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December 8, 2019

Sundance Film Festival Announces Travel Stipend for Minority Journalists

The 2020 Sundance Film Festival is right around the corner, beginning January 23 through February 2. As shared in an email with journalists today from Time’s Up, the festival is ramping up its support for minority press with a new travel stipend. The Sundance Press Inclusion Initiative will support critics who identify as women, non-binary and/or transgender, people of color, and people with disabilities.

In order to be considered for the travel stipend, applications are due Friday, December 13, and will be considered as they are received — notifications will be sent out on a rolling basis through Friday, December 20. Here’s the application.

Per Sundance, “Recognizing that quantitative matters alone aren’t a complete solution, Sundance Institute is deepening the qualitative experience for press at Festival, ensuring that new applicants, who may be covering the Festival for the first time, can best navigate accreditation, attendance and reporting. The Institute is providing grants to defray travel and lodging costs for freelance critics and journalists, with support from Critical Minded, Netflix, Open Society Foundations, and Rotten Tomatoes.”

The Sundance Film Festival recently announced its jam-packed feature film lineup, including all four Competition sections, plus the Midnight, NEXT, and Spotlight selections. The 11-day event will showcase 118 features, including premieres from Sundance regulars and newcomers alike. Hot titles include the premiere of Jim Rash and Nat Faxon’s remake of the Swedish dark comedy “Force Majeure” (now titled “Downhill”) with Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Julie Taymor’s inventive Gloria Steinem biopic “The Glorias,” Liz Garbus’ narrative debut “Lost Girls,” Michael Almereyda’s Nikola Tesla biopic “Tesla,” and Alan Ball’s “Uncle Frank.” On the documentary front, and much to the excitement of Twitter, Lana Wilson’s Taylor Swift-centric entry, “Miss Americana,” will also make a surprise bow at the festival, premiering on its first day.

The festival will host a number of long-awaited followups from previous Sundance breakouts, such Miranda July with her first film since 2011’s “The Future,” “Kajillionaire,” plus Dee Rees’ Anne Hathaway-starring Joan Didion adaptation “The Last Thing He Wanted,” and Sean Durkin’s second feature “The Nest.” Benh Zeitlin will finally premiere his long-awaited “Beasts of the Southern Wild” followup “Wendy,” which Fox Searchlight will release later in 2020. “Dear White People” creator Justin Simien returns to the festival with his first feature since his breakout movie became a Netflix series, with the horror-satire “Bad Hair” in the Midnight section.

IndieWire also identified 23 hidden gems to look out for at the festival.


Source: IndieWire film

December 8, 2019

Neon’s ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’ Grabs Arthouse Crowd, Amazon’s ‘The Aeronauts’ Deflates

The successful specialized season chugs ahead as the top-tier hits add to their impressive totals. “Harriet” (Focus), “Parasite” (Neon), and “Jojo Rabbit” (Fox Searchlight) still hold the lead as recent titles haven’t reached the same levels. Three Netflix awards contenders, “The Irishman,” “Marriage Story” and “The Two Popes” are not getting major theater play,  although Martin Scorsese’s film might get close to $10 million. With no new films in the last couple weeks likely to explode over Christmas, that means that unlike most years, some of the strong earlier performers have more chances to thrive during Christmas.

They are competing with other well-reviewed, Oscar and adult friendly studio releases like “Ford v Ferrari” (20th Century Fox), “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” (Sony), and “Knives Out” (Lionsgate), all competing for the same audience.

This week brought a preview of what will be an early 2020 specialized top film. Neon released high-end acclaimed French romance “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” in two theaters in New York and Los Angeles for a one-week awards-qualifying run, which yielded excellent grosses for a subtitled film. They should do well after New Years when the current films are played out.

Meantime, Amazon’s pre-Prime release of “The Aeronauts” received very little interest in a national big market release.


Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Neon) – Metacritic: 95; Festivals include: Cannes, Telluride, Toronto, New York 2019

$67,105 in 2 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $33,552

When you got it, flaunt it. Every year December sees a number of films open for one week to qualify for awards, then return in the new year for regular dates. And the grosses for these brief dates aren’t reported. Neon is releasing the numbers on Celine Sciamma’s Cannes and New York Film Critics’ and European Film Award winner, a period drama about a brief, intense relationship between a wealthy bride-to-be and the woman hired to paint her portrait. This is a French, subtitled film, more chamber drama than epic, with reviews at the top end of any releases this year (ahead of crowdpleaser “Les Miserables,” which was selected by France).

As a subtitled film, it doesn’t rank with the staggering initial results for Neon’s “Parasite.” But compared to nearly all other foreign language titles, this is at the high end, more so with an relatively unknown director to American audiences and stars. These are huge numbers compared to most–the lesbian romance also carries strong queer appeal.

What comes next: This will return in initial dates on February 14.

Felicity Jones in THE AERONAUTS

“The Aeronauts”

Courtesy of Amazon Studios

The Aeronauts (Amazon) – Metacritic: 61; Festivals include: Telluride, Toronto 2019

$(est.) $185,000 in 185 theaters; PTA: $ (est.) 1,000

Once anticipated as a top fall specialized and potential break out title, this fictionalized retelling of an early balloon adventure in England changed to a two-week window before Amazon Prime release. The grosses, per their policy, have not been released. Our estimate is based on some available theater grosses, most of which fall below this average, but also spot checking some top screens (the film has support from Landmark and others in major markets) which are somewhat better. For a film co-starring Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne with significant marketing presence, these are discouraging numbers. The more mixed reviews aren’t a help in a time when so many titles are getting strong critical response. (“The Report,” which is on prime after two weeks, has nearly totally disappeared from screens, while the Netflix titles have lingered longer.)

What comes next: This goes Prime on December 20.

In Fabric (A24) – Metacritic: 84; Festivals include: Toronto 2018

$(est.) 26,000 in 26 theaters; PTA: $(est.) 1,000

Garnering terrific reviews, this London department store-set horror-genre adjacent film is set from VOD availability during this week. The theater dates got it the reviews A24 wanted to boost those. As a theater play, it had little impact.

What comes next: This goes on demand on Tuesday.

Midnight Family (1091) – Metacritic: 85; Festivals include: Sundance, New Directors/New Films 2019

$3,500 in 1 theater; PTA: $3,500

Quietly earning acclaim on the documentary circuit

What comes next: “Midnight Family” reopens limited on February 14 after the Oscars.

“The Two Popes”

Week Two

The Two Popes (Netflix)

$(est.) 50,000 in 19 theaters (+15); PTA: $(est.) 2,632; Cumulative: $(est.) 115,000

As always, our estimate based on some access to actual grosses since Netflix won’t report. The core initial New York/Los Angeles theaters looked to sustain their modest initial interest. That’s a bit more impressive since both regions were where expansion occurred. From what we can tell, though, these results otherwise were mediocre or less. This looks to be so far the least effective of the streamer’s three top year end awards releases. At home viewing starts on December 20.

63 Up (BritBox)

$22,355 in theaters (+1); PTA: $11,178; Cumulative: $48,080

Excellent second weekend for Michael Apted’s latest update to his long running documentary about the lives of a group of Britons. At three hours and limited showings and now Los Angeles added, the multi-decade appeal of this epic work continues. Ten more cities open this Friday.

Ongoing/expanding (Grosses over $50,000)

Dark Waters (Focus) Week 3

$4,100,000 in 2,012 theaters (+1,918); Cumulative: $5,285,000

Todd Haynes’ corporate thriller with Mark Ruffalo went very wide in its third weekend. The lack of major new films allowed them to get top theaters to give the film its best chance at exposure. It ended up #6 for the weekend, better than many early December initial wide studio films. But it also looks like a high water mark for a film that at best will reach around $10 million.

Harriet (Focus) Week 6

$810,000 in 1,000 theaters (-84); Cumulative: $40,852,000

Still holding on to most screens, and hoping for the start of an awards boost for lead actress Cynthia Erivo to push it further, the film is nearing $41 million has already achieved high end results for Focus.



Parasite (Neon) Week 9

$700,000 in 333 theaters (-49); Cumulative: $19,354,000

Already closing in on $20 million, and with its guaranteed strong awards contention ahead with much life in it, this Korean film is already one of the top specialized titles of the year. Among subtitled films, it’s in a league of its own going back far more than a decade.

