87th Academy Awards Foreign Language Submission post will be updated constantly with info about when each country will announce their selection. Today August 19: Info about Denmark.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

2014 Cinema Biennale Check #8 - From Asia to Venice

The last Cinema Biennale Check installment is about directors born in the East and Far East.

Xiaoshuai Wang

Born on May 1966 in Shanghai, China. A gifted painter that attended Beijing's Central Art Academy Middle School and upon graduation relinquish his painting career to enroll in the Beijing Film Academy in the Department of Directing. After graduation and 2 years as an assistant at Fujian Film Studios he returns penniless to Beijing only to make his first film in 1993, The Days, with the incredible budget of US$10,000.00.

He belongs to what is known as the Sixth Generation of Chinese filmmakers or the "Urban Generation" of directors. Perhaps he's better-known for his amazing 2001 Berlinale Jury Grand Prix Silver Bear winner Beijing Bicycle, his also amazing 2005 Cannes Jury Prize winner Shanghai Dreams and his 2010 Cannes in competition for the Palme d'Or Chongqing Blues; but his filmography extends beyond these three films with films like In Love We Trust, Drifters and many more. Occasionally has worked as an actor and most remarkable in Jia Zhangke's The World and Lou Ye's Weekend Lover.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

8th Queer Lion Lineup

The eighth edition of Queer Lion, the collateral award of 71. Venice International Film Festival dedicated to movies "with homosexual themes or queer interest", has this year the patronage of the Presidency of the Cabinet – Department for Equal Opportunities, Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, Veneto Region, Province of Venice, Venice Municipality and the National Union of Italian Film Critics.

Created by Francesco Gangemi, this year’s award poster is an homage to the 75th anniversary of Victor Fleming’s cult movie The Wizard of Oz.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

2014 Cinema Biennale Check #7 - Directors Born Elsewhere

There are some directors in Venezia 71 competition that were born in one country but are working in another country with films that do not have any money from their country of birth. One is in my opinion a very accomplished documentary filmmaker that last year rose to international fame, the second is a well-known director and the third is better-known for his mainstream movies.

Joshua Oppenheimer

Born in September, 1974 in Austin, Texas. Studied filmmaking at Harvard and University of the Arts London. Oppenheimer was born in USA but he lives and works in Europe, mainly London and Denmark. He has done short and documentaries but was his multiple award winner first feature-length documentary The Act of Killing that introduced him to world audiences.

His second feature-length documentary, The Look of Silence is another take into the Indonesian genocide this time told by a family that survived and dare to confront the men who killed one of the family members. It is the only documentary in competition for the Golden Lion.

The Act of Killing was extremely hard to watch but you're so mesmerized that you're unable to stop watching;  Oppenheimer mentioned in some interviews that The Look of Silence has different style, but I believe that no matter the style film will be also hard to watch, will capture your undivided attention and wont release you until well after you finish watching.  Yes I will watch but know that have to be in a very good mood to withstand what I am going to see.

Friday, August 08, 2014

2014 Cinema Biennale Check #6 - Borderline European Directors

The European directors in Venezia71 competition, excluding those already preview it, come from Turkey and Russia, which we know are borderline countries as some of their territory is in Europe while the other is in Asia. In this group there is one director that is in Venice film festival for the first time with his first feature-length film, which is a high honor and yes, definitively makes expectations rise above average.

Kaan Müjdeci

Not easy to find info about this director but from the Krakow Film Festival where he had a short documentary in competition, Babalar ve Oğullari (Fathers and Sons) -which was done out of footage from the trip while scouting locations for his first feature-length film- here is the bio:
Born in Ankara in 1980, he moved to Berlin to study Film Directing. His short film, Day of German Unity, was invited to Cannes Film Festival in 2010 and also bought by several television broadcasters. His graduation short Jerry, produced at New York Film Academy, entered Berlinale Talent Campus one year later. Müjdeci is currently working on his first feature film Sivas.

Not sure what to think about his film as story does not call my attention at all; but some movie stills have breathtaking cinematography/visuals, so probably will give film a try. Sigh.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

2014 Cinema Biennale Check #5 - Made in Sweden

Sweden representation in Venezia71 goes to none other than one of the most interesting contemporary Swedish directors, one that is recognized for his very particular cinematic style and one that I highly enjoy.

Roy Andersson

Born on March 1943 in Gothenburg, Västra Götalands län, Sweden. In 1969 he did his first feature-length film, A Swedish Love Story that went to win honors at 1970 Berlinale. After Andersson went into deep depression and is in 1975 when he does his second film that became a financial and critical disaster. Andersson took a 25-year break from film directing.

