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February 1, 2019

Director Richard Wong Discusses His Film Come As You Are – SXSW Filmmaker In Focus

The 2019 SXSW Film Festival is almost upon us and we can’t wait to have you here! Before you make your way down to Austin, TX get to know films from our lineup a little bit better with our Filmmaker In Focus series. Dive into our Q&A with director Richard Wong, as he tells us about his film Come As You Are, which will world premiere in Narrative Spotlight and stars an ensemble cast of Grant Rosenmeyer, Hayden Szeto, Ravi Patel, Gabourey Sidibe, Janeane Garofalo, and C.S. Lee.

In your own words, what does this film mean to you?

Richard Wong: The film to me is about overcoming obstacles, one of the most defining things about human experience.

What motivated you to tell this story?

RW: The script. We don’t read tons of scripts that we love. I think that’s fair to say. This script connected immediately and had an energy and vibe to it that was infectious. This continually proved to be the currency we built this whole movie on. Everyone who worked on the movie felt that from the script, and I believe that passion for the material shows on screen.

What do you want the audience to take away?

RW: My hope is that people walk away from the film feeling that our characters are real people and, though their obstacles in their own lives may vary greatly, they can relate to the struggles our characters have in the film.

What made you choose SXSW to showcase your film to the world?

RW: Very early on, as in before we even had funding, it just felt like a great fit tonally for SXSW. Obviously, we, like any film, have aspirations for it to be seen by as many people as possible, and we knew a festival like SXSW would be a perfect first step in getting our film out there.

Do you have a past experience at SXSW that impacted your decision to come back?

RW: My experience with SXSW is that all my previous films I directed were rejected, haha! So it feels like a great accomplishment to finally make it here!

Add Come As You Are to your SXSW Schedule. Stay tuned in the coming weeks as we share more interviews with our SXSW 2019 filmmakers!

Join Us For SXSW 2019

Register and book your hotel now to save! The Film Badge gets you primary access to all SXSW Film events including Film Keynotes and Featured Sessions, world premieres, round tables, workshops, parties, and more. Over the course of nine days, the SXSW Film Festival hosts over 450 screenings! Film registrants also have primary access to Convergence events, including the Comedy Festival and nine unique Conference tracks, as well as secondary access to most Interactive and Music events.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and SXSW News for the latest SXSW coverage.

See you in March!

Come As You Are – Photo by CAYA FILM LLC

The post Director Richard Wong Discusses His Film Come As You Are – SXSW Filmmaker In Focus appeared first on SXSW.

Source: SxSW Film

January 31, 2019

Director Andrew Hevia Talks About His Documentary Leave the Bus Through the Broken Window – SXSW Filmmaker In Focus

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The 2019 SXSW Film Festival is almost upon us and we can’t wait to have you here! Before you make your way down to Austin, TX get to know films from our lineup a little bit better with our Filmmaker In Focus series. Dive into our Q&A with director Andrew Hevia, as he tells us about his film Leave the Bus Through the Broken Window, which will world premiere in the Visions screening section.

In your own words, what does this film mean to you?

Andrew Hevia: To me, Leave the Bus through the Broken Window is about a personal journey coming to terms with and processing change.

What motivated you to tell this story?

AH: There are two answers to this question. The first is that this is a personal story that I created as a way to process what I was going through during an emotionally difficult time. I had just gotten out of a relationship that had gone completely sideways and I decided that I would not enter a new one until I had figured out how I could avoid repeating past mistakes. The act of crafting the film was how I came to understand myself. The second is that I was committed to making a documentary that was the inverse of every project I had ever made before. I had limited resources when I started the project and resolved to work within those limits to discover an unconventional approach to the film. The challenge inspired me to keep going and keep digging – both eternally and, more crucially, internally.

What do you want the audience to take away?

AH: I’d love for the audience to connect with the central character and empathize with that journey. Also, that Hong Kong is a beautiful, complicated city with a thriving community of artists.

How did you find your subject??

AH: I am the primary subject of the film, so that was the easy part!

What made you choose SXSW to showcase your film to the world?

AH: The first feature film I ever edited, a movie called No Matter What, premiered at SXSW nearly a decade ago. Since then, I’ve had a number of great experiences at the festival, mostly as a producer on other projects. For my directorial debut, there was no other festival in my mind that could support me as a filmmaker like SXSW. SX has been an essential part of my filmmaker journey and world premiering in Austin is a dream come true and a great full circle moment.

