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LeoAcademyMeme

Academy Goes 70mm INTERSTELLAR: Nolan’s Nod to Librarians, Yes, Film Librarians

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

When the Academy gets something wrong, well, over a billion people remember. Even if it really only happened once, during the live telecast for Oscars 2017. While we can’t erase the past, we can preserve Oscar 89 as a moment in time insofar as even this year marked an important once-in-a-lifetime snafu in Hollywood history. Next time, we may hear the phrase “The Other Envelope, Please.”

The Academy Is Back, Folks

Time to get over all that, because AMPAS is back to its old glory this month. Beginning April 26 through May 1, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will host public screenings in support of the 2017 Film Librarians Conference and International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF). Yes, they even tapped genius director Chris Nolan to host a 70 MM version of his space epic INTERSTELLAR.NolanFIFA17 Plus there’s Spanish-language vintage cinema classics too, hosted by director Daisy von Scherler Mayer and Actor Guillermo Díaz.

Events like these rare openings for the public should make us all remember how important the Academy is in highlighting film gems.

Here’s the official word from The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences…

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LOS ANGELES, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced special public programing, from April 26-May 1, in conjunction with the 2017 Film Librarians Conference – Documenting Cinema: Film Librarianship in the 21st Century and the 2017 FIAF Conference. Screenings will include a preview of the new documentary “Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story,” “Party Girl” in 35mm, a Spanish-language double feature, and “Interstellar” in 70mm with three-time Oscar® nominee Christopher Nolan.

What to Watch, When & Where:

2017 Film Librarians Conference – Documenting Cinema: Film Librarianship in the 21st Century

HAROLD & LILLIAN: A HOLLYWOOD LOVE STORY (2017)

Wednesday, April 26, 7:00 p.m. at the Linwood Dunn Theater

The inspiring love story between storyboard artist Harold Michelson and film research librarian Lillian Michelson spanned more than 60 years, during which they contributed to some of Hollywood’s most iconic examples of visual storytelling.

PARTY GIRL (1995)

Thursday, April 27, 2017, 7:30 p.m. at the Linwood Dunn Theater

Presented in 35mm. With Director Daisy von Scherler Mayer and Actor Guillermo Díaz

Mary, a NYC club girl with a distinct sense of fashion, begins working at a library after she gets busted for illegally charging admission to one of her parties. Bored with her new job, she soon discovers the joys of mastering the Dewey Decimal system and begins to realize becoming a librarian is her life’s calling.

International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF) Congress

Hollywood Goes Latin: Spanish-Language Cinema in Los Angeles (Double Feature)

¡ASEGURE A SU MUJER! (INSURE YOUR WIFE!) (1935)

CASTILLOS EN EL AIRE (CASTLES IN THE AIR) (1938)

Sunday, April 30, 7:30pm at the Linwood Dunn Theater

In the early days of sound cinema, Hollywood made an attempt to reach the Spanish-language market by producing movies in Spanish. Many of these films have been lost, and those that remain are rarely seen or studied. These two films are an excellent introduction to this fascinating period of early sound production in Hollywood. Presented by The 2017 FIAF Congress, the Academy and the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Both films are presented in Spanish with English subtitles.

INTERSTELLAR

Monday, May 1, 7:30pm at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater

Presented in 70mm with Director Christopher Nolan. In conjunction with The International Federation of Film Archives who has honored Nolan with their annual FIAF Award.

In the not-too-distant future when planet Earth has become nearly uninhabitable, a team of scientists must figure out a way to travel through space and time to alternate galaxies in order to save humanity. Nominated for five Oscars, and winning an Oscar for Visual Effects, “Interstellar” was directed by Christopher Nolan and written by Jonathan and Christopher Nolan.

Your ACADEMY

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a global community of more than 7,000 of the most accomplished artists, filmmakers and executives working in film. In addition to celebrating and recognizing excellence in filmmaking through the Oscars, the Academy supports a wide range of initiatives to promote the art and science of the movies, including public programming, educational outreach and the upcoming Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which is under construction in Los Angeles.

Follow ACADEMY on Social Media

www.oscars.org
www.facebook.com/TheAcademy
www.youtube.com/Oscars
www.twitter.com/TheAcademy

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DamienEmma16

Screenmancer’s Annotated 89th OSCAR Nominee Scorecard

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

If you didn’t wake up at 5:18 am Pacific Time, or 8:18 Eastern Time, to see the first live-streamed Oscar Nominations Announcement, we’ve got you covered.

By now, every major news outlet has run down the minutiae on the implication of the noms. But have they told you the whole story? And who can keep track without a scorecard. Below you can watch the actual footage courtesy of AMPAS, and then follow along with the annotations we’ve added on where the excitement looms for this Awards Season. Oscars2017If you print this out, you even have your own Oscar Scorecard for beer pong on Sunday, Feb. 26, for the live broadcast of the 89th Academy Awards presentation from The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts & Sciences as hosted by Jimmy Kimmel. We’ve included every possible way to connect with the Academy too, as part of the Oscar Fan Experience, now you can comment in real-time during the show.

89th Oscar Nominees & Sneak Peek at 2017

Performance by an actor in a leading role

•Casey Affleck in “Manchester by the Sea” <—— Do the Affleck Bros have a direct line to the Globes and the Academy, or what? Cogito Argo Sum, Ergo…

•Andrew Garfield in “Hacksaw Ridge” <——The redemption of Spiderman gone AWOL. Nice to see him back.

•Ryan Gosling in “La La Land” <——Should have nommed and won for DRIVE. Academy might just make it up to you, Ryan.

•Viggo Mortensen in “Captain Fantastic” <——Real actors get noms, enough said, or sorry to the pretenders.

•Denzel Washington in “Fences”<——OMG, yes they did, and of course they should have.

Performance by an actor in a supporting role

•Mahershala Ali in “Moonlight” <——Also awesome in HIDDEN FIGURES, thus he may just pull it off here.

•Jeff Bridges in “Hell or High Water”<——When do we not want to see The Dude nominated? Crazyheart was not a fluke!

•Lucas Hedges in “Manchester by the Sea”<——For the fans of anything Affleck.

•Dev Patel in “Lion”<——Yes, this is an important and poignant nomination, well-deserved, Dev.

•Michael Shannon in “Nocturnal Animals”<——See Viggo note, real actors get Oscar noms.

French language poster had the most awesome look at Cannes.

French language poster had the most awesome look at Cannes.

Performance by an actress in a leading role

•Isabelle Huppert in “Elle”<—-France wants this in a big way, after all, they’re pro women and just ousted Roman Polanski off the Cesar committee as President (French Oscars).

•Ruth Negga in “Loving”<—-Shot across the bow nomination, cements Ruth as a real force to be reckoned with, well done.

•Natalie Portman in “Jackie”<—- Two legged race with Emma Stone, ouch.

•Emma Stone in “La La Land”<——Wins the two legged race with Natalie?

•Meryl Streep in “Florence Foster Jenkins”<—-Spoiler Alert, she doesn’t win this time, but black eye for President Trump, as her not-overrated 20th nom sets records, so there. And she won the Golden Globe for this, anyway.

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Performance by an actress in a supporting role

•Viola Davis in “Fences”<—-Winner, just has to be, everybody loves you, Viola!

