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May 16, 2020

Fred Willard Dies: Comedy Icon of Christopher Guest’s ‘Best in Show’ and ‘A Mighty Wind’ Was 86

Fred Willard, the iconic comic actor best known for his turns in the cult mockumentaries of Christopher Guest, has died at the age of 86. The news was first shared by Jamie Lee Curtis, wife of Christopher Guest, on Twitter. “How lucky that we all got to enjoy Fred Willard’s gifts. He is with his missed Mary now,” Curtis wrote, referring to his wife who passed in 2018. “Thanks for the deep belly laughs Mr. Willard.”

ABC7 entertainment news reporter George Pennacchio shared on his own Twitter account a statement from Willard’s daughter Hope Mulbarger, who said, “He kept moving, working and making us happy until the very end. We loved him so very much. We will miss him forever.” Mulbarger’s mother and Willard’s wife of 40 years, Mary, died in 2018. No other details as to the cause of death are currently available.

Willard’s unique charm is perhaps best displayed in Guest’s 2000 film “Best in Show,” in which he stars as the emcee of the Mayflower Dog Show. He also brought his idiosyncratic comic gifts to Guest’s “A Mighty Wind,” “For Your Consideration,” “Waiting for Guffman,” and “Mascots.” Comedy fans were also charmed by his appearances in both “Anchorman” films.

Willard got his start on popular TV shows such as “Get Smart,” “The Bob Newhart Show,” and “Laverne & Shirley,” and in the late ’60s even had an uncredited role in Jacques Demy’s “Model Shop.” Though well-known in the film space, most of Willard’s accolades came care of his small screen work.

In 1986, he was nominated for the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Talk Show Host for his role as host of What’s Hot, What’s Not.” The actor also received three Emmy nominations for his recurring role on the long-running TV series “Everybody Loves Raymond.” In 2010, he was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for his appearances on “Modern Family.”

Willard continued to work in the days leading up to his death, and will next be seen in the Netflix comedy “Space Force,” which will debut at the end of the month on the streamer. The suitably comedic turn will mark his last onscreen role.

He is survived by Mulbarger and her son Freddie.

Source: IndieWire film

May 16, 2020

Lynn Shelton Dies: ‘Humpday,’ ‘GLOW,’ ‘Little Fires Everywhere’ Director Was 54

Writer, director, producer, actor, and editor Lynn Shelton passed away on Friday, May 15 at the age of 54 in Los Angeles due to a previously unidentified blood disorder. Shelton was among the leading voices of American independent film, working on all sides of the camera in such films as “Humpday,” “Your Sister’s Sister,” “Outside In,” and “Sword of Trust.”

She was also a prolific television director on television series such as “Mad Men,” “GLOW,” and “Little Fires Everywhere.” IndieWire recently interviewed Shelton, along with her creative and romantic partner Marc Maron, about her upcoming projects.

“I have some awful news. Lynn passed away last night. She collapsed yesterday morning after having been ill for a week,” Marc Maron said in a statement. “There was a previously unknown, underlying condition. It was not COVID-19. The doctors could not save her. They tried. Hard.

“I loved her very much as I know many of you did as well. It’s devastating. I am leveled, heartbroken and in complete shock and don’t really know how to move forward in this moment. I needed you all to know. I don’t know some of you. Some I do. I’m just trying to let the people who were important to her know.

“She was a beautiful, kind, loving, charismatic artist. Her spirit was pure joy. She made me happy. I made her happy. We were happy. I made her laugh all the time. We laughed a lot. We were starting a life together. I really can’t believe what is happening,” he said. “This is a horrendous, sad loss.”

Shelton’s film career began at the Slamdance Film Festival in 2006 with “We Go Way Back,” which earned the Grand Jury Prize, followed by “My Effortless Brilliance,” which premiered at SXSW in 2008. “Humpday,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009, earned acclaim and was picked up by Magnolia Pictures for distribution. The movie went on to play the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, and earned the John Cassavetes Independent Spirit Award in 2010. Her other films also include “Laggies,” and “Touchy Feely.” Shelton has also worked behind the camera extensively in the television space, most recently helming four episodes of the hit Hulu miniseries “Little Fires Everywhere,” the suburban melodrama based on the novel by Celeste Ng, and has directed for other series including “The Morning Show,” “Dickinson,” “A.P. Bio,” “Love,” “Fresh off the Boat,” “Casual,” “New Girl,” and “The Good Place.”

