Milos Forman, Oscar-Winning Director of ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,’ Dies at 86

Milos Forman, Oscar-Winning Director of ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,’ Dies at 86

Czech-born director Milos Forman who won best directing Oscars for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and Amadeus has died. He was 86.

Forman died Friday in the U.S. after a brief illness, his wife, Martina, told the Czech news agency CTK. She said that “his departure was calm, and he was surrounded the whole time by his family and his closest friends.”

Forman was also known for directing “Hair,” “Ragtime” and “The People vs. Larry Flynt.”

Directors’  Guild president Thomas Schlamme said, “Miloš was truly one of ours. A filmmaker, artist, and champion of artists’ rights. His contribution to the craft of directing has been an undeniable source of inspiration for generations of filmmakers. His directorial vision deftly brought together provocative subject matter, stellar performances and haunting images to tell the stories of the universal struggle for free expression and self-determination that informed so much of his work and his life.“A member of the DGA’s National Board and a recipient of the DGA’s highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award, Miloš actively championed artist’s rights throughout his career, speaking multiple times before Congress and world audiences about the importance of creative rights and artists’ protections against the violation of those rights. He stood up on behalf of his beloved fellow filmmakers time and again, and he believed with all his heart that creativity and artistic freedom could make a difference in the world. Now it’s up to us to prove him right. We will miss him.”

Having made just one American film at the time, the ironic comedy “Taking Off” (1971), which won critical acclaim but failed to connect with audiences, Forman seemed an unlikely choice to direct the adaptation of Ken Kesey’s countercultural novel “Cuckoo’s Nest.” But he brought a balance and objectivity to the film, which could easily have descended into histrionics. The critically lauded and immensely popular film starring the fast-rising Jack Nicholson struck a nerve in 1975, and on Academy Awards night it became the first film since 1934’s “It Happened One Night” to sweep the top five Oscar prizes: best picture, director, actress, actor and screenplay (adapted).

To shoot Amadeus,  Forman returned to his native Czechoslovakia in 1983 and used little-known theater actors to play Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Thomas Hulce) and his rival Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham), Forman created a compelling and cogent adaptation of Peter Shaffer’s award-winning stage play — helped in great measure by the magnificent Mozartian score. Again, Forman ruled the Oscars, taking another director trophy as the film also drew awards for picture, actor (Abraham), and screenplay, winning eight awards in all. The film was also his most financially successful after “Cuckoo’s Nest.”

With a style that film historian David Thomson said stressed the everyday over the melodramatic and a flair for improvisation, Forman had flourished as a young director in Czechoslovakia with such satirical films as 1966’s “Loves of a Blonde” and 1968’s “The Firemen’s Ball,” the latter of which was refused a showing in his native country because of its satire of bureaucratic thinking.

Forman was in Paris in August 1968 when Russian tanks rolled into Czechoslovakia, ending the Warsaw Pact country’s brief artistic renaissance. Soon thereafter he moved to New York, joining another celebrated Czech director, Ivan Passer, who had penned “Loves of a Blonde” with Forman and others. Forman’s first U.S. film, “Taking Off,” was similar in approach and style to his earlier work, and while it was praised by critics, it did little to establish him as an American director. He also took on “The Decathlon” episode of “Visions of Eight,” a compilation documentary of the Olympics by an octet of different helmers.

Over the years Forman directed few films, and his American track record was mixed. Though “Cuckoo’s Nest” transformed him into an A-list director, he waited four years before his next film, tackling another challenging piece of material, “Hair,” based on the ’60s smash hit musical. But 10 years later, the episodic piece seemed passe onscreen, and Forman’s simple approach was ill-suited for the musical material. He did better with 1981’s “Ragtime,” a mostly successful adaptation of E.L. Doctorow’s bestseller centered on intersecting lives in the early 20th century. The film did not score at the box office, however.

He attained commercial and critical success once more with “Amadeus” but never quite scaled those heights again.

Forman appeared next in 1989 with “Valmont,” an adaptation he co-penned of the French period novel “Les Liaisons dangereuses” starring Colin Firth and Annette Bening. While graceful and witty, the film suffered from comparison to the more melodramatic “Dangerous Liaisons,” released the previous year and starring John Malkovich and Glenn Close.

He didn’t direct again until he issued two other satirical pieces in the late ’90s, the first of which was “The People vs. Larry Flynt,” a well-reviewed comedy about the First Amendment controversy stirred up by Hustler publisher Larry Flynt, embodied in the film by Woody Harrelson. While reviews were strong, the film did only moderately well at the box office. But it brought Forman another director nomination in 1996.

The reception to his 1999 film “Man on the Moon,” about the offbeat comic Andy Kaufman, was mixed, though lead Jim Carrey pulled in great notices.

After an absence of seven years, Forman returned in 2006 with “Goya’s Ghosts,” in which he sought to wed the Inquisition, the life of the painter Goya and the Napoleonic Wars, starring Natalie Portman, Javier Bardem, Stellan Skarsgard and Randy Quaid.

In 2009 Forman directed, with his son Petr, the Czech-language “A Walk Worthwhile,” a remake of his earlier 1966 work for Czech television.

