a Wall Street Journal expose of his crimes.
-As for von Braun, there is some evidence he also participated in war crimes, and he was accused of personally selecting slave labor. And, of course, he was a card-carrying member of the Nazi Party. But he also ran afoul of Nazi authorities, who suspected him of sedition and communist sympathies. In later life he consistently denied any direct participation in Nazi war crimes and said he felt helpless to do anything about the war crimes he knew about. His complicated legacy aside, he remains a revered NASA founding father with awards, buildings, streets and even a crater on the moon named after him.
So yeah, Operation Paperclip is certainly not a fictional thing that was made up for “Hunters” or the “Captain America” movies — you may recall that Hydra took over SHIELD as a result of Paperclip. The reality of it is, so far as we know, just a bit more mundane than these fictional tales.
www.thewrap.com | 2/22/20
Eugene Hernandez was just announced as the new director of the New York Film Festival Wednesday morning, but he’ll hit the ground running this week as he heads to Germany for the Berlinale Film Festival. And he’s already got his eye on a few titles he’d like see playing at Lincoln Center later this fall.
Hernandez’s goal in taking over for Kent Jones, who left after 2019’s NYFF to become a full time filmmaker, is to really keep in mind audience and how the festival strives to be inviting year round. While the festival’s program is smaller than what you might see at TIFF or Sundance, its strength is that audiences continue to return to Film at Lincoln Center after the festival has ended.
“This festival is such an important celebration of the work that we do year round. There are many different types of film organizations in this country and this world. Some are very specifically built around an individual festival, and others have a year round impact with an audience that comes back the minute the festival ends. They’re coming back the next week,” Hernandez told TheWrap. “Our programming is international, and we need to be as open to the international audiences that live in this city and inviting them, so that’s why we’ll continue to have more opportunities and ways to engage an audience.”
Hernandez is taking on the role of director of the festival in addition to his existing duties as part of Film at Lincoln Center, where he’s been the deputy director since 2016. He’ll pile on the responsibilities of the festival in addition to leading FLC’s Artist, Industry, and Education initiatives and serving as publisher of Film Comment.
He’s got a lot on his plate. But Hernandez says as he heads off to Berlin that this transition and added responsibility feels a lot more natural than when he moved from founding Indiewire to his work with Film at Lincoln Center.
“I’ll probably have to juggle my calendar a little more carefully this week to make sure I get to watch movies at the same that I’m getting the opportunity to sit down and have meetings with people. But it’s a natural extension of the work,” he said. “The bigger change was 10 years ago, was being a journalist and running an editorial publication to working at a year round cultural institution. That might’ve been a bigger disruption or change in my life.”
Hernandez will report to Lesli Klainberg, FLC’s executive director, who told TheWrap that hiring in-house made sense, not just in terms of Hernandez’s reputation both inside and out of the organization, but also the holistic mindset of tying in NYFF with the larger goals of the film center.
“We knew we had a wonderful person in terms of the public face of the organization and the festival and a lot of good will toward Eugene. People like him. That’s a unique person in the industry right there, a person whose liked by most people,” Klainberg said. “It just felt like a very natural and obvious fit.”
The departure of Jones specifically made Klainberg rethink what the process should be for putting together a festival and how it can carve out a place in the culture “writ large.”
“We were looking at where we are in the film culture and where we are in the culture writ large, really considering what we need,” Klainberg said. “It was very clear that we needed to move in a different direction and have a person whose responsibility included all those different things that we considered as part of the building blocks of the festival. Once we did that, it was very clear that Eugene was the right person for that job.”
Hernandez’s other challenge coming into this year is continuing to make the festival relevant in an era when the awards calendar is getting increasingly cluttered. That doesn’t even mention the fact that the festival kicks off right around the time the opera, philharmonic and ballet all decide to launch their seasons.
“There’s so much cultural renewal that happens in New York in the fall,” Hernandez says. “Our festival really continues to look at the art of cinema and the art of film from a bunch of different perspectives, and that’s the foundation we’re working to build on.”
He adds that he’ll still rely in part on his predecessor Jones as a resource, whether in working as a consultant or moderating panels. But Hernandez wants to make a bigger priority of spreading the conversations that are hosted at the festival more widely.
“Every conversation that we have at our festival, the longer Q&As, the conversations we have on our stages, we’re recording and capturing those so we can share them on our YouTube channel, we can share them on our growing podcast,” he said. “I think a lot about audience, because I think of how I got invited to be a part of this festival experience as an audience member, so I think a lot about what it means to just be open to an audience and signal that we’re a festival that audiences can engage with in a bunch of different ways.”
The 58th edition of the NYFF runs Sept. 25-Oct. 11, 2020.
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www.thewrap.com | 2/19/20
“Jojo Rabbit” producer Chelsea Winstanley shared on Monday she’s launching a new production company dubbed This Too Shall Pass. The company will be based in Los Angeles and Winstanley’s native New Zealand.
“As I move into this new decade of my career I am also dedicated to giving myself a voice as a writer and director with the goal to giving cinema an opportunity to showcase stories that have not been told before”, Winstanley said in a statement.
This Too Shall Pass’s first project will be “The Appeal,” a story about a Samoan lawyer who shines a light on the racist treatment of New Zealand’s M?ori population.when she takes on a case defending an ex-gang member. The film will be Winstanley’s writing and directing debut.
Two other feature films, “Thief of Sleep” and “Arezou,” on the company’s slate are set to film during the first quarter of 2020. Both films are deeply rooted in Persian culture, with “Thief” looking at the story of a young closeted gay man facing persecution in Iran; “Arezou” is set in post-Revolution Tehran and tells the story of a 12-year-old girl who discovers an illegal underground ballet group.
The company, in a statement on Monday, said it aims to be a “platform for telling authentic stories with cultural perspectives not often seen on screen before.”
Winstanley is fresh off producing the Scarlet Johansson-led “Jojo Rabbit,” a satirical film about a boy in Nazi Germany who finds out his mom is harboring a Jewish girl in their home. The film has been nominated for six Academy Awards this year, including Best Picture.
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www.thewrap.com | 1/20/20
Roberto Alvim used parts of a speech by Nazi Germany's propaganda chief, sparking outrage.
www.bbc.co.uk | 1/17/20
The iconic electronic dance festival may make a comeback as part of an effort to preserve techno culture in Germany. The event hasn't taken place since 2010 after 21 people were killed at a festival in Duisburg.
www.dw.com | 1/13/20
‘Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom’ and ‘Gay Chorus Deep South’ Win Palm Springs International Film Festival Audience Awards
“Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom” — the story about a young displaced teacher who travels to Bhutan and is taught his own life lessons from the happy and kind locals (including a yak) — won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at The Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF), it was announced Sunday.
“Gay Chorus Deep South” — a documentary following the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus as the group embarks upon a high-risk tour of the Deep South to spread a message of tolerance — won the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature.
“Parasite” screenwriters Bong Joon Ho and Han Jin Won won the FIPRESCI Prize for International Screenplay for their tale about two Korean families — one wealthy and one poor — whose live intersect in the most unexpected way.
