In his new short film “Ape,” “Hunger Games” star Josh Hutcherson directed actors for the first time, including himself. His protagonist, Travis, is a young schizophrenic.

The short is part of “The Big Script,” an incubator series launched by Hutcherson’s company Turkeyfoot Productions, next-gen digital studio Indigenous Media and Condé Nast Entertainment, which took five scripts about adolescent or young adult protagonists and mentored the writers through the process of directing their own short film.

“We’re trying to find new voices. It’s that simple,” Indigenous Media co-CEO Jon Avnet says. “Wouldn’t this be an interesting way to get a script turned into a feature film?” For Hutcherson, whom Avnet calls “very talented,” the risk paid off. “Ape” is now being turned into its own feature. You can watch all the films on Condé Nast Entertainment’s digital video collection “The Scene.”

 

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Josh Hutcherson’s Directorial Debut ‘Ape’ Premieres as Part of Conde Nast’s Film Incubator Series

 

What excited you about the project? 

I’d read it seven years ago and loved and tried to make it, but it fell apart. I was just going to act in it. Thankfully, I called up the writer (Jon Johnstone) and no one had the rights, so I told him what we were going to be doing and he thought it sounded great. We collaborated immediately and quickly because we were up against the clock.

But you were happy to have it, right? You say you loved it. 

Oh, yeah. I’ve always dug cerebral, kind of bending-reality type movies, like “Machinist” and “Donnie Darko,” and this spoke to that as well as to issues with mental illness and sometimes a lack of empathy between families and how devastating it can be.

Why now get into directing? Why not in the future or in the past?

I’ve had a few opportunities over the years to direct and I’ve written a couple shorts that I was going to direct, but there was something about just being too overly ambitious and too young. It’s such a responsibility to direct a movie. It’s real leadership and with age, you gain some seniority and feel a little more grounded and confident in yourself. It was waiting until it felt right and this came across as a crossing point between those two factors: me always wanting to direct and now finally confident enough to do it, and this project sort of came in to my life. It was a great opportunity because I’d only wanted to do a short first. I didn’t want to dive into a feature full on. The mentorship that I got from Jon and Rodrigo (Garcia, co-CEO of Indigenous) and their team was really something that gave me confidence. They had my back.

What did Jon and Rodrigo do that helped you the most? 

They really always had me asking questions. They would pose a question and say, “ask yourself, does this part of the short need to be in there,” which was the most important question for us. There are a lot of things going on in a feature and translating that to a short is challenging, so they really kept me focused in on what was important and what I really wanted to tell. What was great about their style of mentoring — they would say, “we’re going to give you ideas, suggestions, ask you questions, but we want you to make your movie. So this is really an expression, but we want to help you realize that the best way possible.”

What have you learned as an actor that helped you when directing?

Since I was a kid, I’ve been surrounded by directing, filmmaking and every element that needs to come together on set to make a movie. When I was a ten years old and they told me I had to go home because I couldn’t work any more hours for the day, I would beg to stay on the set. If they didn’t know where I was, they always came looking for me in the camera trailer because I was with the camera guys learning about lenses and film and aperture, always soaking things up. I had endless, boundless curiosity, so I applied everything that I’ve learned over the years on set as director. It’s the culmination of all those experiences.

What was your favorite part of directing? 

Honestly, as an actor on set, I always love collaborating and problem solving with the crew. Finally, I was in a position where I could really direct how I wanted things to go and didn’t feel like I was out of place and speaking out of turn. I felt really comfortable and working with the team to make this project become a reality. Film is such a director’s medium. When I’m acting in something, I want to make the movie the director is trying to make. As much as I possibly can, I’ll give myself over the director, so to flip that position and be the one who is getting to create the overall story, tone, edits, music and everything, it was very satisfying. Now I’m full-on addicted to it.

What was it like directing yourself? 

It was challenging for sure. That was the thing I was the most nervous about going in, just because I love acting and directing so much and I respect both of them immensely, so to have to take on both simultaneously was daunting. I did a lot of prep for this and thankfully, because of the script that I had tried to make years ago, I really felt connected with the characters and had done some work on him already. I felt confident with that element of it. Other than that, a lot of prep with my DP to how we were going to shoot it. We watched a lot of movies together for inspiration, shotlisting heavily and he even came over to my house and we taped out the size of the rooms and put furniture in there to feel the space so we know how to move the cameras around. My team was also really professional and moved quickly which allowed me time to watch the playback and make sure I wasn’t screwing everything up as an actor.

Why do you think it’s important for young people to make movies for and about their own demographic?

