Sunday, December 30, 2007

2007 The List

Everyone does a top 10 list. I’m following suit, but I’m also doing my list of movies I missed out on for 2007. Some weren’t available in my area, and some I just never got around to.

I’m not ranking the films in any particular order (mostly because I keep changing my mind).

Here’s looking forward to 2008 and maybe catching up!



My Top Movies for 2007

Pan’s Labyrinth – Mexico

BabelMexico

Lives of Others – Germany

Four Minutes – Germany

El Violin – Mexico

Hands Off MississippiGermany

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer – Germany

Paprika – Japan

My Brother is an Only Child (Mio fratello è figlio unico) – Italy

Children of Men – Mexico

Love For Share – Indonesia

Films I missed out on in 2007

Memories of Matsuka – Japan

Yella – Germany

Red Like the Sky – Italy

Grave Decisions (Wer Früher Stirbt Ist Länger Tot) – Germany

The Counterfeiter –Germany

Winter Journey –Germany

Taxidermia –Hungary

The Unknown Woman (La Sconosciuta) – Italy

The Golden Door (Nuovomondo) – Italy

Along the Ridge (Anche libero va bene) – Italy

Letters From Iwo Jima – Japan

Hula Girls – Japan

Kala – Indonesia

Edge of Heaven (Auf der anderen Seite) – Germany

Thursday, December 20, 2007

European Film Promotion Names Nine Shooting Stars

An Italian, Hungarian and German were among nine Shooting Stars names by European Film Promotion – including two who starred in films during the FWSCI Film Series last month.

The nine will be honored at Feb. 11 at the Studio Hamburg Shooting Stars Award Ceremony during Berlinale, the Berlin Film Festival held in early February. Twenty-two were nominated for the recognition.

Germany’s Hannah Herzsprung the troubled pianist from Four Minutes, Italy’s Elio Germano (center) the young red-headed brother from My Brother Is an Only Child and Hungary’s Zsolt Nagy (bottom) who starred in Nosedive will be honored at the festival. Herzprung is slated to star with Nicole Kidman in Stephen Daldry’s The Reader – cementing her global status.

They’re joined by Romania’s Anamaria Marinca, 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days; the U.K.’s Andrew Garfield, Lions for Lambs and Boy A; Denmark’s Stine Fischer Christensen, After the Wedding; France’s Nicolas Cazale, The Grocer’s Son; the Netherlands’ Maryam Hassouni, Kicks; and Switzerland’s Joel Basman, Life for Sale.

The stars will meet international casting directors during the fest and their films will be showcased at the European Film Market. The award is part of the European Union’s media program.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Mexican film industry reaches agreement to promo local films

Variety reports that Mexican film producers, distributors and theaters have reached an agreement to promote and show locally produced films.

The agreements would in part lead exhibitors “to run more trailers, guaranteed minimum two-week runs, as well as an increased percentage of ticket sales for films from first- and second-time directors,” the paper reported

After the past couple years when Mexican cinema felt the boost of such films as Pan’s Labrynth, El Violin and Babel, it will take the agreements from local theaters to carry Mexican films. Without a commitment from venues, the Mexican film industry will continue to languish.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Berlinale to Honor Italian Director Francesco Rosi

The Homage of the 58th Berlin International Film Festival will be dedicated to the renowned Italian director Francesco Rosi. In his work, Rosi has critically reflected on political, economic and intellectual developments in Italy. Within the scope of the Homage, Francesco Rosi will receive the Golden Bear for Lifetime Achievement on February 14, 2008.

"With their explosive power, Rosi’s films are still persuasive today. His works are classics of politically engaged cinema," comments Berlinale Director Dieter Kosslick on the Homage.

Francesco Rosi, who is now 85, has helped shape 50 years of Italian film history. The Berlinale Homage will present a selection of 13 films documenting Rosi’s oeuvre over the decades. With the film Salvatore Giuliano (1961/62), he first found his own personal style and established himself internationally: the film won the Silver Bear for Best Director at the Berlinale in 1962 and will be screened at the Honorary Golden Bear award ceremony on February 14, 2008.

When Francesco Rosi made his directorial debut with La sfida (The Challenge) in 1958, he had already had years of experience as assistant director and screenwriter for several filmmakers, including Visconti. Neorealism defined his use of original locations and non-professional actors. In I magliari (1959, The Magliari) he drafted a realistic picture of rivalling Italian cloth salesmen in Hamburg, who were trying to make a place for themselves in the affluent West German society. In Salvatore Giuliano, Il caso Mattei (1971/72, The Mattei Affair, which won the Palme d'Or in Cannes) and Lucky Luciano (1972/73), he explored how economic and political power structures were intertwined with the Mafia. Set in his hometown of Naples, he exposed hushed-up building scandals in Le mani sulla città (1963, Hands Over the City), for which he received the Golden Lion in Venice. In the late 1970s, Francesco Rosi broke new ground, both aesthetically and thematically. In Cristo si è fermato a Eboli (1978/79, Christ Stopped at Eboli) and Tre fratelli (1980/81 Three Brothers), Rosi turned his attention to the inner lives of his characters. These films also mirrored the conflicts between Italy’s rich north and its poorer agricultural south - the latter presented in the archaically poetic landscape of Lucania in Cristo si è fermato a Eboli.

Francesco Rosi made his films with both Italian and international stars, including Gian Maria Volonté, Alain Cuny, Philippe Noiret, Rod Steiger and John Turturro. Rosi was also at all times responsible for the screenplays of his films – which he usually co-authored with a team of several writers; in addition, he did the research for his investigative films. On a number of films he collaborated with screenwriter Suso Cecchi d'Amico as well as with Raffaele la Capria and Tonino Guerra.

"Francesco Rosi’s films never fail to display great commitment and passion and still have an enormous impact today - a fact that underscores their greatness as works of art,” remarks Dr. Rainer Rother, Artistic Director of the Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen, which is responsible for the Homage.

Many of Rosi’s films on highly topical issues in recent Italian and European history have sparked fierce public debates. In his cinematic (re-) construction of authentic cases, he lays out the evidence and in so doing adds a historical dimension to events.
- Berlinale Press Office

Friday, December 14, 2007

'El Violin' Takes New York Bow


After its regional debut in Fort Worth as part of the Fort Worth Sister Cities Film Series during the Lone Star International Film Festival, El Violin premiered last week in New York City.

The first full-length film by director Francisco Vargas is a Mexican film set during the 1970s during a period of revolutionary uprisings.

The beautifully shot, black-and-white film was popular among Fort Worth filmies during the FWSCI Film Series.

Check out the review from the New York Times.

The film is set for a wider distribution in Texas and the United States after the first of the year.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Let Award Season Begin

Scene from "My Brother is an Only Child".

Golden Globe Nominations Announced
So The Golden Globe nominations from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association came down today and no films from our Sister City countries were nominated. Boo.
So those of us who saw three spectacular and eligible films during the FWSCI Film Series and Lone Star International Film Festival last november have reason to to be annoyed.
Ignored were Vier Minuten (Four Minutes) from Germany, Mio Fratello (My Brother is an Only Child) from Italy and Taxidermia from Hungary.
I was hoping View Minuten would make the cut and am a little surprised that Taxidermia didn't either. Taxidermia is Hungary's nominee for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and Vier Minuten received the best picture award at the German Lola Awards this summer.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Four Minutes (Vier Minuten) - Germany

Jenny is young. Her life is over. She killed someone. And she would do it again.
When an 80-year-old piano teacher discovers the girl’s secret, her brutality and her dreams, she decides to transform her pupil into the musical wunderkind she once was.

In feverish images, Director Chris Kraus’s second feature film Four Minutes tells the story of an impossible relationship.

For more than sixty years, aged pianist Traude Krüger has been teaching piano at the women’s prison. But she’s never met someone like Jenny, a killer beating everything around her to a pulp just to amuse herself. But Jenny used to be a great musical talent. And she still is under her impenetrable facade. She could manage to win a prestigious piano contest she is allowed to participate in despite her prison sentence. However, a contest is no challenge to someone who wants life to stand still.

Director Kraus is considered one of the most captivating young filmmakers in Germany. His debut Shattered Glass was the year 2002’s revelation, winning two Bavarian Film Awards, the German Screenplay Award, the German Award for Best Photography, the Golden Camera Award for lead actor Jürgen Vogel and the New Talent Award for best directorial effort.