Forman collaborated with Vaclav Havel on the adaptation of a novel about the Munich Agreement, through which Hitler annexed Czechoslovakia’s Sudentenland in 1938, but the project did not come to fruition. He also had in development as a directing project the story of Charles Ponzi, the early 20th century fraudster who lends his name to the Ponzi scheme.

In addition to his directing chores, Forman was co-director of the film program at Columbia U. and appeared as an actor in such films as “Keeping the Faith,” “Heartburn” and “New Year’s Day.”

Born in the town of Caslav (also spelled Kaslov), near Prague, Jan Tomas Forman was raised by an uncle and in foster homes following the death of his parents in WWII concentration camps. After graduating from the Prague Film Faculty of the Academy of Dramatic Arts in 1957, he wrote sketches for the mixed media Laterna Magika, which was celebrated at the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels. After departing the group in 1961, he was hired by the Czech state film studio, where he came to attention with two medium-length films, 1961’s “The Talent Competition” and “If There Were No Music.” His feature debut in 1963, “Black Peter,” won the top prize at the Locarno Film Festival and led to such internationally acclaimed efforts as “Loves of a Blonde” and “The Fireman’s Ball.”

Forman was jury president at the Cannes Film Festival in 1985 and the Venice Film Festival in 2000.

In Czechoslovakia Forman was married twice, first to actress Jana Brejchova (sister of his lead actress in “Loves of a Blonde”) and then to Vera Kresadlova, who was the mother of his twin sons Peter and Matej. In 1998 he had another set of twins, Andrew and James, by his third wife, Martina Zborilova.

Review: Bus Party to Hell, including an interview with the Amazing Sadie Katz

bus party to hell review

Bus Party to Hell (2018)

Directed by Rolfe Kanefsky

Starring Sadie KatzDevanny Pinn…and Tara Reid

Thanks to October Coast for screening this one for me.

Bus Party to Hell is the perfect movie review for me to go on an itty-bitty rant.

There is this thing in horror films that is rather common where indie creators do everything they can to get a “star”. This makes perfect sense as it is perceived that stars sell tickets. However, it has also been shown that, except for a few celebrities at the top, stars no longer have the selling power they once did. People are more likely to go see their favorite character or series regardless of who is in the movie. Generally, horror films don’t get those big-name stars and I think that most of us have our favorites that probably aren’t on the A-list.

It feels sort of cheap to me when a “star” is shoehorned into a film just to put their name on the poster. I feel robbed in a way. Perhaps this is something that shouldn’t get to me at all, but it does. Tara Reid is billed as this movies star, yet I am happy to say that she is barely in it. The moment that she kicks the bucket is her finest moment. The poster has a giant image of her on it. All of the production stills I have seen feature her. In my opinion, Sadie Katz is the actual star of this movie – which is something we talk about in an interview that you can read at the end of this post.

So, while I understand the reasons for it, I wish that filmmakers would stop this shit. I loathe purchasing a movie because it says it stars Brad Dourif only to find that he is in it for 2 minutes – for example. It puts a stench on a movie that could have done without it. I’m already bummed that I am out 10 or 15 bucks for a 2-minute cameo, even if the rest of the movie is really good, I might be too upset to care. That wasn’t the case here. This was a screener and I would never buy anything because freaking Tara Reid was in it anyway.

Rant over.

Party Bus to Hell, or as the kids are calling it these days, Bus Party to Hell is a pretty decent flick once it gets going. The story goes that a bunch of young folks are traveling to burning man on a bus driven by Joan (Katz). It just so happens that the bus “breaks down” in the desert at the same spot as a murderous group of Satan worshipers are hanging out. As you might expect, a massacre takes place, leaving 7 people alive on the bus.

bus party to hell review

There is plenty of comedy and gore to feast on in this one and I had a pretty good time chowing down. Lots of boobs, creepy crawly things, killer tattoos, and a demon performed cunnilingus. While some of the acting is a little weak here and there, mostly with the smaller parts, and some of the jokes fall flat, Bus Party is still a really fun ride.

I know that most of this review didn’t really cover the film itself and was rather self-serving, but my interview with Sadie Katz will cover more of that stuff, and I didn’t want to be too repetitive. She was really cool and I loved talking to her.

7/10

bus party to hell review

Sadie Katz has been in Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort and Blood Feast. On April 13th you can see her in Bus Party to Hell. She also is the creator and star of the documentary, The Bill Murry Experience. I got a chance to talk with her about these films and plenty more.

Tara Reid. She’s the top-billed person in this movie, right? But, she’s barely in the movie. Your character is clearly the star of the movie. So I guess the way to ask is – What is it like to deal with that sort of thing? Knowing that someone can show up for a scene and be the big deal.

Yeah, ya know, that’s kind of like a producer’s choice there…um, that’s a really fun and fabulous question. Let me answer diplomatically. You know, it’s one of those things where you go -Well, if that’s what brings eyes to the film. If someone says I’m gonna get this film because Tara Reid is in it, then Tara Reid did you a favor, ya know?

