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China Powers ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ to $196.2 Million Opening at International Box Office

3 hours ago

The latest “Transformers” movie is seeing the lowest domestic opening in franchise history, but overseas numbers tell a different story.

Transformers: The Last Knight” from Paramount and Hasbro is projected to earn $196.2 million by Sunday from 41 international markets. That, combined with the domestic take of $69.1 million, would put the film’s global opening at $265.3 million.

China is responsible for the bulk of the movie’s earnings. From 7,200 locations, “The Last Knight” should earn $123.4 million this weekend in the Middle Kingdom — the largest opening for a “Transformers” movie.

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The next largest territory is Korea, where the movie should gross $13 million from 1,721 locations. Russia should post $8.9 million in earnings from 1,251 spots. Next, in the U.K., “The Last Knight” should pull $5.7 million from 576 locations. To round out the top five, Germany should report $4.7 million in earnings from 611 theaters.

“The Last Knight” is having the biggest Imax opening in “Transformers »


- Seth Kelley

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The Unbearable Rightness of Daniel Day-Lewis Retiring (Even if He Doesn’t Keep to It)

4 hours ago

When Daniel Day-Lewis, the greatest screen actor of his generation, announced this week that he would be retiring from acting, I had the same initial thought that, I assume, most everyone else did. After a few befuddled seconds of “Why?” I prayed that his announcement wasn’t the euphemism for a health crisis. Once I decided that it probably wasn’t (this is, after all, the actor who took an open-ended sabbatical to build furniture), a conviction began to settle over me. While I had no clear idea why an artist as passionate and celebrated as Daniel Day-Lewis would want to cut his ties to acting (I was going to add “when he’s at the top of his game,” though when has Daniel Day-Lewis not been at the top of his game?), every bone in my body told me that he’d be back. At some point. In some eccentric Daniel Day-Lewis fashion. He »


- Owen Gleiberman

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‘Pitch Perfect 3’ Trailer Teases End of Trilogy (Watch)

4 hours ago

The first trailer for “Pitch Perfect 3” has been released, offering possible plot points for the final film in the a cappella trilogy.

Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Brittany Snow, and the rest of the now-graduated Barden Bellas will face off against Ruby Rose in the musical movie. Trish Sie is directing based off a script by Kay Cannon.

The trailer shows the singers struggling to succeed in their post-college careers. Luckily, Anna Camp returns in her original “Pitch Perfect” capacity with a plan to perform again in Europe. The twist? Their apparent competition comes complete with actual musical instruments.

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Alexis Knapp, Ester Dean, Hana Mae Lee, Chrissie Fit, Kelley Jakle, Shelley Regner, Elizabeth Banks, John Michael Higgins, and franchise newcomers Matt Lanter and John Lithgow also star.

Pitch Perfect 3” is the third and final film in the “Pitch Perfect” franchise, following »


- JD Knapp

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Box Office: ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ Opens to Franchise Low $69.1 Million

5 hours ago

It seems the “Transformers” franchise is rusty.

As of Sunday morning, “Transformers: The Last Knight,” the fifth installment in the series directed by Michael Bay, looks to bring in $69.1 million from 4,069 domestic locations during its five-day opening weekend. That’s a franchise low for the sequel from Paramount and Hasbro, behind the first in the modern series, which earned $70.5 million in 2007. “The Last Knight” carries an estimated $217 million production budget.

This makes “Transformers: The Last Knight” the latest summer blockbuster to bank on overseas ticket sales to have a shot at turning a profit. In China, the big-budget action sequel made $41 million in its opening day alone. The projected international cume through Sunday is $196.2 million, powered by $123.4 million in China. Imax screens will account for $24.3 million of the film’s total earnings this weekend.

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Film Review: ‘Transformers: The Last Knight

“The Last Knight” comes at a time when Paramount could have used an all-around hit, following »


- Seth Kelley

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‘Pedicab’ Wins Best Film Award at Shanghai Festival

5 hours ago

“Pedicab,” directed by Paolo Villaluna from the Philippines, was Sunday named as the winner of the Golden Goblet trophy for best film at the Shanghai International Film Festival.

The film follows an unusual collection of folk making a journey from Manila to their perceived paradise. Without the finance to pay for transport they decide to pedal their way instead.

The festival gave its second prize, the grand jury prize, to “Yellow.” The film was directed by Mostafa Taghizad’h. Its lead, Sareh Bayat was named best actress.

Russian biopic, “Kharms” also claimed two prizes. It earned writer-director Ivan Bolotnikov a prize for best screenplay, while its DoP, Sandor Berkeshi claimed best cinematographer. Maciej Pieprzyca of Poland was named best director for “I Am A Killer.”