She was born August 27, 1965, in Oberlin, Ohio and she grew up in Seattle. After high school, Shelton attended Oberlin College in Ohio and then the University of Washington School of Drama. She then moved to New York and followed the Master’s of Fine Arts program in photography and related media at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan.

Lynn Shelton is survived by her son Milo Seal, her husband of many years Kevin Seal, her parents Wendy and Alan Roedell, and David “Mac” Shelton and Frauke Rynd. She is also survived by her brothers David Shelton, Robert Rynd and sister Tanya Rynd, as well as Maron, with whom she spent the last year of her life.

Source: IndieWire film

May 14, 2020

Why The Devil Is In The Details?

Source: Visual Storytelling

May 13, 2020

Celebrate the #Classof2020 with StoryCorps

Who were you when you started school?
Who are you now?
Who helped you get there?

Graduation is going to look a little different this year. As a way to help celebrate the achievements of students everywhere, StoryCorps is encouraging them to record a StoryCorps conversation with one of the people who helped them reach this exciting milestone.

Record their stories

Invite the students in your life to record a StoryCorps story with one of the people who helped them reach this exciting milestone.

Students’ interviews will be archived at the Library of Congress, becoming part of American history. Hundreds of years from now, future generations will listen in.

Great Questions Are a Great Place To Start

Not sure where to start? Here are some Great Questions to ask. You can download the full list here, use one of the selected questions below, or make up your own!

    What high school/college memory do you think will stick with you the longest?
    Is there a teacher or a class in particular that meant a lot to you?
    Have you learned anything from living through the pandemic? Have there been any positives?
    Is there any message you want to give to the graduating class? To the school?
    Do you have any advice for me?



Stories Celebrating Milestones and the People Who Helped Along the Way

Listen and share from our selection of stories:

Lessons Learned

From the first roll call of the 1964 school year, Dr. William Lynn Weaver was targeted and harassed by the faculty of his previously all-white high school. Then a former teacher stepped in and saved his life.
Read the full transcript here.

Double Major

When Wil Smith enrolled as a freshman in college, he brought an unusual roommate with him — his infant daughter. Wil and Olivia look back together on their days as college roommates.
Read the full transcript here.

Growing up, it was rare for Raymond Blanks to have teachers who looked like him — until he walked into Sean Lloyd’s 7th grade classroom. Now a middle school math teacher, Raymond tells Sean how he influenced Raymond’s life’s work.



"Everywhere we went my mother would make sure that they enrolled us in school."

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Everywhere We Went, My Mother Would Make Sure That They Enrolled Us In School

Lourdes Villanueva talks to her son Roger about growing up in a family of migrant workers, and the dedication and hard work she put in to get her GED—and her desire to graduate before her own children got their diplomas.
Read the full transcript here.


"I told you that one day, you were going to go here to Stanford."

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I Told You That One Day, You Were Going to Go Here to Stanford

Francisco Preciado, who dreamed of one day becoming a teacher but was forced to drop out of school due to financial demands, and his son Frankie came to StoryCorps to talk about their relationship and their time together at Stanford — one as a maintenance man, the other as a student.
Read the full transcript here.

Source: SNPR Story Corps

May 13, 2020

SXSW 2020 Virtual Cinema on Oculus TV Launches May 22

2020 SXSW Virtual Cinema, Notre-Dame de Paris: a unique journey back in time

SXSW is excited to reveal a new collaboration with Oculus TV, SXSW 2020 Virtual Cinema on Oculus TV, set to launch globally on May 22.

This event will present seven 360 projects that were entered into the Virtual Cinema Competition for the 2020 SXSW Film Festival, prior to the event cancellation by the City of Austin. Each of these works showcases how virtual reality can take users to new places and experience stories alongside the storytellers – while maintaining social distance. Participating projects will be available for free on Oculus TV from May 22-31, 2020.