•Naomie Harris in “Moonlight”<—Don’t make me choose, excellent chance.

•Nicole Kidman in “Lion”<—We love Nicole, and now the press can stop beating up on her for alleged pro-Trump sentiments taken out of context, ps.

•Octavia Spencer in “Hidden Figures”<—-Can there be a TIE with Viola, please?

•Michelle Williams in “Manchester by the Sea”<—-Your turn will come, not now.

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Best animated feature film of the year

•”Kubo and the Two Strings” Travis Knight and Arianne Sutner<—-Surprise winner?

•”Moana” John Musker, Ron Clements and Osnat Shurer

•”My Life as a Zucchini” Claude Barras and Max Karli

•”The Red Turtle” Michael Dudok de Wit and Toshio Suzuki

•”Zootopia” Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Clark Spencer

Achievement in cinematography

•”Arrival” Bradford Young

•”La La Land” Linus Sandgren<——Needs this for sweep to beat TITANIC with 11.

•”Lion” Greig Fraser

•”Moonlight” James Laxton

•”Silence” Rodrigo Prieto<—- Could clock a win because what else can it show for noms?

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Achievement in costume design

•”Allied” Joanna Johnston

•”Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” Colleen Atwood

•”Florence Foster Jenkins” Consolata Boyle

•”Jackie” Madeline Fontaine

•”La La Land” Mary Zophres<—-Mary now needs to ask more money from the Coen Bros her frequent collaborators for decades, because, drum roll, she will win?

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Achievement in directing

•”Arrival” Denis Villeneuve

•”Hacksaw Ridge” Mel Gibson<—-Welcome back Mel, and please remain silent!

•”La La Land” Damien Chazelle<—-Don’t say we didn’t tell you how exceptional you are, Damien, and congrats on your win (we hope).

•”Manchester by the Sea” Kenneth Lonergan<—-Insiders love this guy, but…

•”Moonlight” Barry Jenkins<—-This would be a shock upset win, if it happened.

 

Best documentary feature

•”Fire at Sea” Gianfranco Rosi and Donatella Palermo

•”I Am Not Your Negro” Raoul Peck, Rémi Grellety and Hébert Peck

•”Life, Animated” Roger Ross Williams and Julie Goldman

•”O.J.: Made in America” Ezra Edelman and Caroline Waterlow<—-Could happen.

•”13th” Ava DuVernay, Spencer Averick and Howard Barish<—-Yes, she should have been nominated for SELMA, and now she wins for Documentary. That’s called wishful thinking, but watch!

 

Best documentary short subject no idea what will happen in this category, truth be told.

•”Extremis” Dan Krauss

•”4.1 Miles” Daphne Matziaraki

•”Joe’s Violin” Kahane Cooperman and Raphaela Neihausen

•”Watani: My Homeland” Marcel Mettelsiefen and Stephen Ellis

•”The White Helmets” Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara

 

Achievement in film editing

•”Arrival”Joe Walker

•”Hacksaw Ridge” John Gilbert

•”Hell or High Water” Jake Roberts

•”La La Land” Tom Cross<——Needs this for sweep, and deserves it, too.

•”Moonlight” Nat Sanders and Joi McMillon

 

Best foreign language film of the year

•”Land of Mine” Denmark

•”A Man Called Ove” Sweden

•”The Salesman” Iran<—-There are many reasons this should win.

•”Tanna” Australia

•”Toni Erdmann” Germany

 

Achievement in makeup and hairstyling

•”A Man Called Ove” Eva von Bahr and Love Larson

•”Star Trek Beyond” Joel Harlow and Richard Alonzo

•”Suicide Squad” Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini and Christopher Nelson<—-Just a guess, for the win?

 

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)

•”Jackie” Mica Levi

•”La La Land” Justin Hurwitz<——Keep those wins coming for a sweep?

•”Lion” Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka

•”Moonlight” Nicholas Britell

•”Passengers” Thomas Newman<—Is there ever a year when Newman isn’t here?

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)

•”Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from “La La Land” – Music by Justin Hurwitz; Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul<—-Heart and soul of why Emma Stone wins the Oscar!

•”Can’t Stop The Feeling” from “Trolls” – Music and Lyric by Justin Timberlake, Max Martin and Karl Johan Schuster<—-Everybody just wants to see Justin Timberlake do a number with Ryan Gosling, from their Disney Channel kids days together.

•”City Of Stars” from “La La Land” – Music by Justin Hurwitz; Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul<—- If this doesn’t win, a lot of hat-eating in this Town.

•”The Empty Chair” from “Jim: The James Foley Story” – Music and Lyric by J. Ralph and Sting

•”How Far I’ll Go” from “Moana” – Music and Lyric by Lin-Manuel Miranda<—-Hamilton’s Broadway Whiz Kid Lin-Manuel officially on the map in Hollywood, make note of it.

 

Best motion picture of the year

•”Arrival” Shawn Levy, Dan Levine, Aaron Ryder and David Linde, Producers

•”Fences” Scott Rudin, Denzel Washington and Todd Black, Producers

•”Hacksaw Ridge” Bill Mechanic and David Permut, Producers

•”Hell or High Water” Carla Hacken and Julie Yorn, Producers

•”Hidden Figures” Donna Gigliotti, Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping, Pharrell Williams and Theodore Melfi, Producers<—-Total shock upset win possible!

•”La La Land” Fred Berger, Jordan Horowitz and Marc Platt, Producers<—-A lot of money is changing hands on this one with bookmakers no doubt.

•”Lion” Emile Sherman, Iain Canning and Angie Fielder, Producers

•”Manchester by the Sea” Matt Damon, Kimberly Steward, Chris Moore, Lauren Beck and Kevin J. Walsh, Producers

•”Moonlight” Adele Romanski, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, Producers

HF-228 - Octavia Spencer stars as Dorothy Vaughan in HIDDEN FIGURES. Photo Credit: Hopper Stone.

HF-228 – Octavia Spencer stars as Dorothy Vaughan in HIDDEN FIGURES. Photo Credit: Hopper Stone.

Achievement in production design

•”Arrival” Production Design: Patrice Vermette; Set Decoration: Paul Hotte

•”Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock

•”Hail, Caesar!” Production Design: Jess Gonchor; Set Decoration: Nancy Haigh<—-Yes, this should be the winner, but will it?

•”La La Land” Production Design: David Wasco; Set Decoration: Sandy Reynolds-Wasco<—-It was set in LA, about LA, and looks like LA, even though it needs this to KO Cameron’s TITANIC.

•”Passengers” Production Design: Guy Hendrix Dyas; Set Decoration: Gene Serdena<—Don’t say you didn’t get a second nomination, okay?

 

Best animated short filmabsolutely no idea in this category, yikes.

•”Blind Vaysha” Theodore Ushev

•”Borrowed Time” Andrew Coats and Lou Hamou-Lhadj

•”Pear Cider and Cigarettes” Robert Valley and Cara Speller

•”Pearl” Patrick Osborne

•”Piper” Alan Barillaro and Marc Sondheimer

 

Best live action short film

•”Ennemis Intérieurs” Sélim Azzazi

•”La Femme et le TGV” Timo von Gunten and Giacun Caduff

•”Silent Nights” Aske Bang and Kim Magnusson

•”Sing” Kristof Deák and Anna Udvardy

•”Timecode” Juanjo Giménez<—-Rooting for TIMECODE, but who knows?