It’s really important to feel represented. I’ve obviously read quite a few scripts in my life, and there’s a certain way that many writers, who are not my age and didn’t grow up in my environment, try to write a character that I connect with. It happens — there’s some great writers who do do that and those are the ones you fight to make. But most of the time, it doesn’t feel authentic. I think there’s a certain authenticity when you have young filmmakers and millennials coming up and trying to tell stories that they care about and connect with. It makes it more accessible for those audiences that we want to give good content to.

What are your plans for directing and creating your own stuff going forward?

I’ve written a couple of short films and I think after doing this one, it’s kind of given me a bit more of the confidence to dive into those. Also, we’re definitely going to try to push forward and make “Ape” a feature. This is a genre I really like, these very cerebral, psychological thriller-esque type things, but I’m also obsessed with the TV show “Girls,” so I would love take a swing at something a little more contained and personal like that as well. Plus, I have a TV show I’ve been developing with Indigenous for a while.

Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/news/qa-josh-hutcherson-ape-directing-big-script-indigenous-media-1201991727/
Source: http://variety.com/video/octavia-spencer-pharrell-williams-hidden-figures-variety-screening-series/

Variety’s 10 Europeans to Watch were feted at a luncheon last week at Soho House in Berlin, in association with Tiffany & Co., and later the same day at a reception hosted by Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

The honorees were welcomed at the luncheon by Tiffany’s communications manager Central Europe, Melanie Kelm, Medienboard chief Kirsten Niehuus and Variety’s vice president, executive editor, Steven Gaydos.

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The honorees attending the luncheon were “Deutschland 83” actor Jonas Nay, “Babylon Berlin” actress Liv Lisa Fries, actor Jakub Gierszal, who appears in Agnieszka Holland’s Berlin competition entry “Spoor,” director Gabriele Mainetti (“They Call Me Jeeg”), director Robin Pront (“The Ardennes”), and actress Reka Tenki, who appears in Berlinale competition title “On Body and Soul.”

Soho House

Csaba Papp, Reka Tenki, Bart van Langendonck (Photo: Ulf Büschleb)

Soho House

Gabriele Mainetti, Andrea Occhipinti (Photo: Courtesy of Ulf Büschleb)

Soho House

Jakub Gierszal (Photo: Courtesy of Ulf Büschleb)

Soho House

Kirsten Niehuus, Steven Gaydos (Photo: Courtesy of Ulf Büschleb)

Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/global/berlinale-variety-10-europeans-luncheon-soho-house-1201988996/

In its second frame, “The Lego Batman Movie” knocked down fresh films “The Great Wall,” “Fist Fight” and “A Cure For Wellness” to win the Friday box office.

Warner Bros. Animation and DC Entertainment’s animated adventure picked up an additional $7.5 million from 4,088 theaters on its way to a four-day estimate in the $38 million range. Universal’s “Fifty Shades Darker,” which came out on top last Friday, looks to land solidly in second for the weekend after earning $6.8 million this Friday from 3,714 locations.

Universal’s “Great Wall” starring Matt Damon earned $5.9 million on Friday from 3,325 theaters, landing it in third. The Legendary production’s holiday weekend estimate stands between $19 and $20 million.

 

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New Line’s “Fist Fight” should round out the top five behind the second weekend of “John Wick: Chapter 2.” The comedy took in $3.8 million on Friday from 3,185 locations on its way to a four-day opening between $12 and $13 million.

Fox’s “A Cure for Wellness” earned a sickly $1.5 million on Friday from 2,704 locations on its way to an opening between $4 and $5 million that could leave it out of the top ten.

“The Great Wall” has already earned over $200 million overseas, including over $170 million in China since its release on Dec. 16. Directed by Zhang Yimou, the film carries a $150 million budget — the most expensive movie ever shot in China — and is co-financed by Le Vision Pictures and China Film Group. Damon stars alongside Jing Tian, Pedro Pascal, Willem Dafoe, and Andy Lau.

Ice Cube and Charlie Day star in “Fist Fight” as feuding teachers, and was a $20 million production. Jillian Bell, Tracy Morgan, and Christina Hendricks also star.

“A Cure for Wellness,” meanwhile, cost $40 million and was directed by Gore Verbinski. Dane DeHaan stars in the film, which came under fire for its controversial “fake news” promotional campaign. 

Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/news/box-office-lego-batman-great-wall-fist-fight-cure-for-wellness-1201992010/

Jack Black is in negotiations to co-star with Joaquin Phoenix in Gus Van Sant’s “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot,” the biopic on quadriplegic cartoonist John Callahan.

Iconoclast and Anonymous Content are producing the film, which is based on Callahan’s autobiography of the same name. The title is taken from one of Callahan’s cartoons, which often touched on taboo topics.

