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‘Artist’ director follows hit with ‘Search’ US Latino president on way

CANNES, France, May 21, (Agencies): The director of the “The Artist” is following up his best-picture Oscar-winner with a gritty drama about the Chechen War. Michel Hazanavicius premiered “The Search” at the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday, three years after his “The Artist” first debuted at the French Riviera festival. Cannes is where the black-and-white silent film ode became a sensation that carried through the Academy Awards. It was one of the most unlikely, out-of-the-blue successes in recent years, and Hazanavicius was met with virtually unlimited options for his next movie. “I was in a very odd situation. I made a film which didn’t comply with the rules of the market at all,” said Hazanavicius. “And this film ended up getting a host of awards and it made money. “I had the impression I could do just about anything I wanted to do,” he said.

He opted to make almost the antithesis of “The Artist” - a largely light, buoyant film about a star silent film actor. “The Search” is very roughly based on the 1948 film by the same name by Fred Zinnemann about an American soldier and a Czech boy in post-World War II Germany. Set during the Second Chechen War of 1999, the film is about a 9-year-old boy (Abdul-Khalim Mamatsuiev) whose parents are executed by Russian soldiers. He’s later taken in by a European Union delegate (Berenice Bejo). A second story line develops simultaneously about a 19-year-old Russian (Maxim Emelianov) drafted into the army and - in the manner of “Full Metal Jacket” - built into a callous killing machine. Annette Bening co-stars as a social worker.
Hazanavicius said he didn’t feel any pressure following up “The Artist,” until Wednesday in Cannes. “The Search” received largely negative reviews and a healthy amount of boos at its debut screening ahead of its Wednesday night premiere.
Producer Thomas Langmann said Hazanavicius’ insistence on making a film about the Chechen War was even more bullheaded and anti-commercial than shooting in black-and-white for “The Artist.”
“You have to be a bit crazy, stupid or just not think too seriously about things,” said Hazanavicius. “Otherwise you wouldn’t be a director.”
Hazanavicius said he was driven to tell a story “that few people have told.”
“It became quite a personal matter for me,” said the French director, who alluded to his Lithuanian descent. “People were being massacred, yet the international community was indifferent.”
On his next film, Hazanavicius will return to lighter fare. He’s to make a comedy titled “Will” with Zach Galifianakis and Paul Rudd.

Salma Hayek says she chose to produce her latest film “The Prophet” with her legacy in mind.
The Mexican filmmaker is a co-producer on the animated feature, a screen adaptation of Lebanese writer Khalil Gibran’s book of the same name.
Speaking at the Cannes Film Festival, where a section of the film was screened, Hayek talked about why she decided to take on the project.
“I find something that I want to say and I say it in a way and I do it,” she said in an interview Sunday. “I’m not thinking of my legacy normally. But this project I am thinking of my legacy for my child. It’s not how I choose what I produce but in this one in particular, yes.”
The poetry book on which the film is based was originally published in 1923 and has “sold more than 100 million copies around the world,” explains Hayek.
“It’s very inviting for everyone, different religions, different ages,” she said.
She decided to make the movie animated because “visually you can do extraordinary things. There’s a lot of freedom to it.”
The film is split into different chapters based on poems in the book.
“I thought we could make a little story, a main story that within the story you could take journeys into someone’s imagination, and in this case, a little girl,” she said. “And so the film is very audacious because it has nine animators and they all have a completely different style, but it all feels like one film.”
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America has seen its first black president and Eva Longoria has high hopes that the country’s first Latino president won’t be far behind.
“With the demographic changes in the United States, there’s definitely, inevitably going to be a Latino president,” the actress said.
Returning to the French Riviera for her ninth Cannes as L’Oreal ambassador, Longoria spoke about her hopes to promote future leaders from the Latino community through her newly launched Latino Victory Project. 
In a Saturday interview, Longoria said it looks for people “promoting a pro-Latino agenda, pro-immigration, pro-education reform, pro-health care” and candidates who are “fighting the fight right now in our politics.”
And talking further on the hot topic of U.S. immigration reform, the Democrat says she hopes to see some positive action soon: “It’s been blocked by a certain few people in the government and I’m hoping we can continue to push it through before the next election.” Congressional elections are in the fall.
Since the end of “Desperate Housewives,” Longoria has been on been the other side of the camera as the executive producer on the Latina comedy-drama TV series “Devious Maids” and the documentary “Food Chains,” highlighting the plight of exploited farm laborers.
She says it’s important for her to “represent the right things in television or in film.”
“You know I’ve been really lucky to have choices and I don’t really want to work unless the work is important or something I want to do, or something fun and exciting,” she said.

He was the most keenly-awaited star of the festival, but he proved the most elusive.
Ryan Gosling touched down on the French Riviera to present his directorial debut “Lost River”, a dark, fantasy, David Lynch-like film that premiered on Tuesday to much criticism and some praise.
Even in a place where stardust is hardly in short supply, Cannes was agog.
But with Gosling’s film not included in the main competition — meaning there was no press conference — the media were left desperately trying to track him down for an interview.
It was all to no avail with not a word from the superstar Canadian actor/director emerging.
Dubbing nightmare: Gerard Depardieu’s latest film “Welcome to New York” in which he plays a Dominique Strauss-Kahn-inspired character having an awful lot of sex up and down the east coast of the US has given its director more than a few headaches.
Not least among them was how to dub all the grunting and wailing in the sex scenes into different languages, Abel Ferrara told entertainment magazine The Hollywood Reporter.
“This is the nightmare of dubbing, of changing languages,” Ferrara said in an interview liberally smattered with the f-word.
“It’s not even the words he’s saying. The words you can match. It’s the guy’s breath. You get all that on those microphones.
And when you start dubbing things in these synthetic studios six months later you can’t believe what you’re missing,” he said.
Strauss-Kahn, who was in Cannes last year for a red carpet premiere, has been nowhere to be seen this year. He has announced his intention to sue over Ferrara’s movie.
The sex scandal that ended both his career as IMF chief and his political ambitions was the talk of the festival three years ago as events unfolded in New York.
The film starts with a disclaimer stating that although “inspired by a court case” it is “entirely fictional”.
The Reporter, however, has pointed out that “anyone with a brain and an Internet connection will know what it’s about”.

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