Global superstars Lady Gaga, Ryan Gosling and Vanessa Redgrave descend on Venice this week as the annual film festival kicks off Wednesday to controversy over the inclusion of Netflix productions and there being just one female director in competition. Some 21 features will be locking horns for the prized Golden Lion, which will be awarded on September 8 at the Palazzo del Cinema on the Venice Lido, the iconic setting for Luchino Visconti's masterpiece "Death in Venice". The festival jury is chaired by Guillermo Del Toro, last year's winner with "The Shape of Water". Australian Jennifer Kent is the only woman gunning for the Golden Lion this year, with "The Nightingale". The lack of female directors was blasted by feminist associations in an open letter sent on August 11 to the festival's artistic director Alberto Barbera. The letter was a reaction not just to the festival's male-centric selection but also to statements by Barbera, who in a recent press conference explained that he … [Read more...] about Glamorous Venice Film Festival courts controversy
Controversial foreign films
In just 20 days, Russia hosts the tournament of its lifetime. But one prisoner’s lonely campaign threatens to overshadow the celebrations. Oleg Sentsov, a Crimean filmmaker detained during the Russian annexation in 2014, is 11 days into a hunger strike. He told family and friends he is ready to go to the end. The aim, he says, is not his own personal freedom, but that of 64 different Ukrainian political prisoners held in Russia. If nothing happens by the time the World Cup opens in mid-June, Mr Sentsov will be on the edge of irreversible physical change, and possibly worse. “The timing is no coincidence,” his cousin Natalya Kaplan tells The Independent. “His exact words to us were that if he dies during the World Cup he would be happy for having drawn attention to Ukrainian political prisoners.” Ms Kaplan says her cousin had been forced to take action out of a sense of desperation. Already in his fifth year of a disputed … [Read more...] about Ukrainian film-maker times hunger strike in Siberian prison with Russia World Cup
It would be exaggerating to say that Cannes at the beginning of last week was like a ghost town but the world’s flashiest film festival began in unusually subdued fashion. The organisers had brought the event forward a day and it seemed that the world’s press and many of the industry delegates hadn’t noticed. The vast subterranean halls of the festival Palais where the industry event, the Marché Du Film, is based, were very empty. Everyone in Cannes likes to complain, even if they are secretly very glad to be there. Reviewers were grumbling about new screening arrangements which meant that they couldn’t see or write about the films in advance of their official red carpet premieres. With their usual perversity, well-heeled distributors expressed their disappointment that they were able to get tables in their favourite restaurants. In normal, busier circumstances, they would have had to book months in advance. At least, the opening ceremony itself … [Read more...] about Cannes 2018: another year of controversy, glamour and absurdity at the film festival
Investigative sports journalist Hajo Seppelt will be granted a Russian visa to attend the 2018 World Cup. Earlier, the country had refused his request despite Seppelt holding FIFA accreditation. German television company ARD launched an investigation after Seppelt was refused a visa and declared persona non grata by Russia on Saturday, despite being accredited to attend matches. The country’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Heiko Maas, announced on Twitter: “Intermediate success: Russian side has just told us that Hajo Seppelt can at least go to the World Cup. We continue to follow the development of events.” Seppelt became famous for being instrumental in breaking the story about alleged state-sponsored doping in Russian sport. Public broadcaster ARD had asked to include him in their team for covering the upcoming tournament, but their request had been refused. Russia’s Investigative Committee announced that upon arrival in Russia, Seppelt will be questioned in … [Read more...] about Controversial journalist Seppelt granted Russia 2018 visa, faces interrogation on arrival
The Cannes film festival began last week shadowed by controversy: organisers refused to show Netflix films in competition because they weren’t getting theatrical releases. The streaming service responded by boycotting Cannes, not even showing movies out of competition. The two organisations may resolve their differences (Netflix sounded more conciliatory this month), but moviegoers understandably want to know: what’s the big deal? Ben Kenigsberg, who regularly reviews films for The New York Times, and Jason Bailey, who writes about streaming movies for The Times’ Watching service, discuss the question: does it matter if you see a film in a theatre or at home? Ben Kenigsberg: Absolutely, seeing a movie in a theatre makes a difference, and not just for the obvious reasons (picture quality, sound, the absence of the distractions of home viewing). ‘Dunkirk’ is a film that demanded to be seen in cinemas (Rex) I challenge anyone to explain how the … [Read more...] about Does it matter if you see a film in a cinema or at home?