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FILMMAKERS CALL FOR RELEASE OF DIRECTOR JAFAR PANAHI

AMERICA'S LEADING FILMMAKERS CALL FOR RELEASE OF IMPRISONED IRANIAN DIRECTOR JAFAR PANAHI

Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Robert Redford, Francis Ford Coppola, Terrence Malick, Steven Soderbergh, the Coen Bros., Jim Jarmusch, Michael Moore, Ang Lee, Robert De Niro, and Oliver Stone, among other leading film industry figures, have condemned the detention of Jafar Panahi, the acclaimed director of "The White Balloon" and "Offside," and are urging the Iranian government to release him.

Panahi-i-Berlin New York, NY (April 30, 2010) – Jafar Panahi, an internationally acclaimed Iranian director of such award-winning films as The White Balloon, The Circle, Crimson Gold and Offside, was arrested at his home on March 1st and has been held since in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison. A number of filmmaking luminaries have come to Mr. Panahi's defense and "condemn his detention and strongly urge the Iranian government to release Mr. Panahi immediately," according to a new petition. (Petition text and full list of signatories is available below.)

Islamic Republic officials initially charged Mr. Panahi with “unspecified crimes.” They have since reversed themselves, and the charges now allege that he was making a film against the regime, a very serious accusation in Iran.

Mr. Panahi’s films have been banned from screening in Iran for the past ten years and he has been kept from working for the past four years, but he continues to stay in Iran.

"Mr. Panahi deeply loves his country," says Jamsheed Akrami, an Iranian-American film scholar and filmmaker, who helped organize the petition. "Even though he knows he could have opportunities to work freely outside of his homeland, he has repeatedly refused to leave. He would never do anything against the national interests of his country and his people."

Mr. Panahi is one of the most heralded directors in the world. He has won such top prizes as the Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival for Offside (2006), the Un Certain Regard Prize at the Cannes Film Festival for Crimson Gold (2003), the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival for The Circle (2000), the Golden Leopard at the Locarno International Film Festival for The Mirror

(1997) and the Cannes Camera d'Or for The White Balloon (1995).

PETITION: Free Jafar Panahi

Jafar Panahi, the internationally acclaimed Iranian director of such award-winning films as The White Balloon, The Circle, Crimson Gold and Offside, was arrested at his home on March 1st in a raid by plain-clothed security forces. He has been held since then in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.

A recent letter from Mr. Panahi’s wife expressed her deep concerns about her husband's heart condition, and about his having been moved to a smaller cell. Mr. Panahi’s films have been banned from screening in Iran for the past ten years and he has effectively been kept from working for the past four years. Last October, his passport was confiscated and he was banned from leaving the country. Upon his arrest, Islamic Republic officials initially charged Mr. Panahi with “unspecified crimes.” They have since reversed themselves, and the charges are now specifically related to his work as a filmmaker.

We (the undersigned) stand in solidarity with a fellow filmmaker, condemn this detention, and strongly urge the Iranian government to release Mr. Panahi immediately.

Iran’s contributions to international cinema have been rightfully heralded, and encouraged those of us outside the country to respect and cherish its people and their stories. Like artists everywhere, Iran’s filmmakers should be celebrated, not censored, repressed, and imprisoned.

Signed:

Paul Thomas Anderson

Joel & Ethan Coen

Francis Ford Coppola

Jonathan Demme

Robert De Niro

Curtis Hanson

Jim Jarmusch

Ang Lee

Richard Linklater

Terrence Malick

Michael Moore

Robert Redford

Martin Scorsese

James Schamus

Paul Schrader

Steven Soderbergh

Steven Spielberg

Oliver Stone

Frederick Wiseman

Petition Organizing Committee: Jamsheed Akrami, Godfrey Cheshire, Jem Cohen, Kent Jones, Anthony Kaufman

 

Cole Smithey on April 30, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

2010 TRIBECA AWARDS

2010 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES AWARDS
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WHEN WE LEAVE (DIE FREMDE), DOG POUND, MONICA & DAVID, AND THE ARBOR WIN TOP AWARDS IN JURIED WORLD COMPETITIONS

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MORE THAN $150,000 HANDED OUT IN CASH PRIZES

[April 29, 2010 – New York, NY] –The ninth annual Tribeca Film Festival, co-founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff, and presented by founding sponsor American Express, announced the winners of its world competition categories tonight at a ceremony hosted at the W Union Square in New York City. 

The world competition winners for narrative and documentary films were chosen from 12 narrative and 12 documentary features from 20 countries. Two awards were given to honor New York films, which were chosen from seven narrative and six documentary features. Awards were also given for the best narrative, best documentary and student visionary films in the short film competitions. This year’s Festival included 85 features and 47 short films from 38 countries. 

