Check out a full gallery of pictures from the London premiere for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, featuring stars Lily James, Matt Smith, Douglas Booth and Bella Heathcote.
Destination Star Trek Europe, the premier Star Trek fan event in Europe, will once again open its doors to thousands of Star Trek enthusiasts from across the universe for a three-day celebration of Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary. Set for October 7-9 at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham, England, Destination Star Trek Europe will pay tribute to the characters and stories that have inspired generations of fans, joining a year of celebrations in honour of this milestone year for the franchise.
Destination Star Trek Europe, under license by CBS Consumer Products, will offer fans the opportunity to meet cast and crew, explore interactive exhibits, learn about Star Trek’simpact on science, space and technology, and enjoy parties fit for a golden anniversary.
The legendary William Shatner (Captain Kirk), will headline the event and be joined byChristopher Lloyd (Commander Kruge), Walter Koenig (Chekov), Jonathan Frakes(William Riker), Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi), Alexander Siddig (Dr. Julian Bashir), Terry Farrell (Jadzia Dax) and Nicole de Boer (Ezri Dax). Additional guests will be revealed in the coming months.
In addition to autographs, photos and panels, fans will be able to take command of the bridge on the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 or NCC-1701-D, investigate a Borg hive, take charge of a Klingon bird-of-prey, explore a shuttlecraft, and see original props and costumes in the Destination Star Trek Museum.
Tickets are now available at www.DestinationStarTrek.com
Event organizer, Mark Woollard has said:
“For five decades, Star Trek has influenced the world around us through its voyages to the Final Frontier. Destination Star Trek Europe will honour the series’ impact and celebrate its legions of fans that are inspired to boldly go where no one has gone before.”
Star Trek celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2016. Born from the mind of Gene Roddenberry, the original Star Trek series debuted on September 8, 1966 and aired for three seasons — a short run that belied the influence it would have for generations. Launching the careers of William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, the series also broke new ground in storytelling and cultural mores providing a progressive look at topics including race relations, global politics, the environment, and more. It spawned five more television series and 13 feature films spanning the course of half a century.
Beyond its impact on the entertainment landscape, Star Trek has also inspired some of the greatest minds steering the direction of our modern world and sparking the biggest technological advancements of our time such as the cell phone, universal translator, smart watch, tablet, sonogram, and countless other inventions. Those who cite Star Trek as an influence on their lives include Stephen Hawking, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Elon Musk, and countless others.
Destination Star Trek Europe is organised by Massive Events, in association with Showmasters and Media 10.
Check out video interviews with the Star Trek cast from previous Showmasters events below:]]>
In preparation for his lead role in Stephen Frears’ gripping Lance Armstrong biopic, The Program, Ben Foster controversially admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs in order to gain a better understanding of their effects. To celebrate the film’s release on Digital HD from 8th February and on Blu-ray & DVD from 15th February, 2016, here’s a a look at actors who went to famously extreme lengths to portray a character…
Ben Foster – The Program (2015)
Ben Foster stars as Lance Armstrong in this suspenseful adaptation that depicts the true story of how the cyclist fell from grace after partaking in the most sophisticated doping program the sport had ever seen. In order to get inside the head of the former hero and truly understand the effects of doping Foster admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs. This is not the first time Foster has gone all out for a role as he previously ate handfuls of dirt to comprehend the hardships endured by Navy Seals for Lone Survivor and spent time living on the streets of LA for his small part in Rampart.
Adrian Brody – The Pianist (2002)
Losing 30 pounds and spending hours learning to play the piano for his role as Holocaust survivor Wladyslaw Szpilman wasn’t enough for Adrian Brody. He took method acting to a new level by giving up his apartment, selling his car, disconnecting his phone, and ultimately leaving his life behind in order to feel the same loss Szpilman felt. His actions cost him his girlfriend of the time but subsequently secured him an Oscar for best actor in 2003.
Robert de Niro – Taxi Driver (1976)
Robert de Niro’s portrayal of Travis Bickle, the disturbed insomniac taxi driver, in Martin Scorsese’s remarkable crime drama was nothing short of amazing. His strong performance can be linked to the fact that while prepping for the role De Niro actually got his cab driver’s licence. He worked 12-hour shifts for a month prior to shooting and claims that, despite his Academy recognition for The Godfather: Part Two, he was only ever recognised once.