Add Leave the Bus Through the Broken Window to your SXSW Schedule. Stay tuned in the coming weeks as we share more interviews with our SXSW 2019 filmmakers!

Join Us For SXSW 2019

Register and book your hotel now to save! The Film Badge gets you primary access to all SXSW Film events including Film Keynotes and Featured Sessions, world premieres, round tables, workshops, parties, and more. Over the course of nine days, the SXSW Film Festival hosts over 450 screenings! Film registrants also have primary access to Convergence events, including the Comedy Festival and nine unique Conference tracks, as well as secondary access to most Interactive and Music events.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and SXSW News for the latest SXSW coverage.

See you in March!

Leave the Bus Through the Open Window – Photo by Andrew Hevia

The post Director Andrew Hevia Talks About His Documentary Leave the Bus Through the Broken Window – SXSW Filmmaker In Focus appeared first on SXSW.

Source: SxSW Film

January 31, 2019

Next Stage Programming Highlights – Cannabis and Music

SXSW 2018 Next Stage

With the SXSW Trade Show just around the corner, we’re excited to announce the first Next Stage programming highlights for 2019!

Next Stage Presented by Playbook takes place within the Trade Show in the Austin Convention Center, Exhibit Hall 4. Drawing inspiration from the creative industries, Next Stage features presentations and performances that span the overall themes of Interactive, Film, and Music. These sessions showcase the inventive, emerging talent participating at SXSW, including cross-industry panels with diverse speakers and intimate showcases from official SXSW Showcasing Artists.

Health and Wealth in the Music Business

Playbook

You cannot sustain a career in music if you are not healthy. If you want to have a long and fruitful career in this world of temptation and excess, you need partners to help you stay focused during the days when you cannot afford a personal trainer, nutritionist, or wellness coach. We will dive into the reasons why Playbook places an important emphasis on the development and growth of artists from both a mental and lifestyle perspective, and the program we have developed for our artists, agents and managers to face and overcome these challenges. In discussing lifestyle, one important aspect we will address is stress — along with the benefits of uncomplicating and de-stressing your business life, and how these goals can be achieved.

Session Info

Royalties, Data & Starting Up a Music Investment Fund

The Music Fund | Speakers: John Funge, Thomas Jerde

This year The Music Fund launches, using data science to forge a new market allowing investors to support musicians in the long tail. We’ll discuss what we’ve learned about starting an artist-friendly business, launching an investment fund, pricing royalties using data, and meeting the needs of the developing musician in an artist-first, scalable way. Topics will include findings from the data, legal and operational issues with collecting and dividing royalties, and our experience as part of the Techstars Music startup accelerator.

Session Info

Predictions for the Budding Cannabis Industry

Speaker: Matthew Morgan (Kulture Co.)

Matthew Morgan — serial entrepreneur and leader in cannabis — talks to us about the state of cannabis in 2019. Matt will discuss keys to being successful in the marijuana space, pitfalls to avoid, and how to build a cannabis company from zero to $100 million in revenue in 3.5 years. Matt will share some insider tips and the story of how he went from a farm boy raised in Montana to one the leading cannabis entrepreneurs in the world!

Session Info

Check out the full Next Stage programming schedule. Be on the lookout for updates to the Next Stage programming in the coming weeks!

Programming descriptions are generated by participants and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of SXSW.

Photo by Hannah Varnell

The post Next Stage Programming Highlights – Cannabis and Music appeared first on SXSW.

Source: SxSW Film

January 30, 2019

Join Us for Bud Light’s 2019 Launch Party

Bud Light 2019 Launch Party

Bud Light, the Official Beer of SXSW, is throwing its 2019 Launch Party at 3Ten ACL Live! Bring your friends and be a part of the unveiling of the limited edition, Austin-inspired, and locally-designed packaging. To celebrate, Bud Light will be featuring a full live performance by Southern Rock band, Goodbye June.

This event is open to friends 21+ everywhere, but space is limited so get there early! First come, first served with doors at 8:00pm.

Bud Light 2019 Launch Party
February 6, 2019
Doors Open at 8pm
3Ten ACL Live

RSVP

Photo and content provided by Bud Light

The post Join Us for Bud Light’s 2019 Launch Party appeared first on SXSW.

Source: SxSW Film

January 30, 2019

Sandy K Boone Talks About Her Film J.R. “Bob” Dobbs and The Church of the SubGenius – SXSW Filmmaker In Focus

The 2019 SXSW Film Festival is almost upon us and we can’t wait to have you here! Before you make your way down to Austin, TX get to know films from our lineup a little bit better with our Filmmaker In Focus series. Dive into our Q&A with director Sandy K Boone, as she tells us about her film J.R. “Bob” Dobbs and The Church of the SubGenius, which will world premiere in the Visions screening section.

