Festivals

Film4-backed film deals at Cannes 2016

23 May, 2016 Productions Posted in: Cannes, Uncategorized

In addition to Andrea Arnold’s American Honey taking home the Jury Prize, Film4 are thrilled to report that a number of deals were announced for Film4-backed films in Cannes…

 

THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER

A24 bought US rights, and Haut et Court snapped up French rights, to the next film from Yorgos Lanthimos. It was also announced that the film will reunite Colin Farrell with the director of The Lobster, which won the 2015 Cannes Jury Prize. Farrell will play Steven, a charismatic surgeon whose ideal life starts to fall apart, after a teenage boy who is trying to integrate him into his broken family starts to behave increasingly sinisterly. Inspired by a Euripides tragedy, the film was developed by Film4 in collaboration with Element Pictures, and is co-financed by Film4 and New Sparta under a partnership brokered by HanWay Films. The film is expected to begin shooting in August.

LEAN ON PETE

A24 picked up North American rights to British director Andrew Haigh’s (45 Years) next film ahead of its shoot in the US this summer. Other deals secured by Le Bureau Sales and Celluloid Dreams on the film included the UK (Curzon Artificial Eye), France (Ad Vitam), Benelux (Lumière), Greece (Seven Films), Switzerland (Filmcoopi), Italy (Teodora), South Korea (Beetwin) and China (DD Dream). Film4 supported the development of the film with The Bureau, and are backing the film alongside The Bureau and the BFI. Haigh will direct his own adaptation of Willy Vlautin’s acclaimed novel about 15-year-old teenager Charley, as he embarks on a perilous journey in search of his long lost aunt and a possible home, his only companion the stolen racehorse Lean on Pete.

AMERICAN HONEY

Focus Features acquired the majority of key international territories – including Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Spain, UK, Italy and Scandinavia – to Andrea Arnold’s widely praised Competition entry. Sales agent Protagonist Pictures had already pre-sold to France (Diaphana) and A24 (US) ahead of the festival. The film is a Parts & Labor / Pulse Films Production in association with ManDown, which Film4 co-developed and co-financed alongside Maven Pictures and the BFI.

Cannes 2016: Top Five Picks

23 May, 2016 Posted in: Cannes, Cannes, Festivals, Opinion, Review

Catherine Bray rounds up her top five picks from what she saw at the 69th Cannes Film Festival across all strands.

Toni Erdmann by Maren Ade

Toni Erdmann by Maren Ade

Excluding Andrea Arnold’s Jury prize-winning American Honey (which we couldn’t possibly review on the Film4 blog since Film4 Productions funded and developed it – but for the critics’ incredible reactions, click here), here are my top picks from this edition of the venerable French festival. Although these are simply the films I’ve enjoyed the most, selected without giving any thought to trying to represent a broad range of filmmakers, it’s incredibly encouraging that three are directed by women and that they are drawn from the official Competition, Directors’ Fortnight and Critics’ Week strands.

 

1. Toni Erdmann
Dir. Maren Ade

This comedy about a father-daughter relationship has stolen the hearts of pretty much every critic at Cannes, with very few exceptions. And it absolutely deserves to: strangely poignant and spikily well-observed, it’s the sort of film that only comes around once in a blue moon.

 

2. Raw
Dir. Julia Durcournau

The most exciting breakout in Critics’ Week, Durcournau’s first feature sees a vegetarian turn cannibal at veterinary school, which premise doesn’t begin to do justice the filmmaking fair and zest on display. The early work of Cronenberg has a new heir.

 

3. Paterson
Dir. Jim Jarmusch

Resting an entire movie on the hangdog charm of Adam Driver’s soulful eyes might sound like a reckless move before you see Paterson, but actually it works. A gentle film about a poet/bus driver, narrative incident is low, but warmth and watchability is off the charts.

 

4. Divines
Dir. Houda Benyamina

A restless, kinetic debut from Benyamina, the emotionally-involving Divines sees a couple of girls from the banlieues attempt to get rich or die trying, embracing thug life in a film that is closer to Celine Sciamma’s widely-acclaimed Girlhood than anything else. Some prizes at Cannes this year were divisive, but the Camera d’Or for this one was well deserved.

 

5. Elle
Dir. Paul Verhoeven

Grappling with difficult, dark and disturbing ideas while remaining an edge-of-your-seat and often very pleasurable watch, Elle is a confounding movie. Brilliantly realised, with probably the finest lead performance of the festival, Isabelle Huppert plays a gaming company founder who is sexually assaulted  – the character’s response is unconventional and a challenge to viewers; I’ve not seen anything like it.

Click here for more Cannes coverage on the Film4 blog

 

 

Andrea Arnold’s Film4-backed American Honey wins Jury Prize at Cannes Film Festival

23 May, 2016 Productions Posted in: Cannes

Film4-backed American Honey was among the prizes at the Cannes Film Festival last night, taking home the Jury Prize for British director Andrea Arnold, and earning a Commendation from the Ecumenical Jury.

american-honey-1024

It’s the third time Cannes-favourite Arnold has won the Jury Prize, following wins in 2006 for Red Road and 2009 for Fish Tank. She also served on the Jury for the Main Competition in 2012, and chaired the International Critics’ Week Jury in 2014.