Callahan became paralyzed following a car accident at the age of 21. He turned to art as a form of therapy, drawing by clutching a pen between his two hands. He died in 2010 at the age of 59.

Charles-Marie Anthonioz, Mourad Belkeddar, and Nicolas Lhermitte will produce the movie for Iconoclast, while Steve Golin produces for Anonymous Content.

Jonah Hill and Rooney Mara are also in talks to join “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot.” Phoenix will portray Callahan.

Black most recently starred in “The Polka King,” which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January. The comedy also stars Jenny Slate and Jason Schwartzman.

Black will next be seen in Sony’s “Jumanji” reboot, which is scheduled to open on Dec. 22, opposite Dwayne Johnson. He is repped by WME and Sloane, Offer, Weber & Dern.

Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/news/jack-black-joaquin-phoenix-gus-van-sant-movie-1201989664/

Warner Bros. is in negotiations with “Fresh Off the Boat” star Constance Wu for the lead role in the studio’s “Crazy Rich Asians” romantic comedy.

The studio acquired the movie rights to “Crazy Rich Asians” in October and is fast-tracking the project with plans for an exclusively Asian cast. The story unfolds in a world of opulence, as new and old money collide among a group of Chinese families living in Singapore. It follows a Chinese-American economics professor and her boyfriend — the heir to a massive fortune.

 

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‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Filmmakers See Breakthrough for Asian Films: ‘People Are Getting It Now’

 

Color Force’s Nina Jacobson and partner Brad Simpson came on board the movie project in 2013 when Kevin Kwan’s book of the same name was still in the manuscript stage. Jon M. Chu is directing the adaptation from a screenplay written by Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim.

Ivanhoe president John Penotti is also producing. Kevin Kwan will serve as executive producer along with Ivanhoe chairman Robert Friedland.

Wu plays Jessica Huang, the mother of three and the pragmatic wife of Randall Park’s character in the ABC comedy “Fresh Off the Boat.” Wu will also have a recurring role in Hulu’s upcoming “Dimension 404.”

Wu is repped by UTA, Principal Entertainment LA, Gotham Group, and Hansen, Jacobson.

Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/news/constance-wu-crazy-rich-asians-movie-1201989715/

Twentieth Century Fox topped the national home video sales charts the week ended Feb. 12 with “Trolls,” the DreamWorks Animation family feature based on the iconic toy dolls.

The film, which earned more than $153 million in U.S. theaters, debuted at No. 1 on both the NPD VideoScan overall disc sales chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc sales, and NPD’s dedicated Blu-ray Disc Sales chart.

The computer-animated film, about two trolls trying to save their village from troll-eating adversaries, generated 53% of its total unit sales from Blu-ray Disc, NPD research shows.

Also new to the charts is the animated superhero film “Justice League Dark,” from Warner Bros. Animation, which generated 69% of its total unit sales from Blu-ray Disc. “Justice League Dark” bowed at No. 3 on the overall disc sales chart, behind Lionsgate’s “Boo! A Madea Halloween,” which held onto the No. 2 spot it debuted in the prior week.

The previous week’s top-selling disc, Paramount’s “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back,” slipped to No. 4 on the overall disc sales chart, one spot ahead of Walt Disney Studios’ “Pinocchio: Signature Edition,” which slipped to No. 5 from No. 3 the previous week.

On the Blu-ray Disc chart, “Justice League Dark” bowed at No. 2, with “Jack Reacher” at No. 3 and “Pinocchio” at No. 4.

The No. 5 spot on the Blu-ray Disc chart went to Lionsgate’s “John Wick,” up from No. 19 the prior week. Sales of the film, No. 9 on the overall disc sales chart, were buoyed by a new Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc edition released Feb. 7 in time for the theatrical sequel. The UHD version accounted for 42% of the title’s overall unit sales (and 70% of the title’s Blu-ray Disc sales).

On Home Media Magazine’s rental chart for the week, Warner’s “The Accountant” soared to No. 1 now that its month-long holdback from Redbox is over.

That bumped each of the previous week’s top three rental titles down a notch: Paramount’s “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” to No. 2, Lionsgate’s “Boo! A Medea Halloween” to No. 3, and “Deepwater Horizon,” also from Lionsgate, to No. 4.

Rounding out the top five was “Kevin Hart: What Now?”, the comedy concert film from Universal Pictures that just came off its 28-day holdback from Redbox.

Thomas K. Arnold is Editorial Director of Home Media Magazine.

