Check out the trailer for an upcoming new documentary from Mohamed Dione, titled Going Home: Guinea, Conakry, which follows 2 Guinean artists (Dione and musician/activist Diallo Sanoussy Gallice Jr.) who, after a decade living abroad in the USA, take a trip back to their homeland to share home-inspired their art.
The film will explore how their art will inspire, motivate and entertain the youth of Guinea.
Dione's short film, Maffe Tiga (Peanut Butter Stew), which starred Dione and Marie Josephine Zoumanigui, was highlighted on this site in 2011/2012. The film is currently streaming on snagfilms.com, after screening at several film festivals around the world.
You can follow the progress of the Caramel Cappuccino Films production Going Home: Guinea, Conakry via the film's Facebook page: facebook.com/GoingHomeGuineaConakry; and on Twitter: twitter.com/GoingHome224Doc.
I'm especially interested in seeing this when it's eventually in release; as an artist who was born in Nigeria, spent my adolescent years in Cameroon, and moved to the USA in my early teens, and who hasn't been "home" in many years (although not entirely by choice), and for whom the idea of "home" is a somewhat ephemeral one, and who plans to go back "home" soon, I think I'd find Dione's film informative, and enriching. Exploring, on film, the notion of reconnecting with a familiar yet not-so familiar place, after so many years away, disconnected, almost as if creating an entirely different human being altogether, is appealing to me.
Watch the just-released first trailer for Going Home: Guinea, Conakry below:
Kali Hawk, Macy Gray, DJ Qualls, Tatyana Ali, La La Anthony and Mo McCrae are among the cast members of the Queen Latifah-executive produced feature film November Rule.
Described as a romantic comedy, the film will tell the tale of a man who makes a "November rule" (hence the title) to stay away from women, even if he's in a relationship when each November comes around. So he routinely ends relationships in November (if he's involved), or keeps his distance from women (if he's not involved), until, as you can probably guess, meets the woman of his dreams, while still strictly adhering to his "November rule," loses her, and then has to do everything he can to get her back.
No word yet on what actors are playing what specific roles - the male and female lead especially.
The feature film will be directed by Mike Elliot (The Devil Rejects) - who will produce as well - from a script penned by Candice Childress and Juwan Lee.
Queen Latifah will exec produce under her Flavor Unit Entertainment shingle.
2013 was a banner year for women at the box office, with Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Lawrence, Melissa McCarthy and others demonstrating once again that females can carry big-budget movies to success. But was last year truly that different from years past?
The numbers from the latest It's A Man's (Celluloid) World report, compiled by San Diego State's Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, are in. Unfortunately, females remained dramatically underrepresented as protagonists and major or minor characters in the top 100 grossing films of 2013. In comparing the most recent figures to the films of 2011 and 2012, the report surveys about 7,000 characters across 300 movies. Check out a graph from the report below, and read the report, in full, here.
According to the study, women comprised 15% of protagonists, 29% of major characters and 30% of all speaking characters. Only 13% of the year's top grossing films featured equal numbers of major male and female characters, or more major female characters than men.
As per Hollywood's bevelled standards of age and beauty, female characters were mostly younger than their male counterparts, and more likely to have an identifiable marital status than any goals or leadership roles. (Think "American Hustle" and even "Frozen," whose women, at the end of the day, just wanted to get the guy.)
Last year, the New York Film Academy created a similar study that surveyed how women have fared in film over the last five years -- with equally alarming findings about gender parity.
Here's how the comparison of male and female characters stacked up over the last three years:
Fox Searchlight will release the movie in USA theaters.
Belle, the period drama about the trials and tribulations of a mixed-race girl, in the 1700s, stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Miranda Richardson, Tom Wilkinson, Sarah Gadon, Sam Claflin, and Matthew Goode.
The story takes place in the 1780s, and is based on a true story - specifically, the true story of Dido Belle, a mixed-race woman raised as an aristocrat in 18th-century England. It follows Belle, adopted into an aristocratic family, who faces class and color prejudices. As she blossoms into a young woman, she develops a relationship with a vicar's son who is an advocate for slave emancipation.
Zeba saw and positively reviewed the film last fall at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Read her thoughts HERE.