Also announced at the awards were the first-ever Tribeca Film Festival Virtual feature and short film winners selected by the online audience,  The winner of The Heineken Audience Award, determined by audience votes throughout the Festival, will be announced on May 1 at the Festival Wrap party.

“The award winning films selected by the jury each features strong characters and subjects; these films challenge you to see the world from another perspective,” said Jane Rosenthal. “I wish all the filmmakers continued success and hope that they will bring their work back to Tribeca in the years to come.”

“Our jurors have dedicated themselves to the task of carefully considering the diverse films that were part of this year’s competition at the Festival,” said Nancy Schafer, Executive Director of the Festival. “We are grateful for their hard work and salute their choices along with the rest of our 2010 filmmakers.”

Screenings of all winning films will take place at Village East Cinemas on Sunday, May 2.  Specific times and ticketing information are available on the Festival website, www.tribecafilm.com/festival.

In addition to cash awards and in-kind services provided by sponsors including American Express, Delta Air Lines and Eastman Kodak, the Festival presented the winners with original pieces of art created by seven acclaimed artists, including Yoko Ono and Clifford Ross.

Following are the jurors, the winners and their awards:

World Competition Categories:

The jurors for the 2010 World Narrative Competition were Hope Davis, Aaron Eckhart, John Hamburg, Cheryl Hines, John Ridley, Gary Ross and Gary Winick.

·         The Founders Award for Best Narrative FeatureWhen We Leave (Die Fremde), directed and written by Feo Aladag. (Germany). Winner receives $25,000 cash and the art award “Study: Northern City Renaissance” (Mass MoCA #379K) 2008, commissioned by Sting, created by Stephen Hannock. Sponsored by AKA Hotel Residences.  The award was presented by Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal.

Jury Comments:  When We Leave examines one woman’s struggle for personal freedom.  It’s a theme that is often explored – but rarely told with such humanity, subtlety, craftsmanship or immediacy, as in tonight’s winning entry.  When We Leave is a riveting and heartbreaking story of a woman trapped in an abusive relationship, who must not only free herself from that marriage, but also the cultural prejudices and judgments that would keep her there.  Feo Aladag built the nuances of her film over a six year period.  She rehearsed her actors for seven months.  She immersed herself in every detail of a culture that is revealed to us in remarkable detail.  The result is a film that balances complex social issues with honest human yearnings.  Through the brutality, When We Leave is also a story of tenderness, the struggle for compassion, the inexorable pull of family and the need to love and be loved.”

Special Jury Mention: Loose Cannons, directed by Ferzan Ozpetek and written by Ferzan Ozpetek and Ivan Cotroneo.

Jury Comments: “Loose Cannons buoyantly explores the story of two gay brothers attempting to find happiness in a traditional Italian family that is less than accepting of their lifestyle choices. Expertly combining family drama and farce, Loose Cannons tackles its subject matter with warmth, humor and grace. For making us laugh, cry and immediately want to book a trip to Southern Italy, we congratulate director Ferzan Ozpetek and his talented cast and collaborators on this special mention.”

·         Best New Narrative FilmmakerKim Chapiron for Dog Pound, written by Kim Chapiron and Jeremie Delon. (France). Winner receives $25,000 cash. Sponsored by American Express.  The award was presented by Gary Winick.

Jury Comments: “There was any number of films this year in which the director was able to bring together disparate thoughts, ideas and images. We have chosen to honor a director who created an environment built with such intensity and humanity that his ensemble cast was able to transcend the cold walls and locked doors that confined their characters.”

  • Best Actor in a Narrative Feature FilmEric Elmosnino as Serge Gainsbourg in Gainsbourg, Je t’Aime…Moi Non Plus, directed and written by Joann Sfar. (France). Sponsored by Delta Air Lines. Winner receives two BusinessElite ticket vouchers for anywhere Delta travels.  The award was presented by Hope Davis.

Jury Comments: “The ultimate compliment to an actor is that he so becomes his role that he will forever be defined by it. No more is this true than in this case.”

  • Best Actress in a Narrative Feature FilmSibel Kekilli as Umay in When We Leave (Die Fremde), directed and written by Feo Aladag. (Germany).  Sponsored by Delta Air Lines.  Winner receives two BusinessElite ticket vouchers for anywhere Delta travels.  The award was presented by Aaron Eckhart.

Jury Comments: “Among many brilliant performances we found one in particular that captivated from the first frame of the film and held us through a long and difficult journey. By turns this actress was joy and sorrow, and love and hope, a woman both strong enough to stand against generations of Muslim traditions and vulnerable enough to express the pain of a daughter cast aside by all who have loved her.”

