The Television Academy has delayed the Emmys voting schedule and banned all “for your consideration” events. The Tony Awards have been postponed. And with the global economy tanking, a big chunk of Hollywood out of work and a pandemic disrupting nearly every facet of everyday life, the Oscar season that would normally kick into high gear in September may well be thrown into chaos.
While movie awards obviously don’t occupy a spot very high on anybody’s priority list at this point, the damage could include the number of films that qualify for awards, the opportunities for contending films to be seen and the ways in which awards season itself will play out.
“This is a situation no one could have imagined,” Film Independent President Josh Welsh told TheWrap. “It’s having unparalleled impacts on filmmakers, festivals and our community as a whole.”
Kathleen McInnis, who programs film festivals and consults with independent filmmakers on release and awards strategy, compared the pitfalls to a favorite movie.
“It’s a dangerous position for everybody,” she said. “I feel like in ‘The Princess Bride,’ when they wander into the Fire Swamp with all sorts of dangers. I think we’re either about to run into flame spurts or lightning sand or be attacked by rodents of unusual size.”
Here are some possible areas that could be dramatically affected, with the caveat that things are clearly in flux on every front.
1. ELIGIBILITY RULES
Film Independent, which produces the Film Independent Spirit Awards, moved immediately to change its eligibility rules so that films would qualify for consideration simply by being chosen for one of several film festivals, whether or not those festivals actually took place. (More than 200 films have now qualified even though their SXSW, New Directors/New Films and Tribeca premieres were canceled.)
The Golden Globes followed suit, suspending two rules to allow films that lost their theatrical premieres to qualify, and substituting screeners and links for the HFPA screenings that once were required. And other awards shows, including the Critics’ Choice Awards, have told TheWrap that they are studying the landscape and determining if they need to make their own rule changes.
For its part, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released a statement that said, in part, “We are in the process of evaluating all aspects of this uncertain landscape and what changes may need to be made.” The organization’s Board of Governors is due to consider vote on new Oscar rules in April; the current rules require a seven-day theatrical run in Los Angeles County for a film to be eligible for the awards.
And according to the South by Southwest Film Festival, the Oscars already made an exception for that festival, which was canceled but still convened juries and gave out awards. A SXSW spokesperson said that the festival was assured by the Academy that its short-film winners still qualified for the Oscars in those categories, even though the festival did not take place.
2. FESTIVAL PREMIERES
Of last year’s 39 Oscar-nominated feature films, for example, 25 first played at film festivals. Three, all documentaries, premiered at Sundance, one at South by Southwest, seven at Cannes (including Best Picture winner “Parasite”), four at Venice, three at Telluride, five at Toronto, one at the New York Film Festival and one at the AFI Fest.
So far this year, Sundance took place but SXSW was canceled and Cannes was postponed, with no way to know if can actually take place in the late June/early July time slot it is eyeing. Given the cancellation of the 2020 Olympic Games, which was scheduled to begin in late July, it seems unlikely: “Everybody in the industry is thinking, ‘How can they possibly go on in June?'” one festival veteran admitted.
An awards consultant who has used Cannes to premiere Hollywood films thinks the major studios will stay away even if the festival does go on. “Who’s going to want to go there in June or July?” the consultant said of the festival that last year launched Sony’s “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” and Paramount’s “Rocketman.” “I understand that they’d still get international films, but the studios aren’t going to want to go there this year.”
If Cannes is moved, it will disrupt other festival schedules — and if does ends up being canceled, the likeliest destination for many of its films would be the Venice Film Festival in late August and early September. But with the entire country of Italy on lockdown, is that festival any more apt to take place than Cannes is?
What’s more, Venice simply doesn’t have the capacity to absorb significantly more films. That would push additional films to the Toronto International Film Festival, which has been undergoing internal changes and has tried to trim its enormous slate in the past few years, and the New York Film Festival, which typically programs the cream of earlier festivals with no more than three high-profile world premieres of its own.
Another factor is that Cannes helps countries identify the best films to submit to the Oscars’ Best International Film category. Out of last year’s entries from around the world, 15 were films that had screened in Cannes, including three of the five nominees: France’s “Les Misérables,” Spain’s “Pain and Glory” and the Oscar winner, South Korea’s “Parasite.” And with an Oct. 1 deadline in this category (at least for now), the submissions have to be made earlier than other categories.
“What’s happening with the festivals has to change awards season,” McInnis said. “It has to. For so many films, especially documentaries and short films, you use the festival circuit to your advantage, to have people track you and to build excitement and energy. What do you do now? How do you engineer awareness and excitement about titles and move them in front of people who make decisions about awards?”
3. RELEASE SCHEDULES
Assuming that U.S. movie theaters are open in the fall and release schedules are restored, though, more mainstream movies could be released at that time, making what might be a constricted theatrical market more challenging for indies and awards movies. McInnis calls it “a snowball effect,” as films whose spring and summer festivals were canceled will end up competing with films that were always planned for the fall, films that were shifted from summer to fall and films whose production was halted, but who managed to finish in time for 2020 releases. “There will be all these pipelines of films literally falling over each other to get to an audience,” she said.
Waiting for later in the year, another executive speculated, might be a better move this year: “I think November and December releases will have a better chance, because if we’re lucky, they’ll be coming out when things are righting themselves.”