Chris Kraus also wrote several screenplays for German celebrity directors like Detlev Buck (LiebesLuder – Bundle of Joy) and worked for Academy Award winners Pepe Danquart (C(r)ook) and Volker Schlöndorff (The Tin Drum II). His screenplays have garnered numerous awards.



Monday, October 22, 2007

This Just In: New DVD Releases

Apartment 1303, directed by Ataru Oikawa, 2007, Japan
While celebrating her new apartment with her friends, a young woman suddenly and inexplicably leaps from the balcony, killing herself. Unconvinced that it was a suicide, the victim's sister searches for the sinister truth behind the tragedy. Her investigation into the apartment reveals a dark history and the existence of an unspeakable, powerful evil. What fate awaits the next tenant in this tale of terror?

Autumn Moon (Qiu Yue ), directed by Clara Law, 1992, Japan
When Japanese tourist Tokio travels to Hong Kong, he unexpectedly begins a relationship with 15-year-old Wai, a Chinese girl who cares for her ailing grandmother. Wai invites Tokio for a home-cooked meal, sparking a new friendship. As her family prepares to immigrate to Canada, Wai forms a surprising bond with the young man. This tender coming-of-age story explores the differences in Asian cultures and the joys and sorrows of young love.

Carnival in the Night, directed by Masashi Yamamoto, 1982, Japan
Punk rocker Kumi Ota (Kumiko Ota) leaves her son with her ex-husband and embarks on a long, strange trip through the underbelly of early 1980s Tokyo in this mishmash of narrative and documentary from indie maverick Masashi Yamamota. Featuring a cast of locals from the Japanese punk scene, Yamamota's cult hit is shot in gritty 16 mm black-and-white. The film was an official selection at the Berlin International Film Festival.

The Third Heaven (Los 3 Cielos) directed by Octavio Gasca Holguin, 2007, Japan
The ghost of a young man observes and protects a living woman named Doris in this delightful Mexican drama. Though Doris can't see him, the ghost has fallen in love and spends his time keeping an eye on her as she goes about her daily life. Originally enchanted by her beauty, he grows to love her spirit as well, and as he waits for the eventual day when she'll join him in the afterlife, he considers the meaning of life and love.

Scrap Heaven, directed by Sang-il Lee, 2007, Japan
Humiliated and dejected by his failure to handle a bloody bus hijacking, desk cop Shingo (Ryo Kase) is easily coaxed by one of the victims, Tetsu (Jô Odagiri), into taking part in an underground revenge-for-hire operation. Scribbling on bathroom walls to advertise their business, Shingo and Tetsu journey down a dangerous path and discover who they truly are. Director Sang-il Lee's stylish thriller also stars Chiaki Kuriyama of Kill Bill fame.

Tequila 5, directed by Luis Monterrubio, 2005, Mexico
Love is like a shot of tequila -- strong, hot and intoxicating. For four lonely singles living in Monterrey, Mexico, love will not only make them drunk with passion, it will give them courage to do the impossible and experience something beautiful. That is, until the day love makes them desperate, miserable and downright crazy! Luis Felipe Ibarra stars in this modern-day romance where love tastes great, even when it's hard to swallow.

The Orchestra of Piazza Vittorio, directed by Agostino Ferrente, 2006, Italy
After rounding up musicians from a thriving immigrant neighborhood in Rome to create the eclectic Orchestra di Piazza Vittorio, filmmaker Agostino Ferrente captured their heartwarming individual stories in this captivating documentary. The film reveals that, for many members of the group -- which is made up of Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus and atheists from 11 countries -- making music is as second nature as breathing.

Traces of Stones (Spur der Steine), directed by Frank Beyer,1966, Germany
A married East German Communist Party secretary finds himself disgraced, his morals scrutinized and his career in shambles after his affair with a young woman is exposed. Meanwhile, a construction foreman -- who happens to be an outspoken critic of the government -- professes his love for the woman, sparking a complicated love triangle. Banned for 25 years, this 1966 drama released after Germany's reunification met with critical acclaim.

Mio Fratello e Figlio Unico

I'm anxiously awaiting info on "My Brother is an Only Child," our Italian film. The U.S. distributors are as well.

It's a couple weeks out and we need to get clips, images and text the media. We'll make it. It always comes together.

I'm really excited about this film. I have been since I first heard of it last spring. It, along with 'Vier Minuten', was one of the films I never figured we could land.

It's a little unnerving waiting to see what the public reaction will be to all of our films.

You know how tough it is to pick out the perfect film from the local video store? All the selections. Imagine going to Blockbuster to pick out some movies you'd like to show to all of North Texas.

So welcome to my world for the last couple months.

In the meantime, here's something I found in the 'Hollywood Reporter'.

http://fwsci-filmies.blogspot.com

My Brother Is an Only Child
Bottom Line: A fine and engaging study of two personalities, seemingly in sharp contrast, that prove awfully alike in the end.
By Kirk Honeycutt

May 23, 2007

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/awards_festivals/fest_reviews/article_display.jsp?&rid=9257


Daniele Luchetti keeps the story focused on people's inner lives.

CANNES -- Italian filmmakers have a unique facility for tracking the lives, loves and coming-of-age of a group of characters, usually families, through the social and political changes within Italy over a number of years.

Daniele Luchetti's "My Brother Is an Only Child" (Mio Fratello e Figlio Unico) is one of the better examples of the genre, focusing on a pair of brothers who struggle to make sense of the social turbulence of the 1960s and '70s.

For all the concentration on politics, the film isn't really political at all, but rather a fine and engaging study of two personalities, seemingly in sharp contrast, that prove awfully alike in the end. All the characters are immensely charismatic, and Luchetti shows a firm hand though a light touch in keeping the story focused on people's inner lives rather than the eye-catching turmoil that surrounds them. Theatrical prospects look promising throughout the world in specialty adult venues.

The two brothers, first seen at an early age in the small town of Latina in 1962, are enough to drive a mother crazy as they grow older. Manrico (Riccardo Scamarcio) is handsome and intelligent, a smart catch for any of the young women who eye him. But his younger brother, Accio (Elio Germano), is a born rebel, causing trouble at the seminary to which his parents have so misguidedly sent him. He questions everything with vigor as a self-righteous anger smolders within him.
Naturally, Accio is our protagonist in this script by Luchetti, Sandro Petraglia and Stefano Rulli, based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Antonio Pennacchi. Accio veers from the family when he senses his elder brother and sister, Violetta (Alba Rohrwacher), are the more favored.

He is thus susceptible to the poisonous blandishments of an unrepentant Fascist. He soon joins the party to the horror of his left-leaning, working-class family. While his elder brother gets involved in agitation for better working conditions and housing with communist organizations, Accio learns how to disrupt leftist protests and to smash things including, sometimes, people.

Manrico never accepts his brother's rightist politics, thinking -- correctly, as it turns out -- that this stems more from issues of personal insecurity and identity than conviction. What really unites but also divides the brothers is Manrico's new girlfriend, Francesca (Diane Fleri), with whom Accio has fallen madly in love.

Accio eventually loses his innocence with the wife (Anna Bonaiuto) of his Fascist mentor, but he still longs for Francesca. She is the one that, in a sense, draws him back to Manrico and his family, if only to argue politics with Francesca.

Meanwhile, as Accio grows repulsed at the Fascists' increasingly violent tactics -- especially when his brother and, later, sister get caught up in melees -- Manrico drifts into the dangerous fanaticism that Accio himself gave up, that of crime and terrorism.

Things play out in unexpected and dramatic ways in a terrific third act. For all the intriguing plot twists though, Luchetti remains firmly committed to all the action springing from characters.

In this regard, he is blessed with a terrific leading performance by Germano. The young actor convincingly conveys the shifting personal and political perspective as his character matures. You enjoy watching Accio grow and learn from life, in contrast to his brother who seems to regress as ideology engulfs him.

All tech credits gleam with professionalism, especially the camerawork by Claudio Collepiccolo, who often favors close shots of actors even when they are embroiled in hot and heavy action.


