Films about exiled U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden and photographer Sebastiao Salgado will compete for this year's (14) International Documentary Association Best Feature Award. Laura Poitras' Citizenfour and Wim Wenders' The Salt of the Earth will compete with Finding Vivian Maier, Point and Shoot and filmmaker Nick Broomfield's study of a Los Angeles serial killer, Tales of the Grim Sleeper, for the prestigious trophy, which will be handed out at the 2014 IDA Documentary Awards at the Paramount Theatre in Los Angeles on 5 December (14).
In a misguided attempt to take a page from the book of Edward Snowden, some clandestine individuals have taken it upon themselves to share with the free world the darkest secrets and most regrettable follies of the Central Intelligence Agency. Here's the thing, though... these particular secrets and follies are, in a word, fiction. The would-be revolutionaries in question actually just leaked the Season 3 premiere of Homeland online, approximately one month prior to its nationwide debut on Showtime (Sept. 29), as reported by Variety.
It's an honest mistake, really. The third-year drama focuses on CIA Agent Carrie Mathison's (Claire Danes) tireless efforts to stop/help/sleep with suspected terrorist Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), tossing in all the code words and black sedans and loony file webs that you'd find in each crevice of the real Quantico. According to Variety, the illegal video went online at some point on Sept. 2, earning hundreds of thousands of downloads in the 24-hour period to follow.
A minor setback in the quest for free information. But no matter, the next case will be legit: a free download of deleted scenes from RED 2!
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For some ungodly reason, "texting and driving" has been written off as a psuedo-problem. A laughable misdeed worthy of a pointed finger-wagging rather than something to really incur the shame it decidedly deserves. Fortunately, we have figures like Werner Herzog who are making a mission out of expressing the severity of the often lethal practice.
Filmmaker Herzog has created the above documentary — From One Second to the Next — as propagation of the dangers of texting while driving. The 70-year-old Grizzly Man director uses real people and their true stories to hit the viewer with a thick heap of heartbreak, pulling no punches in the message that texting and driving is, undoubtedly, a terribly dangerous and thoughtless thing to do.
Watch the video above to ensure that you'll break the habit altogether, and perhaps share it with a few friends who might need a little extra convincing.
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Every week, Hollywood gives us something to whine about, and the week of June 10 was no different. We could make a drinking game out of this week, but that would be too dangerous. Instead, we'll stick to the usual formula: varying levels of alcoholic respite depending on how bothersome the week's issues are. Is your biggest complaint this week a flimsy one? How about a light cocktail to take the edge off? Got a real bone to pick with a celeb or entertainment entity this week? Go ahead, grab a drink that'll put hair on your chest. Here are the week's entertainment stories that are forcing us to seek a bubbly or boozy refuge. And maybe an idea or two about how you should wash them down.
LIGHTEN UP WITH A LEMON SHANDY
Miley Cyrus wore a stupid pair of pants to the Myspace relaunch party, and honestly we're really confused. What are those supposed to be?
Will Paris Hilton's new album make her relevant again? We sincerely hope not.
No one wants to play Hillary Clinton in the developing biopic Rodham. Come on, ladies, this is the one and only pantsuit aficionado we're talking about (not the mention former first lady, secretary of state, and a viable candidate for President)!
WASH THIS WEEK DOWN WITH A CLASSIC MOJITO
Roberto Cavalli's curve-less Beyoncé image caused an uproar. But really guys, it's just a fashion sketch. All the women in those things look like a daddy longlegs in a dress.
Scientologists are not happy that everyone keeps saying After Earth is about Scientology, but people are going to keep saying it anyway (because it really, really, seems like it's true). Pipe down, Scientologists!
An aspiring actor spent $5,000 to look like Ryan Gosling. But... he still looks nothing like Ryan Gosling.
Amanda Bynes continues to tweet questionable things and wear heinous wigs. What would Bynes' characters from The Amanda Show think of her behavior? Well, we know Judge Trudy would definitely not approve.
THIS WEEK WAS HARD. GET SLOSHED WITH A LONG ISLAND ICED TEA.
A French teacher was suspended after showing Saw to his class of 11-year-olds. Seriously? If you want to play a game, go with heads up seven up. No one dies.
