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
Company or Brand
Nonprofit or NGO
Branded Content: Series
Branded Content: Video
Social Good Campaign
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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
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 | 3/29/19
Pawel Pawlikowski’s “Cold War” has been named the best European film of 2018 at the European Film Awards, which were handed out on Saturday in Seville, Spain.
The decade-spanning drama, which was inspired by the stormy relationship between Pawlikowski’s parents, also won awards for its director, screenplay, lead actress (Joanna Kulig) and editor.
Marcello Fonte won the best-actor award for “Dogman,” which also took awards for its costume design and hair and makeup.
Armando Iannucci’s “The Death of Stalin” was named the best European comedy, while “Bergman – A Year in a Life” won for documentary, and “Another Day of Life” won for animated film.
Four of the Best European Film Award nominees — “Border,” “Cold War,” “Dogman” and “Girl” — are the foreign-language Oscar entries from Sweden, Poland, Italy and Belgium, respectively. The fifth, “Happy as Lazzaro,” played in Cannes but was bypassed as Italy’s Oscar selection in favor of “Dogman.”
No film that has won the European Film Award for best film has ever won the Best Picture Oscar, though three (“The Full Monty,” “Life Is Beautiful” and “Amour”) have been nominated. Six EFA winners — “Life Is Beautiful,” “All About My Mother,” “The Lives of Others,” “Amour,” “The Great Beauty” and “Ida” — have won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
The 2018 European Film Award winners:
Best European Film: “Cold War”
European Screenwriter: Pawel Pawlikowski, “Cold War”
European Cinematographer: Martin Otterbeck “U-July 22”
EFA People’s Choice Award: “Call Me by Your Name”
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www.thewrap.com | 12/15/18
Mexico’s Cinema226, run by Marco Antonio Salgado and Sam Guillén, is driving into a raft of Mexico, Argentina and Spain co-productions, playing off the current vibrancy of Mexican film production funding and distribution outlets. Among the projects are titles which have been standouts at Ventana Sur’s Blood Window, the next film by Mexico-based Argentine filmmaker […]
variety.com | 12/15/18
This week in El Espace: tension at the Mexican border, why Latino Jews are moving to Spain and more.
www.nytimes.com | 11/29/18
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.