The Academy Spotlights Female Animators With “An Invisible History: Women In Animation”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will celebrate the women who have been at the forefront of film animation with “An Invisible History: Trailblazing Women of Animation,” on Monday, August 7, at 7:30 p.m. at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. Hosted by author and historian Mindy Johnson, the evening will feature panelists Gretchen Albrecht (“Robin Hood”); Jane Baer (“Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”); Lorna Cook, the lead character animator on “The Lion King;” Eleanor Dahlen (“Sleeping Beauty”); Jun Falkenstein (“Despicable Me”); Virginia Fleener, animator at Disney Studios during WWII; Carole Holliday (“Prince of Egypt”); Patty Peraza (“Beauty and the Beast”), the first credited female effects animator at Disney Features; and Tina Price (“Fantasia 2000”), the first female “Head of Computer Animation” at Walt Disney.

Coming Up On Carte Blanche – 30 July 2017

On M-Net & M-Net HD [101], Sunday 30 July 2017 at 19:00 & again on M-Net Plus 1 [901] at 20:00

 

 

Rebuilding Knysna

Almost 2 months after the devastating Knysna fires damaged and destroyed properties and businesses, residents have begun to rebuild their shattered lives. Despite the compassion of others however, many are struggling to escape the trauma. Carte Blanche revisits a community still coming to terms with their losses.

Producer: Michael Duffet
Presenter: John Webb

E-cigarettes

Are e-cigarettes really that much safer than ordinary cigarettes? Tobacco companies claim that through their new heated tobacco products they have removed 90% of the chemicals harmful to smokers. Carte Blanche visits to the World Health Organisation in Switzerland to get some answers.

Producer: Kate Barry
Presenter: Derek Watts
Watch the trailer

Two Dads, Three babies

Families come in all shapes and sizes, and two fathers raising triplets, are turning the traditional notion of a nuclear family on its head. As same sex parenting and surrogacy become more visible, the world is adapting to more modern family units and South Africa isn’t far behind. Carte Blanche explores these changing dynamics.

Producer: Ben Dwork
Presenter: Devi Sankaree Govender
Watch the trailer

Line-ups are subject to change. Stories can be viewed at www.carteblanche.co.za.

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Suburbicon Set To Screen At Venice And Toronto

Times Media Films, the distributors of Suburbicon, are incredibly proud to announce that the film has been selected to screen at both the Venice Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in September.

The film will play in the main competition at the Venice Film Festival on Saturday, September 2nd and will have a Special Presentation screening on Saturday, September 9th at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Suburbicon is set to release on selected screens on the 10th of November 2017.

Starring Matt Damon (The Great Wall), Julianne Moore (The Hunger Games: Mocking Jay part 1), Noah Jupe and Oscar Issac (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), the film tells the story of Suburbicon, a peaceful, idyllic suburban community with affordable homes and manicured lawns …the perfect place to raise a family, and in the summer of 1959, the Lodge family is doing just that. But the tranquil surface masks a disturbing reality, as husband and father Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon) must navigate the town’s dark underbelly of betrayal, deceit, and violence. This is a tale of very flawed people making very bad choices. This is Suburbicon.

 

The Great Wall (DVD) : Review

Film

European mercenaries, William (Matt Damon – Interstellar, Elysium) and Tovar (Pedro Pascal), searching for black powder become embroiled in the defense of the Great Wall of China against a horde of monstrous creatures, the Tao Tei.

As they two are pulled between taking the black powder to help their fellow countrymen, or showing honour and helping those who defend The Great Wall, the viewer is treated to a cinematic thrill ride, and an action packed movie.

Subsequent viewings, while the few plot reveals may be known, will certainly uncover many new details missed on an initial viewing, amidst the fog of war, and many detailed set pieces.

Rewatch value on this film is high, and to do it justice, one should try watch on a large screen, allowing one to capture the grand scale of the stories location.

Read the full SAMDB review of The Great Wall.

Disc

Overall, the audio and video of the main feature are of a decent quality, with the main feature being an enjoyable film.

The navigation on the disc is appalling, and requires far too much guesswork, not to mention the menu timeouts, leading to launching of menus or the main feature without action from the viewer.

The Great Wall is available now, to purchase on disc, in South Africa.

Video

Video on the main feature is encoded at a decent average bitrate. There are no visible artefacts on screen, nor any visible colour bleed. colours where appropriate are vibrant, with detail maintained in darker scenes.

Viewers with the necessary hardware or software could scale up to a larger or higher resolution screen, should they wish.

The menus on the disc are another story, with horrible compression artefacts visible, especially on larger screens. Although these do not interfere with the main feature, and would allow more room on the disc in order to use less compression for the film.

