Friday, December 15, 2017


Thursday, December 14, 2017


Asia Society


The biggest snub this year was Robert Campillo’s “BPM.” The French drama chronicling the work of ACT UP Paris won the Grand Prize at Cannes as well as Best Foreign Language Film from LAFCA, the NYFCC and the SFFCC, among others. It’s also both a Independent Spirit Award and Golden Globe nominee in their equivalent categories. While not as egregious as last year’s snub of “Elle” it will still be known as one of the biggest nomination misses in the history of this honor.
The other notable snub was Angelina Jolie’s “First They Killed My Father.” There was certainly a lot of controversy over the film including the fact an American company, Netflix, funded the film.  Jolie has also been a legal Cambodian citizen for over a decade, but it’s clear the Phase I committee didn’t take to the film overall. Word was the committee had doubts over its qualifications since it debuted at Telluride.
The Phase I committee, consisting of Los Angeles-based Academy members, screened the original submissions in the category between mid-October and December 11. The group’s top six choices, augmented by three additional selections voted by the Academy’s Foreign Language Film Award Executive Committee, constitute the shortlist.
Academy members are now eligible to participate in the nominations round of voting in New York, London, Los Angeles and, for the first time, the San Francisco Bay Area, will screen the nine shortlisted films in theaters over a three-day period from Friday, January 12, through Sunday, January 14, with three films screening each day. Additionally, international members (who live outside of the U.K.) will be invited to opt-in to stream the nine shortlisted films on the Academy’s member site. Members must see all nine films before casting their ballots.
It’s worth noting the inclusion of international members to vote should help somewhat polarizing films like “The Square” and “Foxtrot” make the cut.  Maybe.
Nominations for the 90th Academy Awards®will be announced on Tuesday, January 23, 2018.

Arriving in a snowy New York City today, Angelina Jolie faced the cold weather with ladylike poise in a tailored puffer by Canada Goose, a pleated skirt, and sleek boots.


An observation:

This is FTKMF's acclaim page in the Netflix FYC site:

And this is Mudbound's:

Aside from the fact that Mudbound has obviously received a lot more recognition, what is noticeable in its acclaim page is that it included even the less significant ones from the Hollywood Film Awards.  FTKMF was the Hollywood Film Awards' Foreign Language Film of the Year but this was left off of its acclaim page.  Since they are both Netflix films being promoted on the same Netflix site, I would imagine that the final decision on what to post rested on the respective filmmakers and what is in FTKMF's acclaim page is what Angelina approved to be there.

Brad introduced Lost City of Z at a PGA FYC screening yesterday but didn't sit for the Q&A.  Lost City of Z is not in the Awards conversation and it was actually released last year, but Brad is an executive producer and James Gray is also the director of Ad Astra.

Angelina has a couple of FTKMF engagements today in NY and she has the UNCA event tomorrow so there should be a lot more photos of her later.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

by Nancy Tartaglione
December 13, 2017 2:43pm

The Oscars shortlist for Best Foreign Language Film will be announced later this week, revealing the nine titles that will vie for the ultimate five nomination slots. As with each year, there are dozens of distinct submissions from a host of countries — 92 this time around — with new voices and repeat filmmakers in the mix. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Phase One and Executive Committees, which weed out the lead crop, have been unpredictable in the past and we’ll know for certain what’s made the cut in short fashion.

In the meantime, below is my annual look inside the films which appear to be the strongest contenders. I spoke with the directors of each picture about their inspirations and more. The Golden Globes announced its nominations earlier this week and those movies are all here, as are others that have a shortlist shot and/or are worth bearing in mind once the dust settles. The titles below are in no particular order.

FIRST THEY KILLED MY FATHER (Cambodia); Director: Angelina Jolie; U.S. Distributor: Netflix
On Monday, Angelina Jolie scored her second nomination in the Golden Globes Foreign Language category with First They Killed My Father, the drama about author and human rights activist Loung Ung’s life under the rule of the deadly Khmer Rouge. Jolie holds dual U.S./Cambodian citizenship, and shot the film in Khmer. She says she didn’t see it so much as a challenge, but “something that was essential to the expression and soul of the film. This is their history, and their language. I’m thrilled the film has been able to reach audiences around the world but it was made first and foremost for and with people in Cambodia.”
I asked her if, given the subject matter, it was difficult to shoot in the country and she told me the biggest consideration “was that we were shooting in some cases on the very land where people had been killed, with a cast and crew made up of survivors and children of survivors. Taking the time to discuss scenes, to prepare people for what was going to happen and to hear their views, and making time and space for people to pray together, was so important. These discussions shaped our days on set and made the experience moving and meaningful.”
The film has also been hailed as a technical achievement for the local industry. Says Jolie, “It was clear we would be building an infrastructure while making the film. While it is not necessarily easy, it unifies the crew in a very unique way. What we didn’t have we made. I’ve never had the experience of a crew as invested and so willing to learn from each other and work together to find a solution.” Are there other Cambodian films in her future? “My focus now will be continuing to support other filmmakers in Cambodia telling Cambodian stories. I will of course continue to find ways to participate however I can,” she says.

