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As Hollywood struggles, female-led story ends London fest – Hirokazu Kore-eda boards ‘Ten Years’ spin-off project

LONDON, Oct 16, (RTRS): The London Film Festival closed on Sunday with a violent and dark comedy featuring Frances McDormand, as a small-town mother seeking justice for her murdered daughter, tipped for an Oscar nod.

At the end of a movie fortnight overshadowed by a cascade of allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, writer-director Martin McDonagh said he was happy to close the festival with “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing”, calling it “a proper cool film” with a woman at its heart.

“I mostly wanted to write a really strong female lead for a film so I came up with this idea of a very angry mother who goes to war with her local police department,” McDonagh told Reuters on the red carpet in London’s Leicester Square.

“Once I thought that Frances would be the perfect person for it, it wrote itself almost.”

McDormand shot to global fame in “Fargo”, another small-town black comedy, as a North Dakota police chief, a role that won her the Best Actress Oscar in 1997.

In “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing”, her character decides to confront the police chief, played by Woody Harrelson, by hiring advertising hoardings to berate him for failing to find the culprit who raped and murdered her daughter.

“McDormand’s performance is every bit as commanding as her Oscar-winning work in ‘Fargo’ 21 years ago,” Daily Telegraph critic Robbie Collin said in his five-star review of this “gut-twisting, cinder-black comedy” which won the top prize at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Harrelson, who starred in Martin McDonagh’s last movie, “Seven Psychopaths” said of the British-Irish filmmaker best know for “In Bruges”: “He’s turned into a real master of his craft and I think he has just gotten better each time.”

A day after the Academy of Motion Pictures expelled Weinstein over allegations of sexual harassment, some actors were more forthright than others over the scandal.

Clarke Peters, who plays an African-American police chief in the small Missouri town beset by racial tensions in “Thee Billboards”, said Hollywood “should go into a room and reassess their humanity”.

Abuse in the film industry was not limited to one individual, Peters said, adding: “We all get accosted in one way or the other.”

“They have this wonderful machine to communicate to all of these people, why use it in such a despicable way?”

The New York Times and The New Yorker have published allegations from a number of women that Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them in incidents dating back to the 1980s, including three who said they had been raped.

Reuters has been unable to independently confirm any of the allegations. Weinstein, 65, has denied having non-consensual sex with anyone.


LOS ANGELES: Iconic Japanese auteur Hirokazu Kore-eda has come on board as executive producer of “Ten Years Japan,” a spinoff of 2015’s Hong Kong indie hit “Ten Years.”

The original “Ten Years” movie was a low-budget omnibus film in which five young directors envisaged how Hong Kong would have changed 10 years into the future. Three new spinoffs, in Japan, Taiwan and Thailand, will use similar principals to deliver a trio of collective features made by up-and-coming directors.

“The idea of carrying on the spirit of the original Hong Kong film by trying to envision Japan 10 years from now was an intriguing one,” said Kore-eda.

“However, I’m a little too old to participate as a young director, so I joined the production as a supporter.” His participation was announced at an event at the Busan Film Festival.

The Japanese film is produced by Miyuki Takamatsu’s Free Stone Prods., Eiko Mizuno-Gray and Jason Gray’s Loaded Films and Miyuki Fukuma of Bun-Buku. The directors are Akiyo Fujimura, Chie Hayakawa, Yusuke Kinoshita, Megumi Tsuno and Kei Ishikawa.

Their stories explore a future Japan plagued by pollution and aging, a society where morality and personal history are manipulated by technology, and a nation overshadowed by the specter of war.

“Ten Years Taiwan” is now shooting. It is produced by Joint Entertainment’s James Liu. Directors include Rina B. Tsou, Lau Kek Huat, Lekal Sumi, Pei-Ju Hsieh and Lu Po Shun.

“Ten Years Thailand,” also already filming, is produced by Aditya Assarat’s Pop Pictures, Cattleya Paosrijaroen and Soros Sukhum. Directors are a slightly more experienced group, including Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Wisit Sasanatieng, Aditya Assarat, Chookiat Sakveerakul and Chulayarnnon Siriphol.

The original “Ten Years” was a surprise hit that tapped into a wave of popular discontent as free-wheeling and capitalist Hong Kong came increasingly under the influence of authoritarian China. The film was conceived before the so-called Umbrella Movement and Occupy Central act of civil disobedience in Hong Kong, and the filmmakers had to recalibrate their stories, as they found many of their first draft scenarios already coming true.

The film could not be released in mainland China and authorities censored reports about the film. They also blocked broadcasting on TV and the internet of the 2016 Hong Kong Film Awards. To the surprise of many, the film was the winner of the best picture award.

Kore-eda is best known for his films “Like Father, Like Son,” “Our Little Sister” and “After the Storm,” which all participated at the Cannes Film Festival.


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