That film won't be screened as part of this series unfortunately.
At each ‘Brits to Watch: The Screenings’ event, a British actor, director, writer or producer who shows great promise presents a sample of recent work to an audience of film industry professionals. BAFTA also arranges a number of follow-up meetings for the individuals to meet with key industry figures in both cities.
Amanda Berry, Chief Executive of BAFTA, said, “I am delighted that we are continuing our ‘Brits to Watch’ activity in 2014. Three years ago, with the support of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, we launched our very first ‘Brits to Watch’ event in Los Angeles. Since then, we’ve introduced a range of activity to support up-and-coming British talent and, now in its second year, ‘Brits to Watch: The Screenings’ – a strand that BAFTA is uniquely placed to deliver – introduces British rising stars to the US film industry. I am thrilled that Amma Asante – a very talented film maker, and a BAFTA winner – is our next ‘Brit to Watch’.”
Asante already has her next project lined up, making her USA debut with directing a thriller titled Unforgettable for Warner Bros studios.
The project follows a man whose new wife is terrorized by his ex-wife. That's all we know at the moment.
Christina Hodson is writing the script, with Denise DiNovi and partner Alison Greenspan producing.
Lynn Harris is overseeing the project for Warner Bros.
1. Fandor: Ted Hope, former executive director of the San Francisco Film Society, recently took on the job of CEO of Fandor, the online film platform. Hope sat down with Indiewire at SXSW to talk direction distribution, cinema community, and saving indie film. Read more here.
2. VOD Numbers: "I decided to release the numbers for the same reason we created PDA and Film Buff. Transparency is a good thing. Where better than to start with ourselves?" Producer John Sloss is repeating his call for other distributors to release VOD numbers. It didn't work the first time around, so he's shouting a little louder. On a panel as SXSW, Sloss not only called for distributors to release those stats, but for filmmakers to demand them as well.
3. Maker Studios: It's not a done deal, but they're talking it over. Disney is poised to pounce on Maker Studios - an acquisition that would value the YouTube network at $500 million or more Recode reports. Read more about what's going on.
4. Casey Neistat: All you need is the internet connection to reach the entire world - so says self-taught filmmaker Casey Neistat. At a keynote address at SXSW, Neistat talked about becoming a Youtube filmmaker in 2010 (before it was cool). Take a look at how he got his start, his commercial success with HBO, and his belief that the distribution model has evaporated.
5. "Yeah!:" The new iPad Movie app from AMC Networks, "Yeah!" has offered up a gift to the world. The 1984 mockumentary "This is Spinal Tap" hit its 30th anniversary today, and is now free and streaming via the app to all iPad users (and through the web as well). Users get a free movie, and "Yeah!" gets a chance to show off some of it's features. Check all of it out.
Got tech news? Send story ideas and news tips to email@example.com.
Girls' fictional protagonist Hannah Horvath proclaimed she was "the voice of my generation" in a fit of self-delusion and opium tea, but her creator Lena Dunham is proving she has a lot of important and relevant things to say -- and more importantly, the guts to say them.
Dunham hosted Saturday Night Live this past weekend, in which she appeared in (and thus tacitly approved of) a skit mocking "men's rights" activists. The segment wasn't particularly great or funny -- it was perhaps more wish-fulfillment fantasy than a comedy sketch, since there's no way a men's righter could ever possess enough shame or self-awareness like the character in the bit -- but Dunham and her co-stars Mike O'Brien and Cecily Strong took the opportunity to parody "activists" who fight for unequal pay for equal work.
A few days later, Dunham gave the keynote address at South by Southwest, where she touched on the Hollywood sexism that made Adam Driver, the sole male core cast member on Girls, the show's first breakout star.
Indiewire provides a partial transcript of Dunham's speech:
"It's a rough scene," Dunham said about the current state of women in entertainment. "It's hard to always offer comforting words on that topic. I think about this in relation to the cast on my show, which consists of three very talented women and also some very talented guys. Our male lead, Adam Driver, has had a bang-up year in movies which could not be more deserved because he's a ferocious genius with an incredible work ethic, and I've learned so much from him. But the girls are still waiting patiently for parts that are going to honor their intelligence and their ability.
