'Nine' tops Satellites with 11 noms (Variety)

The Weinstein Co.'s "Nine" scored a leading 11 Satellite Award nominations, including best picture in the comedy or musical category.

Directed by Rob Marshall, the bigscreen adaptation of the Broadway tuner also scored acting nods for stars Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard and Daniel Day-Lewis, as well as best ensemble. Marshall also scored a nom for best director.

John Woo's historical epic “Red Cliff"came in second with seven nods.

In the best actor field, noms were handed out to Jeff Bridges (“Crazy Heart"), Hugh Dancy (“Adam"), Johnny Depp (“Public Enemies"), Colin Firth (“A Single Man"), Jeremy Renner (“The Hurt Locker") and Michael Sheen (“The Damned United").

Shohreh Aghdashloo (“The Stoning of Soraya M."), Emily Blunt (“The Young Victoria"), Abbie Cornish (“Bright Star") Penelope Cruz (“Broken Embraces"), Carey Mulligan (“An Education") and Catalina Saavedra (“The Maid") head up the actress category.

For top drama film, “Bright Star,"“An Education,"“The Hurt Locker,"“The Messenger,"“Precious"and The Stoning of Soraya M."were nominated.

Besides “Nine,"other comedy-musical noms were “The Informant,"“Julie and Julia,"“It's Complicated,"“A Serious Man"and “Up in the Air."

On the TV side, Fox's “Glee"topped the list of noms with five nods, including best comedy, actress (Jane Lynch) and actor (Matthew Morrison).

The Satellite Awards are given by the International Press Academy. Winners will be announced on Dec. 20.

And the nominations are:


Motion Picture (Drama)
"Bright Star"
"An Education"
"The Hurt Locker"
"The Messenger"
"Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire"
"The Stoning of Soraya M."

Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical)
"The Informant!"
"It's Complicated"
"Julie & Julia"
"A Serious Man"
"Up in the Air"

Foreign Language Film
"Broken Embraces"
"I Killed My Mother"
"The Maid"
"Red Cliff"
"The White Ribbon"
"Winter in Wartime"

Documentary Feature
"The Beaches of Agnes"
"The Cove"
"Every Little Step"
"It Might Get Loud"
"The September Issue"
"Valentino: The Last Emperor"

Motion Picture (Animated or Mixed Media)
"Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs"
"The Fantastic Mr. Fox"
"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince"
"The Princess and the Frog"
"Where the Wild Things Are"

Jane Campion, “Bright Star"
Neill Blomkamp, “District 9"
Lone Scherfig, “An Education"
Kathryn Bigelow, “The Hurt Locker"
Rob Marshall, “Nine"
Lee Daniels, “Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire"

Actress (Drama)
Shohreh Aghdashloo, “The Stoning of Soraya M."
Emily Blunt, “The Young Victoria"
Abbie Cornish, “Bright Star"
Penelope Cruz, “Broken Embraces"
Carey Mulligan, “An Education"
Catalina Saavedra, “The Maid"

Actor (Drama)
Jeff Bridges, “Crazy Heart"
Hugh Dancy, “Adam"
Johnny Depp, “Public Enemies"
Colin Firth, “A Single Man"
Jeremy Renner, “The Hurt Locker"
Michael Sheen, “The Damned United"

Actress (Comedy Or Musical)
Sandra Bullock, “The Proposal"
Marion Cotillard, “Nine"
Zooey Deschanel, “(500) Days of Summer"
Katherine Heigl, “The Ugly Truth"
Meryl Streep, “Julie & Julia"

Actor (Comedy Or Musical)
George Clooney, “Up in the Air"
Bradley Cooper, “The Hangover"
Matt Damon, “The Informant!"
Daniel Day-Lewis, “Nine"
Michael Stuhlbarg, “A Serious Man"

Supporting Actress
Emily Blunt, “Sunshine Cleaning"
Penelope Cruz, “Nine"
Anna Kendrick, “Up in the Air"
Mozhan Marno, “The Stoning of Soraya M."
Mo'Nique, “Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire"

Supporting Actor
Woody Harrelson, “The Messenger"
James McAvoy, “The Last Station"
Alfred Molina, “An Education"
Timothy Spall, “The Damned United"
Christoph Waltz, “Inglourious Basterds"

Original Screenplay
Jane Campion, “Bright Star"
Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, “(500) Days of Summer"
Mark Boal, “The Hurt Locker"
Joel and Ethan Coen, “A Serious Man"
Bob Peterson and Pete Docter, “Up"

Adapted Screenplay
Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell, “District 9"
Nick Hornby, “An Education"
Nora Ephron, “Julie & Julia"
Geoffrey Fletcher, “Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire"
Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, “Up in the Air"

Robert Richardson, “Inglourious Basterds"
Guillermo Navarro and Erich Roland, “It Might Get Loud"

Dion Beebe, “Nine"
Dante Spinotti, “Public Enemies"
Lu Yue and Zhang Yi, “Red Cliff"
Roger Deakins, “A Serious Man"

Film Editing
Julian Clarke, “District 9"
Chris Innis and Bob Murawski, “The Hurt Locker"
Greg Finton, “It Might Get Loud"
Claire Simpson and Wyatt Smith, “Nine"
Angie Lam, Yang Hongyu and Robert A. Ferretti, “Red Cliff"

David Brenner and Peter S. Elliot, “2012"

Original Score
Gabriel Yared, “Amelia"
Marvin Hamlisch, “The Informant!"
Elliot Goldenthal, “Public Enemies"
Michael Giacchino, “Up"

Rolfe Kent, “Up in the Air"
Carter Burwell and Karen O, “Where the Wild Things Are"

Original Song
"The Weary Kind"from “Crazy Heart"(T Bone Burnett and Ryan Bingham)
"We Are the Children of the World"from “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus"(Terry Gilliam)
"Cinema Italiano"from “Nine"(Maury Yeston)
"I See in Color"from “Precious: Based on the Novel Push"by Sapphire (Mary J. Blige)
"Almost There"from “The Princess and the Frog"(Randy Newman)
"Down in New Orleans"from “The Princess and the Frog"(Randy Newman)

Art Direction
Terry Gilliam, Dave Warren and Anastasia Masaro, “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus"
Nathan Crowley, Patrick Lumb and William Ladd Skinner, “Public Enemies"
Eddy Wong, “Red Cliff"
Chris Kennedy, “The Road"
Ian Philips and Dan Bishop, “A Single Man"
Barry Chusid and Elizabeth Wilcox, “2012"

Costume Design
Consolata Boyle, “Cheri"
Monique Prudhomme, “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus"
Colleen Atwood,"Nine"
Tim Yip, “Red Cliff"
Sandy Powell, “The Young Victoria"

Visual Effects
"District 9"
"Fantastic Mr. Fox"
"The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus"
"Red Cliff"
"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen"

"It Might Get Loud"
"Red Cliff"
"Terminator Salvation"
"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen"


Outstanding New Talent
Gabourey Sidibe

Auteur Award
Roger Corman

Tesla Award (Achievement in Technology)
Roger Deakins

Mary Pickford Award (Outstanding Artistic Contribution)
Michael York

Ten Best Films of 2009

  • "Bright Star"
  • "An Education"
  • "(500) Days of Summer"
  • "The Hurt Locker"
  • "Inglourious Basterds"
  • "Nine"
  • "Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire"
  • "A Serious Man"
  • "The Stoning of Soraya M."
  • "Up in the Air"


"Little Dorrit"
"The Prisoner"
"Generation Kill"

Motion Picture Made for TV
"The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler"
"Grey Gardens"
"Taking Chance"
"Into the Storm"
"Loving Leah"

Actor in Miniseries (Motion Picture Made for TV)
Kenneth Branagh, “Wallander"
Brendan Gleeson, “Into the Storm"
Kevin Bacon, “Taking Chance"
William Hurt, “Endgame"
Jeremy Irons, “Georgia O'Keeffe"
Ian McKellen, “The Prisoner"

Supporting Actress in Series (Miniseries/Motion Picture Made for TV)
Jane Lynch, “Glee"
Judy Parfitt, “Little Dorrit"
Chloe Sevigny, “Big Love"
Anika Noni Rose, “The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency"
Vanessa Williams, “Ugly Betty"
Cherry Jones, “24"

Actress in Miniseries (Motion Picture Made for TV)
Drew Barrymore, “Grey Gardens"
Jessica Lange, “Grey Gardens"
Sigourney Weaver, “Prayers for Bobby"
Judy Davis, “Diamonds"
Lauren Ambrose, “Loving Leah"
Janet McTeer, “Into the Storm"

Supporting Actors in Series (Miniseries/Motion Picture Made for TV)
John Noble, “Fringe"
Tom Courtenay, “Little Dorrit"
Neil Patrick Harris, “How I Met Your Mother"
John Lithgow, “Dexter"
Chris Colfer, “Glee"
Harry Dean Stanton, “Big Love"

Television Series (Drama)
"In Treatment"
"Mad Men"
"Big Love"
"The Good Wife"
"Breaking Bad"

Actress in a Series (Drama)
Julianna Margulies, “The Good Wife"
Jill Scott, “The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency"
Glenn Close, “Damages"
Stana Katic, “Castle"
Elisabeth Moss, “Mad Men"
Edie Falco, “Nurse Jackie"

Actor in a Series (Drama)
Bill Paxton, “Big Love"
Gabriel Byrne, “In Treatment"
Jon Hamm, “Mad Men"
Lucian Msamati, “The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency"
Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad"
Nathan Fillion, “Castle"

Television Series (Comedy or Musical)
"30 Rock"
"The Big Bang Theory"
"How I Met Your Mother"
"Flight of the Conchords"

Actress in a Series (Comedy or Musical)
Lea Michele, “Glee"
Tina Fey, “30 Rock"
Toni Collette, “United States of Tara"
Mary-Louise Parker, “Weeds"
Brooke Elliott, “Drop Dead Diva"
Julie Bowen, “Modern Family"

Actor in a Series(Comedy or Musical)
Matthew Morrison, “Glee"
Jemaine Clement, “Flight of the Conchords"
Alec Baldwin, “30 Rock"
Stephen Colbert, “The Colbert Report"
Danny McBride, “Eastbound & Down"
Jim Parsons, “The Big Bang Theory"


Radio Micropsia - Episodio 2

Hoy desde las 20 por Radio Nacional Rock (93.7 FM) o, por internet, entrando al player que hay en www.radionacional.com.ar (aquí)

Los planes de hoy incluyen: Discos de la década (Parte 1), más covers y remixes, lo nuevo de Hot Chip, Vampire Weekend, Daniel Melero, Monoambiente, etc. Además de las pavadas que decimos entre canción y canción.

