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March 4, 2018

Watch: Is Billy Wilder the Best Screenwriter of All Time?

There are plenty of amazing storytellers working in film, so what makes Billy Wilder so special?

What makes a screenwriter good? Is it their ability to structure an effective and efficient story, to write snappy dialogue, or to build dimensional characters? Is it the quality of being an unpredictable, multifaceted, transgressive risk-taker? Or, is it all about being entertaining to as many movie lovers as possible?

I mean, it depends on who you ask, but for the most part, I think people would say the answer is—all of those things rolled into one supreme superwriter. But who possesses all of these qualities and quite certainly many, many more? Well, if Vulture’s recent list of the 100 Best Screenwriters of All Time indicates anything it’s that director, screenwriter, and all-around cinematic legend Billy Wilder does.

In this video essay, Sage Hyden of Just Write explores the many potential reasons why 40 of today’s top screenwriters voted Wilder to be #1 on the list, from his versatility to his incredibly clever and economic storytelling.

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Source: NoFilmSchool

March 4, 2018

Specialty Box Office Heads for Cliff After Oscars

The specialty market has thrived this awards season, which will boost Sunday’s winners before diving off a precipitous cliff unless some fresh strong titles arrive to save the day. The problem is that little has opened recently to fill the Oscar void that will be left when award season hits led by “The Shape of Water” –closely followed by “Darkest Hour,” “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” “Lady Bird,” and “I, Tonya” — leave the fray.

Last spring and summer, only arthouse releases “The Big Sick” and “Wind River” reached totals over $30 million.

This week saw one relatively decent opening for Sony Pictures Classics’ Israeli Oscar submission “Foxtrot,” the third of what it hoped to be three Foreign Language nominees. “A Fantastic Woman” and “Loveless,” both expanding, made the final five. “Foxtrot” stands a chance to shine on its own appeal but also with little competition.

Multiple other titles had limited starts in New York and/or Los Angeles, with none reporting grosses which appear in all cases to have come in much below the results for “Foxtrot.”


Foxtrot (Sony Pictures Classics) – Metacritic: 92; Festivals include: Venice, Telluride, Toronto 2017

$36,786 in 4 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $9,197

This acclaimed Israeli drama had been expected to be one of the Oscar Foreign Language finalists based on strong reviews and elevated festival attention. It had a qualifying run in New York and Los Angeles last December, where it amassed strong reviews. Its return had the disadvantage of less prime media coverage (reviews had run earlier) and, significantly in New York, the loss of the Lincoln Plaza Theater, which would certainly have topped its theaters. Given that context, this is a credible initial gross these days for a subtitled film even if lower than some other recent successful Israeli films.

What comes next: Israeli films usually find a welcoming response in many markets, and the expansion will be helped by the lack of much other recent product of significant potential.

The Young Karl Marx Raoul Peck

“The Young Karl Marx”

Week Two

The Young Karl Marx (The Orchard)

$17,533 in 12 theaters (+9); PTA: $1,461; Cumulative: $58,277

The multiple market expansion of this retelling of the formative days of the communist theorist showed minor interest after a more encouraging limited opening last week.

“The Shape of Water”

Ongoing/expanding (Grosses over $50,000)

The Shape of Water (Fox Searchlight) Week 14

$1,400,000 in 832 theaters (+111); Cumulative: $57,394,000

Retaking its top-grosser spot this weekend among Best Picture contenders, Guillermo del Toro’s film is heading for substantially above $60 million. That will position it ahead of Searchlight’s two most recent winners (“Birdman” and “12 Years a Slave”). Streaming and other home venues are set for March 13.

Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri (Fox Searchlight) Week 17; also streaming

$1,230,000 in 770 theaters (+79); Cumulative: $52,000,000

Streaming? What streaming? This Oscar co-front runner continues to add to its impressive totals, with more ahead with expected wins.

Call Me By Your Name (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 15

$919,926 in 914 theaters (+239); Cumulative: $17,046,000

A decent last minute uptick has helped this multi-category contender. It will still end up below the other eight Best Picture nominees, though with less invested in initial expenses as an acquisition. With worldwide rights, the movie so far has added $15 million in foreign gross.

Phantom Thread (Focus) Week 10

$590,000 in 715 theaters (+64); Cumulative: $20,127,000

Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1950s fashion-world drama has benefited from its release alongside its Oscar contention, but still lags below most other contenders.

Darkest Hour (Focus) Week 15; also streaming

$570,000 in 911 theaters (+116); Cumulative: $55,241,000

Joe Wright’s film continues its impressive run despite home viewing competition. Gary Oldman’s expected win should keep this in some theaters for upcoming weeks.

I Tonya Margot Robbie

“I, Tonya”

Courtesy of NEON

I, Tonya (Neon) Week 13

$561,061 in 510 theaters (+87); Cumulative: $28,950,000

Neon’s breakout release has grossed more than two of the Best Picture nominees and looks to add to its impressive total after Allison Janney’s expected Supporting Actress win.

Lady Bird (A24) Week 18; also streaming

$532,204 in 710 theaters (+109); Cumulative: $48,285,000

Just on the cusp of a $50 million gross, Greta Gerwig’s break out success could fall just short without a major Oscar win as it thrives on parallel streaming. Whether it hits that mark, this has been an impressive achievement for A24 and all others involved.

2018 Oscar Nominated Shorts (Magnolia) Week 4; also streaming

$400,000 in 271 theaters (+39); Cumulative: $3,267,000

The best performance yet for this popular annual packaging of contending Oscar short films.

“A Fantastic Woman”

A Fantastic Woman (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 5

$150,193 in 89 theaters (+11); Cumulative: $806,746

Chile’s Foreign Language frontrunner with a win would likely outstrip its rival “The Square.” The Swedish entry leads with a gross of just under $1.5 million (in a much earlier release). Last year’s winner “The Salesman” reached $2.4 million, with $1.4 million of that in the till by its fifth weekend heading into the awards.

The Party (Roadside Attactions) Week 3

$140,915 in 92 theaters (+62); Cumulative: $330,479

Sally Potter’s twisty London high-brow dinner party tale has quickly expanded to new product-hungry theaters, with continued spotty results.

Loveless (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 3

$60,583 in 25 theaters (+13); Cumulative: $229,691

Russia’s Oscar contender is still in the early stages of its run. Irrespective of its category’s result it will continue to expand with a total above average for recent subtitled releases.

The Insult (Cohen) Week 8

$55,592 in 47 theaters (-4); Cumulative: $858,795

Lebanon’s Foreign Language nominee has outperformed most recent subtitled releases, with its competitive status giving it a boost. A long shot win would provide the perfect test for translating the box office worth of an Oscar in this category.

Also noted:

Nostalgia (Bleecker Street) – $40,626 in 140 theaters; Cumulative: $84,861

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (Sony Pictures Classics) – $30,025 in 53 theaters; Cumulative: $772,557

Faces Places (Cohen) – $21,113 in 20 theaters; Cumulative: $900,903

Source: IndieWire film

March 3, 2018

Making a Spectacle: Snap may be releasing two new versions of its smart glasses

Snap was left with hundreds of thousands of unsold Spectacles last year. Despite this, the company is reportedly releasing two new versions of the smart eyewear.

The post Making a Spectacle: Snap may be releasing two new versions of its smart glasses appeared first on Digital Trends.

Source: Digital Trends VR

March 3, 2018

Best Feature Goes to ‘Get Out’ at the 2018 Independent Spirit Awards

2018 Independent Spirit Awards are underway and we’re here to bring you the winners as they come in.

Film Independent’s big awards show, the Independent Spirit Awards, has come to a close, but not without honoring the best work in independent film.

Cinema legend Angés Varda and JR won Best Documentary for Faces Places, while newcomer Matt Spicer won Best First Feature for his film Ingrid Goes West. To honor her outstanding ensemble cast, Dee Rees accepted the Robert Altman Award for her film Mudbound, and Antonio Méndez Esparza’s Life and Nothing More took the John Cassavetes Award, which honors features made for under $500K.

Several major Oscar contenders took home big awards, including Call Me by Your Name’s Timothée Chalamet for Best Male Lead and DP Sayombhu Mukdeeprom for Best Cinematography, Lady Bird’s Greta Gerwig for Best Screenplay, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’s Frances McDormand for Best Female Lead and Sam Rockwell for Best Supporting Male.

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Source: NoFilmSchool

March 3, 2018

A Primer on Using the Fibonacci Sequence to Compose Your Shots

Filmmaking is math. Look it up!