A day earlier, “Shuttle Life” from Malaysia was named as the winner of the Siff Asian New Talent award. The film also earned Jack Tan the best actor award. Chen Ko »


- Patrick Frater

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Thomas Schlamme Elected Directors Guild President

19 hours ago

Veteran TV director Thomas Schlamme has been elected president of the Directors Guild of America for a two-year term, succeeding Paris Barclay.

Schlamme was selected by acclamation of the 147 delegates at the DGA’s convention on Saturday at DGA headquarters in Los Angeles.

Barclay announced earlier this year that he would not seek a third term in accordance with the DGA tradition of presidents only serving two terms. The DGA represents more than 17,000 members.

Related Content Hollywood Bids Adieu to Retiring Directors Guild Chief Jay D. Roth

Schlamme has been on the DGA national board since 2005 and was most recently third VP. He was co-chair of the 2014 and 2017 negotiating committees together with secretary-treasurer Michael Apted.

In February, the DGA honored Schlamme with the Robert B. Aldrich Achievement Award for service to the DGA and its membership. Schlamme joined the DGA in 1978.

“It is a tremendous honor to be chosen by my peers to lead our Guild, and »


- Dave McNary

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‘Blade Runner’ Turns 35: The Unloved Film That Became a Classic

24 June 2017 9:00 AM, PDT

June 25 is the 35th anniversary of the 1982 Ridley Scott-directed “Blade Runner,” one of the all-time science-fiction classics. The long-planned sequel, “Blade Runner 2049,” starring Ryan Gosling, opens in October; earlier this year, director Denis Villeneuve told Variety’s “Playback” podcast that he felt a lot of pressure working on “the most risky project” of his life, because the original is so iconic.

But if it makes him feel better, the earlier film was not a big hit with audiences or critics when it opened. In the 21st century, that seems incredible — how could people not flip out? But “Blade Runner” was so radical that it took several years for its impact to sink in. Even the filmmakers had misgivings: there have been multiple re-edits over the years, trying to hit movie perfection.

Rotten Tomatoes says it was “misunderstood when it first hit theaters.” In the original review, Variety reflected a lot of the mixed reaction, saying »


- Tim Gray

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Box Office: ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ Assembles $37.5 Million in Three Days’ Time

24 June 2017 8:30 AM, PDT

Transformers: The Last Knight” had a slightly unconventional Wednesday night opening this week, but its Friday numbers aren’t anything for the Autobots to actually write Cybertron about.

Despite its franchise-low opening, the fifth film in the “Transformers” saga is expected to easily win the first official weekend of summer 2017, while “Wonder Woman” and “Cars 3” will be in a tight race for second place.

Transformers 5” had already pulled in $23.7 million from Wednesday and Thursday showings going into the weekend, but Michael Bay can now add another $13.8 million from 4,069 theaters to his total. This brings the Mark Wahlberg, Josh Duhamel, and Stanley Tucci vehicle from Paramount to just over $40 million so far, with an expected $64 million domestic cume by Sunday’s end for the 5-day.

Related

As ‘Wonder Woman’ Soars, Movies Starring Men Fail to Connect at Box Office

Wonder Woman” continues to prove impenetrable as Patty JenkinsDC Comics adaptation lassoed another $7.35 million on Friday »


- JD Knapp

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Women Come to Fore in Indonesian Film Industry

23 June 2017 4:03 PM, PDT

The role of women in the industry, and the representation of female experience seem unavoidable in the discourse on Southeast Asian cinema. Mouly Surya, whose “Marlina, the Murderer in Four Acts,” will unspool in Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes, is not a working in a vacuum. In fact, such directors as Nia Dinata, Nan Achnas, Kamila Andini and female producers including Christine Hakim, Shanty Harmayn, Mira Lesmana, Sheila Timothy and in recent years, Meiske Taurisia, all wield their influence in an industry filled with opportunity.

Actress Hakim produced films by Garin Nugroho and Achnas, and helped propel Silat fighter Iko Uwais from total obscurity to fame through “Merantau.” Through her company Miles Films, Lesmana has produced Riri Riza’s entire repertoire, including the runaway hit “Rainbow Troops.” She also nurtured the careers of Edwin (“Postcards From the Zoo”) and Taurisia. The latter, who started as a costume designer on Riza’s “Three Days to Forever,” has »


- Maggie Lee

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‘4.1 Miles’ Wins Special Jury Prize at BAFTA Los Angeles Student Film Awards

23 June 2017 3:22 PM, PDT

Documentary short “4.1 Miles” by Daphne Matziaraki from Uc Berkeley won the special jury prize Thursday from British Academy of Film and Television Arts Los Angeles Student Film Awards in a gala ceremony at the Theatre at Ace Hotel. The docu short was nominated for an Oscar earlier this year.