The jurors for the 2010 World Documentary Competition were Jessica Alba, Margaret Brown, Abbie Cornish, Marshall Curry, Whoopi Goldberg, Aidan Quinn and Eric Steel.

 

·         Best Documentary Feature Monica & David, directed by Alexandra Codina. (USA). Sponsored by HBO. Winner receives $25,000 in cash and the art award “Jorge, 2003/2009” by Vik Muniz.  The award was presented by Jessica Alba.

Jury Comments: “Monica & David takes an incredibly intimate situation and beautifully translates it in a way that makes you think about your own life. It’s a clear and observant look at a family and the purity of love, fueled by an organic sense of the sadness, joy and everyday humor that fill this epic journey that is life.”

Special Jury Mention: Budrus directed by Julia Bacha (USA, Palestine, Israel).

Jury Comments: “Budrus is a film with a powerful message and a fresh perspective on an issue that is familiar to many.  It’s about a local community who stood up to defend what was theirs, and in doing so they changed a country. This story is a journey that stretches beyond borders to provide hope, and it should be seen by everyone.”

·         Best New Documentary Filmmaker Clio Barnard for The Arbor (UK). Winner receives $25,000 cash. Sponsored by American Express.  The award was presented by Abbie Cornish.

Jury Comments: “Imagination is a word you don’t often associate with documentary filmmaking, but this director bends the boundaries of the form, beautifully crafting an innovative and detailed film wherein great storytelling is paramount.”

New York Competition Categories:

The 2010 Best New York Narrative Competition jurors were Selma Blair, Zach Braff, Zoe Cassavetes, Darko Lungulov and Andrew McCarthy.

  • Best New York NarrativeMonogamy, directed by Dana Adam Shapiro, written by Dana Adam Shapiro and Evan M. Weiner. (USA). Winner receives $10,000 cash, $50,000 in post-production services donated by Company 3, and the art award “SeaScape Frame” by Valerie Hegarty.  The award was presented by Selma Blair.

Jury Comments: “This wasn't an easy decision. All of the films in this category had strong visions and dealt with themes that covered wide ground – some ground that has already been explored, but some that took us to places we haven’t been before.  For the film that was realized in such a way that brought together craft, strong acting and consistency of vision, the Best New York Narrative Feature is Monogamy.

Special Jury Mention: Melissa Leo for her performance in The Space Between, directed and written by Travis Fine. (USA).

Jury Comments: “We would like to honor one actress with a Special Jury Mention. For her embracing and visceral performance in The Space Between, we want to recognize Melissa Leo.”

The 2010 Best New York Documentary Competition jurors were America Ferrera, Dave Karger, Dan Klores, Scott Neustadter and Kate Snow.

  • Best New York DocumentaryThe Woodmans, directed by C. Scott Willis. (USA, Italy, China). Sponsored by Polaroid. Winner receives $10,000 cash, $50,000 in post-production services donated by Company 3, and art award “New York Studio n.21” by Maurizio Galimberti.  The award was presented by America Ferrara.

Jury Comments: “All of the films in this category expose their audiences to new subjects that they might not have known much about. But The Woodmans inspired the most discussion thanks to its haunting and subtle storytelling.”

Short Film Competition Categories:

The 2010 Best Narrative Short Competition jurors were Justin Bartha, Katherine Dieckmann, Jack Dorsey, Peter Facinelli and Brooke Shields.

  • Best Narrative Short Father Christmas Doesn't Come Here, directed by Bekhi Sibiya, written by Sibongile Nkosana, Bongi Ndaba. (South Africa). Winner receives $5,000 cash, 5,000 feet of 35mm film stock donated by Kodak, and the art award “A Box of Smile, 1967/89” by Yoko Ono.  The award was presented by Peter Facinelli.

Jury Comments: “The jury was unanimous in its enthusiasm for the winning film. It is an assured, original, and profoundly moving film, which perfectly executes its aims and is buoyed by a remarkable performance by its lead actor.  The director of this film consistently foregoes sentimentality in favor of subtle debunking of myths based on culture. His frames are urgently alive with telling details. This film announces a persuasive and deeply human directorial vision, one rich with authenticity and insight. It is a film of resilience and hope.”

Special Jury Mention: The Crush, directed and written by Michael Creagh. (Ireland).

Jury Comments: “We decided to honor The Crush with a Special Jury Mention. As a jury, we were impressed with the accomplishment of this extremely well-crafted film; it navigates a tricky tone and encompasses humor, yearning and suspense, without ever missing a beat. The results are as hilarious as they are nerve-rattling. The director is in total command of a narrative that veers unexpectedly from sweetness to pitch darkness, and features yet another startlingly naturalistic performance from a child actor, whose deadpan charm is only exceeded by his ability to call a grown man “dickhead” with complete conviction.”