 

Achievement in sound editing

•”Arrival” Sylvain Bellemare<—-They overlook Amy Adams, but like the sound editing, sigh…

•”Deepwater Horizon” Wylie Stateman and Renée Tondelli<—-You’re welcome, there’s your nomination Mark Wahlberg.

•”Hacksaw Ridge” Robert Mackenzie and Andy Wright

•”La La Land” Ai-Ling Lee and Mildred Iatrou Morgan<—-Sound is a huge factor, c’mon sweep.

•”Sully” Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman<—-Because this movie, and beloved star Tom Hanks, deserve some recognition, whether they win or not, and or not in this case?

 

Achievement in sound mixing

•”Arrival” Bernard Gariépy Strobl and Claude La Haye

•”Hacksaw Ridge” Kevin O’Connell, Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie and Peter Grace

•”La La Land” Andy Nelson, Ai-Ling Lee and Steve A. Morrow<—-Sweep-stakes!

•”Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” David Parker, Christopher Scarabosio and Stuart Wilson<—-This is not the nomination you were searching for, and we miss you Princess Carrie Fisher. (Debbie Reynolds, too, ps.)

•”13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Mac Ruth<—-Trump voters in Academy, you bet!

 

Achievement in visual effects

•”Deepwater Horizon” Craig Hammack, Jason Snell, Jason Billington and Burt Dalton<—-Yeah, well, now it’s two noms for Marky Mark’s movie.

•”Doctor Strange” Stephane Ceretti, Richard Bluff, Vincent Cirelli and Paul Corbould<—-Benedict, you can stop worrying, it really is a great (and now nominated) film.

•”The Jungle Book” Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones and Dan Lemmon<—-Sweet, but sour chance to win.

•”Kubo and the Two Strings” Steve Emerson, Oliver Jones, Brian McLean and Brad Schiff<—-Great animation, but is it great enough?

•”Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” John Knoll, Mohen Leo, Hal Hickel and Neil Corbould<—-This may be the best shot, at the Oscar.

 

Adapted screenplay

•”Arrival” Screenplay by Eric Heisserer

•”Fences” Screenplay by August Wilson<—Even Wilson knew playwriting is not the same as written for the screen, but amazing to see the honor.

•”Hidden Figures” Screenplay by Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi<—-Call us crazy, but this is where the magic is.

•”Lion” Screenplay by Luke Davies

•”Moonlight” Screenplay by Barry Jenkins; Story by Tarell Alvin McCraney

 

Original screenplay

•”Hell or High Water” Written by Taylor Sheridan

•”La La Land” Written by Damien Chazelle<——Do you need to ask?

•”The Lobster” Written by Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthimis Filippou<—-Nice job on one of the strangest and most unsettling movies made recently, seriously.

•”Manchester by the Sea” Written by Kenneth Lonergan<—-Veteran writer/director honored with a nom here.

•”20th Century Women” Written by Mike Mills<—-The only one that could unseat Chazelle’s sweep stakes?

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 ABOUT THAT ACADEMY…

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a global community of more than 7,000 of the most accomplished artists, filmmakers and executives working in film. In addition to celebrating and recognizing excellence in filmmaking through the Oscars, the Academy supports a wide range of initiatives to promote the art and science of the movies, including public programming, educational outreach and the upcoming Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which is under construction in Los Angeles. (A Museum, from the Academy, did you catch that? You can join now. And help donate too.)

FOLLOW THE ACADEMY, AND YOUR DREAMS

www.oscars.org

www.facebook.com/TheAcademy

www.youtube.com/Oscars

www.twitter.com/TheAcademy

SCREENMANCER is a gathering place for people who make movies and mistakes predicting the Oscars, but hey, that’s Show Biz.

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LOL LOL Land: Hidden Gems Show #OscarSoRight, Tough Matchups & How Noms React

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

When the Oscars streamed the announcements for the first time in their history this morning, anybody in the world got a glimpse at who AMPAS deemed Oscar-worthy for the 89th Academy Awards. The net result? You get emails from everybody and your mother about how right, or wrong your predictions were — maybe not the result the Academy expected, but announcing online is here to stay.

Meanwhile, what a line-up, and let’s create the hashtag #OscarSoRight, right now. DamienEmma16 That eliminates the need for hand-wringing over the past. To those who cry foul at the diverse mix of nominees this year? One question? Have you seen the movies?  Because LA LA Land with a record-smashing 14 nominations for a musical, matching TITANIC (1997) and Bette Davis’ insider anthem ALL ABOUT EVE (1950), is a gem, a pure unpolished gem. And HIDDEN FIGURES, FENCES, LION? Absolute movie risks that paid off. (Now we can all stop bashing Nicole Kidman (LION) for her political nod to Trump, okay? She’s an actor, not a politician.)

So here are the magic numbers that make this 89th Oscars tough to predict. For HIDDEN FIGURES, Octavia Spencer sits opposite Viola Davis for FENCES in the Best Supporting Actress category.

If this isn’t heart-stopping, you haven’t seen both movies. Viola Davis is magnificent in the August Wilson adaptation, you can see that in the trailer, frankly. Octavia Spencer is magnificent for different reasons in HIDDEN FIGURES, powerful even when she holds up a Fortran book and monologues about computer programming being the future. Sigh. IBMOct17
You want both to win, you want a tie. But when was the last time the Academy gave a tie for Best Supporting Actress or any award? Back in 1932, Frederick March and Wallace Beery, and then on April 14, 1969, Best Actress with allegedly the same number (3,030) of votes for Katharine Hepburn and Barbra Streisand. You don’t have to be a Hollywood insider to guess The Great Kate might have had a thumb on the scale. But this is 2017, and the number of members combined with the odds for a tie are close to impossible.

LA LA LAND, in order to beat TITANIC in actual wins, has to pull off all the major categories: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, but also pull off some unusual wins. Right now this movie is nominated twice in the Best Song category, and this may make the difference in unseating the “I’m The King of The World” filmmaker James Cameron for TITANIC.

On March 23, 1998, James Cameron’s sunk-ship epic won 11 Academy Awards. LALA1sht16In the Billy Crystal-hosted ceremony, that’s when Cameron made the “King of the World” proclamation mocked around the town. In all fairness, he wasn’t wrong, and backed it up with all-time BO headbanger AVATAR.

So what happens next? Stay tuned, folks. LA LA LAND is poised to tip the scales. Now imagine for a moment, just a hypothetical, that HIDDEN FIGURES wins Best Picture. The math changes quite a bit.

Is it irresponsible to pose what-ifs? Well, this is what makes Oscar and Award Season exciting. And the major stars have all made some kind of statement to the press, to fans around the globe, and of course to their publicists first. What do those statements look like hot off the wires?

Well, you saw it first here, so take a look at these reactions. Michael Shannon is one of the best actors of his generation, bar none.  Ruth Negga is a newcomer, but turned in a performance by a studied veteran in LOVING.