Of course, this assumes that those end-of-year movies can actually be finished in time to meet their current release dates. One studio executive pointed out that while editing can be done in isolation, with an editor and director sharing work without being in the same room, one of the final stages is often recording the film’s musical score — and in most cases, that requires an orchestra sitting in close quarters and playing together.
The question now is how much of that will return, and whether the coronavirus fallout will hasten the Academy’s move to its members-only streaming platform. One potential change could be to the Oscars’ international category, where until now members could only vote in the first round after seeing the films in theaters. That may well change if people are still reluctant to congregate in the fall.
“I know they are delaying official screenings, thinking about VOD and streaming lending an assist,” one Academy member said, noting the high stakes since the awards broadcast is by far the Academy’s largest source of income. “They have to find a way to make the show viable.”
(According to its 2019 financial statement, the organization received $131 million from “Academy Awards and related activities,” about $3.6 million from membership dues and theater rentals, $12 million from net contributions and $23 million from investment income.)
During the days of isolation, the Academy has also been very active on social media, but some members are hoping for more activity on the members’ site. “I’m surprised the Academy portal is not showing movies and doing its own festivals,” one voter said.
“I think it will change for a while,” said Christine La Monte, an Academy member and movie producer who frequents campaign events, particularly for international films. “People might be a little more hesitant at first, but maybe it’ll go back to normal. The need to be with your creative community may eventually outweigh other things.”
Still, few people expect the upcoming season to be as much of a social whirlwind as Oscar season usually is — and some expect the tenor of the campaigns to be more subdued as well.
“The big question is how do you campaign respectfully?” asked one studio executive who has been in the thick of awards campaigns for years. “How do we support our filmmakers while being respectful of everything that is going on? From our perspective, it’s definitely going to change. It might take some of the competitiveness out of awards season. Things might not be as vocal or as competitive.”
Of course, at this point this is all speculation — it’s clear that things will be different, but the ways in which they’ll change depend on so many outside factors. “I don’t think anybody knows what’s going to happen, to be honest,” another awards consultant said. “If things get back to normal this summer, we may still be under some sort of social distancing protocol in the fall.”
Added McInnis, “Usually, when there are things that stop the process, you can see the end. With this, we have no end in sight. The unknown is really unknown.”
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www.thewrap.com | 4/2/20
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: email@example.com
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
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www.thewrap.com | 3/26/20
To the general populace, Madam C.J. Walker might be considered a relatively unknown figure. But for “Self Made” star Octavia Spencer, the story of America’s first self-made female millionaire is one she’s been familiar with for just about her entire life.
“I was raised with Madam C.J. as a standard-bearer in my home,” Spencer said in an interview with TheWrap. “My mom used her as an example to demonstrate to my siblings and I, because we were born of humble beginnings as well, what we could dream of ourselves … So I’ve known about her my whole life, and that’s why I thought it was time for her story to be told. So other young people could aspire to greatness.”
Spencer executive produces and stars in the four-part Netflix limited series “Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker,” chronicling Walker’s rise from a poor childhood in the South to becoming an ultra-successful business magnate in the early 1900s by manufacturing and selling a range of cosmetics and hair care products specifically made for black women.
“Madam C.J. is known in the black community,” Spencer said. “But that’s why it’s important. I felt it was important to tell her story not only so that she would be a shining example of black excellence, but also an example of what she actually achieved to the world … She was a multi-faceted woman and she contributed so much, not only to black culture, but to our culture and society as a whole.”
Walker was born in 1867 as Sarah Breedlove, before marrying Charles Joseph Walker (played by Blair Underwood in the series) in 1906 and taking his name as her own. By all accounts the two had a somewhat contentious relationship, but it was that name — Madam C.J. Walker — that would become her legacy, even after the couple’s divorce in 1912 and her death less than a decade later. By the 1920s, Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company products were being sold around the world.
Much of the historical basis for “Self Made” draws from the biography “On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker” by Walker’s great-great-granddaughter A’Lelia Bundles. A former news producer and president of the Madam C.J. Walker Family Archive, Bundles has a writing credit on all four episodes.
“I used that as my bible,” Spencer said. “And it was wonderful having her involved in [the show]. Without her work, there’s so many details we would never have known about Madam.”
Spencer describes Walker as a “force of nature,” and she plays her as such in the series, gritting her teeth and trusting in her vision and her ability over societal expectations. “I think she’s not only an example for young black girls but young girls at large, because they too can aspire to that kind of greatness,” she said. “Especially in such a misogynist time. It was a very difficult time for women, and she did not allow that to impede her process.”
Ultimately, Spencer hopes that story is one that will resonate with all audiences, perhaps inspiring viewers to seek out Bundles’ book and give Walker the household-name status she deserves.
“I think black women feel the same way about their hair as white women do — we all have a love-hate relationship with our hair,” Spencer said. “What Madam did was create a narrative and a space for black women to be empowered and to feel beautiful. And with that beauty and confidence become empowered and take charge of their own destiny. So I think that story is universal. You don’t have to be a black woman to understand that.”
“And you certainly don’t have to be a black woman to understand the love-hate relationship that all women have with their hair,” she said.
“Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C. J. Walker” premieres on Netflix March 20.
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www.thewrap.com | 3/18/20
The crushing inequality in global economics is both the righteous roil of British filmmaker Michael Winterbottom’s inequality satire “Greed” and its Achilles heel in effectively dramatizing the wreckage wrought by billionaires.