Audio

Audio is presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, with clear dialogue via the centre speaker. The weight of the soundtrack is carried via the front channels, with the surrounds put to good use expanding the many action scenes, and serving to further draw the viewer into the on-screen action.

Navigation

Navigation on the main menu comprises of a bunch of symbols, so as with several other discs from distributor Next, learn their meanings, otherwise some guesswork or hit & miss is involved when simply trying to navigate the disc or play the main feature.

The triangle icon allows one to play the main feature.

The icon looking like a book, access the chapter selection sub-menu.

The asterisk icon, very unintuitive, takes one to the sub-menus for bonus features. These features are listed with text links, so these have some logic and sense to them.

The speaker icon leads to a sub-menu for audio language selection.

Lastly, the page looking icon, with lines, leads to a sub-menu used to select desired subtitles.

The menu system on the disc is highly compressed, and therefore look horrendous on larger screens. These are static backgrounds, with accompanying music.

When in a sub-menu, these do time out within a very short space of time, taking one back to the main menu, which in turn, also times out, and launches the main feature. While this would likely help those who are lost due to the terrible navigation system, and need for guesswork, this is likely to prove very annoying to the majority of viewers. This is a trait, it seems, of discs created by Next Entertainment. Let’s hope they change this soon.

Bonus Features

There are trailers for The Mummy, and The Fate of the Furious (Fast & Furious 8). These autoplay at the beginning of the disc. They can be fast forward, or skipped individually, but can not be accessed again via the disc menus.

Deleted and extended scenes: A selection of nine scenes that were either removed or shortened in the final edit of the main feature. These can be accessed from a playlist that will play them all in order, or selected individually from the sub-menus.

The deleted and extended scenes provide some additional footage to view. In some cases, more than others, it is fair to guess why a particular scene was was left out, or changed. These would interest the average viewer, and be of interest to anyone in the filmmaking world.

Matt Damon in China: A short clip with some behind the scenes footage, focussing on Matt Damon, and the location and people The Great Wall was shot with. There is not much information passed on in this featurette, but we get to see Damon doing a few rehearsals.

Working with director Zhang Yimou: Some comments by cast and crew on director Zhang Yimou, with lots of praise for his work. This short clip again doesn’t impart too much information, but provides is a small insight into the man, and some behind the scenes footage.

The Great Wall visual effects: Another short featurette, this time focussing on the digital effects using in the film, of which there are a great many, some more noticeable than others.

This video clip does impart more information than the previous, explaining how the digital crowds for soldiers and creatures were created, resulting in the visual spectacular, that is the film.

Man vs. Monster: Navigation here takes the viewer to a sub-menu, where there are three featurettes about the work that went into creating the battles in the film, namely The First Battle, The Second Battle, and The Third Battle. There is also a playlist to have these all play in order.

With behind the scenes footage, and input from cast and crew, there is a fair amount of information passed on that would interest viewers and filmmakers alike, showing the mastery of acting, stunts and effects that went into creating some spectacular shots in each battle.

Weapons of war: A closer look at the weapons used on The Wall, and by the army. From huge crossbows, to massive blades, and the trebuchets. These not only look menacing in the film, but had a lot of hard work practically and digitally, behind them to create what looks like a force to be reckoned with.

Another clip that would be of interesting to average viewers and filmmakers alike.

Designing a spectacular world: A featurette on the production design, how it was researched, and how it brings the set to life, creating the detailed world we see on-screen.

Auditioning For Camera – ACT: Cape Town

Auditioning for Camera, with Christa Schamberger & Digby Young
Saturday, 05 August 2017

This course explores all aspects of a film audition. It includes the break-down of an audition script, call backs, acting technique and the practical exploration of the casting process.  Course culminates in a mock casting for playback and review.

Course will cover:
How to prepare for an audition and call-back.
Audition and cold-reading techniques.
Listening and taking direction in the audition room.
What to do during the call-back to impress the producer and / or director.

Course Schedule: Saturday, 10am – 4pm
Entry Requirements: This course is open to actors who have completed a foundation in acting and are about to launch into professional auditions and professional actors with industry experience.
Cost: R1250.00 (includes all training material and certificate of completion).

info@actcapetown.co.za
021 419 7007
www.actcapetown.co.za

In Conversation WIth Doris Dörrie By Peter Machen

Peter Machen spoke to leading German filmmaker Doris Dörrie about her remarkable film Fukushima, Mon Amour which screened at the Durban International Film Festival as part of the German Focus last week.

