admin / August 13th, 2021

A biopic starring Kristen Stewart as Diana, the Princess of Wales, and more Cannes-winning titles are bound for the Toronto International Film Festival.

Organizers have added titles to several sections, including the competitive Platform program, where Oscar-nominated “Sound of Metal” star Riz Ahmed will head the jury.

“Spencer” by Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larrain, set during a tumultuous Christmas, will screen in TIFF’s Special Events program after premiering at the Venice Film Festival.

Larrain is well established in depicting historical women onscreen, having also directed the Oscar-nominated 2016 biopic “Jackie,” starring Natalie Portman as Jacqueline Kennedy.

Also in the Special Events section is “Memoria” by acclaimed Thai auteur Apichatpong Weerasethakul, starring Tilda Swinton as an expatriate reeling from mysterious events in Colombia.

“Memoria” shared the Jury Prize with “Ahed’s Knee” by Nadav Lapid at last month’s Cannes Film Festival.

Other buzzy films added to TIFF, which runs online and in-person from Sept. 9 to 18, include the Iranian prisoner drama “A Hero” (“Ghahreman”) by Asghar Farhadi, which shared the Grand Prize at Cannes with Juho Kuosmanen’s “Compartment No. 6.” It will screen as a special event.

Last week TIFF added another Cannes sensation, the Palme d’Or prize-winning horror “Titane,” to the Midnight Madness section.

Films competing in the Platform program include the world premiere of “Drunken Birds” (“Les oiseaux ivres”) by Montreal’s Ivan Grbovic, about “a drug-cartel worker who runs afoul of his boss and migrates to Canada.”

On Wednesday, the festival also revealed it will celebrate the 20th anniversary of Inuk filmmaker Zacharias Kunuk’s Inuktitut-language Canadian drama “Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner,” which won the Camera d’Or award at Cannes in 2001. TIFF Cinematheque will hold a free screening of a digitally remastered version.

Kunuk will also have a film in the newly announced Shorts Cuts lineup: “Angakusajaujuq — The Shaman’s Apprentice.”

Shorts Cuts will have a total 38 films, including the world premiere of the South Korean-set drama “Together” by Canadian filmmaker Albert Shin, director of acclaimed features “In Her Place” and “Disappearance at Clifton Hill.”

TIFF Cinematheque also announced details of its Alanis Obomsawin retrospective, “Celebrating Alanis,” which will have 19 films from the prolific Abenaki documentary maker. The films include the world premiere of her newest title, “Honour to Senator Murray Sinclair.”

The festival has also outlined the schedule for the IMAX screenings of Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi epic “Dune,” adding one at Cinema Banque Scotia Montreal on Sept. 12.


admin / July 13th, 2021

“Spencer,” Pablo Larraín’s highly anticipated drama starring Kristen Stewart as Lady Diana, will world premiere in competition at the Venice Film Festival, Variety has learned.

Written by “Peaky Blinders” creator Steven Knight, the film centers on a weekend in the early 1990s when Diana decided to separate from Prince Charles amid rumours of affairs. The late princess was spending the Christmas holiday with the royal family at the Sandringham estate in Norfolk, when she decided to leave her marriage to Prince Charles.

Stewart stars in the film opposite “Poldark” star Jack Farthing who plays Prince Charles. The cast also includes BAFTA nominee Timothy Spall (“Mr. Turner”), Academy Award nominee Sally Hawkins (“The Shape of Water”) and Sean Harris (“Mission: Impossible – Fallout”). The film comes out in 2022 to mark the 25th anniversary of Diana’s death.

The Venice Film Festival declined to comment on Monday.
Neon and Topic Studios have jointly acquired the U.S. rights to the movie in June 2020. The film is expected to be an Oscar contender. Larrain’s last film “Jackie” earned Natalie Portman a best actress nomination for playing Jackie Kennedy Onassis in the days after JFK’s assassination. “Spencer” was produced by Juan de Dios Larraín (“Jackie”) for Fabula Films, Jonas Dornbach and Janine Jackowski (“Toni Erdmann”) for Komplizen Film and BAFTA winner and Oscar nominee Paul Webster (“Anna Karenina”) for Shoebox Films.

Other high-profile movies set to world premiere at Venice include “Dune,” Denis Villeneuve’s big-budget sci-fi epic starring Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya, which will play out of competition.