MY BROTHER IS AN ONLY CHILD
Warner Bros. and Cattleya in association with Babe Films and StudioCanal
Credits:
Director: Daniele Luchetti
Screenwriters: Sandro Petraglia, Stefano Rulli, Daniele Luchetti
Based on a novel by: Antonio Pennacchi
Producers: Bruno Ridolfi, Matteo De Laurentiis
Director of photography: Claudio Collepiccolo
Production designer: Francesco Frigeri
Music: Franco Piersanti
Costume designer: Maria Rita Barbera
Editor: Mirco Garrone
Cast: Accio: Elio Germano
Manrico: Riccardo Scamarcio
Francesca: Diane Fleri
Violetta: Alba Rhorwacher
Mother: Angela Finocchiaro
Father: Massimo Popolizio
Bella: Anna Bonaiuto
Running time -- 104 minutes
No MPAA rating

Sunday, October 14, 2007

"Vier Minuten" Makes Regional Debut at FWSCI Film Series


Sister Cities Adds 2007 Top German Movie to International Film Series

Fort Worth, TX (Oct. 10, 2007) – Fort Worth Sister Cities (FWSCI) today announced that “Vier Minuten” will join its spectacular line up for the Sister Cities Film Series, a sidebar event during the Lone Star International Film Festival in downtown Fort Worth, including one U.S. and four regional premieres.

“After months of negotiating, we’re proud to bring this film to Fort Worth and Texas,” said Steve Roth, Sister Cities film committee chairman. “It fits nicely with our other two German films, the U.S. premiere of ‘Hands Off Mississippi’ and the Contemporary Classic film ‘Run Lola Run’.”

‘Vier Minuten’ won Best Picture at the Germany Academy Awards this summer and was surprisingly edged out as the country’s entry in the Best Foreign Film competition here in the United States. Actress Monica Bleibtreu won a best actress LOLA award. Producers are currently marketing the film as a candidate for a Golden Globe.

Movies in the Fort Worth Sister Cities Film Series represent six of Fort Worth’s seven international Sister Cities: Trier, Germany; Budapest, Hungary; Bandung, Indonesia; Reggio Emilia, Italy; Nagaoka, Japan; and Toluca, Mexico. Mbabane, Swaziland, the city’s seventh Sister City, will be honored during the festival with a reception hosted by The Africa Channel.

The Films
VIER MINUTEN (Four Minutes), directed by Chris Kraus, regional debut, Germany
HÄNDE WEG VON MISSISSIPPI (Hands Off Mississippi), directed by Detlev Buck, US debut, Germany
EL VIOLIN (The Violin), directed by Francisco Vargas, regional debut, Mexico
MIO FRATELLO E FIGLIO UNICO (My Brother is an Only Child), directed by Daniele Luchetti, regional debut, Italy
HORUMAIKA, documentary, directed by Shinichi Hashimoto, Japan
HANA YORI MO NAHO (Hana), presented by FUNimation Entertainment, directed by Hirokazu Koreeda, Japan
FEHER TENYER (White Palms), directed by Szabolcs Hajdu, Hungary
BERBAGI SUAMI (Love for Share), directed by Nia Di Nata, regional premier, Indonesia
“Contemporary Classic Film” LOLA RENNT (Run Lola Run), directed by Tom Tykwer, Germany

Swaziland has no film industry, and therefore is not represented with a feature film.
-more-
Page 2 of 2, FWSCI Film Series – Vier Minuten

A special pass for all eight Sister Cities Film Series movies is $45 (a $19 savings) and individual tickets are $8. Tickets for the FWSCI Film Series are on sale now at www.fwsistercities.org until Oct. 31, 2007. Beginning Nov. 1, tickets will be available via Lone Star International Film Festival and at theaters during the festival. The FWSCI Film Series will be presented at the AMC Palace Theater, 220 E. Third St., in downtown, Friday, Nov. 9 through Sunday, Nov. 11, 2007.

Additionally, Sister Cities will host cultural performances representing each of the seven Sister Cities from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 10 on the patio stage at 8.0 Bar and Cafe in downtown Fort Worth.

The annual Fort Worth Mayor’s International Dinner on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2007 will be the official kick-off event for Sister Cities during the Lone Star International Film Festival. Second City comedy group will be the featured entertainment. Second City alums include Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Mike Myers, Steve Carrell, Tina Fey, and Stephen Colbert. Come see tomorrow’s film and TV stars while they’re unknown. Tickets are $125 for individual tickets and can be purchased through Sister Cities at 817.392.2650.

The Lone Star International Film Festival runs Nov. 7 through Nov. 11 and promotes the work of emerging international filmmakers by providing resources to distribution and cutting edge technology. Through both competition and showcases, the Lone Star International Film Festival aims to cultivate global cultural awareness through the art of the moving image by selecting quality independent films, and showcase Fort Worth, Texas, as an international destination, highlighting both cultural and professional resources.

About the Lone Star Film Society
The Lone Star Film Society exists to preserve and present the art of the moving image and to examine its influence on world culture. LSFS is a 501(c) 3 non-profit corporation, dedicated to cultivating an appreciation of the Visual Arts; engendering visual literacy, supporting community efforts regarding the film; and to building recognition for Fort Worth as an international film destination. The LSFS supports its mission through a variety of activities including Classics at The Modern: Celebrity Choice, Lone Star Open Screen Night, Teen VideoFest, the Lifetime Achievement Award, and debuting November 07, the Lone Star International Film Festival. For more information call (817) 735-1117 or visit http://www.lonestarfilmsociety.com/.

About Fort Worth Sister Cities International, Inc.
Fort Worth Sister Cities International is a nonprofit citizen diplomacy network dedicated to creating and strengthening partnerships between U.S. and international communities in an effort to increase global cooperation at the municipal level, to promote cultural understanding and to stimulate economic development. Fort Worth Sister Cities include Reggio Emilia, Italy; Nagaoka, Japan; Trier, Germany; Bandung, Indonesia; Budapest, Hungary; Toluca, Mexico; Mbabane, Swaziland. For more information, call (187) 392.2650 or visit www.fwsistercities.org.

# # #

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sister Cities Announces Festival Film Series

FWSCI Film Series Boasts Fun & Thrilling
US & Regional Film Premieres and Live Entertainment

Fort Worth, TX (Sept. 27, 2007) – Fort Worth Sister Cities (FWSCI) today announced its line up for the Sister Cities Film Series, a sidebar event during the Lone Star International Film Festival in downtown Fort Worth, including three regional premiers.
“Sister Cities International has drawn on our global connections to bring fun and edgy films to Fort Worth for this series,” said Steve Roth, FWSCI film chairman. “Our goal is to show people that today’s foreign films aren’t stodgy. They’re exciting and eye opening. They’re where Hollywood often turns for tomorrow’s blockbuster.”
The films represent six of Fort Worth’s seven international Sister Cities: Trier, Germany; Budapest, Hungary; Bandung, Indonesia; Reggio Emilia, Italy; Nagaoka, Japan; and Toluca, Mexico. Mbabane, Swaziland, the city’s seventh Sister City, will be honored during the festival with a reception hosted by The Africa Channel.
The Films
• HÄNDE WEG VON MISSISSIPPI (Hands Off Mississippi), directed by Detlev Buck, US debut,
Germany
• EL VIOLIN (The Violin), directed by Francisco Vargas, regional debut, Mexico
• MIO FRATELLO E FIGLIO UNICO (My Brother is an Only Child), directed by Daniele Luchetti, regional
debut, Italy
• HORUMAIKA, documentary, directed by Shinichi Hashimoto, Japan
• HANA YORI MO NAHO (Hana), presented by FUNimation Entertainment, directed by Hirokazu Koreeda, Japan
• FEHER TENYER (White Palms), directed by Szabolcs Hajdu, Hungary
• BERBAGI SUAMI (Love for Share), directed by Nia Di Nata, regional premier, Indonesia
• “Contemporary Classic Film” LOLA RENNT (Run Lola Run), directed by Tom Tykwer, Germany
Swaziland has no film industry, and therefore is not represented with a feature film. A special pass for all eight Sister Cities Film Series movies is $45 (a $19 savings) and individual tickets are $8.
Tickets for the FWSCI Film Series are on sale now at http://www.fwsistercities.org/ until Oct. 31, 2007. Beginning Nov. 1, tickets will be available via Lone Star International Film Festival and at theaters during the festival. The FWSCI Film Series will be presented at the AMC Palace Theater, 220 E. Third St., in downtown, Friday, Nov. 9 through Sunday, Nov. 11, 2007.
Additionally, Sister Cities will host cultural performances representing each of the seven Sister Cities from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 10 on the patio stage at 8.0 Bar and Cafe in downtown Fort Worth.
“We’re providing a day of international excitement during the festival with our free performances,” said Peter Fekety, FWSCI Film Series entertainment chairman. “We wanted to bring the flair of the festival out of the theaters and into the streets. We’ll have everything from drummers to dancers.”
The annual Fort Worth Mayor’s International Dinner on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2007 will be the official kick-off event for Sister Cities during the Lone Star International Film Festival. Second City comedy group will be the featured entertainment. Second City alums include Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Mike Myers, Steve Carrell, Tina Fey, and Stephen Colbert. Come see tomorrow’s film and TV stars while they’re unknown. Tickets are $125 for individual tickets and can be purchased through Sister Cities at 817.392.2650.
The Lone Star International Film Festival runs Nov. 7 through Nov. 11 and promotes the work of emerging international filmmakers by providing resources to distribution and cutting edge technology. Through both competition and showcases, the Lone Star International Film Festival aims to cultivate global cultural awareness through the art of the moving image by selecting quality independent films, and showcase Fort Worth, Texas, as an international destination, highlighting both cultural and professional resources.
About the Lone Star Film Society: The Lone Star Film Society exists to preserve and present the art of the moving image and to examine its influence on world culture. LSFS is a 501(c) 3 non-profit corporation, dedicated to cultivating an appreciation of the Visual Arts; engendering visual literacy, supporting community efforts regarding the film; and to building recognition for Fort Worth as an international film destination. The LSFS supports its mission through a variety
of activities including Classics at The Modern: Celebrity Choice, Lone Star Open Screen Night, Teen VideoFest, the Lifetime Achievement Award, and debuting November 2007, the Lone Star International Film Festival. For more information call (817) 735-1117 or visit www.lonestarfilmsociety.com.
About Fort Worth Sister Cities International Inc.: Fort Worth Sister Cities International is a nonprofit citizen diplomacy network dedicated to creating and strengthening partnerships between U.S. and international communities in an effort to increase global cooperation at the municipal level, to promote cultural understanding and to stimulate economic development.
Fort Worth Sister Cities include Reggio Emilia, Italy; Nagaoka, Japan; Trier, Germany; Bandung, Indonesia; Budapest, Hungary; Toluca, Mexico; Mbabane, Swaziland. For more information, call (187) 392.2650 or visit http://www.fwsistercities.org/.