"Women are typecast and men can play villains, Lotharios and nerds in one calendar year. The world is ready to see Adam as a million different men -- playing good guys and bad guys and sweet guys and scary guys. The world is ready to see Adam do all that. It's not ready to see Allison Williams, Zosia Mamet or Jemima Kirke stretch their legs in the same variety of diverse roles. Allison is relegated to All-American sweetheart. Zosia is asked to play more flighty nood-nicks. Even though both are capable of so much, they're not asked to do it. And this is not a knock on Adam's talent, which is utterly boundless and he's exactly the actor who should be doing all this. It's a knock on a world where women are typecast and men can play villains, Lotharios and nerds in one calendar year and something has to change and I'm trying."
After admitting "there isn't a place right now for me in studio-funded movies" and revealing that she funded her early movies by maxing out her credit card and borrowing money from her parents and her best friend's parents, Dunham offered some heartfelt advice for her fellow women in Hollywood: "Don't wait around for someone else to tell your story. Do it yourself by whatever means necessary."
While Liam Neeson has carved out a career in his late 50s and early 60s as an ass-kicking, take-no-prisoners action hero in "Taken," "Taken 2," "Non-Stop," "Unknown" and "The Grey," with "Run All Night" in the can and "Taken 3" shooting, this renaissance might have come earlier in his career.
Speaking with Hull Daily Mail (via Dark Horizons), Neeson reveals he was pursued for one of the most famous franchise stars in the history of cinema—James Bond. This would have been in the era after Timothy Dalton, where a number of contenders were looked at for the role that eventually went to Pierce Brosnan. So why did Neeson bow out?
"I was heavily courted, let's put it that way, and I'm sure some other actors were too," he explained. "It was about 18 or 19 years ago and my wife-to-be [Natasha Richardson] said, 'If you play James Bond we're not getting married!' And I had to take that on board, because I did want to marry her."
Liam Neeson: Oscar nominee, action star and husband of the year? Guess so, but if Eon Productions ever wants to change gears when Daniel Craig is done, maybe they should circle back to Neeson...
Actor Kristian Nairn, who plays Hodor on "Game of Thrones," came out of the closet (at least publicly) via an interview for "Thrones" fansite Winter Is Coming. About halfway through the interview, Nairn was asked about how bears hold him "on a pretty high pedestal," and he just matter-of-factly went for it, excitedly so....
I have some friends in the gay community, “bears” as they’re wont to call themselves, who hold you on a pretty high pedestal. One good friend of mine (I’ve known since we were in the 5th grade together) says your bear following is “extensive.” Is this something you’re aware of?
Kristian: Well, in all honesty, when you talk about “the gay community,” you are talking about MY community, haha. I AM aware of it yeah, and I think it’s really lovely. There’s not a day that I don’t get a few messages, but 99% or more are super sweet and nothing smutty at all! Again, it’s a privilege, and I really mean that. I’ve never hidden my sexuality from anyone, my whole life in fact, and I’ve been waiting for someone to ask about it in an interview, cos it’s not something you just blurt out. I’ve tried to lead the questions a few times, to no avail!
Read the whole interview here.
A project that's been in limbo since 2009 when we first reported on it, on the old S&A site, appears to have been given life again.
First, a quick recap...
In 2009, Screen Gems (Sony’s specialty film producing arm) acquired The Black Phantom, a spec comedy that was to be produced by Will Packer under his Rainforest Films banner, with Doug Aarniokoski attached to make his directing debut.
Aarniokoski was second unit director on the Screen Gems action film Takers, on which Packer was also producer. Packer sold Screen Gems on taking a shot with the first-time helmer.
In The Black Phantom, a double-crossed mob hitman turns for help to an unlikely source: the title character, an African American hitman (The Black Phantom) who was hired to kill him.Rainforest’s Rob Hardy was to executive produce.
Well, we did wonder if this would happen, when, in December, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, O, The Oprah Magazine and Oprah.com announced the newest Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 selection, The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd.
It's no longer speculation because Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Films announced today that it has acquired the film rights to the The Invention of Wings.
The book debuted in January at #1 on the New York Times Bestsellers List.
“In her book, Sue Monk Kidd has given us such a rich narrative, compelling characters, and a rare historical perspective that we know will be the ideal foundation for a wonderful film,” said Oprah Winfrey.