BAFTA Los Angeles’ first-ever student film award for animation presented by Laika generated a tie between Alicja Jasina of USC for “Once Upon a Line” and Kal Athannassov, John McDonald, and Echo Wu from Ringling College of Art & Design for “The Wishgranter.”  The prize for live action was awarded to Jimmy Keyrouz from Columbia for “Nocturne in Black.” Matziaraki was also presented with the doc student film award for “4.1 Miles.”

The panel of judges included directors Ron Clements and John Musker (“Moana”); actors Shohreh Aghdashloo and Ioan Gruffudd; producer David Gelb; and editor Joan Sobel.

For the first time, BAFTA L.A. »


- Dixie Limbachia

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‘Wonder Woman’ Breaks Records: Biggest Live-Action Box Office Hit by Female Director

23 June 2017 1:56 PM, PDT

Wonder Woman” set a new milestone on Friday, becoming the highest-grossing live-action film to be directed by a woman.

The superhero adventure eclipsed the $609.8 million racked up by “Mamma Mia!,” the Abba musical that was directed by Phyllida Lloyd.

Wonder Woman” was directed by Patty Jenkins, who previously oversaw the Oscar-winning “Monster.” Despite the critical raves that “Monster” earned, Jenkins had to wait 14 years before directing another feature film. She only got the “Wonder Woman” gig after the original choice, Michelle MacLaren, was pushed out in the wake of creative differences.

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Wonder Woman” was backed by Warner Bros. Pictures. Critics loved the film, praising it as a breath of fresh air after a series of downbeat comic book films such as “Suicide Squad” and “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.”

Jenkins hasn’t officially signed on to direct a “Wonder Woman »


- Brent Lang

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This Week’s Hollywood Red Carpets and Parties (Photos)

23 June 2017 1:40 PM, PDT

This week’s Hollywood red carpets and parties include Netflix’s “Glow” premiere and HBO’s “The Defiant Ones” party.

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- Jacob Bryant

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Brics Film Festival Kicks Off in Chengdu, Spotlighting Talent from Emerging Regions

23 June 2017 1:05 PM, PDT

The second annual Brics International Film Festival kicked off Friday in Chengdu, the Chinese capital of Sichuan province.

The festival, which runs June 23 to 27, aims to spotlight emerging talent and established filmmakers from Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

The fest opens with “Where Has the Time Gone,” a multi-national five-part feature from Brazil’s Walter SallesAleksey Fedorchenko from Russia; Madhur Bhandarkar from India, Jia Zhangke from China, and Jahmil X.T.Quebka from South Africa.

The festival will showcase 30 films including a competition and selection of classic cinema from each nation, such as the Oscar-nommed “Central Station,” “City of God,” “The Monk and the Devil,” and “Happiness is a Four Letter Word.”

One nation will be highlighted each day of the event, starting with China on Friday and followed by Brazil, Russia, India, and South Africa.

After India hosted the first edition in 2016, next year’s event will take place in South Africa.

Related »


- Variety Staff

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Johnny Depp Apologizes for Donald Trump Assassination Joke

23 June 2017 11:23 AM, PDT

Johnny Depp has issued an apology for a controversial comment about President Donald Trump, asking, “When was the last time an actor assassinated a president?”

“It did not come out as intended, and I intended no malice. I was only trying to amuse, not to harm anyone,” the actor said in a statement to People on Friday.

Depp’s joke, in reference to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth in 1865, was made during an appearance at the Glastonbury Festival. “I want to qualify, I am not an actor. I lie for a living,” he added at the U.K. music festival. “However, it has been a while and maybe it is time.”

Shortly after news broke of Depp’s comments, the White House issued a statement strongly condemning the joke and calling on others in Hollywood to speak out.

President Trump has condemned violence in all forms and it’s sad that others like »


- Alex Stedman

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‘Love Your Neighbor,”Amparo,”Corpus Christi’ Shine at Paris Coproduction Village

23 June 2017 11:10 AM, PDT

Paris– Sharon Bar-Ziv’s “Love Your Neighbor,” the Israeli helmer’s follow up to “Room 514,” Simon Mesa Soto’s feature debut “Amparo” and Polish helmer Jan Komasa’s “Corpus Christi” were the highlights at the 4th Paris Coproduction Village which wrapped on Thursday.

Headed by Pierre-Emmanuel Fleurantin and Jeremy Zelnik, this edition of the Paris Coproduction Village showcased 12 projects in development looking for French and European co-producers, sales agents and financiers.

“Corpus Christi” turns on Daniel, a 20-year old man who comes out of a Youth Detention Center with the dream of becoming a priest. After facing rejection due to his troubled past, Daniel comes across a local Parish parish priest who suffers from alcoholism and needs his help.

Komasa is one of Poland’s best-known contemporary filmmakers. He previously directed the mini-series “Blood of the Blood,” and the critically-acclaimed films “Warsaw 44” and “Suicide Room.”