Heath Ledger/ Jared Leto – The Dark Knight (2008) & Suicide Squad (2016)
Heath Ledger went to great lengths to prepare for the part of The Joker in Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster smash. His incredible representation was a product of locking himself in his apartment for a month prior to filming, sleeping two hours each night, and never breaking character. Crew members worried for the actor and warned him that he had taken things too far. Jared Leto appeared to take a similar approach with his highly anticipated depiction of the character by sending his co-stars strange gifts including a live rat, bullets, and a dead hog.
Joaquin Phoenix – Walk the Line (2005)
While starring as Jonny Cash in James Mangold’s award winning biopic Joaquin Phoenix spent months learning to sing and play the guitar. He then went the extra mile by only responding to people if they called him JR, Johnny Cash’s real name. He claims to be embarrassed about the situation in hindsight but maintains that being called Joaquin on the set felt wrong. He continued down the method route while preparing for Casey Affleck’s I’m Still Here by convincing the world he had quit acting and gone a little bit crazy.
Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln (2012)
Daniel Day-Lewis is renowned for his method approach to his roles. He spent two months in a cerebral palsy clinic for My Left Foot, learnt to track and skin animals for The Last of the Mohicans, and spared no exceptions for Spielberg’s Lincoln. During production Day-Lewis spoke with a Kentucky accent on and off set, insisted on being addressed as ‘Mr President’, and signed messages to his co-stars as ‘Abe’.
Christian Bale – The Machinist
The producers of the film claim that Christian Bale dropped from about 173 pounds in weight down to about 110 pounds in weight to make this film. They also claim that Bale actually wanted to drop down to 100 pounds, but that they would not let him go below 120 out of fear that his health could be in too much danger if he did. His diet consisted of one can of tuna and an apple per day. His 63-pound weight loss is said to be a record for any actor for a movie role. He regained the weight in time for his role in Batman Begins
Hilary Swank – Boys Don’t Cry
Hilary Swank won an Oscar for her portrayal of real life female to male transexual Brandon Teena. Swank auditioned for the role by pretending to be from a small town in Nebraska and having won over hr director then apprently lived publicly as Brandon for a month prior to filming starting. Speaking about the extreme decision Swank said ”I told everyone that I’m not going to call anyone and I’m just totally unreachable for this amount of time because you just have to totally immerse.”
Joaquin Phoenix – I’m Still Here
In 2009 Joaquin Phoenix announced he was retiring form acting to launch an unlikely new career as a rapper. Initially dismissed as a silly prank the Oscar nominee then appeared to actually be having a real breakdown as he abandoned acting and attended TV talk shows in character to promote his strange new alter-ego. His erratic behavior and increasingly disheveled appearance had many fans and critics worrying for his mental heath. Until it was all revealed to be an elaborate performance piece for his Casey Affleck collaboration I’m Still Here.
Dustin Hoffman – Marathon Man
Dustin Hoffman has collected two academy awards and seven nominations due to his astonishing method acting work in films like Rain Man. However it was on the set of intense thriller Marathon Man that his dedicated approach drew an amused reaction from his iconic co-star Laurence Olivier. Hoffman is widely acknowledged to have suffered sever self- inflicted sleep deprivation to better portray his characters increasingly delirious and distressed condition. When Hoffman questions Olivier on how he was ale to deliver such a convincingly realistic performance without any similar preparation Olivier infamously replied “Try actng, dear boy.. It’s much easier.”]]>
The IT Crowd funnyman Chris O’Dowd turns is a surprisingly stoic and understated dramatic performance in The Program, playing the real life Sunday Times journalist who battled to expose the Lance Armstrong drugs cheating scandal that exploded the world of professional cycling. It’s not the first time a comedian has shocked audiences by playing it serious so here’s a few interesting examples…
Bill Murray was the absolute embodiment of the fast talking brash comedy genius of the 1980s. His wry smirk and wisecracking made him a household name and global box office superstar. From the zany antics of Caddyshack to the smug cynicism of Ghostbusters or Groundhog Day, Murray was undisputed comedy gold. However for many his finest achievement in front of the camera actually came in the unlikely form of Sofia Coppola’s understated drama Lost In Translation. With art imitating life Murray played an again film star openly contemplating the meaning of his life and career in the alluring company of a similarly wistful young newlywed, played by Scarlett Johansson.
The man best known and beloved for decades of comedy roles, both solo outings such as the perennial Nutty Professor and a long screen partnership with Dean Martin, made an attempt at a serious role with The Day The Clown Died, an experiment that went so badly wrong the film has still never seen a release. But Lewis redeemed himself nearly a decade later with his performance as the object of Robert De Niro’s obsession in the brilliant The King Of Comedy. Playing a Jonny Carson-esque chat show king, Lewis brought a tired bitterness to the role that saw him stand toe-to-toe with a top of his game de Niro.