In 1996 he starts to do the first installment in the Living Trilogy, Sånger från andra våningen (Songs from the Second Floor) a film poem inspired by Peruvian poet César Vallejo that took him four years to make and went to win the Jury Prize at 2000 Cannes. His very particular style starts to show in this movie but is with the second installment -AWESOME- Du Levande (You, the Living) that is the movie that introduced me to this fantastic director and his peculiar cinematic style that can be described as dry/black humor, cold ambiance-color palette, deadpan and (fantastic) broken narrative. This film took him one year less to make it, meaning, only three years.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

2014 Cinema Biennale Check #4 - Italian Directors

An Italian festival without Italian directors in the competition is almost impossible to imagine so no surprise that this year there are three films in competition.

Saverio Costanzo

Born on September, 1975 in Rome, Lazio, Italy. He began filmmaking with a documentary and his first feature length film, 2004 Private was at 2004 Locarno where Costanzo won the Golden Leopard for Best Director. Her second feature length film In Memoria di Me (In Memory of Me) was in competition for 2007 Berlinale top award and his third film is fantastic La Solitudine dei Numeri Primi (The Solitude of Prime Numbers) that was in competition for the 2010 Biennale top award and where Alba Rohrwacher won the Best Actress award.

His fourth feature length film, Hungry Hearts (aka Il Bambino Indaco) is in competition at this year Venice fest which makes him one of the few directors in the world that have all his feature films premiered at top festivals, which of course means not much but assures certain cinematic quality in his films. Have seen all his films and I'm sure will see his latest that hope will enjoy as have not enjoyed some of his previous films mainly because the story (too-difficult to watch for me) but watch it completely for the fantastic visuals.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

2014 Cinema Biennale Check #3 - Born in USA Directors

I have been complaining allover and to everyone that this year La Mostra seems to me too much American, too much Gringo and too much one sided type of cinema style. Sigh. But well, we have to find why European festival programmers are so attracted to include so much American cinema while completely ignoring Latin American cinema.

We have to start with one America born director that has a movie NOT produced with American money: Abel Ferrara.

Abel Ferrara

Born in The Bronx, NY in July 1951 Ferrara has many films for the small and big screen plus has travelled different genres including documentary but perhaps he is better known for his 1992 Bad Leiutenant and 2011 4:44 - Last Day on Earth that competed at the 68th Venice fest. One of his latest films is 2013 Welcome to New York that failed to be picked up for theatrical distribution and was released on VOD, yes is the fictionalized version of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case starring Gérard Depardieu.

Monday, August 04, 2014

87th Academy Awards Foreign Language Film Submissions

The first Monday in August brings us the first country to announce its submission: Turkey. As many -including me- were expecting Turkey sent the Cannes Palm d'Or winner Winter Sleep by Nuri Bilge Ceylan.

As far as I can tell there are no major changes to Rule Thirteen Special Rules for the Foreign Language Film Award, but here are some highlight from Rule 13.

Definition: A foreign language film is defined as a feature-length motion picture produced outside the United States of America with a predominately non-English dialogue track.

Eligibility (extract): Films that, in any version, receive a nontheatrical public exhibition or distribution before their first qualifying theatrical release will not be eligible for Academy Awards consideration. Nontheatrical public exhibition or distribution includes but is not limited to: Broadcast and cable television, PPV/VOD, DVD distribution, Internet transmission.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

2014 Cinema Biennale Check #2 - French Directors

Venezia71 has four French productions in the competition and a lot more co productions, making France the country with more films in the competition. These are the four French directors that are in competition.

Benoît Jacquot

Born in February 1947 Jacquot has a long career that began around the early 70's and spans from the small to the big screen. But perhaps his best known films are 2006 L'intouchable (The Untouchable) that was in competition at Venice and got the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Isild Le Besco and Les adieux à la reine (Farewell, My Queen) that won the Prix Louis Delluc and was in competition at 2012 Berlinale. But he has been in Cannes several times, not his first time in Venice nor in Berlin, so he is well-known in the festival circuit.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

2014 Cinema Biennale Check #1 - The Poet

I know that lately I have been absent minded with too many things in my head but that is no excuse to complete scramble the movies and everything about the movies in La Mostra current edition! Yes, that happened a few days ago in a conversation with a friend. Sigh. So the best thing to do is to go in a bit depth check of what the 71st Venice Film Festival is screening.