Here's a synopsis:
Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women. Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old slave Hetty, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love. As the stories build to a riveting climax, Hetty will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister as one of the early pioneers in the drive to abolish slavery.
An exclusive interview with Oprah and Kidd will be broadcast on Super Soul Sunday, on April 13 at 11am ET/PT on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.
It's the right time for since its subject matter suits current film trends. And by that I mean the novel is set in the early 19th century USA and is centered around the life of a slave, at least in part.
By the way, Kidd also wrote The Secret Life of Bees, which became a feature film in 2008, directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, produced by Will Smith, with Jada Pinkett Smith as executive producer, and starring Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, Sophie Okonedo, Alicia Keys and Dakota Fanning.
With "Ride Along" banking $130 million at the US box office, it's not surprise that Kevin Hart and director Tim Story are staying closely tied. They've already got a sequel to the hit comedy in the works, and later this year the pair is dropping "Think Like A Man Too." And now, they're cooking up another movie, one that will pair Hart with another major comedic talent.
Variety reports that Hart and Foxx (two names made to be together on a movie poster) will star in "The Black Phantom," with Story directing. Dave Lease and Megan Hinds penned the script that follows a hitman who enlists the assistance of The Black Phantom... who had been sent to kill him. Sounds like an unlikely buddy/team-up scenario which is kinda perfect for these two.
This one is probably still a while off from going in front of cameras, but it looks like Hart is setting his ducks in a row to ensure we're never too far away from another one of his movies.
Screen Daily reports that director Lynne Ramsay and the producers of Jane Got a Gun have reached a settlement.
Ramsay signed on to helm the 2011 Black List action western in March 2012, but apparently left the production days before shooting was to commence in May 2013. The BAFTA-winning director has never made any public statements regarding her departure from the project. Observers of the situation have speculated that she and producer Scott Steindorf fought over "perceived delays and control of final cut."
Ramsay is reportedly in Greece, writing her next project. (She adapted her two previous films, We Need to Talk About Kevin and Morvern Callar.) Here's hoping she can put this legal mess behind her and make her next movie in peace.
With two Oscars under its belt for Best Animated Film and Best Original Song by
Adele Dazeem Idina Menzel, and banking over a billion dollars at the box office, it's time to take Disney's big success story of 2013 down a few pegs.
And so Screen Junkies is here to give their Honest Trailer treatment to the animated hit, or as they say, Disney's first decent musical in eighteen years. Zing! And the hits keep on coming targeting the supersized character types, half baked magical mythology and the musical journey that's "all about the soundtrack." And from there this trailer itself goes full blown musical until just you want to
"Let It Go" get it out of your head. Watch below.
The stats speak pretty loudly for themselves when it comes to the small percentage of women working in various areas of film, behind or in front of the camera. And if one was to claim that the role of film criticism culture is to influence the status quo as well as to reflect upon it, it is perhaps no surprise that the ratio of female film critics to their male counterparts is also a discouraging number, despite the current barriers of entry being a lot less stringent. In fact, a study by San Diego State University recently revealed that only 18 percent of reviews on the Rotten Tomatoes were written by top female critics in the spring of 2013 -- a percentage that has shrunk significantly from 30 percent in the fall of 2007.
While evidence suggests a discernible gender imbalance, this is of course not the only crisis facing the culture of film criticism today. With more people turning to aggregates such as Rotten Tomatoes for advice, individual reviews are perceived as of lesser importance. So how can women break through the noise as film writers? At a panel moderated by the Brooklyn Rail's Rachel Rakes and programmed as part of NYU's Fusion Film Festival, notably scheduled on International Women's Day, several prominent female film writers took the stage to discuss their observations and here is what stood out.
Women can influence the culture of film criticism for the better, while the occupation itself is in danger.
In response to the titular question, panelists agreed on the struggles of sustaining oneself financially while working as film critics. "Journalism and jobs of people who write for a living are in danger," said Slate critic Dana Stevens. "But I also think the web, and social media opened up other avenues for criticism, making it a more democratic endeavor, and less of an elite point."