Top 20 NPD VideoScan First Alert, powered by Nielsen, chart for the week ended 2/12/17:

1. Trolls (new)
2. Boo! A Madea Halloween
3. Justice League Dark (new)
4. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
5. Pinocchio
6. Almost Christmas (new)
7. Fifty Shades of Grey
8. Tyler Perry’s Madea On the Run – The Play
9. John Wick
10. The Accountant
11. Deepwater Horizon
12. Inferno
13. The Secret Life of Pets
14. Suicide Squad
15. The Magnificent Seven (2016)
16. Life on the Line (new)
17. Loving (new)
18. The Girl on the Train
19. Jason Bourne
20. Masterminds

Top 10 Home Media Magazine rental chart for the week ended 2/12/17:

1. The Accountant
2. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
3. Boo! A Medea Halloween
4. Deepwater Horizon
5. Kevin Hart: What Now?
6. Inferno
7. The Secret Life of Pets
8. Life on the Line (new)
9. The Take (new)
10. Storks

For complete sales and rental charts, visit HomeMediaMagazine.com.

Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/news/trolls-tops-disc-sales-charts-1201989743/

Paramount Pictures has hired Jared Leto to direct the police thriller “77,” in what will be the actor’s feature directorial debut.

Leto previously helmed the documentary “Artifact,” which won an award at the 2012 Toronto Film Festival. He has also directed numerous music videos and commercials under the pseudonym Bartholomew Cubbins.

The “Suicide Squad” actor will direct from from an original screenplay by “L.A. Confidential” author James Ellroy with revisions by David Matthews (“Narcos,” “Boardwalk Empire”).

The story, set in politically charged 1974 Los Angeles, centers around two police officers who team up to recover kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst while simultaneously investigating the brutal murder of a fellow officer. They uncover not only relentless corruption and crime but a dark and violent conspiracy as well.

Hearst hid out in Los Angeles that year with her kidnappers from the Symbionese Liberation Army but managed to escape before six SLA members were gunned down in a shootout with the LAPD. She remained on the lam for more than a year before being captured.

The film will be produced by writer/producer Dick Wolf and Tony Ganz of Wolf Films. Leto is also producing. Emma Ludbrook is the executive producer. Leto and Ludbrook work under their company Paradox.

Leto, who won a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for “Dallas Buyers Club,” will next be seen in “Blade Runner 2049” opposite Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling.

 

Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/news/jared-leto-directing-police-thriller-77-paramount-1201989762/

Leading Chinese studio Huayi Brothers Media is shifting its production strategy as a result of last year’s sharp slowdown in the theatrical box office. It will deliver upwards of four massive, local blockbusters per year and put increased emphasis on quality.

The new policy was outlined by CEO Jerry Ye, in Berlin on the sidelines of the Bridging The Dragon conference. He joined the company nine months ago after a high profile exhibition, distribution and production career largely at Wanda.

“Chinese movies had a slow year in 2016,” said Ye. “We need to put more focus on making blockbuster Chinese movies. Very big ones. We want four tentpoles for the four biggest periods of the year – Chinese New Year, National Day, mid-Autumn festival, and Christmas – any others will be on a case by case basis. Those big successes can be used to make franchises, TV dramas, or online series. Just like Hollywood.”

Ye says that Huayi will also aim to make 10-12 small and medium budget titles, where the screenwriting, production and budget packages have been well conceived, but which allow it to try out new directing talent.

That and other lessons learned, he believes, will turn around the fortunes at the box office. (After 49% revenue growth in 2015, last year saw a drop to just 4%.) For the current year Ye says revenue growth could be in the 10—15% range. “The new emphasis on quality means that 2018 will be a big year for Chinese cinema and the biggest year ever for Huayi.”

Ye argues that the mediocre quality of Chinese movies last year highlighted the power of consumer choice and finite time. “Chinese moviegoers, especially the young generation, now have more choices how to spend their time. Online, TV drama, alternative content, games, movie consumption is just part of their lives. And they can watch a movie at home, or online anytime, anywhere.”

“They care about high quality movies and will turn out for them when we give them a reason why to choose to watch them in theaters. Chinese New Year was broke records because cinemas were people’s first choice for family entertainment,” he said.

Streaming video is a double-edged sword. “Cinema attendance increased by 9% in 2016, but online grew by almost 200%. And online subscriptions, meaning people who paid to watch monthly or yearly, is now over 60 million. The good side is that more people will pay to watch good quality content. But time cost is a more important factor than monetary cost in deciding how to consume.” And watching a movie in a theater takes more time, due to battles with traffic, and parking.

Ye says that Huayi does not need to become the operator of an online platform to profit from the trend. “Of course we must do more online. We must invest more in content, like Tencent and iQIYI. But we don’t need to own the platform. Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent are already operational and dominant. Our role is to be a great strategic partner. The platforms still need great content.”