In your own words, what does this film mean to you?

Sandy K Boone: This film is a homage to my late husband, David Boone, aka “Roperto Dela Rosa”, and his film style; a venue for the founders of the Church, Doug Smith, aka “Ivan Stang”, and Steve Wilcox, aka “Philo Drummond”, to tell the true and unabridged story of the Church of the SubGenius for the first time, so after their passing — or as Doug Smith would say, “boarding the pleasure saucers” — the world would not turn the tongue-in-cheek con job and joke of the Church of the SubGenius into a real cult or possible Scientology, and finally, a humorous but effective mode, to speak out, in the age of Trump, about the fake news and cult practices being used in our politics and government today.

What motivated you to tell this story?

SKB: In all honesty, my original motivation was to stop crying, take action, and find a path to speak out about the absurdity of our current political situation, which in reality was far more absurd than the Church of the SubGenius was or ever had been! After reuniting with Doug and Steve, reminiscing over the past and finding out that a documentary of the church had never been completed, I received “Bob”‘s blessing and with my team turned our hopes and dreams into reality!

What do you want the audience to take away?

SKB: I am hoping the audience will have not one but many “aah and haa” moments. Our world and government are using “cult tactics” to separate and divide us with fear. Let’s find some creative ways to make civility, truth, thoughtfulness, and empathy popular again!

What were you doing when you found out you were coming to SXSW?

SKB: I was with my grown daughters and grandchildren, playing dominoes and laughing.

Do you have a past experience at SXSW that impacted your decision to come back?

SKB: This is my directorial debut. I have executive produced and produced several films submitted and accepted at SX.

Add J.R. “Bob” Dobbs and The Church of the SubGenius to your SXSW Schedule. Stay tuned in the coming weeks as we share more interviews with our SXSW 2019 filmmakers!

Join Us For SXSW 2019

Register and book your hotel now to save! The Film Badge gets you primary access to all SXSW Film events including Film Keynotes and Featured Sessions, world premieres, round tables, workshops, parties, and more. Over the course of nine days, the SXSW Film Festival hosts over 450 screenings! Film registrants also have primary access to Convergence events, including the Comedy Festival and nine unique Conference tracks, as well as secondary access to most Interactive and Music events.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and SXSW News for the latest SXSW coverage.

See you in March!

J.R. “Bob” Dobbs and The Church of the SubGenius – Photo by David Layton

The post Sandy K Boone Talks About Her Film J.R. “Bob” Dobbs and The Church of the SubGenius – SXSW Filmmaker In Focus appeared first on SXSW.

Source: SxSW Film

January 27, 2019

‘Hail Satan?’: Does the Head of the Satanic Temple Find Trump Satanic?

Hail Satan? That’s a good question, and it’s also the name of Penny Lane’s new documentary premiering at SundanceThe filmmaker visited the IndieWire Studio presented by Dropbox along with Satanic Temple co-founder Lucien Greaves, and the two discussed the many misconceptions about Satanism — some of which are addressed in the film.

“One of the reasons that I wanted to make this film is because I personally related a lot to the Satanists and their mission, not because I’m a Satanist or because I’m particularly engaged in a church-state battle of my own — more that I feel a kinship with people who choose to do the difficult work of being heretics,” said Lane while speaking to IndieWire’s Christian Blauvelt.

“Society needs skeptics. It needs outsiders to stand up for themselves and fight against the dominant ideas,” she added. “We need that; it’s really healthy to have that. I really appreciated the role that they were taking on in this particular cultural context, and I related to it personally because I feel a kinship to the kind of person who doesn’t mind if their point of view upsets you.”

“For me it seems kind of obvious that there’s been a complete reversal in the roles of who’s ostensibly the good guys and who are the bad guys,” said Greaves. “Right now we have evangelical nationalists pushing a theocratic agenda in the United States and making great headway to take away people’s reproductive rights, endorse corporal punishment in schools, spread pseudoscience or otherwise reject the scientific point of view, and really undermining liberal democracy.”

“At this point there seems to be an inherent, intuitive grasp of what Satan can mean in a heroic context, and I think you see that vindicated in the film when you see how quickly we’ve grown and how much that kind of iconography has resonated with people.”

Watch their full conversation — including Greaves’ thoughts on Trump vis-à-vis Satanism — below.