Nature, for the most part, is a numbers game, revealing how so many of the structures we see in our world and beyond are made up of discernable patterns and sequences. What does that have to do with filmmaking? Well, nothing—unless your goal in crafting an image is to tap into its inherent aesthetic qualities through one of the most beautiful series of numbers on Earth: the Fibonacci Sequence.

This video from Aputure not only gives you a quick primer on what the Fibonacci Sequence is but also how to use it in your own compositions. Check it out below:

I love math, man. I love it so damn much. I originally wanted to go to school to be some sort of mathematician, and in fact, that’s what lead me to Fibonacci and filmmaking. I went to my local library one day and found a book about the Fibonacci Sequence. I took it home, read it, obsessed over it, learned about the Golden Ratio and how it was used in art and thought, “I need to make images that follow this pattern.”

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144…

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Source: NoFilmSchool

March 3, 2018

‘Verónica’ Review Roundup: Netflix’s New Horror Offering Is a Better Surprise Than ‘The Cloverfield Paradox’

What’s this? A horror movie on Netflix worth watching? “Verónica” appears to be just that, as “[REC]” director Paco Plaza’s film has received across-the-board critical praise in addition to six Goya Award nominations (including Best Film) in its native Spain. Currently sitting at 100% “fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes, the film is now streaming.

The Film Stage‘s Jared Mobarak suggests it’s worth your time:

“Having this type of break-neck speed conclusion seems to be a pattern with Plaza (although ‘[REC]’ is my only point of comparison), but who cares if it works? At the end of the day a horror film is successful if it can make your heart pound out of your chest. And for most of ‘Verónica,’ Plaza and Navarro do exactly that.”

Ditto Anton Bitel of SciFiNow:

“The film ultimately favours the paranormal – yet Plaza still slyly insinuates an alternative explanation, rooted in the protagonist’s psychosexual unravelling. This reading is subtly aided by the casting of Ana Torrent as the children’s mother, given that Torrent’s breakout rôle, in Victor Erice’s ‘Spirit of the Beehive’ (1973), was precisely as an impressionable girl coming of age in a confusion of fantasy and reality.”

David Nusair’s Reel Film Reviews write-up is similarly laudatory:

“There’s very little in ‘Verónica’ one hasn’t seen countless times before, and yet the film, for the most part, comes off as an uncommonly superior example of this sort of thing – as Plaza delivers a consistently engaging narrative that only grows more and more compelling as time progresses (ie there’s a real sense of momentum and escalation at work here).”

Cinemanía‘s Andrea G. Bermejo is another fan:

“Regardless of whether or not you believe in spirits, you will believe ‘Veronica’. It brings horror to the known, to what is ours. And it’s very scary.”

Source: IndieWire film

March 3, 2018

The Onion Celebrates the ‘Peach-F—king’ Scene in ‘Call Me by Your Name’ — Watch

The Onion has been especially hilarious this awards season, and its latest video is no exception: an analysis of the best peach-banging scenes in “Call Me by Your Name.” Only one such scene exists in the actual movie, of course, but don’t let that mar your enjoyment.

Presented as an audio commentary recorded by two of the film’s producers, it begins straightforwardly enough before launching into lines like “here his thoughts of desire culminate in one of six scenes where somebody fucks a peach. Up to this point in the film, the peach-fucking scenes have been quite removed, almost distant, but this time we see the camera lingering on these more tactile images.”

Then the second producer chimes in: “This emphasis here on Elio’s fingers is actually a direct callback or variation on the 17-minute peach-fucking tracking shot that opens the movie, so a continuity is created between those scenes in a way that I think is maybe the most meaningful of the film — although Jordan, I know that you prefer…”

“…yeah, the scene where he fucks two peaches. Yeah, I really do.”

It continues in much the same way, with an impressive number of jokes revolving around not only the idea of peach-fucking but actually saying the words peach-fucking. Watch the whole video here and imagine an alternate ending in which “the entire cast fucks peaches together at the wistful, summery teen party.”

Source: IndieWire film

March 3, 2018

Free Pluto VR chat and messaging app for gamers enters Early Access on Steam

A new virtual reality application called Pluto wants to be the must-have app for VR gamers, facilitating chat and communication across a variety of games and experiences. You can check it out now free in Early Access.

The post Free Pluto VR chat and messaging app for gamers enters Early Access on Steam appeared first on Digital Trends.