The 2010 Best Documentary and Student Short Competition jurors were Perry Miller Adato, Tim Armstrong, Jared Cohen, Scandar Copti, Larry Gagosian, Alicia Keys and Shirin Neshat.

  • Best Documentary ShortWhite Lines & The Fever: The Death of DJ Junebug, directed and written by Travis Senger. (USA). Winner receives $5,000 cash, 5,000 feet of 35mm film stock donated by Kodak and the art award “Fruits of War” by Spencer Platt.  The award was presented by Academy Award® nominated filmmaker Scandar Copti.

Jury Comments: “For our winner we chose a film that we feel effectively showed the evolution of hip-hop through its captivating visuals, riveting interviews and exciting exploration of the music and the culture behind the phenomenon. We were thoroughly engaged from beginning to end on this ride back in time, and commend the filmmaker for his ability to create an informative and entertaining documentary.”

Special Jury Mention: Out of Infamy: Michi Nishiura Weglyn, directed and written by Nancy Kapitanoff, Sharon Yamato. (USA).

Jury Comments: “Out of Infamy: Michi Nishiura Weglyn was not only an elegant portrayal of a unique individual but was also a story told with incredible clarity. This film focused on a life that had tremendous power; a woman whose talent and perseverance led her on a life path which began as a costume designer and evolved into a civil rights activist. Our jury is proud to present Nancy Kapitanoff and Sharon Yamato with a Special Jury Mention for their transcendent film.”

  • Student Visionary Awardsome boys don't leave, directed by Maggie Kiley, written by Matthew Mullen, Maggie Kiley. (USA). Winner receives MacPro Desktop with Final Cut Pro and a 24-inch monitor provided by Apple and the art award “Inauguration Angel” by Maira Kalman.  This award was also presented by Copti.

Jury Comments: “This film took a unique perspective on a relationship ending in a way that made us relate to both characters with its unexpected poignancy and notes of humor. We all felt in some way we could connect to this film, which endeared us to its characters and its situation and exhibited the directing strength of this student filmmaker.”

Special Jury Mention: The Pool Party, directed and written by Sara Zandieh. (Iran, USA).

Jury Comments: “We wish to acknowledge The Pool Party by giving it an official Special Jury Mention. Not only did this film intrigue us with its interesting location and characters, but its underlying commentary about wealth, society and communication within a strong narrative context.  Because it provoked a great deal of lively conversation, challenging us to discuss the universal nature of this film and how it stayed true to its vision, we are awarding a Special Jury Mention to The Pool Party.”

TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL VIRTUAL CATEGORIES:

The 2010 Tribeca Film Festival Virtual winners were voted on by the TFF Virtual premium passholders.

·         Tribeca Film Festival VIRTUAL Best Feature Film: Spork, directed and written by J. B. Ghuman, Jr. (USA). Winner receives $25,000 cash. Sponsored by American Express.  The award was presented by Geoff Gilmore, Chief Creative Officer of Tribeca Enterprises.

  • Tribeca Film Festival VIRTUAL Best Short Film: Delilah, Before, directed by Melanie Schiele. Winner receives $5,000 cash. Sponsored by American Express.  The award was presented by Julie La’Bassiere, Director of Marketing and Industry for Tribeca Enterprises.

Full List of Eligible 2010 TFF Films in Each Category of Competition:

World Narrative Feature Competition:

·         Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature: 12 films

·         Best New Narrative Filmmaker: 11 filmmakers

·         Best Actress in a Narrative Feature: 10 actresses

·         Best Actor in a Narrative Feature: 14 actors

World Documentary Feature Competition:

·         Best Documentary Feature: 12 films

·         Best New Documentary Filmmaker: 9 filmmakers

New York Competition Films:

·         Best New York Documentary Competition: 6 films

·         Best New York Narrative Competition:7 films

Short Films in Competition:

·         Best Narrative Short: 30 films

·         Best Documentary Short: 11 films

·         Student Visionary Award: 6 films

For more information on all of the films in the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival, please visit tribecafilm.com.

Tickets for 2010 Festival:

Tickets are available now for screenings through May 2.  Tickets for the Festival are $16.00 for evening and weekend screenings and $8.00 for daytime weekday and late night screenings.

Single tickets can be purchased online, by telephone, or at one of the Ticket Outlets, located at the Tribeca Cinemas Ticket Window at 54 Varick Street and an additional location to be determined. The 2010 Festival will continue ticket discounts for evening and weekend screenings for students, seniors and select downtown Manhattan residents. Discounted tickets are available at Ticket Outlet locations only. Discounted packages can only be purchased online and by phone. Additional information and further details on the Festival can be found at www.tribecafilm.com.