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Source: IndieWire film

January 27, 2019

Read Nina Jacobson’s Full Sundance Producers Brunch Keynote Speech (Exclusive)

Nina Jacobson just delivered the keynote speech at Sundance’s Producers Brunch, sharing some of the insights she’s accrued during her decades-long career as a film executive. Jacobson, whose credits include “The Hunger Games,” “American Crime Story,” and “Crazy Rich Asians,” spoke about her experiences with everyone from M. Night Shyamalan to Wes Anderson — as well as the conventional wisdom she’s seen slowly upturned in recent years.

Read her full speech, which was shared exclusively with IndieWire, below:

“The only reason I became a producer was because I got fired. When it happened, I refused to give one of those transparent quotes that fired studio executives always give, saying it was their choice to step down and finally pursue their lifelong dream of becoming an independent producer. I insisted on making sure the whole world knew I was fired. Becoming a producer was more of recurring nightmare than a lifelong dream. And yet here I am 13 years later standing before my fellow producers, proud to be one of you and unable to imagine being anyone else.

“A lot has changed in the years since I shed the suit. Back then, I had the freedom to say yes to a huge variety of films. I could say yes to big movies and small ones, to comedies and dramas. I made big movies with Pirates, Princesses and White Witches but also filmmaker driven movies with Wes Anderson, Night Shyamalan and John Lee Hancock. During my tenure at Disney, we had multiple labels that could accommodate just about any movie that felt like it might work in the marketplace. Even when a movie didn’t soar at the box office, it rarely crashed and burned thanks to the safety net of home video sales. The ground started to shift in my last few years as an executive. We went from making 22 movies a year to 12. The emphasis moved from eclecticism, something for everyone, to more branded content. You can’t really fault the strategy. In the years that followed my departure from Disney, they became a juggernaut of the most beloved cinematic brands in the world.

“Although dominating the marketplace does sound fun, what I loved about being an executive was not the power but the freedom. But that was 2006. Today, I would not don the suit again because I believe we have far more of that freedom as producers than even the most powerful studio boss. Back then, my firing felt like a cold-blooded execution, but from the perspective of 2019, I think it of it more as a cold-blooded mercy killing. Most traditional studio executives manage a slate that is dominated by franchises and sequels, with only a few slots a year for free balls. And those are scrutinized within an inch of their lives.

“We producers may not be compensated as well or as consistently as our executive counterparts. They don’t get paid less because a movie they are supervising needs to get “made for a price”. No matter what size the project, we all have to fight for every dollar, every time. But the demand for content and the range of distribution options give us unprecedented creative freedom to tell stories that compel us. We can make short form, long form, TV and film, broadcast, cable, theatrical or streaming. What we do with that freedom is up to us.

“The power used to lie with a handful of studios and networks, who controlled both the means of production and the means of distribution. With that power came rules. Here are a few I was “taught” as a young executive:

  • Girls can identify with male protagonists but boys don’t identify with female protagonists.
  • Black movies don’t travel.
  • Men don’t like women as action heroes.
  • Young protagonists don’t sell.
  • Gay and lesbian actors can’t play as romantic leads.

“The underlying assumption was that white men were the O positive blood type of representation. The idea that you can never go wrong with a white guy was promoted primarily by white guys.

“I tried to challenge some of those rules as a studio executive. We made movies I loved like Freaky Friday, Princess Diaries and Under the Tuscan Sun. I got to give Audrey Wells, Justin Linn and Angela Robinson their first studio directing jobs. I cast Anne Hathaway and Amy Adams in their first leading roles, and Julie Andrews and Jamie Lee Curtis in not their first leading roles. We hired more women and people of color than we had in the past, but I did not implement systemic changes that could outlast me.

“My first year as a producer was pretty humbling. Nobody seemed to call me unless I called them first. I no longer had my hands on the levers of a giant machine that functioned to make, market and distribute movies and I felt utterly irrelevant. My days would yawn before me as I took endless general meetings that went nowhere. There was a lot more driving involved. Nobody ever tells you about the driving. I had no confidence in my ability to succeed as a producer and hoped that I wouldn’t have to be one for very long. It wasn’t all bad. I had my own bathroom for the first and only time in my career and I could bring my dog to the office, which was a lifelong dream. But the only power I had was the power to read a lot.

“I got my first taste of producing when Dreamworks put me on a movie with Brad Simpson that they wanted to make before the writers strike of 2008. We hired a director and a production designer and opened an office. When I got yelled at by the president of production, I finally felt like a producer! Then our director rewrote the script, making it much worse and wouldn’t agree on a leading man the studio was willing to hire. Our flashing green light turned into a permanent red one. Producing sucked, just like I thought it would. The only good news was Brad, who would become my producing partner.