Ye says that Huayi will maintain its relationship with STX Entertainment largely unchanged and will invest in its newer pact with the Russo Brothers. But the company will not grow international at the cost of its domestic Chinese activities.

“STX is doing well, with successful films like ‘Bad Moms’ at the end of the year, and finding new ways (to do business.) We have no plans to change that,” said Ye. “But Huayi needs to focus first on the local Chinese market and to grasp the golden era.”

Ye admits that describing Chinese cinema as currently enjoying a golden era may sound strange coming after the rude shock of 2016. “Of course it is. That will be reinforced by the new focus on quality. Content is still king in China.”

Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/asia/huayi-bros-chinese-tentpole-titles-1201989599/

BERLIN–Barcelona-based Rodar y Rodar — the prestige producer of successful psychological thrillers such as “The Orphanage” and “Julia’s Eyes”–  will produce “The Photographer of Mauthausen,” the third outing as a feature film director of Mar Targarona (“Kidnapped”), Rodar co-CEO with Joaquín Padró.

Vicente Canales’ Film Factory has acquired international rights. The historical thriller will be produced in partnership with Belgium’s Umedia. Also backing the projects are Spanish public broadcaster TVE and its Icaa and Icec film institutes.

“Mauthausen” recreates the travails of Catalan photographer Francesc Boix, an inmate in the Mauthausen concentration camp from the winter of 1942, when he was 22, alongside his father and 1,500 Spanish Republicans, were imprisoned by the German army during their exile in France after the Spanish Civil War.

Spanish thesp Mario Casas (Michael Radford’s “The Mule,” Fernando González Molina’a “Palm Trees in the Snow”) will star. “It’s a role that could mean an interesting turning-point in Casas’ career,” Targarona said.

Selected by Variety as young Spanish talents to follow, Alfred Pérez-Fargas and Roger Danés, who wrote Agustí Villaronga’s “Letter to Eve,” have penned the script.

“This will be one of most moving stories to be produced in Spain this year and take a modern visual approach to the Nazi context,” said Canales.

Boix worked in Mauthausen’s identification department, storing the Nazi graphic documentation.

“When Germany was near defeat, they tried to destroy everything, but Boix hided the negatives which played a crucial at the Nuremberg trial,” Targarona explained to Variety. Boix was the only Spaniard to testify at the trial of the 20th century.

Film will be a prison break thriller, but where the planned escape isn’t of a person but film negatives, Danés added.

“Mauthausen” will be spoken in English and German. “At Rodar, we’ve made horror movies. In this one, the horror is history itself,” said Targarona. Visuals will have a very realistic, she added.

“Boix used his privileged position in the camp to survive. His own friends said that Boix seemed to be on vacation. But he never doubted sbout helping them. using his privileges, Pérez-Fargas added.

Principal photography is scheduled to start in October in Belgium and Spain.

Film Factory slate for Berlin included Álex the la Iglesia’s “The Bar,” Villaronga’s “Uncertain Glory” and Iñaki Dorronsoro’s “Escape Plan.”

Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/festivals/berlinale-2017-rodar-rodar-mar-targarona-mario-casas-1201989842/

50-year old female helmer Teresa Villaverde is one of Portugal’s best-known directors, whose recent films,  produced at four-to-five year intervals, have premiered in either Berlin or Cannes.

“Colo”– her first feature since 2011’s “Swan” – plays in Berlin competition. A total of nine Portuguese shorts and feature films, including co-productions, are screening at this year’s Berlinale.

Starring João Pedro Vaz, Alice Albergaria Borges and Beatriz Batarda, “Colo” is about a father, mother and daughter, struggling with Portugal’s economic crisis. It is a co-production between Lisbon’s Alce Films and Paris-based Sedna Films.  International sales are handled by Berlin-based Films Boutique.

In an interview with Variety, Villaverde talks about Portuguese cinema and her expectations for her film in Berlin.

What do you believe are the main reasons for the growing interest in Portuguese cinema at major festivals such as Berlin?

The quality of recent Portuguese films, the specific vision of each auteur, the freedom that we can still preserve at the time of creation. I think it’s this freedom, which I consider to be fundamental, that makes all the difference. We live in complicated times in which we have to fight for this independence and freedom, but we have always struggled, and we have managed to uphold these principles.

What are the characteristics of Portuguese films that are most valued by international festivals?

That’s a difficult question to answer. I think it’s probably better to ask the festivals themselves, but I assume the reasons are also those I’ve already mentioned. Our films benefit from freedom of creation, that’s what we all have in common – each auteur is an auteur and makes his or her own unique film. Even when working with low budgets, the quality of our filmmakers and technicians has transformed us into experts in making omelettes without eggs.