“We are so excited to offer global audiences an opportunity to experience these phenomenal 360 projects on Oculus TV,” said Blake Kammerdeiner, SXSW Virtual Cinema Programmer. “This sampling of what would have been a robust XR program is sure to delight audiences, and we are thankful to Oculus TV for helping us showcase these artists and projects.”

Explore the following titles coming to Oculus TV starting on May 22.

SXSW 2020 Virtual Cinema on Oculus TV

After the Fallout (Switzerland, U.S.)
Directors: Sam Wolson, Dominic Nahr
This unforgettable 360-degree experience pushes past traditional documentary tropes to evoke the reality and emotional gravity of life in Fukushima, ten years after the 2011 nuclear disaster. After the Fallout is an immersive mosaic that takes us through surreal environments in the exclusion zone, and explores the lives of families as they navigate a new world which they have had to adapt to.

The Curious Life of Bill Mont
Directors: Andrea Patiño Contreras, Katrina Sorrentino
While preparing for a winter formal at Northwood, a senior living center in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Bill Mont, an 89-year-old self-made entrepreneur, reminisces about his life, including his most recent venture – sending people’s ashes to the moon. As he ruminates on love and loss, as well as his entrepreneurial projects and acquisitions, in a 9 minute 360 virtual cinema film, we experience what it’s like to have fun while aging! (World Premiere)

Ferenj: A Graphic Memoir in VR
Director/Screenwriter: Ainslee Alem Robson
How is identity conceived? What does it mean for your home to be constructed immaterially via fragments of culture and oral history distorted by the filter of time and migration? This afrosurreal portrait of home traverses crosswalks, continents and consciousness, moments of cultural alienation, and the director’s childhood memories from Empress Taytu Ethiopian Restaurant in Cleveland, Ohio to the streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — her mother’s home country. Ferenj reclaims Ethiopian-American mixed-race identity, redefines boundaries between memory and digital imaginary, and challenges reductive narratives of Africa.

Gr8ness (Kenya)
Directors: Michael Ilako, Isa Paul Mohamed
70% of 20 million youth in South Africa have been victims or perpetrators of crime. Of every 100,000 youth, 37% have dropped out of school before matriculation. The documentary explores how these statistics can be changed by exposing youth to the opportunities of creative industries, which are sadly not known by most at-risk youth of South Africa. Ethan grew up in Muizenberg with his parents and siblings, due to tough economic times Ethan had to move to Grassy Park and live with his grandmother. Through Ethan’s lens, we want to take the user on a journey to experience the growth of the relationship between the child and mentor as they explore art and creativity together in Cape Town. (World Premiere)

Look at Me (Taiwan)
Director/Screenwriter: HE Wei-Ting
Zhang, like everyone in the near future, is addicted to the virtual world. A failed rendezvous with his girlfriend makes Zhang wander the city at night, where he discovers a club where everyone gives up the virtual world for physical fighting, to engage in “real interactions”, and where everyone actually looks at each other during conversation. (North American Premiere)

Notre-Dame de Paris: A Unique Journey Back in Time (France)
Director: Mélanie de Riberolles
On April 15, 2019, the world witnessed as Notre-Dame Cathedral was nearly destroyed in a devastating fire. As the tragedy unfolded, people began sharing memories of the cathedral with photos and videos reliving those moments. Others were able to relive their memories virtually through Assassin’s Creed Unity, the video game. Ubisoft has been collaborating with historians for years, meticulously collecting data and testimonials to build Notre-Dame in-game. Based on this 3D model, Ubisoft created a VR tour of Notre-Dame so people can get back to the cathedral and discover point-of-views that were inaccessible to the public, or elements of architecture that were destroyed by the fire, including the famous spire! (North American Premiere)

A Song Within Us (Taiwan, France)
Director/Screenwriter: Fangas Nayaw
A Song Within Us is a sound-interactive experience, with Ambisonic audio. During the experience, audience members will mimic the tribal leader, who will teach them to sing together. Viewers can receive visual feedback for the efforts. There are two versions of the project, both with spatial audio. One version is an individual, immersive sound experience, but we also designed an ambisonic dome for a physical installation. In the ambisonic dome, viewers will experience the project without wearing earphones and five audience members can discover the piece together. (North American Premiere)

Follow SXSW on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook for the latest news.

