Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My top ten films of 2011

I think I've gotten around to most of the prominent films that have turned up in discussions of the year's best. Contrary to many naysayers, I think there were a pretty good number of excellent films this year. The difference this year is that there isn't as much consensus as there has been in year's past.

Last year was especially clear cut. It was fascinating and bizarre how the critics lined up behind The Social Network and both the general public and the film industry lined up behind The King's Speech. This year's films seem to be more diverse and polarizing. Almost every one of the critically acclaimed films has some vocal haters who have nothing good to say about it.

I myself tend to like polarizing films, so I have enjoyed most of the films being talked about during this awards season. I try to view films through the eyes of the artists' intentions. There is only one of the awards-contending films that I dislike. I've written that The Help is a terrible disappointment, a mediocre film that has an inherent racism that undercuts its supposed anti-racist message.

2012 Soirée des Jutra (Jutra Awards for Quebec film) - nominees

This morning at press conference at Monument-National in Montreal, the nominees were unveiled for the 14th Annual Soirée des Jutra (Jutra Awards) for Quebec cinema.

As expected, Philippe Falardeau's Oscar-nominated drama Monsieur Lazhar grabbed the most nominations with nine. Its mentions include Best Film, Director, Actor (Fellag), Supporting Actress (Sophie Nélisse), Supporting Actor (Émilien Néron) and Screenplay. It is produced by the team Luc Déry and Kim McCraw of micro_scope who produced last year's Oscar-nominee Incendies.

Not far behind was André Forcier's Coteau Rouge with eight nominations. It was nominated for Best Film, Actress (Céline Bonnier), Supporting Actor (Mario Saint-Amand) and Screenplay. However, Forcier missed out on the Director slot.

Rounding out the field for Best Film were Le Vendeur, Nuit #1 and Starbuck. The other Best Director nods went to Anne Émond for Nuit #1, Micheline Lanctôt for Pour L'amour de Dieu (For the Love of God), Ken Scott for Starbuck and Jean-Marc Vallée for Café de flore.

2012 Australian Academy (AACTA) Awards - winners

After having presented the Samsung AACTA Awards Luncheon on January 15 and the AACTA International Awards this weekend, the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) held the main ceremony for the inaugural Samsung AACTA Awards today at the Sydney Opera House. The evening was led by AACTA President Geoffrey Rush.

Red Dog by Kriv Stenders took the top prize for Best Film. It had been up against The Eye of the Storm, The Hunter, Mad Bastards, Oranges and Sunshine and Snowtown. However, it was its only win of the night to go with its AFI Members' Choice Award at the Luncheon.

Justin Kurzel's Snowtown came away with a bigger haul, taking four tropies for Best Direction, Adapted Screenplay, Lead Actor (Daniel Henshall) and Supporting Actress (Louise Harris). This brought its total winnings to six, as it had won for Editing and Sound at the Luncheon.

The Hunter and The Eye Of The Storm had each picked up two awards at the Luncheon. But only The Eye Of The Storm was able to capture any more, with Judy Davis winning for Best Lead Actress.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Les Lauréats des Prix Henri-Langlois (French film awards) - winners

Les Rencontres internationales du cinéma de patrimoine de Vincennes drew to a close today with the awarding of the 7th Annual Prix Henri-Langlois (Henri Langlois Awards) to filmmakers and industry professionals.

The Prix Henri-Langlois 2012 d'Honneur (Prize of Honour) was presented to French actress Marina Vlady. She has had a long international career and appeared in films such as Jean Luc-Goddard's 2 ou 3 choses que je sais d'elle (Two or Three Things I Know About Her) and Orson Welles' Chimes at Midnight. She won the Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1963 for her appearance in the Italian film L'ape regina (The Conjugal Bed).

For the Trophée Coup de Coeur 2012 de l'association Henri-Langlois (Jury Favourite), there was a tie. Pierre Schöeller share the award with Bertrand Bonello for their films L'exercice de l'État (The Minister) and L'Apollonide, souvenirs de la maison close (House of Tolerance) respectively.

Other winners included animators Joann Sfar and Antoine Delesvaux (Le Chat du rabbin (The Rabbi's Cat)); debut filmmaker Mathieu Demy for Americano; Documentarians Isabelle Clarke and Daniel Costelle; and actresses Hiam Abbas from Palestine/Israel and Fatemeh Motamedaria from Iran.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

2012 Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards - winners

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) held their 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards ceremony tonight at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.

The surprise winner for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture was the civil rights era movie The Help. It won out over The Artist, Bridesmaids, The Descendants and Midnight In Paris. It also won Best Actress for Viola Davis and Best Supporting Actress for Octavia Spencer (who was up against her castmate Jessica Chastain). It had led with four nominations.

The Artist had been the presumed frontrunner in this awards season. It did pull of an upset, however, in the Best Actor category with Jean Dujardin winning out over the favourite George Clooney from The Descendants.

The Supporting Actor award was given at the beginning of the night to veteran Canadian actor Christopher Plummer for his role as Hal in Beginners.

2012 Jussi-palkinto (Finnish Movie Awards) - winners

Filmiaura of Finland held its ceremony for the 66th Jussi-palkinto (Jussi Movie Awards) today at the Kaapelitehdas in Helsinki.