RUTH NEGGA – “LOVING” (Focus Features) – Nominee, Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role – Academy Awards 

“I am truly humbled by the news this morning, and I thank the Academy for this recognition, which I share with my co-collaborators Jeff Nichols and Joel Edgerton. It has been such an honor to have been given the opportunity to tell the incredible story of Richard and Mildred Loving, who serve as an inspiration that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. The Lovings fought quietly yet tirelessly, and changed the course of American legal history. Today, to be among such extraordinary women – my fellow nominees, my peers with films this year, and the legendary performers whose work of years past has long inspired me…this means a great deal to me.” – Ruth Negga, Academy Award nominee for Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (LOVING)

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MICHAEL SHANNON – “NOCTURNAL ANIMALS” (Focus Features) – Nominee, Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role – Academy Awards

“I am thrilled! Loved making this film. I would work with Tom Ford anytime, anywhere. Jake Gyllenhaal and Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Karl Glusman made it easy for me. Nice to get some good news in the midst of all the carnage, so to speak.” – Michael Shannon, Academy Award nominee for Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (NOCTURNAL ANIMALS)ShannonNA17

In the Animated category, fine film KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS will be “the first time an animated film has been nominated in the visual effects category since THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS in 1994,” according to their reps.

“KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS” (Focus Features) – Nominee, Best Animated Feature Film – Academy Awards

Travis Knight: “I’m over the moon!  An Academy Award nomination is an extraordinary and cherished gift.  Two nominations is more than anyone could hope for.  Every filmmaker dreams of a moment like this.  But the truth is, I already lived my dream by making this film. Movies have always given me great joy. They enriched my life.  They inspired me to dream.  That’s the kind of film our team at LAIKA sought to make with KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS.  A film is a slice of a hundred souls.  In this case many more.  An incredible, immense community of artists gave ceaselessly and selflessly to breathe life into this story.  I’m so thankful for their talents and efforts and so proud of what we’ve done together.  I’m profoundly grateful to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who somehow saw fit to include us among the finest storytellers in film.  It is a tremendous honor to stand alongside them.”

– Travis Knight, Academy Award nominee as director and producer of KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS, Best Animated Feature Film Kubo17

STEVE EMERSON, OLIVER JONES, BRIAN MCLEAN & BRAD SCHIFF – “KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS” (Focus Features) – Nominees, Achievement in Visual Effects – Academy Awards 

“As much as Kubo and the Two Strings is an homage to Japanese culture and to woodblock artists including Kiyoshi Saito, it is also a tribute to special effects pioneers Ray Harryhausen, Willis O’Brien, Jim Danforth, and the many innovative FX artists who tell stories using in-camera effects, puppets, and human hands. We’re thrilled for the artists at LAIKA who put years into realizing Kubo. For all of us at the studio, being recognized alongside such distinguished and talented members of the VFX community is truly an honor.”

– Steve Emerson, Oliver Jones, Brian McLean & Brad Schiff, Academy Award nominees for Achievement in Visual Effects (KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS)

The 89th Academy Award presentation will be broadcast live on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, and we’ve got you covered. In the meantime, view all the nominees (and future winners) at the Oscars.Oscars2017

SCREENMANCER is a gathering place for people who make movies and Oscar predictions.

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LeoAcademyMeme

Award Season 2017: And The Nominees Are… Split & No Director-ess?

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

During Award Season when Hollywood has the limelight, and this includes every major guild and member-based award show up until the 89th Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, there is a shopworn practice of splitting the Nominations announcements in the news, setting up anticipation for several different dates for the same organization. DGAlogo17For example, today Jan. 11, the Directors Guild of America (DGA) announced its TV, Commercial and Documentary Nominees, with Feature Film category to be announced later in the week. That’s a minor inconvenience if you’re covering this major award show, but events such as this year’s 22nd Critics Choice Awards announced their TV Nominations on Nov. 17, 2016, followed by Film Nominations on Dec. 1. However vast the Critics Choice Awards audience may or may not be, the bisection of news announcements cuts into coverage for higher profile shows right in this key period during award season. WGAlogo

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) splits screenplay and new media nominees on different dates as well, with TV, New Media, Radio, News, Promo Writing as well as Graphic Animation nominations on Dec. 5, 2016, with WGA features film and documentary screenplay noms on Jan. 4, 2017.  While this almost makes sense for the WGA to highlight the inherent pay and status difference between full blown Hollywood films as opposed to New Media webisodes, the bifurcation distracts from other breaking news.

Morgan Freeman feted at PGA Produced by Event (credit: Mark Gordon)

Morgan Freeman feted at PGA Produced by Event (credit: Mark Gordon)

The Producers Guild of America (PGA) announced nominations for Documentary on Nov. 22, 2016, with TV and Digital Media on Jan. 5, followed by headliner PGA suite of awards for feature films on Jan. 10. The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) on the other hand, made only one major announcement on Dec. 14, 2016.

During the official start of award season in November through the official end with the Oscars in February, the slate of news items include – roughly in order of nominations announcements – Critics Choice Awards, the Gotham Awards, British Independent Film Awards (BIFA), European Film Awards, AMPAS Governors Awards, Independent Spirit Awards, Golden Globe Awards, Annie Awards, National Board of Review, New York Critics Circle Awards, WGA Awards, SAG Awards, DGA Awards, PGA Awards.

Vintage Golden Globes signage.

Vintage Golden Globes signage.

Add the Art Directors Guild Awards, Visual Effects Society Awards, Eddie Awards, also for make-up and costume, along with other regional critics award shows. It’s exhausting.

When you divide up Nominations Announcements for the various organizations as they break down the press releases for certain categories, an already packed agenda becomes almost unmanageable.

So why all the split news releases? Especially when the window for world news, post-election news, and general global events is so crowded right now? The positive spin is extra media attention for lesser known categories. A negative spin is that this fragmentation of press alerts drags down the entire award show season, which results in award show fatigue.

How did this practice get started? Look to the Academy with its Oscar presentation and various life achievement awards. Without exception, all on-the-map events during award season follow the AMPAS leader here. But let’s be realistic, the Academy Awards presentation is a singular and storied event unmatched by any other ceremony in Hollywood history.

Oscar for Hattie McDaniel (Gone With The Wind) in 1940 ceremony, just a few years after Supporting category established.

[Oscar for Hattie McDaniel (GWTW) in 1940, after Supporting category est. 1937.]

After 1928 when the Oscar was known as The Award of Merit, presented in only 12 categories as decided by only a seven-member committee, the first Academy Award ceremony happened May 16, 1929 with a 270-person audience in the Blossom Room of the Roosevelt Hotel. It wasn’t until 1930’s that the show was broadcast on radio. In 1935, Film Editing, Music Scoring and Song as a category was added, even before Best Supporting Actor and Actress in 1937.

Visual Effects was added to the statuette column in 1939 with 20th Century Fox as the first winner. The Thalberg Award was created the previous year, 1938. Foreign Language Film as an accolade debuted in 1947, with Italy the first country to win this Oscar.