About the Tribeca Film Festival:
Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff founded the Tribeca Film Festival in 2001 following the attacks on the World Trade Center to spur the economic and cultural revitalization of the lower Manhattan district through an annual celebration of film, music and culture.

The Festival’s mission is to help filmmakers reach the broadest possible audience, enable the international film community and general public to experience the power of cinema and promote New York City as a major filmmaking center. Tribeca Film Festival is well known for being a diverse international film festival that supports emerging and established directors. 

The Tribeca Festival has screened over 1100 films from over 80 countries since its first festival in 2002. Since its founding, it has attracted an international audience of more than 2.3 million attendees and has generated an estimated $600 million in economic activity for New York City.

Founding & Signature Sponsors
As Founding Sponsor of the Tribeca Film Festival, American Express is committed to supporting the Festival and the art of film making, bringing business and energy to New York City and offering Cardmembers and festival-goers the opportunity to enjoy the best of storytelling through film.

The Festival is pleased to announce the return of its Signature Sponsors: Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Apple, Bloomberg, Brookfield, Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC), Delta Air Lines, Heineken USA, NBC 4 New York, NCM Media Networks, New York Nonstop, The New York Times, RR Donnelley, and Vanity Fair.  The Tribeca Film Festival is also honored to welcome the following new Signature Sponsors:  Caesars Atlantic City, LG Electronics USA, Stolichnaya Vodka, Time Warner Cable, and YouTube.

 

Cole Smithey on April 30, 2010 in Film | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

15TH ANNUAL NANTUCKET FILM FESTIVAL

DISNEY•PIXAR’S ‘TOY STORY 3’ AND MAGNOLIA PICTURES’ ‘THE EXTRA MAN’ TO OPEN 15TH ANNUAL NANTUCKET FILM FESTIVAL
 
The Weinstein Company’s John Lennon Biopic ‘Nowhere Boy’ to Close Fifteenth Anniversary; Ben Stiller Comedy Roundtable added as annual event
 
April 28, 2010 (New York, NY) – The Nantucket Film Festival has always excelled at compiling a unique variety of films and crafting engaging events for its audience with past participants including Ben Stiller, Steve Martin, Tina Fey, Jim Carrey, and Paul Rudd among many others. To celebrate their fifteenth anniversary, organizers are gearing up to top themselves yet again. Executive Director Colin Stanfield and Artistic Director Mystelle Brabbée announce the full lineup of films, which will take place Thursday, June 17 through Sunday, June 20.  Passes are now available on the festival’s website (www.nantucketfilmfestival.com) with tickets going on sale Wednesday, May 28th.
 

“Fifteen is shaping up to be our most exciting festival yet,” said Mr. Stanfield.  “We’re thrilled to add Ben Stiller’s All-Star Comedy Roundtable to our roster of Nantucket Film Festival signature events which include the Screenwriters Tribute, Late Night Storytelling, and Morning Coffee With…®.”   Also returning this year will be the uproarious and unpredictable Late Night Storytelling. 

Participants include five surprise guests as well as audience members.  Past storytellers include Ben Stiller, Jim Carrey, Tina Fey, Mos Def, Rosie Perez, Cheryl Hines, Laird Hamilton, Olympia Dukakis, Paul Rudd, Alan Cumming, Fisher Stevens, and Brian Williams. 
  The opening night films for this year’s Nantucket Film Festival will be Toy Story 3, from Disney•Pixar, and NFF® veterans Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini’s The Extra Man, from Magnolia Pictures. 

Closing the festival this year will be John Lennon biopic Nowhere Boy from The Weinstein Company.
  “For fifteen years, NFF has offered a chance for personal interaction with storytellers of all stripes, from comic legends to human rights leaders to stars of popular culture,” Ms. Brabbée added. “This line-up of feature films is reflective of some of the fiercest storytellers out there – newcomers as well as some of Nantucket Film Festival's most beloved past participants.”

In keeping with NFF® mission of spotlighting writers, the Festival will announce the winner of Showtime’s annual Tony Cox Award for Screenwriting in early June.  The winner will be feted at the Showtime Award Ceremony at the Festival.  

Among other awards given at NFF ® this year will be The Compass Rose Acting Award, The Audience Award for Best Feature & Best Short, SHOWTIME’S TONY COX Awards for Best Screenwriting in a Feature Film and Short Film, Teen View on NFF® Award, Best Storytelling in a Documentary Film, and the Adrienne Shelly Excellence in Filmmaking Award, and new this year a New Voices in Screenwriting Award.   Other special events include Morning Coffee With…®, which draws sell-out crowds annually.  Returning to host is festival favorite Jace Alexander. 