With a long career of put-upon comedy characters such as The 40-Year Old Virgin, Anchorman and, er, Date Night, Steve Carrell carved out a lucrative comedy niche on the fringes of Judd Apatow and Will Ferrell’s respective ‘gangs’. A little thing called The Office kept Carrell front and centre in people’s minds as a comic performer while more wistful film roles in the likes of Seeking A Friend At The End Of The World opposite Keira Knightley acted as a forbear to a later assault on drama with the powerful Foxcatcher and, more recently, The Big Short.
Goldberg might just peddle opinions on oestrogen-fest The View these days but time was when her comedy performances in the likes of Ghost, Jumpin’ Jack Flash and Sister Act were packing in audiences around the globe. Hell, even a sperm donation comedy with Ted Danson scored bucks so it’s perhaps sometimes hard to remember that Goldberg has a hefty set of dramatic talents as well, as evidenced by memorable roles in A Colour Purple, Girl, Interrupted and How Stella Got Her Groove Back.
Known the world over for his rubber face, energetic performances and for single-handedly introducing the world to Cameron Diaz, Carrey is the consummate comedic performer who also manages to find his way back to broad laugh-riots but he too has rung the changes with a number of devastatingly effective dramatic roles. He might have started carefully with a role that blurred the line between drama and comedy in The Truman Show, but Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind really proved his credentials. He’s not above the odd bit of dramatic horror, either, as the little-seen 23 shows…
The short, round star of a generation’s worth of stoner comedy – Superbad, This Is The End, The Sitter etc – Jonah Hill is built for laughs but that hasn’t stopped him making a fair amount of headway as a serious performer as well. An oft-forgotten cameo in Django Unchained and a barnstorming (albeit comedic) turn in The Wolf Of Wall Street prove the point but it’s his stone-cold serious effort in Moneyball that is the real proof of the pudding and a brilliant performance to boot.
Aniston has had a bit of a tough run since graduating from Central Perk to the silver screen with a career peppered with largely forgettable rom-coms. But given the opportunity, Aniston can shine as brightly as she did for a generation as Rachel Green, as her performances in the criminally underrated The Good Girl show. More recently, Cake has reminded a few people of that fact so perhaps people should give her (rather than be on a) break?
Arguably the high priest of mixing comedy and drama, the genius of Robin Williams at his best was at home in either camp. Sure, he made a name as one of the best stand-up comedians ever and will be forever adored for some of his family comedies (not to mention barnstorming ad-libbing in Good Morning Vietnam), but Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting, Awakenings and less-seen fare such as One Hour Photo and Insomnia prove that Williams at his best is hard to beat whatever the genre.
It’s clear that there’s a clever actor trying to get out of Seth Rogen. Less talented stars wouldn’t have been able to convince audiences they’re that stoned that often, but there’s been precious little by way of a dramatic demonstration until this year’s Steve Jobs. Sure, there’s an argument that he was cast as Steve Wozniak as much for the physical resemblance as anything else but it made such a pleasant change not seeing him permanently attached to a bong that arguably no-one cared about.
Richard Pryor’s personal life might have been as dramatic as hell thanks to a hefty set of addictions, but his cinematic output was largely limited to broad (and often very, very funny) comedies. Brewster’s Millions and a repeated partnership with Gene Wilder are some of the highlights and whilst Superman 3 is arguably a fairly terrible film, Pryor’s hapless ‘villain’ is a high point. But, lest we forget, he did have dramatic props that were evidenced as early as his affecting bit part in Taxi Driver (even if he did pull a gun on Paul Schrader). His cameo in David Lynch’s Lost Highway is pretty hard to forget, too…
The Program isn’t exactly O’Dowd’s only foray into serious drama – he crops up in abortion drama Vera Drake, plays it largely straight in The Sapphires and impressed in Calvary – but we defy anyone not to think first of his career-making performance as Roy in The IT Crowd, his Emmy Award-winning creation Moone Boy or his breakthrough in the brilliant Bridesmaids, all of which showcase his impressive comedic chops. A sharp juxtaposition, then, to see him as whistleblower David Walsh in The Program, a man who singlehandedly brought down one of the 21st century’s most undeserving heroes with blistering style.