Citing “Warsaw 44,” Zelnik said Komasa was one of Poland’s rare directors »


- Elsa Keslassy

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Karlovy Vary Film Festival Honors Talent Working in Front of and Behind the Camera

23 June 2017 11:00 AM, PDT

Casey Affleck

President’s Award

An Academy Award-winner for his role in “Manchester by the Sea” (2016), Affleck will receive his kudo prior to a screening of “A Ghost Story,” in which he stars. Affleck, along with helmer-writer David Lowery, will introduce the film. Affleck starred in Lowery’s debut film “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” (2013) and recently completed production on Lowery’s “The Old Man and the Gun.”

Like his older brother, multi-hyphenate Ben, Casey Affleck has a parallel career as a writer-producer-director. He is in post on his second feature as a helmer-writer, “The Light of My Life,” in which he also stars.

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James Newton Howard

Crystal Globe

American composer and songwriter Howard will conduct the Czech National Symphony Orchestra in a performance of his music for the film “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” in front of Hotel Thermal on June 30, during the fest’s opening. Howard is currently preparing for his first live concert tour, a celebration of career highlights, with music, spoken word and video, that will visit 20 European cities.

Howard has composed music for more than 120 films, including Academy Award-nominated scores for “Defiance,” “Michael Clayton,” “The Village,” “The Fugitive,” “The Prince of Tides” and “My Best Friend’s Wedding” — not to mention Oscar-nominated songs for “Junior” and “One Fine Day.”

In addition to his contributions to film and television music, the Emmy- and Grammy-winning Howard has also composed concert pieces for the Pacific Symphony.

Paul Laverty

Crystal Globe

Laverty wrote the scripts for 12 features and two short films directed by Ken Loach, beginning with “Carla’s Song” (1996). Their most recent collaboration, “I, Daniel Blake” (2016), won the Palme d’Or at Cannes.

Laverty wrote the screenplay for Loach’s first Palme d’Or winner, “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” (2006). His credits with Loach include “My Name Is Joe,” (1998), a Cannes lead actor-winner for Peter Mullan and Cannes screenplay winner “Sweet Sixteen” (2002).

He also writes screenplays for his partner, the Spanish director and actress Icíar Bollaín.

Ken Loach

Crystal Globe

An activist as well as one of Britain’s most celebrated directors, Loach worked briefly in theater before starting as a director for BBC television in the early 1960s. There, he helmed ground-breaking dramas such as “Up the Junction” and “Cathy Come Home.” The impact of the latter led to a change in Britain’s homeless laws. Acclaimed early features such as “Poor Cow” (1967) and “Kes” (1969) brought his trademarks of social realism and compassion to the big screen.

Even though Loach’s 50-plus-year career includes a dark period when he couldn’t get a project off the ground and he directed commercials to support his family, he has been extraordinarily prolific. Undoubtedly, this is due in part to his on-going collaboration with producer Rebecca O’Brien and long-term partnerships with screenwriters including Barry Hines, Jim Allen and perhaps most fruitfully, Paul Laverty. Loach is also known for introducing exciting new acting talents.

Jeremy Renner

President’s Award

Actor, producer, musician and two-time Oscar-nominee Renner will receive his kudo at the fest’s closing gala on July 8. Renner will also introduce the crime thriller “Wind River,” directed by Taylor Sheridan.

Known for his intensity and ability to fully embody the characters he portrays, Renner received early critical acclaim as a serial killer in “Dahmer” (2002). He later established himself through roles in action and war movies, garnering an Oscar nomination for lead actor in Kathryn Bigelow’s war tale “The Hurt Locker” (2008). A supporting actor nom followed two years later for Ben Affleck’s bank heist drama “The Town” (2010).

Renner’s extensive filmography balances big-budget blockbusters such as “The Avengers” and “Mission: Impossible” series with more complex roles in “American Hustle” and “Arrival.”

In 2012, he formed the production company The Combine, with partner Don Handfield, to create, develop and produce high-quality, character-driven content for mainstream audiences.

Uma Thurman

President’s Award

The sensual, statuesque American actress and producer Uma Thurman will receive her honor on June 30, during the fest’s opening night. An Oscar-nominee for Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” (1994), Thurman’s memorable acting career is notable for her collaboration with iconic helmers.

Thurman was only a teenager when she made an impact in Stephen Frears’ “Dangerous Liaisons” (1988) and Terry Gilliam’s surreal “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen” (1988). However, the part of Mia Wallace in Tarantino’s sensational “Pulp Fiction” marked a turning point, garnering her numerous awards and nominations. Another successful Tarantino collaboration followed nearly a decade later with the cult double-header: “Kill Bill: Vols. 1 and 2” (2003, 2004). She received two Golden Globe nominations for her role as The Bride.

Thurman ultimately nabbed a Golden Globe for for her role in Mira Nair’s made-for-tv feature “Hysterical Blindness” (2002). She produced “The Accidental Husband” (2008) and the forthcoming “Girl Soldier.”