###

This Just In: New DVD Releases

Bitter Sweet (Nôkô furin: torareta onna), 2004, directed by Mitsuru Meike, Japan
When young Shoko (Konatsu) begins to have doubts about her impending marriage, she sets out to explore the boundaries of love by seducing and having an illicit affair with an older man (Hitoshi Ishikawa). This provocative and erotic study of love, betrayal and sexual awakening makes for a notable entry in the catalog of Japanese "pink" films. Yuya Matsuura, Rinako Hirasawa, Mutsuo Yoshioka and Kazuhiro Sano co-star.

A Woman Without Love (Una Mujer Sin Amor), 1951, directed by Luis Buñuel, Mexico
Married to an old and ailing antiques dealer (Julio Villarreal), lonely society wife Rosario (Rosario Granados) has an affair and becomes pregnant. She successfully hides the true identity of the child's father for 20 years -- until a large inheritance arrives for her son. Filmed in Mexico by master surrealist director Luis Buñuel, this melodrama is based on a short story by Guy de Maupassant.

Grandes Muralistas, 2004, Mexico
Art and politics converge in this dramatic exploration of two famous Mexican muralists, Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros. Commissioned by Nelson Rockefeller to paint a mural, the fiery Rivera ultimately saw it destroyed when he refused to remove a portrait of Communist Party leader Lenin. The film further canvases the work of Siqueiros, a socialist whose paintings were strongly influenced by the Mexican Revolution.

Leyendas Del Cine Mexicano: Vol. 2, 2004, directed by Luis Kelly, Mexico
Originally produced for television, these programs pay tribute to two of Mexican cinema's beloved stars: María Félix and Pedro Armendáriz. Known to her fans as La Doña, Félix enjoyed a long, celebrated career as an actress, a profession she came upon by accident. Similarly, Armendáriz made his start as a railroad worker and tour guide when a chance encounter with a film director led to movie stardom.

Robinson's Garden (Robinson No Niwa), 1987, directed by Masashi Yamamoto, Japan
A contemporary take on the Robinson Crusoe story, this lyrical Japanese drama takes place in Tokyo, where a young woman, Kumi, loses herself in an abandoned factory and the surrounding lush gardens she discovers on the edge of town. Entranced by the beauty she finds there, Kumi starts spending more and more time in this haunting paradise, until she withdraws completely from the world outside. Cutting-edge filmmaker Masashi Yamamoto directs.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

"Edge of Heaven" edges out "Vier Minuten"


We haven't even gotten to the Academy Awards and already I'm shocked.

I haven't even seen either movie, but somehow The Edge of Heaven snuck up on Golden LOLA winner Vier Minuten (Four Minutes) to be named Germany's entry for the Best Foreign Film Academy Award.

The German government made the announcement yesterday.

I've heard nothing but good things about The Edge of Heaven, the Best Screenplay winner and winner of the Award of the Ecumenical Jury at Cannes Film Festival this summer.

I guess what surprises me is the storyline and feel of Vier Minuten seems like a better fit for American audiences. Edge of Heaven is the story of a German father who marries a Turkish prostitute and the relationship between his son and the woman after the father dies. Vier Minuten is the story of a prison music teacher who finds a star pupil, who also happens to be serving a life sentence for murder.

Vier Minuten won the top prize (the Golden LOLA) at the Germany Academy Awards, as well as a Best Actress nod for Monica Bleibtreu

Meanwhile, Vier Minuten will console itself with a run for the Golden Globes, presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association

Let the battles begin.


THE EDGE OF HEAVEN Representing Germany in the Race for the OSCAR

The independent expert jury, appointed by German Films to select the German entry to compete for the 80th Academy Award for the Best Foreign Language Film, has – under the chairmanship of Dagmar Hirtz – chosen THE EDGE OF HEAVEN by Fatih Akin.

The jury on its decision: “Before a background of political and cultural differences in a globalized world, an exceptional love story and family story is told between Germans and Turks. The film convinces with its dramaturgical composition, visual arrangement and its emotional portrayal.”

The production by corazón international/Hamburg (producers: Fatih Akin, Andreas Thiel, Klaus Maeck), in co-production with NDR/Hamburg, Anka Film/Istanbul and Dorje Film/Rome had its world premiere in the international competition of the 2007 Cannes International Film Festival, where it won the prize for Best Screenplay and the Award of the Ecumenical Jury.

Fatih Akin on the jury decision: “I am extremely happy. What luck, that Tom Tykwer filmed PERFUME in English.”

THE EDGE OF HEAVEN was also screened in the official competition in Bangkok and at Cinemanila (winning the award for Best Film) and celebrated its successful North American premiere just recently at the Toronto International Film Festival.

World sales agent The Match Factory has already sold the film to over 50 territories, including France, Italy, Spain, UK, Japan, Korea, Australia, Argentina, Brazil and Canada.

THE EDGE OF HEAVEN will be released in German cinemas on 27 September 2007 by Pandora Filmverleih.

THE EDGE OF HEAVEN was supported by the German Federal Film Board (FFA), BKM, FilmFoerderung Hamburg, Filmstiftung NRW, Nordmedia, and the Kulturelle Filmfoerderung Schleswig-Holstein.

On 22 January 2008, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) will nominate five films from the international entries to participate in the final selection to compete for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The official awards ceremony will be held in Los Angeles on 24 February 2008.

Edge of Heaven

Vier Minuten

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Eduardo Lucatero

Corazon Marchito (Wilted Heart) 2007, directed by Eduardo Lucatero, Mexico
El (Mauricio Ochmann) is just like his friends, engaging in the time-honored traditions of falling in love, dating, breaking up, making up and breaking up again. Of course, now that he's found the perfect woman, Ella (Ana Serradilla), he expects that this time it'll be for real. Luis Fernando Peña, Ivan Esquivel and Fernanda Castillo co-star in writer-director Eduardo Lucatero's knowing romantic comedy.

Coleccion Pedro Infante: A Toda Maquina (A.T.M.: ¡¡A Toda Máquina), 1951, directed by Ismael Rodríguez, Mexico
Pedro Chávez (Pedro Infante) arrives in Mexico City, where he befriends Luis (Luis Aguilar), a cop with the city's elite motorcycle unit. Luis takes Pedro in and finds him a position with the police department and soon discovers he has competition for his job and his girlfriend (Aurora Segura). Infante did all his own motorcycle driving for this musical comedy, which features his signature tune, "Bésame Mucho."