Entrevista a Cristian Mungiu (Clarín)

Simon Reynolds's Notes on the noughties: When will hip-hop hurry up and die? (The Guardian)

A month or so ago New Yorker pop critic Sasha Frere-Jones wrote a column about the state of rap, starting with the proposition ("proclamation" would be too bombastic a word) that 2009 was, in fact, the year of hip-hop's death. I read it and couldn't find a thing to disagree with. My only quibble was that he might have called it earlier. Perhaps 2006, when Nas released Hip Hop Is Dead. Or even 2004, when Timbaland "repeatedly voiced … a frustration with pop music, particularly the hip-hop end of it" (according to his New York Times interviewer, one Sasha Frere-Jones) and further declared: ''It's time for me to retire, because it ain't the same … I'm tired of stuff now, even stuff that I do." (He also, said, mindblowingly, that "Coldplay and Radiohead are the illest groups to me. That's music".) That same year, 2004, Jay-Z also confessed – on the eve of his (ha ha) retirement and moving on to bigger, more challenging fields of endeavour – that he too was "bored" with hip-hop. Rap had become "corny", he said, and accordingly he no longer felt peer pressure to raise his game (something underlined by the steady decline of his output after 2001's magisterial The Blueprint).

As I read Frere-Jones's piece, I also knew there'd be complaints and counter-arguments galore. And sure enough they came – droves of pissed-off fanboys brandishing obscure mixtapes and overlooked albums as proof of the genre's continued vitality. Some whined that the sample on which his genre survey was based was too small (Jay-Z's new slab of going-through-the-motions, efforts by Kid Cudi and Wu-Tang clansman Raekwon, unsigned rapper Freddie Gibbs) while others questioned the entitlement of a white fortysomething to pronounce on the vital signs of a black pop genre in the first place. I don't know, but I'd have thought 25 years of attentive fandom would at least justify having an opinion. Plus it's not as though this kind of gloom-and-doomy assessment of hip-hop hasn't been voiced repeatedly by black critics and black fans, not to mention the performers themselves.

Pundits who deem something to be in decline are invariably accused of nostalgia, so another angle of retort was that Frere-Jones was pining for the Lost Golden Age: the late 80s/early 90s, rap in its first flush of artistic maturity, but still a genre primarily oriented around samples and breakbeats. The era of DJ/producers like the Bomb Squad and Eric B, Marley Marl and Prince Paul, Premier and Pete Rock. But you don't need to go back that far to locate a peak now passed. You just have to think of the first four years of this decade, which was the continuation in full force of a late 90s resurgence of mainstream rap that effortlessly managed to be commercial and street at the same time, combining pop hooks and jagged rhythmic innovation, glitzy entertainment and edge. This seven-year-long surge was largely but not exclusively driven by the Dirty South: cities like Atlanta, New Orleans, Memphis and Houston; producers like Timbaland, Neptunes, Mannie Fresh, Lil Jon, and Mr Collipark; MCs like Ludacris, Missy Elliott, Three 6 Mafia, Clipse, Ying Yang Twins, and those Cash Money hot boys Juvenile, BG and Lil Wayne. But the rest of the US played its part, from the Ruff Ryders family (DMX, the Lox, Eve, plus producer Swizz Beatz) through Ja Rule and Nelly, to the Dre/Eminem/50 Cent axis.

Underground rap fans sniffed at this brash, bolshy sound, based not on the breaks-and-samples template of classic hip-hop (partly because licensing samples had become too costly) but favouring instead synthesiser riffs and refrains modelled on techno-rave and 80s pulp movie soundtracks. The drum machine rhythms had an 80s vibe too, the double-time hi-hats and 808 bass-booms reactivating that whole other side of early hip-hop based around electro not looped breaks, Bambaataa not JB. Backpackers also complained about all these crossover rap hits with R&B choruses, which they saw as selling out the ideal of hip-hop as a showcase for MC virtuosity. But even as the ascendant street rap sound borrowed R&B's hook power and gloss, the nu-skool rap influenced R&B. By the turn of the millennium the genre were less separate than Siamese twins (something symbolised by the union of Beyoncé and Jay-Z). Together street rap and nu-R&B flooded global pop music with rhythmic pizzazz and in-yer-face attitude. The fall-out, just in the UK alone, includes the "chav-pop" swarm of girl groups and boy bands, MIA, and grime (not so much in the MC-ing, which owes more to jungle and dancehall, but in terms of beats and production, plus what would prove to be false expectations for mega-fame and Puffy/Jay-Z style transmedia empire building).

It's the vigour and invention of the first third of the Noughties that makes the last five years of rap look stalled and sapped, not old-skool days so remote only grey-hairs remember them. By any sensible metric, rap has slipped hugely from where it was when this decade began. It's not dominating the pop charts anymore, and neither is it irrigating the mainstream with new beats, styles, and slanguage. It's not producing major album-length statements, give or take an 808s & Heartbreak (revealingly, not rapped but sung). It's not even coming up with compelling new personalities. The last, by my reckoning, were Lil Wayne (whose debut was released in 1999) and Kanye West (who debuted in early 2004). West has turned out to be a mixed blessing, while Wayne spread his brilliance thin across innumerable mixtapes, plus 2008's uneven Tha Carter III. Some swear by TI and Young Jeezy as charismatic artists, but neither came up with a MC persona we've not seen before. And, for these last three or four years, rap has been a desperately unmemorable procession of cookie-cutter ballers – Jim Jones, Gucci Mane, Yung Doc, Soulja Boy, Lil Boosie, Gummi Bares – whose lyrics trudge a hedonic treadmill of bling and booty, punctuated by the occasional inane dance-craze. Even the sound of rap – always its saving grace in the absence of political engagement or MC-as-poet depth – deteriorated in the second half of this decade. The odd angles and eerie spaces in productions by Mannie Fresh or Mr Collipark were flattened out, replaced by portentous digi-synth fanfares and lumbering beats, a brittle bass-less blare that seemed pre-degraded to 128kbps to cut through better via YouTube and mobile phone ("ringtone rap", some called it), rendered all the more cheapo-sounding and plastic non-fantastic by the endless Auto-Tune fad.

One of the most interesting observations in Frere-Jones's piece is that rap producers are abandoning swing and syncopation for more pulse-based club rhythms (house/trance/electro-pop), resulting in a shift to a European rather than African-American feel. Flo Rida's Right Round, based on Dead or Alive's Eighties Hi-NRG hit, is a good example, and new nadir. Actually, I still hear quite a lot of bump and skitter in street rap but there's a pedestrian familiarity to the beats: they do the job solidly enough but they're the rhythmic equivalent of comfort food, reflexively tugging at your hips and shoulders but never approaching the stark strangeness of early Noughties productions like Ludacris's What's Your Fantasy or J-Kwon's Tipsy.

I quizzed Josiah Schirmacher, a young DJ friend who disagreed vehemently with the New Yorker piece and he replied that there was plenty of life in hip-hop but it was all "on the local level", pointing to styles like jerk, as favored by teenagers in Los Angeles. This was another story of the hip-hop Noughties: the succession of city-based sounds, starting with New Orleans bounce and continuing with crunk, hyphy, snap, juke, etc, which hatch as regional styles but thanks to the marvels of the internet (especially YouTube) are chased avidly by an international cadre of largely white, middle-class beat-nerds. I was one for a while, but then started to feel that underneath the cool local quirks (for instance, in the Bay Area, hyphy MCs shout out to freeway exits, which is how the different neighbourhoods know themselves, as opposed to, say, wards in New Orleans) all these sounds were, at base, the same. Electro variant + goofy dance + bawdy lyrics + (optional) drug-of-choice (E, with hyphy; purple drank aka cough syrup in other places, and so on). In a funny way, the pasty-faced, steroid-popping northwest England scene donk is a distant cousin of all these black American sounds: same anonymous rapping, same humorously boastful/sexist lyrics, same bling videos, same utterly local orientation offset by the occasional nationwide hit. The Blackout Crew, basically, are Cold Flamez.

Haven't talked about underground rap yet, but it doesn't exactly impose itself on your consciousness, does it? Like the lo-fi indie it resembles, this sector puttered on much like it did through the 90s, odd flashes of genius (Cannibal Ox, Dilla, Quasimoto/Madlib etc) amid the crate-digging antiquarianism. Barely creating a ripple in the larger pop culture, undie rap is probably pretty content with its niche, a haven of "quality" in a mercenary world. This stuff bears the same relationship to Dirty South type-rap that someone like Elvis Costello did with rock after 1984 (and, what d'ya know, Costello recently teamed up with the Roots to perform some of his classics on a US chat show). But as with the late-80s "golden age", the late 90s/early 00s surge showed that during rap's heyday phases the most innovative music rises to the top; it's not something you have to seek out, because it dominates radio and music-video channels, booms from passing cars.

The "Death of …" piece is a genre of criticism that's fallen into disrepute (there was a period when you'd be constantly tripping over essays announcing the End of something: art, theory, rock, rave ). People now seem to feel that "no genre ever really dies" (to adapt the Neptunes/NERD motto). Was this in fact one of the problems with the Noughties? No genre went gently into that good night: they all clung on, cluttering up the musical landscape. This not only made it harder for new things to emerge, it's meant that we've all come to forget that, in fact, totally new things have emerged in the past. There was, for instance, a time when hip-hop didn't exist. The refusal to admit that a genre can die (which doesn't mean literally disappear – it may even generate good stuff now and then –but refers to stagnation, irrelevance, becoming uncoupled from the zeitgeist) is a denial of the possibility of change, renewal, the unexpected. The very vitality of a form of music implies the possibility of its eventual death.