Václav Vorlíček

President’s Award

Renowned for his work for younger audiences, director-writer Vorlíček, 87, will receive an honor for his artistic contribution to Czech film.

Vorlíček teamed with writer and director Miloš Macourek, to form an original creative partnership responsible for a distinctive chapter in the development of Czech film. Their poetic vision, in which real life comes up against elements of fantasy, remains unique to this day.

Prime examples of Vorlíček and Macourek’s work include the “comic book” comedy “Who Wants to Kill Jessie?” (1966); the sci-fi comedy “You Are a Widow, Sir!” (1970).

Another comedy that employs fairytale motifs in contemporary Prague titled “How to Drown Dr. Mracek, the Lawyer” (1974); the TV series “Arabela” (1979-80); and “Rumburak” (1985).

Vorlíček is also known for his fairytale films, especially the comedy “The Girl on the Broomstick” (1971) and “Three Wishes for Cinderella” (1973), now a perennially popular Christmas classic on Czech television.

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- Alissa Simon

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Film Review: Bertrand Tavernier’s ‘My Journey Through French Cinema’

23 June 2017 10:37 AM, PDT

Whether you already consider yourself an expert on French cinema or are just beginning to explore all the country has to offer, director Bertrand Tavernier’s more-than-three-hour “My Journey Through French Cinema” provides an essential tour through the films that shaped him as a cinephile and storyteller. Clearly modeled after Martin Scorsese’s own made-for-tv journey through American Movies, this incredibly personal and occasionally idiosyncratic labor of love hails from one of the country’s leading experts on the medium, combining a wide-ranging survey with insights that only Tavernier could provide.

A celebrated helmer in his own right, Tavernier counts such masterworks as “A Sunday in the Country” and “Coup de torchon” among his credits. But the director’s contributions to the medium are hardly limited to his own filmography. Like so many French directors of his generation, Tavernier started out as a film critic, studying and championing the work of the era’s leading auteurs. His »


- Peter Debruge

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Singer and Actress Lena Horne Arrived Too Soon for Hollywood

23 June 2017 10:30 AM, PDT

June 30 would be the 100th birthday of Lena Horne, who had it all: looks, charm, and a singing voice that was noted for its “expressiveness and dramatic intensity,” as Variety once wrote. Hollywood needed her, but she didn’t need Hollywood. The racial barriers were too strong. When MGM signed her in 1942, she was already a successful singer; the studio starred her in two all-black musicals, “Cabin in the Sky” and “Stormy Weather” (which became one of her signature songs). After that, MGM gave her solos in musicals like “Ziegfeld Follies” and “Till the Clouds Roll By.” Her songs were extraneous to the plot; that way, her sequences could be cut for movie theaters that refused to screen films with blacks in prominent roles. Horne continued to have a successful career in nightclubs, records, Broadway and TV well into the 1990s, and she fought for civil rights and equality until her death in 2010, at age 92.

Horne was »


- Tim Gray

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Future Frames Showcase at Karlovy Vary Casts the Spotlight on Promising Creative Talent

23 June 2017 10:30 AM, PDT

Future Frames, a next-generation showcase, spotlights short works by students and recent graduates of European film schools. The selection is curated by the Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival in cooperation with European Film Promotion. The selected directors and their films will be introduced to the public, press and industry July 2-5 in the spa town. Canadian director Denis Coté will mentor the group and teach a masterclass. The Sundance Channel and Nespresso are partners of Future Frames 2017.

Icelandic helmer Elsa Maria Jakobsdóttir (“Atelier”) neatly sums up the opinion of all the young participants: “I’m looking forward to meeting the filmmakers and seeing what they are up to. I think directors should network more and have each other’s back. Producers are generally amazingly good at this. And look where they’re at!”

Michal Blaško

“Atlantis, 2003”

Academy of Performing Arts, Bratislava

Slovak Republic

Blaško’s B.A. project, the gripping drama “Atlantis, 2003,” screened in the recent Cannes Cinefondation competition. It asks a universal question: “How responsible are we for each other?” Blaško is interested in the theme of human conscience. “I find it so interesting to build characters and, after knowing them for some time, to place them in situations where they have to prove their inner strength, neutrality or weakness,” he says. He is preparing his M.A. degree film, “Victims,” and co-directing a short animation “Wild Beasts.” The busy Blaško is also developing a feature with producer Jakub Viktorín.

Maria Eriksson

“Schoolyard Blues”

Stockholm Academy of Dramatic Arts, Sweden

Eriksson completed her masters in film direction with the sensitive drama “Schoolyard Blues,” featuring impressive performances by child actors. “I make films that focus on the relationships between us, the small things we do that have big consequences,” she says. “I want my films to have an emotional impact. I want to hit the heart first, then the mind. Not the other way around.” After another short based on the same themes as “Schoolyard Blues,” she plans to move into features. She’s drawn to poetic realism and influenced by filmmakers such as Andrea Arnold and Bo Widerberg.