The picture that emerges here is the scope of the Academy Awards and the necessity of splitting the news as it details the history of Hollywood’s film industry itself. The same can not be said for the plethora of award shows that followed. LeoAcademyMemeSo, during award season 2017, maybe we’ve reached critical saturation of the so-called breaking news snippets. Additionally, not to harp on it, but when the incoming US President career-shamed legend Meryl Streep as an “overrated actress” it became clear that this issue of gender in nomination categories needs to be addressed once and for all, by the Academy on down. We don’t say “director-ess” or “producer-ess” — so we might as well call everyone Actor. The new categories should be established as Best Lead Actor (Female); Best Lead Actor (Male); Best Supporting Actor (Female), and on throughout the acting categories.

Consider this putting the shows on notice, in the nicest way, on the heels of a very contentious award season in 2016, hoping for better things from 2017 and beyond.

[Editor’s Note: (More history of the Academy Awards can be found on http://www.oscars.org/academy-story.]

SCREENMANCER is a gathering place for people who make movies and write about movies, TV, New Media, and announce it all only once.

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Recap: What We Love About WGA (West & East), Oral History & Agency List

LOS ANGELES, CA (Jan. 5, 2017): Yesterday when The Writers Guild of America (WGA) released its Nominations list for 2016, for the 2017 WGA Awards presentation on Feb.19, and DEADPOOL’s adapted screenplay stood right alongside legendary playwright August Wilson’s opus Fences, it reminded everyone why the WGA is not only still relevant, but groundbreaking. The WGA recognizes that movie-writing is not playwriting, and that screenplays in all their ever-changing forms are what drive the stories we see on screen. Yes, Screenwriting, with a capital “s,” is its own art form.

Even though the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), the Directors Guild of America (DGA), and the Producers Guild of America (PGA) would put forth actors, directors, and producers as the key factors — as the late Garry Marshall always said “it comes down to the writing. It’s always about the writing.”

Unlike other guilds, the WGA’s history is preserved in oral history interviews on their website (see link below). The video clips are excellent, but we once had a rare opportunity to publish an interview with the legendary WGA past President Del Reisman (born: April 13, 1924), who died on Jan. 8, 2011.

Although it’s the sixth anniversary of Del Reisman’s death next week, he will live on indefinitely as a chronicler not only of the WGA’s backstory, but of his own parallel path as a “studio brat” from Hollywood’s Golden Era.

This interview is from 2007. He was interviewed by Screenmancer Founder & Exec. Prod., Quendrith Johnson. We’ve included the current Agency List for screenwriters looking for representation as an incentive to read through to the end to discover the whole story of the WGA as we know it today.

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Photo Credit: Joe Rubalcaba

FOREWORD

[WGAw provided this introduction when the interview first appeared.]

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The following is a brief look at the early days of writers’ struggles in the Studio System, and later in the explosive growth of television. Some of these comments are based on frequent conversations with many of the prominent users of studio-owned Underwoods and Royals, during these dynamic days. Del Reisman’s mother, an employee of the great majors, was an additional source of attitude and opinion. Del Reisman himself wrote scripts and story-edited in the last years of the system and in the formative years of television. As a WGAW activist of many years, elected President from 1991-93, he knew the industry in both full shot and close-up.

DEL REISMAN: The Screen Writers Guild was founded in March 1933 at the absolute depths of the depression when America was on its heels. The industry was in turmoil. The studios were all declaring cuts in fees. There was a famous meeting at MGM, which was the giant studio at the time, in which the head of the studio, Louis B. “LB” Mayer, presided. All employees were there: movie stars, grips, everyone. Mayer announced there would be a salary cut of 50 percent. Those earning less then $50 a week would get cut less, and those earning above $50 a week would be cut [back] more. in those days $50 a week was a very livable income. There was a popular star, a great character actor named Wallace Beery sitting in the back, he said: “LB are you going to take the cut too?” And LB said: “Well, no. We plan to restore the cuts in six months.” And Wallace Berry walked out of the meeting.

QUENDRITH JOHNSON: This was really in the swing of the Great Depression. I mean the Stock Market crashed in October 1929, but the general public really felt it hit throughout the 1930’s.

DEL: There were salary cuts all over. Earlier, some of the writers under contract went to see the creative head of MGM, Irving Thalberg. [Thalberg] said: “I can’t do anything about this.” And the writers said: “You raised the regular salaries of the [below-the-line] people on the set. “And Thalberg said: ” Well, they are represented by unions.” The writers left and said: “I think he just told us what to do.” The connection that I make, just a personal reaction, is this — there was a tremendous earthquake in Hollywood [at this time], and it shook down most of Long Beach and Compton — [but] there were faults that came up into this area. A lot of the office buildings downtown lost their decorative statuary and miles away at Hollywood High School, where I attended years later, were, were damaged. There was some death and some injury… terrible property damage. Then a month later the Writers Guild was founded. I always make the connection there were two great shakes of the earth that historic month.

Studio-contract writers, which is to say virtually all screenwriters, joined the new organization, many of them under front-office threats to fail to renew their contracts at option time. A significant number chose not to join, some of them very prominent writers. They formed a rival group, Screen Playwrights. The new Guild was not officially recognized as a bargaining unit by the Federal Government; so the whole thrust of the Guild was to get recognized so they could negotiate with the companies.

In 1938, there was an election held at the old Athletic Club on Sunset. The Guild won over Screen Playwrights, a company-supported group, frequently called a sweetheart union. The Guild thus became the official bargaining unit for the writers, recognized by the Federal Government.

A lot of the members of the Screen Playwrights joined immediately. The job then was to negotiate with the major studios — there was no television.

It took the Screen Writers Guild until 1942, the first big war year, to get their first contract, which was I think was five and a half pages long. (Today, in 2007, it’s close to 500 pages, covering every aspect of writers’ activity, except the new so-called reality shows. [By 2014 the WGA’s Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA) was 671 pages, and is in force until May 1, 2017]).

The one thing they got was the right of the new guild to the exclusive determination of the onscreen writers credit. That was a huge gain. And we still have that. (The companies can recommend what they think the credits should be, but the determination is made by the Guild.) So the founding years were very difficult; there were a lot of writers signed up, and there were only [the] major studios to deal with. There were virtually no independent production companies. And that was the world as it was before TV.

There were a lot of great writers working in those tough years, many of them brilliant. Their work still being studied in film schools throughout the world. To name a few: Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur, Philip Dunne, Herman Mankiewicz, Lester Cole, John Howard Lawson, Dalton Trumbo, Jules Furthman…

QUENDRITH: What about Lenore Coffee? The other female writer…

DEL: I know who you mean, Mary Pickford’s writing partner.

QUENDRITH: Yes. Frances Marion.

DEL: Right. Frances Marion, Lenore Coffee, Anita Loos. Anita Loos was a very famous writer. Frances Marion was at one time the highest paid screenwriter in Hollywood; she was Mary Pickford’s writing partner.

QUENDRITH: So these big names were behind the crediting process?

DEL: Again, I’m giving you a point of view gathered from many conversations with many writers. I could quote those who believe the system works, and those who believe it should be changed radically; suffice to say, the old system of awarding writing credits was very casual. It was done by the studios. Sometimes the studios would award credit like “well, we owe this guy something” — the proverbial nephew.

In 1942 when the first contract was signed, the contract went for a period of something like three years. That became true for all unions, both above and below-the-line. Negotiations, however, became complicated for all unions when television came in. Coast-to-coast broadcasting was engineered in 1948.

I may be jumping ahead, but I wanted to tell you this: television developed seemingly overnight. All of a sudden, people were staying home and watching whatever was on the tube. They’d see commercials done visually and it was the ‘new medium,’ meaning [audiences] stayed away from the theaters. There was a tremendous reaction from the studios about this. One studio, 20th Century Fox — not related to the present FOX — [in which] the head of the studio was a man named Darryl Zanuck. [He] brought back [a specially designed lens] to America from France in the 1950’s developed by the Ingenue Company, I believe.

The lens became what he [Zanuck] called, or 20th Century Fox called Cinemascope, which projected a widescreen image. Philip Dunne [whose portrait and brief bio adorn the walls of the WGA] wrote the first movie in this new aspect ratio, “The Robe,” based on a best-selling book by Lloyd C. Douglas. It was a big biblical epic. It brought people back into the theaters just to look, and say: “What’s going on here?”

QUENDRITH: It was a different aspect ratio?

DEL: The normal projection was more of a square, so when this came along, it was big. It had a huge curiosity factor. It instituted a lot of widescreen films. People began to return to theaters. But parallel to this, television continued to simply expand. By the time of early 50’s TV audiences were enormous all across the country. There were the two basic networks, NBC and CBS. Then they split off, and ABC was formed. That was the world in which writers functioned. Seven majors and three networks, hardly any independent productions. Then in the mid 50’s, RCA which owned NBC, developed color for television.

QUENDRITH: Where were you in your own career at this time?

DEL: I was working at NBC as a story editor. They developed a show called NBC Matinee Theater that was done in color. It sounds incredible now, but there were 5 shows a week, 1 hour. It was an anthology of new stories. It was in NY and here, but it was shot here in Los Angeles. NBC opened its new studios in Burbank, which they still have, to accommodate everything they were doing.

QUENDRITH: So it must have skewed female?

DEL: Not only that, but it gave the appliance places something to show in the middle of the day. You’d walk past a window full of TVs and see color televisions.

QUENDRITH: And their advertisers?

DEL: Exactly. I think Matinee went on the air in ’54 or ’55. It was on the air two or three years. I was on the very first GI bill at the end of the war. How I get there, how I ended up in the new ‘medium.’ When I was discharged, honorably discharged. I went to UC Berkeley on the GI bill and kind of rushed through. I found it very difficult to adjust [back to civilian life] — I was a bomdardier in a B17. If you ever say the movie “The Best Years of Our Lives”? Dana Andrews went into the nose — that’s it. These planes were prop-driven. No jets. So I flew 35 missions.

QUENDRITH: Did you go into the Pacific Theater of Operations?

DEL: No, just the “ETO,” the European Theater of Operations. The name of the outfit was the 381st Heavy Bombardment Group, Eighth Air Force. France was occupied by Germany. We bombed some targets in occupied France, but most if it was Germany itself. The Ruhr Valley with Essen and Dusseldorf , Cologne — that was the manufacturing world. I went to Berlin six times. I can tell you that was not fun…

QUENDRITH: It was complete devastation, I’m sure…

DEL: They lost a lot. We lost a lot of planes. We went as far as Munich and in the north, Hamburg, Peenemunde, where they launched the V-2s over London.

QUENDRITH: May I segue by saying Hollywood and its politics must have been lightweight compared to that?

DEL: Hollywood was nothing compared to that, because nobody was shooting at you. I didn’t come home to become a writer. I had no interest in it. But I thought that somehow, I’d become a part of the studio system. Maybe film editing, maybe camera. I was a studio brat. My younger sister and I were studio brats. My mother was a secretary at the old Universal Studios (Carl Laemmle and all that). We used to, as little kids, go out to see her at Universal, at her office. The family story is an old Depression story… my father kind of took off — so she was it, she was the income for us. If Universal went bankrupt, that was always being threatened there would be nothing for us. You know that the secretaries in those days knew everything that happens and was about to happen. My mother was the production unit’s contact with the Breen office, later the Shurlock office, the administrators of the code. She took down their problems and passed them on to a very angry studio.

My kid sister and I would frequently be on set. They would allow kids on set, if they shut up. The grips, everyone at the studio, had the same problem: kids, baby-sitters cost money. My mother was a member of the SOEG (Screen Office Employee Guild). So the Executive Director was Herbert K. Sorrell. All we did as kids was go in the back row [during SOEG meetings]. There were chairs there; the kids would just flake out and sleep. Usually were a dozen or more children there. SOEG was a guild. A wild union. Years later, after the war, Herb Sorrell, executive director of the union, wrote his autobiography. He had fought hard for the below-the-line people in the industry. He identified himself as a Communist.

QUENDRITH: We’ll lead into the Black List from here.

DEL: Let me leap ahead to the Black List. I was on the Guild’s Black List credits committee.Our job was to check to see the identities of the real writers behind the fronts or pseudonyms. We began this process trying to cut through the fog of memory and the series of obfuscations by the studios. That started in 1996 and went up to 1999/2000.

QUENDRITH: Paul Jarrico, he was one —

DEL: Exactly. Paul Jarrico, and my friend George Kirgo. Both are deceased.

QUENDRITH: Were you ever on the Black List?

DEL: I was never on the black list, and neither was George. But we were both young writers working in the Blacklist years — that tragic time. Well, it left its mark on everyone. It lasted 15 years. Some of those denied work (under their own names) were struggling for the full 15 years. Sure, some were Communists. The Guild’s first President, John Howard Lawson, he is remembered as the first, but he was actually the second President of the new Screen Writers Guild in 1933. People knew of his politics — did I mention the name Lester Cole?

QUENDRITH: Right, the writer?

DEL: Yes, he was a Communist. As were others of great talent and great determination to create and develop the Guild. There was not a great love of their politics across the unions or from Hollywood — most just found them difficult in labor union matters because they were so well organized they controlled meetings by legal parliamentary proceedings. The writers who were around then spoke angrily of their maneuvering, but the Guild was a First Amendment organization above all.

QUENDRITH: So they had political agenda already not connected with anything to do with Hollywood?

DEL: Yes, essentially support of the Soviet Union. Actually, this was before the war, or at least the entrance into war.

QUENDRITH: What an incredible mix of issues for the country and Hollywood!

DEL: I want to mention this date. In 1954 when all of this was developing, the Guild merged with the Television Writers of America, and merged with the Radio Writers Guild of New York and Los Angeles. So that was [this] merger, and under a new name [that is] now Writers Guild of America.

QUENDRITH: Are New York and LA autonomous? If not, which is the controlling body? Or is there a controlling entity?

DEL: For various corporate reasons, there were actually new corporations formed, Writers Guild West and Writers Guild East. Hollywood was the center of moviemaking at the studios. New York, with all of its history in live television, had been the center of TV.

But with the major studios getting into TV, the New York group had fewer and fewer people to represent because writers literally moved here physically.

QUENDRITH: Who is the final arbiter?

DEL: That’s a good question. The leadership is separate, so they have their board and their special needs. For example, in New York they represent many newswriters, so they have special needs. And we [WGA West] continue to represent mostly TV writers, animation writers, and screenwriters because of the huge amount of activity that continues here. Face-to-face meetings, despite email, faxing, even teleconferencing, continue to be critical.