The Program is released to digital platforms on February 8th and on Blu-ray and DVD on February 15th]]>
The winners for the Screen Actors Guild Awards 2016 have been announced at a star sudden ceremony. Spotlight took home top honours for film with Leonardo Di Caprio and Brie Larson landing predictable acting wins. Meanwhile double wins for Idris Elba, Viola Davis, Queen Latifah and Uzo Aduba meant the event is already being widely praised for its ‘diversity’ in the shadow of this year’s ongoing Oscar nominations controversy.
Full list of winners and a gallery of pictures below:
Best Film – Spotlight
Best Actor – Leonardo Di Caprio The Revenant
Best Actress – Brie Larson Room
Best Supporting Actor – Idris Elba Beasts of No Nation
Best Supporting Actress – Alicia Vikander The Danish Girl
TV Drama – Downton Abbey
TV Comedy – Orange Is The New Black
TV Drama Actor – Kevin Spacey House Of Cards
TV Drama Actress – Viola Davis How To Get Away With Murder
TV Comedy Actor – Jeffrey Tambor Transparent
TV Comedy Actress – Uzo Aduba Orange Is The New Black
Actor TV Movie/Miniseries – Idris Elba Luther
Actress TV Movie/Miniseries – Queen Latifah Bessie
Film Stunts – Mad Max Fury Road
TV Stunts – Game Of Thrones
Inspired by actual events, Spotlight dramatically documents the efforts of the investigative reporting team of the Boston Globe to expose epidemic levels of child abuse within the Catholic Church and the subsequent systematic cover up by high ranking church officials.
Spotlight is a truly Oscar worthy drama built around a tragic real life story of investigative reporters uncovering a horrible truth. The film laudably handles the more sensitive aspects of its subject matter with care and compassion, avoiding the obvious dangers of delving into the most graphic events for sensational shock value. The focus of the film is neither the acts of abuse nor the vilification of those responsible. Instead the film serves as both a proud tribute to the value of a determined independent press and as a poignant examination of the devastating impact of abuse on the lives of those affected.
Spotlight has an all-star cast lead by Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber, Rachel McAdams, Stanley Tucci and Michael Keaton. The collected acting efforts of this fine ensemble gives the film a subtly but earnest credibility. Guided by the direct involvement of the actual people being depicted the cast breath dramatic life into surprisingly recent events, but without resorting to sensationalism or flamboyance.
Oscar nominated Mark Rufflo and Stanley Tucci in particular deserves praise for their portrayal as the dogged reporter and forlorn lawyer fighting to expose the full scope of the scandal and suffering. The emotional urgency of Ruffalo’s performance contrasted with Tucci’s note perfect display of cynical patience, perfectly illustrates the motivations and deep frustrations of those involved.
The film serves as a timely reminder of the actual value of the media, at a time when people have seemingly lost as much faith in that institution as they have in the church. The film also paints a complex picture of a tragedy which destroyed lives in the most insidious ways and the important journey taken by those who ultimately brought an end to it.
Given the nature of the real life events being depicted the film will perhaps be especially uncomfortable viewing for those who have had their live touched either by the crime of abuse or by the comfort of religious institutions. Indeed at times the film openly acknowledges that the scandal dealt with has a specific emotional and spiritual impact for all members of the Catholic faith. The issue of distinguishing between religious convictions and the very human failings of the institutions which represents them is an unsettling conflict no matter how well the film itself deals with it.
The Ugly Truth:
Spotlight handles heavy hearted subject matter in a sensitive and powerful way, delivering a dramatic and important story which rewards serious viewing. The film is rightly a major awards contender thanks to a sophisticated script and accomplished performances by a host of familiar stars. Audiences shouldn’t be intimidated by the film’s subject matter and will take much from its poignant messages.
Review by Russell Nelson
Check out a really really ridiculously good looking gallery of pictures of male model Derek Zoolander and VIP guests strutting their stuff down under at the fan screening of Zoolander No.2. It’s fair to say that after his years away form the limelight Derek Zoolander is so hot right now with his new big screen adventure. Check out pictures to see Dereck showcasing his signature poses Blue Steel, Le Tigre, Ferrariand of course the near mythical Magnum.
As the world celebrates Shakespeare 400 years after his death, the BFI, the British Council and Ian McKellen today unveiled BFI Presents Shakespeare on Film. With no other writer impacting so greatly on cinema, this programme explores on an epic scale how filmmakers have adapted, been inspired by and interpreted Shakespeare’s work for the big screen. It incorporates screenings and events at BFI Southbank (April-May) and UK-wide, newly digitised content on BFI Player, new DVD/Blu-ray releases and film education activity. As part of Shakespeare Lives, the British Council and the GREAT Britain campaign’s major global programme for 2016, celebrating Shakespeare’s works and his influence on culture, education and society, the BFI has also curated an international touring programme of 18 key British Shakespeare films that will go to 110 countries – from Cuba to Iraq, Russia to the USA – the most extensive film programme ever undertaken. The BFI is also part of the Shakespeare 400 consortium, led by King’s College.