Among the acting awards, Bartosz Bielenia from “Corpus Christi” and Helena Zengel from “System Crasher” took top honors.
The jury award categories included the FIPRESCI Prize for films in the International Feature Film Oscar Submissions program; New Voices New Visions Award for unique viewpoints from first- and second-time directors; Best Documentary Award for compelling non-fiction filmmaking; Ibero-American Award for the best film from Latin America, Spain or Portugal; Local Jury Award for the film that promoted understanding and acceptance between people; and the Young Cineastes Award for the film chosen by the Youth Jury. Finally, the GoEnergistics (GoE) Bridging the Borders Award, presented by Cinema Without Borders, honors the film that is most successful in bringing the people of our world closer together.
See the complete list of winners below:
Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature
Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature
FIPRESCI Prize for Best International Feature Film of the Year
FIPRESCI Prize for the Best Actor in an International Feature Film
FIPRESCI Prize for Best Actress in an International Feature Film
FIPRESCI Prize for International Screenplay
New Voices/New Visions Award
The Documentary Award
Local Jury Award
Young Cineastes Award
GoEnergistics (GoE) Bridging the Borders Award
The Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) is one of the largest film festivals in North America, welcoming 136,000 attendees last year for its lineup of new and celebrated international features and documentaries. The Festival is also known for its annual Film Awards Gala, which honors the year’s best achievements in cinema in front of and behind the camera.
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www.thewrap.com | 1/13/20
Vineyards on the slopes of the Moselle and Rhine, monumental structures from the Roman Empire in Germany's oldest city Trier: the state of Rhineland-Palatinate is ideal for culture buffs and epicures.
www.dw.com | 12/27/19
For the first time, San Diego Comic-Con finally has some serious competition as the undisputed heavyweight champion of pop culture live events. That challenger isn’t New York Comic-Con, WonderCon, Dragon Con or any of the other heavily hyped conventions in the U.S., instead, but from the other side of the world.
Brazil’s Comic-Con Experience has quickly emerged as the Southern Hemisphere’s answer to the big show in San Diego, drawing a crowd of 280,000 to this month’s four-day event that was more than double its SoCal competitor’s. Last year, CCXP was the place Sony chose for the global debut of the first “Spider-Man: Far From Home” trailer and the first public showing of footage from “Men in Black: International.” Among this year’s offerings was the first trailer for Warner Bros.’ “Wonder Woman 1984” trailer and the debut footage from Disney-Marvel’s “Eternals.”
First launched in 2014, CCXP is backed by Omelete, the Brazilian entertainment consumer-facing website created in 2000 by Érico Borgo, Marcelo Forlani and Marcelo Hessel that covers popular culture such as movies, comic books, music, television and video games.
How did CCXP scale in just a few short years? “We are constantly searching for new things and we don’t like repeating ourselves,” CCXP co-founder Borgo told TheWrap. “Innovation is the key, as well as the desire for improvement. Our fans appreciate that and so the studios.”
This year’s CCXP not only featured flashy presentations from Marvel and Warner, but also Lucasfilm, Pixar, Walt Disney Studios, Netflix, HBO and Amazon Prime. How did CCXP attract the major studios to come to Brazil? “We’ve been working with Disney and Warner since our first event,” said Borgo. “Before working as an event company we started as a website in 2000. Studios know and trust our work and our understanding of pop culture. When we decided to take a risk and invest in a festival all of them jumped on board.”
Here are the 5 reasons CCXP stood out from the crowd:
1. Fan-friendly Event – for Even More Fans
Sao Paulo Expo, where CCXP is held, is, simply put, huge, with attendance this year of 280,000, according to Borgo, more than double the 135,000 people the San Diego Convention Center can handle. The size of the venue also means that the central location can accommodate giant audiences but also all its panels and dozens of non-panel events and activations that at SDCC are held in San Diego’s nearby parks, hotels and Gaslamp District businesses because they can’t fit in the convention center.
Couple that larger capacity with what is easily one of the loudest and most enthusiastic crowds of fans we’ve ever experienced in person, and CCXP at least feels like it dwarfs its Southern California inspiration.
SDCC still has some advantages, however. Like the San Diego Convention Center’s storied Hall H, which can handle up to 7,000 people. Comic-Con Experience Brazil’s Main auditorium has half that capacity, roughly 3,500. That’s a lot more fans left out of the biggest presentations of the week. But overall, CCXP is a definitive more the merrier situation. “The Brazilian culture is one of the warmest in the world,” said Borgo. “The fans here show support in a very unique way – and we encourage it. That energy cannot be matched – just like the level of investment in booths, experiences and the overall structure of CCXP. Another thing that we have in our DNA is the desire to keep the Artist’s Alley as our core. It won’t be pushed to the sides like we see in so many conventions.”
2. Megastars Unite (Including Kevin Feige)
Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige attended CCXP for the first time this year — and boy, did he deliver with exclusive, never-before-seen footage from the upcoming “Black Widow” and “The Eternals.” In fact, this is Feige’s first fan convention outside of San Diego since taking the helm of the studio. “It took us three years to get him,” Borgo said. “Year after year, we improved our game, analyzing what went right and wrong and getting studio feedback. Our amazing event in 2018 drew a lot of attention and he decided to attend, with a lot of support and hard work from the local Disney team.”
Right after the Marvel Studios presentation, Lucasfilm showcased an extended chase scene from the beginning of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” with director J.J. Abrams and cast members Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac. Netflix surprised con attendees when Henry Cavill stepped on the main stage to promote his upcoming show “The Witcher.” Warner showcased both the opening scene and the new trailer for the upcoming superheroine film ensemble “Birds of Prey” along with stars Margot Robbie, Rosie Perez, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smolett Bell and Ella Jay Basco in attendance.
3. Working WiFi
Getting fast-working WiFi inside San Diego’s Hall H is a pipe dream. That is not the case at CCXP as the free fiber-optic internet provided by Brazilian internet provider Oi worked flawlessly both on the CCXP convention floor and the main auditorium.
4. Livestreaming for Outsiders
SDCC has a strict policy against livestreaming panels to give attendees some exclusivity. That is not the case at CCXP, which found a clever workaround that issue. Warner Bros. closed CCXP with the global launch of both the press campaign and new trailer for “Wonder Woman 1984” with director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot in attendance.
The “Wonder Woman” panel was globally livestreamed on Twitter. “We set out to make a grand epic experience like they made in the 80s,” Jenkins told the excited CCXP crowd. “It’s a visual experience we’re so lucky we got to bring to you.” However, the CCXP crowd got a longer trailer in the auditorium than what was released to the public — thus maintaining exclusivity for con attendees and inclusion for those who couldn’t make it down to Brazil.
5. Matt Reeves’ “The Batman” Already on Tap for 2020’s CCXP
The icing on the cake was a pretaped message from “Batman” director Matt Reeves saying hello to con attendees and promising them to bring footage from “The Batman” next year for CCXP 2020 — laying an early marker for next year’s scoop and signaling a scoop over San Diego Comic-Con of an eagerly awaited project. When have you ever heard of a huge superhero tentpole Comic-Con panel being announced elsewhere before San Diego Comic-Con a year out?