You’re introducing First They Killed My Father, which you shot for director Angelina Jolie. Can you talk about how you got onto the project?
I was about to embark on a Michael Winterbottom film about Russ Meyer — a comedy with Will Ferrell — and I was so, so looking forward to doing it. But the production fell apart two, three weeks before I was officially due to start. I was quite shocked when it collapsed. I knew it so well; I was reconnoitering it in downtown Los Angeles with Michael — it was such a fun project.
Angelina knew Michael and knew I was attached to his film. When I flew back home to Copenhagen, she and [producer] Mike Vieira called. We talked for about 45 minutes, mostly about the concept of a subjective camera and how we were going to achieve it.
If I had three months or three years to think about it, I would never had said no to this film. I met the crew, asked them if they wanted to carry on. I said I wanted to make the same film as Angelina. If they wanted to do that, then the film is more important than our egos.
I very quickly brought a few people in to help me. I brought a camera builder in from Sweden who has worked with me on many, many films. He was my teacher from 30 years ago, a close friend and a brilliant engineer. He could work [on location] in the rice paddies with the welder and fix things.

First They Killed My Father is told from the point-of-view of 7-year-old Loung Ung, played by Sreymoch Sareum. Can you talk about your approach to her as a character and how her perspective of the story suggested your visual approach? 
The film is, as much as we could get, this young girl witnessing what goes on around her. That’s easy to sort of equate in your head — but then, from that, to doing it is something else. It’s not just about POV, because a POV is many things. A child will look at the face of an opposing actor, but she might for no apparent reason and for no intellectual reason, just because she’s a child, just wander off and get distracted by a flower or dancing light or butterflies. So it's the speed with which her glance moves from one thing to another, it’s why she moves from the more obvious POV.
We had Steadicam, and a strong Steadicam shooter. But I needed something between handheld and Steadicam. Not shakiness, but an agility, and a lightness. Which is actually why I’ve gone smaller — using smaller rigs — and why I’ve shot multiple formats from time to time. Because at least I know I can get that agility. [Due to Netflix delivery requirements, this project was shot in 4K, using a combination of Sony CineAlta PMW-F55 cameras and Panavision Primo, Leica Summicron-C and Angenieux Optimo lenses.]
Then it became very clear that we had to always shoot her first. We created a kind of space or a form where the actors should work. We gave them guidelines. Sreymoch was very talented, very composed. We did allow her to just move where she wanted to go. Which took me back to my acceptance of freedom, independence and limitation of documentary work. I just had to try to let things go. I did it in Slumdog. You try to control, but you cannot control everything.

These are long takes through complicated sets and action.
Well the only way forward with my three days’ prep was to say, let’s build on her experience, let’s watch her experience, let’s start the day with the biggest scene. As long as you know emotionally what you’re doing, as long as you know you have enough experience about what she will do, then you can go with a long lens, sometimes double shoot, sometimes track and move. So, it’s not Steadicam all the time.

You go to overhead shots several times. How did that decision come about?
I remember showing Angelina some highly magnified photographs of the DNA of tears, which I found on the net. They looked like a mixture of artwork and satellite imagery. The wonderful thing about Angelina, she has an artistic gene. She was always open to debate about color, about light, about shadow, always opens, even under stress.
I showed her these pictures of tears. And then we started talking about satellite pictures, from above, from God’s point of view. I guess out of that, the tear landscapes and God’s point of view became the drone shots. So I heaved a drone team in from Thailand. It was not so much about movement — there are very few moments where the drone actually moves — but looking down at these subjects and asking why is this happening.

A few times during the story Loung has flashbacks to her earlier life.
There’s a yearning. After we’d gone pretty well into the film, to the point where she is experiencing hunger, there is a scene where they’re talking about what they miss the most [about their previous life]. It’s before the father is taken away, at night. At that time, in that scene, it’s yearning. We go into her face and she’s in her old clothes and we’re back in her flat.
We decided to shoot it differently, to have it half back in the flat, so you see the food with pinks and yellows and cyans, a boar’s head, all the things that she dreamed of — overcolored, like surreal, enhanced, saturated colors.
And then I felt there was something slightly wrong about that. Angelina and I chatted about it. We decided to put in the fencing of the hut [in the Khmer Rouge labor camp] into the picture. So you're halfway back in the home, but there's also the fencing of the prison hut in the frame.