Coleccion Pedro Infante: Los Tres Garcia, 1947, directed by Ismael Rodríguez, Mexico
Three cousins, Luis Antonio (Pedro Infante), José Luis (Abel Salazar) and Luis Manuel (Victor Manuel Mendoza), raised by a strict, cigar-chomping grandmother (Sara García), fall for their American-born cousin Lupita (Marga López). Their infatuation threatens to tear them apart, until Grandma steps in to solve the matter. Meanwhile, a specter from the young men's past returns to endanger the entire family.

Coleccion Pedro Infante: Los Tres Huastecos, 1948, directed by Ismael Rodríguez, Mexico
Separated after the death of their mother, the three Andrade brothers -- Juan, a priest, Victor, a soldier, and Lorenzo, a dangerous outlaw -- are unexpectedly reunited as adults, creating moral conflicts and cases of mistaken identity. Pedro Infante plays all three roles in this musical comedy directed by frequent Infante collaborator Ismael Rodríguez. Blanca Estela Pavón, María Eugenia Llamas and Fernando Soto co-star.

Coleccion Pedro Infante: Vuelven los Garcia, 1947, directed by Ismael Rodríguez, Mexico
In this sequel to Los Tres Garcia, the three Garcia cousins -- impulsive Luis Antonio (Pedro Infante), reserved José Luis (Abel Salazar) and worldly Luis Manuel (Victor Manuel Mendoza) -- are threatened by their family's rivals, the Lopez clan. Guided by their strict, cane-wielding grandmother (Sara García), the trio find themselves reluctantly drawn into a duel. Marga López and Rogelio A. González co-star.

El Mago (The Magician), 2004, directed by Jaime Aparicio, Mexico
Street magician Tadeo (Erando González) discovers he has a terminal illness and only a few months to live. Embarking on a personal journey of closure, he reconnects with those who have affected his life the most. He reaches out to his ex-wife, a dead friend's son, his blind assistant, a neighbor -- all in hopes of giving his final days a sense of meaning. Julissa, Gustavo Muñoz and Maya Zapata co-star in director Jaime Aparicio's moving drama.

In the Sight, 2006, directed by Koji Kawano, Japan
A woman stuck in an alternate reality must get to the bottom of a murder before she can return to her dimension in this eerie Japanese horror flick. During a stint in the hospital, a young lady crosses paths with a spectral boy who roams the halls endlessly and, after being released, she receives a mysterious e-mail that propels her into a parallel universe. Can she solve the mystery behind the youngster's demise and get back home?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Ang Lee Helms Venice Festival Upset

Raunchy Ang Lee film wins Venice festival's top award
Richard Brooks, Arts Editor

A sexually explicit film by the former Oscar winner Ang Lee won the coveted Golden Lion top prize at the Venice film festival last night. Lust, Caution is a Mandarin language espionage thriller which has already caused a stir with very graphic sex scenes.

Lee, who won the Golden Lion with Brokeback Mountain at Venice in 2005 before it went on to take Oscars, has argued that his film is “not pornography” although he did admit that it is not suitable for children.

The high hopes of many for the British film Atonement, starring Keira Knightley, were dashed, however — it won no awards.

There was some British success, including a prize for Paul Laverty, screenwriter for the Ken Loach film It’s a Free World.

Lee’s film, based on a novella by Eileen Chang, follows a Chinese woman in Japanese-occupied Shanghai during the second world war. She finds herself at the centre of a plot to seduce and kill a married enemy collaborator.

In America, where the film opens later this month, Lust, Caution has been given the NC17 rating. This can sometimes lead to only a limited release because many American cinema chains refuse to show such adult-only films for fear of putting off families.

The film also contains some violent scenes, especially one in which students stab and bludgeon a man to death graphically. It has already been announced that some of the sex scenes will be removed for the film’s release in China.

Lee is now acknowledged as one of the best and most versatile directors in the world. His output varies from Sense and Sensibility, based on the Emma Thompson screenplay of the Jane Austen novel, to The Ice Storm, a Hollywood story of suburban sexual politics. Other Venice winners include Cate Blanchett for her role as the young Bob Dylan in I’m Not There.


Ang Lee Film Wins Golden Lion at Venice Festival
By Iain Millar

Sept. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Ang Lee's Lust, Caution, an erotic thriller set in 1940s Shanghai, won the Golden Lion top prize at the Venice Film Festival, closing the 64th competition.

I'm Not There, a U.S. movie directed by Todd Haynes and inspired by Bob Dylan, and La Graine et le Mulet, a French film by Abdellatif Kechiche, shared the Special Jury Prize.

Accepting the award, Lee paid homage to Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, who died on July 30. ``When I was in preproduction, I visited Ingmar Bergman on his island,'' Lee said. ``He touched my face liked a mother touches a child. He hugged me. Tonight, I pass that hug to you.''

Brian De Palma was voted best director for Redacted, which is about the conflict in Iraq. "Prizes are always great because it helps your film to be seen,'' De Palma said. "But critics and prizes just tell you what the fashion of the day is. We don't make movies to win prizes.''

The award for best actor went to Brad Pitt for his performance in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, directed by Andrew Dominik. Cate Blanchett won the best actress prize for her role in I'm Not There.

"Cate turned what could have been a stunt into a compelling performance,'' director Haynes said.

Paul Laverty won the award for best script for It's a Free World' by Ken Loach, and Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci was presented with a special Golden Lion for his career. The seven- member jury was headed by Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou.

In this year's festival, 23 films vied for the Golden Lion, which last year went to Still Life' by the Chinese director Jia Zhang-Ke. Veteran French filmmaker Alain Resnais won the Silver Lion for best director in 2006 for Private Fears in Private Places.

The first Venice Film Festival was held in 1932. Among the earliest prize winners were directors Rene Clair and Rouben Mamoulian and actors Frederic March and Helen Hayes.

(Iain Millar is a critic for Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Hungary Selects 'Taxidermia' Academy Award Entry

LONDON (Hollywood Reporter) - Taxidermia, a controversial Hungarian film that both shocked and delighted critics and audiences when it premiered in Budapest last year, has been chosen as the Central European country's nomination for best foreign-language Oscar.
Gyorgy Palfi's second feature is a strange and disturbing parableAbout post-World War II Hungarian history featuring graphic representations of masturbation, overeating in the name of competitive Olympic "speed eating" and a shocking conclusion in which a man performs machine-assisted taxidermy on himself.
Taxidermia was the main prize winner at last year's Hungarian Film Week, and its world premiere came as part of Cannes' Un Certain Regard sidebar that same year.
Produced by Budapest-based Eurofilm Studio, headed by Peter Miskolczi and Gabor Varadi, the film also has picked up awards at the Chicago and Antalya Eurasia film festivals.The film, which is handled for world sales by Netherland's Fortissimo Films, has seen theatrical releases in parts of Europe and the U.K., with releases in the United States, the Far East and Middle East planned soon, Hungarian film body Filmunio said Thursday.

Visit HollywoodReporter.com for more ...

Oscar-winner Miyoshi Umeki dead at 78

TOKYO (Hollywood Reporter) -- Miyoshi Umeki, the first Asian to win an Oscar, died Aug. 28 at a nursing home in Licking, Mo. She was 78.
Umeki won the Academy Award for best supporting actress in 1957 after playing opposite Red Buttons in Sayonara, the screen version of the James Michener novel about a U.S. soldier who falls in love amid the chaos at the end of World War II.
Fated to be parted when he is ordered to return to the U.S., the pair commits suicide.
"This is a major loss to the Japanese movie industry," said Yuko Nakano, a spokeswoman for the Motion Pictures Producers Association of Japan.
Born in the northern city of Otaru in 1929, Umeki began her performing career by singing jazz numbers at military camps during the occupation.
After spells on radio and TV in Japan, she moved to the United States in 1955, when she quickly caught the attention of Sayonara director Joshua Logan.
Visit HollywoodReporter.com for more ...