It’s in my contract that I would be 2nd billed. I took a pay cut for that. You should see the new international poster. A huge picture of Tara Reid and I’m the tiniest little thing, you can’t even tell it’s me.

It’s just the way it is.

bus party to hell review

What’s the main goal for you? Will you be happy to settle into a scream queen role, or do you want more?

I would just be happy to make enough money to afford my apartment. In seriousness, I have a 16-year-old and I think it would be pretty cool – I love your questions. They’re so honest – I think it would be pretty cool if I got consistent work. The scream queen thing – I don’t care about being famous. It’s more about getting jobs on a consistent enough basis where I can make a somewhat living doing what I love. The billing isn’t an ego trip, it’s about being able to get work. You have to be able to sell a movie to get your next job.

Unless people know your name, you’re not getting that next job. If I was doing one type of movie that would be cool, but if I were to do movies that were not horror, and, you know, Sundance movies – yeah that’d be fucking great. But, last year 30,000 movies were submitted to Sundance. So, you’ve got to be realistic about what is able to happen.

I looked at your IMDB page and it looks like you’ve got 7..8,…9 movies coming out this year?

Yeah, I do have some feature films that I don’t have top billing on but I’m really crossing my fingers that they do well enough. The horror genre, why it’s really good is that I can also supplement by doing conventions and maybe making a couple bucks. That kind of stuff means I can make a living.

Hopefully, I marry a guy that makes decent money and live happily forever after. Boom!

Actually, I would really like to make my documentaries and I’m a writer. I’d like to write a novel. so, I don’t need to be a super-millionaire but I would like to be a little comfortable, and hopefully not die a miserable death, and be able to afford botox.

Ah, botox. Is that expensive? I have no idea.

No! It’s like 400 bucks. I’m still young so I don’t need that much. You know, you start to get older and say, Oh yeah, I forgot, I’m supposed to have a savings. I don’t have a retirement account and I can barely afford, ya know, a steak dinner

Anyway, I would really like to make documentaries. To be a female Morgan Spurlock – that is my dream. And then do the horror films on the side because I love that too.

Tell me what your experience was like working on the movie. I know that’s a normal generic question, but it is what it is.

Well, I shot it in Vegas and I think it was very interesting because it was an ensemble film, which is always fun. Like American Pie but in horror. We shot it in that little bus. Originally we were going to do it on a sound stage but we ended up using an actual bus from Sin City Party Bus. We kind of had to be in close quarters and it was a challenge for me because my character is filled with all these crazy ass creatures and I’m being possessed by this sexual being. I didn’t have all this space to move while everything is happening inside me, and as an actor – not to get too thespian here, but – one of the tricks you play is that your character always has a secret. This character really did have a secret and I wanted to, hopefully, play the character so if someone watched the movie again they would actually see the progression. That I was tipping my hat to the audience a little bit, just enough so you would see that she really is kinda starting to twitch a little bit.

Even though I play these silly characters, I do try to play them as truthful, fun, and committed as I can. That’s fun for me. If I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna do it to the best of my ability and try to play the truth of the character.

It was fun because I was really only acting in about 2 feet and I wanted to see if I could make it cool, and you know, topless. Hopefully, people will see it and go, “That bitch is acting her ass off!”

bus party to hell review

Ok, Bill Murray. I really enjoyed Party Bus and my site focuses on horror but I really wanted to talk to you about The Bill Murray Experience too. So, I will just come out and ask – Do you consider yourself a crazy person?

Um, yes. I am a crazy person. That is a great question. I used to, when I was younger, tried to really run from that but I think while doing the documentary and watching so much footage of myself I started to go – Oh. I’m really a crazy person. Like, I’m different than other people and that’s ok.

If you were savvy, or not so savvy, you would say she’s bipolar. I’m bipolar. I feel things a lot. I’m not bipolar where I’m going to kill you but I’m bipolar where I feel things. I’m very, very intense so if I love something, I LOVE it. I’m very committed to things, and when I feel sad; I’m devastated, and when I’m happy, I’m VERY happy

There was some talk when I was editing whether or not I should say that and I thought it would take away from the journey. People would say that this isn’t about Bill Murray, it’s about being bipolar, and so I was decided that we won’t say that. The savvy people will understand that.

I really took finding Bill Murray to heart and if that makes me crazy to believe in something – I think it’s crazy that most people don’t.

Did you ever get your experience? Like after the movie was done.

No. So two things happened. One is that I went to go promote the film, Bill was playing, so I went to Portland and Seattle to watch his performance and to give out balloons outside the show. So, my son and I got tickets and went to the show, and at the end of the show he goes into the audience and gives out roses to certain audience members. Well, I ended up leaving before he did that. My son said, Why are you going to leave? I said because if he doesn’t hand me a rose I’m going to be upset and if he hands me a rose, I’ll be upset because I’ll just feel strange. It’s just too…I can’t explain it.