QUENDRITH: Amidst all the technology and other changes, are the majors retaining their loyalty to Hollywood? What I mean is, to clarify, is LA still the magnet for the decision makers in the industry? Is there loyalty to the area, the concept of “Hollywood” as a physical location and a symbolic icon of the industry?

DEL: If you have runaway production with major studios making films anywhere where it is cheaper, literally the Balkans, Bulgaria, Romania, etc. — that means that they are made without our labor union contracts, without labor union protection or [with] different labor union protection.

QUENDRITH: How about all the productions that went to Canada?

DEL: There was so much shooting in Canada because of the currency exchange. The protections can be avoided — like the Black Dahlia story —

QUENDRITH: The recent one with Hilary Swank?

DEL: Yes. I’m pretty sure that was made in Bulgaria. They made the sets, everything; they did not have to pay the standard fees. It is cheaper. To answer your question, they film there because [production costs] are cheaper. And our city, L.A., doesn’t look like the L.A. of the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s, not anymore.

QUENDRITH: What is the net effect on the psyche of the industry — is there still loyalty in LA to Hollywood?

DEL: My mother at the old Universal wouldn’t recognize the industry today. Announcements in the trades would baffle her, because there are four or five production entities.

QUENDRITH: They split the costs?

DEL: Right, they split the cost. So the financial partners that split the cost are as much involved as the studio. The authority has changed a lot. Who runs the movie has changed a lot.

QUENDRITH: How does that affect the writers?

DEL: You have many bosses. You will get attitudes and opinions from a number of the financial sources. I don’t think there is any history of them giving notes — “Do this on page 14” — but they wouldn’t put money in unless the project was in good hands [as far as] writers, producers, directors, actors. The only reason they would put money in is “we want more action adventure” — otherwise they won’t put money in.

If it is a big Will Ferrell comedy — “We want big laughs or we won’t put money in.” Well, maybe they leave Will Ferrell alone. Apparently, he can do no wrong.

They have to be secure that it is the film they want, that wherever they are from, they get the movie they want. Take “Mission Impossible: 3,” they pretty much know what kind of movie it will be [with Tom Cruise]. They know the nature of the film they are making.

QUENDRITH: The regular machinery of Hollywood, how writers and actors and directors work, is changing as fast as the technology almost. Non-traditional arrangements are everywhere in the business now.

DEL: I’m thinking of Philip Dunne right now. Phil wrote the terrific screenplay for “How Green Was My Valley” — I think that was ’41, maybe ’40. He had one boss, Zanuck. Then both he and Zanuck sat down with the director, John Ford, and the star, a 12-year-old Roddy McDowall. They made the picture, not layers of authority, not tons of notes.

QUENDRITH: Where is your life now as a writer?

DEL: I’m still in the game. And I’ve been teaching for the last twelve years at AFI.

QUENDRITH: Are you writing a book about your experiences, the history of the business from your POV?

DEL: Up to now, I say no. I’m not writing a book.

QUENDRITH: You are saving that for old age?

DEL: We’ll see.

Del never finished the book he was working on, but he’d have approved of the list below — as promised. He’d be happy to know Will Ferrell has made a few bombs by now, and while Tom Cruise still commands box office results overseas, at home things are different. Because every new audience needs new storytellers, and there can’t be any storytellers without the stories. So in 2017, for those of you with screenwriting aspirations, here’s the WGA’s list of agents. Don’t bother them unless you’ve written something outstanding, have already placed in the Nicholl Fellowship, or are seeking a new agent. But mostly, keep your New Year’s Resolution for 2017 to keep writing.

We took out the phone number contacts, which can only be found at the WGAw website. Here’s a link for the WGA List, also the WGA Oral History project.

THE AGENCY LIST

Above The Line Agency
468 N Camden Dr
Ste 200
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Agency For The Performing Arts
405 S Beverly Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90212

Allensworth Entertainment, Inc.
433 N Camden Dr Fl 4
Beverly Hills, CA 90210-4408

Alpern Group, The
15645 Royal Oak Rd
Encino, CA 91436

American Media Artists
4830 Encino Ave
Encino, CA 91316

Annette Van Duren Agency
3810 Wilshire Blvd #1906
Los Angeles, CA 90010-3223

Avail Talent
2990 Grace Lane
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Beth Bohn Management Inc
2658 Griffith Park Blvd
Ste 508
Los Angeles, CA 90039

BiCoastal Talent & Literary Agency
2600 W Olive Ave Ste 500
Burbank, CA 91505-4572

Bobby Ball Talent Agency
3500 W Olive Ave Ste 300
Burbank, CA 91505-4647

Brady, Brannon & Rich
5670 Wilshire Blvd Ste 820
Los Angeles, CA 90036-5613

Brant Rose Agency
6671 Sunset Blvd
Ste 1584 B
Los Angeles, CA 90028

Brogan Agency
1517 Park Row
Venice, CA 90291

Candace Lake Agency, Inc.
1072 Laurel Ln
Pebble Beach, CA 93953-3112

Career Artists International
11030 Ventura Blvd #3
Studio City, CA 91604

Cavaleri & Associates
3500 W Olive Ave Ste 300
Burbank, CA 91505-4647

Chasin Agency, Inc.
8899 Beverly Blvd
Ste 716
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Contemporary Artists, Ltd.
610 Santa Monica Blvd
Ste 202
Santa Monica, CA 90401

CAA: Creative Artists Agency, LLC
2000 Ave Of The Stars
Los Angeles, CA 90067

Criterion
4842 Sylmar Ave
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423-1716

David Shapira & Associates
193 N Robertson Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90211

Don Buchwald & Associates
6500 Wilshire Blvd
Ste 2200
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Dravis Agency, The
4370 Tujunga Ave
Ste 145
Studio City, CA 91604

Equitable Stewardship for Artists
6363 Wilshire Blvd Ste 650
Los Angeles, CA 90048-5725

Featured Artists Agency
8844 W Olympic Blvd Ste 200
Beverly Hills, CA 90211-3623

Gersh Agency, Inc.
9465 Wilshire Blvd Fl 6
Beverly Hills, CA 90212-2605

Global Talent Agency
2615 W Magnolia Blvd
Ste 101
Burbank, CA 91505

Grant, Savic, Kopaloff & Associates
6399 Wilshire Blvd
Ste 414
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Gregory David Mayo Representing the Performing Arts
10061 Riverside Dr # 242
Toluca Lake, CA 91602-2560

Hollywood View Agency
5255 Veronica St
Los Angeles, CA 90008

ICM Partners
10250 Constellation Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90067

Innovative Artists
1505 Tenth St
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Irv Schechter Company
9460 Wilshire Blvd
Ste 300
Beverly Hills, CA 90212

Jack Lenny Associates
9454 Wilshire Blvd
Ste 600
Beverly Hills, CA 90212

Jim Preminger Agency
10866 Wilshire Blvd
10th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90024