The daily panels take place every morning and invite attendees to join filmmaker experts for an intimate mix of coffee, conversation, bagels and shoptalk with some of their favorite filmmakers.
  Last year the NFF presented 40 feature and short films, including soon-to-be Academy Award winners The Hurt Locker and The Cove. Celebratory guests included Ben Stiller, Meg Ryan, Ben Foster, Brain Williams, Cheryl Hines, Harold Ramis, Fisher Stevens, Paul Giamatti, Peter & Bobby Farrelly, Lily Taylor, Chris Matthews, John Hamburg, Anne Meara, and many more.

 
NFF was founded in 1996 to spotlight screenwriters, screenwriting and storytelling in today's cinema. The festival takes place the third week of June on the idyllic island of Nantucket, MA.  Now in its fifteenth year, NFF has become a prestigious annual event within the international film industry.  The festival is a significant attraction that draws over ten thousand attendees, screenwriters, producers, agents and development executives each year.   
 
Additional films, events and attendees to be announced soon.
 
For more information please visit our website at www.nantucketfilmfestival.org.

Cole Smithey on April 28, 2010 in Film | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Human Centipede

Relearning Disgust
Dutch Filmmaker Tom Six Dares His Audience
By Cole Smithey

Human-Centiped-poster High concept meets sustained graphic horror in Tom Six's satirically challenged thriller that succeeds if only by the realistic treatment of its gross-out premise via the best mad scientist performance in recent memory. Deiter Lasser plays Dr. Heiter, a renowned surgeon whose expertise for separating Siamese twins has turned into an obsession with creating a "human centipede," i.e. a chain of humans connected anus-to-mouth by carefully cut and stitched skin flaps.

Amateur performances, by the three newcomers who signed on to parade around a chic German home on hands-and-knees, barely diminish Lasser's diabolically dead-eyed incarnation of pure evil. American best-friends Jenny (Ashlynn Yennie) and Lindsay (Ashley C. Williams) get a flat tire in the rain while on vacation in Germany. The girls make the time honored genre mistake of venturing into the dark woods to what turns out to be Dr. Heiter's lab-equipped home--complete with indoor swimming pool. A couple of drugged-glasses-of-water later and the clueless girls find themselves strapped to beds in a fluorescent-lit basement lab where a third "patient" also awaits. Blood type problems mean that the good doctor has to go out to procure a replacement for his experiment--in this case a Japanese male named Katsuro (Akihiro Kitamura). Dr. Heiter's diagramed explanation of his planned procedure, for the benefit of the doomed trio, is the stuff of a very witty nightmare. With Katsuro in the lead position, the girls are left to eat poo while desperately trying to escape from an intimate kind of hell from which there can be no painless getaway.

Although ripe for some amount of satirical thematic premise--perhaps about consumerist society, "The Human Centipede" falls short just where it should soar. But that still doesn't mean it isn't one of the most inventive and unsettling horror movies to come along since Lars von Trier's "Antichrist." In interview Tom Six has said that the concept for the film came from his idea for extreme criminal punishment, wherein someone guilty of a heinous crime would be stitched mouth to ass of a fat truck driver. If Six had followed through on his primary logic, he would probably have realized that both members of his involuntary food chain would have to be people guilty of some terrible offense, such as war crimes for example. Nonetheless, there's no mistaking a certain anti-Japanese and anti-American subtext to the proceedings that also smuggle in some not so subtle commentary about Nazi Germany's proclivity for medical experiments under the infamous guidance Dr. Josef Mengele, the original Angel of Death.  

It's impossible to watch "The Human Centipede" and not contemplate the literal human food chain the filmmakers present. Once linked, the three victims are helpless to escape since they cannot separate from one another without the advent of professional medical assistance. Indeed, the mere visualization of Six's bizarre "human centipede" is something the audience will be coerced into considering for days and weeks after witnessing it. The filmmaker is working on a "full sequence" sequel that will feature a 12-person human centipede for all your dining pleasure. It could just be that Tom Six is merely attempting to teach desensitized audiences how to be disgusted again. In that regard, he might be cinema's latest and greatest success story.