Aki Kaurismäki's Le Havre dominated with six wins on the night. The French-language film took the prizes for Best Picture, Director and Screenplay for Kaurismäki himself, and also Best Supporting Actress (Elina Salo), Cinematography and Editing. It had led the field with 9 nominations. Le Havre was Finland's submission this year to the Academy for Best Foreign Language Film but was not selected as a nominee.

Elina Salo's win was her fourth. She was also presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award for good measure.

Hiljaisuus (Silence) by Sakari Kirjavainen won four of its seven nominations. It won Best Actor (Joonas Saartamo), Supporting Actor (Ilkka Heiskanen), Music and Sound.

2012 Idea Filmfare Awards - winners

The 57th Idea Filmfare Awards took place today in Film City Studio, Mumbai to honour the Hindi language film industry of India. The even was hosted by Shah Rukh Khan and Ranbir Kapoor.

This year's big winner with seven awards was Zoya Akhtar's Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. It won both the Popular and the Critics awards for Best Film, as well as Best Director. Zoya's younger brother Farhan picked up Best Supporting Actor and Best Dialogue.

Rockstar was next with five awards. Ranbir Kapoor won Best Actor in both the Popular and Critics votes. It also picked up three music awards including Best Music Director for Oscar-winner A.R.Rahman, who was presented with a special 47 carat diamond studded 2500th Filmfare Award trophy. Both Rockstar and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara had led with nine nominations.

Delhi Belly received four prizes in all. Abhinay Deo won Best Debut Director for this although it is technically his second film after Game also from this past year. Delhi Belly also won for Screenplay, Production Design and Editing.

2012 Directors Guild of America (DGA) Awards - winners

Late last night, the Directors Guild of America (DGA) held their 64th Annual DGA Awards at the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland in Los Angeles. The evening was hosted by Kelsey Grammer.

Michel Hazanavicius was named the Outstanding Director of the Year for directing The Artist. He had been up against fellow nominees Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris, David Fincher for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Alexander Payne for The Descendants, and Martin Scorsese for Hugo.

James Marsh took the Documentary category for making Project Nim. His competition had been Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky for Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory; Steve James for The Interrupters; Richard Press for Bill Cunningham New York; and Martin Scorsese for George Harrison: Living in the Material World.

2012 Sundance Film Festival award winners

2012 Sundance Film Festival Announces Awards

Park City, UT — Sundance Institute this evening announced the Jury, Audience, NEXT <=> and other special awards of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival at the Festival’s Awards Ceremony, hosted by Parker Posey in Park City, Utah. An archived video of the ceremony in its entirety is available at www.sundance.org/live.

“Every year the Sundance Film Festival brings to light exciting new directions and fresh voices in independent film, and this year is no different,” said John Cooper, Director of the Sundance Film Festival. “While these awards further distinguish those that have had the most impact on audiences and our jury, the level of talent showcased across the board at the Festival was really impressive, and all are to be congratulated and thanked for sharing their work with us.”

Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute, said, “As we close what was a remarkable 10 days of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, we look to the year ahead with incredible optimism for the independent film community. As filmmakers continue to push each other to achieve new heights in storytelling we are excited to see what’s next.”

The 2012 Sundance Film Festival Awards presented this evening were:

Saturday, January 28, 2012

AACTA International Awards - winners

The newly formed Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) held their first ever AACTA International Awards ceremony tonight at Soho House in West Hollywood. AACTA President Geoffrey Rush hosted the event and announced the winners.

Michel Hazanavicius' The Artist proved triumphant yet again, in winning Best Film. Hazanavicius also picked up Best Director, while Jean Dujardin claimed his first major win over Best Actor frontrunner George Clooney. The Artist had been tied with several nominees for the lead with four nominations.

Its competitors for Best Film had been The Descendants, Hugo, The Ides of March, Margin Call , Melancholia, Midnight In Paris, Moneyball , The Tree of Life and We Need to Talk About Kevin.

George Clooney did, however, earn an award as one of the screenwriters of The Ides of March. The screenplay award was shared in a tie with Margin Call.

Friday, January 27, 2012

2012 Kinema Junpo Awards for Japanese Film - winners

The film magazine Kinema Junpo (or Kinejun) has announced the winners of its 85th Kinema Junpo Awards.

Topping the list of Ten Best Japanese Movies was 一枚のハガキ (Post Card) by 新藤兼人 (Kaneto Shindo). The drama tells the story of a soldier sent to the frontline and receives a postcard from his wife.

The Best Director award went to 園子温 (Sion Sono) for his films 冷たい熱帯魚 (Cold Fish) and 恋の罪 (Guilty of Romance). 冷たい熱帯魚 (Cold Fish) was named the number 3 Japanese movie.

The Top Foreign Film was The Ghost Writer by Roman Polanski. Also making the top ten was the Canadian film Incendies as well as other Oscar-nominated films The Social Network, The King's Speech, Moneyball, True Grit, Hereafter and Another Year.

Golden Eagle Awards for Russian Cinema - winners

Tonight, the Национальная Академия кинематографических искусств и наук России (National Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences of Russia) held their 10th annual премия Золотой Орёл (Golden Eagle Awards) at the First Pavilion of Mosfilm in Moscow.