“I focused on acquiring material that spoke to me. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was no longer paying attention to the rules I had been taught. We made Diary of a Wimpy Kid and then The Hunger Games came along. It turned out that you could make a movie with a kid as the lead and that men and women had no trouble at all identifying with a female protagonist. Audiences of all ages and genders could see themselves in a complex heroine who wasn’t defined by her love life.

“Instead of depending on a studio brand to focus my efforts, the voice of authorship became my North Star. Brad and I took the leap into television. The landscape had opened up to new formats like the limited series and we wanted the freedom to tell stories that had been beyond our reach before. As we dove into The People vs OJ Simpson, The Assassination of Gianni Versace and then Pose, we tried to create empathy for characters audiences might not have thought worthy of it. We aspired to harmonize the singular voices of authors, writers, directors and department heads and make the unseen seen.

“Although we’ve never had any strategy other than finding material we instinctively love and trying to make it good, in looking back at our slate, I realize that we’ve built a company that calls bullshit on all the rules I was taught as an executive. And, as the market has changed, we’ve found that we have the freedom to do that, which is something I never could have imagined from my desk back in 2006. We get to decide what we make, and no one can tell us it doesn’t fit into our brand.

“We started to take more chances in order to protect the stories we wanted to tell from the rules we knew too well. We feared that Crazy Rich Asians would never get made if we developed it inside the studio system or that we would be forced to make compromises that undermined everything that made it special. We developed it independently until we were ready to go to the market with a script, budget and Jon Chu’s incredible vision. Plenty of studios passed, but we got enough yeses to be able to make a choice between theatrical and streaming. We chose Warner Brothers because we felt the movie would have a greater impact in theaters than it would in homes.

“We have never felt more liberated to tell stories that inspire us than we do now, thanks largely to a market that has shifted in our creative favor over the last 13 years. We have entered the Era of the Producer, in which the people in this room have unprecedented freedom. If something is good, you will find a way to make it and it will be seen. That freedom gives us the power to break the rules and remake them. The new rules should be inclusive rather than exclusive, expanding the range of stories and storytellers. Where there is underrepresentation, there is opportunity. I know that freedom is not the same as power. The hands that hold the purse strings are still mostly white and male and the struggle to achieve meaningful diversity on set and on screen will not be won without a fight. Audiences are hungry for new voices and it is our job to make sure they are heard. The power of representation should be shared, not hoarded.

“I’ve realized in writing this speech that those are the rules that guide us; that is our brand. There’s no job out there that could compare, no fellowship I’d rather belong to than yours. Although I really do wish the chairs were more comfortable.”

Source: IndieWire film

January 27, 2019

Armie Hammer Bluntly Responds to the Oscars Snubbing ‘Sorry to Bother You’

Armie Hammer isn’t surprised that “Sorry to Bother You” was snubbed by the Academy, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t disappointed. The actor, who co-starred in Boots Riley’s out-there drama and is back at Sundance with “Wounds,” got candid during his visit to the IndieWire Studio presented by Dropbox when asked about the snub by Christian Blauvelt.

Read More:  Boots Riley Explains ‘Sorry to Bother You’ Oscars Shut Out, and Why He’s Not Mad at the Academy

“How much trouble do I get myself in here?” he said. “If you really look at the kind of films and people that the Oscars really celebrate, I’m embarrassed to say that I wasn’t terribly surprised. I think that Boots, as a first-time director, came out of the gates swinging so hard — swinging for the fences and knocking it over the fence. I think that that is the kind of thing that should be celebrated, what Boots was able to do.”

“That being said, we didn’t make that movie thinking we were gonna win Academy Awards. We made it because we believed in Boots and we believed in the mission and we believed in what the movie said. So we did our jobs, and this is just another example of the Academy keeping it in the Academy.”

Hammer has become a mainstay of the festival, and his prior Sundance film, 2017’s “Call Me by Your Name,” fared much better with the Academy. In addition to winning the award for Best Adapted Screenplay, the romantic drama received three other nominations, including Best Picture and Director.

“Wounds” co-stars Zazie Beetz, who also visited the Studio and spoke about the scheduling issues affecting the return of “Atlanta.” Watch the video below.