Jojo Rabbit (Neon) Week 8

$562,000 in 579 theaters (-151); Cumulative: $19,297,000

Taika Waitit’s satire has neared $20 million in its two month run. How far more it can add will depend on possible awards involvement. It looks likely to scale back considerably in the weeks ahead.

Honeyboy (Amazon) Week 5

$452,439 in 460 theaters (+274); Cumulative: $2,139,000

More expansion for this very personal story based on Shia LaBeouf’s own life. As it widens, the results have become more spotty, with the per theater average now just shy of $1,000 a theater. That won’t be enough to sustain a much longer showing. Of note is that this unlike two other recent Amazon releases is a normal theatrical window play.

The Irishman (Netflix) Week 6

$(est.) 450,000 in (est.) 320 theaters (-180); Cumulative: (est.) $6,665,000

Now in its second week of streaming and getting significant viewing on Netflix, while beginning its expected award accolades run, this lost about 180 theaters from its peak last week. This is now by far the biggest-grossing film from the company in theaters (our numbers are estimates, but likely in range of the actuals). What is significant is that at this point theaters playing it are doing so knowing it is streaming: it’s financially sensible for them to play it. The number will fall, but expect this to be on some screens for weeks to come.

Waves (A24) Week 4    44

$421,625 in 570 theaters (+523); Cumulative: $1,046,000

This well-reviewed and prominent festival film enjoyed a good platform start, but since has found trouble getting its footing. In its breakout week, it’s positioned to get a wider group of top theaters than more crowded ones before and after. This fell short. The per theater average is $740, which will be far short of what is needed to sustain a future run in all but a few theaters shortly. This is one quality film that might have scored better outside the awards season.

“Marriage Story”


Marriage Story (Netflix) Week 5

$(est.) 300,000 in (est.) 120 theaters (-10); Cumulative: $(est.) 1,650,000

Again, a best guess based on limited available figures. Unlike “The Irishman,” the start of streaming didn’t lead to a jump in theaters for Noah Baumbach’s marital drama with sky-high reviews. Still, with its wide national theater exposure and older-audience appeal, this is showing some old-school viability in its second month,

The Lighthouse (A24) Week 8

$73,640 in 82 theaters (-8); Cumulative: $10,522,000

In less top-heavy quality years in the acting race, the two male leads would be strong contenders. As it is, this black-and-white fundamentally specialized film is still playing after two months and passed the $10 million mark. Those are wins.

Pain and Glory (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 10

$57,317 in 78 theaters (-74); Cumulative: $3,608,000

With Antonio Banderas rising in best actor awards and Pedro Almodovar’s film placing high on ten best lists, expect this to have a presence in some theaters for weeks to come.

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Source: IndieWire film

December 8, 2019

Magic Leap in trouble? Report says only 6,000 AR headsets sold in first 6 months

Magic Leap is reportedly in trouble as its $2,295 Magic Leap One Creator Edition sold only 6,000 units in its first six months, according to The Information.
Source: Digital Trends VR

December 7, 2019

Ryan Reynolds Buys The Peloton Lady a Drink

This is the kind of advertising that would make Don Draper and Peggy Olson salivate.

We recently talked about the Peloton Lady and the ad for the stationary bike that took the internet by storm… by accident.

But what has happened next in the internet narrative is as surprising as it is ingenious:

For his own gin brand, Aviation, actor Ryan Reynolds brought the infamous Peloton Lady back but this time, for a drink (or two) with her friends. The entire spot is built around what we all know about the original Peloton ad. Virality on top of virality.

Here is the original ad:

We’ve written about Ethos, Pathos, and Logos the three modes of persuasion in advertising. This definitely qualifies as pathos or empathy.