It’s always tricky to find humor in ostentatious wealth while stoking our concern for the plight of sweatshop workers and refugees, and Winterbottom, teaming again with his go-to comic frontman Steve Coogan, is not one to finesse such tonal details when he’s got a message to get out about mega-loaded wankers, and a killer clown whom he’s confident will wring laughs out of audacious self-centeredness.
But in the case of “Greed,” at least, the jokey jerkiness mostly works as we enter the orbit of crassly aggressive fast-fashion magnate Richard McCreadie (a fake-tanned Coogan sporting blinding white teeth) while he readies a 60th birthday toga bash in Mykonos to save his reputation after a parliamentary inquiry into his businesses became a PR disaster. Fitfully funny and admirably dyspeptic, it won’t surprise your sensibilities about how the world functions, but might get you to think twice about buying cheap clothes (and just maybe crystallize your preference for billionaires as movie villains rather than as candidates for high office).
Trailed by a cynical yet spineless journalist (an enjoyably tart David Mitchell, “Peep Show”) hired to write a puff biography, a harried assistant (Sarah Solemani, “Bridget Jones’s Baby”) catering to his whims, and his crusty Irish mother (Shirley Henderson), McCreadie storms the Greek coastline hurling invective. If it’s not the view-blemishing cluster of Syrian refugees occupying the beach nearby that’s rubbing him raw, it’s the high cost of securing A-list talent to perform at a private party — Elton’s a mil, Tom Jones less than half that — much less getting any big names to show up as guests when he’s social poison. (Some real-life stars good-naturedly appear in the film to send up this part of celeb culture.)
Not helping matters is that the underpaid Bulgarians building a plywood coliseum on the sand for his “Gladiator”-themed fantasy (complete with rented lion) aren’t working fast enough.
Mockumentary-style interviews and pointed flashbacks (like, well, “Citizen Kane”) featuring Jamie Blackley (“If I Stay”) as the younger McCreadie illuminate the businessman’s rise from mean-spirited schoolboy to fashion-industry upstart determined to browbeat lopsided deals out of Sri Lankan factory owners, which in turn push working conditions there to dangerous levels.
It’s the raiding of his borrowed-to-the-hilt businesses for cash, however — not unlike the real-life UK figure the character was modeled after, love-to-loathe clothing kingpin Philip Green — that have vaulted McCreadie into the filthy-rich spotlight, complete with the tax dodge of stashing his plunder in Monaco under the name of his first wife Samantha, played with bubbly arrogance by Isla Fisher. Though now divorced, the exes are still flirty/collegial in the Greece scenes, an interesting character detail about the enduring bond of garish wealth that feels undercooked.
Winterbottom saves his more serious finger-pointing for the sweatshop part of McCreadie’s ascendancy, which reverberates for one rising employee (Dinita Gohil, “The Snowman”) in a manner that, combined with the Oedipal-tinged portrayal of the billionaire’s embittered son (Asa Butterfield), tips the third-act party events toward an outcome to which the location, the metaphors, and that caged beast had always been hinting.
The schematic obviousness isn’t the issue so much, though, nor the salience of the connections Winterbottom makes, which are forthrightly presented, including an end-credits litany of statistics about inequality, billionaires, and quality of life in developing countries that should alarm us all. It’s more the fact that “Greed” — which at times, thanks to Liam Hendrix Heath’s and Mags Arnold’s editing, has the loosely irreverent vibe of Winterbottom’s and Coogan’s “Trip” comedies — is satisfied merely hewing to its larkish op-ed mindset, one that still winds up using Syrian refugees and exploited labor overseas as argument pieces rather than exploring these issues more dimensionally.
Still, there’s no getting around how enjoyable it is to watch Coogan effortlessly play an entitled bastard, whether giving it or getting it. He’s so expert at the darkly witty, cringe-while-laughing insult, it’s like watching a pro athlete in flight; it’s a shame Winterbottom’s ambitions for “Greed” weren’t greater as a rollicking, truly scary picture of unrepentant gluttony.
But it does make the movie most effective, in the end, as a halfway-there template for how any purveyors of conscientious entertainment should be channeling their moral energies in our latest Gilded Age: by reversing the screwball era’s sunny farces of the eccentric rich and serving up our present-day titans of terribleness with feasts of gleeful, shaming ridicule.
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www.thewrap.com | 2/26/20
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.
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www.thewrap.com | 2/7/20
‘The Birdcatcher’s Son’ Wins the Audience Choice Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival
The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) announced on Saturday the winners of the 35th edition of the festival, which featured 47 world premieres and 71 U.S. premieres from 50 countries.
The festival’s top award, the audience choice award, went to Richard Hobert’s “The Birdcatcher’s Son.”
The winners were chosen by a jury consisting of Jason Baffa, Max Barbakow, Lisa Black, Alex Carter, Geoff Green, Paul Kurta, Perry Lang, Artie Schmidt, Rita Taggart, Diego Tinoco, John Williams, and Anthony & Arnette Zerbe.
“It’s been a wonderful 35 years celebrating international cinema as well as our local roots. We are grateful for all of the staff, volunteers, audiences and filmmakers that were able to join us at SBIFF to come together as a community to celebrate over 200 films – forge a sense of community and love that defies boundary,” SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling.
In addition to the winners of the 35th festival, the SBIFF said that its 36th edition, featuring more than 200 films, including over 120 world and U.S. premieres, industry panels, celebrity tributes, and educational and free community programs will be held throughout Santa Barbara on Jan 27 through Feb. 6, 2021.