Photo courtesy of 2020 SXSW Virtual Cinema Project, Notre-Dame de Paris: A Unique Journey Back in Time

The post SXSW 2020 Virtual Cinema on Oculus TV Launches May 22 appeared first on SXSW.

Source: SxSW Film

May 10, 2020

How ‘Twister’ Beat ‘Mission: Impossible’ at the 1996 Box Office and Transformed Movie Marketing

Jan de Bont’s 1996 “Twister” (Warner Bros.) is more than a cinematic guilty pleasure.  Produced by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin, the tornado-chase thriller shattered box office records at the time. The marketing triumph not only influenced the way future trailers were crafted, but much like Marvel’s “Spider-Man” in 2002, “Twister” showed Hollywood  that you could jumpstart the summer season in May.

Warners was trying to get ahead of Paramount’s presumably more competitive new “Mission: Impossible,” starring Tom Cruise. But “Twister” broke out bigger, partly because the earlier May entry gave it a chance to play right through the lucrative Memorial Day holiday. “Twister” signaled that May was just as good a summer launchpad as June, and changed the rules forever.

“Twister” ultimately outgrossed “Mission: Impossible” by about $140 million (all grosses are adjusted to 2020 ticket price levels) to become the #2 performer of 1996 (behind July’s VFX monster “Independence Day”). But unlike “M:I,” “Twister” marks one of the few films since 1990 to gross over $500 million domestic as an original standalone: no sequel, no remake, no franchise. Just a singular event.

Warner Bros. co-financed the $190-million (adjusted) picture with Universal, because they both believed in executive producer Spielberg. Cowritten by Michael Crichton, “Twister” not only delivered an E-Ride, but scored better reviews than both “M:I” and “Independence Day.” “Twister,” along with cinematographer de Bont’s 1994 directing debut “Speed,” helped to define the high-concept films of the period.

Like “Speed,” the film centers on two meet-cute, equally strong romantic leads. Helen Hunt broke into movies after hit TV comedy “Mad About You” (and went on to win an Oscar for “As Good As It Gets”), while rising star Bill Paxton followed supporting roles in “True Lies” and “Apollo 13.” Their sparkling interplay carries the film as much as the action. (This was not lost on James Cameron, who was writing the epic “Titanic” as a wide-appeal love story as much as a disaster film, which turned the VFX period romance into the box office juggernaut of all time.)

Editorial use only. No book cover usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Columbia/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5881838m) Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell His Girl Friday - 1940 Director: Howard Hawks Columbia USA Scene Still Comedy La Dame du vendredi

Editor Walter Burns (Cary Grant) tries to lure his ex, Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell), back to newspaper reporting in “His Girl Friday.”


The interplay between Hunt and Paxton, as weather pros unexpectedly reunited at the end stage of their marriage, recalls Howard Hawks’ “His Girl Friday,” with more than a little resemblance to Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant’s characters in the 1940s comedy classic.

But the star of the film is the tornado, or rather, multiple tornadoes. Not unlike Spielberg’s  “Jaws,” the progenitor of the summer blockbuster, the VFX team (ILM) faced a challenge creating the movie’s central villain. But the payoff was incredible (even if ILM lost the Visual Effects Oscar to “Independence Day”).

Like Bruce the shark, de Bont and company managed to turn the twister (which shows up repeatedly over days) into a character. The complex mix of swirling images, crashing sound, and inventive close-ups (well before tornado-chasing video technology had advanced to what it has become) works even better than “Jaws,” which relied more on a mostly unseen threat.

And the movie advanced the use of the trailer to sell VFX imagery. See below.

The filmmakers delivered one spectacular tornado sequence in time for the trailer, long before the VFX were finished for the actual movie, which became the norm for marketing such movies. That tense, harrowing first trailer still packs a punch, complete with flying cows. Needless to say this trailer proved to be an early internet sensation in winter 1996. It built high anticipation.

And the film delivered. Even with its brief record for a May opening, it had a nearly six-times multiple to reach $512 million domestic, with a bit more foreign. In adjusted terms, it is in stellar territory: just a little under “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” ahead of “Men in Black,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” all “Hunger Games” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” releases, and several “Star Wars” films. But again, its accomplishment deserves a shout-out as a non-franchise title.