One of Germany’s leading filmmakers, Doris Dörrie has made several films set in Japan. Her latest film takes place in the evacuated zone of Fukushima where an older geisha has returned to her home in the company of a young German woman who has travelled to the area with a foreign aid organisation. Shot on site, in the aftermath of the nuclear meltdown and the 2011 tsunami that caused it, Fukushima, Mon Amour is remarkable for its fusion of fiction and reality and the way that it tenderly holds the one inside of the other.

Dors Do¨rrie
Photo by Dieter Mayr

I spoke to Dörrie’s about this beautifully judged film, beginning with her initial experience of visiting Fukushima after the meltdown. Dörrie, who has visited Japan many times and made several films in the country, felt a strong need to visit Fukushima in the wake of the devastating disaster. “I have so many friends there and I didn’t want to sit around and get all the information from the news. Everybody in Germany thought all of Japan was radioactively polluted and foreigners pretty much left Japan in those times and nobody wanted to go. So I figured, ‘well I should go’. So I did and I was very struck and overwhelmed by the enormity, the devastation, but also by how people tried to cope.”

“Back then refugees from Fukushima had just moved into these temporary housings and they were trying to come to grips with the fact that they had lost everything within 20 minutes. Which is a very basic human fear – to just lose everything in a moment.”

“And it reminded me so much of the experience my parent’s generation had in World War II. Both my parents lost their place to live and everything in Hanover because of the bombing. I didn’t really know whether I wanted to write about Fukushima or make a documentary about it but I knew that I wanted to talk about it. And then it took a long time to come up with the story. I went back so many times and tried to figure out whether it would be possible to shoot at all in that region because it was still ‘the zone’.”

On January 1, 2016, the Japanese government decided to open the zone again because, says Dörrie, they did not want to pay the subsidies for the refugees. “People were being asked to move back, but there was nothing to move back to. So that became the nucleus of the film’s story – this old lady goes back to her destroyed house. And there’s nothing there. Nothing whatsoever. “

And was she concerned about the impact on her own long-term health and that of her crew?

“We shot in the former zone for six weeks and I was there for three months. But by then, we had done so much research. I had taken dust samples and I had gotten them analysed by the German Institute for Radioactivity and they had assured me again and again that it would be alright to take a crew there and spend several weeks there. I really tried very hard to be on the safe side because I didn’t want to take on the responsibility for the entire team. I couldn’t do that.”

“So we made very, very sure that it was going to be okay. We all wore dosimeters that keep collecting the accumulated radioactivity that you’re exposed to. And we sent them in after we got back to Germany and we were just lucky that the readings turned out to be totally okay. That was, of course, a bit of luck also. It’s of course not safe to dig in the ground, to sit under a tree, to eat berries. All of that is not safe, of course not.”

Talking about screenings of the film in Japan, Dörrie says that audiences were extremely emotional. “Everybody has a connection to Fukushima somehow. And people are so grateful to us – which really puts me to shame – but they are, because nobody ever shot a feature film in that region. Nobody. And that’s very, very touching to be thanked for. It is bizarre but sometimes it works that way – that foreigners can come in and they talk about traumas. Because they’re not affected by the trauma, sometimes it’s easier to come in from the outside and talk about these things.”

But while cultural distance has its advantages, there are always dangers to telling other people’s stories. Which is why Dörrie says that she always insists on having her perspective in films that deal with other cultures. “Because I wouldn’t dare talk about Japan from a Japanese viewpoint. So that’s why I have the young German in the film, who goes to Japan, who doesn’t know anything about it, who is a fool, the traditional fool, who is very innocent on one hand but also quite ignorant. And I need to have that perspective because that’s, of course, my perspective. As much as I read up and I do research, I’m still ignorant about a lot of things. Because you can never get the inside perspective on a country. So I need to have that perspective from the outside in the story itself.”

The German Focus at the Durban International Film Festival was presented by the Goethe –Institut, German Films and the German Embassy.

Acting Technique 2 (Bonnie Rodini) : 21 Aug – 25 Sep 2017

Technique 2 is designed to help the actor stay in the moment and really listen. Exercises are done in pairs and are essentially improvisation performed inside structured exercises. Props need to be brought in for the exercise but there are no rehearsals in-between classes.