Elsa María Jakobsdóttir

Atelier

National Film School of Denmark,

Iceland

Jakobsdóttir, who has a background in sociology and journalism, was the first Icelandic woman to be accepted into the directing program at the National Film School of Denmark. Her potent drama “Atelier” is her graduation project. “I’m a researcher at heart,” Jakobsdóttir says. “Lately I’ve been interested in modern self-help culture and creepy Scandinavian minimalism.” She knows which film she wants to make next and is looking for the right producer. “I also want to try for once to write together with a screenwriter. So, I’m people scouting these days. I’m also looking for an office in Copenhagen. Anyone?”

Liene Linde

“Seven Awkward Sex Scenes”

Latvian Academy of Culture, Latvia

A filmmaker and critic, Linde wants to push cinematic boundaries. She says: “We live in a world of very simplified narratives; what I want to get across with my films is the idea that life is a complex, beautiful and funny mystery.” Courageous artists inspire her. “Possibly the biggest influence for me in recent years has been the animated feature ‘Rocks in My Pockets’ by the New York-based Latvian animator Signe Baumane. She was so brutally honest about herself and her past in this film; this honesty, coupled with the black, sharp sense of humor resonated deeply in me.”

Matei

Lucaci-Grunberg

“Bones for Otto”

National University of Theater and Film I.L. Caragiale, Bucharest, Romania

Lucaci-Grunberg is a theater and film director, screenwriter and playwright, who is also pursuing his doctorate. “Bones” offers a surprising, lightly comic night out with a veteran of the world’s oldest profession and a newbie. “Momentarily I am exploring comedies,” Lucaci-Grunberg says. “I would like to try different types of comedies: from social comedies to dark comedies to dialogue-based comedies and even slapstick. I think that in comedy you can find a lot of truth and you don’t have to take yourself too seriously. Also, I consider comedies very hard to write and direct, which represents an interesting challenge.”

Joren Molter

“Greetings From Kropsdam”

Netherlands Film Academy, Netherlands

“I try to make films with an ecstatic value in the storytelling and a form that reflects on our society,” Molter says. “Films where you can feel the hand of the author in the stylistic choices. I’m fascinated by themes such as dark human urges and weaknesses.” He’s working as a commercial director and developing a film for television. The Dutch Film Fund is backing his next short “Kind,” which will shoot this fall. “I’m also developing a screenplay for my first feature film together with my screenwriter and the production company Family Affair Films.”

Katarina Morano

“Ljubljana-München 15:27”

Academy for Theater, Radio, Film and Television, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Morano’s previous short, “Where To (Kam),” was nominated for a student Oscar. The ambitious drama “Ljubljana-München 15:27,” about a young couple that ultimately realizes that everything they thought was temporary has suddenly become permanent, is her graduation project. “I would love to make films that, for a brief moment, stop us, stop the time, make us question our path and beyond all make us see what we so often try not to see,” she says. Although her academic career is complete, she observes, “the more time I spend with films, the more I see that film school never finishes.”

Giorgi Mukhadze

“Waiting for Ana”

Shota Rustaveli Theater and Film Georgia State University, Georgia

Tbilisi-based Mukhadze has worked as a director, assistant director and screenwriter for several production companies. “Waiting for Ana” is his graduation film. He’s working on a new short and writing a script for his first feature. He says: “I never think of the type of film I want to make. I think of the story behind it and the form comes along. It is not a very rational and consciousness decision.” Asked about his influences, he cites “a sequence of my life and observations. The books I have read, the films I have watched, but reality affects me most.”

Kirsikka Saari

“After the Reunion”

Elo Helsinki Film School, Finland

Saari is a co-founder of the production company Tuffi Film and previously worked as a journalist. Before making her directing debut, she penned several prize-winning scripts. She aims to create films that make people laugh and cry at the same time, something epitomized by her rueful dramedy “After the Reunion.” Saari says: “Everyday life is my inspiration, I see a lot of humor in the everyday struggle of people.” She’s working on a feature-length comedy about an extended family and several short film projects. She also wrote the screenplay for Selma Vilhunen’s next feature, titled “Stupid Young Heart.”

Damián Vondrášek

“Imprisoned”

Famu, Czech Republic

Vondrášek is finishing his third year at Famu and would like to get a master’s degree. He’s preparing his B.A. project. “The story is a reaction to the rising extremism in Europe,” he says. Meanwhile, “Imprisoned” is an intimate, realistic drama treating various forms of imprisonment. He cites Tobias Lindholm from Denmark and Corneliu Porumboiu from Romania as filmmakers that inspire him. “I would like to make films that have something important to say, that are authentic to reality and my personal experience. … Realistic drama is something which I naturally tend to.”