Below is a full list of winners for the 35th edition:
Audience Choice Award Sponsored by The Santa Barbara Independent:
Richard Hobert’s “The Birdcatcher’s Son” (Fågelfångarens son)
Best Documentary Short Film Award:
Henry Roosevelt’s “Sixth of June”
Bruce Corwin Award – Best Live-Action Short Film:
Jianna Maartin’s “Sin Cielo”
Bruce Corwin Award – Best Animated Short Film:
Jonathan Langager’s “Cosmic Fling”
Best Documentary Award sponsored by SEE International:
Brian Morrison’s “Bastards’ Road”
Jeffrey C. Barbakow Award – Best International Feature Film:
Fatos Berisha’s “The Flying Circus (Cirku Fluturues)”
Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema:
William Nicholson’s “Hope Gap”
Nueva Vision Award for Spain/Latin America Cinema:
Gerardo Herrero’s T”he Goya Murders”
Valhalla Award for Best Nordic Film:
Jesper W. Nielsen’s “The Exception (Undtagelsen)”
ADL Stand Up Award sponsored by ADL Santa Barbara/Tri-Counties:
Lydia Dean Pilcher’s “Liberté: A Call to Spy”
Social Justice Award for Documentary Film:
Katherin Hervey’s “The Prison Within”
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www.thewrap.com | 1/25/20
‘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
Jennifer Lopez Is a ‘Survivor’ This Awards Season and 4 Other Things We Learned at Palm Springs 2020
We couldn’t even get one day. With the Golden Globes this weekend and the Oscars not far around the corner in the busiest, most cramped month of awards season ever, the 31st annual Palm Springs Film Festival couldn’t wait a full day after New Year’s to throw us deep into glitzy tributes, emotional speeches and cute anecdotes.
We had that in abundance at Thursday night’s Film Awards Gala as hosted by Mary Hart, which honored 10 of the year’s likely Oscar contenders and gave each more than an opportunity for a dry run if they hit the stage of the Beverly Hilton this Sunday or the Dolby Theater early next month.
Honorees at this year’s gala included Cynthia Erivo, Joaquin Phoenix, Antonio Banderas, Laura Dern, Zack Gottsagen, Quentin Tarantino, Jennifer Lopez, Jamie Foxx, Charlize Theron, Adam Driver, Renée Zellweger and Martin Scorsese. Here’s some of what we learned about the upcoming month from the first awards gala of the new year.
1. Antonio Banderas and Jennifer Lopez Are Thrilled to Be Here
To arrive in Palm Springs on time, Antonio Banderas wrapped up a performance of a play in Spain, hopped on a 17-hour flight to the U.S., had his tuxedo ironed, joked that he had himself ironed and then promised that he’d be likely to fall asleep on a table if given the chance. And though he’s had a long career and a lucrative film relationship with Pedro Almodóvar, his work on “Pain and Glory” is granting him a new opportunity to actually be a winner instead of just a nominee.
“I have been a nominee for many years, but I never got here. It’s true,” Banderas said. “I would sit down at those tables and I would hear the name of someone else. And you say to be a nominee is a very important thing. But you know I wanted to go up there.”
Jennifer Lopez feels the same way. We know she’s been showered with accolades throughout her career, but being recognized for her performance in “Hustlers” feels new, and in an emotional speech in front of the Palm Springs crowd, you could tell she knew it too.
“There was something that spoke to me about this film. Not only at this time in my life, but at this time in my world. I was offered an opportunity to shine a light on women who are usually spinning on the periphery of the action,” Lopez said. “I immediately felt like I had to get this film made, no matter the obstacle. A survivor just trying to get her piece of the American dream.”
She thanked her husband Alex Rodriguez as the camera cut to someone in the crowd who was definitely not A-Rod. And she also graciously thanked the award’s presenter, “Hustlers” writer and director Lorene Scafaria, and reminded the crowd that “Hustlers” is a movie made largely by women, something that will likely be a recurring theme of JLo’s awards push but something that can’t be said enough.
2. Greta Gerwig Adores Quentin Tarantino
You can’t gauge a front-runner just from enthusiasm alone, but Greta Gerwig gave some effusive praise when she got the chance to gush about Quentin Tarantino for a few moments. The “Little Women” director said she was thrilled to know that both her film and Tarantino’s would be made by Sony and was giddy that they’d each share the same logo.
She frequently grilled studio boss Tom Rothman about what he was thinking and working on and his tools of the trade. And she remembered a story where she was in awe that Tarantino broke down a specific shot from her movie “Greenberg” as though he had made the movie himself. And in the process, Gerwig compared Tarantino to everything from Bobby Fisher to a comet in how, like a shooting star, he makes movies that make you leave the house and look up into the dark.
Her speech was so moving to Tarantino that it almost left him speechless, which is saying something.
“She literally talked about me in a way I could only imagine someone would ever talk about me in my wildest, self-possessed dream. Thank you. I mean, my God, thank you so much,” Tarantino told her from the stage. “My joke that I say is when people talk about me, speak about me as if I were dead. And they never do! And you did.”
Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Palm Springs International Film Festival)
3. Zack Gottsagen Can Steal the Show
There was a lot of star power on display Thursday, but “The Peanut Butter Falcon” breakout star Zack Gottsagen won a standing ovation from the crowd as he accepted Palm Springs’ Rising Star Award. Gottsagen, who has Down syndrome, was ecstatic to be accepting an award from his directors, Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz, and to do so while his mom was in attendance.