"Can women save film criticism as an occupation? No, it's beyond hope," said panelist Miriam Bale, who writes for the New York Times and other outlets. "It's the only place I've seen that the rates get lower as you get more experience. But do I think women can save the culture of criticism? Maybe. I notice women whom I knew to be big film fans have this tendency to get really deep with what interests them. I think by opening that up, there is a chance to write different kinds of criticism than just reviews." Bale also correlated having more female critics to challenging the problem of having few female directors, noting that more female voices could counter many male critics' tendency to heroicize certain male directors.
"There is something tacit about what movies women should be assigned. We can do a lot of work on that end," added the New York Post's Farran Smith Nehme, emphasizing the importance of female critics not limiting their writing to only female-driven films/topics, in order to sustain themselves as well-rounded writers in the long run.
Female critics challenge the commonly accepted norms of female representation.
"'What is the job of female critic when talking about gender' is the bigger question," said Stevens, bringing up the recent discussion of gender issues surrounding HBO's "True Detective." "Nic Pizzolatto was interviewed by Kate Arthur of Buzzfeed who asked him sharply about the accusations. His responses were very dismissive of this genre requirement that there would always be a naked dead lady at the heart of every great show about male detectives. When something like this comes up in the culture, how can we address it without becoming the voice of resentment politics?"
"Having more women talk about what's in the film is very important in terms of countering the naturalization of male hegemony within the film culture," added Inkoo Kang, who writes for the Los Angeles Times and the Village Voice.
"The niche perspective is important on sexism and even race," said Miriam Bale, mentioning Angela Davis’ piece about the women of “12 Years A Slave" as a great example of it. "But it's challenging. People don't know [those perspectives] are needed, and push them away. After a while I think, 'I am a woman. I am an African-American. You need to trust my gut reaction and not your authority.'"
Film industry is encouraging a fanboy culture, which is unfriendly to female voices.
Responding to a question of what fan blogs -- mostly written by young white men on genre film -- do to the landscape of criticism, Farran Nehme said she started as a blogger who was emphatically not focused on certain kind of violent genres. "My blog Self Styled Siren mostly focuses on pre-1960s film in a pretty idiosyncratic way. But I think of Jeff Wells' Hollywood Elsewhere -- and that is an incredibly testosterone driven blog. If you go into the comments section, it's really male and almost kind of frightening."
"Fanboy culture can be very toxic and sexist," added Dana Stevens. "But it's being fed a steady diet of comic book and monster movies. There is a direct pipeline between what the industry is producing and that form of fandom. And whenever a female critic doesn't like a fanboy movie, she is going to go through utter hell."
"The great thing is that we have close tab," reminded Inkoo Kang. "There is so much stuff out there I can read. A lot of feminist analyses you see from female critics relate movies to the real world. That interests me a lot more than robots and sea monsters."
There can be other meaningful entry points to film writing than auteurism or formulaic film reviews.
"I have a very conflicted relationship with auteurism," said Farran Nehme. "What drew me to classic Hollywood was largely stars. When I first started getting into auteurism, my attitude was 'Does that not diminish the contribution of other people, and exclude some films I love very much because they are not made by someone in the pantheon of auteurs?"
"I am a card-carrying auteurist," said Miriam Bale. "But more than the director can be the auteur. You can approach from the angle of stars, producers, and even costume designers."
"We need more think pieces. If you want to become a film critic, I can't think of a better way to start than writing about what interests you," advised Inkoo Kang. "I can tell you by a long shot, nobody would care about whom I was if I didn't write about Miyazaki's 'The Wind Rises.' I hated that film, went to a film critics' meeting and told everybody 'if you vote for this movie as best animated film, you are immoral.' And I wrote an editorial about it at the Village Voice. If you bring this individual perspective, that is going to be a lot more interesting to read than a review."
"I spoke with my editor just last week about going for fewer reviews," said Dana Stevens. "It's not every week that something deserves an evaluative piece of criticism. There might be something more interesting going on in culture at large."
Female critics should help promote each other online.
"There is talk of Internet feminism, which is sort of a fourth-wave feminism," said Miriam Bale. "Have your voice heard online. Make a name for yourself. Twitter is a great place for it."