Елена (Elena) by Андрей Звягинцев (Andrei Zvyagintsev) led the field, taking four awards in the categories of Best Feature Film, Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Supporting Actress for Елена Лядова (Yelena Lyadova). It had led with ten nominations. Previously, Елена won the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at Cannes and lead actress Надежда Маркина (Nadezhda Markina) won the Best Actress award at the 5th Annual Asia Pacific Screen Awards.

Мастер и Маргарита (The Master and Margarita) by Юрий Кара (Yuri Kara) also picked up four awards. They were for the more technical areas of Art Direction, Costume Design, Editing and Sound Editing.

Call for submissions: Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival

Planet in Focus has put out a call for submissions for their upcoming 13th Annual Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival.

Planet in Focus is Canada's leading environmentally-themed film festival. Its programming includes stories and explorations of urban and rural spaces; wildlife; social, cultural and political environments; farming; First Nations perspectives; public health; climate change; human displacement; war; globalization; water; forests; food security and other creative interpretations of the theme “environment.”

In addition to films, they have an important industry series that features panels, workshops and pitch sessions devoted to the subjects of film production, distribution and funding. They also have a school program for elementary and secondary students focused on environmental education.

2012 Österreichischen Filmpreis (Austrian Film Awards) - winners

The Akademie des Östereichischen Films (Academy of Austrian Film) held their awards ceremony at the Rosenhügelstudios, Vienna for their second annual Österreichischen Filmpreis (Austrian Film Awards).

Karl Markovics's directorial debut Atmen (Breathing) topped the winners with six of the thirteen awards. It had led with six nominations and won each of them, taking Best Picture, Director, Actor (Thomas Schubert), Screenplay, Music and Editing. Markovics is Co-President with Barbara Albert of the Akademie des Östereichischen Films.

Best Documentary went to Michael Glawogger's Whores’ Glory. It also picked up Best Cinematography. Another double winner was Mein bester Feind (My Best Enemy), which took Best Costume Design and Makeup.

The 8 fest 2012, January 27-29

The 5th Annual 8 Fest Small Gauge Film Festival begins tonight in Toronto. It is a Film Festival for small film formats: 8mm, Super 8 and 9.5mm, as well as works in installation, loops, and 'proto-cinema devices' like zoetropes.

The festival presents films from Toronto, across Canada and from small-gauge creators and communities around the world. Films and other works are all presented in their original format.

A feature spotlight will take place this year for Berlin filmmaker Milena Gierke. The festival opens tonight with a screening of her works. On Saturday afternoon, she will be presenting an Artist Talk at the Goethe Institut.

Interior Design Show Design Docs Festival, January 27-28

Last night, the 14th Interior Design Show (IDS) kicked off at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Today, the Interior Design Show Design Docs Festival starts at the Convention Centre's North Building.

The films they will be presenting during the festival are Desert Utopia: Midcentury Architecture in Palm Springs; Hella Jongerius: Contemporary Archetypes; Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman; Contemporary Days: The Designs of Lucienne & Robin Day; William Krisel, Architect; Journeyman Architect: The Life and Work of Donald Wexler; Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight; and EAMES: The Architect & the Painter.

The IDS Design Docs Festival is presented by Esther E. Shipman, Marc Glassman and Design Onscreen. It continues until tomorrow.

2012 César du cinéma nominations

L'Académie des arts et techniques du cinéma in France has announced the nominations for the 37th Annual César du cinéma.

Maïwenn's Polisse led the field with 13 nominations. Its mentions included Best Film, Director and Original Screenplay for co-writers Maïwenn and Emmanuelle Bercot. With the increase in nominees to seven in some categories, it ties the César nomination record held by Cyrano de Bergerac and A Prophet. Polisse is about a police child protection unit and won the Jury Prize at the last Cannes Film Festival.

Following with 11 nominations was Pierre Schoeller's L'exercice de l'État (The Minister). It was nominated for Best Film, Director, Original Screenplay and Actor (Olivier Gourmet). Next was Michel Hazanavicius' The Artist with nominations included Best Film, Director, Actor (Jean Dujardin), Actress (Bérénice Béjo) and Original Screenplay.

Rounding out the Best Film category were the films, La guerre est déclarée (Declaration of War) by Valérie Donzelli, Le Havre by Aki Kaurismäki, Intouchables by Eric Toledano, Olivier Nakache, and Pater by Alain Cavalier.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

2012 Apsara Awards - winners

The Film & Television Producer Guild of India held a ceremony in Mumbai for their 7th Apsara Film & Television Producers Guild Awards.

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara was the night's big winner, taking a total of six awards including Best Film and Best Director for Zoya Akhtar. Her brother Farhan Akhtar won Best Supporting Actor and Zoya also picked up both Best Screenplay and Best Story with her co-writer Reema Kagti. Lastly, it won for Best Choreography.

Ranbir Kapoor won the Best Leading Actor trophy for his performance in Rockstar, his third time winning the award. Rockstar also won Best Lyrics and Best Music for Bollywood legend A.R.Rahman.

RA. One also took three prizes overall. They were, however, for the technical categories of Sound Design, Sound Mixing and Special Effects.

54th Blue Ribbon Awards - winners

東京映画記者会 (The Association of Tokyo Film Journalists) has announced the winners for their 54th ブルーリボン賞 (Blue Ribbon Awards).

The trophy for Best Film went to 園子温 (Sono Sion) for his surreal feature 冷たい熱帯魚 (Cold Fish). He was surprised by his win, saying "Cold Fish is actually too heterogeneous for a Japanese film. I thought it wouldn’t even be considered for awards such as the Blue Ribbon Award."

Best Director went to 99-year-old 新藤兼人 (Shindo Kaneto) for 一枚のハガキ (Post Card). He has said that this will be his last film. He is the oldest winner of the Blue Ribbon and yet this is his first time winning.

From the oldest to the youngest, 芦田愛菜 (Ashida Mana) won Best New Artist for her acting in うさぎドロップ (Bunny Drop) and 片道15分の奇跡 (Hankyu Railways - A 15-Minute Miracle). She is just seven years old.

Spike Lee's co-writer & producer on Hollywood's view of race

Spike Lee created a bit of a stir recently at Sundance when during the Q&A for the premiere of his film Red Hook Summer, he responded to a question by Chris Rock who asked "What would you have done differently if you'd actually gotten a bunch of studio money? What else would have happened? Would you have blown up some shit?"

After explaining how and why they didn't bother going to the studios, he went into a brief rant, saying "I didn’t want to hear no motherfucking notes from the studio telling me … about what a young 13-year-old boy and girl would do in Red Hook. Fuck no. They know nothing about black people. Nothing!" and finishing with "Sorry for that motherfuckiing tirade."

He's gotten some flack for saying what he did, but the thing is – he's right. Hollywood is in fact quite racist, and will only do race-themed movies if, like The Help, they are from the perspective of white people. George Lucas even complained in interviews such as on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the New York Times, that Hollywood was clueless and uninterested in his Red Tails project because of the black content.

Call for submissions: directors wanted for InspiraTO Festival

Alumnae Theatre's InspiraTO Festival has put out a call for submissions for directors interested in taking the reins with one of their 18 ten-minute plays that will be performed.

They have posted the pdf files for all 18 short plays on their website. They've included the synopses and the number of actors/actresses each will require. Of the eighteen plays, six are comedies, five are dramas and seven are absurd/fantasy scripts.

You may request up to four plays, but can only be selected for one. The deadline for submissions is February 15.

2012 Schweizer Filmpreis ‎(Swiss Film Awards) - nominations

The Bundesamt für Kultur (Swiss Federal Office of Culture) and Schweizer Filmakademie (Swiss Film Academy) announced the nominations for their 15th Annual Schweizer Filmpreis ‎(Swiss Film Prizes), known as the "Quartz". 33 nominations were made in nine categories, and each nomination comes with a cash prize of CHF 5,000 to 25,000 (Swiss Francs). A total of CHF 390,000 prize money was awarded.

The films Der Verdingbub (The Foster Boy) by Markus Imboden and Eine wen iig, dr Dällebach Kari (Someone like me – Dällebach Kari) by Xavier Koller lead the pack with six nominations each. Both were nominated foe Best Fiction Film as well as Best Actor and Best Actress.

They'll be competing with Milagros Mumenthaler's Abrir puertas y ventanas (Back to Stay), Tim Fehlbaum's Hell and Rolando Colla's Summer Games for Best Fiction Film honours.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Watch my short film The Audience

A short film that I made a few years ago has now been uploaded online for all to watch.

The Audience is a modest little film I wrote and directed, and stars the delightful actors Patrick McKenna and Sandy Kellerman (who also co-produced it with me). It was made with support from Bravo!FACT, a terrific resource that Canadian filmmakers have to make short films. Bravo!FACT has now added it to their Youtube channel.

Unfortunately, The Audience didn't break out on the festival circuit, even though many people have told me that it is ideal for festivals and I had expected that it would be as well. However, it didn't get picked up by nearly as many as I would have hoped even though we submitted it very widely. I think festivals get so many hundreds or even thousands of submissions now that something simple like this piece is easily lost. It's a shame really because whenever it has played, the response has been terrific, it gets lots of laughs, and people are very generous with their praise. I have found that very gratifying.

Kevin McDonald’s Comedy Writing Workshop

Théâtre Sainte Catherine presents a comedy writing workshop next week featuring Kevin McDonald from the landmark sketch comedy troupe The Kids in the Hall. The workshop will be two full days of hands-on instruction from Kevin McDonald in honing your writing, acting and improvisation technique.

Kevin McDonald is a Montreal-born comedian, whose family moved to Los Angeles before ending up in Toronto where he and fellow comedians Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Mark McKinney and Scott Thompson formed The Kids in the Hall in 1984. Their CBC television show ran from 1988 to 1994.

Since then, he has appeared in films such as Lilo & Stitch and Epic Movie, and television shows such as That '70s Show, Seinfeld, Arrested Development and Corner Gas. McDonald hosted the CBC special Sketch with Kevin McDonald, winner of a Canadian Comedy Award.

Call for submissions: Golden Quill Award

The Toronto Screenwriting Conference has partnered with Telefilm Canada to present the Golden Quill Award. Twelve awards will be presented to emerging screenwriters across the country. Half of those awards will be presented to diverse screenwriters. Those who are selected to receive and award will be given a complimentary registration to the Conference, a value of up to $369 + HST.

To apply, you need to have written a couple of short films of which one has been produced. You also need to have written longer work that hasn't yet been produced – either a feature-length screenplay or else a television treatment or pilot. The deadline for applications for the Golden Quill Award is Monday, February 6.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

84th Academy Awards nominations announced

This morning, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the complete nominations for their 84th Annual Academy Awards.

Somewhat surprisingly, Martin Scorsese's Hugo topped the list with eleven nominations. It is one of nine films to receive a Best Picture nomination in this the first year of having a variable number of nominees for Best Picture. Hugo also received nods for Best Director and Adapted Screenplay. It received no acting nominations, however, and its remaining mentions were in the technical and craft categories.

It's close rival and spiritual relative The Artist by Michel Hazanavicius followed with a total of ten nods, including Best Picture, Director, Actor (Jean Dujardin) and Original Screenplay. It is vying to become the first silent film to win Best Picture since Wings won Most Outstanding Production at the very first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929.

Rounding out the Best Picture field were The Descendants, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Help, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life and War Horse.

CFC celebrates Black History Month with Pam Grier [UPDATE]

The Canadian Film Centre is celebrating Black History Month with another in its series of talks with prominent members of the black film community. Last year's talk was with Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing) and before that, they featured Lee Daniels (Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire).

This year, they'll be bringing in iconic black actress Pam Grier. Her career started with Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and continued through the '70s with classic blaxploitation flicks such as Foxy Brown. She has worked steadily since then, and was especially given a boost by Quentin Tarantino with the starring role in his blaxploitation tribute film Jackie Brown.

[UPDATE] Ms. Grier had been scheduled to be joined by Jennifer Beals (Flashdance, The Book of Eli) who had her breakthrough in the '80s and recently co-starred with Grier on the television series The L Word. Due to unforeseen circumstances, however, Jennifer Beals is no longer able to attend.

Monday, January 23, 2012

International Cinephile Society's ICS Awards - nominees

The International Cinephile Society has announced the nominees for their 9th ICS Awards.

Asghar Farhadi's A Separation leads with ten nominations including Best Picture, Director, Film Not in the English Language, Actor (Peyman Moaadi), Actress (Sareh Bayat) and Original Screenplay.

Mysteries of Lisbon by Raoul Ruiz was next with nine nominations including Best Picture, Director and Film Not in the English Language. Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life and Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive each picked up seven nominations including Best Picture.

Rounding out the Best Picture field were Certified Copy, Hugo, Margaret, Meek's Cutoff, Melancholia and Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.

2012 Guldbaggen, the Guldbagge Awards for Swedish Film - winners

Today at Cirkus in Stockholm, the Swedish Film Institute held the ceremony for their 47th Annual Guldbaggen (Guldbagge or "Golden Beetle" Awards). The gala was hosted by Swedish comedian and television host Petra Mede.

The awards were fairly evenly distributed. Lisa Aschan's Apflickorna (She Monkeys) led the winners with three prizes and capturing the all-important Best Picture award as well as prizes for Screenplay and Sound. Kronjuvelerna (The Crown Jewels) also took three awards, for Costume, Set Design and Visual Effects.

Several other films nabbed two awards. They were Play which won for Best Director (Ruben Östlund) and Cinematography; Simon och ekarna (Simon and the Oaks) which took the supporting acting awards for Cecilia Nilsson and Jan Josef Liefers; and The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 which won for Editing and Music. Simon och ekarna had led with 13 nominations.

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 did not, however, capture the Best Documentary category. Instead, Michel Wenzer's At Night I Fly took that award.

Free screening of Ingrid Veninger's Modra

Today at York University in Toronto, a free screening will take place of filmmaker Ingrid Veninger's Modra.

Ingrid Veninger is the recent winner of the Jay Scott prize for emerging artists. She is a multi-talented director who also writes, acts and produces. She also teaches at York University where the screening is to take place.

Like all of her films, Modra is a modest yet beautifully accomplished film. Using members of her own family, it tells the story of a touching relationship between two youngsters who travel to Modra, Slovakia to meets her relatives. It is fulled with humour, subtle emotions and keenly observed moments.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

2012 AVN Awards - winners

The 29th Annual AVN Awards took place at The Joint at The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas in a ceremony hosted by Bree Olson, Sunny Leone and comedian Dave Attell. The AVN Awards are considered the Oscars of the adult entertainment industry.

Wicked Pictures' The Rocki Whore Picture Show: A Hardcore Parody was the night's big winner. It picket up nine trophies including Best Parody - Comedy, Best Director - Parody for Brad Armstrong, and Best Screenplay - Parody, which Armstrong co-wrote. It led with 18 nominations.

Another big winner was Asa Akira Is Insatiable 2, which took seven awards. Asa scored another trophy for Best Solo Sex Scene in Superstar Showdown 2: Asa Akira vs. Kristina Rose.

But the big prizes went to Elegant Angel's Portrait of a Call Girl. It won AVN's first ever Movie of the Year Award, as well as Best Feature, Best Director – Feature (Graham Travis) and Best Actress (Jessie Andrews).

2012 Zee Cine Awards - winners

The 13th Zee Cine Awards took place yesterday at the CotaiArena in Macau, in a ceremony hosted by Shah Rukh Khan and Priyanka Chopra. The main winners were Rockstar, The Dirty Picture and RA.One. Each claimed five awards.

The Dirty Picture was named Best Film. It also took both the popular and the jury Best Actress Award for its star Vidya Balan, who plays the real-life '80s erotic actress Silk Smitha. It also won for Choreography and Song.

The haul for Rockstar consisted of Best Actor (Ranbir Kapoor), Best Director (Imtiaz Ali), Lyrics, Singer and Editing.

RA.One was named Best Action Film. It also won for Use of Media, Song, Marketing and Sound Design.

2012 Producers Guild Awards winners

The 23rd Annual Producers Guild Awards took place Friday night at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles.

Yet again, The Artist was triumphant. It captured the Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures, edging out its fellow nominees Bridesmaids, The Descendants, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Help, Hugo, The Ides of March, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball and War Horse. The award was presented to the film's producer Thomas Langmann.

The other feature film winners on the night were The Adventures of Tintin for Animated Film and Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest in the Documentary category.

The producers for In The Land of Blood and Honey including director Angelina Jolie were presented with the honourary Stanley Kramer Award. The Stanley Kramer Award is given to a motion picture, producer or other individual, whose achievement or contribution illuminates provocative social issues in an accessible and elevating fashion.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Call for submissions: Banff World Media Festival's Writers Apprentice Program

The Banff World Media Festival has put out a call for submissions for their Global Writers Apprentice Program

The apprenticeship is an opportunity for emerging Canadian writers to attend the Banff World Media Festival with a full access pass, which includes sessions, meetings and networking. They'll even cover your flight and accommodation. Then you'll have the opportunity to intern in a story department of a prime-time series.

The program is open to all Canadians, either individually or as established writing teams. To apply, you will need a spec script of an existing television program and a pitch document of an original series idea, as well as the usual documents such as a resumé and reference letters.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Star Wars Uncut, crowd-sourced fanfilm complete online

George Lucas has certainly been in the news a lot lately.

He's been doing the circuit promoting this weekend's release of Anthony Hemingway's Red Tails on which he was a producer. The film tells the story of the Tuskegee Airmen who were black pilots during World War II. Reviews haven't been too good so far but I applaud him for getting behind the project and exposing the racism in Hollywood in interviews such as on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He points out that no one in Hollywood would support the project because it was a black movie.

He also caused a minor ripple this week when he mused about retirement or at least abandoning blockbuster filmmaking to make smaller films as his friend Francis Ford Coppola has done. He's quoted as saying “I’m retiring. I’m moving away from the business, from the company, from all this kind of stuff.”

So wouldn't you know it, he pops up yet again with sudden news that the ongoing project Star War Uncut has just finished the first Star Wars film which was changed (as everything Lucas touches usually does) to Episode IV: A New Hope.

2012 Bayerischer Filmpreis (Bavarian Film Awards) - winners

Today, the Bavarian State Government held the ceremony for their 33rd Annual Bayerischer Filmpreis (Bavarian Film Awards) at the Prinzregententheater (Prince Regent Theatre) in Munich. Winners receive cash prizes of €10,000 except for the Producers who receive a larger sum and the Audience and Honourary Awards which do not receive any cash prize. They also receive porcelain statuettes known as the "Pierrots" named after the Commedia dell'arte character.

The cancer drama Halt auf freier Strecke (Stopped on Track) was the main winner of the night. It took the top prize for Best Producer and awards for actors Steffi Kühnert and Milan Peschel. It shared the €200,000 with the producers of Hotel Lux. It was, however, the only award for Hotel Lux.

The only other film to win multiple awards was Kriegerin (Combat Girls). David Wnendt was named Best Young Director and Jella Haase was named Best Young Actor for her role in both Kriegerin and Lollipop Monster.

The Best Director Prize went to Doris Dörrie for Glück (Bliss). Bettina Mittendorfer was named Best Actress for her starring turn in Eine ganz heiße Nummer (A Really Hot Number).

Sundance short films available to watch online

The 2012 Sundance Film Festival has partnered with a sponsor Yahoo! to put nine selections from the short film program online to compete for the Yahoo! Audience Award.

The nine films are '92 Skybox Alonzo Mourning Rookie Card, Aquadettes, The Arm, The Debutante Hunters, Dol (First Birthday), Henley, Una Hora por Favora, Long Distance Information and Odysseus' Gambit. Most of the films feature unknowns and emerging talent, but Long Distance Information stars Peter Mullan and Una Hora por Favora stars Wilmer Valderrama from That '70s Show.

The winner(s) of the Yahoo! Audience Award will receive a $5,000 prize. The contest continues until January 27 and the winner will be announced in January 28.