Rated R. 90 mins. (B+) (Three Stars - out of five/no halves)

Cole Smithey on April 26, 2010 in Film | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Woody Allen's “MIDNIGHT IN PARIS”

WOODY ALLEN ANNOUNCES NEW FILM

“MIDNIGHT IN PARIS”

STARRING OWEN WILSON, MARION COTILLARD, RACHEL McADAMS, KATHY BATES & CARLA BRUNI

Woody Allen New York (April 22, 2010) – In a rare move, Woody Allen revealed today the title, cast and story details for his latest film in pre-production. MIDNIGHT IN PARIS stars Owen Wilson, Marion Cotillard, Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates and Carla Bruni. Also in the cast are Michael Sheen, Nina Arianda, Tom Hiddleston, Corey Stoll, Mimi Kennedy and Kurt Fuller.  The film shoots this summer in Paris.

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS is a romantic comedy that follows a family travelling to the city for business. The party includes a young engaged couple that has their lives transformed throughout the journey. The film celebrates a young man’s great love for Paris, and simultaneously explores the illusion people have that a life different from their own is better. 

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS is produced by Letty Aronson, Steve Tenenbaum and Jaume Roures. It is part of a three-picture financing deal between Allen’s Gravier Productions and Mediapro, the Spain-based company which also funded Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” and the upcoming “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger” to be released domestically by Sony Pictures Classics this fall. Imagina International Sales is handling international sales for MIDNIGHT IN PARIS for most territories.

 

Cole Smithey on April 26, 2010 in Film | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

WOMEN WITHOUT MEN

New York Release May 14th, 2010
Quad Cinema

Women Without Men
Directed by:
Shirin Neshat
Written by: Shirin Neshat and Shoja Azari
Starring: Pegah Ferydoni, Arita Shahrzad, Shabnam Tolouei, and Orsi Tóth
Release Date: April 9, 2010 (LA); April 30 (Washington D.C.); May 14th, (NYC); further expansion
Running Time: 99 minutes
Rating: Not yet rated
Website: www.womenwithoutmenfilm.com <http://www.womenwithoutmenfilm.com/>;  
 
WOMEN WITHOUT MEN, an adaptation of Shahrnush Parsipur’s magic realist novel of the same name, is Iranian artist Shirin Neshat’s first feature length film. The story chronicles the intertwining lives of four Iranian women during the summer of 1953; a cataclysmic moment in Iranian history when an American led, British backed coup d’état brought down the democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, and reinstalled the Shah to power.
 
Over the course of several days four disparate women from Iranian society are brought together against the backdrop of political and social turmoil. Fakhri, a middle aged woman trapped in a loveless marriage must contend with her feelings for an old flame who has just returned from America and walked back into her life. Zarin, a young prostitute, tries to escape the devastating realization that she can no longer see the faces of men. Munis, a politically awakened young woman, must resist the seclusion imposed on her by her religiously traditional brother, while her friend Faezeh remains oblivious to the turmoil in the streets and longs only to marry Munis’ domineering brother.
 
As the political turmoil swells in the streets of Tehran, each woman seeks to be liberated from her predicament. Munis becomes an active part of the political struggle by following a young communist who she believes can restore her faith in the world.  Fakhri frees herself from the chains of her stagnant marriage by leaving her husband and purchasing a mystical orchard in the outskirts of the city. Faezeh is taken to the orchard by Munis to face her own awakened self after her innocence is stolen, while Zarin attempts to find solace in her newfound communion with the land. But it is only a matter of time before the world outside the walls of the orchard seep into the lives of these four women as their country’s history takes a tragic turn. 

Cole Smithey on April 24, 2010 in Film | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Back-Up Plan

Back-up-plan-poster Excruciating, interminable, and preoccupied with the words "shit" and "vagina," "The Back-Up Plan" is the worst film to come out of Hollywood so far this year. Television director Alan Poul ("Big Love") makes his feature film debut with a remedial script by TV writer Kate Angelo that's made even worse by Alex O'Loughlin's cringe-inducing performance as Stan, the uber generic washboard-ab object of Jennifer Lopez's estrogen-peaking character Zoe. The good news is that the movie has the potential to help with the world's population crisis because its treatment of childbirth and parenting is so toxic that no one in their right mind would want to procreate after seeing it. On the day of her artificial insemination, Zoe finally meets the lame duck man of her less than humble dreams. Stan is a cheese maker--no really--who's failing his night school economics classes when he isn't experimenting with goat milk on his New York farm. Zoe goes to meetings with an artificial-insemination support group that consists the most obnoxious bunch of women you'd ever want to meet. Sometimes Zoe hangs out with her "nanna" because the screenwriter was thinking like a five-year-old when she wrote this script. "Hate" is not a strong enough word to describe how I feel about this abysmal insult to cinema.