Then, I entered a contest for the Bill Murray golf tournament to be his caddy. I figured I’d leave it up to chance. I feel conflicted and I didn’t include this in the documentary because I didn’t want to say anything negative, but in some ways, I feel like Bill doing what he wants to do with fans is a little more about Bill that it is really about fans. Maybe that’s just my own opinion, but yeah I do have a little bit of jealousy because I feel like I’m promoting this and the more I talk about it, everybody is like, “Oh, I was just on the airplane and sat by Bill Murray”, and I’m like, God, as much as I said I was over it at the end of the doc, it’s going to be on my fucking gravestone. Here lies Sadie Katz. She never officially met Bill Murray.

I was going to ask about that. The “journey is the experience” ending to the documentary. It works well for a movie, but it has to be bullshit right?

Well, I have to tell you. We did a screening and it ended with me in tears saying that I am still open to having my experience. I was surprised that the audience didn’t realize that it was like a big cartoon. The people, they were really upset. they loved the doc, it won an award. I flew home and called my editor and said – They don’t understand that the whole documentary is a cartoon. I am the cartoon. I told him that I need a new cartoon at the end and said just trust me. So I sent him this voiceover and said, just animate this voiceover for me.

He did exactly what I wanted and made it even better. I couldn’t have wanted anything more for the doc. Every time I see it I get chills and it is exactly what I wanted.

So, It’s not like I don’t agree with it, I just wish it was another way. It truly is my Bill Murray experience, but I wish it weren’t. My goal was to meet Bill Murray, give him the balloons, and for him to grab me by the hand and run through [the crowd] handing out balloons, then maybe go get tuna melts at a cafe.

It seems so ridiculous, but wonderful.

My heart is still like, boy I hustled and I worked so hard. As an artist you give everything and people shit on your dreams. I wonder what it all means at the end of the day, but I look at the poster, and like, it’s in my house. I finished what I started, and you know, I think maybe that makes me a better person. I accept it. I’m a little nuts but I think when I’m 60 I’ll always have that. No one can take that away from me. It gives me an identity.

I truly wish that I didn’t have to edit this interview down so much. Sadie was a delight to talk to. So sincere and hilarious. Hopefully, I will get to talk more with her about her next project.

bus party to hell review

Casey Bartsch is a horror novelist and film critic. You can find this and other reviews – as well as top 10’s, interviews, and news – at www.FullBlownPanicAttack.com

He also recently started a youtube channel to go with the site that you can see here, but it is very early days on that.

You may find him and other like-minded people in the Facebook group, Horror, Horror on the Wall.

 

Cannes Lineup Includes New Films From Spike Lee, Jean-Luc Godard

Cannes Lineup Includes New Films From Spike Lee, Jean-Luc Godard

New movies from Spike Lee (“BlacKkKlansman”), Jean-Luc Godard (“The Image Book”) and Oscar-winning “Ida” director Pawel Pawlikowski (“Cold War”) join previously announced Solo: A Star War Story at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, making for a lineup that’s considerably less starry — at least by Hollywood standards — than in years past.Apart from Lee, films with American connections are few and far between. “It Follows” director David Robert Mitchell will present his 140-minute thriller Under the Silver Lake; Egyptian-made “Yomeddine” was directed by NYU Tisch graduate A.B. Shawky; and Brazilian director Joe Penna (whose English-language “Arctic” will bow in the Midnight section) resides in Los Angeles.

At the press conference in Paris, Cannes artistic director Thierry Frémaux explained that his programming team deliberately selected work by lesser-known and in some cases unheard-of directors. Conspicuous absences include a number of “the usual suspects” — established directors such as Nuri Bilge Ceylan and Mike Leigh to whom Cannes typically invites high-profile spots for each new film. Also missing is Naomi Kawase from a lineup that is otherwise heavy with Asian directors, including a pair of Iranians: Jafar Panahi with “Three Faces” and Asghar Farhadi, who made opening-night selection“Everybody Knows” (starring Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem) in Spain.

The competition program includes just three female filmmakers, prompting Frémaux to reiterate his position that “the films that were selected were chosen for their own intrinsic qualities,” not the gender of their directors. Acknowledging the importance of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, he said, “The world will never be the same again … and we will question our own practices about the gender parity” in salaries and jury representation, but stressed that “there will never be a selection with a positive discrimination for women.”

Frémaux countered criticisms that the festival may be losing its power to attract high-profile films, unconvincingly suggesting that prize-winning directors Xavier Dolan and Jacques Audiard had not turned down a formal invitation to screen in Cannes, but rather, were still editing their respective films, “The Death and Life of John F. Donovan” and “The Sisters Brothers.” And yet, he admitted that American companies in particular can get nervous about how a film’s reception  in Cannes can impact its awards and box office chances, admitting, “When you are on a strategy of a late [fall] release, Cannes might not be the ideal place to show a film.”

Even a cursory survey of past lineups reveals that many films chosen for official selection already have French distribution, which is frequently timed to the days and weeks immediately following the festival. This phenom illustrates not only the way French companies leverage Cannes for publicity, but also the enormous influence they wield over the selection of such films in the first place — nowhere more evident this year than in the exclusion of Netflix from competition.