Mumford and Sons bassist Ted Dwayne was hospitalized because of a blood clot on his brain. Please get better, Ted. We don't cope well without our daily dose of folky, banjo-infused goodness.
Laura Poitras is the perfect choice for a documentary about Edward Snowden and the NSA, because someone needs to turn this whole thing into an Academy Award-winner.
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When former CIA employee Edward Snowden decided to leak classified information about the government's top-secret surveillance programs, the first person he contacted was documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras.
Poitras, who received a $500,000 "genius grant" from the MacArthur Foundation, has a lot of experience with controversial political topics. Her 2006 documentary, My Country, My Country, about life in Iraq under U.S. occupation, was nominated for an Academy Award, and she extensively interviewed one of Osama bin Laden's former bodyguards for her 2010 film The Oath. The latter film examines the impact of anti-terrorism actions on individuals in the Middle East.
The filmmaker has since turned her focus to the U.S. government's surveillance of its own citizens. She plans to follow up My Country, My Country and The Oath with a new documentary about covert spying on the American public and attacks on whistleblowers, making all three films part of a trilogy focused on the effects of the War on Terror.
It's not a huge surprise, therefore, that Edward Snowden turned to Laura Poitras with what is perhaps the biggest whistleblowing story of the century. This is particularly true considering the risk of sharing a story with so many political implications to a major media outlet (i.e. the New York Times' decision to wait a year before publishing its 2005 story about the NSA's warrantless wiretapping program). Poitras is certainly not waiting to capitalize on Snowden's leak. She shared bylines with The Guardian's Gleen Greenwald and The Washington Post's Barton Gellman when the publications broke the story; furthermore, she released a video interview with Snowden in which he defends his decision to reveal this classified information.
Poitras recently told Salon.com that she has even more video footage of Snowden, taken from the former spy agency contractor's refuge in Hong Kong. She plans to use it in her upcoming documentary, the aforementioned final chapter in her War on Terror trilogy. The filmmaker has herself been subject to government surveillance and even border-crossing challenges as a result of her journalistic work, so she has a personal stake in exposing the extent of the snooping. Given the urgency of this political situation, which is unfolding as we speak, this may be one of the most quickly produced documentaries in history.
So, will Laura Poitras get another Oscar nomination for her upcoming documentary? Time (and maybe not even all that much of it) will tell.
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Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.
Director Debra Granik's acclaimed new movie stars Jennifer Lawrence as an impoverished teen who goes in search of her drug dealer father after learning he's put the family home up as a bail bond.
The chilling tale proved to be a hit with judges at the Gotham event, which is considered by many to open the awards season, taking home the best picture award ahead of Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan and Annette Bening and Julianne Moore's family drama The Kids Are All Right. Blue Valentine and Let Me In were also nominated in the category.
Winter's Tale went on to claim the Best Ensemble Performance for its cast, which also includes John Hawkes, Dale Dickey and Lauren Sweetser, although Lawrence lost out on the Breakthrough Actor title to Daddy Longlegs star Ronald Bronstein.
Speaking about her film's win, Granik tells the Hollywood Reporter, "The year started with getting recognition at Sundance, so that was a very intense night. It doesn't get any easier, though, to win awards."
Kevin Asch was named Breakthrough Director for Holy Rollers, a drama about an Orthodox Jew who embarks on a career as a drug pusher, while Laura Poitras' study on the war on terrorism in The Oath was hailed as Best Documentary.
Education system documentary Waiting For Superman earned the Festival Genius Audience Award, which was determined by online voting, and Mike Ott's Littlerock scored the prize for Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You.
In addition to the competitive awards, Hilary Swank, Robert Duvall, Aronofsky and movie mogul James Schamus were each presented with a career tribute.
Honouring his Get Low co-star Duvall, Bill Murray told the crowd, "He is better than all of you... He is better than me, too."
Black Swan star Natalie Portman, Anne Hathaway, Leighton Meester and Anthony Mackie were also among the guests at the 20th Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards, hosted by Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci and held at Manhattan's Cipriani Wall Street restaurant.
Last year's (09) Best Feature winner, The Hurt Locker, went on to win the Oscar's Best Picture prize.