Editorial use only. No book cover usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Lorey Sebastian/United Artists/Kobal/Shutterstock (5880005e)Nathan Lane, Robin WilliamsThe Birdcage - 1996Director: Mike NicholsUnited ArtistsUSAScene StillComedy

“The Birdcage” was based on “La Cage Aux Folles.”

Lorey Sebastian/United Artists/Kobal/Shutterstock

A couple more notes among that week’s top 10. “Primal Fear,” an adult-oriented crime drama starring Richard Gere and Edward Norton, passed the (adjusted) $100 million mark on its way to around $124 million — in the spring, without good reviews. That would never happen today. And Mike Nichols’ “La Cage aux Folles” remake “The Birdcage,” starring Robin Williams, ended up with over $270 million. Back then, comedies were still a big deal.

“Birdcage” is the only title on the top 10 weekend box office chart that was based on pre-existing IP. No sequels to be found. Not only a different century — a different universe.

May 10-12, 1996  (figures in BOLD are adjusted to 2020 values)

1. Twister (Warner Bros.) NEW – Cinemascore: A-; Metacritic: 68; Est. budget: $92 million/$193 million

$ 41.1 million/$86.3 million in 2,414 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $17,008/$35,720; Cumulative: $41.1 million/$86.3 million

2. The Truth About Cats and Dogs (20th Century Fox) Week 3; Last weekend #2

$3.9 million/$8.2 million (-33%) in 1,651 theaters (+47)/; PTA: $2,353/$4,941; Cumulative: $20.1 million/$42.2 million

3. The Craft (Sony) Week 2; Last weekend #1

$3.6 million/$7.6 million (-46%) in 1,762 theaters (+5)/; PTA: $2,049/ $4,203; Cumulative: $12.3 million/$25.8 million

4. Primal Fear (Paramount) Week 6; Last weekend #4

$2.4 million/$5.4 million (-33%) in 1,887 theaters (-96)/; PTA: $1,275/ $2,678; Cumulative: $48.4 million/$101.6 million

5. The Quest (Universal) Week 3; Last weekend #3

$2.1 million/$4.4 million (-49%) in 2,092 theaters (-6)/; PTA: $1,025/$2,153; Cumulative: $16.3 million/$34.2 million

6. The Birdcage (MGM) Week 10; Last weekend #7

$1.6 million/$3.4 million (-36%) in 1,281 theaters (-383)/; PTA: $1,254/ $2,633; Cumulative: $115.3 million/$242.1 million

7. The Great White Hype (20th Century Fox) Week 2; Last weekend #5

$1.3 million/$2.8 million (-60%) in 1,499 theaters (+3)/; PTA: $882/ $1,815; Cumulative: $5.7 million/$12.0 million

8. James and the Giant Peach (Disney) Week 5; Last weekend #8

$1.3 million/$2.7 million (-45%) in 1,590 theaters (-194)/; PTA: $818/ $1,718; Cumulative: $24.7 million/$51.9 million

9. Original Gangstas (Orion) NEW – Cinemascore: (none); Metacritic: (none); Est. budget: $3.6 million/$7.6 million

$1.2 million/$2.5 million in 474 theaters; PTA: $2,442/$5,128; Cumulative: $1.2 million/$2.5 million

10. The Pallbearer (Miramax) Week 2; Last weekend #9

$1.0 million/$2.1 million (-56%) in 829 theaters (no change)/; PTA: $1,225/ $2,573; Cumulative: $3.9 million/$8.2 million

Source: IndieWire film

May 10, 2020

Juliette Binoche, Joaquin Phoenix, Cate Blanchett Among Those Urging ‘No to a Return to Normal’

As parts of the world begin to lift quarantine, whether officially or otherwise, a group of more than 200 high-profile artists, scientists, and thought leaders have signed a call to arms published in Le Monde last week asking citizens and leaders to take measured action to avoid ecological disaster.

Titled “No to a Return to Normal,” the letter is penned by actor Juliette Binoche with French physicist and philosopher Aurélien Barrau, and its many signatories include Robert De Niro, Cate Blanchett, Joaquin Phoenix, Alfonso Cuarón, Barbra Streisand, Madonna, Rooney Mara, Marion Cotillard, Adam Driver, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Paolo Sorrentino, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Pedro Almodóvar, Guillaume Canet, Penelope Cruz, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Nathalie Baye, Monica Bellucci, and Willem Dafoe.