Ian McKellen said
400 years on, Shakespeare’s plays continue to dominate stages worldwide, mostly of course in translation, challenging actors, directors, designers and audiences.The BFI’s “Shakespeare on Film” is more than just timely, it is a glimpse of the matchless collection of brilliant endeavour from world-beating Shakespeare experts like Laurence Olivier, Peter Brook and Kenneth Branagh whose films have popularised Shakespeare over the years. Their theatre-roots are evident. They have respect for the text and cut lines with regret. Other directors have successfully translated the stage plays for the screen, aiming, perhaps to make great cinema than great Shakespeare. Here, I relish Baz Luhrman’s Romeo and Juliet; Julie Taymor’s Titus Andronicus; Orson Welles’ Chimes at Midnight, Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood and Ran. And there are more. I will not be the only one to be grateful to the BFI for their initiative in this anniversary year.
The Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport, Rt Hon John Whittingdale MP said:
Shakespeare has influenced and inspired audiences around the world for centuries. As the BFI undertakes the most extensive film programme ever to celebrate his work, I’m delighted that even more people will have the opportunity to enjoy the legacy of Shakespeare. From new adaptations, to events and a tour through 110 nations, this bold new project will help us remember one the greatest writers of all time.
Ian McKellen and Richard III (1995)
Spearheading the project, award-winning actor and writer Ian McKellen will travel around the world to present and discuss Shakespeare on Film. Ian starred in and co-adapted Richard III (1995), directed and co-adapted by Richard Loncraine and co-starring Annette Bening, Maggie Smith, Jim Broadbent, Kristen Scott Thomas, Robert Downey Jr and Dominic West. The film will be simulcast, in partnership with Park Circus, across UK cinemas on 28 April with a special post-film on-stage discussion between Ian McKellen and Richard Loncraine live from BFI Southbank. With the film set in the 1930s and shot largely on location in London, Ian McKellen will also be hosting public bus tours of the iconic locations in the film, from St Pancras station and Tate Modern to Battersea Power Station and Hackney’s haunting gas holders. Richard III is also being screened at BFI Southbank, will be part of the international touring programme and re-released by the BFI in a DVD/Blu-ray Dual Format Edition on 23 May, with brand new additional material, including new audio commentary.
Ian will attend the Shanghai International Film Festival’s Opening Night on 11 June and take part in a special on stage event at the festival on 12 June. Plans for Ian to travel to other countries as part of the tour will be announced soon.
Ian’s illustrious career spans six decades and he has been performing Shakespeare on stage and screen for the majority of it: from breakthrough performances as Henry V and Edward II at the Edinburgh Festival (1969) to the title role in Trevor Nunn’s acclaimed production of Macbeth with Judi Dench in 1976 and the opening ceremony of the London Paraylmpics (2012) when he portrayed Prospero from The Tempest.
BFI Head Curator, Robin Baker said
No writer has had greater impact on cinema – or inspired more films. At the latest count, IMDb lists Shakespeare as the ‘writer’ of 1120 titles. For me the best adaptations of Shakespeare are those that have taken his themes, situations, characters or language and presented them in ways that are purely cinematic: from the immediacy of the epic, bloody battles of Branagh’s Henry V or Kurosawa’s Ran (King Lear) to the intimacy of the close-ups used in the love scenes of Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet. Film and TV makes Shakespeare’s work more accessible than any other medium and the BFI National Archive looks after the world’s largest collection of film adaptations of his work so I’m delighted that so many of them are going to be shared with audiences across the world in cinemas, online and on DVD.
Play On! Shakespeare in Silent Cinema
It is believed that around 500 Shakespeare films were made in the silent era and this new film is a playful compilation of scenes from the best surviving adaptations held by the BFI National Archive, including the first ever Shakespeare film King John (1899) and a rare discovery of a 20-year old John Gielgud’s earliest appearance on film in Romeo (1922). Other films from the 26 titles sampled include The Tempest(1908), The Merchant of Venice (1916) – shot on location in Venice, Julius Caesar (1909), Macbeth (1909) and Richard III (1911). The BFI has commissioned the musicians and composers of Shakespeare’s Globe to write a score for the film which will take an innovative approach, marrying a different composer for each of the film’s five acts (see Notes to Editors for credits). The film will premiere at BFI Southbank, play UK-wide in cinemas and on the international tour, and will be available in the summer on BFI DVD and BFI Player.