I sympathise with the Frere-Jones dissenters; it must be galling, having built up all that expertise and knowledge, to have your subcultural capital voided by some old git in a bow tie (compulsory at the New Yorker, don't you know) airily declaring the area obsolete. One of the cunning rhetorical ruses used in these critical turf wars between enthusiasts versus curmudgeons is to suggest that the latter are projecting their physical decrepitude on to the state of music. But you could just as easily reverse that and argue that the young are projecting their physical vitality on to the senescent body of pop (every fibre of their hormonally flushed being shouts "it still LIVES!"). I won't say that hip-hop is dead. But it does seem to be doing a good impersonation of being at death's door. More to the point, judging by its output in recent years, it's become a deadening force: as a listening experience, but also as something that maintains a deadlock on the musical imagination (and personal ambitions) of Black American youth. I doubt very much that this demographic has no more surprises up its sleeves in terms of sound and style, judging by past form(s) (jazz, rhythm and blues, funk, house, et al ). But that New Thing won't come until they tire of hip-hop themselves and turn against it.

No Puedo triumphs at Golden Horse Awards (Screen)

Taiwanese director Leon Dai’s No Puedo Vivir Sin Ti took four of the top prizes at the 46th Golden Horse Awards in Taiwan (Nov 28), including best picture, best director, best original screenplay and Outstanding Taiwanese Film of the Year.

Earlier in the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival, which accompanies the awards, the film was voted as the audience favourite. It had also scooped four prizes at the Taipei Film Festival in July this year, and took the grand prize at Japan’s Skip City International D-Cinema Festival.
Held this year on the outskirts of Taipei in Taipei County, the Golden Horse Awards is generally seen as the most prestigious film honours in the Chinese-speaking world.

Despite the success of No Puedo, mainland Chinese films and co-productions took the largest number of awards – winning ten of the 20 award categories – reflecting the growing strength of the mainland film industry. For the first time, the three-hour show was broadcast on mainland China’s state-owned CCTV6 Movie Channel, reaching an estimated audience of 1.1 billion across China.

Cheung King-wai’s documentary KJ: Music And Life, about a Hong Kong music prodigy, stood out as the dark horse in the race, winning awards in its all three nominated categories: best documentary, best film editing and best sound effects.

Chinese filmmaker Guan Hu’s Cow, Chen Kaige’s Forever Enthralled and Tsai Ming-liang’s Face each won in two award categories.

For the first time in the history of Golden Horse awards, the best actor prize was split between two actors – Nick Cheung forHong Kong action thriller The Beast Stalker and Huang Bo for Cow.
Cheung’s portrayal of a ruthless killer has previously won him best actor from the Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards and the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival.

In Cow, Huang Bo plays a strong-willed peasant during the second world war who develops a co-dependent relationship with a milk cow in order to survive.

The best actress title went to Li Bingbing for playing an elegant telegram decoder in suspense thriller The Message. The best supporting actress title went to Wai Ying-hung in Malaysia-Hong Kong-South Korea co-production At The End Of Daybreak, directed by Malaysia’ Ho Yuhang, while best supporting actor went to Wang Xueqi for Chen’s Forever Enthralled.

The Golden Horse Awards is part of the 2009 Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival, which ran November 5-26. This year the festival showcased 200 films with a record-breaking $463,965 (NT$15m) box office result, a 15% increase from the ticket sales in 2008.

The festival also presented to international awards: the FIPRESCI Award went to Taiwanese director Cheng Yu-chieh’s Yang Yang, while the NETPAC award went to Blind Pig Who Wants To Fly from Indonesian filmmaker Edwin.

Full list of Golden Horse 2009 award winners:

Best Feature Film: No Pudeo Vivir Sin Ti – Luminoso Film, Partyzoo Film

Best Director: Leon Dai – No Pudeo Vivir Sin Ti

Best Leading Actor: Nick Cheung – The Beast Stalker / Huang Bo – Cow

Best Leading Actress: Li Bingbing – The Message

Best Supporting Actor: Wang Xueqi – Forever Enthralled

Best Supporting Actress: Wai Ying Hung – At The End Of Daybreak

Best New Performer: Yu Shaoqun – Forever Enthralled

Best Original Screenplay: Leon Dai, Chen Wen-Pin – No Puedo Vivir Sin Ti

Best Screenplay Adaptation: Guan Hu – Cow

Best Cinematography: Cao Yu – City Of Life And Death

Best Visual Effects: Wang Jianxiong, Jimmy Chen, Li Liping – Crazy Racer

Best Art Direction: Lee Tian Jue, Patrick Dechesne, Alain-Pascal Housiaux – Face

Best Makeup & Costume Design: Christian Lacroix, Wang Chia Hui, Anne Dunsford – Face

Best Action Choreography: Sammo Hung, Leung Siu-hung – Ip Man

Best Film Editing: Cheung King Wai – KJ: Music And Life

Best Sound Effects: Cheung King Wai – KJ: Music And Life

Best Original Film Score: Dou Wei, Bi Xiao Di – The Equation Of Love and Death

Best Original Film Song: Death Dowry

Best Documentary: KJ: Music And Life – CNEX Foundation Limited

Best Short Film: Sleeping With Her – Chih Yi Wen

Outstanding Taiwanese Film of the Year: No Pudeo Vivir Sin Ti

Outstanding Taiwanese Filmmaker of the Year: Lee Lung-Yue


"Up in the Air", de Jason Reitman (featurette)

"Fantastic Mr. Fox": A Look at the Puppet Hospital

King Midas Sound – Waiting For You (2009)


The roots of King Midas Sound were planted when Kevin Martin, industrial dance veteran and the brain behind experimental dancehall project The Bug, set about collecting together vocalists for his 2008 album, London Zoo. Roger Robinson was a good generation older than many of the young MCs that filled out London Zoo, but this Trinidad-born poet and author brought a troubled soul to The Bug track You and Me, and his partnership with Martin soon mutated into a whole new incarnation – King Midas Sound.

The duo’s debut album for Steve ‘Kode9’ Goodman’s Hyperdub imprint shares some of the hallmarks of The Bug; a musical grounding in dub and dancehall, with lyrics steeped in the grit and danger of city living and often shaded with religious notions of sin and salvation. But where The Bug had a hard carapace, firmed up with industrial beats and dubstep bass, King Midas Sound more resembles a phantom presence: a ghostly fog of sound that seeps through air vents and creeps through cracks in window panes. Think Massive Attack at their most sinister, their most fluid – the heavy ganja vibes of Inertia Creeps mixed with the ethereal drift of 100th Window, perhaps – and you’re halfway there.

Robinson is a commanding presence throughout. Cool Out commences with a soft-sung war chant, whispering “We kill soundboys with our Shaolin styles / Run them out the dancefloor wiping tears from their eyes” as the bass bins commence their slow rumble. Earth a Kill Ya’, meanwhile, mixes dusty organ wheezes with hard philosophy: “The earth will kill you if you try to kill it / Your body heals you if you discipline it,” declares Robinson, before summing up his values with a brusque “Live simply!”

This spirit, of course, is also classic Kevin Martin, and it’s testament to his holistic production vision that King Midas Sound works so neatly. Heavy with urban dread but awake to the promise of a better life, Waiting for You feels like a hard-won victory – the kind that tastes all the sweeter. bbc.co.uk

"Avatar", de James Cameron (Making of a Scene)


Campanella lines up animated feature - 'Foosball' to be budgeted at $8.94 million (Variety)


BUENOS AIRES -- Argentina’s Juan Jose Campanella, director of runaway hit “El secreto de sus ojos” (The Secret in Their Eyes), is preparing to helm his first animated film, with a E6 million ($8.94 million) budget.

“Metegol” (Foosball) is about the plight of a foosball team trying to reunite after their table is dismantled and scrapped. It is set for a 2012 or 2013 release.

Film is based on “Memorias de un wing derecho” (Memories of a Right Winger), a short story about the ruminations of a foosball figure by the late Argentine cartoonist-writer Roberto Fontanarrosa.

Campanella, who has directed episodes of “House” and “Law and Order” and Oscar-nommed “The Son of the Bride,” is writing with Eduardo Sacheri, with whom he co-wrote “Secret” based on a novel of his, as well as Gaston Gorali (“City Hunters”) and Axel Kuschevatzky, a co-writer of the hot Argentine adaptations of “The Nanny” and “Married with Children.”

The production team is still being lined up, Campanella told Variety.

The project comes as animated cinema grows in Argentina, buoyed by recent hits and global sales potential.

“Manuelita” and “Patourizto” are among the top 10 blockbusters in Argentine history.

Illusion Studios, a local production outfit behind this year’s hard-boiled hoodlum satire “Boogie, el aceitoso,” has arranged co-production deals with Canada, India, Mexico, Spain and other countries for the toon pics. “Boogie” is poised for release in Mexico after a good 2D and 3D run in Argentina.

Argentina and other parts of Latin America are attracting attention for low-production costs and animators that offer a fresh look, given that many are trained with the classic approach of pencils compared with the mostly digital-trained in Asia and Europe.

Call her Argentina's Almodovar (The Globe and Mail)


From Friday's Globe and Mail

Director Lucrecia Martel has made three feature films since 2001, and while each has its own tone and narrative, they all share a location, certain themes and visual style that have made her one of the most distinctive directors to emerge this decade. All three films can be seen in the Cinematheque Ontario series, Holy Girls & Headless Women: The Films of Lucrecia Martel, starting today in Toronto. In particular, her most recent film, The Headless Woman, gets its Canadian theatrical premiere over the next week.

With two of her films accepted in competition at Cannes, and Pedro Almodovar signed on as her producer and mentor, Martel is the most high-profile of the younger filmmakers lumped into the category of the New Argentine Cinema, emerging out of Argentina's economic and social chaos around the turn of the millennium. Martel's region is Salta Province, in northwest Argentina. Her social milieu is the conservative middle-class, and her stories a full of sexual and class tensions and foreboding. Visually, Martel's films are dense and impressionistic, often shot in close-up or with a shallow depth of field, as if throwing the viewer into the middle of the story's moral tangles.