The letter asks that society reconsider its value systems and look beyond consumerism before hastily returning to normal life, which would mean risking further global collapse in the form of a possible second wave. The silver lining of this situation, the letter proposes, is that COVID-19 has invited us to slow down and pull back on the rise-and-grind mentality that has forced us “to deny the value of life itself.”

Here’s the full text of the letter, published in Le Monde and shared in English via Deadline:

The COVID-19 pandemic is a tragedy. This crisis is, however, inviting us to examine what is essential. And what we see is simple: “adjustments” are not enough. The problem is systemic.

The ongoing ecological catastrophe is a meta-crisis: the massive extinction of life on Earth is no longer in doubt, and all indicators point to a direct existential threat. Unlike a pandemic, however severe, a global ecological collapse will have immeasurable consequences.

We therefore solemnly call upon leaders — and all of us as citizens – to leave behind the unsustainable logic that still prevails and to undertake a profound overhaul of our goals, values, and economies.

The pursuit of consumerism and an obsession with productivity have led us to deny the value of life itself: that of plants, that of animals, and that of a great number of human beings. Pollution, climate change, and the destruction of our remaining natural zones has brought the world to a breaking point.

For these reasons, along with increasing social inequalities, we believe it is unthinkable to “go back to normal.”

The radical transformation we need – at all levels – demands boldness and courage. It will not happen without a massive and determined commitment. We must act now. It is as much a matter of survival as one of dignity and coherence.

Source: IndieWire film

May 10, 2020

Cannes Will Announce Official Selection in June, but There’ll Be No Physical Edition This Year

The Cannes Film Festival will announced a revised Official Selection of movies in June, but there will be no physical edition of the festival this year. Instead, delegate general Thierry Frémaux said the festival plans to present the films at partnering film festivals, including September’s Venice International Film Festival, and across cinemas. “As of today, a physical edition seems complicated to organize, so we are going forward with an announcement of films from the (initial Official) Selection at the beginning of June,” a festival spokesperson confirmed to Variety.

In a new interview with Screen Daily, published on the eve of when the 2020 edition was supposed to kick off, Frémaux explained that the films highlighted in the Official Selection will be those scheduled for theatrical release between now and spring 2021.

“The selection probably won’t be under the usual structured format that we all know with the Competition, Un Certain Regard, and Out of Competition sections,” Frémaux  told Screen Daily. “It would have been ridiculous to behave as if nothing had happened. But in our heart of hearts what we want to do is promote the films that we saw and loved. We received films from around the world, magnificent works, and it’s our duty to help them find their audience. Once we’ve announced the list, the aim is to start organizing events in cinemas. Professionals the world over with whom we’re in contact on a daily basis, tell us that this represents an opportunity for their projects.”

Frémaux also said some films opted to be reconsidered instead for the 2021 edition of the Cannes Film Festival. Films chosen for the 2020 Official Selection will receive a “Cannes 2020” label for their theatrical and/or alternate festival release.

“With the Cannes 2020 label and the online Marché du Film, a ‘Cannes hors les murs’ [outside the walls] will be the third plank of our redeployment this autumn,” Frémaux said, explaining that the plan to take the Official Selection out into the world extends beyond just Venice, which will make a decision about its fate by the end of May. “We’ll go to Toronto, Deauville, Angoulême, San Sebastian, New York, Busan in Korea and even the Lumière festival in Lyon, which is a festival of contemporary and classical cinema, which will host numerous films. And with Venice, we want to go even further and present films together.”

He said that while there will be no jury or awards this year, Frémaux welcomes would’ve-been 2020 jury president Spike Lee back for the next physical edition. The Cannes director also added that Spike Lee’s new film, “Da 5 Bloods,” slated for a Netflix release on June 12, would’ve made it onto the Croisette.

“It was the surprise that he gave us and it should have marked Netflix’s return to the red carpet, Out of Competition of course. We were set for a fabulous Cannes,” Frémaux said. Films like Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” and Nanni Moretti’s “Three Stories,” he said, would’ve started at Cannes, too, but will no longer be part of the Official Selection and are now available to go elsewhere.