“Everything about what they do is follow their hearts and follow their dreams,” Gottsagen said of his cast and crew on the film. “But guess what: This is my dream came true right now.”
He closed his speech with a quote from the movie that served as a welcome invitation to the crowd: “What’s rule number one? Party.”
4. Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese Are Concerned About the Future of Cinema
Both Tarantino and Martin Scorsese used their acceptance speeches to ponder the future of cinema. Tarantino said that years ago, people like Scorsese or himself were never asked what they thought cinema would look like even five years from now, but now they’re asked all the time. And though he doesn’t know exactly how most people will watch movies even a few years from now, he chose to work with Sony on “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” because Tom Rothman committed not to DVD or streaming but to getting “asses in seats.”
And while Scorsese continued to thank Netflix for allowing him the opportunity to make “The Irishman” the way he intended, he said he was “concerned” about algorithms turning people into “movie watchers” and not “moviegoers.” The pressure to binge-watch and access everything that’s available puts the burden on you as a viewer, Scorsese said, and real discovery depends on you making up your own mind about your viewing.
“While the art of course can’t survive without the business, I have to say the business isn’t going to survive without the art, which is made by people with something to say,” Scorsese said. “Every individual filmmaker amounts to more than the number of awards they won or the amount of money the pictures make. And every individual viewer, you, amounts to more, much more, than the data that is being collected about them.”
5. Give Robert De Niro an Opening, and He’ll Take It
Here we go. Perhaps mercifully after over three hours into the show, Robert De Niro took the stage to present Martin Scorsese with the final award of the night, the Sonny Bono Visionary Award, named for the late entertainer who catapulted from music and TV fame to become mayor of Palm Springs and then a U.S. congressman. And while De Niro isn’t always one for a lot of words, he isn’t shy to make things political when he has the chance.
“I’m also happy to honor the memory of Sonny who started this great festival. Sonny was a Republican,” he said to some applause and jeers in the crowd, “back in the days when Republicans still supported the arts, believed in science and could put partisanship aside to champion what’s best for our country.”
We’re guessing there’s more from De Niro where that came from.
The full list of winners is below:
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www.thewrap.com | 1/3/20
MADRID — Disney. An extraordinary Mouse House septet, all ranking in Spain’s Top 10, drove its 2019 box office to its biggest cinema theater ticket sales in the decade, according to Comscore figures released Thursday. The last time movies in Spain scored more spectators was 2009, said David Rodríguez, general manager, Spain & Portugal, Comscore […]
variety.com | 1/2/20
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.
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www.thewrap.com | 12/4/19
‘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
French-Senegalese filmmaker Mati Diop’s first film was a documentary short about the African men who made the dangerous sea crossing to Spain. “Atlantiques” made the rounds of international film festivals and established Diop as a director when it debuted in 2009, but the subject matter never left her. She felt she had to return to it for her first feature film, the similarly-named “Atlantics,” without the narrative constraints of the documentary genre — so she turned to the supernatural.
“Migration was a theme that was both so personal to me and the only thing that I thought was worth spending years to talk about,” said Diop, discussing the 2019 film as part of TheWrap’s Awards and Foreign Screening Series on Tuesday night. “I think that the youth who lost their lives while trying to reach Spain really haunted me.”
“Atlantics,” which was awarded the Grand Prix at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, takes Diop’s sense of hauntedness literally, showing the ghosts of disappeared migrants back on the streets of Dakar.
The magical realist love story focuses on Ada (Mama Sané), a 17-year-old girl who grieves for her secret lover Souleiman (Ibrahima Traoré) while trying to maintain an arranged marriage to another man. Souleiman was part of a construction crew that disappeared at sea one night in search of a better life abroad. When the aggrieved workers come back as possessive spirits seeking retribution for their unpaid labor, Souleiman returns to see Ada one last time.
“I decided that this film about lost youth had to be a ghost film,” Diop told TheWrap at the Landmark Theatres in Los Angeles. But despite portraying death as a central theme, she felt it was important “to tell the story of the lost, disappeared youth through the perspective of the living…I wanted to talk about the odyssey of Penelope, not of Ulysses.”
Diop found a key collaborator in electronic composer Fatima Al Qadiri, who wrote her first film score for “Atlantics.” Al Qadiri was born in Senegal and grew up in Kuwait, and said she felt an instant connection to the project. “I knew that the themes she was tackling were my territory,” said Al Qadiri at the screening.
Last month, “Atlantics” was selected by Senegal as the country’s submission for Best International Feature Film Oscar consideration. If nominated, it will be the first Senegalese film to compete for the award. Diop, who grew up in Paris, sees the film as a piece of African representation that she never saw as a young person in the West.
“I missed a lot of black characters and representations in cinema…I wanted to make the films that I thought were missing out there,” said Diop. The fantastical elements of the film were a key aspect of this representation.
“That was very important to me, to really push the fiction very high because Africa has been really imprisoned in documentary, reportage and TV, in everything but romance and fiction,” said Diop.
Netflix acquired the film at Cannes, and will release it in select theaters on Nov. 15 and on the streaming service on Nov. 29.
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www.thewrap.com | 11/13/19
Walter Mercado, famed Puerto Rican TV astrologer, died Saturday night at Auxilio Mutuo Hospital in San Juan, according to the hospital’s spokesperson, Sofia Luquis. He was 87.
According to Telemundo PR, the cause of death was “apparent renal failure.”