Rated PG-13. 104 mins. (F) (Zero Stars)

Cole Smithey on April 24, 2010 in Film | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

Cole Smithey on April 24, 2010 in Film | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

OSCILLOSCOPE ACQUIRES "HOWL"



OSCILLOSCOPE ACQUIRES SUNDANCE OPENER HOWL FOR SEPTEMBER RELEASE

James Franco, Jon Hamm, David Strathairn, Mary-Louise Parker, and Jeff Daniels 


Howl New York, NY (April 22, 2010) – Oscilloscope Laboratories announced today that it has acquired U.S. distribution rights to 2-time Academy Award® winning director Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s first dramatic narrative HOWL.  Starring James Franco in a career-defining performance as Allen Ginsberg, HOWL is the story of how the young poet’s seminal work broke down societal barriers in the face of an infamous public obscenity trial.  HOWL was the opening night film at Sundance Film Festival 2010 and also played in competition at 2010 Berlinale. The film was produced by Elizabeth Redleaf and Christine Kunewa Walker of Werc Werk Works, and Epstein and Friedman.  Oscilloscope will release HOWL in theaters and VOD on September 24, 2010.

In his famously confessional style, Ginsberg – poet, counter-culture icon, and chronicler of the Beat Generation – recounts the road trips, love affairs, and search for personal liberation that led to HOWL, the most timeless work of his career.  HOWL interweaves three stories: the unfolding of the landmark 1957 obscenity trial; an imaginative animated ride through the prophetic masterpiece; and a unique portrait of a man who found new ways to express himself, and in doing so, changed his own life and galvanized a generation.

HOWL features James Franco, David Strathairn, Jon Hamm, Bob Balaban, Alessandro Nivola, Treat Williams, with Mary-Louise Parker and Jeff Daniels.
 
David Fenkel, co-founder of Oscilloscope says,  “At O-Scope we love working with passionate, creative filmmakers who make entertaining and meaningful films, and the team behind HOWL perfectly fit this profile.  They put together a great cast, lead by a performance by James Franco that people will be talking about for years.”

Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman say: “We're very happy that HOWL has found the perfect home and partners. Oscilloscope is the coolest company around.”
 
Elizabeth Redleaf, CEO of Werc Werk Works says: “We are very fortunate that Oscilloscope has come on board to bring their passion and dedication to this extraordinary and inspiring movie.”
 
Christine Walker, President of Werc Werk Works says: “Adam Yauch and his team have a terrific track record of nurturing unique films like HOWL and we look forward to working with them and bringing it to the widest audience possible.”
 
About Oscilloscope Laboratories:
Oscilloscope Laboratories is a film production and theatrical distribution entity launched in 2008 by Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys. Yauch modeled the company after the indie record labels he grew up around, choosing films and then marketing them with the same artistic integrity with which they were made. The company, which is an extension of Yauch’s recording studio of the same name, has an in-house DVD distribution and production arm, and the paper packaging is reminiscent of the heyday of LP record jackets. All of the company's DVD packaging is (free of any plastic) printed on FSC Certified 80% post-consumer waste paper and produced in a carbon neutral, hydroelectric plant.  Other Oscilloscope theatrical releases include Yauch's GUNNIN' FOR THAT #1 SPOT, Irena Salina's FLOW, Caroline Suh's FRONTRUNNERS, Kurt Kuenne's DEAR ZACHARY, Kelly Reichardt's WENDY AND LUCY starring Michelle Williams, So Yong Kim's TREELESS MOUNTAIN, Gabriel Medina’s offbeat comedy THE PARANOIDS, the Academy-Award® nominated THE GARDEN from Scott Hamilton Kennedy, Anders Østergaard’s Academy-Award® nominated BURMA VJ, Nati Baratz's UNMISTAKEN CHILD, and Laura Gabbert and Justin Schein’s NO IMPACT MAN. Recent releases include Oren Moverman’s Academy-Award® nominated THE MESSENGER, starring Woody Harrelson, Ben Foster and Samantha Morton, Henrik Ruben Genz’s Danish thriller TERRIBLY HAPPY, Bradley Rust Gray’s THE EXPLODING GIRL starring Zoe Kazan and Michel Gondry’s personal family documentary THE THORN IN THE HEART. Upcoming releases include Lance Daly’s award-winning Irish film KISSES, the re-release of Jules Dassin’s classic THE LAW.

About Werc Werk Works:
Werc Werk Works is an independent film production and finance company founded by Elizabeth Redleaf and Independent Spirit Award nominated producer Christine Kunewa Walker (“American Splendor” “Factotum”) and is dedicated to the production and financing of high caliber, story-driven films with wide appeal.  The company strives to be a consistent supplier of commercial projects for both the studios and strong independent distributors worldwide.

Oscilloscope Laboratories
www.oscilloscope.net
twitter.com/oscopelabs
facebook.com/oscopelabs

Cole Smithey on April 22, 2010 in Film | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack