In March of 2020 a revolution will begin in Saudi Arabia. But the country’s royal family and even that now infamous bad boy MBS — as the crown prince is known for short — needn’t worry about getting ready with armies and bodyguards. They just need to sit back, relax and enjoy the show.Read More
In ‘Family Romance, Llc’ Werner Herzog finds a new way to work through the difficulties life throws our way — outsource them to an agency specializing in family connections. He does it with his usual flair for our human ridiculousness and making the impossible seem real. During the junket following the screening, I loved listening to my esteemed colleagues’ confused explanations of stories they thought they’d seen like this one in documentaries, or even completely convinced this was a reality film, instead of fiction. And Herzog himself quite perfectly, calmly and smoothly shooting down each and all of their perplexed ideas.
‘Family Romance, Llc’ was a Special Screening at this year’s Festival de Cannes.Read More
There has been a certain je ne sais quoi in the air here in Cannes, and I wasn’t able to quite put my finger on it. It bothered me, someone always good at defining a moment, person or place, that I couldn’t put that feeling into words. Then I attended the press conference for Luca Guadagnino’s ‘The Staggering Girl’ and I had a ‘EUREKA!” moment. So bear with me for a moment while I get to that…Read More
Yes, there was a flash taxi strike at the airport in Nice yesterday, just as my flight was getting in. No, they were not prepared for an action by all taxi drivers to block the roads accessing the airport, so no vehicle of any sort could get in or out of the airport. Yes, there is a tramway track recently built which reaches terminal 3 but no, there was no tram traveling on it. So everyone had to walk for miles, with luggage in tow, under the sweltering sun, to reach an overcrowded train, through overpasses and station underpasses (read: lots and lots of stairs) mimicking the zombies in Jim Jarmusch’s Cannes opening night film.
Welcome to the glamorous life of a journalist covering the Festival de Cannes! If I hear one more time what a wonderful opportunity it is for me to be doing what I do, I’ll strangle someone. Then, I might actually begin to get the attention I deserve.Read More
I know, most critics go to the Festival de Cannes looking forward to the Competition titles and maybe will grant themselves the joy of viewing the Un Certain Regard selection. But I’ll admit I’m more of a sidebar person, and while I will view a few great titles in the main lineups, my craves lay more in the Quinzaine (Directors’ Fortnight) and Semaine de la Critique.Read More
As a young girl, I remember watching anything that had Alain Delon in it. I had a super crush on him and, lucky me, no film of his was deemed inappropriate by my parents. So along with Luchino Visconti’s ‘The Leopard’ and ‘Rocco and his Brothers’, I also caught Delon in films like ‘The Swimming Pool’, ‘Zorro’ and yes, even ‘The Concorde… Airport ‘79’. In fact, from the latter I required that a friend of the family who knew how to knit make me a royal blue crew neck wool sweater that looked just like his. I would find you a photo but I would have to watch that entire film all over again and well, I’ve moved on from my pre-pubescent crush. And my taste in film has highly improved.
But Alain Delon remains the fascinating man, the sultry sex symbol that could even steal women away from Mick Jagger. And this year’s he’s the Festival de Cannes honorary Palme d’Or recipient. Kudos to the festival for finally getting the reclusive actor to accept their coveted lifetime award.Read More
As I learned at this year’s Qumra, held by the Doha Film Institute, the grand dame of French New Wave cinema Agnès Varda was all about finding the stories, the viewpoints that no one else would bother with. The Festival de Cannes, in its poster just unveiled for the 72nd edition of the festival, pays homage to La Varda but also to her indomitable spirit by showing the filmmaker on her first cinematic venture perched high up on a platform, atop the shoulders of a crew technician. She’s is looking to capture that image, that viewpoint which no one else would have even thought about. She is Varda, in all her perfectly humble and adventurous attitude. The same Varda who asked me, to my utter disbelief, if I’d liked her “little film” a few years ago in Cannes.Read More
I tweeted about this beauty a couple of weeks ago and stand by my word. I’m typically not a zombie kinda girl but utter Jim Jarmusch’s name and I can’t watch it fast enough. So the buzz was deafening around ‘The Dead Don’t Die’ from the time the first images of the film were released, building up to a cacophony of joy when the trailer was first shown. And don’t even get me started on Adam Driver. I mean, the man is taller than Bill Murray, which is saying a lot, and all the handsome of a young Keanu Reeves, plus acting talents to boot.
Then, this morning Cannes announced it will open its 72nd edition of the festival with the Jarmusch film, in Competition no less. On Tuesday May 14th, on the screen of the Grand Théâtre Lumière, the film by the American director and screenwriter will be this year’s first Palme d'Or competition screening.Read More
The yearly, five days long Qumra event in Qatar, held by the Doha Film Institute each March is that rare occasion for those of us who write about cinema to connect with the filmmakers, producers, film programmers, sales agents and festival directors who make the magic happen. Don’t misunderstand me now, I think film journalists and bloggers are equally to praise or blame for great movies being made. Our collective word, the reviews and interviews we manage to sell to publications or feature on our blogs, can create a movement that reverberates around the world. I know colleagues who pride themselves on making or breaking someone’s career. It’s not nice, but it is true. Take the case of Gianfranco Rosi’s ‘Below Sea Level’ and the infamous Variety review that ensured the film never made it to a cinema near you — a fact the filmmaker mentioned in his Masterclass at last year’s Qumra.