Source: Digital Trends VR

March 3, 2018

The Omnipresent AI – 2018 SXSW Programming Trends

Each year, different trends emerge from SXSW programming and act as identifiers for where we’re at and where we’re headed. From the 12 significant trends identified by the SXSW Programming Team for the 2018 event, The Omnipresent AI explores the potential outcomes of opening the Pandora’s box that is AI. Get to know this trend and related-SXSW sessions below that we think will dominate discussions this March.

The Omnipresent AI Trend

A data-driven, high-tech future, filled with humanoid machines and hover-cars, is a popular trope seen in film and literature, but these fictional worlds aren’t so distant from our own. Information technology has been rooted in our society for decades, but at this accelerating rate of innovation within today’s tech industry, AI’s growing presence is bridging the gap between today and the future – and stirring both concern and excitement in the process.

As AI integrates further into our lives, how will lawmakers adjust regulations that allow this unpredictable technology to grow at a safe distance? Join Andrew Burt in the session Regulating AI: How to Control the Unexplainable to learn more. Joanne Chen of Foundation Capital, Dr. Fei-Fei Li of Stanford University, and shift7’s Megan Smith will challenge the issue of fear surrounding AI by discussing the positive repercussions of broadly distributing this tech to more users and developers in the session Democratizing AI for Individuals & Organizations.

The potential role of learning machines as artists in creative industries will be addressed by Nicole McDonald of MARRY the MOON, TechCrunch’s Mike Butcher, and others in the session Will AI Change the Future of Creativity?, and Zohar Dayan of Wibbitz and NYC Media Lab’s Justin Hendrix will discuss the relationship between AI and media industries in Content Creation in the Age of AI. AI’s promising future will also be explored from the industry of beauty and fashion in the session AI: Transforming Luxury, Fashion and Beauty, led by speakers Guive Balooch of L’Oreal, Megan Berry of by Reveal, Kenya Wiley of the Fashion Innovation Alliance, and Heuritech’s Tony Pinville.

Add these sessions to your 2018 SXSW Schedule so you can experience the AI conversation for yourself in March. Stay tuned for more programming announcements.

The Omnipresent AI Session Highlights

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Join Us for SXSW 2018

The SXSW Conference includes 24 programming tracks divided amongst Interactive, Film, Music, and Convergence. Each March, some of the world’s most creative minds come together in Austin, Texas to discover, learn, network, brainstorm and collaborate.

Explore new opportunities during 10 days of sessions, screenings, showcases, exhibitions, networking, and beyond from March 9-18 at SXSW 2018 – register today.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and SXSW News for the latest SXSW coverage, announcements, and updates.

Teaser Photo by Michael Caulfield

The post The Omnipresent AI – 2018 SXSW Programming Trends appeared first on SXSW.

Source: SxSW Interactive

March 3, 2018

Filmmaker In Focus: 1985, Friday’s Child, Pet Names, Science Fair, and Wobble Place

The 2018 SXSW Film Festival is rapidly approaching and we can’t wait to have you here! Before you make your way down to Austin, TX get to know films from our lineup a little bit better with selections from Visions and Festival Favorites. Dive into our Q&A with directors of 1985, Friday’s Child, Pet Names, Science Fair, and Wobble Place below to get a behind-the-scenes look at each film and add to your personalized schedule.



Director/Screenwriter: Yen Tan

A young man goes home for the holidays and struggles to reveal a distressing secret to his loved ones.

Cast: Cory Michael Smith, Virginia Madsen, Michael Chiklis, Jamie Chung, Aidan Langford, Ryan Piers Williams.

Q: What motivated you to tell this story?

YT: After I graduated from college, I got a job where I interacted with people who were living with HIV/AIDS. Their collective stories, often devastating, inspired me to make this film.

Q: What do you want the audience to take away from this film?

YT: Seek truth and beauty in the darkest times.

Q: What other film/filmmaker are you excited to see at SXSW this year?

YT: Looking forward to new works from so many friends! Not playing favorites!

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Friday’s Child

Director/Screenwriter: A.J. Edwards

Fresh out of foster care at age 18, a young drifter turns to petty crime to survive, and discovers an impossible love in an unlikely friend.

Cast: Tye Sheridan, Imogen Poots, Jeffrey Wright, Caleb Landry Jones.

Q: What motivated you to tell this story?

AJE: My greatest inspiration was this film’s cast. Their commitment and brilliance astonished me every step of the way. I was also motivated by the music of Colin Stetson, Weyes Blood, Lower Dens, and Nils Frahm. Executive Producer Gus Van Sant, and his films of alienated youth and broken families, was also integral.

