Thursday, 18 December 2014

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel will be Royal film

Dame Judi Dench
John Madden’s The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has been selected for The CTBF Royal Film Performance. The Royal and World Premiere of the sequel to the hit British comedy will take place on Tuesday 17 February 2015, with members of the Royal Family, cast and filmmakers in attendance.

The CTBF, established in 1924, is a charity for the film and TV industries, supporting professionals and their families in times of need. The CTBF Royal Film Performance has been the charity’s principal fundraising event since 1946.

CTBF president Barry Jenkins OBE, said: “We are thrilled to be able to host esteemed British Director John Madden’s highly anticipated sequel, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. At the end of our 90th anniversary year it is fitting that we can celebrate alongside such acclaimed British filmmaking talent.  We are extremely grateful to the Royal Family for their continued support and to Fox Searchlight Pictures for sharing this opportunity with us.”

The renowned cast has reunited for the film including stars Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel, Celia Imrie, Penelope Wilton, Ronald Pickup, Tina Desai, Diana Hardcastle, and Lillete Dubey. Additional cast making their debut include Tamsin Greig and US stars David Strathairn and Richard Gere.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel follows the expansionist dream of Sonny (Dev Patel), who is planning to build a new hotel while also preparing for his imminent marriage to the love of his life, Sunaina (Tina Desai).  His first venture, ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful’, has only a single remaining vacancy – posing a rooming predicament for fresh arrivals Guy (Richard Gere) and Lavinia (Tamsin Greig).

Evelyn and Douglas (Judi Dench and Bill Nighy) have now joined the Jaipur workforce, and are wondering where their regular dates for Chilla pancakes will lead, while Norman and Carol (Ronald Pickup and Diana Hardcastle) are negotiating the tricky waters of an exclusive relationship, while Madge (Celia Imrie) juggles two eligible and very wealthy suitors. The only one who may know the answers is newly installed co-manager of the hotel, Muriel (Maggie Smith).

John Madden (Shakespeare In Love) has returned to helm the follow-up companion feature to the 2012 international smash hit from an original screenplay by Ol Parker, from a story by Parker and Madden. The film is produced by Blueprint Pictures’ Graham Broadbent and Peter Czernin, with Participant Media's Jeff Skoll and Jonathan King, John Madden, Michael Dryer serving as executive producers.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures and is released in cinemas across the UK and Ireland on 26 February 2015, and in the US on 6 March 2015.

Sony cancels release of The Interview

The Interview
Sony has cancelled the Christmas Day release of the controversial comedy The Interview following fresh threats from the hackers who published details of its business dealings and correspondence.

The Interview stars James Franco and Seth Rogen as journalists who find themselves involved in a plot to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. The North Korean government said the film amounted to a declaration of war and promised an unspecified act.

Hackers call themselves Defenders of the Peace released emails and data stolen from Sony in late November. They also released versions of unreleased Sony pictures such as a remake of Annie as well as an early version of the script of the new James Bond film Spectre.

This week the hackers threatened to attack the systems of any cinemas that showed the film. On Tuesday they issued a warning that mentioned the 9/11 attacks, stating: “Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time.”
The New York premiere of The Interview was cancelled on Wednesday and then a number of major cinema chains decided not to show the film. The chains include AMC Entertainment, Carmike Cinema, Cinemark, Cineplex Entertainment and Regal Entertainment to not run the film. The National Association Of Theatre Owners (NATO) is offering support its members decision.

Sony Pictures said: “In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film The Interview, we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release. We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers.

“Sony Pictures has been the victim of an unprecedented criminal assault against our employees, our customers, and our business. Those who attacked us stole our intellectual property, private emails, and sensitive and proprietary material, and sought to destroy our spirit and our morale – all apparently to thwart the release of a movie they did not like. 

“We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public. We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.”

The US government said it was how to respond to the cyber attack and threats. “We know that criminals and foreign countries regularly seek to gain access to government and private sector networks - both in the United States and elsewhere,” a National Security Council statement said. “We take very seriously any attempt to threaten or limit artists' freedom of speech or of expression.”

Screen International reports that a scene depicting the death of the leader led to correspondence between the filmmakers, Studio Pictures Entertainment co-chairman Amy Pascal and Tokyo-based president and CEO of Sony Corporation Kazuo Hirai, who made an effort to tone down the scene.

The hackers have threatened more unspecified events in the coming days.

