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Postcard from Sundance

Dark Horse director Louise Osmond on visiting Sundance for the first time, where her film premiered to critical acclaim and won the Audience Award for World Cinema Documentary.

Dark Horse: winner of the Audience Awards for World Documentary at Sundance

Dark Horse: winner of the Audience Awards for World Documentary at Sundance

Sundance has such a romance attached to it – the original indie festival – and I’m glad to say it genuinely lives up to its reputation. There is some madness out there – a swanky crowd who gather on the main street of Park City and swarm over celebrities like Chris Pine (we saw the swarm snaking down the road but not the man inside.)

But most of it is people who love film watching everything they can and a very warm atmosphere that gets film teams together in brunches and lunches and events that remind you why you love the job you do.

The producer, Judith Dawson and editor, Joby Gee were out there too and, nervous as cats, we waited for the premiere. Joby had one of his trademark fantastic/horrible shirts on – brown and blue dancing horses in 100% vintage rayon. Laughing at him proved oddly calming.  Coming out here, I’d thought – worried – a lot about whether American audiences would take to the story. In Park City, listening in the dark to every sigh or cough it seemed like they did but at a screening in Salt Lake City the next day it was louder and easier to read. They did seem to take to it and better still what they loved most about our fantastic characters – Jan and Brian, Howard and the others – was their spirit of defiance.

People will sometimes tell you America is a classless society but that news hasn’t reached Utah. Taking on the elite sport of kings with a horse bred on a slagheap allotment seemed to resonate very strongly with them. One man said: ‘Good to see people who aren’t respected getting the respect they deserve.’  Can’t argue with that.

Read more about Dark Horse: The Incredible True Story of Dream Alliance

 

 

Film4 signs development deal with Jonathan Glazer

05 Feb, 2015 Productions Posted in: Behind The Scenes

jonathan-glazer-1024

Film4 has announced a development deal with Under The Skin director Jonathan Glazer, continuing its longstanding relationship with the acclaimed British filmmaker.

David Kosse, Director of Film4, says: “Jonathan is one of the most visionary directors in the world, let alone the UK. He epitomises Film4’s ethos of ground-breaking, distinctive, authored film, and I’m looking forward to continuing what has already been a close and collaborative relationship between him and Film4.”

Film4 and Glazer’s most recent film Under The Skin was heralded “a masterpiece” by critics, named the Best Film of 2014 by The Guardian, and is nominated for Outstanding British Film at this year’s BAFTAs.

Film4 previously collaborated with Glazer on Sexy Beast, his directorial debut in 2000 which has since achieved iconic British film status.

Glazer is currently working on a number of development ideas with Film4 alongside his Under The Skin producer Jim Wilson.

Alicia Vikander’s Turing Test

In Ex_Machina, Alicia Vikander plays Ava, the sentient android subject of a Turing Test, required to convince Domhnall Gleeson’s computer programmer Caleb that she possesses a fully functioning artificial intelligence. We thought we’d quickly test Alicia’s humanity using six of the questions Ava and Caleb exchange during the film…

Alicia Vikander

Alicia Vikander

1.       When did you learn to speak?

What language? It’s interesting with language because now I probably speak more English than Swedish and I had a hard time doing my Swedish interviews. I’d forgotten some of the words of my native language. People say “do you think or do you dream in English or Swedish?” but being bilingual, you realize that thoughts are not language. You don’t think in words. If you go to pick up your phone you don’t think “I’m going to pick up my phone now.”

2.       Where would you go now if you could go anywhere?

I would probably say my own bed. I’ve landed in London and been here for three days but I still haven’t been able to see my own flat yet!

3.       Do you have a favourite colour?

Blue.

4.       What makes you nervous?

That people can see right through me. That I can’t hide things.

5.       Are you a good person?

Oh! [laughs] Coming back to what I was nervous about, I guess I don’t want people to see who I really am.