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Germany selects finalists for entry at Academy Awards


German Films, the German film commission, today announced the seven German films that will compete for the country’s entry for the 80th Academy Award for the Best Foreign Language Film.
My early favorite for the German entry is Vier Minuten. The film won the Lola for best film in Germany this summer. The media and public have raved and everything I’ve read or seen about the film looks amazing.
A nine-person independent expert jury with representatives from the most important associations of the German film industry will decide after viewing the seven films which of them will be sent into the Oscar race for Germany.
The films are:
AND ALONG COME TOURISTS (AM ENDE KOMMEN TOURISTEN) by Robert Thalheim (23/5 Filmproduktion, Berlin)
THE EDGE OF HEAVEN (AUF DER ANDEREN SEITE) by Fatih Akin (corazón international, Hamburg)
THE HOUSE OF THE SLEEPING BEAUTIES (DAS HAUS DER SCHLAFENDEN SCHOENEN) by Vadim Glowna (Atossa Film Produktion, Berlin)
MY FUEHRER - THE REALLY TRUEST TRUTH ABOUT ADOLF HITLER (MEIN FUEHRER – DIE WIRKLICH WAHRSTE WAHRHEIT UEBER ADOLF HITLER) by Dani Levy (X Filme Creative Pool, Berlin)
STRIKE (STRAJK – DIE HELDIN VON DANZIG) by Volker Schloendorff (Provobis, Gesellschaft für Film und Fernsehen, Berlin)
FOUR MINUTES (VIER MINUTEN) by Chris Kraus (Kordes & Kordes Film, Berlin)
WINTER JOURNEY (WINTERREISE) by Hans Steinbichler (d.i.e. film, Munich)
The result will be made known by GERMAN FILMS on September 18 and must be submitted to the Academy in Los Angeles by October 1 at the latest.
The names of the selection jury have been published at www.german-films.de, German Films & the Academy Awards.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

In the Pit, 2006, directed by Juan Carlos Rulfo, Mexico
Monumental in scope -- and requiring Herculean toil -- Mexico City's Periférico freeway construction project employs hundreds of workers, a group as diverse as the myriad motorists who zip by the building site. Documentarian Juan Carlos Rulfo captures the laborers on the job -- and in moments of well-deserved repose -- as they strive to complete the ambitious structure, a project that ultimately reflects all human endeavor.

Ping Pong, 2002, directed by Fumihiko Sori, Japan
Starring Yosuke Kubozuka (Go, Laundry) & Naoto Takenaka (Shall We Dance). Two high school students, complete opposites, compete in an extreme sport version of ping pong. The eye popping special effects have been compared to The Matrix.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Reggio Emilia Announces Competitors

Reggio Film Festival 2007 has announced the entrants to its short movies competition for the sections Women (Donne) and Open (Spazio Libero) categories. The list is now online at http://www.reggiofilmfestival.com/.
The short movies Spazio Libero competing for the 2007 Festival will be screened in loop in some spots of Reggio Emilia (libraries, book shops, museums, pubs and bar) from September 17 to 23.
The public can vote for the favorite movie using the cards placed on the stands next to the "Punto Corto" spots. The most voted movies will be shown on September 29, the final day of ReggioFilmFestival.
There are 28 Italian, two German, and two American shorts competing in the Open Category.
The short movies included in the section Donne will be shown at Cinema Al Corso from September 27 to 29.
Therea are 19 Italian, three German and two American shorts in the Donne category.
The programme of events and projections will be available soon.
For any further information and hotel agreements please check on our site http://www.reggiofilmfestival.com/.

Friday, August 31, 2007

This Just In: New DVD Releases


Antibodies (Antikörper) 2005, directed by Christian Alvart, Germany
After confessed killer Gabriel Engel (André Hennicke) is captured, small-town cop Michael Martens (Wotan Wilke Möhring) interrogates him, hoping a journey into the madman's twisted mind will give clues to an unsolved murder committed in the same heinous manner as Gabriel's crimes. Gabriel claims to know the killer's identity but turns the investigation into a psychological game, leaving Michael questioning his own sanity in this German thriller.

Flower and Snake '74 (Hana to hebi), 1974, directed by Masaru Konuma, Japan
Frustrated by his lackluster sex life, businessman Senzô Tôyama (Nagatoshi Sakamoto) conspires to have one of his employees (Yasuhiko Ishizu) -- a sex shop owner's son -- kidnap Senzô's frigid spouse (Naomi Tani) and train her as a sexual submissive. But the domineering industrialist gets more than he bargained for in director Masaru Konuma's erotic, adults-only tale that explores the boundaries between sexual pleasure and perversion.

Great African Films: Vol. 1: Faraw! Mother of the Dunes, 1997, directed by Abdoulaye Ascofare
Director Abdoulaye Ascofare's drama follows Zamiatou (Aminata Ousmane), a mother who struggles to support her family in the wake of her husband's unjust incarceration. Life is already difficult in the desolate desert of Mali in Africa, but when her husband returns from prison a mentally and physically reduced man, Zamiatou will do anything to keep her two sons and daughter alive.

Great African Films: Vol. 2: Sia, the Dream of the Python (Sia, le rêve du python), 2004, directed by Dani Kouyaté
Dani Kouyaté's visually stunning film is an adaptation of a seventh-century African legend about a woman chosen as a sacrifice to a snake god to save a destitute village. The emperor picks the beautiful virgin Sia (Fatoumata Diawara) but no one tells her fiancé, Mamadi (Ibrahim Baba Cissé), about his lover's fate. Kerfa, a government leader with plans to oust the emperor, helps Sia and Mamadi, but can she live with being known as a traitor?

Great African Films: Vol. 2: Tasuma, The Fighter, 2004, directed by Daniel Kollo Sanou
In Daniel Kollo Sanou's comedy, Sogo (Mamadou Zerbo), a West African World War II vet, purchases a mill on credit believing he'd get paid his due pension. But when the money doesn't come through, Sogo finds himself in jail for not being able to pay off the mill. Having already waited over 50 years for his pension, Sogo joins in with the local women who come to his side in support.

Horrors of Malformed Men (Edogawa ranpo taizen: Kyofu kikei ningen), 1969, directed by Teruo Ishii, Japan
A medical student searching for his father discovers a deranged scientist on a remote island whose experiments combine humans and animals to produce terrifying creatures in this surreal and horrifying tale. The student soon unearths disturbing facts that link him to some appalling truths. Adapted from stories by horror author Rampo Edogawa and directed by Japanese exploitation auteur Teruo Ishii, the film remains banned in its native Japan.

Over at the Big Ranch (Allá En El Rancho Grande), 1936, directed by Fernando de Fuentes, Mexico
Poor ranch hand José Francisco (Tito Guízar) falls in love with homely girl turned beauty Cruz (Esther Fernández). Unfortunately, his boss, rancher Felipe (René Cardona), also adores her, and the resulting love triangle threatens José's job and their friendship. Director Fernando de Fuentes's romance launched the comedia ranchera genre, which combines Mexican folklore with musical comedy and melodrama.

Samba (Szamba ), 1996, directed by Róbert Koltai, Hungary
Larger-than-life Ottó Szamba (Róbert Koltai) is a theater actor in his small Hungarian village. Everyone in town loves him -- except his son Ottó Jr. (László Görög), who's so embarrassed by his hammy father that he shuns the stage. But when he enters college, the younger Ottó discovers he can't escape the acting bug. Koltai co-wrote and directed this satire on small-town attitudes and big-time egos, co-starring Éva Kerekes and Judit Pogány.

Snake Woman's Curse (Kaidan hebi-onna), 1968, directed by Nobuo Nakagawa, Japan
When a wealthy landlord causes the death of a poor farmer, enslaves the man's wife and daughter, and then kills a snake the wife was protecting, he unleashes the serpent's curse. Before long, the landlord finds himself being driven mad by deathly spirits as terrible misfortune rains down on his family -- including his son, whose young bride starts growing scales and green skin in this film from Japanese horror auteur Nobuo Nakagawa.

The Beautiful Washing Machine (Mei li de xi yi ji), 2004, directed by James Lee, Indonesia
Teoh's (Loh Bok Lai) secondhand washing machine has a personality as strong as that of his ex-girlfriend. After exploiting the temperamental appliance, Teoh sells her to the Wongs, whose son (Berg Lee) develops an attachment to her that causes a rift in his family. Teoh Kah Yong co-stars in writer-director James Lee's award-winning surrealist satire that's drawn comparisons with the work of visionaries such as Luis Buñuel and Jim Jarmusch.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Rome was Burning

Last week the world-famous Cinecitta movie studios in Rome was badly damaged by fire. The blaze broke out in the lots being used for filming the production "Rome," which tells the story of the rise of the great Roman empire. Flames said to be more than 40 metres high quickly destroyed a hangar which stored set decorations to be used in the production, and went on to attack other buildings.
Guido Parisi, Rome's fire chief, said: "The fire has destroyed the set of ancient Rome, an area more than 4,000 square metres."
Cinecitta is a huge complex of more than 40 hectares a few kilometres from the centre of Rome. Thousands of films have been made at Cinecitta, including William Wyler's "Ben Hur" in 1958, and Federico Fellini's "La Dolce Vita" and "Cleopatra" in the 1960s.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

This Just In: New DVD Releases

The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen ), 2007, directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, Germany
Set in 1980s East Berlin, director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's debut feature (which earned an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film) provides an exquisitely nuanced portrait of life under the watchful eye of the state police as a high-profile couple is bugged. When a successful playwright and his actress companion become subjects of the Stasi's secret surveillance program, their friends, family and even those doing the watching find their lives changed too.