Her first feature, 2001's The Swamp, explored two families in a crumbling vacation home dealing with heat, rain, alcoholism, accidents, claustrophobia and spiritual malaise. Martel's second film, The Holy Girl, which was accepted in competition at Cannes in 2004, had similarities - sweltering heat, pools of water and simmering sexuality. The titular character, a 14-year-old girl, is the daughter of a lonely divorcée who runs a local hotel. When a man rubs against her during a street show, the convent-trained girl sees the event as a calling and she sets out to save him, even if it ruins him.

Martel's most recent film may be the most complex and maddening so far, an unsolved mystery that puts the viewer in the perspective of a partly amnesiac woman. Vero (Maria Onetto), a middle-aged woman with a new blond dye job, drives off from a swimming party alone in her car. Distracted when her cellphone drops, she hits something with her car and bangs her head. She doesn't stop to find out what she hit, but we see a dead dog lying on the road - and what about those hand prints on the car window? Were they left by the children playing in her car earlier, or are they fresh?

In any case, the prints are soon washed away by a torrential rain storm. Vero goes to the hospital, then a hotel (the drive, the rain and the hotel have distinct echoes of Marion Crane's journey in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho). A man at the hotel recognizes her and takes her up to a room. He makes love to her. The next morning, he drops her off at home.

When she emerges from the shower, she finds her husband Marcos. Marcos has just returned from a hunting trip, and there's a dead deer on the kitchen counter. Her maid tells her she's late for the office and calls her a cab. She walks into a waiting room. She stands looking confused, and an assistant puts on her coat. It seems she's a dentist, and has work to do. She wears a quizzical smile on her face like a comic mask, trying to guess what is expected of her.

The lover of the earlier scene, Juan Manuel, is a relative by marriage, married to Josefina, who is either Vero's sister or cousin. Josefina and Juan Manuel have a teenage daughter, Candita, who suffers from hepatitis and hangs out with the local street girls. Candita is apparently sexually attracted to Vero. As they watch a video of an old family wedding, we discover Vero has two grown daughters and that the wedding guests, years before, included some well-connected political types.

During a shopping trip, Vero tells Marcos that she thinks she killed someone in her car the weekend of the storm. At first Marcos tells her she's mistaken. Like Hamlet, all occasions do inform against her: A gardener tells her there's a fountain or pool buried underneath her back yard. The silhouettes of children pop up at the edge of the film frame; there are the sounds of water and children's voices. Then, when it appears Vero may have reason for her premonitions, the men folk descend quietly and efficiently to wipe away any evidence of a crime.

Though it's theme of middle-class, willful amnesia is obvious enough, The Headless Woman is effective as a kind of existential horror story, about a woman who finds evidence of her existence has been erased. Someone is dead, but it is Vera who has become a ghost of a human being.

The Headless Woman runs from Nov. 27-Dec. 3 at Cinematheque Ontario (for more information: http://www.cinemathequeontario.ca or 1-877-966-FILM).

"Invictus", de Clint Eastwood (Variety review)

A Warner Bros. release presented in association with Spyglass Entertainment of a Revelations Entertainment/Mace Neufeld and Malpaso production. Produced by Clint Eastwood, Lori McCreary, Robert Lorenz, Neufeld. Executive producers, Morgan Freeman, Tim Moore, Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum. Directed by Clint Eastwood. Screenplay, Anthony Peckham, based on the book "Playing the Enemy" by John Carlin.

Nelson Mandela - Morgan Freeman
Francois Pienaar - Matt Damon
Jason Tshabalala - Tony Kgoroge
Etienne Feyder - Julian Lewis Jones
Brenda Mazibuko - Adjoa Andoh
Linga Moonsamy - Patrick Mofokeng
Hendrick Booyens - Matt Stern
Mary - Leleti Khumalo


"Invictus" is a very good story very well told. Shortly after Nelson Mandela emerged from 27 years in prison and became president of South Africa in 1994, he seized upon using a rugby World Cup the following year as an opportunity to rally the entire nation -- blacks and whites -- behind the far-fetched prospect of the home team winning it all. Inspirational on the face of it, Clint Eastwood's film has a predictable trajectory, but every scene brims with surprising details that accumulate into a rich fabric of history, cultural impressions and emotion. The names of Eastwood and stars Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon should propel this absorbing Warner Bros. release to solid returns Stateside, with even better prospects looming in many foreign markets, where an unfamiliar sport and South African politics may pose less of a potential B.O. hurdle.

Once again in his extraordinary late-career run, Eastwood surprises with his choice of subject matter, here joining a project Freeman had long hoped to realize. In fact, the filmmaker has frequently dealt with racial issues in a conspicuously even-handed manner, most notably in "Bird," and his calm, equitable, fair-minded directorial temperament dovetails beautifully with that of Mandela, much of whose daily job as depicted here consisted of modifying and confounding the more extreme views of many of his countrymen on both side of the racial divide.

Mandela is the lynchpin of "Invictus," whose title is Latin for "unconquerable" and comes from a stirring 1875 poem by British writer William Ernest Henley. Although far from a conventional biography, Anthony Peckham's adaptation of John Carlin's densely packed book "Playing the Enemy" commences with Mandela's extraordinary transition from imprisonment to the leadership of a country that easily could have fallen into a devastating civil war.

As he takes office, Mandela allows that his greatest challenge will be successfully relaxing the tension between black aspirations and white fears. Pic adroitly avoids becoming mired in the minutiae of political score-settling by summing up racial suspicions through the prism of the new president's security detail. Mandela's longtime black bodyguards are shocked when their "Comrade President" forces them to work with some intimidating Afrikaners, experienced toughs who until very recently were no doubt striking terror into the hearts of the black population.

Directed by Eastwood with straightforward confidence, the film is marbled with innumerable instances of Mandela disarming his presumed opponents while giving pause to those among his natural constituency who might be looking for some payback rather than intelligent restraint. Freeman, a beautiful fit for the part even if he doesn't go all the way with the accent, takes a little while to shake off the man's saintlike image, and admittedly, the role of such a hallowed contemporary figure does not invite too much complexity, inner exploration or actorly elaboration. That said, Freeman is a constant delight; gradually, one comes to grasp Mandela's political calculations, certitudes and risks, the troubled personal life he keeps mostly out of sight, and his extraordinary talent for bringing people around to his point of view.

Where the rugby match is concerned, that talent is manifested by how, over tea, Mandela personally appeals to the captain of the South African team, the Springboks. A blond Afrikaner with no discernible politics, Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon) would just like to lift the squad from its present mediocrity. But Mandela quotes inspiringly from the poem -- "I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul" -- speaks of leading by example and exceeding expectations, and leaves Pienaar astonished at the idea that they can dare to dream about winning the World Cup.

Just as it's disinclined to offer a primer on South African politics, the film refrains from outlining the rules of rugby; the viewer just has to jump in and surmise that it's something like a cross between soccer and American football. What the film conveys with tart economy is that rugby was a white game, scorned by blacks; as one man puts it, "Soccer is a gentleman's game played by hooligans, rugby is a hooligan's game played by gentlemen."

In a magnificent irony, the team the mostly white South African squad ultimately faces in the title match is a mostly white New Zealand team called (because of their uniforms) the All Blacks. The climactic faceoff, played in front of 62,000 fans at Johannesburg's Ellis Park Stadium roused by the presence of Mandela himself, lasts 18 minutes of screen time; when such an event plays out like this in real life, it's often exclaimed that it could only have been scripted for the movies. Here, it's real life dictating the incredible scenario.

With the exception of the meeting with Mandela and a couple of family scenes, most of Damon's screen time is spent in training or on the field, and it's meant as highest praise to say that, if he weren't a recognizable film star, you'd never think he were anything other than a South African rugby player. Beefed up a bit (or, perhaps more accurately, slimmed down somewhat from "The Informant!") and employing, at least to an outsider's ear, an impeccable accent, Damon blends in beautifully with his fellow players.

Some of the most amusing and telling scenes throughout involve the bodyguards, whose body language, facial expressions and intonations of minimal lines convey much about the uncertain state of things in the country.

Shot entirely on location in South Africa, "Invictus" looks so natural and realistic that it will strike no one as a film dependent upon CGI and visual effects. In fact, the climactic match would not have been possible without them, as virtually the entire crowd was digitally added after the action was filmed in an empty stadium. You really can't tell.

Tech contributions are solid down the line and local tunes fill out the discreetly supportive soundtrack.

Camera (Technicolor, Panavision widescreen), Tom Stern; editors, Joel Cox, Gary D. Roach; music, Kyle Eastwood, Michael Stevens; production designer, James J. Murakami; supervising art director, Tom Hannam; art director, Jonathan Hely-Hutchinson; set decorator, Leon van der Merwe; costume designer, Deborah Hopper; sound (Dolby Digital/DTS/SDDS), Walt Martin; supervising sound editors, Alan Robert Murray, Bub Asman; sound designer, David Farmer; re-recording mixers, John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff; visual effects supervisor, Michael Owens; visual effects, CIS Visual Effects Group; assistant director, Donald Murphy; casting, Fiona Weir. Reviewed at Warner Bros. Studios, Burbank, Nov. 10, 2009. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 134 MIN.


Continental divide - Argentina’s best get retro’d at TIFF Cinematheque (Eye Weekly)

BY Jason Anderson and Adam Nayman

Given how tricked out and tapped out the medium can feel here in cinema’s second century, it’s no small thing whenever an exciting new voice is detected. Of all the filmmakers great and small to emerge in the last 10 years, two Argentinian directors may have cut through the noise most starkly.

That’s why the latest edition of TIFF Cinematheque’s “Film Now” series seems especially urgent. Lisandro Alonso and Lucrecia Martel share the spotlight for a combined retrospective of the six (or seven, counting Alonso’s hour-long Fantasma) remarkable features they’ve made since 2001. As different as their sensibilities may be — Alonso favours portraits of hard-luck, lone-wolf figures travelling through formidable landscapes while Martel is a master of bustling domestic vignettes that revolve around women on the verge of collapse — it’s easy to see why they’ve rapidly ascended the ranks of international auteurs. Here are more reasons why you should pay attention:

Ride Lonesome:
The Films Of Lisandro Alonso

Of all the directors who might be said to be definitive of the aughts, Lisandro Alonso is certainly the most unassuming. Where comparable (and more widely heralded) figures like Jia Zhangke, the Dardenne brothers and Alonso’s countrywoman Lucrecia Martel (see below) have beaten a path to the centre of contemporary film culture, Alonso’s works feel like isolated gestures in which the filmmaker’s closely guarded sense of privacy gets transubstantiated into grandeur via his preternaturally confident technique.