And the CCXP team is plotting other ways to build up the experience. “More international events, like the one we did last June in Cologne, Germany, and will repeat in 2020,” said Borgo. “And the continuity of CCXP’s quest for improvement.” Still, Borgo insisted that CCXP doesn’t see itself as a competitor to San Diego Comic-Con and would like to work with the SoCal organizers down the line. “We are fans of San Diego and have been for ages,” he said. “We have a lot of respect for what they do.”
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www.thewrap.com | 12/11/19
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
“Frozen II,” Disney’s follow-up to the pop culture phenomenon “Frozen” from 2013, brought in $8.5 million at the box office in Thursday night previews beginning at 6 p.m. It opens on over 4,300 screens this weekend.
The fall box office is finally set to heat up with the arrival of “Frozen II,” which the studio is projecting for an opening in the $100 million range, with trackers saying it should land between $105-115 million, though it could rise to $130 million if the excitement is as high as some trackers suspect. It opens opposite “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” which stars Tom Hanks as Mister Rogers, and the thriller “21 Bridges” starring Chadwick Boseman, both of which go wide in the last weekend before Thanksgiving.
“Frozen II” already soared past all-time records for animated films in pre-sales on the ticketing site Fandango. So the comp to watch is “Incredibles 2,” which hit a Thursday preview record for an animated film when it made $18.5 million in its Thursday previews last summer ahead of a $183 million opening weekend total. But it landed closer to “Finding Dory,” which was the previous animation record-holder and did $9 million in previews before opening to $135 million.
You could also look at Disney Animation’s “Zootopia,” which did just $1.7 million in previews and opened to $75 million, or for a more recent comp, “Toy Story 4” made $12 million and opened to $120.9 million domestically. The comparisons to both “Moana” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” the other two recent Disney Animation titles, is more difficult seeing as Disney moved up the release of “Frozen II” to a week ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.
Internationally, “Frozen II” also opened to $18.6 million across 26 markets and was the number one title in all of them. It also posted the highest animated opening day of all-time in Korea, Indonesia, Turkey, Philippines, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. So far the key markets it has opened in include Korea, France and Germany.
Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Kristoff and Sven are back for another animated adventure in the Kingdom of Arendelle, as the group travels to a hidden, magical forest that may contain secrets about their past and hold the key to saving Arendelle’s future.
“Frozen II” is directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, and Kirsten Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad all returned to the voice cast. The film’s newcomers are Evan Rachel Wood, Sterling K. Brown, Jason Segel, Martha Plimpton, Ciarán Hinds, Rachel Matthews and Alfred Molina. Critics have been somewhat more muted on the new “Frozen,” as the film has a 77 percent fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes, compared to the original’s 90 percent. However, it still has a 94% verified audience score from Rotten Tomatoes and a 4.5 out of 5-star rating from ComScore’s PostTrak ratings system among general audiences and kids.
“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” which is based on a true story surrounding the life of Fred Rogers, made $900,000 at the Thursday box office from 2,865 screens at previews beginning at 4:30 p.m.
Sony Pictures is releasing the Mister Rogers movie starring Tom Hanks and Matthew Rhys and is projecting an opening of $14 million, with independent trackers saying it could go to between $17-20 million. The film is a mid-budget movie and an awards hopeful for Hanks especially.
“Can You Ever Forgive Me?” director Marielle Heller helms the story of a jaded journalist at Esquire magazine in the 1990s who is assigned to write a profile on Mister Rogers and finds his life transformed by Rogers’ sincerity and charm. It currently has a 97% score on Rotten Tomatoes and should perform well into the Thanksgiving holiday.
Finally, STXfilms’ “21 Bridges” starring Chadwick Boseman made $700,000 in its Thursday night previews. It opens on 2,665 screens this weekend. Comparisons include “Widows,” which took in $572,500 before opening to $12.3 million, or Focus Features’ “Harriet” from earlier this month, which had $600,000 in previews and opened to $11.6 million.
It is a mid-budget movie of approximately $33 million that’s poised to open between $12-14 million. STX is hoping to cash in on the pedigree of “Avengers: Endgame” directors Anthony and Joe Russo, who produced the thriller that features “Black Panther” star Boseman.
Boseman plays a detective in New York who puts the entire city on lockdown in order to track two suspected cop killers (Stephan James and Taylor Kitsch). Sienna Miller, Keith David, and J. K. Simmons also star in the film, which is directed by Brian Kirk from a script by Matthew Michael Carnahan and Adam Mervis. The film is a production of STXfilms, MWM Studios and Huayi Brothers Pictures.
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www.thewrap.com | 11/22/19
‘The Whistlers’ Director on How a Documentary and a Lot of Classic Noir Films Inspired His New Comedy
A version of this story about “The Whistlers” first appeared in the International Film issue of TheWrap’s Oscar magazine.
Director Corneliu Porumboiu was a central member of the influential New Romanian Cinema, which has shockingly been completely ignored by Oscar voters. His new film, “The Whistlers,” is his second to represent that country in the Oscar race after his deadpan, talky 2009 film “Police, Adjective.” Porumboiu discussed his new movie, a wry film noir about a detective on one of the Canary Islands, where the residents have perfected a language that consists entirely of whistling.
I know this film was inspired when you saw something on TV about the whistling language on the island of La Gomera, but how did you get from that to this particular story?
I was all the time interested to have in the center of the film the process of whistling. I wanted to make a film about a guy who was going to learn the language to do something bad, and after that this language became more important to him. All the time I was thinking, “Let’s do this film with this second character from ‘Police, Adjective’ — someone who in his ideology can’t last.”
Was it always clear that this was going to be a genre movie, a film noir?
The film can be very funny, but it’s a deadpan, dry humor.
This was your biggest budget film. Did you run into challenges because of its scale?
Does it seem as crazy to you as it does to some of us that Romania has never even been nominated for an Oscar in the international category?
Read more from the International Film issue of TheWrap’s Oscar magazine.
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www.thewrap.com | 11/19/19
This story first appeared in the Race Begins issue of TheWrap’s Oscar magazine.
On the face of it, this is not the most promising comic setup: A 10-year-old boy living in Germany in the second half of World War II wants so much to be a good little Nazi that he creates an imaginary friend who happens to be Adolf Hitler. Then the boy finds that his mother is hiding a teenage Jewish girl behind a wall in their home, which throws his carefully nurtured hate for a loop.
That is the premise of Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit,” which is loosely adapted from the Christine Leunens novel “Caging Skies” (which did not have an imaginary Hitler in it). The New Zealand-born director of “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” and “Thor: Ragnarok” took the premise, made a satiric comedy starring Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Thomasin McKenzie and newcomer Roman Griffin Davis (plus Waititi himself as Hitler) and won the audience award at the Toronto International Film Festival with it.
But for all its success with the TIFF crowd, “Jojo Rabbit” is a polarizing film for an era in which joking about Nazis isn’t as easy as it was in the days of “The Producers” and “Hogan’s Heroes.” Waititi sat down to explain his approach to the project.
