Categories
Film

“Black Widow” Teaser Trailer & Poster

Scarlett Johansson reprises her role as Natasha/Black Widow in Marvel Studios’ action-packed spy thriller “Black Widow”—the first film in Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Florence Pugh stars as Yelena, David Harbour as Alexei aka The Red Guardian and Rachel Weisz as Melina. Directed by Cate Shortland and produced by Kevin Feige, “Black Widow” hits cinemas from May 1, 2020.

Categories
Film

Knives Out: A Witty Modern-day Murder Mystery

A twisted tale where everyone is a suspect until proven innocent –

Hollywood releases on average, over 730 films each year – a massive selection for cinema goers to choose from except when one gets released with an all-star heavyweight cast. KNIVES OUT, the latest production from Lionsgate will be in cinemas on 29 November and promises to deliver legendary performances from cast members that have defined the movie-making industry.

Certified as ‘Fresh’, “Knives Out sharpens old murder-mystery tropes with a keenly assembled suspense outing that makes brilliant use of writer-director Rian Johnson’s stellar ensemble” Rotten Tomatoes, the most trusted measurement of quality for movies.

Storyline

When renowned, well-off crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is announced dead at his estate just after his 85th birthday party, which he celebrated with the entire Thrombey family, the suave Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) mysteriously arrives to investigate the series of events that lead to the death of Harlan.

You are introduced to Harlan’s dysfunctional family members one by one while Blanc sifts through a web of their narcissistic lies to uncover the truth behind Harlan’s suspicious death.

With an all-star ensemble cast including Chris Evans, Ana De Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Michael Shannon, Toni Collette, LaKeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford and Jaeden Martell, KNIVES OUT is a witty whodunit film which guarantees to keep audiences guessing until the very end.

Categories
Film

Star-studded Cast For Film About Fox News Scandal

A new film reveals the personal and professional cost often paid by women when publicly going into battle with very powerful men.

BOMBSHELL, by award-winning director Jay Roach and screenwriter Charles Randolph, tells the explosive story of the women who brought down a powerful media mogul. Based on the real-life chain of events of the Fox News scandal – which saw multiple women accuse former Fox News CEO and chairman Roger Ailes of sexual harassment – it offers a revealing look inside the most powerful and controversial media empire of all time.

While the drama portrays a workplace where women face demeaning comments, policing of their appearance and unwanted sexual propositions by male executives, it focuses specifically on Ailes’s female victims and their battle to bring him to justice. It follows the stories of two women in particular – Gretchen Carlson (played perfectly by Nicole Kidman) and Megyn Kelly (depicted by an almost unrecognisable Charlize Theron). In 2016, Carlson sued Ailes for sexual harassment, which led more women, including Kelly, to come forward with allegations against him.

Starring alongside these heavyweights is Margot Robbie as Kayla, a young producer who looks to have a future on camera. While fictional, the filmmakers say her character was inspired by the stories of multiple real-life women, whose experiences were amalgamated for the film.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the main characters ⁠are ‘morally complex heroines who surprise viewers in their attempts to do the right thing’. However, Theron’s portrayal of Kelly defies traditional expectations of movie heroines.

“I don’t think I’ve ever chased playing heroes,” said Theron, who is no stranger to portraying complicated characters, about her decision to play Kelly. “There’s an earnestness about it that instantly turns me off. I’m interested in people who are complicated and flawed and make mistakes. Women don’t always do the right thing. This idea of what a victim looks like, what an abuser looks like, is not black and white – it’s incredibly grey. That is what I was fascinated by.”

Playing Ailes opposite the strong female cast is John Lithgow. Talking about BOMBSHELL, he said: “It’s a film very much about the women. There’s so much to talk about and so many great women’s stories being told. This might be one of the best because it really is about six or seven extremely different women who have extremely different experiences and response of the crisis at Fox. I play the crisis.”

The rest of the hotly anticipated film’s star-studded ensemble includes Connie Britton as Beth Ailes, Allison Janney as Ailes’s lawyer Susan Estrich, Kate McKinnon as a Fox News employee, Nazanin Boniadi as former Fox News correspondent Rudi Bakhtiar, Malcolm McDowell as Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch, Mark Duplass as Kelly’s husband, Douglas Brunt, and Alice Eve as Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt.