Mercado was born on a ship traveling from Spain to Puerto Rico, according to a biography published by Puerto Rico’s Foundation for Popular Culture. He believed at an early age that he had spiritual abilities, including the powers of astrology.
Although he began his career as a telenovela actor, he took on his most famous job in 1969 when a guest did not show up for a Telemundo program. Mercado was asked to fill in by reading the horoscope, and his passionate delivery won over viewers so much that he was asked to return.
In 2010, he changed his name to Shanti Ananda — which means “peace happiness” in Sanskrit, saying a “being of light” communicated to him his “authentic mystic name.”
Over the next 50 years, Mercado’s astrological advice would be broadcast to hundreds of millions of homes in the U.S. and Latin America, first on Telemundo Puerto Rico and later on Univision from Miami. He became known for his embellished accent and extravagant wardrobe, and his sign off catchphrase of “mucho, mucho amor” (“lots and lots of love”) became the name of an exhibit at the HistoryMiami museum paying tribute to his five decades of work.
In the final years of his life, he moved his broadcasts to his personal website where his fans could ask him questions.
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www.thewrap.com | 11/3/19
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
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
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www.thewrap.com | 10/16/19
MADRID — In 1996, when still at high school, Spain’s Arturo Guillen, having flunked some exams, took a summer job at Entertainment Data Inc.(EDI), which had just set up in Spain, intent on delivering computer-collected box office results to distributors. Cinema theaters would start relaying results from 10 pm, Guillén recalls. Sometimes the computer froze, […]
variety.com | 10/1/19
SAN SEBASTIAN — Basque cinema is attacking the future with higher industrial and creative expectations than ever, playing off two motors: Co-production with other parts of Spain, international equity partnerships. Two game-changers in the Basque film landscape, “Handia,” winner of 10 Spanish Academy Goya Awards in 2018, and “Loreak,” Spain’s 2016 Oscar submission, have contributed […]
variety.com | 9/24/19
The Spanish Film Institute (ICAA) has honored filmmaker, screenwriter and theater director Josefina Molina with this year’s National Cinematography Prize. A pioneering female director who began her career in the largely male-dominated world of Spanish cinema in the 1960s, Molina has directed such works as 1973’s “Vera, un cuento cruel” (“Vera, a Cruel Tale”), the […]
variety.com | 9/5/19
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
Last May, Cuba's Ministry of Communication (MINCOM) announced resolutions 98 and 99 limiting wireless transmission power and outdoor cables that made community networks like Havana's SNET, illegal. Since SNET was the world's largest community network that did not have Internet access, implementation of the resolutions was postponed for 60 days for negotiations between SNET administrators and MINCOM. The negotiations have ended with a decision to transfer SNET's services and content to ETECSA, Cuba's government-monopoly ISP, and to provide access through Cuba's nationwide chain of 611 Youth Computer Clubs (YCCs), as illustrated by the diagram shown here.
The new regulations authorize people to install WiFi equipment in their homes and businesses in order to access the YCCs, represented by the blue building, and public WiFi hotspots, represented by the sunny outdoor location. The diagram also shows cables running from the YCCs to larger buildings that may represent ETECSA data centers, wireless Internet points of presence, and homes with DSL connectivity.
The government says SNET "will grow with the increased infrastructure" of the YCCs and ETECSA and claims that the intent of Resolutions 98 and 99 is to expand Internet access, but many in the SNET community fear losing access to and control of the assets they have created. You can see their point of view by searching Twitter for the hashtags #YoSoySnet and #FuerzaSnet. The protesters (and I) have many questions about the takeover, like:
SNET was a Cuban success story — a user-owned and operated cooperative that developed infrastructure, applications, and content. SNET and the other Cuban community networks may have connected as many homes as ETECSA's home DSL service, Nauta Hogar. Cuba's community networks also developed human capital — experienced users and technicians who, in the long run, benefit both ETECSA and society.
Skeptics see this takeover as confiscation of community assets rather than an effort to better serve the public. Transparent answers to these and related questions could ease their concerns, and I hope ETECSA and the JCCs can deliver on their promises quickly.
Written by Larry Press, Professor of Information Systems at California State University
www.circleid.com | 8/22/19
‘The Farewell’ Director Lulu Wang, Producer Cassian Elwes Join Toronto Film Festival’s Filmmaker Lab
Directors Lulu Wang (“The Farewell”) and Patricia Rozema (“I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing”) and producer Cassian Elwes will serve as mentors at the Toronto International Film Festival’s 2019 TIFF Filmmaker Lab, TIFF organizers announced on Wednesday.
The festival also unveiled its lineup of Canadian films, which will include new work directed by Atom Egoyan, Louise Archambault, Ellen Page and Amy Jo Johnson, and starring Felicity Huffman, Imogen Poots and David Cronenberg, among others. And it announced participants in industry programs and the Canadian honorees in its annual TIFF Rising Stars showcase.
The films were spread across eight different sections of the Toronto Film Festival, some of which have yet to announce their non-Canadian programming.
The Canadian galas, all previously announced, are the opening-night documentary “Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band,” Semi Chellas’ “American Woman” and Francois Girard’s “The Song of Names.” In the Special Presentations section, Albert Shin’s “Clifton Hill,” starring celebrated Canadian director David Cronenberg, joins Atom Egoyan’s previously announced “Guest of Honor.”
Canadian documentaries include Alan Zweig’s “Coppers,” Yung Chang’s “This Is Not a Movie” and Ellen Page and Ian Daniel’s “There’s Something in the Water.”