In terms of national box office, Portuguese films that have enjoyed success in international festivals have often had low levels of theatrical admissions at home. Are there ways to change this situation?

I think that there’s a tremendous lack of investment in promotion of our films. Portuguese audiences have never had the habit of watching Portuguese films. There is a rejection that linked to a lack of familiarity of local films. You have to take the films to people. There are very few cinemas; more and more cinemas are closing, especially single-screen cinemas. It’s necessary to reverse this situation and not give up. But Portuguese cinema has a growing audience amongst young people, which is fantastic. This is related to the fact that we have an increasing number of young filmmakers. There is a lot of work to do, and the Portuguese state should provide much greater support in this field.

What are the main challenges facing Portuguese cinema?

Not everyone cares about the freedom we have, so we have to be vigilant to protect it. There is very little money for production. We make very few films each year. We know that great projects have to wait for many years before they can be made.

 

Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/festivals/berlinale-2017-teresa-villaverde-portuguese-cinema-1201989840/

BERLIN — Madrid-based Latido Films, Oscar-winning Tornasol Films and Woody Allen producer Atresmedia Cine are re-teaming on Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s “El Reino,” starring Antonio de la Torre.

All five backed Sorogoyen’s latest 2016 release, “May God Save Us,” a harrowing serial killer thriller which, consolidating Sorogoyen’s reparation as a director to track, was distributed by Warner Bros. in Spain, won best screenplay at September’s San Sebastian Festival last year and was still racking up international sales for Latido at this week’s Berlin European Film Market.

The lead producer on “May God Save Us,” Gerardo Herrero and Mariela Besuievsky’s Tornasol Films, an arthouse institution in Spain, produced Juan Jose Campanella’s “The Secret in Their Eyes,” which won an Academy Award for best foreign-language film in 2009.

The film arm of Atresmedia, one of Spain’s two biggest broadcast groups and film financiers, Atresmedia Cine produced Woody Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” as well as “Intruders” with Clive Owen, and “Red Lights,” with Robert De Niro and Sigourney Weaver. But one of its large achievements this decade has been to co-produce a string of thrillers which question the manners and mores of Spain’s establishment.

Written by S0rogoyen and Isabel Peña, a co-scribe on all his three features, “El Reino” turns on a corrupt politician who has to defend his actions when brought to account by fellow party members. It will star De la Torre, one of Sorogoyen’s troubled cops in “May God Save Us” and the lead of Venice hit “The Fury of a Patient Man,” which swept Spain’s Goyas Awards this month.

Latido began introducing “El Reino” to buyers at Berlin’s European Film Market.

“‘El reino’ is inspired by true events [in Spain] but is highly international. There’s corruption in all parts of the world,” said Latido Films head Antonio Saura.

Making his directorial debut with “Stockholm,” a chronicle of male chauvinism and its devastating consequences, Sorogoyen stepped up hugely in scale with “May God Save Us,” a portrait of male violence in differing manifestations.

“Just as Rodrigo raised his game from ‘Stockholm’ to ‘May God Save Us,’ we believe that with ‘El Reino’ he’ll take another step forward, and it’s our policy to follow great directors we believe in from one film to the next,” Saura said.

Sorogoyen also belongs to a remarkable “a generation of directors who want to explore the genre — change it, play with it and develop it,” said Saura.

Unlike slashers, they can also play primetime TV slots and, if sufficiently arthouse, rack up sometimes near worldwide sales abroad. “May God Save Us” scored an early sale to Jean Labadie’s Le Pacte in France, announced in Cannes last year, a bell-weather deal of a quality arthouse movie with edge. In “May God Save Us,” Sorogoyen brought a naturalism to the violence on the screen, positioning it not as spectacle but the result of tragic pathology, traced back in two cases to family circumstance. In “El Reino,” which is sure to feature as one of the most talked-about Spanish productions of the year, in his only public declarations on the film, which did not go into industrial detail, Sorogoyen said last October in a TV interview that the film would explore the corrupt politician’s human side, his motivations and contradictions.

“El Reino” will go into production this summer.

Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/global/berlinale-2017-latido-sorogoyen-de-la-torre-tornasol-atresmedia-1201989847/

BERLIN– Nowave, the SVOD service specializing in arthouse world cinema, has closed a library deal with French distribution company Wild Side, the Wild Bunch-owned video distribution company.

Nowave was created by Bérangère Dastarac 18 months ago with the idea to showcase non-mainstream auteur films, genre movies and shorts, many of which have played festivals and have not been released in theaters.

“We’re aiming to give more visibility to great films that have gone unnoticed because they got lost in the flood of theatrical releases,” said Dastarac, who added that the service’s model was particularly attractif to right-holders as it offers a 50/50 revenue sharing.