Shot in an observational documentary style, BOMBSHELL is gripping and timely and critics are praising the film not only for its handling of a difficult topic and a complicated story, but also for its screenplay and directorial decisions.

“We are in a climate now that is pretty intense, and it is not cooling,” added Theron. “Now there is more safety in numbers and that is happening, which is why I think this movie is so powerful.”

The film has been very well received by critics and has already been nominated for various awards, including Best Contemporary Make-Up in a Feature-length Motion Picture, Best Special Make-Up Effects in a Feature-length Motion Picture and Best Contemporary Hair Styling in a Feature-length Motion Picture at the 7th Annual Make-Up Artists & Hair Stylists Guild (MUAHS) that is taking place on 11 January 2020. It is also up for a Humanitas Prize in the Best Drama Feature Film category. The winner will be announced during the 45th Humanitas Ceremony, which will be held at The Beverly Hilton on 24 January 2020. This non-profit organization honours and empowers film and television writers whose work explores the human condition in a nuanced, meaningful way which brings the global community closer.

Furthermore, the Hollywood Critics Association (LAOFCS) has also nominated Charlize Theron in the Best Actress category and Kazu Hiro, Anne Morgan and Vivian Baker in the Best Hair and Make-Up category for their outstanding work in the film. The 3rd Annual LAOFCS Awards Ceremony will take place on 9 January 2020, at the Taglyan Complex in Los Angeles.

BOMBSHELL is distributed by Filmfinity (Pty) Ltd. and will be released in South African cinemas on 24 January 2020.

Categories
Film

Heartbreak And Joy Are At The Core Of Acclaimed Director’s New Film

The acclaimed Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar’s latest film – a tale of memory, regret and making peace with his past – isn’t just his most personal, it is also one of his greatest. PAIN AND GLORY blurs the line between art and life and mixes autobiography with fiction to powerful effect. As the title suggests, the result is a swirl of heartbreak and joy.

Antonio Banderas gives the performance of his career as the aging filmmaker and onetime provocateur Salvador Mallo – a role for which he was outfitted with Almodóvar’s colourful shirts and high-tops. Sporting a salt-and-pepper beard and a shock of hair (not unlike Almodóvar’s), the actor seems to shrink and grow simultaneously, perfectly capturing both the strengths and weaknesses of his character.

Salvador is afflicted by multiple ailments, the worst of which is his inability to continue filming. Racked by pain, both physical and metaphysical, he has retreated into a depressive cycle. Explaining the reasoning behind this, the director said: “I know very intimately the fear that you might not be able to shoot because you’re not in the shape that it requires.”

A chance meeting puts him back in touch with an old collaborator, Alberto (Asier Etxeandia), who became estranged from Salvador during the making of their last film due to his drug addiction. Alberto hasn’t fully kicked his heroin habit, but it’s Salvador who is more at risk of falling into the lap of addiction. The pair’s newly rediscovered friendship is tested after a disastrous – and hilarious – drug-fuelled appearance at a screening of an old film of theirs.

After sneaking a look at a confessional monologue on Salvador’s laptop, Alberto convinces Salvador to let him perform the monologue as a one-man play. Salvador agrees, on the condition that he is not credited as the writer. This simple action sets in motion a chain of events which prompts a remarkable and tender reunion.

Fundamentally, PAIN AND GLORY has two tracks: The present, in which Salvador makes amends with Alberto and then promptly gets hooked on heroin which, mixed with his painkillers and generous helpings of alcohol, makes him drift further and further into his memories – the second track of the film.

The flashbacks gradually reveal Salvador’s childhood with his mother, Jacinta (beautifully played in the flashbacks by Penelope Cruz), in their meagre, cave-like rural home. Special mention is due to Julieta Serrano, who magnificently presents Salvador’s mother in her 80s. In a moment of pin-sharp, bittersweet perfection she tells Salvador offhandedly that he was never a good son.

The present day and flashback sequences are linked through a white and red colour scheme which dominates PAIN AND GLORY’s mise en scène. The film offers blocks of highly choreographed colour that have become Almodóvar’s trademark and is as visually striking as any movie the director has ever made. In addition, the narrative is elegantly structured and the tone contemplative. Alberto Iglesias’s lovely score perfectly matches the shifting tones of the film – from the warmth of the early childhood scenes, to the poignancy of Jacinta’s last days and the tensions and anxieties of Salvador’s life. All of this adds up to a richly satisfying work from a filmmaker whose love of cinema, in all its pain and glory, shines through every frame.

This semi-autobiographical piece about a master filmmaker reflecting on his career is undoubtedly one of Almodóvar’s best works. Commenting on the film, Banderas said: “Are we only the things that we have done and that we have said? Or are we also the things that we have never said? The things we wanted to do and never did? In this case, Pedro Almodóvar’s movie is more Almodóvar than Almodóvar. In a way, he completed certain areas from that passage of his life by making this film.”

PAIN AND GLORY is a study of acceptance, revelation and reconciliation; it is about cinema’s relationship with the past and its power to reshape memories as a means of coming to terms with it.

The film, which will be showcased at the European Film Festival from 27 November to 8 December, is Spain’s official entry for the Foreign Language Film category at the Academy Awards. It has also won two Cannes Film Festival Awards – Best Actor (Antonio Banderas) and Best Composer (Alberto Iglesias).

PAIN AND GLORY is distributed by Filmfinity (Pty) Ltd. and will be released in South African cinemas on 6 December 2019.

Categories
Film Review

Gemini Man : Review

Ageing hitman Henry Brogan (Will Smith – Aladdin, Suicide Squad) has his sights set on retiring, but as these type of stories go, he agrees to “just one more”. While on this mission, he encounters Danny (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and the two are soon embroiled in a game of cat and mouse with governments, and Junior (also played by Will Smith).

While Gemini Man is directed by Ang Lee, the film pales in comparison to any of his other works, lacking any cinematic shots, editing that feels like a student music video, and just not living up to what anyone would expect.

Gemini Man has very little going for it. One feels inclined to root for the bad guy. The action sequences feel dull, and not because the screen brightness at Ster Kinekor, Cavendish in Cape Town is woefully too dark, but but there is just no exciting action to speak of. An action file that is sorely lacking, where it counts.

Character development, there is none. Each person on screen feels like a template, downplayed to the level of a light hum, instead of an all out action star.

Gemini Man is a film with a bunch of missed opportunity, rather than a satisfying story. One comes away feeling robbed of a few hours of fun. And it almost feels like no one really tried.

The film opens 11 October 2019, in South African cinemas.

Categories
Film

New Film Explores Parent-child Bond In A Post-pandemic World

The timeless story of a parent dedicated to a child above all else is one everyone can relate to. Set in a post-pandemic, dystopian landscape following a plague that killed nearly all the world’s females, director Casey Affleck’s LIGHT OF MY LIFE is a narrative feature film based on the Oscar-winning actor’s own script, which mixes a survivalist drama with a coming-of-age story.

Explaining the rationale behind the film, Affleck says: “This is a very personal movie for me. I began writing this story a decade ago. As my children aged, the experience of being a parent changed. The story I was telling changed. After going through a divorce, the story took its final shape. Despite all the science fiction, this is a story about being a single parent grieving the loss of a nuclear family.”

The film takes place in a spookily deserted landscape, where a father and daughter, in an attempt to survive, live in a tent and forage for rations in the woods. Keeping to themselves, the loving character Dad (Affleck) teaches his 11-year-old daughter, who is somehow immune to the ‘female plague’, about ethics, history, morality, and how to live off the land.

But a chance encounter threatens the precautions he has set up, risking the refuge he has created. In a world now populated only by men, he tries desperately to protect his daughter Rag (newcomer Anna Pniowsky), while honouring and empowering the young woman she is becoming and reminding her of how much her mother (played in short flashbacks by Elisabeth Moss) adored her.

For her safety, and because it’s impossible to tell the good men from the bad, Dad has chopped off Rag’s hair and dressed her in boy’s clothing, passing her off as his son and staying largely away from towns and what’s left of population centres.

The relationship between father and daughter is the beating heart of LIGHT OF MY LIFE and the chemistry between Affleck and Pniowsky is best sampled through their father-daughter exchanges, particularly as they talk in their weathered orange tent at night. The interior of the tent, lit by small lamps, accentuate the intimacy and rapport they have.

These scenes punctuate LIGHT OF MY LIFE, highlighting what’s most important to these characters – the parent-child bond and the sense of security they’ve created. There is genuine affection and empathy for and between father and daughter, and a shared love for stories about the world as it was and as they’d like it to be.

A wonderfully understated performer, Affleck does excellent work. Talking about his performance, he says one of the keys to figuring out who Dad was within the story was making sure the connection between parent and child felt real to him as a parent of two kids.

“Strangely, the first thing I wanted to find was a believable dynamic of parental irritation, because it’s an expression of love that, in a way, is less obvious. Sometimes, when your kid is doing something dangerous, you’re worried about them, so your love is in a different gear. There are a few moments in the film when Dad loses his temper with Rag, and I wanted those scenes to be right, so it’s understood that these two people love and care about each other in a realistic way.

“Some of the other keys were trying to balance two sides of the character. Dad is confident that he is totally capable of taking care of Rag, protecting her, raising her, fending for the two of them, but also has a deep feeling of loneliness and panic in him. To be able to put all of that into the same character in the same scene was interesting.”

He also has a minimalist approach behind the camera, which is supported by cinematographer Adam Arkapaw, who manages to compose a series of shots that make even the bleakest locations seem somehow beautiful. His colour palette of greys, pale whites and browns is controlled, and the landscapes vibrate with menace, in stark contrast to their beauty. Daniel Hart’s score is melancholy and ominous. Together, all these elements ensure that there is a quiet sense of grace and humanity that shines through in LIGHT OF MY LIFE.

Just as the father finds it nearly impossible to explain the world to his daughter, the film resists explaining everything to its audience. As humanity is collapsing, the shadow of real-life anxiety grows, and the film taps into the primal fears of people, particularly parents, everywhere.

“I wish I could take credit for wanting to comment on things or depicting a world that parallels, in some ways, the point we’re at now. In truth, I didn’t have any social commentary in mind when I was making it,” says Affleck. “But one reason I love the arts is it’s a way of talking about our world in a not-so-literal way; those things may have found their way into the movie, but what I was making was a story about learning to find a balance between both keeping the world out and letting the world in, keeping your kids protected and letting them go, protecting them while preparing them to protect themselves.”

LIGHT OF MY LIFE is, at its heart, a portrait of a father and his daughter, and what he will do in order to keep her safe. It is a beautiful dramatic thriller that is an observation on parental love in broken times and the instability of society, and a compelling parable of letting go.

LIGHT OF MY LIFE is distributed by Filmfinity (Pty) Ltd. and will be released in South African cinemas on 18 October 2019.


Die tydlose verhaal van ’n ouer, wat heeltemal toegewy is aan ’n kind, is een waarmee almal kan vereenselwig. Regisseur, Casey Affleck, se LIGHT OF MY LIFE, is ’n narratiewe rolprent wat afspeel in tydperk nadat ’n plaag amper almal in die wêreld uitgewis het. Dit is gebaseer op die Oscar-bekroonde akteur se eie draaiboek, wat drama vermeng met die storie van ’n kind en ouer se reis na genesing.

Affleck verduidelik die betekenis agter die fliek as volg: “Dit is ’n baie persoonlike film vir my. Ek het hierdie verhaal ’n dekade gelede begin skryf. Soos wat my kinders ouer geword het, het my ervaring van ouer wees ook verander. Die storie wat ek vertel het, het verander. Na ’n egskeiding het die verhaal sy finale vorm aangeneem. Buiten vir al die wetenskapfiksie, is hierdie ’n storie van ’n enkelouer wat treur oor die verlies van ’n kernfamilie.”