"Some people who have been around since the '80s and '90s write disdainfully about the Internet in a sense that film criticism has gotten all touristy. But there are some new voices out there that are something," said Farran Nehme. "What we can do as women in terms of making more voices heard is something as simple as linking, which is the lifeblood of the net. It's the easiest weapon we have at our disposal."
"They won't connect emotionally with the main character because it betrays the essence of the biblical character, and the payoff just isn't good enough," radio critic Mario P. Szekely said following the Mexico City premiere of Darren Aronofsky's "Noah." Indeed, early word on the movie coming from a select group of folks allowed to see the movie early, is that it's like "The Fountain," in that it's not going to be one easily embraced by the mainstream. That's probably not what Paramount wants to hear as they get set to launch the Biblical epic worldwide, so they're putting a different face on it.
The face they're presenting is that of the charming Emma Watson, who introduces the new trailer for "Noah," after a few blooper moments. It lightens the mood briefly before the heavy story of Noah, the ark, the flood and mankind kind of being the worst emerges. It's a take that cause some internal wrangling between the studio and filmmaker, with Aronofsky taking ownership of the final product.
"The process sucked," Aronofsky told the New Yorker, adding: "I don't know if you can find another over-a-hundred-million-dollar movie that didn't have reshoots. And, at this point, Paramount ninety-eight-per-cent supports everything I want in the movie. So I live and die by this version, and take full responsibility."
And we'll see how it all goes when "Noah" arrives on March 28th. Watch below.)
So, how much do we dig the upcoming prison drama "Starred Up" directed by David Mackenzie and featuring rising star Jack O'Connell in the lead role? Kinda unequivocally. We called it "an instant classic of the prison movie genre" in our review out of the Goteborg Film Festival, which pretty much says it all. And while the film is opening abroad this month, it's still taking its time to reach U.S. shores, hitting the Tribeca Film Festival next month before arriving in cinemas later this year. But a pretty compact little feature has arrived to give you a pretty good taste of what's to come.
Film4 has unspooled a 10 minute talk with O'Connell and Mackenzie, as they discuss the process of bringing the story about a young inmate transferred to a prison housing his incarcerated father, to the big screen. And authenticity is the key here with both men discussing a production that shot in sequence on actual prison grounds, and worked very hard not to glamorize the lives of the prisoners in the movie. And it works, in spades. Along with that conversation are plenty of scenes from the two.
Here's a release trailer for a film that we've been following since its premier at the Berlin International Film Festival a year ago, a film that I've been looking forward to seeing, but has yet to screen in my city (at least that I'm aware of).
But if you live in France, you should know that the multi-country co-production thriller by director Pia Marais, titled Layla Fourie, will open in French theaters on March 26, just about 2 weeks from now.
Recapping... Here's the official synopsis:
Layla Fourie, a single mother in South Africa, is given the opportunity to get proper employment as polygraphist for pre-employment tests at a casino complex. In the constant present atmosphere of mistrust, lies and fear, Layla becomes a suspect herself on a murder happening on her first working day.
Produced by Germany's Pandora Film Produktion, South Africa's DV8 Films/Zinebar, IDTV (Netherlands), Cinema Defacto (France) and WDR/ARTE, the English-language Layla Fourie stars black British actress Rayna Campbell as the title character, and August Diehl (who most will remember from Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds playing SS-Sturmbannführer Dieter Hellstrom).
The Match Factory is selling the film globally.
This is Rayna Campbell's feature film debut; although she's an accomplished stage actress, and has done some British TV work as well.
No word on whether the film has been picked up by an American distributor.
Here's the brand new release trailer for the film ahead of its French open later this month. I really like what I see here (and everything we've seen so far) and I'm looking forward to the rest:
It's hard to imagine a couple of things: that President Obama appearing on Zach Galifianakis' web series Between Two Ferns will really inspire young people to sign up for health insurance (they may watch, but signing up is another thing); that George W. Bush would ever have had the wit or guts to sit down with Galifianakis (different times, but still). What's easy to imagine is that the newly released Funny or Die video will be a huge hit and do a lot of good for the President's image in other ways. The sometimes hilarious script cleverly takes some swipes at his image, the better to dismiss them.