Organizers knew the festival was in trouble back in April, when French President Emmanuel Macron extended the nationwide lockdown and banned festivals until at least mid-July. Cannes organizers continued to be unclear in what their plans were, making the promise of a June announcement of titles an official beacon of clarity.

“It’s true that a part of the media wanted the cancellation of the festival. And a cancellation was obvious. But, with [Cannes Film Festival president] Pierre Lescure, we didn’t want to simply abandon the field and move onto the 74th edition, leaving behind all those who depend on us,” Frémaux said. “We are facing an unprecedented situation and we have taken the time to reflect and come up with a redeployment that works for everyone: we have the support of professionals and artists from the world over. I have spoken to my friends at the Tour de France, they’re exactly in the same situation.”

Read IndieWire’s April interview with Frémaux here.

Source: IndieWire film

May 9, 2020

James Cameron’s Billion-Dollar ‘Avatar’ Sequels Can Resume as New Zealand Gets Back to Work

New Zealand appears to have a firm hold on the COVID-19 situation, as Saturday, May 9 marks the first day the island country has reported no new cases. According to Deadline, some TV and film productions “are already safely underway,” as confirmed to the outlet by the New Zealand Film Commission. That means James Cameron’s “Avatar 2” and “Avatar 3” could soon resume production, as well as Amazon’s mammoth “Lord of the Rings” series. In a world where quarantine shutdowns have brought film and television production to a screeching halt, New Zealand’s health protocols now enable sets to get back to work, albeit with safety guidelines.

“Avatar” director James Cameron and producer Jon Landau were in production on the first two of the four planned “Avatar” sequels when filming was suspended in the middle of March. Production has reportedly managed to continue virtually in California in collaboration with Weta Digital to create the film’s costly special effects. Production on the sequels is said to total more than $1 billion. Release dates for the 20th Century Studios films are as follows: “Avatar 2” on December 17, 2021; “Avatar 3” on December 22, 2023; “Avatar 4” on December 19, 2025; “Avatar 5” on December 17, 2027.

As shared via “Avatar” social media accounts, the ambitious shoot was well underway, with motion capture on the first two sequels already completed. See below. According to Deadline, no one from the team is yet known to be back in New Zealand.

Along with hope for the “Avatar” sequels to resume filming, Amazon’s big-budget “Lord of the Rings,” which was shooting in West Auckland, could also start rolling again. When production shut down in March, cast and crew were in the middle of filming the first two episodes, with director J.A. Bayona at the helm. A second season of the fantasy epic inspired by the novels of J.R.R. Tolkien already has the greenlight. IndieWire has reached out to Amazon for comment regarding when the shoot on “Lord of the Rings” might pick up again.

As of May 9, New Zealand has less than 1,500 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and only 20 deaths. The country managed to keep the virus at bay, at least relative to other places around the world, when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern put in a strict national lockdown on March 23, a month after New Zealand’s first recorded case.

Source: IndieWire film

May 9, 2020

Spike Lee Remembers Little Richard with Michael Jordan Nike Ad from 1991

Saturday marks a sad day for music fans with the passing of Little Richard at the age of 87. Long regarded as one of the modern architects of rock and roll, as well as other genres including R&B, hip-hop, and soul, the artist also known as Richard Wayne Penniman has influenced everyone from Mick Jagger to Brian Wilson to Ava DuVernay.

Following news of the musician’s death, celebrity tributes poured out on social media from his greatest admirers, including Spike Lee, who shared a black-and-white, vintage commercial touting Air Jordans for Nike from 1991. It features Lee himself, plus Michael Jordan, and Little Richard. Watch below.

Also below, check out other celebrity tributes honoring the legendary artist, whose greatest hits included “Tutti Frutti,” “Good Golly Miss Molly,” “Long Tall Sally,” “Rip It Up,” “The Girl Can’t Help It,” and many more.

Spike Lee’s next film, “Da 5 Bloods,” will drop on Netflix June 12. The legacy of Michael Jordan, meanwhile, is currently being explored in the ESPN documentary miniseries “The Last Dance,” which kicked off its 10-episode run on April 19.


Source: IndieWire film