6 Classes over 6 weeks. No classes can be missed as you are working in pairs.

Days:  Monday mornings + 1 Friday
Dates: 28 August + 4,11,18,25, 29September
Time:   10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Venue: 30 Alpina Road
Claremont (Off Keurboom road)
Investment: R3,100
5 places left

Bonnie Rodini
www.rodinifilms.com
30 Alpina Road
Claremont
Cape Town
+ 27 83 265 2236

Split (DVD) : Review

Film

Three girls, Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy – Morgan), Claire (Haley Lu Richardson), and Marcia (Jessica Sula) are kidnapped by a man (James McAvoy – X-Men: Apocalypse, X-Men: Days of Future Past) with a diagnosed 23 distinct personalities. They must try to escape before the apparent emergence of a frightful new 24th.

The film leave little time at the beginning to introduce the characters, so much like the girls, we are left wondering and in a state of confusion. Within minutes, they are taken, knowing nothing of the fate of Casey’s father (Sebastian Arcelus) who was about to drive them all home after a birthday party.

Not long after they awake in their new surrounds, when the girls meet the many personalities of their captor.

Split is a masterful performance by McAvoy. While his character has a great many personalities, we only meet about half of those, but each is delivered as a totally new character, with the actor transforming himself, sometimes mid-scene, into something totally different.

Following the films cinema release, there was talk about how it misrepresents actual real-life disorders, but viewers should sit back and enjoy the art, the talent and the engrossing story of Split, that takes one on a thrill ride as tension mounts, and more of both friend and foe are revealed. And word of warning, keep the film running into the end credits, as there is one final reveal.

A thrilling, and engrossing story. Split is certainly a film to see, and a cinematic world to behold.

Disc

Audio and video on the main feature, on the disc, are of a good quality, technically. The main feature is a thoroughly engrossing, and entertaining film in its own right.

Navigation is not the greatest on the disc, with timeouts, that navigate away from sub-menus, or start the main feature. And a main menu comprised of symbols for navigation.

Split is available now, to purchase on disc, in South Africa.

Video

Video on the main feature is encoded at a high average bitrate. There are no visible artefacts on-screen, and no colour bleed visible at a normal viewing distance. Once scaled up to a larger and higher resolution screen, there is a small amount visible when viewed up close, but totally forgivable.

Detail in darker scenes is maintained, with most scenes having a great amount of contrast. Colour in applicable scenes are vibrant.

There are compression artefacts and some colour bleed visible on the menus, but having these compressed to a higher level means more space on the disc for the main title, and this does not impact the overall viewing experience.

Audio

Audio for the main feature is encoded at a high average bitrate, and presented in both a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. There is a 2.0 downmix available with a descriptive audio service, but to play the film itself, without this service would require the downmix ability in the viewers player hardware or software.

Dialogue is clear via the centre channel, with the weight of the soundtrack carried by the front channels. Use of the surrounds serves to further expand the on-screen world in scenes, further drawing the viewing into the story.

Navigation

Navigation is once again the frustrating list of cryptic symbols as is found on many a disc distributed by Next Entertainment, where guesswork is the name of the game. The usual, and frustrating tendency for a sub-menu to timeout and navigate back to the main menu is once again present, as is the timeout that will eventually start the main feature after an amount of time spent inactive on the main menu.

Taking this control away from a viewer might be a way to assist with the cryptic navigation buttons on the disc (triangle on the main menu once again means play the main feature), but for most users, this is likely to be an annoyance.

Selecting the book looking symbol takes on to the chapters sub-menus, where the viewer is presented with four large, colour, still thumbnails per menu. While these are numbered, they are not labelled, meaning that there is an amount of guesswork needed when wishing to navigate to a particular spot in the film.

Next up on the main menu is the asterix symbol, that takes one to the bonus features sub-menus. These menus have text labels, making navigation a lot easier than on the main menu. The big image looking word “bonus” at the bottom of these menus is also a navigation option, leading from the deleted scenes sub-menu back to the bonus features sub-menu. This is not immediately apparently.

The next symbol on the main menu is a speaker icon, taking on to a sub-menu to choose language. This contains a text list of available audio menus, where one can choose the desired 5.1 mix.

The last symbol on the main menu is a paper looking icon, with a few lines. This navigates to a subtitles sub-menu, with a text list of available subtitle languages, or a choice to select none, which is the default.

Bonus Features

Alternate Ending – This alternate ending can be viewed with, or without, an introduction by the films writer and director M. Night Shyamalan. He explains the reason why this particular ending was not used in the film. While the introduction and ending together are rather short, they do provide an insight into the creative process behind the actual films ending.

Deleted Scenes – There are nine scenes that were removed from the final edit of the main feature. These can be viewed here, again with the option of an introduction for each by writer and director M. Night Shyamalan. Each scene can be viewed individually, or as part of a playlist that will play each scene in order. While deleted scenes can be interesting, and sometimes provide further insight into the film, it is the respective introductions for each that actually provide the greater value, and perhaps some insight to any filmmakers watching.