Alonso was only 26 years old when he made La Libertad (****; Nov 30, 8:45pm), a patient, observational account of a rural woodcutter, which he achieved through close collaboration with the “star,” Misael Saavedra. Despite its quite conscious play with duration, to slander La Libertad as minimalism would be to ignore Alonso’s exquisite eye — and ear — for natural textures. And while it’s easy enough to classify the film as a hymn to routine — a lot of wood gets chopped, in real time — its key feature is Alonso’s humble willingness to subordinate rhythmic control to his subject.

Los Muertos (*****; Dec 1, 8:45pm) is at once a chancier and more controlled piece of work. Chancier, because it represents the director’s first experimentation with narrative, which finds a taciturn, fiftysomething parolee (Argentino Vargas) taking a boat upriver to reunite with his estranged family; controlled, because of Alonso’s refusal to provide much in the way of exposition, although the astonishing, single-take “overture” passage casts the story’s Conradian trajectory in an even darker shade. At the time of the film’s release, much of the attention it got focused on an extended passage in which Vargas slaughters and then neatly disembowels a goat (no FX work here), but what makes the scene, and the film, so remarkable is the absence of look-at-me provocation: the sequence is as matter-of-fact as the scenes in La Libertad of Misael taking his saws to tree trunks, and feels similarly of a piece with both the character (Vargas is also “playing himself”) and his surrounding environment.

Leaving aside the misstep of Fantasma (**; Nov 30, 8:45pm), a fussy, precious homage to Tsai Ming-Liang’s Goodbye, Dragon Inn set in a cavernous Buenos Aires movie theatre, Alonso’s remarkable streak continued last year with Liverpool (*****; Nov 27, 7pm & Nov 29, 6pm), in which a sailor’s shore leave becomes a gruelling trek into Martial mountains. In the abstract, this may sound self-parodic — another silent wanderer in the Argentinian wastelands? — yet, by gradually shifting the focus from a lone rider to a community, Alonso seems to be taking a step forward. That step, however, is unlikely to lead him towards the mainstream. AN

Holy Girls And Headless Women:
The Films Of Lucrecia Martel

To be honest, I initially reacted to Lucrecia Martel’s third and most lavishly praised feature with no small measure of befuddlement. Part of that had to do with my expectations, seeing as The Headless Woman (****) — which belatedly receives its Toronto premiere with a limited run Nov. 27 to Dec. 3 — arrived at Cannes in 2008 with the imprimatur of co-producer Pedro Almodóvar (surely a sign of a burgeoning commercial sensibility) and a premise that promised a thriller of sorts. A wealthy woman driving near her home takes her eyes off the road and runs over… something. Was it a dog? Or a boy? As she tries to reconstruct events through the haze of her concussion and the condescending reassurances of her loved ones, she wonders whether anything happened at all.

If made elsewhere, the storyline might’ve yielded thriller of the “psychological” variety, with Sandra Bullock as the confused heroine. Instead, Martel uses it as the basis for a haunting study of a woman who shatters into pieces after a chance event rattles the bars of her gilded cage, one created and maintained by the privileges of her class and the well-meaning but solipsistic men who surround her.

In its treatment of the tensions between bourgeois characters and the quite literally disposable members of the country’s Indian underclass, The Headless Woman shares much with La Ciénaga (****; Nov 28, 8:45pm). But Martel takes a crueller tack in her debut feature, which peers into the hornet’s nest of conflicting desires that binds an unruly family of declining means. Likewise, her second film, The Holy Girl (****; Dec 4, 7pm), is somewhat more diffuse as Martel trains her ruthless eye on a wide variety of pained and perplexed figures, most notably a teenaged girl who develops a curiously spiritual fixation on an older man visiting the hotel where her mother works.

Regarded separately, Martel’s films can feel chilly and austere — I certainly felt that way after seeing The Headless Woman the first time. Yet when seen together, they not only improve each other, they develop greater warmth and strength. One thing that becomes apparent is the filmmaker’s painstaking attention to her characters’ bodies and their placement within the frame. That air of unflinching precision carries through to her somewhat ruthless editing style. As a result, characters frequently seem to find themselves moving in opposition to the contours and rhythms of the films themselves. No wonder their attempts to achieve some kind of connection with the people around them can feel so desperate and so doomed. JA

Ride Lonesome: The Films of Lisandro Alonso (TIFF Cinemateque)

November 27 - December 1

“I’m interested in the world of prisoners.” – Lisandro Alonso

“The slow-moving minimalism of new Argentine cinema finds its poet and master in Lisandro Alonso.” – Deborah Young, Variety

Lisandro Alonso established his themes and method with La Libertad (2001), a slip of a film shot in nine days for very little money, which chronicles a single day in the life of Misael Saavedra, a young woodcutter Alonso met on his father’s farm. (The incongruous, semi-ominous thrash of techno percussion accompanying the credits would become an Alonso trademark, as would the subsequent avoidance of non-diegetic music.) So matter-of-fact and uninflected is Libertad’s recording of Misael’s daily routines, faithfully recreated from weeks of Alonso’s close observation of his actual life and edited so that several sequences seem to adhere as real time, that the film has been hailed as the apotheosis of Bazinian realism. Spare in dialogue – the first, a simple salutation, comes as a shock almost half an hour into the seventy-three-minute film – and attuned to the rhythms of daily existence (chopping, eating, shitting, sleeping, buying and selling), the film elicited inevitable claims of the boundary between fiction and documentary being blurred, collapsed, or straddled. But Alonso’s reliance on Bressonian synecdoche, both within the image (truncated framing) and within the narrative, and his exacting management of sound and image, suggest a reality heightened enough to leave all notions of a modern-day Flaherty behind.

If Lucrecia Martel is the Chekhov of the so-called New Argentine Cinema, there’s a touch of Tolstoy in Alonso’s portrait of this country peasant. Simple, authentic, uncorrupted, Misael is, unlike Alonso’s subsequent protagonists, gregarious in his solitude, which seems less innate than imposed by circumstance. By comparison, Argentino Vargas, the fifty-four-year-old principal of Alonso’s next film, Los Muertos (2004), appears pathologically opaque, his reticence and detachment a result of guilt, grief, or homicidal instincts, it is never clear. Vargas’s concealed emotions and motivation allow Alonso to explain nothing while manipulating narrative expectation and assumption as willfully as any genre director.

Like Misael in Libertad, Vargas is a non-actor whose character carries his real-life name, but whose being is subsumed more intensely and intensively into Alonso’s fiction. Though he is capable of banter, Vargas’s natural disposition is mute aloneness, and, as with Farrel in Liverpool, the director repeatedly shows his protagonist at a remove from humanity, isolated in the frame or tellingly separated from surrounding groups: men watching soccer or huddled in the prison yard, a clutch of children buying treats in a rural store. (All of Alonso’s films feature protracted scenes of men eating by themselves, social ritual transformed into its opposite.) The film’s incidental religious-mythological associations aside – a shot of Vargas’ head in frame with a devotional in the police station; Vargas carrying bread and wine to a couple called Maria and Angel; the Charon-like aura of his boat drifting toward death – Los Muertos retains the minimal, materialist approach of La Libertad. Alonso wants to besot with the ordinary.

Duration is of prime importance to the economical Alonso, who is sparing with both edits and running time. (The Average Shot Lengths of his work must run extraordinarily high; note also the shorn simplicity of the films’ titles.) The diurnal span of La Libertad and the elliptical, four-day course of Los Muertos are further abbreviated in Fantasma (2006), which barely breaks the one-hour mark in transcribing the short visit of Argentino Vargas to a Buenos Aires theatre to watch, for the first time, the film he starred in. Though set within the confines of a cultural centre and its cinema, Fantasma is no less a film of landscape than the previous two. Like the pampas of La Libertad and jungle of Los Muertos, the labyrinthine interior becomes Fantasma’s second character: as much as the camera lingers on a now gaunter Vargas, in from the wild and uneasier than ever, Fantasma makes setting its preoccupation.

Stealthily shot in slow dollies, pans, and tracks, Fantasma has been both dismissed as insular or narcissistic (one of the other characters transiting the building is none other than Misael Saavedra) and justified as an experiment or etude. Though Alonso stated at the time of its release that Fantasma completed a trilogy with his first two films, it is now best seen as a pendant to the actual trilogy, which consists of that early duo plus his latest, Liverpool. Longer, more complex, with greater reach and maturity than La Libertad and Los Muertos, Liverpool nevertheless repeats their template, from the driving drums and guitar over the credits, to its inscrutable, tamped protagonist, who travels lone through an adverse landscape only to arrive where he departed: “I’m off,” Farrel mutters as he escapes the place to which he has laboriously journeyed.

Even as Liverpool’s snowy environs contrast with Alonso’s previous films, much harks back to compositions and themes in his earlier work, from the hitched ride on the back of a truck, to the long shot in which Farrel trudges through a field towards the horizon line, recreating Misael’s cross-plain journey near the end of La Libertad. Alonso’s fondness for abruptly cutting from loud sound to silence (a curt transition from buzzsaw to the quiet of a bedroom), for disorienting transitions of setting (that mockery of an establishing shot in the unidentifiable transport equipped with ripped seats and torn mattress), and for restating moments in variation (Farrel’s two solo meals, the twinned inscriptions on a post) also remain. But Liverpool exhibits a greater variety of settings and shots, colour, if not new, newly emphasized. The green motif of Los Muertos – the jungle and foliage, the blouse Vargas buys his daughter, the two bottles hanging on the wall in Maria’s home, the “green-out” after the opening sequence – is here replaced by an insistence on red, all the more marked against the chill, achromatic locale. (One thinks of Oshima, another chronicler of broken families, who banished green from his palette as too anodyne, and aggressively filled his images with red.) Liverpool’s many red objects culminate in the walls of the bedroom in which Farrel’s mother sleeps away her final days, which look like incarnadine imports from the villa in Cries and Whispers.