The whole world felt for the Peloton Lady after her husband bought her a stationary bike for Christmas. The implication of pressuring her to take better care of herself, even though she seemed to be in great shape, plus the crazed frightened look in her eye…

Read More

Source: NoFilmSchool

December 7, 2019

Maggie Smith Says Her Work on ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Downton Abbey’ ‘Wasn’t What You’d Call Satisfying’

Dame Maggie Smith has two Academy Awards, five BAFTAS, four Emmys, and a Tony Award, along with Screen Actors Guild prizes and Golden Globes for days, but that apparently hasn’t always equated to fulfillment for the “Downton Abbey” star. According to a new interview with Smith in the Evening Standard, the actress was especially underwhelmed by her participation in the “Harry Potter” films, dating back to Chris Columbus’ 2001 “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” and even in “Downton.”

“I am deeply grateful for the work in ‘Potter’ and indeed ‘Downton’ but it wasn’t what you’d call satisfying. I didn’t really feel I was acting in those things,” Smith said, recalling her turn as Professor Minerva McGonagall in the hit series adapted from the J.K. Rowling novels. Smith also said that she pivoted to screen roles such as in “Harry Potter” and on “Downton Abbey” as Violet Crawley — a performance that has earned her a bounty of accolades that the British actress notoriously, rarely shows up to collect — because the work on stage, her true passion, just wasn’t happening.

“I wanted to get back to the stage so much because theatre is basically my favorite medium, and I think I felt as though I’d left it all unfinished,” she said. “But there wasn’t anything that came along.” Indeed, Smith has appeared in dozens of plays dating back to the early 1950s, including countless iterations of Shakespeare. Most recently she reprised her iconic “Downton Abbey” role in Focus Features’ fall screen version of the Julian Fellowes series. Fellowes also wrote the original screenplay for Robert Altman’s 2001 “Gosford Park,” which earned Fellowes an Academy Award win and Maggie Smith a Best Supporting Actress nomination.

Also in the Evening Standard piece, Smith talked about the origins of her acting ambitions in a manner that’s very, well, Maggie Smith. “Honest to God, I have no idea where the urge came from,” she said. “It was such a ghastly time and we didn’t go to the theatre. I got into terrible trouble once because the neighbors took me to the cinema on a Sunday. But I had a wonderful teacher, Dorothy Bartholomew, who also taught Miriam Margolyes, and who encouraged me.”

Source: IndieWire film

December 7, 2019

Vatican Holds Private Screening of Terrence Malick’s ‘A Hidden Life’

Director Terrence Malick rarely shows up for anything these days, but the “Tree of Life” and “Days of Heaven” filmmaker was in attendance at a screening of his new film, “A Hidden Life,” at the Vatican this past Thursday. Releasing from Fox Searchlight, “A Hidden Life” centers on the real-life story of conscientious objector Franz Jägerstätter. While he refused to fight on the side of the Nazis during WWII, he was declared a martyr by the Catholic Church and was sentenced to death at 36.

The screening was held in the Vatican Film Library event space. Claudia Di Giovanni, Delegate of the Vatican Film Library, said, “It is an honor to present this film in this venue, as we are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Vatican Film Library, where we have saved films which narrate the history of the Church but also remind us of important values. It is also key for the dialogue of the Vatican with the film world.”

Paolo Ruffini, prefect of the Dicastery of Communications, introduced the film, saying, “We thank Terrence Malick for being here and sharing this moment with us. The narrative of the film is at the same time beautiful and terrible, and it is a challenge because we are brought to face our souls, our consciences, our fears, our forgetfulness and our avoidance of responsibilities. This narrative overturns the rhetoric of heroism, because it tells of a hidden hero, in a film which speaks of love, of consistency, of death and resurrection. It tells of how important it is to keep our memories and tell them with such beauty.”

“A Hidden Life,” which releases stateside on December 13 and is Malick’s first feature since 2017’s Austin-set romance “Song to Song,” joins the rare list of movies that have earned the Vatican’s seal of approval. That includes Martin Scorsese’s “Silence,” “Spotlight,” “The Passion of the Christ,” “Babette’s Feast,” and “Pokémon: The First Movie.”

IndieWire recently sat down with the two stars of “A Hidden Life,” August Diehl and Valerie Pachner, who discussed their process on the World War II drama while working with American cinema’s most elusive director.