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Source: IndieWire film

January 27, 2019

‘The Great Hack’ Explains How Cambridge Analytica Made Trump President — Sundance Review

As the trauma of the 2016 presidential election gave way to self reflection, Cambridge Analytica epitomized a unique form of 21st-century villainy. The British technology firm’s covert use of Facebook user data to map voter behavior boosted the Trump campaign and Brexit alike by sowing disinformation, and it only faced comeuppance once a few employees decided to speak out. Co-founded by Steve Bannon, and tied to broader concerns about Facebook’s loose privacy standards, the company’s impact says much about the divisiveness of the last two years.

Cambridge Analytica’s exploitative online behavior became public in piecemeal, culminating with the company’s decision to close in early 2018. As a result, the full scope of its impact has been elusive. Netflix production “The Great Hack,” a sprawling 137-minute documentary from the directors of “Startup.com” and “Control Room,” goes to great lengths to resolve that. Billed as a work-in-progress at Sundance, it runs far too long and struggles to find a natural endpoint for its saga, juggling reams of dense information. Yet directors Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer have assembled an engaging overview that positions the company’s rise and fall at the center of an information technology market changing too fast for anyone to wholly comprehend.

Noujaim and Amer excel at capturing the complex inner workings of companies through a personal lens, and here they find their key subject in Brittany Kaiser, the young and lively former business director for Cambridge Analytica who became a whistleblower last year. Kaiser, who would make a great vehicle for Julia Stiles in the inevitable narrative adaptation, has a remarkable backstory that helps explain just how much the company managed to infiltrate both sides of the political spectrum to achieve its results. A former Obama campaign intern going back to his 2008 election, she was lured by former Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix to use her skills for more devious ends with the promise of a better paycheck. In the process, she embraced right-wing politics with the commitment of method actor.

The movie stays close to Kaiser’s side for much of its running time, following her through an off-the-grid Thailand trip as she recounts her sad story and watching as she deals with the media fallout surrounding her decision to come forward. But it also positions Kaiser as part of a much larger epic, including Nix’s many corrupt schemes to sow disinformation about political candidates to bolster the firm’s results. Captured by Channel 4 cameras boasting about prostitution and bribery for opposition research, Nix became a face of evil as Cambridge Analytica was forced to reckon with its misdeeds in public. But “The Great Hack” positions him as one cog in a massive machine.

The documentary opens with a sweeping dystopian vision, as if setting the stage for a “Black Mirror” episode. In a dense collage of people using their phones in everyday life, the filmmakers show blurry pixels emanating from countless screens, as the impressive CGI visuals explore the emerging industry of predicting behavior through online data. A sea of voices muse on the potential challenges of this breakthrough technology. “When does it turn sour?” one person wonders, as the trillion-dollar data mining industry comes into focus. And the Cambridge Analytica story provides an answer.

Anyone with a Facebook account may wind up deleting it as the filmmakers lay out the crimes at hand, detailing the company’s eerie ability to map voter profiles for thousands of people in a single region using information from seemingly innocuous online surveys. The company got away with its scheme until American professor David Carroll sued Cambridge Analytica to access data after he was providing with only a handful of details about his profile, despite the company’s claims that it managed some 5,000 data points for each person. As Carroll explains in “The Great Hack,” his personal curiosity led to international outrage; if he didn’t make the effort, the company’s influence might never have waned in the first place.

But now, with the help of Kaiser and other former employees who have since come forward, “The Great Hack” explains the company’s rapid-fire impact, from its success in carrying Ted Cruz through the Iowa caucus to the way it yielded a new contract with the Trump campaign. At each step of the process, illustrations elucidate the dramatic speed with which Cambridge Analytica solidified its power using the loopholes hiding in plain sight. As former executive Julian Wheatland puts it:  “There was always going to be a Cambridge Analytica. It just sucks to me that it was Cambridge Analytica.” It’s hard to tell if he’s regretful or just bummed they got caught.

With its epic length and many overlapping narratives, “The Great Hack” feels like a rough edit in search of an elusive final cut, as its story continues to develop. In its current form, it flies past one logical end point, when Cambridge Analytica declared bankruptcy and shut down in May 2018. Then it consumes another half hour of recent developments, from the Mueller investigation, to Nix’s public testimony, and further pontifications from Kaiser. This potential epilogue becomes an entire concluding act, and yet the story still dangles on a cliffhanger when the credits finally roll.

No matter what form it takes, “The Great Hack” exists as a giant contradiction sure to evoke strong responses from anyone impacted by its drama, which is basically everyone. As a Netflix production, it has a puzzling identity in the marketplace: Audiences for this revealing movie are poised to discover it through the very same process of hidden algorithms at the center of its alarming narrative. That’s either a bitter irony or exactly right.