Liverpool explores Alonso’s signature theme of sole men on a journey, reticent men of obscure emotion and motive traveling through an isolated landscape, unchanged by their encounters with others. The men’s unyielding features and solitary, taciturn ways – they all “ride lonesome” – register less as enigmatic, the way the neutrality of Bresson’s “models” serves an aura of immanence and mystery, than as ramparts against the world. Precarious, inward, lost even to themselves, Alonso’s men are separated, estranged, or sundered from their families and wary of connection; they make small talk but withdraw at any demand of divulgence. They evade – “That’s all in the past; I’ve already forgotten,” Vargas tells a boatman inquiring after his crime in Los Muertos – or look past the question (Farrel’s sodden silence in Liverpool when asked why he has returned after such a long absence), but whether they are unable or merely unwilling to answer remains moot.

– James Quandt

Please note that this introduction is a condensed, edited version of an article which appeared in Artforum Magazine in November 2008. The full version of the essay will be available online at Artforum.com.

TIFF Cinematheque would like to thank the following individuals for their assistance in the preparation of the Alonso & Martel retrospectives: Haden Guest, Harvard Film Archive, Cambridge; Marcus Hu, Strand Releasing, Culver City, CA; and Adam Sekuler, Northwest Film Forum, Seattle. The North American tour of Liverpool has been arranged Adam Sekuler. We thank Anne Götze, Match Factory, for her assistance.

Rotterdam's Signals section includes first international focus on Sai Yoichi

As part of its main Signals section, the International Film Festival Rotterdam honors Japanese filmmaker Sai Yoichi with a tribute program that includes many of his works including his latest, brilliant ninja action movie Kamui.

Furthermore, Signals presents the thematic program ‘After Victory’ with recent war films as well as seven works by legendary master of the postwar Japanese cinema Yoshida Kiju.

Tribute to Sai Yoichi
The International Film Festival Rotterdam honors filmmaker, writer and actor Sai Yoichi with his first international focus program.
Korean-Japanese filmmaker Sai Yoichi (1949, Nagano) started his career as an assistant director for Oshima Nagisa and Murakawa Toru. He was awarded as Best Newcomer at the Mainichi Film Competition for his directorial debut The Mosquito on the Tenth Floor (1983). After completing several films for Kadokawa Pictures and several television projects, his multi-cultural comedy All Under the Moon (1993) brought him fame and multiple awards. His later films include prison movie Doing Time (2002), box office hit Quill (2004), immigrant family drama Blood and Bones featuring Beat Takeshi (2004) and Soo (2007). In his latest film Kamui, a ninja movie adapted from the legendary sixties manga by Shirato Sanpei, Sai brilliantly mixes action and fantasy, featuring young Japanese star actor Matsuyama Ken'ichi as the hero.
Sai Yoichi will be attending IFFR 2010 to introduce the screenings of his films. The focus program has been programmed by Tony Rayns in collaboration with Aihara Hiromi.

After Victory

‘After Victory’, the thematic program presented as part of Signals, makes a catalogue of how to deal with war in cinema and what war does to us, as individuals as well as culturally.

The program of about 16 recent films includes an essay-like art video like Where is Where (2009) by Eija-Liisa Ahtila (Finland) on the Algerian war, an oral history-project like Japanese Devils (2001) by Matsui Minoru (Japan) about war crimes committed by the Japanese army, a fresco’esk massive production like Nanking Nanking by Lu Chuan (2009), a classical combat movie like The Blacks by Goran Dević & Zvonimir Jurić (2009) about ex-Yugoslavia, a documentation-based ‘re-enactment’ as a social experiment like Avoir vingt ans dans les Aurès by René Vautier (1972), an allegorical zombie-western like Survival of the Dead by George A. Romero (2009), a vast and raw documentary about war as an essence of our culture like Warheads by Romuald Karmakar (1992) and Golden Lion winner Lebanon by Samuel Maoz (2009), who will attend the festival.
’After Victory’ is programmed by Olaf Möller.

Yoshida Kiju

As an overture to a Yoshida Kiju retrospective organized by the Filmmuseum Amsterdam and the Filmmuseet Oslo, the IFFR presents within its returning Regained section seven works by this eminent master of the modern Japanese art film. These include Affair at Akitsu (1962), an intense ‘anti-melodrama’ about unrequited love and postwar disillusion and his famous Eros and Massacre (1969), a daring analysis of art and revolution in modern Japan that shifts back and forth between the 1920s and the 1960s.

Yoshida Kiju (1933, Fukui; also known as Yoshida Yoshishige) burst upon the film scene at the start of the 1960s as part of the Japanese New Wave. Notwithstanding the killing pace of making – mostly independent - as many as 16 films between 1960 and 1973, Yoshida created a completely unique oeuvre, characterized by formal rigor, philosophical depth and profound beauty. After a thirteen year break in which he made more than hundred documentaries, he returned to feature filmmaking with three gripping works on the themes of euthanasia, patriarchy, and – in his latest film The Women in the Mirror (2002) – the atomic bomb.

Yoshida will attend the festival together with the famous actress Okada Mariko, also his wife and the star in many of his films. The Yoshida retrospective is programmed by Dick Stegewerns.

The 39th International Film Festival Rotterdam opens January 27th 2010 with Park Chan-ok's Paju.

The main festival sections are Bright Future (first and second time filmmakers including the Tiger Awards Competitions for feature length and short films), Spectrum (recent works of established filmmakers) and Signals (a series of thematic programs).

Within the festival period, the 27th CineMart takes place from January 31 to February 3, 2010. The full festival program is available on www.filmfestivalrotterdam.com from January 21.

The International Film Festival Rotterdam thanks the
Japan Foundation and the National Film Center in Tokyo for their kind support of the Japanese selections in the festival.

Caetano prepares hitwoman thriller: 'Mala' to star Argentine actress Natalia Oreiro (Variety)

BUENOS AIRES -- Prominent Argentina-based auteur Adrian Caetano (“Buenos Aires, 1977,” “Francia”) is prepping “Mala,” a hitwoman thriller.

Natalia Oreiro (“An Argentinian in New York,” “Cleopatra”) is attached to limn the lead, Rosario, a femme assassin with her own agenda.

In pre-production, and budgeted at $3 million-$3.5 million -- three times the Argentine average -- the Spanish-language “Mala” is set up at La Expresion del Deseo, Caetano’s production label with producer partner Gustavo Funes. Caetano and Funes will produce.

Caetano has completed a first-draft screenplay, and will look to put final touches to the script over Argentina’s summer holidays this Christmas.

“Mala” will be -- in Caetano’s words -- “a highly melodramatic and very bloody erotic thriller,” which harks back in style to Caetano’s “Red Bear.” Pic turns on a young woman who’s abandoned in adolescence by her b.f. and begins to kill -- to order -- men who exploit or abuse women -- pimps and wife beaters.

“Rosario is a kind of Robin Hood for abused women,” said Oreiro.

“Mala” acquires a road movie element when Rosario goes on the run to escape from a cop who’s attempting to blackmail her, she added.

To shoot in several Argentine provinces, “Mala” is skedded to roll fall 2010.

The thriller marks yet another career turn for Caetano, one of Argentina’s most versatile directors.

“I like to range from film to film: If not, I get bored,” Caetano told Daily Variety. He segued from Cannes competish contender “Buenos Aires 1977,” a jailbreak thriller with a political underbelly, to the more personal “Francia,” a chronicle of a dysfunctional couple seen through the rose-tinted glasses and pop culture sensibilities of their young daughter.

“Francia,” which screens Sunday at Ventana Sur, won the special jury award at the recent Huelva Ibero-American Festival, having taken a special mention in September at San Sebastian’s Latinos Horizontes competish.

“Mala” also continues Caetano’s creative relationship with Oreiro, who played the mother in “Francia” and is advising on “Mala’s” screenplay.

The next film for Oreiro -- who is a Latin Grammy-nommed singer for record “Your Poison” -- will be Martin Sastre’s pop comedy “Miss Tacuaembo,” about a 10-year-old girl dreaming of winning a talent contest when she grows up. Pic is produced by Uruguay’s Oriental Films and Spain’s Cool Shot Films.

Ventana Sur opens in Argentina (Variety)

BUENOS AIRES -- Three films from Latin American new talent powerhouses -- Esmir Filho’s “The Famous and the Dead,” Pablo Stoll’s “Hiroshima” and Gerardo Tort’s “Round Trip” -- have been added to screenings at Ventana Sur, which opens biz Friday.

Produced by Sara Silveira’s Dezenove Films in Sao Paulo, “Famous,” Filho’s awaited teen-trauma tale and debut, took best picture and a Fipresci nod at Rio de Janeiro in October.

The latest pic from Fernando Epstein’s Control Z in Montevideo, “Hiroshima,” the first solo feature from Uruguay’s Stoll (“Whisky”), chronicles one day in a teen’s life.

Almost dialogueless until a finale outburst, “Hiroshima” world-preemed in Toronto’s Visions.

Produced by Mexico’s Jaime Romandia, using his new, more-mainstream shingle Cadereyta Films, “Round Trip,” a femme road movie from Tort (“Streeters”), won Guadalajara’s top Mexican prize in March.

The Cannes Festival’s first overseas mart, in a joint venture with Argentina’s Incaa Film Institute, and with substantial financing from the E.U.’s Media Program, Ventana Sur opens Thursday evening with high expectations and aflood with participants, celebrating a cocktail in Buenos Aires’ river-side Sheraton Hotel.

An hour later, Cannes delegate general Thierry Fremaux will open a European Film Week playing at a Cinemark plex in chic uptown Palermo.

Mart organizers -- the Cannes Marche and Incaa -- had expected 500-600 participants. Accreditations were running at 1,392 through Wednesday, said Incaa’s Bernardo Bergeret, who co-directs the mart with Cannes Marche’s Jerome Paillard.

A disembarkment of 200-plus foreign sales agents, distributors and TV acquisition execs has sparked a large influx from Latin America, principally from hometurf Argentina.

That may help spike regional sales, a problem in the past.

“Latin American films are -- in the main -- bought and distributed in Europe. Latin American markets, being smaller, don’t stir such interest,” said Incaa prexy Liliana Mazure.