Crazy Cartoons, 2006, directed by Juan Miguel Figueroa Vega, Mexico
This compilation features more than 50 maniacally funny shorts from Mexico's CineFilms Animation Studios, the outfit spearheading Mexico's animation renaissance. Fans of "Beavis and Butt-Head," "The Simpsons" and the faux cartoon "The Itchy and Scratchy Show" will not be disappointed with this delightful collection, which includes episodes from four south-of-the-border series: "Cimerias," "Dobos," "Obeso" and "La Prepa."

Human Beings (Seres Humanos ), 2002, Mexico
After struggling for years to ignore their agony, a seemingly successful Mexican couple slips into despair a decade after the accidental death of their young daughter in this complex examination of the value of family. Dulce (Clarissa Malheiros), the mother, is a popular celebrity who's unable to reconcile her increasing popularity with the tragedy in her past, while her husband, Derek (Rafael Sánchez Navarro), retreats into a quiet insanity.

The Castle (Das Schloss ), 1997, directed by Michael Haneke, Germany
When land surveyor K. (Ulrich Mühe) arrives at a small village that houses a castle, local authorities refuse to allow him to enter. As he tries to convince the officials that they sent for him, they clamp down with increasingly complicated bureaucratic obstacles. Directed by renowned European filmmaker Michael Haneke, this visually stunning adaptation of Franz Kafka's absurdist novel first aired on Austrian television.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

As You Like It Asian-style

Kenneth Branagh has returned with his fifth Shakespearean translation to film. As You Like It premieres Tuesday on HBO and stars Kevin Kline, Alfred Molina and Bryce Dallas Howard.

Branagh’s twist on this version is the setting: 19th Century Japan.

He developed the idea while meditating in Kyoto, Japan, several years ago.

"One of Shakespeare's most enduring plays," according to the LA Times, "As You Like It is set in the magical Forest of Arden, where the beautiful Rosalind (Howard), the daughter of a banished duke (Brian Blessed), is forced to flee her uncle's (also Blessed) court. Accompanying her on her journey is her cousin Celia (Romola Garai). Fearing she'll be discovered by her uncle's men, Rosalind disguises herself as a boy. The guise proves advantageous when she decides to test the love and devotion of her admirer Orlando (David Oyelowo), who has also been exiled from the court with his jealous brother (Adrian Lester) in pursuit and trying to kill him.

"Kline, who has played such Shakespeare heroes and villains as Falstaff, Hamlet and Richard III on the New York stage, plays the lonely, melancholic philosopher Jaques, who Shakespeare scholars believe represents the playwright himself."

Saturday, August 18, 2007

More Korda Coverage

Hungary's new tax breaks, facilities are key draws
By Nick Holdsworth
Aug 7, 2007

EYTEK, Hungary -- Sweeping fields of sunflowers dotted here and there with the smaller enclosures of Chardonnay-producing vineyards roll away from a sun-baked hilltop that sits above this small village 16 miles northwest of Budapest.
The chalky soil is good for the grapes -- the white wines of Eytek are among the best in Hungary -- and the panoramic vista from the hilltop offers uninterrupted views of green below and blue above stretching to the Buda hills far on the horizon.
Once home to Soviet ballistic missile silos, today the hillside has been cleared of its Cold War contamination of bunkers, machine oils and munitions and a new world is taking shape.



Friday, August 17, 2007

Garcia Bernal, Luna Gala for Human Rights

Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna, stars of Y Tu Mama Tambien, hosted a $300-a-plate gala dinner benefiting Mexico’s Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights and Witness.
Witness was founded by rocker Peter Gabriel to promote video and film that document human rights abuse.
"Documentaries show us the injustices in the country where we live, that this problem exists," Garcia Bernal told a news conference before the dinner. "We can't escape it."
Luna and Garcia Bernal, who recently launched the Canana production company, also want to use documentaries to raise awareness about failures of the Mexican judicial system, including the unsolved murders of more than 300 women in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, Texas.
"Each day it's harder to live in this country and in this city'' and turn a blind eye to the poverty and injustice, said Luna, who recently premiered his directorial debut Chavez, a documentary on the legendary Mexican boxer Julio Cesar Chavez

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Bond is Back

The next installment in the James Bond series is set to be filmed in Italy this Thursday in the Tuscan city Siena.
The scene is slated to coincide with the traditional barback horse race of Pulio through the town. As the race winds its way through the town, Bond – played by Daniel Craig – will be chasing his villain along the cobbled streets and across rooftops.
However, Craig isn’t likely to be around during the shoot. A helicopter crew will be filming overhead and Craig will likely be inserted into shots later.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Carved: The Slit Mouthed Woman (Kuchisake-onna) 2007, directed by Kôji Shiraishi, Japan
Three decades ago, a Japanese suburb was terrorized by the vengeful spirit of a woman in a surgical mask who asked victims, "Am I pretty?" before slaughtering them. Now, children in this community are disappearing again, leaving police and teachers to discover the reason and put an end to the new wave of carnage. Eriko Sato, Haruhiko Katô and Miki Mizuno star in director Kôji Shiraishi's terrifying chiller.

Graveyard of Honor (Shin Jingi No Hakaba) 2002, directed by Kinji Fukasaku, Japan
When Rikuo Ishimatsu (Goro Kishitani), a simple dishwasher, saves the life of a notorious yakuza boss, he's rewarded with a warm welcome into the criminal fold. Before long, Rikio has become a powerful gangster with several kills to his name. But has he also become a monster in the process? Controversial filmmaker Takashi Miike helms this bloody revamp of cult director Kinji Fukasaku's Japanese classic by the same name.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

This Just In: New DVD Releases

Perfidia (2007) directed by Christian Gonzalez, Mexico
Standed in a remote area, a gang of gun traffickers finds shelter at a widow's sprawling ranch in this crime thriller. The men decide to rob their wealthy host, but when strange events occur, the crooks start to lose their grip on reality. As their fear of the uknown increases, the men suspect that there's more than meets the eye when it comes to the mysterious woman. Roberto Ballesteros and Carlos Cardan star.

Falling (Fallen) 2006, directed by Barbara Albert
OK, so this isn’t a German film, it is in German with English subtitles. Five former high school friends -- now in their 30s -- reunite for a funeral. What begins as a sad gathering turns into a night of fun, bittersweet memories and surprising revelations in this drama from Austrian director Barbara Albert. The classmates --pregnant Nina, office worker Alex, prison parolee Nicole, actress Carmen and teacher Brigitte -- revisit the past, divulge present disappointments and face their fears about an uncertain future.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

"Lives of Others" Star Ulrich Mühe, 1953-2007

New York TImes
July 26, 2007
Ulrich Mühe, Film and Stage Actor, Dies at 54
By SARAH PLASS
FRANKFURT, July 25 — Ulrich Mühe, a popular German actor who won acclaim as a tormented Stasi officer in cold-war East Germany in the Oscar-winning film “The Lives of Others,” died on Sunday in his family home in Walbeck. He was 54.
The cause was stomach cancer, his family said. They said he was buried Wednesday in Walbeck, in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt, where he lived with his wife, the actress Susanne Lothar, and their two children.
Mr. Mühe officially confirmed he had cancer only in the last week, in an interview that first appeared in the online edition of the German newspaper Die Welt on Saturday. He said he first learned of his illness in February and underwent surgery shortly after the Academy Awards ceremony that same month, when “The Lives of Others” was named best foreign film.
The film, directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck and released last year, received many German and European movie awards, won rave reviews and attracted a worldwide audience. Mr. Mühe won Germany’s golden Lola Award as best actor.
He played Capt. Gerd Wiesler, an agent with the East German secret police, who is assigned to keep a successful playwright and his lover under constant surveillance, only to become fascinated by them and protective of them as he grows disillusioned with the Communist state.
Born in Grimma, in the eastern state of Saxony, Mr. Mühe established his acting career in East Germany’s thriving theater scene and furthered it in the reunified Germany, becoming a popular presence in television and film as well.
The East German playwright Heiner Müller, who died in 1995, discovered Mr. Mühe in 1979 while Mr. Mühe was performing in the East German city of Karl-Marx-Stadt, now Chemnitz. Mr. Müller took him to East Berlin’s renowned Volksbühne theater. Mr. Mühe later joined the ensemble at Deutsches Theater in 1983, where he became a celebrated actor.
This year, Mr. Mühe had a major supporting role in “Mein Führer: The Truly Truest Truth About Adolf Hitler,” a comedy by the filmmaker Dani Levy, which received a mixed reaction by German critics but did well at the country’s box office.
Besides Ms. Lothar and their two children, his survivors include three other children, one of whom is the actress Anna Maria Mühe, from his two previous marriages.
Last year, Mr. Mühe lost a highly publicized legal battle waged against him about his right to continue to refer to one of his ex-wives, the actress Jenny Gröllmann, as a former Stasi informant, an accusation she denied. Ms. Gröllmann died of cancer last year at the age of 59, before the matter was resolved.
Mr. Mühe fought against the government as one of several artists demonstrating before the Berlin Wall fell. On Nov. 4, 1989, shortly before the wall fell and before a half-million people on Alexanderplatz in East Berlin, he declared the Communists’ power monopoly to be invalid.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Michelangelo Antonioni dead at 94