International Touring Programme: BFI Presents Shakespeare on Film around the world
The BFI is working in partnership with the British Council, as part of the global Shakespeare Lives in 2016 programme, to present 18 key British Shakespeare films in 110 countries, with activity ranging from single films shown in embassies, schools and English language teaching centres, to film programmes in partner cinemas, film festivals and in grand scale outdoor events. Many of the international events will be offered free of charge, so will be widely accessible to a variety of audiences from Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe. The programme will feature key titles including Loncraine’s Richard III (1995), Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet (1968) and the BFI’s Play On! Shakespeare in Silent Cinema compilation. Also featuring as part of the Shakespeare Lives programme will be an exciting package of brand new Shakespeare-inspired commissions produced by Film London.
BFI Southbank – programme and events
The programme launches on 31 March with the premiere of Play On! Shakespeare in Silent Cinema with the score performed live by the Shakespeare’s Globe musicians. April will focus on the Classics, including Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet (1948), Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V (1989), Roman Polanski’s Macbeth (1971) and Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet (1968) brought to life with a new 4K restoration and presented in a special event and extended run at BFI Southbank and a UK-wide release by Park Circus.
In May, Shakespeare Re-imagined will explore how filmmakers have taken inspiration from Shakespeare’s texts and re-interpreted them. Screenings include a newly re-mastered All Night Long (Basil Dearden, 1961) set in the London jazz world and inspired by Othello; a new restoration in 3D of George Sidney’s musical Kiss Me Kate (1953) and Gil Younger’s 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) starring Heath Ledger – both based on The Taming of the Shrew; Derek Jarman’s The Angelic Conversation (1985) featuring Shakespeare’s Sonnets read by Judi Dench, and Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho(1991) based on Henry IV parts 1 and 2 and Henry V. Fred M Wilcox’s Forbidden Planet (1956) puts a sci-fi spin on The Tempest, Theatre of Blood (Hickox, 1972), inspired by Shakespeare’s death scenes, will appeal to horror fans while The Lion King (Roger Allers/Rob Minkoff, 1994) gives younger audiences a route into Hamlet.
International adaptations include a new 4K restoration of Ran (1985), directed by Japanese master Kurosawa and based on King Lear, which will have an extended run at BFI Southbank and is being released by STUDIOCANAL and Independent Cinema Office UK-wide from 1 April and on DVD/Blu-ray on 2 May. A focus on Indian Shakespeare from 29-30 April will feature three films from Indian director Vishal Bhardwaj; Maqbool (2003), Omkara (2006) and Haider (2014), based on Macbeth, Othello and Hamlet respectively with Bhardwaj himself discussing the films on stage with the scriptwriters.
BFI Southbank will also be previewing, with on-stage cast and crew interviews, The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses, Henry VI part 1 & 2 starring Tom Sturridge, Hugh Bonneville, Sophie Okonedo, Sally Hawkins, Michael Gambon and Benedict Cumberbatch, on 29 March – due to be broadcast on BBC Two in April. A new BBC Arena Documentary ‘All the World’s a Screen: Shakespeare on Film’ previews on 14 April which will look at the complex history, artistic contradictions and cultural achievements of Shakespeare, as translated into moving image. The film will be co-produced by Arena series editor Anthony Wall and Film London Chief Executive Adrian Wootton. The BFI is also a partnering with the BBC on their Shakespeare Day Live, on BBC Arts and online on 23 April, providing archive film footage.
BFI Player / BFI Mediatheques / BFI National Archive
The BFI National Archive holds the world’s greatest collection of moving image material relating to Shakespeare, the world’s greatest playwright. Now, thanks to National Lottery funding through the Unlocking Film Heritage project, many rare and exciting Shakespearean film and television titles – some unseen for decades – have been digitised and are being made available to audiences nationwide for viewing online, often for the very first time, on BFI Player. These include: animations including Oh’Phelia A Cartoon Burlesque (1919), vintage travelogues, musical novelties, newsreels, adverts and rarely seen fiction shorts and features inspired by the Bard’s works, ranging from period drama The Immortal Gentleman (1935) to contemporary comedy Romeo of the Spirits (1976).]]>
In recent years the Academy Awards has increasingly become an uncomfortable focal point for the never ending debate about Hollywood diversity. The Oscar nominations voted for by the 6000 strong Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science, in particular the major acting awards, remain the most iconic symbols of success and recognition. The absence of any non-white acting nominees among this year’s 20 acting nominations has led to a growing list of major stars calling for a boycott of the ceremony. Even Cheryl Boone Isaacs the Academy president claimed to be “heartbroken and frustrated” by the lack of nominations diversity.
