Monday, August 24, 2015

#Venezia72 Check No. 8 - The Auteurs

Was checking the meaning of auteur in the English language and surprise, check what it says: "a filmmaker whose personal influence and artistic control over a movie are so great that the filmmaker is regarded as the author of the movie". Nice description of great cinema, isn't?

According to the definition -and my own interpretation-, besides the many other auteurs in #Venezia72 competition that have been already covered geographically, there are two auteurs that still have to be check and whom will be covered in this post: Cary Fukunaga and Oliver Hermanus.  They have in common more things than what you can imagine as both are young filmmakers, their third feature-film is in Venice 72 competition and most interesting, both are very easy on the eyes (lol).

Cary Fukunaga

Born on July 10, 1977 in Oakland, California, USA. His full name is Cary Jôji Fukunaga and is the son of a third-generation Japanese-American born in a Japanese internment camp during WWII, and a Swedish-American mother. His parents divorced and remarried, his father to an Argentine woman and his mother to a Mexican-American. All these family data is the background to get an idea of why he is fluent in English, French and Spanish plus where his very handsome looks come from (there are some spectacular b/w photos of him, browse the Internet to find them).

He is an M.F.A. candidate from New York University’s Graduate Film Program, and a graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz. He also has a degree from Institut d'études politiques (IEP) in Grenoble, France.

Cary Fukunaga launched his career as a second-year NYU Film School student with the short, Victoria Para Chino, which screened at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival and went on to earn more than two dozen international awards, including the Silver Medal at the Student Academy Awards and an honorable mention from BAFTA’s Los Angeles chapter. He has done several shorts films, like 2008 Kofi, 2012 Sleepwalking in the Rift plus a short in the 2009 omnibus Chinatown Film Project.

The early promise of Cary’s work also led to many prestigious grants, including a 2008 USA Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship, the John H. Johnson Film Award, and a 2005 Princess Grace Foundation Fellowship. In 2007, he received a Katrin Cartlidge Foundation Bursary.

I know that he became widely-known thanks to being the creator and director of HBO series True Detective; so probably that's why you know him, but is not how I met him. As a matter of fact let me be clear that I didn't enjoy much his creation and direction/storytelling style in True Detective as in my head his style, the one that he should explore-to-develop more, is the one shown in the film where I met him, his outstanding debut feature-film 2009 Sin Nombre.

Even when he claims that carefully chose his second feature film, to me was more about the pressure some successful directors have to produce something more commercial or Hollywood-esque, Jane Eyre was not as good as his first film. Had a great cast but the unknowns/non-actors in Sin Nombre performed much more outstandingly than Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska in Jane Eyre.

I still want to believe that Fukunaga can go back to develop/evolve his Sin Nombre impressive filmmaking / storytelling style and hope that in Beasts of No Nation he did not succumbed again into more commercial cinema. Besides impact-full trailer, more hope comes from movie being in competition at Venezia 72 but the real exciting news come from who is behind the movie, as no big studio produced or could be distributing movie. As a matter of fact, film will be distributed worldwide by Netflix and is being promoted as "A Netflix Original Film".

The worldwide distribution rights were bought by Netflix for around $12 million; it will be released simultaneously in "selected" theaters and online through its subscription VOD service. Considering it a violation of the traditional 90-day window of exclusivity to theaters, AMC Cinemas, Carmike Cinemas, Cinemark, and Regal Entertainment-four of the largest theater chains in the United States, announced that they would boycott Beasts of No Nation-effectively downgrading it to a limited release at smaller and independent theaters.

You can say that I have HIGH expectations about this film and truly hope Fukunaga continued developing his filmmaking/storytelling style as IF he does then I'm sure he will eventually be considered as one of the greatest master filmmakers in the world.

Basic info about Beasts of No Nation
Director: Cary Fukunaga
Writers: Cary Fukunaga
Language: English and Twi
Runtime: 137 mins
Production Country: USA
Production Companies: Red Crown Productions, Participant Media
Distribution: Netflix, Bleeker Street (theatrical USA)

Cast: Idris Elba, Abraham Attah

Plot Summary
Torn from his family, the young Agu is forced to join a group of guerrilla soldiers as civil war engulfs his West African country. Haunted by the death of his father at the hands of militants and suddenly under the control of a military Commandant, Agu develops both a revulsion for and fascination with a war that is slowly consuming him. Based on the eponymous novel by Uzodinma Iweala, Beasts of No Nation, is an unforgettable, heart-wrenching tale of a young boy’s strength and loss of innocence.

Posters- character sequence


Oliver Hermanus

Born in 1983 in Cape Town, South Africa. As a child his family lived in various parts of the country, but when he was a teenager they settled in Cape Town where he attended high school. Oliver furthered his studies at the University of Cape Town, where he enrolled for a BA in Film, Media and Visual Studies. He was awarded an exchange program scholarship during this time and completed his undergraduate degree at the University of California in the United States.

Upon return to South Africa he secured a position as a press photographer working for a national news agency. 18 months into his photographic career, he received a private scholarship from renowned film director Roland Emmerich to attend the film school of his choice. He completed an MA degree at the London Film School. He has worked professionally in press photography, documentary film, journalism, screenwriting and filmmaking.

He has done several short films, and most interesting, a 15 episodes web series called Foblo Bulletin; but his feature films are the ones of the truly remarkable/outstanding nature. His debut feature film Shirley Adams opened in competition at 2009 Locarno fest and his second feature film, Skoonheid (Beauty) opened in 2011 Cannes Un Certain Regard and went to win the Queer Palm. Then his third feature film will open in competition for a Golden Leon at 2015 Venice. Remarkable for a young filmmaker.

In between his first and second feature films he attended the 19th session of the Cannes Cinéfondation where he was working in the "story of an unlikely love affair between an older man and a younger woman, set against the back drop of the ever-changing and complicated post-apartheid South African society" (source Cinéfondation site). Obviously the older man and younger woman in that story became an older-man and younger-man complicated story in Beauty.

The Endless River (aka La La rivière sans fin) is making South African history as is the first ever SA film to compete in Venice as well as Hermanus is the first ever SA director to be in competition.  Film suggests could have interesting cinematography but imagine that what could be remarkable -again- has to be Hermanus directing and storytelling style when telling not-easy-to-watch stories.  I just hope that film is as good as the watching-experience I had with Beauty.

Basic info about The Endless River
Director: Oliver Hermanus
Writers: Oliver Hermanus
Language: English
Runtime: 110 mins
Production Countries: South Africa and France
Production Companies: Moonlighting Films, Swift Productions
Distribution: Urban Distribution International (International Sales), Black Sheep Films (South Africa)

Cast: Nicolas Duvauchelle

Plot Summary
A young waitress welcomes her husband home to the small South African town of Riviersonderend (Endless River) after his four-year jail sentence. At first it appears their plans for a new life together are finally being realized. But when the family of a foreigner living on a nearby farm is brutally murdered, the young woman and the grieving widower begin gravitating towards each other. Trapped in a cycle of violence and bloodshed, the two form an unlikely bond seeking to transcend their mutual anger, pain and loneliness.
It’s an original story that’s inspired by sordid cases of rapes and gang-related murders that have plagued South Africa.

Film Stills

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