That said, in Doha there is a great energy created by the powers that be of the DFI, which allows journalists to relate to the film projects in such a personal way that it’s impossible thereafter to dislike it or even ignore it.Read More
On my last day in Doha, I spend the afternoon wandering around the Souq Waqif which I learned from a local filmmaker, literally translates as “the stand up souk.” In the olden days, before Qatar turned into the international, cosmopolitan country it is today, the sea would come straight into the alleys of the souk so the merchants had to stand up and pick up their wares during the tides. Thus the name, and actually while I wandered around checking out the shops, having a shawl sewn from a traditional flower fabric by a local tailor while drinking a karak chai (cardamon infused milky tea) and eating a chapatti flat bread filled with zaatar, I felt like I was transported back to those early days of the pearl divers and their haunting songs of the sea.
Doha is special place. I’ll never get tired of saying it. And their annual Qumra event, organized by the Doha Film Institute is sheer cinematic magic. Qumra is a meeting place, a five-days long networking session, a place to pitch, secure financing and ensure a screening chance for film projects. But it is also an occasion to recharge our collective passion for the movies. For journalists, producers and of course filmmakers, the atmosphere at Qumra offers an almost electric energy, a jolt of renewed hope in the future of the 7th art.Read More
When I look at the title of this piece, I feel overwhelmed myself. I mean, it would be pretty wonderful to just hear one of the these two men who are such Maestros in each of their professions give a Masterclass. But when you get them both, within 24 hours of each other, on a stage, talking to the equally wondrous Richard Peña, well, you have cinematic magic.
Or more precisely, what you have is the Doha Film Institute’s annual Qumra event.Read More
Most directors whose features you are watching in cinemas today started out making short films. It’s a fact that short narratives and documentaries are the stuff future filmmaker build their craft on and the Ca 'Foscari Short Film Festival recognizes that through and through. In their press release for the upcoming ninth edition of the event, which will run from March 20th to the 23rd, the following statement made me realize just how much they believe in the learning power of the ‘Short”.Read More
It is obvious from the moment one steps on a Qatar Airways aircraft that cinema is important in Doha. I mean, just going through the entertainment system on my particular flight, I found ‘Rebecca’ by Hitchcock, Barry Jenkins’ hauntingly touching and all too true ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’, Paul Dano’s intimate portrayal of a family struggling to remain a single nucleus ‘Wildlife’ and even the 2019 Best Picture Oscar winner ‘Green Book’.
Qatar knows good cinema and nowhere is that better understood than in the welcoming arms of the Doha Film Institute.Read More
When he founded the National Youth Film Academy back in 2011, Chief Executive Rob Earnshaw spotted a gap within the cinema industry in the UK. There were jobs being offered, and people craving to fill those positions both in front and behind the camera, yet absolutely no bridge between them. In fact, in his mission statement Earnshaw talks about building that bridge.
““The National Youth Film Academy is dedicated to building bridges between education and employment in film. Our team works tirelessly to locate, nurture and promote talented, aspirational actors and filmmakers. But most importantly we discover people with the right attitude to be employed in British film.””
— Rob Earnshaw, Chief Executive, National Youth Film Academy
In the last eight years, the National Youth Film Academy has become the most important community to which aspiring film professionals in the UK can belong. And beyond, because of course, the film community — once bridges are formed to connect the jobs with the job seekers — is the largest open circle of artists in the world.Read More
Ever since its creation in 2010 on the peninsular country of Qatar, the Doha Film Institute has been revolutionizing cinema in the Region. The word “revolution” is never a sign of good things in the Arab world and yet at DFI, they should welcome the term when it comes to describing the work they’ve been doing almost singlehandedly to create and foster a healthy cinema culture in the Arab world. And beyond.Read More
I’d long heard about the Rotterdam International Film Festival and yet had never personally been here. IFFR will hereafter be a much craved stop on my itinerary of world cinema events. I can’t wait to see what next year has in store.
So what makes this cinephiles’ festival filled with independent gems, languid culture-filled days and inspiring evening talks by the masters so addictive? Well, that — what I just said. Turns out there is no festival in the world quite like IFFR.
And here are a few favorites of mine from this year’s edition.Read More
One of the most beautifully mysterious actors of our time, Mr. Ralph Fiennes will be in Cairo, presenting his latest directorial project ‘The White Crow’ — about a childhood idol of mine, ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev — and for a conversation with the audience inside the massive Cairo Opera House. Moderated by yours truly.
It’s a momentous event, but I almost missed it.Read More
If ever there was an upcoming event that felt outrageously exciting, almost too jam packed with greatness (could there ever be such a thing!) it’s the Marrakech International Film Festival — which will take place from November 30th to December 8th, 2018 in the beautiful Moroccan city. Now in its 17th edition, the festival took a year off in 2017 and is coming back stronger, better and more action-packed than ever.Read More
You talk exceptional women and few garner as much unanimous adoration as legendary filmmaker, photographer and artist Agnes Varda. Then you think versatile actresses, women who have transformed themselves from super popular soap opera stars to beloved movie icons and the name Robin Wright immediately comes to mind.
Well, as it turns out both of these legendary women in their own right, or “Wright” if you pardon the pun, will be honored with the Etoile d’Or Award under the starry sky of the Moroccan city of Marrakech this December.Read More
How would you cope with being told you have a terminal illness?
That is a question I’ve asked myself often these days, as I deal with people I love getting ill and the recent death of my father. Where do you find the strength to go on, when you know the days are numbered and how do you continue to be a functioning member of society when probably all you wish to do is go into the woods and hide?
Well, in Natalya Merkulova’s and Alexey Chupov’s haunting, beautiful and at times painfully truthful film ‘The Man Who Surprised Everyone’ which screened in the Orizzonti section in Venice, the real life husband and wife team tackle the difficult question.Read More