Dozen projects shortlisted for Film London's Microwave

After a competitive open call for projects attracting a record 160 applications, Film London has shortlisted 12 projects for the latest round of Microwave, its training-through-production scheme for London filmmakers.

Microwave is backed by the BFI, BBC Films and Creative Skillset through the Film Skills Fund. Ted Hope producer of films such as 21 Grams and Happiness called Microwave “the best low-budget scheme in the world”.

The commissioned films will be awarded £100,000 of the total production budget of £150,000. Shortlisted filmmakers will also receive up to £10,000 development funding for the first time.

Microwave provides each shortlisted filmmaking team with bespoke mentoring from experienced industry directors, writers and producers. The 12 teams will undertake an intensive five-day training ‘bootcamp’, Microschool.

Funded by Creative Skillset, Microschool will enable teams to hone their scripts and develop their filmmaking skills. The Microwave panel will then choose six projects to take forward for a further six weeks of development, after which two projects will be commissioned.

Microwave has appointed media and entertainment law specialists Harbottle & Lewis as business and legal consultants for the project. Tom Grievson and Alex Stolz – who have worked for the Warner Bros. International, Netflix, Entertainment One and BFI between them – will join the scheme as expert marketing and distribution consultants. They will work alongside the Film London team, which includes Senior Microwave Executive and BAFTA-nominee Olivier Kaempfer, who produced previous Microwave title Borrowed Time and Executive Produced Sundance 2014 hit Appropriate Behavior.

Since the scheme was launched in May, Film London has undertaken a outreach programme engaging with almost 400 aspiring filmmakers, producers and screenwriters during all-day masterclasses and a series of roadshows. In keeping with Film London’s aims to ensure the city’s diverse population is reflected through its production funds, both behind and in front of the camera, applications exceeded the target of ensuring 50% of the teams applying had a writer, director or producer from a black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) background. Of the 160 teams applying, 27 were interviewed with the 12 strongest now being taken forward to Microschool.

Adrian Wootton, chief executive of Film London and the British Film Commission, said: “Microwave is a flagship project for Film London, and I’m proud that we’ve been able to expand the initiative to give more of London’s filmmakers this opportunity. With our previous slate, the bar has been set extremely high. However, given the calibre of the teams behind the shortlisted projects I’m certain we’ll see some exciting results and look forward to showcasing some brave new filmmaking voices. We are also working to ensure a better cross section of London’s wonderfully diverse community is reflected in the slate. I thank our partners the BFI, BBC Films and Creative Skillset for their support in allowing us to discover and work with the filmmaking talent of tomorrow.”

Microwave is Film London’s £1.2m training-through-production fund which invests in London’s brightest emerging talent and is set to produce six new features over three years. As well as support from script to screen, greenlit projects will receive £100,000, and have to raise the additional £50,000 themselves. Completed Microwave films will also have access to an additional £25,000 of ring-fenced funding to assist with distribution.

Microwave aims to support bold and surprising cinema that will grow and excite audiences, and contribute positively to an increasingly diverse landscape for British film. Hong Khaou's critically acclaimed Lilting was produced through Microwave and enjoyed its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and won an award for Best Cinematography. Lilting has since been released in a number of territories around the world.

The shortlisted projects and teams are:

  • The Blue House, Patrick Dickinson (writer and director), Sophie Venner (producer)
  • Butterfly Kisses, Greer Ellison (writer), Rafal Kapelinski (director), Merlin Merton and David Braithwaite (producers)
  • Daphne’s Inferno, Nico Mensinga (writer) Peter Mackie Burns (director) Valentina Brazzini and Tristan Goligher (producers)
  • Engaged, James Condon (writer) Adam Randall (director) Bennet McGhee and Matt Wilkinson (producers)
  • Kill Her Witch, Faye Gilbert (writer and director), Yaw Basoah (producer)
  • The New Thirty, Wendy Okoi-Obuli (writer), Remi Vaughan-Richards (director), Yvonne Isimeme Ibazebo (producer)
  • Night Dances, Johnny Kenton (writer and director), Jo Allan (producer)
  • The Opposite of Everything, Ruth Pickett (writer), Nour Wazzi ( director), Stephen Smith (producer)
  • Punch, Ruth Ivo (writer and director), Rachel Wardlow (producer)
  • Unsung, Ayndrilla Singharay (writer), Liam Creighton (director) Fiona Black (producer)
  • The Visitor, Sebastian Godwin (writer and director), Hugo Godwin (producer)
  • Worm, Keir Burrows (writer and director), Dieudonnée Burrows (producer)