Other Canadian films in the lineup include “Gabrielle” director Louise Archambault’s “And the Birds Rained Down,” “Castle in the Ground,” a film by Joey Klein about the opioid crisis starring Imogen Poots; Amy Jo Johnson’s “Tammy’s Always Dying,” a black comedy starring Felicity Huffman; and four films by indigenous filmmakers: Alanis Obomsawin’s “Jordan River Anderson, the Messenger,” Jeff Barnaby’s “Blood Quantum,” Myriam Verreault’s “Kuessipan,” Elle-Maija Tailfeathers and Kathleen Hepburn’s “The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open” and Zacharias Kunuk’s “One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk.”
Governors of the 2019 TIFF Filmmaker Lab will be producer Elwes, writer-director Rozema, acting coach Miranda Harcourt and director Wang. Twenty directors, 10 from Canadian and 10 from around the world, will participate in the four-day program and will interact with a variety of artists and film professionals. The festival is also announcing the first TIFF Talent Accelerator, a year-long program for six Canadian female creators – two directors, two producers and two writers.
Canadian TIFF Rising Stars will be Kacey Rohl, Mikhaïl Ahooja, Nahéma Ricci and Shamier Anderson.
The festival also announced a slate of Canadian short films, as well as the finalists in Telefilm Canada’s annual Pitch This! Competition, in which six filmmaking teams have six minutes to present their ideas to a live audience and jury, with the winning team receiving $15,000.
The festival will run from Sept. 5 through Sept. 15.
Additional information can be found at the TIFF website.
The Canadian films:
CONTEMPORARY WORLD CINEMA
TIFF Filmmaker Lab participants:
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www.thewrap.com | 7/31/19
Gina Gershon and other members of the cast of Woody Allen’s new film defended working with the director, calling the opportunity “a dream come true.”
“It’s a beautiful script; a dream come true,” Gershon said in a press conference Tuesday. “These are crazy times; one has to analyze the situation and decide how you feel; I’m delighted to be part of this team.”
Filming on Allen’s film, under the working title of “Rifkin’s Festival,” begins Wednesday and is scheduled to wrap by Aug. 20. The project stars the previously announced Christoph Waltz, Wallace Shawn, Elena Anaya, Louis Garrel, Gershon and Sergi López.
Woody Allen is set to begin production on his 51st film in San Sebastian, Spain.
Allen was also on hand for the press conference, and he described “Rifkin’s Festival” as “a romantic comedy about some folks from the United States who arrive at the San Sebastian Film Festival, and what happens has a comical resonance to what takes place here.” He added that the city in the Gipuzkoa region of Spain is like a character in the film.
Allen was asked at the press conference whether he would one day consider retiring.
“I’ve always focused on my work and that absorbs my brain,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what’s happened to my wife, my children and politics. I’ll probably drop dead in the middle of setting up a sequence.”
Like Gershon, Anaya similarly referred to the script as “the most beautiful story” she had ever read and praised working with Allen.
“It’s a day-dream, because Woody is a genius, he’s endearing and a legend; It has been a huge pleasure to be directed by him,” Anaya said.
“He discovered me and there’s a special magic about filming with him once again,” Wallace Shawn, who has collaborated with Allen in the past, said of working with the director. “It’s something very beautiful; because it’s his dream and we walk through that dream.”
Allen describes “Rifkin’s Festival” as a “tribute to cinema” and follows a couple during the San Sebastian film festival in which the woman has an affair with a brilliant French director and the man falls in love with a Spanish woman living in the city.
The MediaPro Studio, an offshoot of the MediaPro Group, will co-produce the film. They previously collaborated with Allen on his globe trotting films “Midnight in Paris,” “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger” and “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.”
Allen’s 50th film “A Rainy Day in New York,” starring Elle Fanning and Timotheé Chalamet, is reportedly being released in several international territories despite being caught in distribution limbo in the U.S. after Amazon nixed its distribution deal with Allen.
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www.thewrap.com | 7/9/19
PAMPLONA, Spain — Conecta Fiction will see producers bring the strongest lineup of Chilean drama series in history. Following, just some of the highlights of projects which will be presented or are moving forward in Chile: ‘AZTEC GANGSTA WARRIOR’ Prod: Zona Cinema, Epika Content Penned by Diego Niño with Francisca Fuenzalida Moure on board […]
variety.com | 6/18/19
Woody Allen will shoot his 51st film in Spain beginning in July with a cast that includes Oscar winner Christoph Waltz and long-time collaborator Wallace Shawn.
MediaPro, the Spanish financing conglomerate, announced the news Tuesday that the untitled project, with the production title WASP2019, will take place in San Sebastian, Spain, from July 10 to Aug. 23.
Elena Anaya, Louis Garrel, Gina Gershon and Sergi López will also co-star. The MediaPro Studio, an offshoot of the MediaPro Group, will co-produce the film.
The film tells the story of a married American couple who go to the San Sebastian Film Festival. They get caught up in the magic of the festival, the beauty and charm of Spain and the fantasy of movies. She has an affair with a brilliant French movie director, and he falls in love with a beautiful Spanish woman who lives there. The film is a comedy-romance that resolves itself in a funny, but romantic way.
“At MediaPro, we’ve been working with Woody Allen for 14 years. His films, like every project the group produces, have a unique personality. This latest movie has all the ingredients to be right up there along with what we’ve become accustomed to from a director of Woody Allen’s talent: an intelligent script and a first-rate international cast. In addition, we’re delighted to be able to shoot the movie in a city such as San Sebastian, which has such strong ties to cinema,” Jaume Roures, founding partner of MediaPro said in a statement.