Die film speel af op ’n spoggerige, verlate landskap, waar ’n pa en dogter in ’n tent woon en in die woud kos moet soek om te oorleef. Om hulle veilig te probeer hou, vermy die liefdevolle pa (Affleck) kontak met ander mense en leer hy sy 11-jarige dogter, wat op een of ander manier immuun is teen die ‘vroulike plaag’, oor etiek, geskiedenis, moraliteit en hoe om van die land af te leef.

Maar ’n toevallige ontmoeting bedreig dié voorsorgmaatreëls wat hy opgestel het, en plaas die toevlug wat hy geskep het, in gevaar. In ’n wêreld wat nou net deur mans bevolk is, probeer hy desperaat om sy dogter Rag (nuweling Anna Pniowsky) te beskerm, terwyl hy terselfdertyd probeer om die jong vrou wat sy word, te eer en te bemagtig. Hy word ook deur middel van terugflitse daaraan herinner hoe versot haar ma (Elisabeth Moss) op haar was.

Ter wille van haar veiligheid, en omdat dit onmoontlik is om tussen goeie en slegte mans te onderskei, sny hy haar hare af en moet sy mansklere dra en vermy hulle dorpe en stede sover as wat hulle kan.

Die verhouding tussen pa en dogter is die hartklop van LIGHT OF MY LIFE en die besonderse band tussen Affleck en Pniowsky word veral weerspieël deur die tonele wanneer hulle alleen is en in die aand in hulle oranje tent gesels. Die binnekant van die tent, wat verlig word met klein lampies, beklemtoon die intimiteit en verhouding wat hulle het. Daar is opregte toegeneentheid en empatie vir mekaar, en ’n gedeelde liefde vir verhale oor die wêreld soos dit was en soos wat hulle dit graag wil hê.

Affleck vertolk sy rol uitstekend. As jy hom oor sy toneelspel uitvra, verklap hy dat dit baie belangrik was dat hy die opregte band tussen ouer en kind moes voel, ten einde sy karakter met oortuiging te kon vertolk.

“Die eerste aspek wat ek wou vind, was die geloofwaardige dinamiek van die ouerskapsituasie, want dit is nie ’n liefdesverhouding wat voor-die-handliggend is nie. Wanneer jou kind iets gevaarlik doen, is jy bekommerd oor hulle en daarom is jou liefde op daardie oomblik in ’n ander fase. Daar is ’n paar oomblikke in die film wanneer die pa sy humeur verloor met sy dogter, en ek wou hê dat die tonele reg moes wees, sodat dit die boodskap duidelik kon oordra dat hierdie twee mense op ’n realistiese manier vir mekaar omgee,” sê hy.

“Dit was ook belangrik om beide kante van my karakter te balanseer. Aan die een kant, is Pa vol selfvertroue dat hy in staat is om vir Rag te sorg, haar te beskerm en haar groot te maak. Hy is egter ook eensaam en voel baie keer paniekerig. Om alles in een karakter te verweef op die grootskerm, was baie interessant.”

Hy het ook ’n minimalistiese benadering agter die kamera, wat ondersteun word deur die kinematograaf, Adam Arkapaw, wat daarin slaag om ’n reeks skote te verfilm wat selfs die slegste omstandighede op die een of ander manier mooi te laat lyk. Sy kleurpalet van grys, wit en bruin word beheer, en die landskappe vibreer van dreigement, in skrille kontras met hulle skoonheid. Daniel Hart se musiek is hartseer en onheilspellend. Saam verseker al hierdie elemente dat daar ’n rustige gevoel van genade en menslikheid is wat deurskyn in LIGHT OF MY LIFE.

Net soos wat die pa dit bykans onmoontlik vind om die wêreld aan sy dogter te verklaar, kan die fliek ook nie heeltemal alles aan die kyker verduidelik nie. Namate die mensdom besig is om in duie te stort, groei die skaduwee van angs in die werklike lewe, en die rolprent werk die ergste vrese van mense, veral ouers, oral in.

“Ek wens dat ek die krediet daarvoor kon neem dat dit my bedoeling was om kommentaar te lewer op die situasie in die wêreld, maar eintlik was dit glad nie die idee toe ek die rolprent gemaak het nie,” sê Affleck. “Dit is egter een van die redes hoekom en so baie van die kunste hou, omdat dit ons in staat stel om op ’n indirekte manier wel sekere kwessies aan te spreek. Alhoewel hierdie dinge hulle weg in die fliek in gevind het, wou ek ’n storie skep daaroor om balans te vind tussen om die wêreld uit te hou en die wêreld in te laat, jou kinders te beskerm en hulle te laat gaan, en hulle te beskerm terwyl hulle voorberei om hulself te beskerm.”

LIGHT OF MY LIFE is in sy kern ’n portret van ’n pa en sy dogter en wat hy sal doen om haar veilig te hou. Dit is ’n pragtige dramatiese riller, wat kommentaar lewer oor ouerliefde in gebroke tye en die onstabiliteit van die samelewing. Dit dra ook die aangrypende boodskap dat jy die een of ander tyd moet laat gaan.

LIGHT OF MY LIFE word versprei deur Filmfinity (Edms) Bpk. en sal by plaaslike bioskope begin draai op 18 Oktober 2019.

Categories
Film Review

Joker : Review

In this, the fifth big screen outing of the infamous foe of Batman, we are lured into the world of Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) as he spirals toward a character transition, from simple man to crazed merchant of evil.

This is a gritty film, far removed from the likes of previous films starring Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Mark Hamill, Heath Ledger, and Jared Leto. While the film is a lot darker than any previous story featuring Joker, there are to a more or lesser degree, aspects of those appearances present. Most notably, the strongest being that of Heath Ledger’s Clown Prince.

Joker follows the inherent personality transition of Arthur Fleck to The Joker, played out through a social commentary on society, and its blatant disregard for those who are different or of a lower status. With many ideas and story aspects being familiar, there are, at the same time, many differences. Starting with Joker’s origin, and including a look at the politics that would come to shape the city, known for its birth of The Dark Knight.

There are many subtle, and not so subtle, influences from both popular and classic culture present in the film. Charlie Chaplin’s film Modern Times provides both visuals in many scenes and story context to the character of Joker, something that is sure to thrill any film student or lover of the black and white silent films of yesteryear. The references to The King of Comedy as part of a sub-plot to the film, serve both as a homage and exposition to the state of Arthur’s mind, acting as a thermometer for the viewer, allowing one to judge just how far along the road he is from Arthur to Joker, playing out on a live comedy show, presented by Murray Franklin, placing the cherry on the top by being played by Robert De Niero who played Rupert Pupkin in the 1982 film.

Joker is a masterpiece of story layers, character driven by a talented cast. As we delve deeper into the underbelly of Gotham City, lamenting both status and status-quo, allowing the viewer to slip into a mindset of indifference. The film is an engrossing journey, with few pauses allowing for thought or analysis. This is a film that sets out to share a story, and it impresses, greatly. While the violence and subject matter may not be for everyone, it is more certainly a film one must see, and no doubt will be one of the top films in quite some time. Great film, cinematography, acting, character and story – one would seldom want more from a cinematic narrative.

Joker opens in South African cinemas on 4 October 2019

Categories
Film

Nat Geo Announces First Look Deal With “Free Solo” Filmmakers, Chai Vasarhelyi And Jimmy Chin

National Geographic announced today that it has entered into a first-look deal with the award-winning documentary team of Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin and their company, Little Monster Films. The deal covers all unscripted projects, including series and specials as well as feature documentaries. Additionally, the network has greenlit their next feature documentary, with details to be announced at a later date. The announcement follows the extraordinary wins by FREE SOLO at this year’s Emmys, where the documentary swept the seven categories for which it was nominated, including directing honours for Vasarhelyi and Chin, making it the most Emmy-winning documentary in history.

LOS ANGELES – SEPTEMBER 14: Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin pose with the Outstanding Directing for a Documentary/Nonfiction Program Award for ‘Free Solo’ at the 2019 Creative Arts Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theatre LA Live on September 14, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/PictureGroup)

“Chai and Jimmy are extraordinary filmmakers and tremendous partners, and we are thrilled to be expanding our relationship with them,” said National Geographic Global Television Networks President Courteney Monroe. “The success of FREE SOLO surpassed even our wildest expectations, and we cannot wait to embark on this exciting new chapter with the incredibly talented team behind it.”