Did you use visual effects for that?
I built the bloody fencing in the flat in this ridiculous location in Battambang. Not me, but Tom Brown, the production designer — he lugged the fencing and we built it and I lit it. I dimmed the light so I could move the color temperature from colorful to cold, and then there’s a [Khmer Rouge] guard walking by. It just got more and more complicated. I was tracking round this flat that I think Angelina has purchased — a very nice flat that had seen better days. That’s where we shot their home.
But that’s the yearning. The color — because she’s been more and more deprived [in the camp]. The deprivation factor starts at the first roadblock, where she sees her mother’s red dress. This young soldier just takes it and holds it up and throws it into the bag.
Again, Angelina’s casting. That young actor who plays a Khmer Rouge soldier, at this stage of the fight he’s an example of what they believe in. Which is why this film is extremely important today. Whether we talk about ISIS or we talk about European children, if there's one thing we unanimously links cultures, it’s how we treat children. Because if you don’t treat your children properly, if you don’t do the best you can with your children and others, they will lose their way, and, if worse comes to worst, they’re going to turn on you.

But the film takes pains not to blame the child soldiers.
It’s our fault. It’s still our fault. And it seems always to be our fault. It can be rectified. There is hope.

When you’re shooting difficult scenes with child actors, how do you divorce yourself from the emotions they are showing?
Easily, and for most cinematographers I think I’d say the same. We're so damn busy. We’re busy physically, doing what we have to do, mentally thinking at the same time about what we’re doing and why, continually questioning our activities. And there’s the social engineering. My antenna’s out to the sound, to the lights, to the actors, to what else is going on in the background, because I may see something else more interesting I always shoot with both eyes open.
I remember my Polish teacher at film school saying, “You sit there with your eye in the eyepiece but your left eye’s going around and around, I’ve never seen that before.” That comes from my background as a still photographer. I always used rangefinder cameras — a Leica — so I could shoot with both eyes open.
do get emotionally involved; I can give you many examples. I even get touched at grading. When I was grading First They Killed my Father frame-by-frame in London, I found myself as I was in this high-speed technical environment getting goose bumps, particularly around the scene at the end. I said to myself, “This has got to be good — otherwise why am I getting emotionally involved like this?”
Oddly, I found that more so happening in the grading than when I was physically on location shooting in Cambodia in 120°F, 100 percent humidity. I’ve done some pretty wacky films — I shot 127 Hours in a slot canyon and Slumdog was high-speed chasing through feces-ridden slums. I was just on Kursk with [director] Thomas Vinterberg, where I was working with the camera underwater for hours and hours every day — I lost 11 stone, 11 kilos.

That can't be good for you.
I’m like De Niro and method acting. But this film was so tough. There was one day when 12 people went down due to exhaustion and heat. It was that tough.

A Netflix production, First They Killed My Father is the official Cambodian entry in the 2017 Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.

Angelina Jolie, foreign language motion picture (“First They Killed My Father”) and animated motion picture (“The Breadwinner”): I’m sincerely moved and overwhelmed by the foreign language film nomination. I’m grateful to the HFPA for acknowledging our film.

Loung Ung, foreign language motion picture (“First They Killed My Father”): In the Khmer Rouge genocide, an estimated 90 percent of artists were killed. Now, almost 40 years later, a new generation of artists came together to make this film in Cambodia.
I am so proud of them all, and honored to be part of it alongside everyone who brought their talents, love and compassion to the set every day. Awkoon (thank you very much in Khmer).

Judi Dench, actress, motion picture-musical or comedy (“Victoria and Abdul”): The Golden Globes, hooray! What wonderful news on such a snowy day in London.

Meryl Streep, actress, motion picture-drama (“The Post”): I’m thrilled for the movie, for Steven (Spielberg) and Tom (Hanks), and for the incredible ensemble of actors who made this movie need its moment in history.

Did you have any idea that the Weinstein reporting would open the floodgates on other stories of powerful media figures engaging in sexual abuse?
Kantor: It’s counterintuitive. One of our editors said to us, “You know he’s not that famous.” It was true, because Weinstein was Hollywood famous, but he wasn’t a household name. One of our editors, Matt Purdy, has an interesting theory, which is that this was the rare situation in which the accusers were more famous than the accused.
I’m of two minds about the potency of fame in making this story impactful. On one hand, I kind of resist and resent it, because I believe every woman’s story counts. Harvey Weinstein appears to have done the same thing to a lot of women regardless of their stature in the industry. As a journalist and as a human being, I don’t like the idea of weighting the more famous women’s stories more heavily than the lesser-known women’s stories. That said, I have to concede that the impact of big stars like Ashley Judd, Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow going on the record was enormous, in part because they were saying it’s not shameful to tell your story. I ask myself would it have played out the same way if the really famous women had not come forward? I’m not sure it would have.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Monday, December 11, 2017