Related storiesKarlovy Vary Film Festival Honors Talent Working in Front of and Behind the CameraKarlovy Vary International Film Festival Celebrates Critics Choice MoviesKarlovy Vary International Film Festival Showcases Stories of Social Turmoil »


- Alissa Simon

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Karlovy Vary International Film Festival Celebrates Critics Choice Movies

23 June 2017 10:15 AM, PDT

Variety Critics Choice celebrates its 20th anniversary as a key Karlovy Vary International Film Festival section.

Animals

Switzerland-Austria-Poland

If you can’t trust the talking cat, whom do you trust? Such are brain-frying quandaries viewers may face deep into the darkness of this deliciously unhinged, blood-laced adult fairy tale from Swiss-Polish writer-director Greg Zglinski. Setting out with real-world levels of macabre nastiness as it wittily probes the marital faultlines between a bourgeois Viennese couple attempting a restorative Alpine getaway, the film takes a smooth, almost imperceptible left turn into David Lynch-worthy realms of illogic that will leave adventurous audiences both rapt and dazed, dreamily uncertain of where exactly they lost the plot. Unraveling this cat’s-cradle isn’t half as important or pleasurable as getting entangled in it to begin with. Zglinski’s espresso-dark humor and icy formal precision may nod to a host of expert cinematic mind-gamers, from Roman Polanski to Lars von Trier, but “Animals” gleefully cultivates its very own kind of crazy.

Guy Lodge

Columbus

U.S.

There’s an old saying, often attributed to Martin Mull: “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” In many ways first-time writer-director Kogonada’s “Columbus” treats architecture like music, as its protagonists write, talk, bicker and dance about an extraordinary collection of modernist structures in the unassuming Midwest town of Columbus, Ind. The hypnotically paced drama carried by the serendipitous odd-couple pairing of John Cho and Haley Lu Richardson is lovely and tender, marking the mono-monikered Kogonada as an auteur to watch. The relationships between each of the characters are imbued with warmth and humanity, and the filmmaking — like the city’s structures designed by the likes of Eero Saarinen and I.M. Pei — are gorgeous. In this unconventional American film, Kogonada is less interested in romance than in the characters’ overlapping and divergent worldviews and dreams, based on culture, environment, and upbringing.

— Geoff Berkshire

The Distinguished Citizen

Argentina-Spain

Taciturn novelist Daniel Mantovani (Argentine star Oscar Martínez, who won the best actor prize at the Venice film festival for his performance) has an ambivalent relationship to fame: It has brought him the kind of wealth few authors can ever imagine, yet he’s concerned such success means he’s not the challenging writer he was at one time — an idea that’s amusingly conveyed in the opening scene, when he voices his fears while receiving the Nobel prize. Five years later, the Barcelona-based author remains too much in demand, politely declining most offers, until he gets a letter from his hometown of Salas, Argentina. It’s been four decades since he’s been back, despite using Salas as the setting for all his stories, and his return provides not only humor, but poignant insights into such themes as the burden of success, lost ideals, and whether artists truly give back to the communities they’ve creatively mined for decades.

— Jay Weissberg

God’s Own Country

U.K.

In case it didn’t court “Brokeback Mountain” comparisons directly enough with its tale of two young sheep farmers finding love in a hopeless place, “God’s Own Country” seals the deal with one winkingly quoted shot: a work shirt draped on a wire hanger, poignantly removed from its wearer. Twelve years on, Ang Lee’s film has proven enough of a cultural milestone to merit such affectionate homage; luckily, Francis Lee’s tender, muscular Yorkshire romance has enough of an individual voice to get away with it, depicting a tentative romance between coarse English farmboy Johnny (Josh O’Connor) and the Romanian migrant worker Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu) who comes to work for the season. Intimacy doesn’t come naturally to a man who has been raised in a household where caring is expressed through work, but rather than over-exerting well-worn clichés about rural homophobia, the film reveals pockets of tolerance in unexpected places.

Guy Lodge

Heal the Living

France

A 17-year-old car crash victim lies brain-dead in a hospital, as doctors urgently pitch the virtues of organ donation to his distraught parents; over in another town, a middle-aged mother of two with a severely degenerative heart condition goes on the waiting list for a transplant. What sounds like fodder for a routinely gripping episode of “ER” is complicated with rare depths of personal and sensual detail in French director Katell Quillévéré’s sublimely compassionate, heart-crushing third feature. More polished but no less authentically humane than her previous works “Suzanne” and “Love Like Poison,” this spidering ensemble piece — adapted from Maylis de Kerangal’s internationally acclaimed 2014 novel — boasts beautifully pitched performances from the likes of Tahar Rahim and Emmanuelle Seigner. But it’s Quillévéré’s soaring visual and sonic acumen that suffuses this sad, potentially familiar hospital drama with true grace.