Dastarac, who produced several films including “Winter of Discontent” and “Sing Freedom,” has enlisted several industry players and journalists to curate selection of films by theme in order to maximize content editorialization and attract younger audiences, particularly millennials.
For instance, Nowave just featured a curation focusing on Pinku movies, the Japanese erotic movies from the 70’s produced by Nikkatsu.

Daniel Ziskind, a prolific Paris-based producer whose recent credits include Un Certain Regard opening film “Clash” by Mohammed Diab, is working alongside Dastarac, handling negotiations with festivals, markets and distributors.

Nowave operates in France (at a monthly rate of 7.99 Euros per month) and in the U.K. (6.99 Euros per month) and will next expand in the Middle East, North Africa and Northern Europe, said Dastarac.

Since launching, Nowave has attracted a wide range of backers, notably the British Film Council, France’s National Film Board, the CNC, the French Tech, an org which supports Gallic start-ups, as well as the theater circuit Utopia and the film magazine Positif.

Besides Wild Side, Nowave also has a deal with the content aggregator My Digital Company. Ziskind and Dastarac said they were now in talks with Orange, France’s biggest telco operator, to ink a library deal.

Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/news/french-arthouse-svod-service-nowave-inks-pact-with-wide-side-exclusive-1201989116/

BERLIN — Creating one of the biggest independent creation-production TV hubs in the Spanish-speaking markets which is aimed at making contents for the whole world, Spain’s Mediapro, a “The Young Pope” co-producer, has bought a substantial stake in Argentina’s Burman Office. Headed by Daniel Burman, a leading light of the New Argentine Cinema, Burman Office is set to produce “Edha,” Netflix’s first TV series in Argentina.

One of the key axes in a fast-emerging new independent production TV scene in Latin America and Spain, the alliance will be unveiled Feb. 16 in Berlin by Mediapro head Jaume Roures and Burman. It builds on a strategic co-development deal between Mediapro and Burman Office for high-end fiction TV series and formats that was announced last July.

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Mediapro’s equity investment goes further, however, seeing Burman Office becoming part of the Mediapro, one of Southern Europe’s largest and most international of TV-film groups with production offices in 35 cities in 25 countries.

First projects announced are “Stroke,” from an original script by Daniel Burman, and an adaptation of ‘IOSI El espía arrepentido,’ a book by Miriam Lewin and Horacio Lutzky about a spy who infiltrated the Jewish community in Argentina paving the way for the terrorist attack on the building of the Israelite Argentine Mutual Association which killed 85 people in 1994.

“Stroke” is a 13-part comedy on a 40-year-old man rebooting his life after suffering a stroke. Together, Mediapro and Oficina Burman  have around 20 projects in development. All series will be three seasons long.

Though both companies have their H.Qs in the Spanish-speaking world, Roures said that the new partnership “is not focusing only or principally on the Latin American market.”

He added: “Based on the quality of the screenplay and product, these types of contents have a universal market.”

“With Mediapro’s presence, we will form a creative hub of enormous potential and strong production values, adding our joint capacity of contents creation, [Mediapro’s] enormous production capacity and its capacity to deliver to the market,” Burman added.

Burman Office’s incorporation into the Mediapro fold follows on the appointment last May as its head of international content development of Ran Telem, a Primetime Emmy Award-winning producer on “Homeland” and longtime V.P. of programming and content at Israel’s Keshet Broadcasting. Burman called Telem “one of the people who knows most about storytelling.”

Having launched a writers’ room in Buenos Aires, one of Oficina Burman’s distinguishing characteristics as a creator of high-end series has been its insistence on longterm development.That of course is highly costly. But it is now far more feasible with Mediapro as a partner-shareholder.

“We need the muscle and financial power which can create time for stories. Mediapro understands development, that it is a cornerstone,” Burman said.

Though aiming to make content for markets around the world,  Mediapro-Burman Office alliance comes as Latin America is in the throes of a TV revolution. For Burman, “consumers are accustomed to a level of sophistication and production values which they see on their platforms. We have to be at that level of sophistication.”

In this sense, high-end TV drama, whether made in English or Spanish, not only encourages take-up at new TV online services but unlocks the keys to the future for broadcasters who run multi-billion dollar businesses.

Tying down a deal with Burman Office, Mediapro has “associated with talent,” said Roures,  a policy, he added, that it has followed in its film production, making films with Woody Allen (“Midnight in Paris”) and Roman Polanski (“Carnage”), of international directors, and Spain’s Fernando Leon (“A Perfect Day”) and Isabel Coixet (“The Secret Life of Words”).

