LA Film Festival unveils diverse competition slate
LOS ANGELES, Aug 1, (RTRS): Oscar-winning Danish director Bille August will preside over the jury of the Cairo Film Festival, which is being revamped by Egyptian producer Mohamed Hefzy.
August, who has accomplished the rare feat of winning two Cannes Palme d’Or awards, is best known for “Pelle the Conqueror” — which scored the foreign-language Oscar, the Palme d’Or and a Golden Globe — and for “The House of the Spirits,” “Smilla’s Sense Of Snow,” and “Les Miserables.” He is currently in pre-production on Gianni Versace biopic “The Emperor of Dreams.”
August will be returning to Cairo after attending the fest with “Les Miserables” in 1998.
Hefzy, who was appointed president of the Cairo festival in March, praised August in a statement as “one of the eminent names in world cinema,” adding that he was honored to have the director serve as jury president in what he called a “historic 40th edition” of the event.
Hefzy, whose Film Clinic shingle has produced a steady output of well-received, often edgy Egyptian titles such as Mohamed Diab’s thriller “Clash” and recent Cannes standout “Yomeddine,” is the youngest president in the Cairo fest’s history and the first chosen from within the country’s film industry ranks.
Since taking the reins he has reinstated the fest’s Cairo Film Connection co-production platform, which had been scrapped, and is also making efforts to raise the event’s international profile by sending the message “that we care about cinema from all over the world,” he told Variety in a recent interview.
The Cairo fest, the oldest in the Arab and African worlds, has suffered in recent years in part because of the country’s post-revolution turbulence, which frightened some foreign guests from attending, said Hefzy, who added that security fears have subsided and tourism is picking up.
Artistic director Youssef Cherif Rizkallah said the festival would be announcing several other internationally known film personalities as jury members for the fest’s upcoming edition, which will run Nov 20-29.
The LA Film Festival has placed a heavy emphasis on diversity in its competition film slate, with 42% of the films directed by women and 39% helmed by people of color.
The 24th edition of the festival is also positioning itself as an event for unveiling lesser-known talent. It will take place Sept 20-28 as it moves from its traditional June slot to the fall awards season.
The Los Angeles event follows the Venice International Film Festival, which begins in late August; the Telluride Film Festival, which runs over Labor Day; and the Toronto Intl Film Festival, which starts on Sept 6. The festival will end just as the New York Film Festival begins.
“Our mission of finding fresh new voices from different geographical and cultural axes remains true,” said LA Film Festival director Jennifer Cochis. “These storytellers are united by their ability to transport, impact and inspire audiences with the power of their craft.”
The lineup, which was unveiled Tuesday, includes 40 feature films, 41 short films, and 10 short episodic works representing 26 countries. Venues for the 2018 Festival include the ArcLight Cinemas in Culver City, Hollywood, and Santa Monica, as well as the new LMU Playa Vista Campus (opening this fall), the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts and the Writers Guild Theater.
The festival, which is operated by Film Independent, will unveil its opening and closing night titles in coming weeks.
In recent years, the LA Film Festival has been aiming to put an emphasis on films that are directed by and starring women and minorities. Its opening night film in June 2017 was “The Book of Henry,” starring Naomi Watts. It closed with Aubrey Plaza’s “Ingrid Goes West.”
LOS ANGELES: Michael Weber’s The Match Factory is on board as sales agent of Locarno Film Festival International Competition title “Wintermarchen” (A Winter’s Tale), the company announced Tuesday. The film is German writer-director Jan Bonny’s follow-up to black comedy “Counterparts,” which played in Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007.
“Wintermarchen” explores how social problems and emotional disorientation can result in violent right-wing terrorism. The film centers on a right-wing terror cell, whose members dream of nationwide attention. “Tommy and Becky are tired and disillusioned until Maik joins them. Overwhelmed by a complex relationship of love, hate and friendship their path of destruction leads to a series of violent crimes,” according to a statement.
Bonny was prompted to make the film, which he describes as “a dark fairytale,” after attending the trial in Munich of a member of a three-person Neo-Nazi cell, who had murdered 10 people. In a statement, Bonny said he wanted to explore “the simplicity of these three people from the German underground, their boundless narcissism, their self-assuredness, and the self-aggrandizement in the fantasy of omnipotence that justifies their use of force.”
Bonny added: “In our film we consciously narrate three characters that need to be discovered as characters in their own right, who live in a cheap and tough frenzy, in which doing and killing are the only ways of assuring one’s own value.”
The film, he said, “should be a frenzy and a view into the abyss, from which we always try to spare ourselves.” It should “convey an experience with force and physicality, being sensual and at eye level with the characters, precisely where we would prefer some superior distance.”
The German-language film, which world premieres Aug 10, stars Thomas Schubert, Ricarda Seifried and Jean-Luc Bubert. It was written by Jan Eichberg and Bonny, and produced by Bettina Brokemper at Heimatfilm, whose other titles include Lars von Trier’s “The House That Jack Built.” The film is supported by BKM and Film- und Medienstiftung NRW.
The Match Factory’s slate includes three films playing in Competition at Venice: Rick Alverson’s “The Mountain,” Carlos Reygadas’ “Our Time” and Roberto Minervini’s “What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire?”; as well as one film playing Out of Competition: Ron Mann’s “Carmine Street Guitars.”