The Making of Split – Various behind the scenes footage, and interviews with both the cast and director, sharing both their own experiences and a great deal of insight into their respective characters, and some information about the film. A featurette that is sure to interest both the average viewer and budding filmmakers alike.

The Many Faces of James McAvoy – A look at the masterful and talented James McAvoy who played a great many of the films central characters. The video shares with the viewer a piece of this talent, and how McAvoy approached these many characters and personalities. Again, this would interest not just the average viewer, or even budding filmmakers, but a great bit of insight for any actor too.

The FIlmmaker’s Eye: M. Night Shyamalan – Shaymalan shares his process as writer, director and producer, getting the story from one stage of development to the next, to eventually and up on screen. Once again, some interesting insight into the whole process of creating a film, and information that is sure to appeal to many.

There is a single trailer for The Mummy, which autoplays at the beginning of the disc. This can be fast-forwarded, or skipped. It is not accessible again, via any menu on the disc itself.

Baby Driver : Review

Baby (Ansel Elgort – Divergent) is caught stealing from a notorious crime boss, Doc (Kevin Spacey). He is forced into being a young getaway driver, and soon finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.

Doc is running a criminal crew, each with varied and sometimes conflicting personalities. He likes to change his crew each job, except for Baby, who has a debt to settle. Things soon change though, as one final job comes along, and the crew stumble. Hitting this heist with fellow crew Buddy (Jon Hamm – Minions), Darling (Eiza González), and Bats (Jamie Foxx – A Million Ways to Die in the West, The Amazing Spider-Man 2), Baby considers a great many life choices in the final moments before things kick-off, and with that, the entire heist goes bad, starting one huge, long-lasting, and action packed chase, shootout, and adventure. And let us not forget that there is a love interest, in the form of Debora (Lily James – Cinderella), and, and family to be protected in the form of Joseph (CJ Jones).

Baby Driver has a mix of action packed moments, a dose of humour, and a lot of scenes where one is listening to the various tracks Baby has blasting in his ears. Dependant on cinema setup, these are at times a little too loud though. There is not much dialogue during these moments, of which there are a good many, but the volume is perhaps just a little too loud. This would be blamed on a cinema setup however. As is the fact that Nouveau at the V&A Waterfront is still not able to actually set up their cinema screen to project the entire image! There is at least 5% or more, at a guess, of the image that is missing to each side of the screen. Best go look elsewhere if you want to enjoy this film the right way.

As a film, Baby Driver is one where the viewer goes for an escape. The plot is not too complicated, there are no major twists to follow. One can sit back, laugh at the wisecracks, enjoy the chase scenes, and thrills of the shootouts. Fast paced action, and fancy driving are the name of the game here.

Baby Driver opens 4 August 2017 in South African cinemas.

Dunkirk : Review

May 26 to June 4, 1940, allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire and France are surrounded by the German army at Dunkirk. They withdraw to the harbour, and a massive operation is launched to evacuate them during the very fierce Battle of France, in World War II. An evacuation that included boats requisitioned from civilians, and the many civilians who stepped forward to help.

The fast-paced story follows the land, sea and air aspects of combat, with Commander Bolton (Kenneth Branagh – Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit) as part of the navy,  and civilian Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance). In the air, fighter pilot Farrier (Tom Hardy – Child 44, The Drop, Locke). With the ground covered by soldier Alex (Harry Styles, of boy band One Direction) and Tommy (Fionn Whitehead). Look for a shivering Cillian Murphy (Transcendence)  amongst the men.

Dunkirk gets right to the point of the film, starting off with shots fired within the first few seconds. And, it does not let up until the end credits roll, just over a hundred minutes later. The film depicts war in a raw, gritty manner, leaving no doubt that it is a terrible thing, yet we as a planet tend to not have the ability yet to avoid such violent conflict.

Portraying a decisive event, during a dark time in history, Dunkirk does the heroes of the day justice. Realistic battles, on land, sea and in the air. Stunning visuals, cinematography and effects provide a backdrop to the tension felt as nearly half a million men stand waiting to be ferried back home.

Dunkirk is a film that grips one at the beginning, and imbues on the viewer a small sense of the emotion and fear that must have befell the many young men sent off to fight for world freedom. The story eschews plot twists in favour of the harsh narrative of a true story.

Being one of writer / director Christopher Nolan’s (Interstellar) shorter films, this is also one that stands out for it historic content, and truth of story. A truly engrossing film, a tense ride, and great piece of cinema.

Dunkirk opens 28 July 2017, in South African cinemas.