Call for submissions: TSV themed commissions - CENTRE

As part of its 40th anniversary celebration, Trinity Square Video has put out a call for submissions for CENTRE, the final stage of their commissioned trilogy LEFT, RIGHT, CENTER [sic].

Each of the previous commissions has had a political angle and this continues that approach. However, this time they've introduced a requirement to use material from the Archives of Ontario to be the basis of the submitted projects.

Applicants do not have to be from Toronto, but must be able to attend the relevant events at their own expense. Successful applicants will receive a prize package that includes $750 in production equipment rentals, 40 hours of editing time, a TSV membership and a $500 honorarium. The finished work will also be included in a fall public exhibition and a published catalogue.

MPSE Golden Reel Awards - nominees

The Motion Picture Sound Editors (MPSE) have announced the nominees for their 59th Annual Golden Reel Awards.

Super 8 came out at the top with three nominations. The film was nominated in sound editing categories for Music in a Feature Film; Dialogue and ADR in a Feature Film; and Sound Effects and Foley in a Feature Film.

Films picking up two nominations were Drive, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Transformers: Dark of the Moon and War Horse.

The 2012 MPSE Filmmaker Award will be presented to Gale Anne Hurd. The 2012 MPSE Career Achievement Award will be presented to George Watters II.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

AARP Movies for Grownups Awards - winners

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and AARP The Magazine announced the winners for their 11th Annual Movies for Grownups Awards.

The top prize of Best Movie for Grownups went to The Descendants. However, The Artist picked up Best Comedy. There were no multiple award-winners though and everything was spread very evenly.

The Names of Love was named The Best Foreign Language Film. Best Documentary went to Bill Cunningham New York, while the Readers’ Choice Award was won by The Help.

The lead acting prizes went to Glenn Close for Albert Nobbs and Oliver Litondo for The First Grader, while the supporting awards went to Christopher Plummer for Beginners and Vanessa Redgrave for Coriolanus.

London Critics' Circle Film Awards - winners

The London Critics’ Circle has presented the winners for the 32nd London Critics’ Circle Film Awards in a ceremony at BFI Southbank.

Yet again, Michel Hazanavicius' The Artist has proven to be the most acclaimed film. It was awarded Film of the Year as well as Director of the Year and Actor of the Year for Jean Dujardin.

A Separation was another triple prize-winner. It claimed Foreign Language Film, Screenwriter of the Year and Supporting Actress for Sareh Bayat. The Iron Lady was the only other multiple award winner with prizes for Actress (Meryl Streep) and British Actress (Olivia Colman). Streep's award, however, was a tie with Anna Paquin for her work in Margaret, while Colman's award was also for her work on Tyrannosaur.

Michael Fassbender was named British Actor of the Year for both A Dangerous Method and Shame, while fellow Brit Kenneth Branagh was given the prize for Supporting Actor for My Week With Marilyn.

NAACP Image Awards - nominees

This morning at a live news conference at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) unveiled their nominees for the 43rd annual NAACP Image Awards.

The Help and Pariah lead the film nominees with a total of eight each. Both films were nominated for Outstanding Motion Picture and Writing. The Help cannot win more than four, however, since it picked up two Best Actress nominations (Emma Stone, Viola Davis) and three Supporting Actress nominations (Bryce Dallas Howard, Cicely Tyson, Octavia Spencer).

Rounding out the Outstanding Motion Picture category were Jumping the Broom, The First Grader and Tower Heist.

The 43rd annual NAACP Image Awards will be presented on Friday, February 17 and broadcast live on NBC.

Costume Designers Guild (CDG) Awards - nominees

This morning, the Costume Designers Guild unveiled the nominees for their 14th Annual CDG Awards.

As with the Art Directors Guild nominations, the Costume Designers nominate films and television shows in separate categories for Contemporary, Period and Fantasy productions.

Nominees that have been turning up on many other awards lists include The Artist, The Descendants, The Help, Hugo and Bridesmaids. Other than perhaps Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, the Fantasy Film nominees have not shown up on many awards lists as Fantasy is aften aimed at a very young audience and not taken as seriously.

Attack the Bloc: Cold War Science Fiction from Behind the Iron Curtain

A screening series called Attack the Bloc: Cold War Science Fiction from Behind the Iron Curtain kicks off tonight at TIFF Bell Lightbox. It showcases early Russian and East European science-fiction films.

The series has been put together by Todd Brown, founder of the excellent website Twitch Film which specializes in genre and foreign. Included in the series are well-known classics such as Andrei Tarkovsky's Solaris and Stalker, but also more obscure works such as Marek Piestrak's Test Pilot Pirxa, Herrmann Zschoche's Eolomea, and goofier, campy films like Richard Viktorov's To the Stars by Hard Ways, Gottfried Kolditz' In the Dust of the Stars, and Václav Vorlícek's Who Wants to Kill Jessie?.

Attack the Bloc: Cold War Science Fiction from Behind the Iron Curtain continues until April 6 at TIFF Bell Lightbox.

2012 GLAAD Media Awards - nominees

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has announced its nominees for their 23rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards.

The nominees for Outstanding Film (Wide Release) were Rodrigo García's Albert Nobbs, Mike Mills' Beginners and Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar. For Limited Release films, the nominees were Circumstance, Gun Hill Road, Pariah, Tomboy and Weekend.