“The problem of Latin America is one of a lack of communication. We have to support Ventana Sur and take advantage of the opportunities it offers,” said Argentine Juan Pablo Gugliotta, who will use Ventana Sur to move “Ardor,” the third film from Pablo Fendrik (“The Mugger,” “Blood Appears”).

“It’s the starting point for what may turn into a hub for Latin American producers and European, Asian and American buyers,” said Eduardo Costantini at Buenos Aires’ Costa Films.

It remains to be seen how many of the big Latin American players will roll into Ventana Sur for its first edition. Certainly, the opportunities it presents are large.

From Friday through Sunday, Ventana Sur screens 48 completed Latin American films, principally for foreign distributors, at Buenos Aires’ plush Cinemark Puerto Madero eight-plex, in the redeveloped old dock district.

Meanwhile, sales agents will be fishing further upstream, in film terms, viewing rough-cuts of 12 Latin American pics at a Primer Corte showcase, or huddling with Latin American producers on projects still in development.

According to Gugliotta, an average-budgeted Argentine film costs around $1.1 million. Argentina -- in a mix of subsidies and local revenues -- can account for 70% of a film’s budget. A distribution deal for France would cover 10%-15% of a film’s budget, half the financing gap.

For Ventana Sur to be effective and sustainable, “it needs a volume of business and to not just be a gathering for meetings,” said sales agent Guido Rud at Argentina’s FilmSharks Intl.

Deals have been struck in the run-up to the mart.

And the advantage of a French connection was clear Wednesday as Doc Buenos Aires, a three-day documentary forum, kicked off for the first time as a joint venture with France’s Sunny Side of the Doc.

Five docu productions were pitched before a packed audience to a team of commissioning editors imported by Sunny Side, including Arte France’s Michel Reilhac and Christilla Huillard-Kann, LPB/PBS’ Patricia Boero, Roberto Blatt at Spain’s Multicanal and Ritva Leino at Finland’s YLE Teema.

From editors reactions, at least two Latin American projects -- Fernando Perez’s “Cedron” and Juan Pablo Lattanzi’s “Desert” --- can hope for fast-track completion financing from abroad.

Ventana Sur runs Nov. 27-30.

Entrevista a Thierry Frémaux (Clarín)

"Goodbye Solo", de Ramin Bahrani (crítica)

Awards Countdown: foreign-language films (Screen)

Sixty-five films have been submitted for the foreign-language film Academy Award category this year but the Globes and Baftas might well recognise some of the films that failed to make the Academy cut, writes Mike Goodridge.

This year’s foreign-language film category for the Academy Awards is missing a few more notable films than usual, and it is not the fault of the Academy but of the countries.

The submissions list, which is already limited in that it allows only one film per country, omits some of the year’s best films — City Of Life And Death from China, which won at San Sebastian; Lebanon from Israel, which won at Venice; The Maid from Chile, which won Sundance’s world dramatic competition; Dogtooth from Greece which won Un Certain Regard at Cannes; Broken Embraces from Spain and Vincere from Italy, which were in Competition at Cannes; and Euro box-offi ce smash The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo from Sweden.

The same category in the Golden Globes and Bafta can pick up these films as nominees, so it will be a point of interest to see how different the three awards are in the fi nal analysis.

That said, the 65 films submitted for the Oscars will yield a shortlist, first of nine, then whittled down to the final five, which should encompass the two great masterpieces from Cannes this year — Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon and Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet — alongside some of that festival’s most notable successes : Police, Adjective (Romania), Ajami (Israel), I Killed My Mother (Canada) (pictured), Mother (Korea), Samson And Delilah (Australia) and The Misfortunates (Belgium).

Then there is the Berlin Golden Bear winner The Milk Of Sorrow from Peru and one of the Berlinale’s best films this year, Asghar Farhadi’s About Elly from Iran. And it might not have received the warmest reviews in Venice but you cannot rule out Giuseppe Tornatore’s Baaria.

The director’s sentimental style has always appealed to Academy voters and even his last film, the uneven thriller The Unknown Woman (La Sconosciuta), made it to the fi nal nine in 2007. Other films of note from the second half of the year include Juan Jose Campanella’s box-offi ce hit The Secret In Their Eyes from Argentina, which played Toronto and San Sebastian; and Fernando Trueba’s The Dancer And The Thief from Spain, which had its world premiere in San Sebastian. Both films star Ricardo Darin and both directors have a strong Oscar history.

As part of our awards countdown coverage, Screen caught up with some of the film-makers who stand a strong chance of scoring recognition across all awards bodies.

Could Michael Haneke win an Oscar or could the man he beat to the Palme d’Or, Jacques Audiard, take gold instead? Will the Academy’s conservative membership opt for more traditional, less edgy films such as The Secret In Their Eyes or Baaria? And will some foreign-language films of note, such as Sin Nombre or Coco Before Chanel, simply fall through the cracks?

Screen International brings you six of the directors of this year’s Oscar-nominated foreign-language films.


Michael Haneke


Michael Haneke came to The White Ribbon after he had made his English language remake of Funny Games in the US, which, he says, was not his favourite working experience. “For a control freak like me, the US was a very difficult country to work in,” he says. “I didn’t feel in control with the language and… we were under-financed and needed more money.”

So he was not prepared to compromise on his German epic, a script he had written as a threepart TV series 20 years ago and which “ended up in a drawer”. The $17.9m (€12m) production was to be shot in black and white with no major stars. “Yes, it was expensive, but the success of [2004 hit] Hidden (Caché) helped get it financed,” he says.

For the first time, Haneke asked for assistance with his screenplay, enlisting Jean-Claude Carriere to help him cut 20 minutes from the script. “After two afternoons’ work, we had it down to two and a half [hours]. It’s the first time I have ever cut anything. I normally always write to the right length.”

Haneke spins myriad mysteries in The White Ribbon but eschews conventional answers. “You can’t offer answers and solutions,” he says. “You should assume people are more intelligent than that. People always ask me about the videotapes in Hidden but that is the least important element in the film.”

But he does concede that the film shows a time in Germany in which the seeds of fascism were being sown. “I’m not offering an explanation for fascism but showing the conditions from which it can arise,” he says.

The Palme d’Or win at Cannes was, he says, useful because it makes the financing conditions easier for his next film, but he also expresses pleasure in the award which had been denied to him when Hidden, The Piano Teacher and Code Unknown played in Competition. “It is always nerve-wracking,” he says, “because you have to wait until the last day to find out.”

The Austrian director is now representing Germany in the foreign-language Oscar category, a race for which he was excluded with Hidden since it was deemed neither French enough nor Austrian enough by the Academy. So to which country does he feel he belongs? He smiles before answering. “I belong to the country of Haneke,” he says.

By Mike Goodridge

Jacques Audiard


Wearing a pork-pie hat on a rainy London morning, Jacques Audiard explains that for him, “a film only exists if it has a rapport with what I see in the street”. Looking for a project to follow his critically acclaimed The Beat That My Heart Skipped, Audiard says hewas at an impasse. Later, on the phone from Paris, he explains: “When that happens, I think about casting.”

Audiard had in fact already linked up with scriptwriter Abdel Raouf Dafri, who was working on a story that would become A Prophet, when he found his inspiration.

Visiting Dafri on the set of another film, Audiard sat in the backseat of a car and found himself next to Tahar Rahim, who would go on to star in the film. “When I saw him, it was love at first sight. The only problem with that is that you don’t want to believe the first person you see is the person you’ve been looking for. I don’t know how I would have done this film if he didn’t exist. Sometimes I wake up in a cold sweat thinking about it.”

But A Prophet, which had a lengthy gestation period — Audiard and Nicolas Peufaillit wrote the screenplay from an original work by Dafri along with Thomas Bidegain — did come together and has gone on to even greater acclaim than his last film. A Prophet took the Grand Jury prize at Cannes this year and is France’s Oscar entry this year. Audiard does not love the label though. “It’s a bit heavy to say I’m representing France,” he laughs.

Still, awards do mean something to him. “They move me, but when I get a prize like in Cannes I think about the people I’ve seen get these prizes before me. I thought about Wim Wenders and Martin Scorsese in Cannes this year and I thought, ‘They were up here too,’ and, ‘No, you must have made a mistake.’”

Regarding the international roll out of A Prophet, Audiard allows that it is important to know his films travel. “I fell off my chair the other day when someone told me foreign films only make up 2% or 3% of films released in the UK, so it’s quite a big deal to be part of those 2% or 3%. There’s nothing more moving for me than to do something about a specific issue that gives something back to someone in Asia or America… We make films to communicate, after all.”

By Nancy Tartaglione

Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani


“Scandar Copti and I worked seven years on this project and up to our first screening, in Cannes’ 2009 Directors’Fortnight, we had some of the best and most experienced professionals telling us why this film couldn’t possibly work,” says Yaron Shani, one of the two debutant writerdirectors of Ajami.

However, the clash between Jews, Christians and Muslims in a Jaffa slum, which could serve as a microcosm for Israel as a whole, received a special mention from Cannes’ Camera d’Or jury, going on to pick up awards in Jerusalem, Valencia, London, Montpellier, Ghentand AFI Fest in Los Angeles and, most recently, Thessaloniki.

“After Cannes, there were no doubts any more,” concedes Shani. “Israeli reports from Cannes were still relatively subdued, but once the film was shown and awarded in Jerusalem, even the most severe film critics went into unexpected superlatives.”

It was not just the critics who were impressed: Ajami won all the major prizes from the Israeli Film Academy, beating Venice winner Lebanon. Having taken the film to a number of international festivals, Shani was surprised to discover the political subtext of the picture, which “may have opened doors for us”, was secondary to its success.

“Everywhere I went, audiences and the press were far more seeing a good movie.” Naturally, most interviewers asked about an Arab (Copti is an Arab-Israeli, born in the Ajami neighbourhood of Jaffa) and an Israeli (Shani is an Israeli Jew) working together, but wondered even more at the remarkable results they obtained from a cast of non-actors.

When Israel’s two leading distributors originally passed on the film, Shani, with Ajami’s producer Mosh Danon and talent agent Ilan Zeller, set up a distribution company called Yuval to release it in Israel. In its first six weeks, the film has reached 120,000 admissions — a major hit in Israeli terms. “Originally there was no great enthusiasm among local distributors and by the time the picture swept over audiences in Jerusalem and better offers came up, we had our own operation going,” he explains.