MediaPro previously worked with Allen on “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” “Midnight in Paris” and “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger.” ?This will also be the fourth collaboration between Allen and award-winning cinematographer Vittorio Storaro.
Allen’s film “A Rainy Day in New York,” starring Elle Fanning and Timothee Chalamet, is reportedly being released in several international territories despite being caught in distribution limbo in the U.S. after Amazon nixed its distribution deal with Allen.
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www.thewrap.com | 6/4/19
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
Art imitates life in Pedro Almodóvar’s “Pain and Glory,” which screened in competition at the Cannes Film Festival on Friday evening. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say that the iconic Spanish director reimagines life — his life — as a fantasia borne out of the cinematic vocabulary he’s created over the last four decades.
“Pain and Glory” suggests that Almodóvar’s films were based on the preoccupations that developed when he was a child, but then refracts the life that formed his art through the style of that art. If there’s a house-of-mirrors aspect to this, the trickiness is one of the least important aspects of this lovely, gentle reverie, which has already opened to largely positive reception in Spain.
Antonio Banderas plays a film director named Salvador Mallo, who happens to dress like Almodóvar and live in a house that looks just like Almodóvar’s house. He also has a little bit of Almodóvar’s trademark spiky hair, though it’s not as white or as poofy.
Banderas, who began his career in the early 1980s in a film by Almodóvar and has now appeared in eight of the director’s movies, told TheWrap that at times he found it difficult to wrap his head around what his old friend asked him to do in “Pain and Glory.”
“It’s very complicated,” Banderas said. “Even if he said, ‘It’s not me, it’s my alter ego’ — OK, but it’s in you. It’s not self-biography, but it’s self-fiction.”
Banderas said he never did an imitation, instead drawing from things about Almodóvar that he knew as a friend, notably the writer-director’s solitude. And Salvador Mallo is indeed a solitary figure – a man we first see submerged in a swimming pool, and a man lost in the pain that wracks his body and in the memories that flow through him.
Those memories, the subject of numerous flashbacks, include growing up Catholic with a strong mother (played by Penélope Cruz) and fainting at his sudden sexual awakening when the young Salvador (Asier Flores) sees a workman bathing nude. You can look at them as a CliffsNotes version of what formed Almodóvar — sorry, Mallo — as a director, but they are more essential than that.
Back in the present day, Mallo seeks out an actor, Alberto Crespo (Asier Etxeandia), with whom he had a falling out 32 years earlier — he wrote a role for a character he envisioned as a cocaine addict, the actor played him as a heroin addict instead and only now, on the eve of a cinematheque restoration of the film, does Mallo appreciate the performance. The reconnection leads to a theater piece written by Mallo and performed by Crespo, and also to Mallo’s flirtation with smoking heroin, still a regular ritual for Crespo.
The performance also leads to a reunion between Mallo and Federico (Leonardo Sbaraglia), old lovers who share the tenderest reconciliation in a film built around a series of reconciliations.
Almodóvar has called “Pain and Glory” the third part of a trilogy that also includes 1987’s “Law of Desire” and 2004’s “Bad Education,” but devotees of the director’s work can find call-outs to much of the director’s filmography. And as always, the film’s look is impeccable; Almodóvar’s fascination with scarlet continues, but he finds a way to make even a doctor’s waiting room look vibrant and alive.
But you wouldn’t use those words to describe the main character. Banderas’ Mallo is weary and subdued, a man looking for peace and too tired to fight. It might be the quietest performance the actor has ever given, and quite possibly the most affecting; as a lion in winter, he makes every sigh matter.
And “Pain and Glory” is, clearly, a film of sighs. Just as the character seeks physical and mental healing, the film is one of the most meditative of Almodóvar’s career. He may have made his reputation with a string of transgressive, jarring and provocative films that helped upend Spanish cinema in the 1980s and ’90s, but with this film passion has given way to mature introspection.
It makes for less energetic and, yes, less exciting filmmaking. But “Pain and Glory” is a beautiful meditation on past and present, a memory piece that will nourish rather than provoke.
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www.thewrap.com | 5/17/19
The culture of Spain is a European culture based on a variety of influences. These include the pre-Roman cultures, mainly the celts and the Iberians cultures; but mainly in the period of Roman influences. In the areas of language and religion, the Ancient Romans left a lasting legacy. The subsequent course of Spanish history also added elements to the country's cultural development. The Visigothic Kingdom left a sense of a united Christian Hispania that was going to be welded in the Reconquista. Muslim influences were strong during the period of 711 AD to the 15th century, especially with loan words. The Spanish language, derives directly from Vulgar Latin, and has minor influences from pre-roman languages like barro -mud-, gothic guerra -war-, Arabic and basque Other minorities includes the Jewish population in some cities, but after the defeat of the Muslims during the Christian "Reconquista" (Reconquest) period between 1000 and 1492, Spain became an almost entirely Roman Catholic country. In addition, the history of the nation and its Mediterranean and Atlantic environment have played a significant role in shaping its culture. By the end of the 19th and 20th, the Spaniards made expressions of cultural diversity easier than it had been for the last seven centuries. This occurred at the same period that Spain became increasingly drawn into a diverse international culture. Spain has the second highest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world, with a total of 42.