Q: What do you want the audience to take away from this film?

AJE: I want the audience to feel love for the characters. I would be happy if they came away from the film feeling hope. And that mercy and forgiveness are possible.

Q: What other film/filmmaker are you excited to see at SXSW this year?

AJE: Garry Winogrand, Time Trial, and Ali & Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes.

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Pet Names

Director: Carol Brandt, Screenwriter: Meredith Johnston

When her ill mother urges her to take a vacation from her care-taking, grad-school-dropout Leigh invites her ex along on the camping trip. The two soon find that confronting old wounds during a weekend in the woods is anything but restful.

Cast: Meredith Johnston, Rene Cruz, Stacy Parish, Chelsea Norment, Jake Bradley, Lilliana Winkworth, Christina Seo.

Q: What motivated you to tell this story?

CB: The amazing script written by the amazing Meredith Johnston.

Q: What do you want the audience to take away from this film?

CB: The ability to take a deep breath afterwards and appreciate the people close to you.

Q: What other film/filmmaker are you excited to see at SXSW this year?

CB: Augustine Frizzell and her film Never Goin Back.

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Science Fair

Directors: Cristina Costantini, Darren Foster, Screenwriters: Jeffrey Plunkett, Darren Foster, Cristina Costantini

Nine high school students from around the globe navigate rivalries, setbacks, and of course, hormones, on their journey to compete at the international science fair. Facing off against 1,700 of the smartest, quirkiest teens from 78 different countries, only one will be named Best in Fair.

Q: What motivated you to tell this story?

CC: Our documentary Science Fair is a love letter to the subculture that saved me. As a dweeby kid growing up in a sports-obsessed high school in Wisconsin, the international science fair became my lifeboat. It validated my passion for science, taught me how to dedicate myself to a goal and set my life on a trajectory that would have otherwise been totally impossible. But most importantly, science fair is where I found my tribe. As many of our leaders turn their back on science, S​cience Fair features kids who have decided to step up and take on the considerable challenges that face our world.

Q: What do you want the audience to take away from this film?

CC: Of course we want everyone to fall in love with the world of science fair as much as we have. But we also want to challenge people to consider if we’re doing enough at every level to foster young talent. Do your local schools support science fairs? How can we do more to celebrate our science all-stars? How do we want our politicians to talk about science? We’re at a moment when the country seems to have turned its back on science, so part of the mission of this film is to restore a bit of hope. We want people to appreciate these brilliant young minds and to better understand how science fairs can be transformative for students who lack opportunities or may not excel in traditional educational environments.

Q: What other film/filmmaker are you excited to see at SXSW this year?

CC: Hair Wolf by Mariama Diallo!

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Wobble Place

Director: Eugene Kotlyarenko, Screenwriters: Story by Dasha Nekrasova and Eugene Kotlyarenko

A week before the 2016 election, a couple on the verge of a nervous break-up decide to split their home over the weekend and test the waters of independence.

Cast: Dasha Nekrasova, Eugene Kotlyarenko, Jack Kilmer, Paige Elkington, Caroline Hebert, Casey Jane Ellison, Vishwam Velandy, Janiva Ellis, Kim Ye, Elisha Drons.

Q: What motivated you to tell this story?

EK: All around me, I had noticed relationships turning toxic after couples began living together. This bleak trend in my personal network, combined with several larger cultural anxieties in the air, most saliently: the impending Presidential Election, public reckoning with sexual victimization, and the rise of app-assisted infidelity — made me want to explore a vitriolic relationship in the most divisive manner I could.

Q: What do you want the audience to take away from this film?

EK: That’s up to them, but I wouldn’t be upset if a few people cried at the end of this funny, scathing romp.

Q: What other film/filmmaker are you excited to see at SXSW this year?

EK: Andrew Bujalski, Wild Nights with Emily, Anchor and Hope, Relaxer, Profile, Jody Hill, Anna Margaret Hollyman, and Hereditary.

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See You at SXSW 2018

Check out the 2018 SXSW Film Festival Lineup and start mapping out your film adventure!

Take a look at our handy Film Venues Page to figure out the quickest route to each theater.

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The post Filmmaker In Focus: 1985, Friday’s Child, Pet Names, Science Fair, and Wobble Place appeared first on SXSW.

Source: SxSW Film