Grade: B-

“The Great Hack” premiered in the Documentary Premieres at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Netflix releases it later this year.

Source: IndieWire film

January 27, 2019

‘Never Look Away’ Box Office Gets Oscar Bump; Godard’s ‘The Image Book’ Finds Its Fans

Never Look Away,”, the three-hour post-World War II drama from the director of “The Lives of Others,” opened an exclusive New York run after its Oscar Foreign Language nomination. It had a very respectable start as the last of the five nominees to open. If it portends further interest, it is a welcome sign in a month when nearly all specialized theaters play last year’s releases.

The paucity of new films comes in the face of the ongoing Sundance Film Festival, which brings welcome signs of new acclaimed films. However, that prime festival also comes with news that two films produced by A24 sold two of its Park City premieres to HBO. If “Native Son” (from Richard Wright’s iconic novel) and the horror film “Share” see a theatrical release, it will be greatly reduced. Coming atop the increased presence of Netflix and its very limited theatrical presence, this is discouraging news.

This time of year, core theaters still depend on awards to boost grosses. That’s a concern; totals for all nominees this weekend was around $15 million, less than half of the same weekend last year.

Opening

Never Look Away (Sony Pictures Classics) – Metacritic: 67; Festivals include: Venice, Toronto 2018

$26,270 in 1 theater; PTA (per theater average): $30,806

The single theater opening (at New York’s Paris Theater) and the timing right after its Oscar nomination led to a per-theater average ahead of fellow contenders “Cold War” and “Shoplifters,” though significantly below “Roma.” It’s a very encouraging result, particularly given its initial reviews. The story of a young artist’s career, from his limited chances in East Berlin to his trying to adapt to the 1960s West, is told over three hours. The nomination was key to its chances, with SPC used to channeling these into attention.

What comes next: This will have a slow rollout, with Los Angeles next on February 8 (it previously played a one-week qualifying date there).

The Invisibles (Greenwich) – Metacritic: 60; Festivals include: Mill Valley 2017

$27,000 in 4 theaters; PTA: $6,750

This German film about four young Jews who managed to live outwardly normal lives in Berlin during World War II was acquired at an early stage of recently formed Greenwich Entertainment. Its release in four New York/Los Angeles theaters showed some interest for this new, subtitled film unattached to awards attention. With mixed reviews, this is a reasonable result.

What comes next: This quickly expands to other major cities this Friday.

Kino Lorber

The Image Book (Kino Lorber)  – Metacritic: 73; Festivals include: Cannes, Toronto, New York 2018

$15,200 in 3 theaters; PTA: $5,067

88-year-old icon Jean-Luc Godard’s possible final film, an 84-minute cinematic essay melding film clips and commentary about historical trends, is a niche item of the highest order. It opened in three New York/Los Angeles high-end locations, with some strong reviews (particularly in the New York Times). The result is likely near the top of its limited potential; it did show a Saturday increase, which suggests those fans seeing it are getting what they hoped for.

What comes next: This will open in most large markets over the next few weeks (Los Angeles on February 15), though mainly in limited situations, including many museums and other non-theatrical locations.

Week Two

Who Will Write Our History? (Abramorama)

Results are pending for this documentary about the Warsaw Ghetto with new material from the Nazi siege uncovered and presented here. It is playing as a one-day event in about 100 North American theaters, with reports that European dates (parallel to today’s observance of Holocaust Remembrance day) have seen many sold-out shows. The first-week exclusive New York date grossed just under $20,000.

Ongoing/expanding (grosses over $50,000)

Green Book (Universal) Week 11

$5,410,000 in 2,430 theaters (+1,518); Cumulative: $49,000,000

Universal’s precise and risky strategy of going wide late in its third month has gotten positive results. This gross is just short of its best weekend (Thanksgiving, when it took in $5.5 million in 1,063 theaters). But to respond by rebounding to the top position among nominees, and the sole one in the Top Ten, is a payoff for the studio. This does fall short of the two top Best Picture nominees a year ago after their nods; “The Post” grossed $9.1 million, eventual winner “The Shape of Water” $5.9 million.