Guy Lodge

Hounds of Love

Australia

An outwardly normal suburban Perth couple who abduct, torture, and murder schoolgirls must face their funny games in this genre-bending powerhouse thriller from first-time director Ben Young. Brave audiences will be rewarded, if that’s the word, with a harrowing ride that morphs from discrete horror to probing character study and back again in a vivid yet admirably restrained 108 minutes. Far from Michael Haneke-level lurid, the film generates a coiled depravity and almost unbearable tension from the determined tracking shots of cinematographer Michael McDermott and Dan Luscombe’s trance-like, Tangerine Dream-inspired score. Clayton Jauncey’s production design is detailed and evocative, keyed around kitchen knives. For such a bold film to work, the performances must be all-in, and the three leads are committed to Young’s vision: Ashleigh Cummings is fearless as the would-be victim, while Emma Booth is terrifyingly skittish and Stephen Curry (who is, believe it or not, a popular Australian comedian) redolent of pure evil.

— Eddie Cockrell

Lost in Paris

Belgium-France

As anyone who has seen “L’Iceberg” and “The Fairy” knows, Abel and Gordon are quite possibly the two funniest clowns working in cinema today. No, really: Dominique Abel is a Belgian-born, burlesque-trained human pretzel and gifted physical comic on par with Chaplin or Keaton, while real-life Australian wife Fiona Gordon is a Tilda Swinton-tall redhead with Olive Oyl elbows and an Easter Island profile. With their latest film, they take audiences to Paris, where she plays a shy librarian desperate to find her missing Aunt Martha (the final role of “Amour” star Emmanuelle Riva), while he plays a harmless hobo who pops up practically everywhere she goes. Let the comic situations begin as this duo travels from one corner of the city to another (nearly getting incinerated at Père Lachaise cemetery one moment, dangling from the rafters of the Eiffel Tower the next), creating some of the funniest moments you’ll see on screen all year.

— Peter Debruge

Merry Christmas Mr. Mo

South Korea

A droll comic drama filmed in glorious widescreen black-and-white, “Merry Christmas Mr. Mo” follows a terminally ill barber (played by distinguished character actor Ki Joo-bong) whose dying wish is to make a short film directed by his distant son. What might have been a mawkish exercise in implausibility is instead fashioned into a consistently amusing and frequently touching tale of love, family and reconciliation with the past. Played to deadpan perfection by an appealing cast and directed with impressive assurance by first-time feature helmer Lim Dae-hyung, this lovely tale channels the spirit of early Jim Jarmusch films such as “Stranger Than Paradise” into its ultra low-key humor, dialogue non-sequiturs and loving monochrome photography of notionally unremarkable locations. Without ever succumbing to sentimentality, this offbeat crowd-pleaser will also move many viewers to tears by the time Mr. Mo’s task is completed.

Richard Kuipers

Strawberry Days

Sweden

Every summer, the Polish workers come to the Swedish countryside and pick strawberries. They tend the fields all day and keep to themselves at night, while the landowners hardly bother to learn their names. It’s a cycle as sure as the seasons themselves, though this year is different as one of the foreign fruit-pickers’ kids is old enough to take an interest in the host family’s daughter, and there among the strawberries a case of young love blossoms for the first time, complicating the entire arrangement, for the migrant workers are expected to make themselves invisible. In this sensitive, sun-kissed teenage romance, Swedish director Wiktor Ericsson invites us to recognize and identify with these faceless outsiders, asking for equality on the simplest terms. Though the setting may be specific, its appeal is universal, boasting a texture so rich, you can practically smell the ripe strawberries in the air.

— Peter Debruge

Those Who Make Revolution Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves

Canada

With its multiple aspect ratios, on-screen quotes, and cutaways to news broadcasts and documentary footage — not to mention a musical overture and interlude — this three-hour Quebecois political epic unfurls with a bravado as outsized as its title. Inspired by the student demonstrations that sparked the Maple Spring in 2012, co-directors Mathieu Denis and Simon Lavoie apply the language of radical cinema to a tense, mournful and profoundly ambivalent portrait of radicalism. Following four far-left activists as they commit acts of vandalism and terror to foment an uprising against the capitalist system, the film channels their passion while insistently questioning their methods and perspective. Politics aside, the dynamics at the film’s heart are practically universal among youth movements, resulting in a bold portrait that pulses with the vitality of four young people who, however flawed or foolhardy, sincerely want to change the world.

Scott Tobias

Related storiesKarlovy Vary Film Festival Honors Talent Working in Front of and Behind the CameraFuture Frames Showcase at Karlovy Vary Casts the Spotlight on Promising Creative TalentKarlovy Vary International Film Festival Showcases Stories of Social Turmoil »


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