Frémaux explained that he had personally appealed to Netflix honchos Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos not to pull their films from the festival, and yet, under pressure from the French industry (where a law insists upon a three-year window between theatrical release and streaming), Cannes was forced to exclude them from competition unless Netflix agreed to sell theatrical rights to a French distributor. “We made offers on two films owned by Netflix,” said Frémaux, “and there were candidates for the theatrical distribution of those films,” including the restoration of Orson Welles’ “The Other Side of the Wind,” which Frémaux sorely wanted to invite.

Several more movies may be announced in the days to come, including a couple midnight screenings. Asked about whether Lars von Trier (whose “The House That Jack Built” would be a likely candidate) is still persona non grata with the festival, Frémaux enigmatically replied, “We will answer in a few days.”

At just 17 titles, the competition lineup is currently the smallest in decades, although it should be noted that 2017 Palme d’Or winner “The Square” was a late addition to last year’s lineup. Frémaux specifically hinted that they would have liked to invite Terry Gilliam’s “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote,” which is currently tied up in a legal dispute, and said discussions are still underway with Paolo Sorrentino about his two-part “Loro,” the first half of which opens in Italy before Cannes.

Scheduled to kick off a month after the inaugural television-focused Cannes Series event, the festival will unspool from May 8-19 — which is the earliest the festival has taken place in more than 20 years. The parallel Directors’ Fortnight and Critics’ Week programs will take place during the same dates, but technically fall outside the “official selection,” and as such, will announce their lineups later in April.

2018 CANNES FILM FESTIVAL LINEUP

OPENER

“Everybody Knows” (Asghar Farhadi) 

COMPETITION

“Ash Is Purest White” (Jia Zhang-Ke)

“At War” (Stéphane Brizé)

“BlacKkKlansman” (Spike Lee) 

“Burning” (Lee Chang-dong)

“Capernaum” (Nadine Labaki)

“Cold War” (Pawel Pawlikowski)

“Dogman” (Matteo Garrone)

“Girls of the Sun” (Eva Husson)

“The Image Book” (Jean-Luc Godard)

“Lazzaro Felice” (Alice Rohrwacher)

“Leto” AKA “Summer” (Kirill Serebrennikov)

“Netemo Sametemo” AKA “Asako I & II” (Ryusuke Hamaguchi)

“Shoplifters” (Kore-Eda Hirokazu)

“Sorry Angel” (Christophe Honoré)

“Three Faces” (Jafar Panahi)

“Under the Silver Lake” (David Robert Mitchell)

“Yomeddine” (A.B. Shawky)

Solo: A Star Wars Story

UN CERTAIN REGARD

“Angel Face” (Vanessa Filho)

“Border” (Ali Abbasi) — PICTURED

“El Angel” (Luis Ortega)

“Euphoria” (Valeria Golino)

“Friend” (Wanuri Kahiu)

“The Gentle Indifference of the World” (Adilkhan Yerzhanov)

“Girl” (Lukas Dhont)

“The Harvesters” (Etienne Kallos)

“In My Room” (Ulrich Köhler)

“Little Tickles” (Andréa Bescond & Eric Métayer)

“Manto” (Nandita Das)

“My Favorite Fabric” (Gaya Jiji)

“Sextape” AKA “On Your Knees, Guys” (Antoine Desrosières)

Sofia” (Meyem Benm’Barek)

OUT OF COMPETITION

Solo: A Star Wars Story

“Le Grand Bain” (Gilles Lellouche)

“Solo: A Star Wars Story” (Ron Howard)

 

MIDNIGHT SCREENINGS

“Arctic” (Joe Penna)

“Gongjak” AKA “The Spy Gone North” (Yoon Jong-Bing)

SPECIAL SCREENINGS

“Dead Souls” (Wang Bing)

“La Traversée” (Romain Goupil)

“O Grande Circo Místico” (Carlo Diegues)

“Pope Francis – A Man of His Word” (Wim Wenders)

“The State Against Mandela and the Others” (Nicolas Champeaux & Gilles Porte)

“10 Years in Thailand” (Aditya Assarat, Wisit Sasanatieng, Chulayarnon Sriphol & Apichatpong Weerasethakul)

“To the Four Winds” (Michel Toesca)

Netflix Pulls Out of Cannes Following Rule Change

Netflix Pulls Out of Cannes Following Rule Change

Ted Sarandos says Netflix won’t be going to Cannes this year.

Netflix’s chief content officer says that the festival sent a clear message with a new rule that bans any films without theatrical distribution in France from playing in competition. Netflix could screen some of its upcoming movies out of competition, but Sarandos says that doesn’t make sense for the streaming service.

“We want our films to be on fair ground with every other filmmaker,” Sarandos says. “There’s a risk in us going in this way and having our films and filmmakers treated disrespectfully at the festival. They’ve set the tone. I don’t think it would be good for us to be there.”

Netflix made a big splash at the prestigious film festival last year with two movies that showed in competition: Bong Joon-ho’s “Okja” and Noah Baumbach’s “The Meyerowitz Stories.” But after the 2017 announcement, French theaters owners and unions protested the inclusion of these films to Thierry Fremaux, the artistic director of Cannes. Netflix was amenable to having their movies play on big screens in France, but a law in the country requires movies to not appear in home platforms for 36 months after their theatrical release.