Were you expecting the film to be divisive?
What issues came up?
Was there resistance when you were pitching it?
Did Fox Searchlight respond right away?
Did you have a sense that it had become more timely?
Yeah, it’s weird to say, “It’s great for the movie that neo-Nazis are on the rise around the world!” It’s great for the movie, not so good for the world.
Were there certain keys to making this movie work?
You can get humor out of inept, funny Nazis, but at a certain point you’ve got to say more than “Look at these funny Nazis,” because they are Nazis.
A while back you tweeted a link to an article by Todd Phillips where he said that woke culture was killing comedy. I take it you don’t agree.
Read more from the Race Begins issue of TheWrap Oscar magazine.
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www.thewrap.com | 11/18/19
This weekend saw “Joker” become the first movie with an R rating to gross $1 billion at the box office. That alone is enough to immortalize it in the comic book movie canon. But when compared to some of the big DC and Marvel tentpoles that have defined the movie ecosystem over the past few years, it’s amazing how Gotham City’s most infamous villain has beaten the superheroes at their own game.
To show just how special “Joker”‘s box office run has been, we have compared its domestic and overseas performance to a small sample of comic book movies that it has passed on the all-time charts:
– “Justice League,” a film featuring all of DC’s biggest superheroes
– “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” a DC film with a similarly dark tone to “Joker”
– “Suicide Squad,” the last DC film to feature a version of the Joker
– and “Thor: Ragnarok,” a Marvel film released in autumn that was a hit with audiences.
Against those four films, “Joker” had an $96.2 million opening well below that of the latter three and only slightly above the $93.8 million start of “Justice League.” But as you can see in the chart below, “Joker” has lasted longer with audiences than any of those films and is on the verge of passing the entire domestic run of “BvS.”
This is partly because “Joker” has taken advantage of weak competition. Films like “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” and “Terminator: Dark Fate” haven’t made a big splash with audiences, allowing “Joker” to sustain its status as the sole can’t-miss film a lot longer than our current, content-overloaded pop culture allows a lot of movies to have.
But of course, that required “Joker” to strike a chord loud enough to have such can’t-miss status to begin with. As we noted last month, “Joker” was able to hit that increasingly rare sweet spot between pop culture phenomenon and critical darling. Its big Venice win and fears of triggering real life violence kicked pre-release buzz into overdrive, and the overwhelmingly strong response from the usual comic book movie crowd spilled over into the general moviegoing populace, allowing it to linger in the top 5 for over a month.
But that’s only half of the story. What makes “Joker” a truly special box office hit is that unlike many of its comic book brethren, it grossed $1 billion without the aid of China.
Instead, it vastly overperformed in many other major markets, showing the same kind of long-lasting performance all over the world that it did in the U.S.. In the next chart, you can see how “Joker” and the four films we chose stacked up in “Joker”‘s five highest grossing international markets: United Kingdom, Mexico, Japan, France and Germany.
Not only does “Joker” have totals that dwarf those of all the others — including $70 million in the U.K. — it also beat the other DC film that grossed $1 billion in the past year: “Aquaman.”
With “Frozen II” kicking off the holiday movie season early next weekend, it’s likely that “Joker” will see its final global total fall short of the $1.14 billion that “Aquaman” grossed last winter. But even if that happens, it’s only because “Aquaman” had a Chinese release and “Joker” didn’t. Take away the $291 million that “Aquaman” grossed in the Middle Kingdom, and its global total drops down to $857 million.
It’s difficult to say whether “Joker” can become a trendsetter when it comes to comic book movies, but it certainly has pushed the boundaries on what can be done with the genre and what global audiences will respond to.
Following the critical disappointment of “Batman v Superman” and “Justice League,” much discussion was had about the “grimdark” tone that DC Films was using towards its superheroes. But while films like “Wonder Woman” and “Shazam!” have pushed the heroes in a more hopeful direction, a “grimdark,” Scorsese-inspired tale about a DC villain was embraced by audiences as something unique and fresh.
And unlike the other $1 billion-plus superhero hits — even the “Avengers” films — “Joker” did it all on a mid-sized budget. With a production cost reported to be in between $55-70 million, “Joker” has provided Warner Bros. with one of the biggest returns on investment in blockbuster history. Even as other WB films like “The Kitchen,” “Motherless Brooklyn” and “Doctor Sleep” have flopped this autumn, “Joker” has joined forces with “It: Chapter Two” to erase any financial losses those films may have incurred.
It may be a good while before we see a box office run from an R-rated film like this again.
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www.thewrap.com | 11/18/19
This Veterans Day, take a moment to honor someone who took the time out to serve our country in the military. And barring that, watch a film or show featuring one of these Hollywood stars who will most definitely be celebrating Veterans Day on Monday. Some of the actors on this list have military careers that date all the way back to World War II. And while this list excludes celebrities who have passed away, including people like James Stewart, Elvis Presley and Bea Arthur, there’s more than enough patriotism on this list to go around.
Adam Driver joined up in the Marines shortly after 9/11 and served for two years and eight months before being medically discharged after suffering a mountain biking accident. He was assigned to Weapons Company, 1st Battalian, 1st Marines. And though he was never deployed, he did get a nickname from his fellow Marines: “Ears Two.” He explained to Stephen Colbert that he was one of two guys in his battalion with big ears, but that he avoided most of the verbal ridicule. He told The Guardian how serving changed his outlook on life. “There’s something about going into the military and having all of your identity and possessions stripped away: that whole clarity of purpose thing. It becomes very clear to you, when you get your freedom back, that there’s stuff you want to do.”
Though he’s more well known as a Western cowboy, Clint Eastwood was drafted into the Korean War and served as a lifeguard while training at Fort Ord in California. He was discharged in 1953 and was able to attend acting school during his tenure thanks to the G.I. Bill.
Morgan Freeman actually turned down a partial scholarship for acting and instead opted to join the Air Force. For nearly four years between 1955 to 1959, he served as a radar technician and rose to the rank of Airman 1st Class. He told AARP magazine (via military.com) that he felt as though he were sitting “in the nose of a bomb” once he finally trained to fly a fighter plane. “You are not in love with this; you are in love with the idea of this,” Freeman said.
Chuck Norris joined the U.S. Air Force as an air policeman beginning in 1958, eventually being sent to Osan Air Base in South Korea. It was there he developed his signature martial arts form, the Chun Kuk Do. He was later discharged in 1962.
The “Magnum P.I.” actor Tom Selleck served in the California Army National Guard between 1967 to 1973.
In an effort to support his girlfriend and newly born daughter, Ice-T enlisted in the military to get off the streets and found himself stationed in Hawaii in the 25th Infantry Division between 1977 to 1979. It was there he started meeting people who helped inspire his music career as a rapper.
The famed Italian singer Tony Bennett, now in his ’90s, was drafted to serve in World War II in Nov. 1944, and by March of 1945, he was sent to the front line through France and into Germany as part of the 63rd Infantry Division, better known as the “Blood and Fire” division. In his autobiography “The Good Life,” Bennett recalled the experience as having a “front row seat in hell.”