6.       What’s your earliest memory?

It’s so funny with memories trying to figure out if they’re real memories or just created in your own mind, but I have a memory of me walking across a big bridge, I think it’s Christmas, and I see this red man, a man that I’m very scared of, but I’m being told that he’s Santa Claus and he will come and visit us at our home.

Result: Pass. Although she’s such a great actor, we will never know for sure.

 

Ex_Machina is in cinemas 21st January 2015

 

Domhnall Gleeson’s Turing Test

In Ex_Machina, Domhnall Gleeson plays Caleb, the human component in a Turing Test, tasked with deciding whether Alicia Vikander’s sentient android Ava possesses a fully functioning artificial intelligence indistinguishable from a human. We thought we’d just quickly test Domhnall’s humanity using six of the questions Ava and Caleb exchange during the film…

Domhnall Gleeson

Domhnall Gleeson

 1.       When did you learn to speak?

I believe it was early enough. I think I was two. I know that when I met my younger brother for the first time I said, ‘Oh mam, he’s beautiful.’

2.       Where would you go now if you could go anywhere?

New York.

3.       Do you have a favourite colour?

Blue. That’s the same as Caleb, I think. And then in the end his answer is that he doesn’t actually have a favourite colour because he’s a grownup. So maybe the important thing here is that I actually do have a favourite colour, and it is blue.

4.       What makes you nervous?

People who are certain about everything. That really makes me nervous!

5.       Are you a good person?

That’s the killer. [pause] It’s impossible to know. Caleb says “I think I am”, but he follows it up with, “Yes, I’m a good person,” and I don’t know if I can definitively follow that up. Because we live in a messed up world, and have I done enough for the world that I live in? Probably not. As much as I could? Probably not. So maybe I’m not.

6.       What’s your earliest memory?

I remember having a dream. In our house there were stairs which used to go down and then take a sharp right-angle turn, and I remember having a dream where I could jump from the top step and somehow turn that corner in the air and land on your feet at the bottom. I never remember my dreams. But I remember that dream from when I was pretty young. I’m sure there are previous memories, but I think they’re more based on photographs and created memories, whereas that one I know is a memory of a dream.

Result: Pass. We’re 99% convinced he’s human.

 

Ex_Machina is in cinemas 21st January 2015

 

Mr. Turner receives 4 nominations at this year’s Academy Awards

16 Jan, 2015 Productions Posted in: Academy Awards, Awards
Mr Turner

Mr Turner

Mike Leigh’s critically acclaimed film Mr. Turner yesterday received Oscar recognition in 4 categories:

Cinematography – Dick Pope

Production Design – Suzie Davies & Charlotte Watts

Costume Design – Jacqueline Durran

Original Score – Gary Yershon

Mr. Turner debuted at the Cannes Film Festival last year where Timothy Spall won the award for Best Actor and Dick Pope, Leigh’s long term collaborator, took home the prestigious Vulcain Prize for his cinematography. The film exceeded box office expectations in the UK, taking over £6m via eOne UK, and continues its global release throughout early 2015.

The film has also garnered 4 BAFTA nominations; Cinematography (Dick Pope), Production Design (Suzie Davies, Charlotte Watts), Costume Design (Jacqueline Durran) and Make Up & Hair (Christine Blundell, Lesa Warrener), many of whom have worked on Leigh’s previous award winning titles such as Another Year, Happy Go Lucky and Vera Drake.

Mr. Turner explores the last quarter century of the great of eccentric British painter J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851). Profoundly affected by the death of his father, loved by a housekeeper he takes for granted and occasionally exploits sexually, he forms a close relationship with a seaside landlady with whom he eventually lives incognito in Chelsea, where he dies.

Throughout this, he travels, paints, stays with the country aristocracy, visits brothels, is a popular if anarchic member of the Royal Academy of Arts, has himself strapped to the mast of a ship so that he can paint a snowstorm, and is both celebrated and reviled by the public and by royalty.