Netflix has had day-and-date theatrical releases for such titles as “Mudbound,” Angelina Jolie’s “First They Killed My Father,” “Okja” and “The Meyerowitz Stories.”

Sarandos will not personally be attending Cannes in May, but some of his executives will be there. “It is not a coincidence that Thierry also banned selfies this year,” Sarandos says, of another new rule that doesn’t allow guests to snap pictures on the red carpet. “I don’t know what other advances in media Thierry would like to address.”

Here, Sarandos spoke with Variety about the Netflix rule change.

Are you deciding not to participate in Cannes this year?
Well, it was not our decision to make. Thierry announced the change in their qualification rules [that] requires a film to have distribution in France to get in, which is completely contrary to the spirit of any film festival in the world. Film festivals are to help films get discovered so they can get distribution. Under those rules, we could not release our films day-and-date to the world like we’ve released nearly 100 films over the last couples of years. And if we did that, we’d have to hold back that film from French subscribers for three years under French law. Therefore, our films they are not qualified for the Cannes Film Festival competition.

And you aren’t taking movies to the festival out of competition?
No. I don’t think there would be any reason to go out of competition. The rule was implicitly about Netflix, and Thierry made it explicitly about Netflix when he announced the rule.

Were you surprised by the rule? Netflix had the two biggest English-language releases at last year’s Cannes.
I would say not just on the English-language side. I think they were the biggest films in the world last year with Bong Joon-ho and Noah Baumbach and the star power we were able to bring — Jake Gyllenhaal, Tilda Swinton, it goes on and on. We loved the festival. We love the experience for our filmmakers and for film lovers. It’s just that the festival has chosen to celebrate distribution rather than the art of cinema. We are 100% about the art of cinema. And by the way, every other festival in the world is too.

Did you talk to Thierry before he made the rule change?
I believe it was not just Thierry’s decision. I think it was the decision of his board, which is made up of several exhibitors. I know we didn’t have any conversation with Thierry. I read about it in the press.

In interviews, Thierry said that “the Netflix people loved the red carpet,” but your “model is now the opposite” of what Cannes does. Do you agree with that?
No, obviously not. Do we love the red carpet? I love our filmmakers being on those red carpets. Of course. It’s a very glamorous, very fun event for filmmakers. That is beside the point. That is true of every festival. Last year we were jointly celebrating the art of cinema at Cannes. The divergence is this decision to define art by the business model. In that way, yes, we have diverged.

Will you or other Netflix employees be attending Cannes?
I personally won’t be attending myself. But we will have people there who are in the business of acquiring films, because many films will be there without distribution.

So you could end up buying a movie that’s in competition?
Yes 100%. We don’t discriminate that way.

Netflix acquires movies from film festivals all the time. Ultimately, this rule seems to be about preventing a movie from entering Cannes as a Netflix release.
It was a puzzle to me. Keep in mind last year at Sundance, we produced the film that won the jury prize [“I Don’t Feel at Home In This World Anymore”], and we acquired “Mudbound” in the biggest acquisition of the festival.

Have you had conversations with your filmmakers about Cannes?
We’ve talked to a lot of our filmmakers after the rule change. When we went into making these films and acquiring these films, that rule wasn’t in place. That was a change in dynamics.

Do you think Cannes might change its mind in the future?
Yeah. I do have faith that Thierry shares my love for cinema and would be a champion of changing that when he realizes how punitive this rule is to filmmakers and film lovers.

What is your message for the international film community?
We hope that they do change the rules. We hope that they modernize. But we will continue to support all films and all filmmakers. We encourage Cannes to rejoin the world cinema community and welcome them back. Thierry had said in his comments when he announced his change that the history of the Internet and the history of Cannes are two different things. Of course they are two different things. But we are choosing to be about the future of cinema. If Cannes is choosing to be stuck in the history of cinema, that’s fine.

Norway’s Maipo Prepares Dystopian Thriller ‘Fortress,’ Season 2 of ‘State of Happiness’

Norway’s Maipo Prepares Dystopian Thriller ‘Fortress,’ Season 2 of ‘State of Happiness’

Leading Norwegian company Maipo is developing “Fortress,” an ambitious dystopian thriller, and is preparing the second season of “State of Happiness” (“Lykkeland”), the historical series which is competing this week at Canneseries.

“Fortress” is created and penned by two high-profile Norwegian screenwriters: John Kåre Raake, whose track record includes Nordic blockbusters such as “The Wave,” Roar Uthaug’s disaster movie, and “Ragnarok, a family film based on Viking mythology;” and Linn-Jeanethe Kyed, who notably co-wrote “Børning” and “Børning 2,” a action-comedy movie franchise set in the world of illegal sports car racing, and Benjamin Ree’s critically acclaimed documentary feature about the Norwegian chess prodigy, Magnus Carlsen.

“Fortress” takes place in a near future in Norway which is now secluded from the rest of the world by a wall built by the nationalistic government. Norwegians live in absolute sovereignty, relying only on their own homegrown resources and caring solely about national affairs. But when a malicious epidemic starts spreading in the country, officials embark on a race against time to find who is behind the epidemic and seek help to find a cure from foreign organizations which are reluctant to provide any support.