As the first African American to serve as Academy President, and only the third woman to hold the position, Boone Isaacs was quick to call for urgent changes to the academy membership. Many commentators have likewise pointed to the fact that those that vote for the Oscars are overwhelmingly white and male as a possible explanation for the apparent bias in nominations. As recently as 2012 it was claimed that over 90% of academy voters are white and over 70% are male.
The blunt question remains though, are the Oscars actually racist?
To begin with, it’s important to acknowledge that the Oscars have never been and won’t ever become a fair and impartial reflection of talent, ability or achievement. In essence beneath the distracting glitz and glamour the Oscars is nothing more than a self congratulatory popularity contest for an industry shameless fueled by petty insider politics, nepotism, ego and commercial mass appeal. It’s a circus not a science fair. Getting nominated and actually wining a statue is innately determined by a whole host of utterly subjective criteria and industry bias most of which has absolutely nothing to do with personal prejudices.
If you want to win an acting Oscar the criteria is fairly simple and entirely universal:
1. You need to be playing a real person, or at the very least be telling a story inspired by actual events. This ensures the film is undeniably ‘important’ not just entertaining.
2. It has to be a Drama. Comedy, Romantic or Musical dramas are acceptable variations, but only if someone actually cries at some point.
3. You need to be facing and overcoming adversity. Ideally this includes at least one of the following: terminal illness,mental health problems or racial, political and sexual prejudices.
4. Dramatic physical transformations always help. Get really thin, get fat or just slap on a fake nose, a wig and some ugly makeup. Sacrifice your movie star good looks and you’re much more likely to go home with a reward.
5. Accents and speech impediments also help constantly remind people how much you’re really acting this time.
6. Work with a widely respected director and if possible at least one celebrated veteran actor likely to sneak yet another supporting nomination for one of the many contenders they’re in this year.
7. Make sure it’s a Big Studio film. This ensures everyone’s seen it and they make a big expensive fuss about campaigning on your behalf.
8. Just keep getting nominated. Remember each time you get snubbed you’re one step closer to an eventual token win for another performance.
In truth the Oscars is just as prejudiced towards different genres of film as it is towards any other factor. Only eight science fiction films have ever been nominated for best film. The unspoken rule being that stories based on things that actually happen and set in the ‘real world’ matter more than things we completely make up. Likewise dramatic performances full of tears and impassioned speeches always trump fluffy feelgood entertainment. Oscar prestige can obviously only be given to truly ‘deserving’ efforts.
The bottom line is you’re infinitely more likely to win an Oscar if you’re an already popular household name playing the first blind trans-gendered mountaineer to climb Everest during world war 2. If Meryl Streep plays your mum, Scorsese is directing and the Weinstein Co are distributing then you might as well start investing heavily in statue polish.
Like every other artistic award show the Oscars is just an arbitrary celebration of popular talent. Leonardo Di Caprio is undeniably a gifted performer and his work in The Revenant is the result of considerable skill and obvious determined sacrifice. But is it somehow objectively better that the work of every single other actor in any of the many thousands of films released around the world in the past 12 months? Who can say. But Di Caprio will be this year’s best actor winner because everyone agrees it’s ‘his time’. After so many nominations it’s simply finally time to give the handsome global superstar the ultimate pat on the back in thanks for his many credibly serious blockbuster performances.
Looking at this year’s specific line up of nominees it’s very evident that they certainly do deserve to be there on merit alone. Even by the usual standards it’s an immensely competitive year with a host of the finest stars turning in brilliant performances in clearly Oscar friendly roles. Likewise those supposedly snubbed actually mostly have fairly evident reasons to be omitted.
Michael B. Jordan was never going to achieve a best actor nomination for an undoubtedly accomplished performance in Creed because voters also mostly remember him from the awful Fantastic 4 reboot. In contrast Tom Hardy received a supporting nomination for The Revenant, in large part due to the slew of star turns he’s delivered elsewhere this year (Mad Max/Legend). Oscar voting is rarely really just about a single performance, it’s almost always about your body of work, collected efforts and aggregate star power.