It's a pretty meta event, with both Obama and Galifianakis playing their characters perfectly. Just as Stephen Colbert plays the fictional right-wing know-it-all version of himself on his show, on Between Two Ferns Galifianakis becomes the idiot-host. And Obama deadpans in the face of his ignorance, playing a version of himself that actually feels true: the comedy allows him to come back with the kind of blunt, dismissive or sharp-edged answers he must wish he could use with actual reporters.
Asked whether his Presidential Library will be "in Hawaii or your home country of Kenya?" he snaps, "Zach, that's a ridiculous question. ... Where's your birth certificate? Why don't you show it to us right now?" When Zach says he has no phone because he doesn't want the NSA spying on his texts, the President says, "Zach, no one's interested in your texts."
(You can play the video above, or see it here at Funny or Die.)
The meta quality continues when the President admits he would never be on the show if he weren't plugging something: the Affordable Care Act. His pitch for that actually follows an older script he's been using for some time: that the health care web site now works, and that young people need insurance because they may think they're invincible (not invisible as Galifianakis says) but are not.
He may reach a huge young audience through Funny or Die, and you have to wonder why his staff didn't come up with a fresher, more compelling argument than "You're not invincible." Even if health care doesn't emerge as a big winner as a result of the video, though, Obama's reputation as a President truly in touch with pop culture is firm, and that's no small thing in terms of popularity and good will -- in the world if not on Capitol Hill.
The Cinefondation’s Atelier was created in 2005 to stimulate creative filmmaking and encourage emergence new and diverse filmmaker voices. So far, out of 141 projects, 85 have been released in theaters and 44 are currently in pre-production.
After doing some research, I learned that Aduaka's Oil On Water is actually an adaptation of award-winning Nigerian author Helon Habila's novel of the same name. Habila is a winner of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Caine Prize for writing.
Oil On Water, his third novel, published in 2011, is set in the oil-rich and environmentally devastated Nigerian Delta, and tells the story of the wife of a British oil executive who has been kidnapped. Two journalists - a young upstart, and a once-great, now disillusioned veteran - are sent to find her.
The novel, which I sadly haven't read, is further described as a story rich with atmosphere and taut with suspense, as it explores the battle between idealism and disillusionment in a tale that's full of danger.
As Rufus and Zaq [the two journalists] navigate polluted rivers flanked by exploded and dormant oil wells, in search of “the white woman,” they must contend with the brutality of both government soldiers and militants. Assailed by irresolvable versions of the “truth” about the woman’s disappearance, dependent on the kindness of strangers of unknowable loyalties, their journalistic objectivity will prove unsustainable, but other values might yet salvage their human dignity.
The novel was mostly reviewed positively, with t least 2 reviews (from The Independent and Publishers Weekly) described it s "cinematic" which may be why (in part) Aduaka was attracted to it as a potential film adaptation.
Needless to say, I've ordered a copy of the novel and will certainly read it before the film is made, and, as usual, I'll share my thoughts afterward. If you'd like to buy a copy for yourself, click HERE.
Aduaka's last film, the demanding and experimental One Man Show, was a Critics Prize winner at last year's FESPACO.
From May 16-22, at Cannes, L’Atelier will arrange meetings with the directors for film industry professionals interested in investing in their projects. Let's hope Aduaka's adaptation of Helon Habila's novel attracts financing.
The full list of Atelier selections follows below:
Invisible, Pablo Giorgelli (Argentina)
Territoria, Nora Martirosyan (Armenia)
Tabija, Igor Drljača (Bosnia)
Saudade, Antonio Méndez Esparza (Brazil)
Ville-Marie, Guy Édoin (Canada)
In the Shade of the Trees, Matías Rojas Valencia (Chile)
Ce sentiment de l’été, Mikhaël Hers (France)
Aliyushka, Adilkhan Yerzhanov (Kazakhstan)
The Darkness, Daniel Castro Zimbrón (Mexico)
White Sun, Deepak Rauniyar (Nepal)
To All Naked Men, Bassam Chekhes (Neth/Syria)
Oil on Water, Newton I. Aduaka (Nigeria)
Dogs, Bogdan Mirică (Romania)
A Yellow Bird, K. Rajagopal (Singapore)
Ruta salvatge, Marc Recha (Spain)