Synnøve Hørsdal, who is producing “Fortress” with Ales Ree at Maipo, said the concept of the series echoes some tendencies of the politics happening in the western world today.

The producer said that in addition to examining the consequences of political decisions that have been made, it will mostly be a suspenseful character driven thriller.

Meanwhile, Maipo is also developing the second season of “State of Happiness” with Mette M. Bølstad (“Nobel”) back on board to write the show. Set to world premiere in competition at Canneseries on Tuesday, the first season of “State of Happiness” takes place in the summer of 1969 in the coastal town of Stavanger and follows four young characters who come from different backgrounds and are thrown into a whirlwind of opportunity during the oil boom which turned Norway into one of the world’s most prosperous countries.

“State of Happiness”‘s second season which will set the action five years later years afterwill also bring back the cast, including British actor Bart Edwards (“UnREAL”), as well as newcomers Anne Regine Ellingsæter Malene Wadel and Amund Harboe.

Hørsdal said one of the biggest challenges Maipo faced to make “State of Happiness” was raising the financing for the 10 million euros series. “Everybody says ‘we want to make different shows that are not Nordic Noir but the reality is that it’s difficult to raise financing for ambitious drama series that are not crime-based.”

Maipo is behind some of Norway’s biggest films, such as “The Ash Lad: In the Hall of the Mountain King,” and Anne Sewitsky’s anticipated “Sonja – The White Swan” about Sonja Henie, the famous ice skater-turned-Hollywood star.

Alexa & Katie’ Renewed for Season 2 at Netflix

Alexa & Katie’ Renewed for Season 2 at Netflix

Netflix has renewed Alexa $ Katie for a second season, the streaming giant announced Monday.

The first season of the series launched on March 23. The multi-camera sitcom follows the titular best friends through their freshman year of high school. Alexa (Paris Berelc) is undergoing cancer treatment, but makes it through thanks to her outgoing personality and the help of her best friend Katie (Isabel May). At times they’re left feeling like outsiders, during a period when what seems to matter most is fitting in. Tiffani Thiessen stars as Lori, Alexa’s determined and protective mother. The series also stars Emery Kelly, Eddie Shin, Jolie Jenkins, and Finn Carr.

Heather Wordham created the series and will take over as showrunner on Season 2. Her previous credits include “Hannah Montana” and “Reba.” Matthew Carlson was the showrunner on Season 1.

That show, which debuted its first season on Feb. 16, followed two groups of high school misfits from the A/V club and a Drama club who collide in 1996 Oregon. It starred Peyton Kennedy, Jahi Winston, Patch Darragh, Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako, Sydney Sweeney, Elijah Stevenson, Quinn Liebling, and Rio Mangini.

‘Violeta at Last’ Sells to Starz

‘Violeta at Last’ Sells to Starz (EXCLUSIVE)

Hilda Hidalgo’s second film screens in Mexico on May 11

Underscoring the growing interest in Latino fare among pay TV and SVOD companies, premium pay TV outlet Starz has snapped up Hilda Hidalgo’s  “Violeta at Last”

Starz will start airing “Violeta” in August, according to its sales agent Alfredo Calviño of Habanero Film Sales. Inspired by Hidalgo’s mother, “Violeta at Last” turns on a woman in her seventies who finds new freedom in her winter years. “Violeta” is co-produced by Mexico’s Laura Imperiale of Cacerola Films who also co-produced Hidalgo’s first film, “Of Love and Other Demons,”

“Violeta” is slated to premiere in Mexico on May 11 at the Cineteca Nacional of México City and in five other cities, said Hidalgo. “Laura, myself and my lead Eugenia Chaverri will be there to present it,” said Hidalgo, who concedes that oftentimes co-producing with other territories is the most viable way of seeing your film released in other Latino countries.

It’s probable that “Violeta” boards Amazon Prime Video Direct in Mexico after October, according to Calviño. Amazon Prime’s self-service program for filmmakers, distributors and content creators, took its Film Festival Stars program (FFS) to the Guadalajara Int’l Film Festival (FICG) in March, marking its first foray into the Latin American marketplace. Launched at Sundance 2017, the FFS program offers cash bonuses and royalties to festival films seeking to self-distribute on Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime Video recently snapped up the exclusive Latin American streaming rights to Spiral Int’l and Dynamo co-production, “Falco,” the Mexican adaptation of German high-concept crime series, “The Last Cop” (“Der Letzte Bulle”) by Ernesto Contreras. Red Arrow Studios International has launched international sales of “Falco” at MipTV.

In other sales news, Habanero Film Sales sold Uruguayan film “Mi Mundial” to Spain’s Cada Films/EDreams Factory and to Arcadia Films in Chile. Primer Plano releases the film in Argentina this month.

Carlos Morelli’s debut feature, “Mi Mundial” topped Guadalajara’s works in progress sidebar last year. The teen morality tale turns on a talented soccer player who has the skills but not the maturity to deal with the challenges of youth pro soccer and discovers other things – family, for instance – matter more than the beautiful game.