Have to start by talking about whom has been called the Poet of Sadness and the Poet of the Everyday; the poet that perhaps is the most famous German of Turkish descent in Contemporary Cinema: Fatih Akin.

Fatih Akin

Akin was born in 1973 in Hamburg, studied visual communications at Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg and graduated in 2000. His short films and feature length films have won him several awards but is the 2007 Cannes award winner Auf der anderen Seite (The Edge of Heaven) that propels him to the stratosphere of great master filmmakers.

Is in 2004 with Berlinale Golden Bear winner Gegen die Wand (Head On) that he begins his trilogy on "Love, Death and the Devil" with absolutely awesome Auf der anderen Seite (The Edge of Heaven) being the second installment and the Venezia71 In Competition The Cut being the third and last installment. While Head On was about a young German-Turkish woman's strong desire to live and -supposedly- is about love, The Edge of Heaven told the stories of people in Germany and Turkey and -allegedly- is about death, The Cut -apparently- is about the devil as tells about a dark historic episode, the Ottoman government systematic extermination of its minority Armenian subjects.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

71st Venice Film Festival Lineup

Organizers announced this morning the 20 films that will compete for the Golden Lion in the current edition of La Mostra, a selection that included several films that we were expecting in Cannes and now we find them here. Great. So Venezia71 competition has films by well-known directors like Benoît Jacquot, Fatih Akin, Xavier Beauvois, Abel Ferrara and Andrei Konchalovsky.

Can't complain about the main competition as there are films from several countries but it's appalling that there is not even one film from Latin America and when we check films in the Official Selection plus Autonomous Sections, the Latin American absence becomes disconcerting. Also disconcerting is the strong presence of American films (3 in competition plus too many to count in Orizzonti and other sections) so here I am wondering what is happening with world cinema when there is very little presence of Latin America and such a strong presence by USA. Not good news for me, sigh.

In a positive note the Official Selection has 55 films of which 54 are World premieres and 1 is an International premiere. Venezia71 Competition has 20 films, 19 World premieres and 1 International premiere. Organizers received and viewed 3,377 films of which 1,600 were feature films and 1,777 were short films.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

58th David di Donatello Award Winners

Yesterday the Italian Academy had their awards ceremony and to my huge surprise top award went to a movie that perhaps has a relevant story for Italian audiences but not any more for world audiences as topic has been covered extensively plus film had not much outstanding as performances, cinematography, direction, tech spec was truly average. Yes, in my opinion La Grande Bellezza as a movie is superior to Il Capitale Umano. Still, La Grande Bellezza won big with nine awards but did not got the top award. Sigh.

Event press coverage claims that the show was stolen by Sophia Loren, who was honored with a special prize for her performance in La Voce Umana (Human Voice) the short directed by her son Edoardo Ponti.

If you wish to watch the awards ceremony then take a deep breath as this is one ceremony where people really talk, talk, talk (uff!) non-stop, but here it is.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

67th Festival de Cannes Award Winners

In about six hours the red carpet will start followed by the awards ceremony, then the closing tribute to the western or better, the spaghetti western with Quentin Tarantino presenting For a Fistful of Dollars by Sergio Leone.

Nice closing ceremony with great award winners speeches that unfortunately chose to speak in English as the voice-over translation was loud, annoying and couldn't let you hear anything. Sigh. But imagine most will soon appear as clips all over the net. My predictions were as all Cannes predictions a futile exercise but can't deny that with one or two exceptions I approve who won the awards.

We have to realize that this year we have traditional winners but for those that wanted "fresh blood" we also have it and just for reference the youngest director in this edition, Xavier Dolan, tied with the oldest director in this edition, Jean-Luc Godard, but Alice Rohrwacher won the second top award.

So this is the end of the Cannes coverage and the end of the Festival.

À l'année prochaine!

2014 Cannes Closing Ceremony

Cérémonie de clôture (Closing Ceremony in French from Canal+)

The almost 60 minutes video with the complete ceremony in French BUT when English is spoken there are subtitles -sometimes... lol! Then is back to awful voice-over translation. Sigh.

5th Queer Palm Award Winner

Last night at the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs closing party the Queer Palm had their award ceremony and since the location was announced by organizers we suspected that the winning film will come from the sidebar and will be the closing film. We were right. The award went to Pride and in my opinion the jury chose a great and the right film for the award. Great!

But is not until today that we get the award president statement and is the best I have seen in the short history of this award. Take a look at the great statement.

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