Comedian Rob Riggle served in the Marines for 23 years, first joining up in 1990 when he said he would rather be a “Top Gun” pilot than be a waiter. He served in Kosovo, Liberia, Afghanistan and Albania during his time, becoming a decorated lieutenant colonel in the process. And though he wanted to enter into flight school, he realized it would hinder his dream of one day doing comedy. “I stopped flying, became a ground officer, had a short contract, fulfilled my contract and pursued comedy and acting,” Riggle told CBS News. “I stayed in the reserves though and did the reserves for the last 14 years. And I just retired in January from the Marines. This is a great country, you can do it all.”
Robin Quivers, a co-host on Howard Stern’s radio show, rose to the rank of captain while enlisted in the U.S. Air Force between 1975 and 1978. She was discharged shortly after, but remained a member of the reserve with no active duty until 1990, according to the biography “Howard Stern: King of All Media.”
Colombian-American actress Zulay Henao served three years in the U.S. Army, telling Maxim she joined up right after high school and immediately felt the pressure of basic training at Fort Bragg. “it was miserable. I quickly realized I’d have to change my attitude if I was going to get through it. I’ve always tried to make the most out of my experiences, but that one was tough,” she told Maxim.
Kirk Douglas had a brief stint in the U.S. Navy, joining up shortly after America entered World War II, serving on a submarine between 1943 and 1944, according to CNN.
James Earl Jones
Though he was recruited during the most active time during the Korean War and eventually to the rank of first lieutenant, James Earl Jones was stationed at a cold-weather training command base in Leadville, Colorado beginning in 1953.
Gene Hackman said on an episode of “Inside the Actors’ Studio” that when he was 16, he lied about his age and enlisted in the marine corps in 1946. He spent four and a half years as a field radio operator and was stationed in China for a time before being assigned to Hawaii and Japan.
The comedy legend Mel Brooks served in World War II as a combat engineer, defusing land mines as a corporal in the 1104 Engineer Combat Division. “I was a combat engineer. Isn’t that ridiculous? The two things I hate most in the world are combat and engineering,” Brooks joked to military.com. “War isn’t hell… War is loud. Much too noisy. All those shells and bombs going off all around you. Never mind death. A man could lose his hearing.”
Robert Duvall may be known for his Vietnam War movie “Apocalypse Now,” but he did briefly serve in the Army shortly after the Korean War, even acting in plays while stationed in Camp Gordon in Georgia. He served two years and left as a private first class. He did have to clarify the extent of his service however, telling People in 1984 (via military.com), “Some stories have me shooting it out with the Commies from a foxhole over in Frozen Chosen. Pork Chop Hill stuff. Hell, I barely qualified with the M-1 rifle in basic training.”
Drew Carey still has his crew cut and signature glasses that he first started wearing back in his Marine Corps days when he served as a field radio operator in the 25th Marine Regiment in Ohio. The comedian served for six years and has frequently given back to the military in the form of performances for the USO.
The comedian Sinbad told Ebony magazine that he nearly had a dishonorable discharge for going AWOL while he was serving in the air force as a boom operator, including frequently leaving to perform stand-up comedy and because he failed to make the Air Force basketball team.
Sidney Poitier lied about his age to enlist during World War II and wound up in a VA hospital in Northport, New York, serving for a year before obtaining a discharge in 1944.
While best known as a military doctor on “M.A.S.H.,” Alda completed a minimum six-month tour of duty in the Korean War as a gunnery officer.
Director Oliver Stone’s combat experience in Vietnam directly contributed to his films “Platoon” and “Born on the Fourth of July” that would become staples of his career. Stone served in the Army for over a year between 1967 and 1968 and was even wounded twice in battle. He’s been honored with a Bronze Star with “V” device for heroism in ground combat and a Purple Heart with an Oak Leaf Cluster.
www.thewrap.com | 11/8/19
Sandra Bullock is reteaming up with Netflix after finding success with “Bird Box;” the actress is set to star in an untitled drama for the streaming service about life after prison.
Nora Fingscheidt will direct the film that’s based on a script by “Mission: Impossible” franchise director Christopher McQuarrie. McQuarrie adapted the screenplay from the BAFTA-nominated British miniseries “Unforgiven” from 2009. McQuarrie added in a statement on Twitter that the first draft of the screenplay actually dates back to 2010.
The untitled film stars Bullock as Ruth Slater, a woman released from prison after serving a sentence for a violent crime and who re-enters a society that refuses to forgive her past. Facing severe judgment from the place she once called home, her only hope for redemption is finding the estranged younger sister she was forced to leave behind.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” producer Graham King is producing for his GK Films, along with Bullock for Fortis Films and Veronica Ferres for Construction Film. Nan Morales, Nicola Shindler, Sally Wainwright and Colin Vaines are executive producing the project.
Bullock most recently starred in “Bird Box” for Netflix. The 2018 horror and thriller film from director Susanne Bier is one of Netflix’s top-performing films, with the streamer saying that the movie was watched across 80 million accounts during its first four weeks on the service.
Fingscheidt is a German filmmaker who earlier this year directed the drama “System Crasher,” which is Germany’s official submission to the 2020 Academy Awards. The film premiered at the International Berlin Film Festival earlier this year and has won 24 international awards, including Berlin’s Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Award for new perspectives in cinema for Fingscheidt.
McQuarrie directed the last two “Mission: Impossible” movies and is attached to direct the seventh and eighth films in the franchise. He also wrote the script for Tom Cruise’s upcoming “Top Gun Maverick.”
Bullock is represented by CAA.
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www.thewrap.com | 11/4/19
Actor-writer-director Taika Waititi has graduated in recent years from being New Zealand’s indie wunderkind to a box-office blockbuster filmmaker whose celebrated comedy style transcends fandom and genre. You’d be hard-pressed to find a genuinely bad film in his filmography, so as we explore his six efforts behind the camera, take into consideration that, for the most part, we’re splitting hairs. He’s a singular talent who blends hard-hitting emotional storylines with whimsical gags so meticulously, it’s hard to believe he got away with it.
6. “Eagle vs. Shark” (2007)
Taika Waititi’s debut film is a low-key comedy about outcasts combating depression, but although Waititi seems sensitive to their plight, “Eagle vs. Shark” is frustratingly off balance. Loren Taylor stars as an introverted young woman with a crush on a socially awkward Jemaine Clement; she follows him to his hometown, where he plans to finally beat up his old high-school bully. But Clement is such a self-centered blowhard that it’s hard to work up any interest in seeing these two allegedly lovable kooks wind up together. She’s a delight, he’s a cad, and although we can sympathize with their unique brands of unhappiness, it’s clear that — despite the film’s seemingly happy ending — one of our heroes has a lot more work to do before they’re ready to be the partner the other one needs.
5. “Thor: Ragnarok” (2017)
Taika Waititi’s quirky Marvel Cinematic Universe movie is just the shot of adrenaline the God of Thunder needed. “Ragnarok” sends Chris Hemsworth’s hero to a planet where he’s promptly imprisoned and forced to fight the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo, never better as Banner or his counterpart), while Thor’s brother Loki manipulates the weird dystopia behind the scenes, and while Tessa Thompson steals every single scene as the hard-drinking Valkyrie. Meanwhile, Cate Blanchett vamps it up as Hela, the rejected daughter of Odin who successfully conquers Asgard in Thor’s absence. Beautifully stylized and very funny, “Thor: Ragnarok” only suffers because it came after the cliffhanger ending of “Thor: The Dark World” and has to wrap up stray plot points for a whole act before Waititi is finally free to cut loose and take the franchise in refreshing, weird directions.
4. “Jojo Rabbit” (2019)
It takes a skillful and sensitive comic filmmaker to turn Nazi Germany into the backdrop for a sweet coming-of-age story, and Waititi has what it takes. “Jojo Rabbit” stars Roman Griffin Davis as the title character, a young boy in the waning years of World War II who believes in German propaganda so much that his imaginary best friend is Adolf Hitler, played (cheekily) by Waititi himself. Jojo’s unexamined fanaticism gets challenged when he learns his mother, played by Scarlett Johansson, is hiding a young Jewish girl named Else (Thomasin McKenzie, “Leave No Trace”) in their crawlspace. “Jojo Rabbit” vigorously mocks the idiotic mob mentality of hatred while tenderly pulling one of the converted back into humane empathy, evoking tears and laughter in equal measure. It’s an excellent film, but just a little more contrived than Waititi’s other delightful comedies.
3. “Boy” (2010)
Waititi’s often-overlooked second film is another heartbreaking and hilarious coming-of-age tale about a boy desperately searching for a father figure, even though his best hope (as played by Taika Waititi) is clearly hopeless. James Rolleston plays the title character, who in the early 1980s is obsessed with Michael Jackson and his absentee father, who shows up by surprise one day to search for money he buried in the backyard, deigning to spend time with his sons while he’s looking. Waititi gives his best performance in “Boy,” as a man who takes advantage of his dad status but is clearly unqualified to mentor a houseplant, let alone children. Absolutely earnest, lovely, funny and tear-jerking filmmaking, with just a hint of magic along the edges.
2. “What We Do in the Shadows” (2014)
You’d be hard pressed to find a funnier modern horror comedy than “What We Do in the Shadows,” co-directed by and co-starring Waititi and Clement. A group of vampires from very different generations share a house together in New Zealand, struggling every day to adjust to contemporary culture while their centuries-old neuroses go completely unchecked. “Shadows” humanizes these monsters but never forgets they are, indeed, murderers, and the sometimes gruesome contrast is a whimsically ghoulish delight. But we can’t help but love these creatures of the night, who just want friendship and love and acceptance even while they’re sucking your veins dry. And the cameo by a group of equally sensitive modern werewolves is a classic piece of comedy.
1. “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” (2016)
Waititi’s finest coming-of-age story, so far, tells the story of a standoffish orphan (Julian Dennison) who finally finds the right, loving parents. But when tragedy strikes, and he’s about to be taken away, he escapes into the woods with his foster father (Sam Neill); getting back takes so long that all of New Zealand thinks the boy has been kidnapped. With nothing left to lose, they decide to stay on the run and live off the land, building a spectacular bond while the efforts to catch them get increasingly ludicrous. It starts intimate and evolves into straight-up “Mad Max” territory, and the filmmaking is so natural — and the characters are so specific and endearing — that you’d be hard-pressed to figure out where exactly the shift occurs. “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” is a family film masterpiece, as raucous as it is heartwarming.
www.thewrap.com | 10/18/19
The 7th Lumière Film Festival’s International Classic Film Market (MIFC) is expanding its international scope this year with more foreign companies than ever before taking part in the event, high-profile guests and an examination of Germany’s heritage cinema sector. With 17 international firms from 25 countries at the event, the MIFC has reported a 20% […]
variety.com | 10/14/19
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.
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www.thewrap.com | 10/1/19
This post was co-authored by Anriette Esterhuysen and Wim Degezelle. Authors are Consultants with the IGF Secretariat, supporting the work of the 2019 Best Practice Forums.
IGF Best Practice Forums, an opportunity to bring your experience to the policy debate
In the run-up to the 14th Internet Governance Forum in Berlin, Germany, 25 to 29 November, different groups are discussing best practices pertaining to specific internet governance policy questions. These groups are open and thrive on your input and experiences. Their findings will be presented at the IGF and published shortly after.
The IGF Best Practice Forums intend to inform internet governance policy debates by drawing on the immense and diverse range of experience and expertise found in the global IGF community to create a resource of best practices and policy recommendations. For 2019 there are four Best Practice Forums: on Cybersecurity, on IoT, Big Data, and AI, on Gender and Access, and on Local content.
The BPF Cybersecurity explores how international cybersecurity initiatives, such as the Paris Call for Trust and Cybersecurity in Cyberspace or the GCSC's Norm Package for Responsible Behaviour in Cyberspace, can be turned into actions that make a difference. The BPF identified a body of international cybersecurity agreements and is inviting their stakeholders, supporters and signatories to share experiences and thoughts on how to implement and operationalise the high-level principles, norms and policy approaches they support or signed up to. Details on the BPF and the Call for contributions are on the BPF Cybersecurity webpage.
The BPF Gender and Access is focusing on what happens once women and LGBTIQ people have some form of access to the internet? In particular, what opportunities and challenges do they have to deal with if they want to participate meaningfully in the digital economy. The BPF put out a call for contributions, now closed, to help them identify the scope of these challenges and what interventions, including policy approaches, are needed to address them. Learn more on the BPF Gender and Access webpage.
The BPF IoT, Big Data, AI acknowledges the huge potential of the new technologies to address societal policy challenges when applied in concert in an internet context. The expectations are high, both in terms of new solutions and making existing solutions more efficient. The BPF is focussing on three clusters of policy questions pertaining to the application of IoT, Big Data, AI technologies to address societal challenges: enhancing trust in the applications, stimulating their use and uptake, and the collection and management of the data. The BPF is currently conducting a public survey, more details on the BPF and survey are on the BPF IoT, Big Data, AI webpage.
The BPF Local Content is exploring how the internet can be used to preserve local language and cultural heritage, particularly in current contexts where cultural and linguistic diversity, artifacts and histories are at risk as a result of political and social shifts and upheaval. The BPF will soon be putting out a call for contributions to help gather examples and best practices of how digital technologies and the internet can be used to promote, preserve and share local culture and content. The BPF would also like to identify best practices of how to manage and promote the digitisation of existing analogue content (printed and electronic media, cinema, etc.) and services. A call for contributions will be published on the BPF Local Content webpage in the next few weeks.
IGF Best Practice Forums are open to all interested. Consult their respective webpages for details on how to get involved or subscribe to their mailing list.
Written by Wim Degezelle, Independent Internet Policy Analyst and Consultant
www.circleid.com | 9/13/19
The world premieres of James Mangold’s “Ford v Ferrari,” the Safdie brothers’ “Uncut Gems,” Edward Norton’s “Motherless Brooklyn,” Tom Harper’s “The Aeronauts,” Kelly Reichardt’s “First Cow” and Rupert Goold’s “Judy” will highlight the lineup of the 2019 Telluride Film Festival. The festival announced its slate of films on Thursday, one day before the three-day event will kick off in the Colorado mountain town.
Stars headed to the Colorado mountain town should include Matt Damon and Christian Bale for the auto-racing drama “Ford v Ferrari,” Adam Sandler for “Uncut Gems,” Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones for the period piece “The Aeronauts” and Renee Zellweger for the Judy Garland story “Judy.”
Special tributes and Silver Medallion Awards will be presented to Zellweger, Adam Driver and director Philip Kaufman.
Portions of Ken Burns’ upcoming documentary series, “Country Music,” will also be screened in Telluride, as will Agnes Varda’s final film, “Agnes by Varda,” Davis Guggenheim’s Bill Gates documentary “Inside Bill’s Brain” and Trey Edward Shults’ “Waves.”
The three short films will include “Lost and Found” and “Into the Fire,” both by Orlando von Einsiedel, the Oscar-winning director of the short “The White Helmets.”
The festival, which selects a carefully-curated group of about two dozen films, has also opted to showcase a number of films from this year’s Cannes Film Festival, including Pedro Almodovar’s “Pain and Glory,” Celine Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” Terrence Malick’s “A Hidden Life,” Kantemir Balagov’s “Beanpole” and Bong Joon Ho’s Palme d’Or winner, “Parasite.”
Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story,” Fernando Meirelles’ “The Two Popes” and Lauren Greenfield’s “The Kingmaker” are among the films that will go to Telluride after premiering at the Venice Film Festival. “Marriage Story” is the only film to be playing all four of the fall festivals – Venice, Telluride, Toronto and New York – while “The Kingmaker” is the only documentary to be screening at Venice, Telluride and Toronto.
Telluride typically showcases a group of films that include many Oscar nominees-to-be, though its eight-year streak of screening the eventual Best Picture winner came to an end last year when “Green Book” skipped Telluride, premiered in Toronto and went on to win the top prize. Of last year’s Telluride selections, only two, “Roma” and “The Favourite,” would receive best-pic nominations, though the 2018 selection also included Oscar winners “Free Solo” (documentary feature) and “First Man” (visual effects) and nominees “Cold War,” “Shoplifters” and “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
Telluride screenings begin on Friday and end on Monday.
· THE AERONAUTS (d. Tom Harper, U.S. – U.K., 2019)
Selections from guest director Pico Iyer:
Additional film revivals:
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www.thewrap.com | 8/29/19
Right-wing extremist protests are on the rise and migrants continue to be targeted for violence. Has Germany's "welcome culture" come to an end? A new study by the Bertelsmann Foundation suggests otherwise.
www.dw.com | 8/29/19
The German government wants to promote a culture of innovation to develop CO2-neutral aviation. Chancellor Merkel has said Germany must develop more alternative fuel sources, including hydrogen-based energy technology.
www.dw.com | 8/21/19
This weekend, a European phenomenon is back — though Americans may have to hunt for clips on YouTube or seek out a VPN and watch via another country’s home broadcaster.
The Eurovision Song Contest, a cross between “The X Factor” and the Miss Universe pageant that offers Yanks a glimpse of what it’s like to be in a culture that doesn’t have jazz and blues as the foundation of its pop music.
For those who’ve never seen — or even heard of Eurovision — before, here’s a quick primer to get you caught up.
What exactly is this contest?
That sounds like a pretty noble goal.
Then there are the artists themselves. As Eurovision has evolved, more and more ridiculous acts have come out of the woodwork. Finnish monster-rock bands, Russian grandmas and Latvian pirates are among the acts that have performed for a TV audience of hundreds of millions in recent Eurovisions. And that Finnish monster rock band actually won.
Jeez! So is this just some musical freak show?
There’s also a small handful of top stars on the winners’ list you might recognize. ABBA used Eurovision as a launch pad to stardom in 1974 with their song “Waterloo,” and French-Canadian Celine Dion’s win in 1988 was her biggest claim to fame before “Titanic” came out. Quality — or at least creativity — does tend to win out at Eurovision.
OK, so how does this contest work?
Then the show transitions to a long procession of national “ambassadors” reading out who each country gave their votes to. The top 10 performers in each country’s vote get points, with 12 points going to the top vote-getter, followed by 10 and then eight down to one for the rest of the order. The same goes with the juries, but with 10 points going to the performer in first place.
And what does the performer with the most points win?
What? No prize money? No contract? No vague promises of superstardom?
Even now, a good chunk of the acts are homogenous power ballads that can blur together when performed in succession. Still, Eurovision is worth watching just for the spectacle of it all. The Disneyland-esque sweetness of the proceedings is charming, and the lack of stakes for the performers keeps it feeling light and fun rather than a battle for wealth, glory, and continental supremacy.
It has also made headlines in recent years that have allowed it to take steps beyond the realm of annual oddities like the Running of the Bulls. The winner in 2014 was gay Austrian singer Thomas Neuwirth, who performed as drag queen superstar Conchita Wurst. The victory transformed Conchita into an LGBT icon in Europe, even as Russian conservatives raged in fury and used the singer as an example of why Russia shouldn’t be a part of the EU. For all of Eurovision’s platitudes about tolerance and peace, this was a moment where those ideals were actually acted upon, even if it meant breaking the general tone of inoffensiveness.
If it’s supposed to be European, why is Australia a competitor?
So…if all these countries that aren’t strictly European are competing, does this mean we may be seeing the USA compete in Eurovision soon?
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www.thewrap.com | 5/18/19
After Cannes’ opening night film “The Dead Don’t Die” got the festival off to a somewhat slow start with mixed reviews, Wednesday’s two debuts, “Les Misérables” and “Bacurau,” proved that this year’s lineup will have some life in it.
Ladj Ly’s “Les Misérables” isn’t based on Victor Hugo’s classic story, but it’s set in the same region in France and has the spirit of the original. Ly (picture above) originally directed an acclaimed short in 2017 of the same name that set the stage for this larger feature focused on police brutality and crime. The Guardian critic said Ly’s feature debut had a dose of “humor, cynicism, energy and savvy” and was worthy of some comparisons to previous Palme d’Or winner Jacques Audiard’s “Dheepan.”
Another reviewer even predicted we might already have a prize winner on our hands. “‘Les Miserables,’ Cannes’s first prize-worthy film of this still young-edition,” Screen Comment said in a tweet. “Edge-of-your-seat realism that echoes the 2005 riots in France, this film is winning #Cannes19.”
The industry took notice as well, with Anne Thompson reporting that Ly was already signed by CAA and that his film has become a hot title on the market.
The same could be said about “Bacurau,” a Brazilian film from the directors of “Aquarius.” David Ehrlich at IndieWire called it a “delirious Western” that amazingly features Udo Kier “fighting ghosts with a sniper.” He added that it is part “Hostel” and part “Seven Samurai.”John Carpenter takes a bow
Cult horror master John Carpenter, the director of “The Thing” and “Halloween,” among many others, graciously accepted the Golden Coach award from the French directors guild at the festival’s opening ceremony as part of the Director’s Fortnight. According to Reuters, Carpenter said he had been fascinated by cinema since he saw “The African Queen” at age three.
“It’s that transportation of an audience through the world of light and the shadows around it that I’m proud to be a part of,” he said.
Film Twitter also had fun spotting him with other horror luminaries like Dario Argento, and his presence felt even more significant in part because some critics felt “Bacurau” gave off vibes of early Carpenter classics.A surprise from Todd Haynes
There’s always a handful of films each year that make their way to the festival marketplace under the radar, and this year’s biggest title was the documentary on the Velvet Underground from director Todd Haynes. THR reported that footage from the movie would screen Thursday at the Cinema Olympia and would be presented to buyers by Cinetic and Submarine.
First reported in January, the documentary would be Haynes’ first, but the musically inclined director behind “I’m Not There” and “Velvet Goldmine” is in good standing to handle the story of Lou Reed and one of the most influential rock bands of all time.“Moonfall” has a Big Landing
Roland Emmerich’s $150 million sci-fi space epic “Moonfall” sold for a reported low-eight figures in both Germany and Switzerland, according to Deadline. An unnamed German indie conglomerate that handles distributors TMG and Universum purchased the film, which Emmerich is writing and directing, and Stuart Ford’s AGC Studios and CAA Media Finance are handling worldwide sales.
“Moonfall” tells the story of a ragtag team of astronauts who are forced to land on the moon’s surface when the moon is knocked out of Earth’s orbit, sending it hurtling on a collision course with Earth and threatening all of mankind.
Among some of the other buzzy deals taking place on Wednesday and overnight, SP Media Group acquired a majority stake in Atlas Comics library, and Paramount has come aboard for a first look deal, according to Deadline. Atlas company is run by Jason Goodman, the grandson of Marvel Comics co-founder and publisher Martin Goodman. And a project is already set to be produced with an eye on a 2021 release.
“Avatar” star Sam Worthington has joined the Australian thriller “Gold,” which Anthony Hayes will co-write, direct and co-star in. Saboteur Media has come aboard the film to handle sales at Cannes, according to THR.
A Michael Caine movie has also hit the market at Cannes, this one called “Best Sellers,” which stars Caine as a washed-up, alcoholic of an author who goes out on a book tour with a young editor in order to help save a publishing house, according to THR. Anthony Grieco wrote the original screenplay, and Foresight Unlimited is handling international sales.
“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” star Noomi Rapace is set to star in an action movie from Vicky Jewson called “Sylvia” in which she’ll star as a Mossad agent, according to Variety. WestEnd is handling sales at Cannes.
And finally, Epic Pictures acquired the U.S. rights to the horror comedy “Harpoon” from director Rob Grant, according to Variety. The film stars Munro Chambers, Emily Tyra and Christopher Gray in a black comedy about three friends who get stranded out at sea on a yacht.
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www.thewrap.com | 5/16/19
The 2019 Cannes Film Festival is underway, but a big question on some attendees’ minds might not be about a movie at all, but a TV series. That’s because many festival-goers are probably scrambling to figure out, “How in the name of Westeros can I watch the series finale of ‘Game of Thrones’ on Sunday?”
Since HBO NOW and HBO GO are not accessible for U.S. subscribers while in France, TheWrap has figured out how “Game of Thrones” fans can watch the final showdown in real time without having to learn who ends up on the Iron Throne through social media.
And don’t worry, it won’t take a prayer to the Old Gods and the New. But it will take either an HBO Europe subscription or having the right hotel room — or a friend in the right hotel room — because a Cannes attendee can view the series finale at the same time it airs in the U.S. via the French provider OCS (Orange Cinema Series).
So what you’ll need to do is check around to see if your hotel — or your friends’ hotels — is an Orange subscriber. If it is, then you can tune in to watch the episode on OCS City at 3 a.m. local time on Monday. There will also be a primetime airing at 9 p.m. local time, later that day.
If you happen to be an Orange subscriber yourself, then you can also stream the episode on demand after it concludes its linear debut.
The complete final season of “Game of Thrones” will also be available to purchase via digital download in France on Tuesday at midnight (overnight Monday) on iTunes, Orange, Canal+, Microsoft, Sony and Google.
If you are subscribed to UK Sky Go and Now TV (a subscription-based internet television and video-on-demand service that is a division of Sky Limited), you can watch the finale on your devices in any country in the EU.
In Germany’s official guide from Sky, for example, it says Episode 806 will be shown locally at 3 a.m. (GMT+2) on Sky Atlantic, which is the same time it airs on HBO in the U.S. (9 p.m. ET). That means you’ll be able to access the episode via Sky Go and Now TV at that time. Sky will then air the series finale again on Monday at 8:15 p.m. local time.
If you don’t have a subscription to either of those services, but do subscribe to HBO Go or HBO NOW there is a way to connect to those platforms using a VPN.
A VPN is a virtual private network that builds a secure tunnel between your device and the internet that allows you to mask your location. This way, you can “trick” the platforms into thinking you are still in the U.S. (for HBO) or in the U.K. (for Sky). It’s extremely safe and most VPNs provide a high-quality streaming experience.
HBO tells TheWrap it is unaware of any planned finale viewing parties at Cannes. A spokesperson for the festival said all official screenings can be found in the Cannes program.
Of course, if this is all too much work for you: Fly home early, delete your Twitter app, or pray no one you talk to at Cannes reveals spoilers and wait until you’re back in the United States to watch the HBO fantasy series’ epic ending.
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www.thewrap.com | 5/15/19
Culture meets nature in Saxony: a mere 40 kilometers lie between splendid Baroque art and architecture in Dresden and the distinctive peaks of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains.
www.dw.com | 5/8/19
The country’s culture of remembrance is crumbling.
www.nytimes.com | 4/15/19
Jafaar Abdul Karim is not afraid to take on issues that many Muslim refugees in the country consider taboo. And, yes, he has had death threats.
www.nytimes.com | 4/5/19
State officials had ordered "Al Nur" to close following revelations that inappropriate literature had been shared at the kindergarten. The day care center is the only Muslim kindergarten in Rhineland-Palatinate.
www.dw.com | 3/27/19
This article deals with the Culture of Germany as a political state within Europe; for a review of the culture of the German-speaking world, see Culture of German-speaking Europe. German culture began long before the rise of Germany as a nation state. Due to its rich cultural history, Germany is often known as das Land der Dichter und Denker (the land of poets and thinkers). Germany, over the centuries, has produced a great number of polymaths, geniuses and notable people, such as Albert Einstein, Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Kepler, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Immanuel Kant, Johann Sebastian Bach, Karl Marx, Richard Wagner, Martin Luther, Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Benz, Georg Ohm, Rudolf Diesel, Gottfried Leibniz, Johannes Gutenberg, Richard Strauss, and Bertolt Brecht among others.