"The Favourite"

“The Favourite”

Atsushi Nishijima

The Favourite (Fox Searchlight) Week 10

$2,560,000 in 1,540 theaters (+1,023); Cumulative: $26,127,000

The theater count tripled for the co-leader in Oscar nominations, the second best gross among all contenders this weekend. This isn’t the best weekend for the film; it grossed $2.6 million in 441 theaters in its fourth weekend. But it does show that this attention can boost a film later in its run. That said, the gross lags below what two Searchlight titles last year did post nomination weekend – “The Shape of Water” added $5.9 million, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” $4.3 million. This however is a tougher one to gain traction, and the distributor has kept it thriving when it counts.

On the Basis of Sex (Focus) Week 5

$2,089,000 in 1,275 theaters (-685); Cumulative: $21,063,000

This portrait of Ruth Bader Ginsberg as a young woman saw a dropoff after what has been a much better than anticipated result.

Stan and Ollie (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 5

$1,295,000 in 725 theaters (+641); Cumulative: $2,218,000

Though John C. Reilly didn’t get a longshot nomination for his half of this Laurel and Hardy comeback try biopic, this expansion saw significant theater play in its wider expansion. The per-theater results are modest, but going into a weekend without much competition gives the film a chance to gain word of mouth.

If Beale Street Could Talk (Annapurna) Week 7

$957,349 in 606 theaters (-412); Cumulative: $12,462,000

Barry Jenkins’ well-reviewed drama received three nominations (including supporting actress and adapted screenplay), but lost about 40 percent of its theaters. Those that continued maintained about the same average as last week. (Note: This gross corrects an apparent error in the distributor estimate, which listed a 35 percent increase, not decrease, for Sunday).

“Cold War”

Amazon Studios

Cold War (Amazon) Week 6

$571,650 in 111 theaters (+72); Cumulative: $1,444,000

With three nominations, including Director and Foreign Language Film, Pawel Pawlikowski’s black-and-white Polish post-war romance continues its impressive run. With further expansion ahead, this should easily join “Roma” and “Shoplifters” at eventual totals over $3 million, possibly more for each. That’s rarefied territory for subtitled films of late. Last year’s winner, “A Fantastic Woman,” was best of its set of nominees at just over $2 million.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Fox Searchlight) Week 15

$(est.) 230,000 in 220 theaters (+184); Cumulative: $8,030,000

Joining fellow Best Actress nominee “The Wife” at over $8 million, the film returned for additional play with minor results.

Free Solo (Greenwich) Week 18

$212,540 in 101 theaters (+3); Cumulative: $13,486,000

Second only to “RBG” in gross among the Documentary Feature nominees, and likely to push ahead with 350 IMAX dates and other play ahead, this National Geographic presentation is still strong in its fifth month of release.

Destroyer (Annapurna) Week 5

$191,597 in 77 theaters (+27); Cumulative: $2,488,000

Nicole Kidman was on the cusp for a Best Actress nomination. Not received, this contemporary police noir increased its theater count (it still is in the early stages of widened release). It is one of the few fresh films around, so it could find some ongoing interest ahead.

Shoplifters (Magnolia) Week 10

$(est.) 190,000 in 114 theaters (-5); Cumulative: $(est.) $2,517,000

Currently the second-best grossing of the Foreign Language contenders, and very impressive as it heads to $3 million or more.

Roma (Netflix) Week 10; also streaming

$(est.) 175,000 in (est). 80 theaters (+19); Cumulative: $(est.) 3,050,000

Our rough estimate for the unreported “Roma” continues based on number of theaters listed as playing and spot-checking some big-city locations where individual shows can be monitored for presales. It appears that the strong nomination haul added more viewers, despite the film’s availability on Netflix. By our count, that puts this over $3 million, the first specialized non-English language film to achieve that since “Ida” several years ago.

Mary, Queen of Scots (Focus) Week 8

$126,000 in 127 theaters (-278); Cumulative: $16,411,000

Plugging along after its expected lack of nominations, this British royal drama will end up with a middling domestic gross after a strong holiday showing maximized its potential.

‘The Wife”

The Wife (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 24

$120,942 in 105 theaters (-10); Cumulative: $8,707,000

Very late in its theatrical run, Glenn Close’s shot at an Oscar added to its gross and kept a theatrical presence in major cities.

Capernaum (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 7

$51,671 in 20 theaters (+3); Cumulative: $381,007

Lebanon’s Oscar nominee has been in limited release for six weeks prior to the announcements, with a slow expansion timed to benefit from its new attention. The gross responded with an uptick this weekend, with wider release planned. As with other nominees in this category, word of mouth could also boost its prospects.

Also noted:

Ben Is Back (Roadside Attractions) – $26,100 in 52 theaters; Cumulative: $3,637,000

 

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Source: IndieWire film