“National Geographic offered unconditional support and enthusiasm for FREE SOLO from day one, and we truly could not have asked for better partners,” said Vasarhelyi and Chin. “We are excited to have an outlet to grow our production company’s work in television, expanding the stories we are able to tell, as well as a partner for our next feature doc.”

The deal encompasses development of unscripted ideas for all of National Geographic’s television platforms. This marks the first expansion of Little Monster Films beyond feature documentaries. Vasarhelyi and Chin have tapped former Cinetic Media executive Anna Barnes to serve as Vice President of development and production under the new venture. Barnes will be responsible for overseeing the growth of the company, and will work closely with Vasarhelyi and Chin in identifying, developing and producing new projects. Additionally, the team is in early production on their next feature documentary, which will be released by National Geographic Documentary Films.

The news follows the enormous success of FREE SOLO, which, among its many accolades, ranks as Nat Geo’s most-viewed unscripted special ever (P2+) and the Number 1 on demand and download in the channel’s history. Additionally, after opening in cinemas in China on September 6, the film has grossed over USD$4.8 million to date, becoming the highest-grossing international documentary ever released in China.

The deal was negotiated by WME on behalf of the filmmakers.

About Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin

Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin are the co-directors and co-producers of the Academy Award- and BAFTA-winning film FREE SOLO, from National Geographic Documentary Films. The film earned the highest per screen average of any documentary during its opening weekend (September 28, 2018) in the US. The award-winning documentary took home seven Emmy awards this past weekend.

Vasarhelyi’s films as a director include “Meru” (Oscars shortlist 2016, Sundance Audience Award 2015); “Incorruptible” (Truer Than Fiction Independent Spirit Award 2016); “Youssou N’Dour: I Bring What I Love” (Oscilloscope 2009), which premiered at the Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals; “A Normal Life” (Tribeca Film Festival, Best Documentary 2003); and “Touba” (SXSW, Special Jury Prize Best Cinematography 2013).

Chin is a professional climber, skier, mountaineer, 18-year member of The North Face Athlete Team and National Geographic Explorer. Consistently over the past 20 years, Chin has led or participated in cutting-edge climbing and ski mountaineering expeditions to all seven continents and made the first and only American ski descent from the summit of Mount Everest. He is also a filmmaker and National Geographic photographer. He has worked with many of the greatest explorers, adventurers and athletes of our time, documenting their exploits in the most challenging conditions and locations in the world. His 2015 documentary “Meru,” which was co-directed by Vasarhelyi, won the Audience Award at Sundance and was nominated for best documentary by the DGA and PGA. “Meru” was also shortlisted for an Oscar.

Categories
Film

Knuckle City Journey To Oscars Kicks Off In Eastern Cape On 20 September

SA film about a fighter from Mdantsane gives a glimpse into the life of one of SA’s largest and oldest townships

‘Knuckle City’, the new movie by acclaimed director Jahmil X.T. Qubeka, and South Africa’s official Oscar submission for the 2020 Academy Awards, is set to put the Eastern Cape on the map.

A cultural melting pot, the rich heritage and diversity of the Eastern Cape with its vibrant people, and magnificent sights are what make this region so unique. The birthplace of legends like Steve Biko, Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki, the province is the traditional home of the Xhosa people. But it’s also given rise to a phenomenally successful boxing culture, with Mdantsane and neighbouring East London known as ‘The boxing mecca’ of South Africa.

It’s this fascinating phenomenon that lies at the heart of Qubeka’s hard-hitting film. For more than three decades, Mdantsane has produced no less than 20 boxing world champions and more than 50 national champions, which provided the fodder for the plot. Beginning in 1994, ‘Knuckle City’ tells the story of Dudu Nyakama (Bongile Mantsai), an aging, womanising, professional boxer from the township and his career-criminal brother Duke (Thembekile Komani) who take one last shot at success and get more than they’ve bargained for.