The documentary nominations went to Becoming Chaz, The Strange History of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, The World's Worst Place to be Gay?, Two Spirits and We Were Here. We Were Here is on the Academy's shortlist for Documentary Features.

The GLAAD Media Awards are given in recognition of outstanding images of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community in film, television, music, theatre, journalism, and other media.

2011 Cinema Audio Society (CAS) Awards - nominees

The Cinema Audio Society has announced the nominees for the 48th Annual CAS Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing.

The films competing for the CAS Award are Hanna, Hugo, Moneyball, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Super 8. Of these films, only Hugo and Moneyball have featured prominently at awards shows thus far.

For television movies or mini-series, the nominated programs are American Experience – Triangle Fire, Bobby Fischer Against the World, Deadliest Catch: New Blood, Great Performances At The Met: Nixon in China, and Lady Gaga Monster Ball Tour.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Oscar's Foreign Language Film shortlist of 9 films

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has released its shortlist for the Best Foreign Language Film category. The list whittled the list of 63 submissions down to nine. It will be reduced further to five nominees to be announced with all the other nominations.

Canada's Monsieur Lazhar by Philippe Falardeau made the list. It has won numerous awards so far and has a good chance to make the list of five nominees. Last year, Incendies made the nominees list but did not win. Canada's only win for Best Foreign Language Film was Denys Arcand's Les Invasions barbares (The Barbarian Invasions).

Wim Wenders's superb dance film Pina from Germany also made the list. It is also on the shortlist of films in the Best Documentary category. It could become the first film to be nominated in both categories. It is one of the greatest films ever made on another art form and has some of the best use of 3-D ever - not flashy but discreet, giving a sense of presence, intimacy and space without drawing attention to itself.

50 Years of Discoveries at TIFF Bell Lightbox

For the next week, TIFF Bell Lightbox will be hosting a series of screenings to celebrate the 50 years of the Semaine de la critique (International Critics Week) at the Festival international du film de Cannes. The Semaine de la critique is a sidebar at Cannes organized by the (French Syndicate of Cinema Critics). Its mandate is to discover new talents and they showcase first or second feature films by international directors.

Starting tonight, Lightbox will screen a selection of films that have played at Cannes' Semaine de la critique over these five decades. Each screening will be hosted by a film critic or media personality.

The series begins tonight with Peter Howell of The Toronto Star presenting the Spanish film The Spirit of the Beehive by Victor Erice. It will be followed by a presentation by George Stroumboulopoulos of CBC of Kevin Smith's Clerks.

As part of the 50 Years of Discoveries program, there will be a free panel discussion on Film Criticism Today. Critics participating include Fabien Gaffez, Peter Howell, Liam Lacey and Jonathan Rosenbaum and they'll discuss their work over the years. This should make for a very lively discussion as their work comes under increasing pressure from the economy and media downsizing, the proliferation of bloggers, and studio interference.

2012 Japan Academy Prize - nominees

The nominations have been announced for the 35th Annual Japan Academy Prize. All of the nominees are considered prize winners and receive an Award of Excellence, with an additional statuette going to the Best in each category at the ceremony in March.

八日目の蝉 (Rebirth) by 成島出 (Narushima Izuru) led the field with thirteen nominations. It's mentions included Picture of the Year, Director, Screenplay, Lead Actress for 井上真央 (Inoue Mao) and Supporting Actress for both 小池栄子 (Koike Eiko) and 永作博美 (Nagasaku Hiromi).

Following closely with twelve nominations was 最後の忠臣蔵 (The Last Ronin) by 杉田成道 (Sugita Shigemichi). It also picked up nods for Picture, Director and Screenplay as well as Actor for 役所広司 (Yakusho Koji) and Supporting Actor for 佐藤浩市 (Sato Koichi).

大鹿村騒動記 (Someday) by 阪本順治 (Sakamoto Junji) and ステキな金縛り (A Ghost of a Chance) by 三谷幸喜 (Mitani Koki) were also nominated for Picture, Director and Screenplay. Hajime Hashimoto's 探偵はBARにいる (Phone Call to the Bar) picked up Picture and Screenplay among its seven nominations, however it missed for Director in favour of 新藤兼人 (Shindo Kaneto) for directing 一枚のハガキ (Post Card).

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Asian Film Awards - nominations

The Hong Kong International Film Festival Society announced the nominations today for the 6th Annual Asian Film Awards. Tsui Hark's 3-D Martial Arts extravaganza 龍門飛甲 (The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate) picked up seven nominations to lead the field. It's nods include Best Film, Director, Actor (Chen Kun) and Supporting Actress (Gwei Lun-mei).

The Christian Bale vehicle 金陵十三釵 (The Flowers of War) and Taiwanese historical epic 賽德克·巴萊 (Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale) each picked up six nominations. Each was also nominated for Best Film and Director.

The gripping Iranian drama Nader and Simin, A Separation by Asghar Farhadi picked up five nominations. It too was nominated for Best Film and Director as well as Actress (Leila Hatami). Japan's Postcard and India's You Don’t Get Life a Second Time round out the Best Film category.