 

Facebook’s Communications Meltdown: How the Company Lost Control of Its Messaging

Facebook’s Communications Meltdown: How the Company Lost Control of Its Messaging

“You’re asking a really important question.” “It’s such a good question.” “Those are fair questions, and I think those are real questions.”When Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg talks to journalists these days, she frequently praises their questions — and then proceeds not to answer them, instead talking about something else. Anyone who has ever undergone media training knows this as a redirection, a changing of the subject in order to evade those “really important” questions.

Sandberg has obviously undergone plenty of media training, as any executive in her position would have. But she’s also spent the past 10-plus years at Facebook, a company that has tried to control its messaging like few others — and that has been completely caught off-guard ever since the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal broke last month, incapable of dealing with a situation where the company is not in control.

Those decisions are as much a reflection of each company’s corporate culture as of their businesses. Apple makes most of its money with a handful of products, and believes it has found the best salespeople for the job. Google, and its corporate umbrella Alphabet, are on the other hand a lot more diversified, and publicly test all kinds of products and initiatives, from VR headsets to thermostats and from autonomous cars to cloud computing.

Facebook is in many ways more like Google, with a lot of groups working on separate products that often seem to compete with each other. Instagram, Whatsapp and Messenger are just the most prominent example of this. Nonetheless, the company has long tried to use the Apple messaging method, with a firm grip on its narrative.

That’s why you’ll often see Facebook sending not one but two executives to fireside chats at industry conferences. Regularly pairing up a man with a woman, these duos seem to suggest a gender balance, but also outnumber the moderator, and tend to recite well-rehearsed softball answers.

That’s why Mark Zuckenberg reportedly has a team of employees taking care of his public Facebook profile, working in the background to keep the illusion that the founder of the biggest social network of the world really is just like the rest of us.

And that’s why Sandberg always has an anecdote about a mom-and-pop store using Facebook to increase sales at the ready, a habit that she picked up for the company’s quarterly earnings calls but that she couldn’t help but fall back to during last week’s interview.

But there’s a problem with narratives: If you repeat them too often, you might start to believe them yourself.

That’s exactly what seems to have happened at Facebook, which increasingly became tone-deaf to criticism over the past few years. Privacy advocates have long rallied against some of the company’s policies. What’s more, Facebook knew that it screwed up on key data sharing permissions, allowing Cambridge Analytica to do what it did, as early as 2014.

Instead of working on a real response, which would have resulted in rethinking everything from third-party app data to retention of customer information, the company practiced the art of the apology — and didn’t even realize how it began to alienate its users

 

Box Office: ‘A Quiet Place’ Sounds Off With Huge $50 Million Debut

Box Office: ‘A Quiet Place’ Sounds Off With Huge $50 Million Debut

Paramount Pictures’ thriller directed by John Krasinski soared past estimates to a massive $50.3 million opening in 3,508 theaters. That’s enough to land it the second highest domestic opening of the year to date behind “Black Panther,” which opened in February with $202 million. Since its debut at South by Southwest, .It currently holds an solid 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, with a B+ CinemaScore.“This much bigger than expected debut comes in an era of ongoing popularity for the horror genre that in North America alone last year generated over $1 billion in box office,” Paul​ Dergarabedian, a media analyst at comScore, said.

Paramount’s president of domestic distribution Kyle Davies, attributed the film’s success to positive word of mouth following

“There was a lot of momentum going into the weekend that never stopped,” Davies said. “John Krasinski has emerged as an incredible filmmaker with a story that’s simple, but has clearly resonated with audiences.”
“We could not be more pleased with the result this weekend,” Universal’s head of distribution Jim Orr said. “Kay Cannon and her directorial debut knocked it out of the park. It really overperformed.”

Meanwhile, the eighth frame of “Black Panther” landed at No. 4 with $8.8 million in 2,747 locations. Domestically, the Marvel film earned $665.4 million, making it the third-biggest release of all time behind “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Avatar.” Globally, “Black Panther” has grossed $1.29 billion.

Rounding out the top five is Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions’ “I Can Only Imagine,” with $8.4 million in 2,894 theaters. The faith-based film has been a force at the box office, making $69 million in four weeks.

Two other newcomers, “Chappaquiddick” and “The Miracle Season” premiered slightly above estimates. Entertainment Studios’ “Chappaquiddick” opened with $5.9 million at 1,560 locations, while LD Entertainment’s “The Miracle Season” saw $4 million at 1,707 locations.

While the 2018 box office is down 2.1% compared to 2017, this weekend is up 35% compared to the same weekend last year.

The Darkest Nothing: Paraphrenia (2018) Teaser And Posters

The movie is a cyber crime psychological thriller about the first technically possible “red room” with live video streaming out of a deep web site, with the psychiatrist who is responsible for it using projection technology and the whole platform for manipulating the viewers, who indirectly submit themselves into a deep and disturbing psychotherapy with subliminal messages and explanations about dreams, fears and pop culture references, movies and music, and how they affect the audience subliminally.

This is the first feature length film out of the series, with 5 short movies as bonus material, showcasing the whole back story of the psychiatrist, his entire group and how they got into the underground horror deep web business.

Gallery and more info below!!