THIS WEEK IN FILM: This year’s Berlinale proves to be disappointing to critics. Award ceremonies continue to dole out awards, with the Oscars not far away. Meanwhile, IFC acquires three pictures over a single week.
BERLINALE: As the 60th Berlin International Film Festival grinds to a halt, indieWIRE was on the scene to report back from the prestigious fest. Sadly much of the in-depth coverage points to the general consensus that this year’s lineup was a major disappointment. In his first entry for the Berlinale Critics Notebook, indieWIRE contributor Shane Danielsen described the overall mood at the fest as “neutral” and labeled it “a two-star festival, no more.” Things didn’t get any better for Danielsen, as he recounted in his next entry, taking specific aim at Berlinale’s director Dieter Kosslick, who chose to include films such as Oskar Roehler’s “Jew Suss,” a film Danielsen bluntly described as a “a staggeringly awful drama.” Of Kosslick, he wrote: “I have never seen a festival director with less idea of what constitutes a Competition selection.” His opinion begs to take into account that two of the festival’s best received pictures, Jan Hrebejk’s “Kawasaki’s Rose,” and Sylvain Chomet’s animation “The Illusionist” weren’t in the official competition but were relegated to lineups that offered no hope of securing the coveted Golden Bear award.
Despite the tepidly average fare offered up by the Berlinale, some films shined through. Noah Baumbach’s latest, “Greenberg,” met some generally favorable reviews, as did the other high-profile pictures, Martin Scorcese’s “Shutter Island” and Roman Polanski’s “The Ghost Writer.”
Of all the news to come out of Berlinale, the most potentially intriguing was news that Martin Scorcese and Lars Von Trier had plans to collaborate on a new “Taxi Driver.” To the relief of many (not including myself) the two auteurs denied anything of the sort.
AWARD LAND: With awards season still under way, a truckload of awards were handed out this past week. Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker” continued down its award-laden path toward the Academy Awards, with a win for Best Edited Feature at the American Cinema Editor’s annual ACE Eddie awards. Another film vying for Best Picture at the Oscar’s, the Coen Brothers’s “A Serious Man,” took top honors at The International Cinephile Society. In England, Jacques Audiard’s Cannes winner “A Prophet,” was named film of the year at the Top London Critic Honors. And Chinese-Canadian director Lixin Fan continued his winning steak at the 2010 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, by winning the Best Feature prize for his “Last Train Home,” also the winner of the top award at the Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival. indieWIRE continues to update its Awards Tracker, so be sure to stay up to date with all the latest developments.
DEALS: Matching the bustling nature of awards week, a large number of films were bought up by distributors. Lorber Films picked up Robert Guediguian’s “Army of Crime” (“L’armée du crime”) for U.S. distribution. Sony Pictures Classics acquired all U.S. and Latin American rights to David Michod’s Sundance prize winner “Animal Kingdom.” IFC had a busy week, obtaining North American rights to both Bahman Ghobadi’s “No One Knows About Persian Cats,” Duncan Ward’s star-studded “Boogie Woogie,” and Natalia Smirnoff’s Berlinale entry “Puzzle.”
For more of this week’s news stories be sure to check out the links below…
Box Office 2.0: The Worldwide Box Office Wrath of “Khan”
“‘My Name Is Khan’ had the biggest box office weekend ever on a Bolllywood film in North America,” Sheila DeLoach, Executive Vice-President of Distribution at Fox Searchlight confirmed to indieWIRE.
Austin Society Honors Nesmith
The event honors Texans who have made a significant contribution to the film and media industry.
Paladin Has “Great Directors”
“This film is truly a dream project for me as someone who grew up interpreting art and cinema,” director Ismailos said in a statement.
CFC and SHORTSNONSTOP Name Winners
Now in its second year, it rewards a $1500 cash prize each quarter selected by an international jury. The next prize will be awarded April 15, 2010.
Kiwi Shorts: New Zealand Filmmakers Conquer Sundance, Take Aim at Berlin
With so many talented Kiwis making noise on the festival circuit, here’s a look at some of the most promising directors working in Peter Jackson’s home country.
“Lions” To Close SXSW; Additional Titles Added
The South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Conference and Festival has announced that Chris Morris’ Sundance favorite “Four Lions” will be its Closing Night film, to play on Saturday, March 20 at the Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas.
Reflecting a Revolution: 10 Mexican Filmmakers Examine Their Homeland
“I have a hole in my heart,” the filmmaker told me, looking a bit shell-shocked and explaining that seeing the ten films on the big screen for the first time earlier that night was a “very heavy” experience.
Lucrecia Martel Dominates List of Top Latin American Films of the Decade
Argentina came up as the country with the most films on the list, with a total of 37 mentions, including the number one spot for Lucrecia Martel’s “La Cienaga.”
For Your Consideration: Predicting The Directing and Screenwriting Winners
First off, though, the foreseen. In the best director race, “The Hurt Locker”‘s Kathryn Bigelow is coming off a seemingly unbeatable list of precursor wins, from the DGA (only six times since the DGA Award’s inception has the DGA Award winner not won the Academy Award), to pretty much every critics award available.
China’s Zhang Yimou Salutes Coens in Latest, “A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop”
“The Coen brothers film [“Blood Simple”] is one I liked very much. I saw it in the 1980s in Cannes, but I didn’t understand it because they didn’t have subtitles in Chinese back then, so I only saw the images,” said maverick Chinese director Zhang Yimou in Berlin Sunday afternoon following the premiere of his latest, “San qiang pai an jing qi” (A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop).
Banksy Speaks in Berlin
An apparent press conference by “Exit Through the Gift Shop” director, and mysterious street artist, Banksy was canceled in Berlin today. A subject of the film, which debuted last month at the Sundance Film Festival, Banksy remains an incognito artist.