While Venice is assembling a starry lineup, the ongoing pandemic and rise of variants is casting a shadow over the festival which is scheduled to kick off Sept. 1. With a resurgence of cases across several countries, there could be travel bans restored, notably with the U.S., though the situation is still fluid. The Cannes Film Festival, which has been running for 6 days so far, has reported several COVID-19 cases despite a strict protocol.


admin / January 29th, 2021

Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner), Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water) and Sean Harris (Mission: Impossible – Fallout) have joined Kristen Stewart in buzzed-about Lady Diana biopic Spencer, which is now filming in Germany before moving to the UK.

The producers have today released a first-look image of Stewart as the iconic Lady Di.
As Deadline first revealed, Jackie filmmaker Pablo Larraín is directing the Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders) script about a weekend in the early ‘90s when Diana decided her marriage to Prince Charles wasn’t working and that she needed to veer from a path that had put her in line to one day be queen.

The drama takes place over three days in one of her final Christmas holidays in the House of Windsor in their Sandringham estate. The producers have not said who will play Prince Charles and their two children: Prince William and Prince Harry.

Stewart said of the film: “Spencer is a dive inside an emotional imagining of who Diana was at a pivotal turning point in her life. It is a physical assertion of the sum of her parts, which starts with her given name; Spencer. It is a harrowing effort for her to return to herself, as Diana strives to hold onto what the name Spencer means to her.’

The movie is among the first – if not the first – UK film productions to shoot on the continent after Brexit. However, in a surprising outcome, producer Paul Webster told us today that “no visas were necessary for cast and crew from the UK,” something that has been anticipated as a result of the UK leaving the EU.

There was a minor-meltdown among some corners of the UK media and social media late last year when it was reported that the two princes couldn’t be portrayed by British actors due to Brexit travel restrictions. Producer Webster subsequently told us this wasn’t the case. Presumably some of the cast will be German, however, as the project is getting investment from German funding bodies.

Larraín is producing with Fabula partner Juan de Dios, as well as Jonas Dornbach, Janine Jackowski and Webster. Neon and Topic Studios picked up U.S. rights and are expected to debut the film in fall 2021. 2022 marks the 25th anniversary of Diana’s death.

Larraín’s impressive creative team includes Director of Photography Claire Mathon (Portrait of a Lady on Fire), Costume Designer Jacqueline Durran (Little Women), Make Up and Hair Designer Wakana Yoshihara (Murder On The Orient Express) and Guy Hendrix Dyas (Inception) is the Production Designer. Composing the original score is Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood (Phantom Thread).

Executive producers are Tom Quinn, Jeff Deutchman and Christina Zisa for NEON and Michael Bloom, Maria Zuckerman and Ryan Heller for Topic Studios. FilmNation handled international sales and, as we first reported, sold all key territories last Cannes. STX will release in the UK.

The film is supported by German Federal Film Fund (DFFF), medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, German Federal Film Board (FFA), Film- und Medienstiftung NRW and HessenFilm und Medien.


admin / October 21st, 2020

Hulu said Tuesday that has acquired U.S. rights to Clea DuVall’s Happiest Season, the holiday romantic comedy starring Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis that had been aiming for a November 25 theatrical release from Sony Pictures. With the deal today, the pic will now bypass U.S. big screens and premiere on the streamer as a Hulu Original film on that date.

Sony and eOne co-financed the film and retain distribution rights in Canada and the rest of the world. The studio said overseas plans, which could include theatrical releases, will be finalized later.

The deal is the latest where a studio has struck a deal with a streamer to distribute its product thanks to low movie theater capacity amid the pandemic.

Directed by DuVall from a screenplay she wrote with Mary Holland stars Stewart as Abby, who is planning to propose to her girlfriend Harper (Davis) during Harper’s family’s annual Christmas dinner — until she realizes they don’t even know Harper is gay. Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, Daniel Levy, Mary Holland, Burl Moseley, Victor Garber and Mary Steenburgen also star.

“This holiday season — more than any other — we could all use a little happiness. It was essential to Sony Pictures and to the filmmakers that Clea’s marvelous and fresh holiday-themed romantic comedy come out when the lights are on the trees,” said Nicole Brown, President of TriStar Pictures. “We are excited that Hulu is geared up to make this happen in the U.S. and grateful that they love the movie as much as we do.”

Marty Bowen and Isaac Klausner produced the pic, with Wyck Godfrey and Jonathan McCoy executive producers.


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