While there is a feeding-fever for upscale, ambitious TV drama around the world, the challenge is to find the talent that can create it. The Mediapro deal ties down Burman Office whose first series, “Supermax, which screened at the Berlinale’s Drama Series Days this week, was the first Spanish-language drama to be produced out of Brazilian TV giant Globo’s Rio studios.

Partnered with Mexico’s Televisa, ad media giant WPP and investor Torreal, Mediapro owns a 7% stake in Atresmedia Group, a Spanish broadcast giant. Their joint conglom, in which Mediapro holds a controlling 48% participation, posted revenues of €1.509 billion ($1.7 billion) in 2015, per company sources.

While Burman Office, now part of Mediapro, will focus on high-end TV drama as the core of contents produced, it does not rule out making entertainment formats and branded content.

Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/festivals/berlinale-2017-mediapro-takes-stake-burman-office-1201989849/

Director Greg MacGillivray has perfected the art of the under-an-hour Imax documentary, as evidenced once again by “Dream Big: Engineering Our World,” a stirring 42-minute celebration of the creative minds concocting our tomorrows. Apt to be most at home at science centers and aquariums nationwide, MacGillivray’s latest exploits the large-screen format to breathtaking effect, providing gorgeous panoramas of natural and man-made wonders as well as intimate snapshots of men and women using their wits to achieve amazing feats. As far as such slight projects go, the film proves a rousing, and ravishing, call-to-engineering-arms for future generations, and should receive a welcome reception from its young target audience.

As with last year’s “National Parks Adventure,” “Dream Big” wastes little time on set-up, operating – from its opening moments – as a to-the-point treatise on its chosen subject. In this case, that’s the field of engineering, which MacGillivray views as a noble and enriching endeavor that benefits both those who practice it, and the planet at large. Narrated by Jeff Bridges in his inimitable drawl, the film casts those who build, design, invent and construct as pioneers who harness the “power of imagination” in order to “enhance the human experience.” And it immediately visualizes such notions via a rapturous 3D tracking shot out of, and then around, the International Space Station, a monument to innovation and collaboration that’s allowed us, for the first time in history, to actually see our world.

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That stunning intro sets a suitable stage for the following action, which jumps from downtown New York City to the Great Wall of China to Nepal, where engineer Menzer Pehlivan travels with a group of colleagues in order to research earthquakes so that she might build more quake-resistant buildings in her Seattle hometown – a vocation driven, originally, by her childhood experience suffering through a quake at age 13 in her native Turkey that left 45,000 dead. Like the rest of the film’s profiles, Pehlivan’s backstory is only brief addressed. Yet the director’s quick brushstrokes nonetheless convey the way in which engineering is born from common, universal experiences and, consequently, how it can help affect the entire global population.

“Dream Big” crafts an engaging portrait of people seeking answers to contemporary and future questions, be it how to construct a bridge over a Haitian river that costs numerous locals their lives every year, or how to make sure that a stratospheric Taiwanese residential tower doesn’t buckle under the force of typhoon-grade winds. In doing so, the doc conflates the individual with the collective – and illustrates how engineering isn’t just about math and science; it’s also about ingenuity (as with a team of high-schoolers that competes against MIT hotshots at an underwater robotics competition).

Fundamentally, the film is also about artistry, as underlined by MacGillivray’s consistently striking visuals, which utilize Imax’s outsized dimensions, heightened clarity and superior 3D effects (often foregrounding old news footage amid enveloping CG backgrounds) to reconfirm technology’s capacity to push boundaries, open eyes to new vistas, and inspire others to embrace, and chase, heretofore unimaginable dreams. Bolstered by sturdy computerized sequences and a rousing pop-song-populated score (led by Matisyahu’s “One Day”), it’s the sort of majestic educational film that every adult will want their child to see – and, in all likelihood, will want to see themselves.

Film Review: 'Dream Big: Engineering Our World'

Reviewed at AMC Loews Lincoln Square Imax, New York, Feb. 14, 2017. Running time: 42 MIN.

Production

(Documentary) A MacGillivray Freeman Film release and production, produced in partnership with American Society of Civil Engineers and presented by Bechtel Corp. Producer: Shaun MacGillivray. Executive producers: Mary Jane Dodge, Jane Howell Lombardi, Christine A. Williams. Co-producer: Grady Candler.

Crew

Director: Greg MacGillivray. Camera (color, widescreen, HD): Brad Ohlund. Editors: Stephen Judson, Jason Paul, Mark Fletcher. Music: John Jennings Boyd.

With

Avery Bang, Steve Burrows, Angelica Hernandez, Fredi Lajvardi, Menzer Pehlivan. Narrator: Jeff Bridges
Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/reviews/dream-big-engineering-our-world-review-1201988988/
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