Perhaps most interestingly, Will Smith ‘missed out’ on being Oscar nominated for a third time for Concussion in truth most likely because his ‘Hollywood stock’ has fallen sharply after a string of critically panned and commercially disappointing films. It’s hard to bounce back from sweeping the Razzies with After Earth to once again be lauded as one of the five finest actors on earth. It’s particularly worth noting that the two times Smith lost out once nominated it was actually to Denzel Washington and Forrest Whitaker.
Idris Elba might feel the most legitimately aggrieved to miss out this year for his powerful turn in Beasts Of No Nation, but the fact is it’s simply harder to be nominated for playing someone evil. Character likability is a near universal common factor among best actor and actress nominees. So Matt Damon’s cheerful space survivor was always likely to edge out a brutal warlord abusing child soldiers in a popularity contest.
Straight Outta Compton missed out on being more widely recognized, but because it’s a niche music biopic that lacked a singular breakout performance from an ensemble cast of impressive young unknowns. It only revived a ‘token’ nod for best writing, but that would have been the exact same outcome for a surprisingly well made hockey or golf biopic. That’s precisely how the awards season typically acknowledges surprise success stories based around specific interests.
Of course it’s possible to endlessly debate the exact merits of those included or omitted, as in any other year, but suggesting the Oscars are intrinsically racially biased is a bigger and far more contentious argument.
Obviously looking back at the 88 year history of the Oscars it’s shamefully easy to point to surprisingly recent times when blatant prejudices existed. Having the same ugly influence on Hollywood award ceremonies as it did in schools, workplaces and almost all aspects of western societies. Thankfully that is not the world we live in for the most part today and the Oscars does reflect and even at times lead that change.
In the past 15 years 9 acting awards have been won by black performers, accompanied by numerous further nominations. Three times more than in the previous 73 year history of the awards combined. In fact just two years ago the Academy was busy patting themselves on the back for rightly celebrating 12 Years A Slave with a huge sweep of nominations and multiple wins, widely hailed as yet another ‘watershed moment’.
Audiences, critics and the multi-billion dollar global entertainment industry which serves them is arguably massively less affected today by racial, political or sexual prejudice than at any time in human history. So a precised lack of specific diversity in a handful of categories at one awards ceremony in any particular year shouldn’t be automatically taken as a sign that past progress has somehow been lost.
Oscar acting nominations are truly dominated by a tiny number of performers who have the consistent star power, credible performances and studio backing to achieve a very specific form of additional recognition. It has never been the only yardstick of success and can’t possibly be seen to give any kind of overall reflection of the attitudes within the entire global entertainment industry. When Leonardo Di Caprio and Meryl Streep alone have 10 nominations between them in the past ten years it evidently leaves little room to ‘recognise’ other talents.
It’s also important to remember that there are many definitions of diversity, aside from just simple ‘black and white’ distinctions. This year’s nominations significantly recognize landmark LGBT films like Carol and The Danish Girl. Representing the continued seismic shifts in global attitudes toward the LGBT community. Likewise the nods for powerful journalist drama Spotlight gives meaningful validation and an even louder voice for all victims of sexual abuse. It’s dangerous to look exclusively at racial distinctions as the only measure of diversity and also evidently misguided to automatically label anyone who isn’t African American as being just ‘white’. A point articulated very well by likely best director winner Alejandro G. Inarritu.
While Academy membership reform and the fierce public debate about legitimate wider issues of opportunity and institutionalized bias can’t possibly be a bad thing, it’s also a very clear mistake to expect Oscar nominations to somehow automatically conform every year to a preconceived set of demographics that merely symbolize fairness. If next year all 10 best actor and actress nominees happen to be African American it obviously won’t mean that white performers are suddenly an ignored minority or that the entire global entertainment industry is finally free from all prejudices.
So in conclusion are the Oscars Racist? No, but that’s not the only question we should be asking or the only answer that matters.]]>
Jada Pinkett Smith and Director Spike Lee have both publicly declared their intention to boycott this year’s Academy Awards ceremony over the much discussed lack of diversity in the acting nomination categories. For the second year in a row all 20 of the nominees in the best acting categories are white.
Critics have particular pointed to a failure to more widely acknowledge films like Straight Outta Compton and Creed or actors like Will Smith and Idris Elba.
In a video published on Facebook Gotham star Jade Pinkett Smith claimed that she was personally staying away because ”begging for acknowledgement, or even asking, diminishes dignity and diminishes power.”
It’s likely that this will only continue to fuel the heated public debate about the perceived inequities of the awards season and the wider entertainment industry it represents.