ROME (AP) -- Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni, whose depiction of alienation made him a symbol of art-house cinema with movies such as ''Blow-Up'' and ''L'Avventura,'' has died, officials and news reports said Tuesday. He was 94.
The ANSA news agency said that Antonioni died at his home on Monday evening.
''With Antonioni dies not only one of the greatest directors but also a master of modernity,'' Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni said in a statement.
Antonioni depicted alienation in the modern world through sparse dialogue and long takes. Along with Federico Fellini, he helped turn post-war Italian film away from the Neorealism movement and toward a personal cinema of imagination.
In 1995, Hollywood honored his career work -- about 25 films and several screenplays -- with a special Oscar for lifetime achievement. By then Antonioni was a physically frail but mentally sharp 82, unable to speak but a few words because of a stroke but still translating his vision into film. The Oscar was stolen from Antonioni's home in 1996, together with several other film prizes.
His slow-moving camera never became synonymous with box-office success, but some of his movies such ''Blow-Up,'' ''Red Desert'' and ''The Passenger'' reached enduring fame.
His exploration of such intellectual themes as alienation and existential malaise led Halliwell's Film Guide to say that ''L'Avventura,'' Antonioni's first critical success, made him ''a hero of the highbrows.''
The critics loved that film, but the audience hissed when ''L'Avventura'' was presented at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival. The barest of plots, which wanders through a love affair of a couple, frustrated many viewers for its lack of action and dialogue, characteristically Antonioni.
In one point in the black-and-white film, the camera lingers and lingers on Monica Vitti, one of Antonioni's favorite actresses, as she plays a blond, restless jet-setter.
''In the empty, silent spaces of the world, he has found metaphors that illuminate the silent places our hearts, and found in them, too, a strange and terrible beauty: austere, elegant, enigmatic, haunting,'' Jack Nicholson said in presenting Antonioni with the career Oscar. Nicholson starred in the director's 1975 film ''The Passenger.''
Antonioni was born on Sept. 29, 1912, in the affluent northern city of Ferrara. He received a university degree in economics and soon began writing critiques for cinema magazines.
Antonioni's first feature film, ''Story of a Love Affair'' (1950) was a tale of two lovers unable to cope with the ties binding them to their private lives.
But Antonioni grew more interested in depicting his characters' internal turmoil rather than their daily, down-to-earth troubles. The shift induced critics to call his cinema ''internal Neorealism.''
After the international critical acclaim of ''L'Avventura,'' which became part of a trilogy with ''The Night'' (1961) and ''Eclipse'' (1962), Antonioni's style was established. He steadily co-wrote his films and directed them with the recognizable touch of a painter. His signature was a unique look into people's frustrating inability to communicate and assert themselves in society.
On Oscar award night, his wife, Enrica Fico, 41 years his junior, and ''translator'' for him since his 1985 stroke, said: ''Michelangelo always went beyond words, to meet silence, the mystery and power of silence.''
The first success at the box office came in 1966 with ''Blow Up,'' about London in the swinging '60s and a photographer who accidentally captures a murder on film.
But Antonioni with his hard-to-fathom films generally found it hard to convince Italian producers to back him. By the end of the 1960s, he was looking abroad for funds. American backing helped produce ''Zabriskie Point'' (1970), shot in the bleakly carved landscape of Death Valley, California.
Asked by an Italian magazine in 1980, ''For whom do you make films'' Antonioni replied: ''I do it for it an ideal spectator who is this very director. I could never do something against my tastes to meet the public. Frankly, I can't do it, even if so many directors do so. And then, what public? Italian? American? Japanese? French? British? Australian? They're all different from each other.''
Using sometimes a notepad, sometimes the good communication he had with his wife and sometimes just his very expressive blue eyes, Antonioni astonished the film world in 1994 to make ''Beyond the Clouds,'' when ailing and hampered by the effects of the stroke.
With an international cast -- John Malkovich, Jeremy Irons, Irene Jacob, and Fanny Ardant -- the movie wove together three episodes based on Antonioni's book of short stories ''Quel Bowling sul Tevere'' (''Bowling on the Tiber'') to explore the usual Antonioni themes.
Worried that Antonioni would be too frail to finish the movie, investors had German director Wim Wenders follow the work, ready to step in if the Italian ''maestro'' couldn't go on. But Wenders wound up watching in awe and letting Antonioni put his vision on film.
Antonioni is survived by his wife. He had no children. ANSA said that a funeral would be held Thursday in Antonioni's hometown of Ferrara in northern Italy.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Laszlo Kovacs, Hungarian Cinematographer

Legendary cinematographer Laszlo Kovacs, a Hungarian, has died. He was 74.

His films included Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, Paper Moon, Shampoo, Ghostbusters, The Karate Kid, Frances, Mask, and Miss Congeniality. He also worked on The Last Waltz and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Recently he was working on the documentary Torn from the Flag, about the 1956 Hungarian Revolution.

Kovacs died in his sleep at his Beverly Hills home on Sunday. He is survived by his wife, Audrey, Julianna and Nadia; and a granddaughter.

His family and friends are in our thoughts.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

This Just In: New DVD Releases

Cinema, Aspirins and Vultures (Cinema, Aspirinas e Urubus), 2005, Mexico
To distance himself from Adolf Hitler and a war he philosophically opposes, a young German (Peter Ketnath) moves halfway around the world to Brazil, where he meets a hitchhiker (João Miguel) with his own motivations to keep moving. Together, they drive across the country making pit stops in various villages to sell the locals a "miracle" drug. Marcelo Gomes directs this multilingual Cannes Film Festival selection.

Django, 1966, Directed by Sergio Corbucci, Mexico/Italy
In a lawless frontier, a master gunman carries a dark secret -- and a coffin filled with chaos. Franco Nero stars as Django, a mysterious stranger caught up in the violent crossfire between Mexican bandits and sadistic vigilantes. This landmark classic is packed with indelible images and some of the most shocking brutality of any Spaghetti Western ever made. Fully restored from original camera negatives.

Morisma, 2006, directed by Edin Alain Martinez, Mexico
Throughout the Mexican states of Zacatecas and Jalisco, the Moors continue to hold traditional and religious celebrations that date back to medieval times; this documentary explores the rich history of these largely unknown Franciscan rituals. Following Moorish leader Hilario Espinosa, the film reveals a spiritual heritage that remains cherished and vital. The presentation also includes two documentary shorts, "Bracho" and "Burrito de Agua-Miel."

Sangre Costena (Coastal Blood ), 2002, directed by Amado Portillo Ortega, Mexico
Obsession and forbidden love spark a series of tragic events in the story of Isabel, a beautiful woman whose passionate nature tempts those who meet her. Having traveled from her small hometown to Mexico City, Isabel finds work as a maid for a powerful politician who soon becomes obsessed with her. The attraction is mutual, and Isabel surrenders herself to an illicit affair that leads to dangerous consequences.

The Guerrilla and the Hope: Lucio Cabanas (La Guerrilla y la esperanza: Lucio Cabañas), 2005 directed by Gerardo Tort, Mexico
Director Gerardo Tort's compelling documentary explores the life of Lucio Cabanas, a guerrilla leader who headed one of the most significant peasant revolts in Mexican history and became a figure of inspiration for the poor of southern Mexico. Revealing interviews from companions, family members, former guerrilla fighters and historians make obvious that Cabanas's story of courage and hope continues to live on.