The US release is planned for January through Kino International.

Shani has not yet discussed the future with Copti, but while he believes each should develop an identity of his own, he admits the chance to work together again would “be wonderful, given the special relationship we have”.

By Edna Fainaru

Bong Joon-ho


South Korea’s Oscar entry is Bong Joon-ho’s thriller about a desperate mother out to prove her son’s innocence when he is accused of murder.

A director with a sharp and humorous point of view, known for playing with genre conventions while satirising social ones, Bong’s previous works include Memories Of Murder, based on a series of unsolved killings that terrorised 1980s Korea; and The Host, a thriller which sees a dysfunctional family battle a river monster. Both were record breaking hits on their Korean release and won critical acclaim at home and abroad, playing international festivals such as San Sebastian and Cannes.

With Mother, Bong says he was again trying to break open stereotypes. “I’d always wanted to work with Kim Hye-ja, and I made this film specifically for her. The actress is herself a ‘mother’ icon in Korea, so I decided to confront that head on.

Whether it’s by breaking down themes or stories, I like doing things other people don’t. The ‘mother’ theme or the subject matter is usually portrayed as warm, but I went the opposite direction to show what extremes motherhood could go to. I wanted to portray a mother speeding recklessly with her brakes undone.”

Mother made its world premiere in Un Certain Regard at Cannes before screening at further international festivals including Toronto and New York. “Cannes was the first time I showed the film publicly so I was nervous about the reviews, but all the major publications received the film well. It was also gratifying to go to places where they didn’t know Kim Hye-ja or Korean Wave star Won Bin [in the role of the son], and have people laud their performances.”

Locally, although the film’s 3 million admissions were not close to his previous record-breakers, Mother drew the best reviews of his four films.“

But the online reactions were mixed, remembers Bong. “Young male viewers anticipating something else from my previous films said it was too heavy — one called it ‘a film I wouldn’t want to see with my mother’. Others said it was a masterpiece surpassing Memories and The Host. I think for a film of its size, Mother had a good round.”

Much ado has been made of Mother’s Oscar submission, but the director remains level-headed: “It’s just one out of 60-something submissions. People have told me not to be without hope since the extreme mother theme is one that works in so many cultures — with the Jewish mother, the Italian mother and so on.

It seems to be doing alright in Japan, and I’m looking forward to its release in the UK, US, France and Germany.”

By Jean Noh

Espen Sandberg and Joachim Roenning


With the $10m Second World War epic Max Manus now the highest-grossing Norwegian film for 30 years and its subsequent entry as the country’s foreign-language Oscar candidate, its directors Espen Sandberg and Joachim Roenning have come a long way from making short films and music videos on Roenning’s father’s video camera.

After attending the Stockholm Film School and completing their yearlong national service — where they made “propaganda” films — they continued to work together (under the name Roenberg) on commercials, music videos and short films before making their debut feature — Bandidas starring Penelope Cruz — in 2006. The script for Max Manus came to them through leading Norwegian producer John M Jacobsen. Actress Liv Ullmann brought it to Jacobsen’s attention after the writer Thomas Nordseth-Tiller (who tragically died of cancer earlier this year aged just 28) took part in a pitching contest at the Kosmorama Trondheim International Film Festival in 2006.

The real Max Manus is a legend in Norway for his work as a saboteur during the Second World War, including missions to blow up German ships at Oslo docks. He evaded capture and received training in England before returning to Norway to work undercover. He died in 2006.

Funding for the film came from a variety of state film funds, including $3.1m from Norwegian Film as well as contributions from Germany and Denmark, and distributor Trust Nordisk, which handled the film’s local release.

Aksel Henning, perhaps Norway’s biggest movie star, was cast in the lead and he is understood to have turned down several parts in order to play the role. As Manushimself placed great emphasis on friendship and loyalty, it was important to ensure the wider cast of friends and co-saboteurs was exactly right, which proved a bigger challenge for the directors. The 49-day shoot took place predominantly in Oslo with a week in Scotland and just four days on a sound stage. However, it was the postproduction work, where CGI scenes of ships being blown up were added that concerned the directors. “At that point, we hadn’t seen really good photo-real effects in Norwegian films,” explains Sandberg.

“We worked with just about all of the post-production houses in Oslo and they did a top-class job.” Max Manus was released in Norway on December 19 last year to major local success — a quarter of the population saw it at the cinema — and it has since screened at a number of festivals, including Toronto. “A pivotal moment for us,” says Roenning, “was showing it to Tikken [Max’s widow] and Gunnar [Sonsteby, the only key character in the film still alive]. It was the most nervewracking part of the whole process. They said it took them right back.”

By Caroline Parry

Giuseppe Tornatore


Tornatore is no stranger to the foreign language Oscar category. He won in 1989 for Cinema Paradiso and was nominated again in 1996 for The Star Maker, but a nomination for his latest film, Baaria, would perhaps mean the most to him since it is his most personal film to date.

The Sicilian saga is a tribute to Tornatore’s hom town, Bagheria, in Palermo province where he lived until he was 28. But Baaria is not a true story, Tornatore explains. “Some of the characters are inspired by real people and others have been created from multiple real people. And then some are completely invented. The lead character of Peppino is in some aspects inspired by my father but is mostly fictional. If there is any autobiographical element to the film, it is in Peppino’s son who wants to become a photographer.” The saga follows Peppino from his childhood as a street kid in the 1930s to old age and also tells the story of the town that grows around him.

“The one thing I didn’t want to do was make a historical film,” he says. “I didn’t think it was necessary. My vision was to tell the story of a small town and take it through an enormous amount of time to show that time is fleeting. I wanted to play with time to tell the story of a century in a short span and signify that time doesn’t exist, that it’s possible for a father and a son to cross each other in the same time.”

So Tornatore avoided using any historical facts about Sicily. “It was just the echo of time that interested me,” he says. The film does, however, address the dream of communism that grew up in Italy after the Second World War. “It served as a point of passion after World War Two,” says Tornatore.

“Peppino is a communist but at the end of his life he realises his political dream never really came to fruition. The only goals in his life that worked were in his private life.” Tornatore shot the epic film for 17 weeks in Tunisia (and a further eight weeks in Sicily), slowly constructing the town of Bagheria (pronounced ‘Baaria’ in local slang) as it grows throughout the century. “I was able to realise everything in Tunisia,” he says. “What we couldn’t shoot in Sicily we were able to construct from scratch. It’s like if you take Fifth Avenue from today, you couldn’t shoot a movie there that takes place in the 1920s. In this movie, I reconstructed my Fifth Avenue in the 1920s.”

By Mike Goodridge

The complete Oscars Foreign Language Film selection list.

Dir: Artan Minarolli

The Secret In Their Eyes
Dir: Juan José Campanella

Autumn Of The Magician
Dirs: Ruben Kevorkov, Vahe Kevorkov

Samson & Delilah
Dir: Warwick Thornton

For A Moment, Freedom
Dir: Arash T. Riahi

Beyond The Circle
Dir: Golam Rabbany Biplob

The Misfortunates
Dir: Felix van Groeningen

Zona Sur
Dir: Juan Carlos Valdivia

Dir: Namik Kabil

Time Of Fear
Dir: Sergio Rezende

The World Is Big And Salvation Lurks Around The Corner
Dir: Stephan Komandarev

I Killed My Mother
Dir: Xavier Dolan

Dawson, Isla 10
Dir: Miguel Littin

Forever Enthralled
Dir: Chen Kaige

The Wind Journeys
Dir: Ciro Guerra

Dir: Antonio Nuic

Fallen Gods
Dir: Ernesto Daranas

Czech Republic
Dir: Marek Najbrt

Terribly Happy
Dir: Henrik Ruben Genz

December Heat
Dir: Asko Kase

Letters To Father Jacob
Dir: Klaus Haro

A Prophet
Dir: Jacques Audiard

The Other Bank
Dir: George Ovashvilli

The White Ribbon
Dir: Michael Haneke

Slaves In Their Bonds
Dir: Tonis Lykouressis

Hong Kong
Prince Of Tears
Dir: Yonfan

Dir: Krisztina Goda

Dir: Oskar Jonasson

Harishchandrachi Factory
Dir: Paresh Mokashi

Harishchandrachi Factory
Dir: Paresh Mokashi

Jamila And The President
Dir: Ratna Sarumpaet

About Elly
Dir: Asghar Farhadi

Dir: Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani

Dir: Giuseppe Tornatore

Nobody To Watch Over Me
Dir: Ryoichi Kimizuka

Dir: Ermek Tursunov

Dir: Bong Joon-ho

Dir: Gytas Luksas

Dir: Nicolas Steil

Dir: Ivo Trajkov

Dir: Carlos Carrera

Dir: Nour-Eddine Lakhmari

Winter In Wartime
Dir: Martin Koolhoven

Max Manus
Dirs: Espen Sandberg, Joachim Roenning

The Milk Of Sorrow
Dir: Claudia Llosa

Grandpa Is Dead
Dir: Soxie H Topacio

Dir: Borys Lankosz

Doomed Love
Dir: Mario Barroso

Puerto Rico
Kabo And Platon
Dir: Edmundo H. Rodriguez

Police, Adjective
Dir: Corneliu Porumboiu

Ward No 6
Dirs: Karen Shakhnazarov, Aleksandr Gornovsky

St George Shoots The Dragon
Dir: Srdjan Dragojevic

Broken Promise
Dir: Jiri Chlumsky

Landscape No.2
Dir: Vinko Moderndorfer

South Africa
White Wedding
Dir: Jann Turner

Dancer And The Thief
Dir: Fernando Trueba

Sri Lanka
The Road From Elephant Pass
Dir: Chandran Rutnam

Dir: Ruben Östlund


Dir: Ursula Meier

No Puedo Vivir Sin Ti
Dir: Leon Dai

Best Of Times
Dir: Youngyoot Thongkongtoon

I Saw The Sun
Dir: Mahsun Kirmizigul

Afghan Star
Dir: Havana Marking

Bad Day To Go Fishing
Dir: Alvaro Brechner

Libertador Morales, El Justiciero
Dir: Efterpi Charalambidis

Don’t Burn It
Dir: Dang Nhat Minh