Source: IndieWire film

December 7, 2019

‘The Farewell’ Director Lulu Wang’s Secretive Next Film Is About a Fertility Crisis in a Virtual-Reality World

Lulu Wang’s “The Farewell” has made an enormous impression on the late-year awards season despite opening over the summer. This fictional retelling of her own family’s efforts to keep their matriarch’s cancer diagnosis a secret claimed a spot on the AFI top 10 and earned a Film Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Feature. Adding to her many accolades already, Wang was honored by SFFILM at the San Francisco nonprofit’s awards night on December 3, where she received the Kanbar Award for Storytelling. At the event, Wang spoke exclusively with IndieWire about her secretive next project, a sci-fi film she’s lined up with Big Beach (which also produced “The Farewell”) and Votiv (“Free in Deed,” “Obvious Child”).

Currently titled “Children of the New World,” the film adapts from Alexander Weinstein’s bestselling short story collection by the same name, which was lauded by both NPR and The New York Times. Each story is set in a near-future society. According to Wang, her film will focus on how technology shapes modern relationships and will tackle the construct of the nuclear family in a speculative-fiction setting.

“It’s sci-fi, it’s set in virtual reality, as well as real reality,” Wang said. “But really, for me, it’s about a relationship. It’s about a couple. And it’s about family. Basically, the premise is that they can’t have children, and so they end up going into the VR world and they have children there, digital children, as a way to experience parenting. So that’s how it’s marketed, as a parenting experience.”

Wang said that the film will tackle ambitious themes that resonate with those that took center-stage in “The Farewell.” “It’s about love and loss over something that quote-unquote doesn’t really exist, so what does that mean? What is love?” Wang said of “Children of the New World,” which will mark her third feature after “The Farewell” and 2014’s “Posthumous.”

Wang, however, said she is still in the early writing stages of the project. At the moment, she’s busy on the awards circuit promoting “The Farewell,” a film that still remains very much a secret from her real-life grandmother. Speaking with IndieWire earlier this season about what will happen to her real Nai Nai (which means grandmother in Chinese) once the film inevitably opens in China next year, Wang said, “That’s a long thing that I am still dealing with, with my family, and whether or not we will keep the secret is up in the air, because we want to show her the movie.”

Source: IndieWire film

December 6, 2019

Digital Trends Live: Uber’s assault problems, iPhone location-data leaks, more

On this episode of Digital Trends Live, we break down the biggest tech stories, including the iPhone 11 location-data controversy, Qualcomm’s team-up with Pokémon Go’s creators, Uber’s sexual assault problem, and more.
Source: Digital Trends VR

December 6, 2019

'Parasite' Editor Jinmo Yang Teaches Us How to Edit Without Coverage

Parasite is connecting with audiences everywhere. Editor Jinmo Yang explains how he and Bong Joon-ho cut together this massive hit.

When you ask someone to describe Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, chances are they’ll trail off a bit and end up saying, “You just have to see it.”

The genre-bending film defies even the most diligent attempts to classify it.

It’s a thriller. It’s a dark comedy (or is it a tragicomedy?). It’s satire. It’s an arthouse autopsy of class warfare that transmogrifies into a cunning revenge story. It’s an upstairs-downstairs story turned upside-down.

However you spin it, Parasite is a massive hit.

The South Korean film had the highest-grossing opening weekend of all time for a foreign-language film in the U.S. and has earned more than $100 million at the international box office. At a time when much of the world is reckoning with economic inequality and social mobility, Parasite has struck a nerve.

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Source: NoFilmSchool

December 6, 2019

The Reliable RØDE VideoMic NTG Combines Must-Have Features

The RØDE VideoMic NTG is designed to be everything a filmmaker needs both on camera and over USB.

There are two main scenarios in which a filmmaker who isn’t a dedicated sound recordist will need to own a microphone.

The first is when a mic is needed on camera. Even if you are running dual-system sound, you always want something nice on the camera as an extra backup microphone just in case everything else goes wrong.

The other is when you need scratch VO in an edit session or when recording your podcast locally, in which case you’d benefit from a good USB microphone.

The VideoMic NTG from RØDE is designed to be both your on-camera microphone and your USB microphone, in one affordable little unit.

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Source: NoFilmSchool