Qubeka says the energy of the Mdantsane landscape and the visceral fight for survival that is palpable on the streets inspired in him a deep yearning to chronicle the lives of its people through film. “It is my intention to capture the essence of life in Mdantsane, and the restless pursuit of being a champion within a society that often dictates you are a failure. I am determined to give audiences a glimpse into a world rarely seen, and a deeper understanding of the multi-faceted individuals inhabiting our land.”

Appropriately, the gritty crime drama starts its Oscar qualifying run at Ster-Kinekor Baywest Mall in Port Elizabeth. The film will screen from 20 to 26 September to make it eligible for the Academy Awards in the category of Best International Feature Film.

Eastern Cape Premiere Oscar Mabuyane, says the government is proud to have provided funding for ‘Knuckle City’ given the role that Jahmil Qubeka is playing in the advancement of the film industry in the province. “The film pays tribute to our local heroes, while also delving deep into the reality of their lives. The Eastern Cape Provincial Government is delighted that the film will screen at home first, and we wish the producers and the cast a successful road to Hollywood.”

Producer Layla Swart, co-owner of Yellowbone Entertainment production house, says it’s only fitting that its Oscar journey kicks off in the Eastern Cape. “Not only is the film a story about Mdantsane, but Jahmil himself was born there and the film pays homage to the many champions who fought all the odds to escape poverty,” Swart says. “The film will be playing to sold out shows and the people who provided the inspiration for the story will get to see it first, before it gets to Hollywood. When the film releases countrywide on 27 December, it will show at all Eastern Cape cinemas.”

‘Knuckle City’ is distributed in South Africa by Indigenous Film Distribution (IFD). “The first public screening of the film was hosted at Movies@Hemingways in East London on 20 August and it was packed to the rafters,” says Helen Kuun, MD of IFD. “We are taking this film to the people, much like we did with previous Oscar winner ‘Tsotsi’ in 2005.”

The film had its world premiere in the Contemporary World Cinema programme at the prestigious Toronto International film Festival (TIFF) in September, where it screened to much international acclaim. No stranger to TIFF, Qubeka’s ‘Sew the Winter to My Skin’ played in Toronto last year, and ‘Of Good Report’ screened in 2013.

‘Knuckle City’ was also the opener of the 40th Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) in July and received a standing ovation from the audience at the end. Bongile Mantsai won best actor at DIFF for his role as the boxer. ‘Knuckle City’ also stars Siv Ngesi, Faniswa Yisa, Awethu Hleli, Nomhle Nkonyeni, Zolisa Xaluva, Owen Sejake and Angela Sithole.

‘Knuckle City’ was co-produced by Yellowbone Entertainment and Mzansi Magic. It was funded by the Department of Trade and Industry, The National Empowerment Fund (NEF), The Eastern Cape Development Corporation, and the NFVF.

‘Knuckle City’ opens in cinemas in South Africa on 27 December 2019.

Indigenous Film Distribution

Categories
Film

Pavarotti, The Film, Comes To Ster-Kinekor Theatres This Heritage Day

Pavarotti, a tribute documentary by Academy Award® winning Ron Howard featuring rare footage, peak performances and dozens of new interviews, will show exclusively at select Ster-Kinekor cinemas this Heritage Day, 24 September.

Released by Gravel Road Distribution Group, CBS Films, Polygram Entertainment and Brian Grazer present Pavarotti, an Imagine Entertainment, White Horse Pictures production of a Ron Howard film. The award-winning filmmaking team behind the hit documentary The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years turns to another musical phenomenon with Pavarotti, an in-depth, no holds barred look at the life, career and lasting legacy of the musical icon.

Enjoy this exclusive Ster-Kinekor experience at the following cinemas:

  • Rosebank Nouveau
  • Brooklyn Nouveau
  • V&A Nouveau
  • Cedar Square
  • Bedford Centre
  • Gateway
  • Tygervalley
  • Blue Route
  • Somerset Mall
  • Garden Route

Book now to catch this intimate portrait of a phenomenal star: visit www.sterkinekor.com, download the SK App, or book at the box office. For news and updates, go to Facebook page: Ster-Kinekor and follow Ster-Kinekor on Twitter: @sterkinekor or @nouveaubuzz. For all queries, call Ticketline on 0861 Movies (668 437).