theeurocentric

Posts Tagged ‘TIFF’

Un Prophète (A Prophet)

In France on September 28, 2009 at 7:15 pm

France’s official submission for the 2010 Academy Awards was recently announced, with the honor going to auteur Jacques Audiard’s sprawling prison drama Un Prophète. The film already won the Grand Prix at this year’s Cannes, and is coming off of a rapturous critical and audience reception at the Toronto International Film Festival. Featuring a largely non-professional cast, the film follows a young Arab man as he climbs the ranks of the prison system. Critics have deemed it “tough”, “absorbingly intricate” (Variety) and “sensationally directed and quietly compelling” (The Globe and Mail), and it’s already made over $8 million in France (not bad for a film with a 2 and a half hour plus running time). As for it’s US release, the film already has a February 12th date set and is being distributed by Sony Classics, Sony’s specialty branch which also oversaw the releases of films like Rachel Getting Married, Volver, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It’ll be interesting to see how a gritty and violent, not to mention lengthy, foreign film will play with American audiences.

Max Manus

In Norway on September 22, 2009 at 5:04 pm

maxmanus

Continuing with the international selection at the recent Toronto Film Festival, Norway’s answer to WWII action flicks comes in the form of Max Manus. The film, co-directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, tells the true story of one of Norway’s most famous resistance fighters of World War II. It covers Manus’ life from the Winter War in the USSR to peacetime in 1945, with the bulk of the World War II and Nazi occupation of Norway in between.

Though it has yet to see a stateside release, it received glowing reviews in its native country and went on to be nominated for eleven Amanda Awards (the Norwegian Oscars), winning seven including Best Film, Best Actor for Aksel Hennie, and Best Supporting Actress for Agnes Kittelsen. The film was one of the largest productions in Norwegian history, costing NOK 55 million (roughly $9.3 million) and employing nearly four thousand extras and behind the scenes workers. It’s 2008 premiere was a major event, with King Harald V and Gunnar Sønsteby (a resistance fighter portrayed in the film) in attendance. By the end of its theatrical run it had made over $15 million at the box office, beating out such international hits as The Dark Knight, Quantum of Solace, and Wall-E (the only film to best it, incidentally, was the ABBA musical Mammia Mia!). The film will likely be Norway’s submission to the 2010 Academy Awards, and should it secure a nomination, will make it into US theaters sometime early next year.

Metropia

In Sweden on September 13, 2009 at 2:38 pm

In the tradition of animated films meant for adults (pioneered by the Japanese, and furthered by the French and Americans – see the recent 9), Swedish director, and former graffiti artist, Tarik Saleh has created a unique, dystopian vision of a future Europe. The story revolves around Stockholm-native Roger, who begins to hear strange voices in his head when he nears the subway system (which has been connected to every underground in Europe). With the continent facing depleting oil reserves, Roger then unwittingly gets caught up in a major conspiracy.

The filmmakers created the distinct look of the film by photoshopping and stylizing actual photographs before animating them. The impressive voice cast includes Swedish stars like Vincent Gallo, Udo Kier, Stellan Skarsgaard (of Pirates fame) and Alexander Skarsgaard (star of HBO’s “True Blood”), as well as American actress/rocker Juliette Leiws. The film was recently featured at this year’s Venice Film Festival, and is set for a November 6 release in its native Sweden. Whether or not the film, which was filmed in English, will secure a stateside theatrical release is still up in the air. Figures crossed though; we can never get enough darker, more imaginative animated films, especially when nonsensical films like Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (dinosaurs were long extinct by the time of the wooly mammoths) make over $850 million worldwide.

“An Education” at TIFF

In Great Britain on September 7, 2009 at 8:20 pm

Based on a memoir by journalist Lynn Barber, and directed by Danish auteur Lone Scherfig, An Education tells a distinctly British coming-of-age-tale in which a teenage schoolgirl (played by up-and-comer Carey Mulligan) begins a whirlwind romance with a man nearly twice her age (Peter Sarsgaard), and subsquently faces an identity crises as she transforms from an innocent youth to a sophisticated woman.  Rosamund Pike, Olivia Williams, Dominic Cooper, Sally Hawkins, and Emma Thompson round out the cast.

The film, which premiered at Sundance this year, has been the target of Oscar buzz for months. It is currently being featured in the Toronto Film Festival, largely regarded as the launching ground for awards bait (this is the place where the then-unknown Slumdog Millionaire began its march towards the Kodak Theater, after all). This is the first major film role for Mulligan (who got her start alongside Keira Knightley in 2005‘s Pride & Prejudice), and, combined with her roles in high-profile films like Public Enemies and the upcoming Brothers, could very well signal the arrival of a new star. Those who have seen the film say that she is a revelation, and many prognosticators have had her name pencilled in for Best Actress since early summer. Whether or not awards are in the film’s future, though, is ultimate irrelevant; what matters is great filmmaking, and it would appear that Scherfig, Mulligan, et al have delivered just that.

Watch the trailer and judge for yourself.