Film4’s Head of Creative Rose Garnett commented: “We are so thrilled that Andrea Arnold’s American Honey was selected In Competition at Cannes, and that the Festival’s Jury has seen fit to recognise the film with the Jury Prize. American Honey is a passionate and brilliant odyssey that takes us into the hearts and minds of the young and disenfranchised in modern America. Film4 is proud to have supported the project from its inception. Andrea is one of the great directors working today – and American Honey is a landmark film that places British talent at the centre of the world cinema stage.”

American Honey tells the story of Star (Sasha Lane), a teenage girl from a troubled home, who runs away with a travelling sales crew that drives across the American mid-west selling magazine subscriptions door to door. Finding her feet in this gang of teenagers, one of who is Jake (Shia LaBeouf), she soon gets into the group’s lifestyle of hard partying, law-bending and young love.

Cannes 2016: The Student showcases the ugly side of Bible verses

22 May, 2016 Posted in: Cannes, Cannes, Festivals, Opinion, Review

Kirill Serebrennikov’s Un Certain Regard entry The Student boasts a brilliant central performance from Pyotr Skvortsov.

Pyotr Skvortsov in The Student

Pyotr Skvortsov in The Student

Cannes 2016 has been defined by a number of extraordinary performances. Sandra Hüller, in German comedy Tony Erdmann, from director Maren Ade, gave what was for my money one of the finest, outdone by only Isabelle Huppert in the late-screening Competition entry Elle, from Paul Verhoeven. Likewise, Kristen Stewart continues to prove her Twilight-era critics wrong, creating a fascinatingly frosty but layered portrait of a grieving spiritual medium in Olivier Assayas’s sinuous, multi-faceted Personal Shopper.

It wasn’t such an interesting year for male roles – with the exception of Adam Driver’s magical, low-key work in Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson, the only male lead performance that has truly carved itself into my brain as a standout is (relative) unknown Pyotr Skvortsov as Venya in Kirill Serebrennikov’s Russian Un Certain Regard entry The Student. (I’ve not yet seen Palme d’Or winner I, Daniel Blake.)

The Student orbits around the central pull of Skvortsov’s performance like a solar system around its sun. Scenes often play out as long unbroken takes, with a restless, roving camera weaving and ducking around Skvortsov as he delivers relentless sermons and unambigous, often vicious quotations from the Bible to his classmates. In any other high-school film, this hyper-religious kid would be either be a tremulous Carrie-esque target for bullies or else part of the social elite – a wholesome A-grade student who is also head cheerleader, bandleader and Sunday school champion, a la Amanda Bynes in Easy A.

Venya, with his intense, smug conviction of his own righteousness, dark clothes and lithe movements evokes neither of these stereotypes. Instead, he recalls Alex Frost in Gus van Sant’s Elephant – a powerful yet embittered boy capable of violence. He’s terrifying, repellent and plausible all at once – here’s hoping we see him in more roles of this calibre.

Click here for more Cannes coverage on the Film4 blog

Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe team up for The Nice Guys

20 May, 2016 Posted in: Cannes, Cannes, Festivals, Opinion, Review

Playing out of Competition in Cannes, Catherine Bray checks out Shane Black’s The Nice Guys, a buddy comedy about two guys who aren’t exactly buddies.

Shane Black's The Nice Guys

Shane Black’s The Nice Guys

So, time for a total change of pace. After a while, when you’ve mused on the gently poetry of Jim Jarmusch (Paterson) and marveled at the exquisite control and restraint of Cristian Mungiu (Graduation), you want nothing more than to relax with an action-comedy. It’s like being good to yourself and digesting nothing but complex whole-grains rich in vitamins and nutrients for a week – at some point you’re going to crack and kick back with a hamburger.

Playing out of Competition at Cannes, my chosen hamburger is Shane Black’s 1970s set knockabout black comedy The Nice Guys, starring Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe, and it’s a reasonably juicy one. (I’m going to curtail the hamburger metaphor now because it’s actually making me hungry).

Crowe plays tough-for-hire Jackson Healy, Gosling is hapless private detective Holland March. When March is beaten up by Healy in the course of his work, it’s the beginning of an unlikely partnership as the pair attempt to solve a missing person’s case. The 1970s setting is a good excuse for some ludicrous wardrobe choices (a nice powder blue leather jacket on Crowe, a porn ‘tache on Gosling), and further handily means there’s no need to write around the existence of mobile phones when constructing a plot full of wrong-place, wrong-time happenstance.

Crowe does a decent line in weary cynicism yearning for a better world who would nevertheless be lost in that world were it to suddenly be breathed into existence; he’s a kind of Sam Spade detective dropped into the milieu of Boogie Nights. Gosling is clearly having fun with the kind of “vanity free” performance handsome actors often enjoy, where they play a character who can display the kind of fear or incompetence they’re not normally encouraged to display as leading men.

The Nice Guys the perfect antidote to weightier fare, though doesn’t quite feel like the beginning of a whole new franchise that perhaps the studio would like. But who cares. Not everything has to be a franchise. Some films are just a lark – just as not all food has to be good for you.

Click here for more Cannes coverage on the Film4 blog