JKA Talent & Literary Agency
12725 Ventura Blvd
Studio City, CA 91604

Kaplan Stahler Agency
8383 Wilshire Blvd
Ste 923
Beverly Hills, CA 90211

Kathleen Schultz Associates
6442 Coldwater Cyn
Ste 117
Valley Glen, CA 91606

Larchmont Literary Agency
444 N Larchmont Blvd
Ste 200
Los Angeles, CA 90004

Laya Gelff Agency
16133 Ventura Blvd
Ste 700
Encino, CA 91436

Lenhoff & Lenhoff
830 Palm Ave
W Hollywood, CA 90069

Lisa Callamaro Literary Agency
427 N Canon Dr
Ste 202
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Lynne & Reilly Agency
10725 Vanowen Street
Ste 113
North Hollywood, CA 91605

Maggie Roiphe Agency
1721 S Garth Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90035

Media Artists Group
8222 Melrose Ave Fl 2
Los Angeles, CA 90046-6825

Metropolitan Talent Agency
5405 Wilshire Blvd Ste 218
Los Angeles, CA 90036-4203

Michael Lewis & Associates
2506 Fifth Street
Ste 100
Santa Monica, CA 90405

Mitchell K. Stubbs & Associates
8695 W Washington Blvd
Ste 204
Culver City, CA 90232

Nancy Chaidez Agency
6340 Coldwater Cyn
Ste 214
North Hollywood, CA 91606

Natural Talent, Inc.
3331 Ocean Park Blvd
Ste 203
Santa Monica, CA 90405

Pantheon
1801 Century Park East
Ste 1910
Los Angeles, CA 90067

Paradigm
360 N Crescent Dr
North Bldg
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Paul Kohner, Inc.
9300 Wilshire Blvd
Ste 555
Beverly Hills, CA 90212

Preferred Artists
16633 Ventura Blvd
Ste 1421
Encino, CA 91436

Rebel Entertainment Partners, Inc.
5700 Wilshire Blvd
Ste 456
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Rothman Brecher Agency
9250 Wilshire Blvd
Penthouse
Beverly Hills, CA 90212

RPM Talent
2600 W Olive Ave
5th Floor
Burbank, CA 91505

Sarnoff Company, Inc., The
1600 Rosecrans Avenue
Media Center, 4th Floor
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

Savage Agency, The
6212 Banner Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038-2802

Silver Bitela Agency
6612 Pacheco Way
Citrus Hts, CA 95610

Stars, The Agency
23 Grant Ave 4th Fl
San Francisco, CA 94108

Starwil Prods Talent Agency
433 N Camden Dr 4th Fl
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Stein Agency, The
5125 Oakdale Ave
Woodland Hills, CA 91364

Stuart M. Miller Co, The
11684 Ventura Blvd
Ste 225
Studio City, CA 91604

Suite A Management Talent & Literary Agency
136 El Camino Dr Ste 202
Beverly Hills, CA 90212-2705

Summit Talent & Literary Agency
9454 Wilshire Blvd
Ste 203
Beverly Hills, CA 90212

United Talent Agency, Inc.
UTA Plaza
9336 Civic Center Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Nerve Talent & Literary Agency LLC
6310 San Vicente Blvd Ste 100
Los Angeles, CA 90048-5498

Warden Group, The
PO Box 1595
Beverly Hills, CA 90213-1595

William Kerwin Agency
1605 N Cahuenga Blvd
Ste 202
Hollywood, CA 90028

Wilson & Associates
5482 Wilshire Blvd Ste 175
Los Angeles, CA 90036-4218

WME Entertainment
9601 Wilshire Blvd 3rd Fl
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

This original interview can be found in its entirety here. The 2017 Writers Guild Awards take place in LA and NY on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017, see www.wga.org for details.

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SCREENMANCER is a gathering place for people who make movies and people making a lot of first drafts trying to make movies.

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[Golden Boy Already - Six-time Oscar nominee has nothing to prove since 2010 for CRAZYHEART.]

The Dude, AKA Jeff Bridges Now in HIGHWATER, Wins American Riviera Award From Santa Barbara

LOS ANGELES: Sometimes a press release is so good it’s just fine art, or more specifically it’s the holidays and we’re lazy, plus this is great writing from our friends in the business. That said, we’d only put a slightly different headline on it, for the diehard hipsters. Which is “The Dude, AKA Jeff Bridges Now in HIGHWATER, Wins American Riviera Award From Santa Barbara,” whereas our more respectable writing colleagues began something like this:

JEFF BRIDGES TO RECEIVE AMERICAN RIVIERA AWARD AT THE 32nd ANNUAL SANTA BARBARA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Santa Barbara, CA (December 21, 2016) – The Santa Barbara International Film Festival announced today that Jeff Bridges will be honored with the 2017 American Riviera Award at the 32nd edition of the Fest, which runs from February 1 to February 11, 2017. Bridges will be fêted with a Tribute celebrating his illustrious career, culminating with his captivating performance in David Mackenzie’s Hell or High Water, a CBS Films/Lionsgate release. The film opened in August to critical acclaim. The Tribute will take place Thursday, February 9, 2017 at the historic Arlington Theatre.

French language poster had the most awesome look at Cannes.

[French-language poster for Cannes.]

For his role in Hell or High Water, Bridges has received Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor, as well as the National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actor. Bridges’ renowned career includes celebrated roles in films such as The Big Lebowski, Fearless, The Contender, The Mirror Has Two Faces, The Fabulous Baker Boys, The Door in the Floor, True Grit, Starman, The Morning After, Jagged Edge, The Last Picture Show, Against All Odds, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, The Fisher King, Seabiscuit, and Crazy Heart (for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor).

“Jeff Bridges shows us in Hell or High Water that an already great artist can continue his growth.  I may go as far as saying that this is his best performance,” stated SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling. “It’s truly special to be able to celebrate Jeff – for he’s not only a dear friend of SBIFF – but he is a timeless legend in our industry.”

[Golden Boy Already - Six-time Oscar nominee has nothing to prove since 2010 for CRAZYHEART.]

[Golden Boy Already – Six-time Oscar nominee has nothing to prove since 2010 win for CRAZYHEART.]

A modern-day set crime western, Hell or High Water tells the riveting story of a divorced father and his ex-con older brother who resort to a desperate scheme in order to save their family’s ranch in West Texas.  The film, directed by David Mackenzie, with an original screenplay by Taylor Sheridan, also stars Chris Pine and Ben Foster. ChrisJeff16

The American Riviera Award was established to recognize actors who have made a significant contribution to American Cinema. Bridges will join a prestigious group of past recipients, including last year’s honorees Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, and Mark Ruffalo (2016), Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke (2015), Robert Redford (2014), Quentin Tarantino (2013) and Martin Scorsese (2012), Annette Bening (2011), Sandra Bullock (2010), Mickey Rourke (2009), Tommy Lee Jones (2008), Forrest Whitaker (2007), Philip Seymour Hoffman (2006), Kevin Bacon (2005) and Diane Lane (2004).

The 32nd annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival will take place from Wednesday, February 1st through Saturday, February 11th. For more information, and to purchase tickets, festival passes and packages, please visit www.sbiff.org.

BEST JEFF BRIDGES BIO EVER, PS…

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One of Hollywood’s most successful actors and a six-time Academy Award® nominee, JEFF BRIDGES’ (Marcus) performance in “Crazy Heart”—as Bad Blake, the down-on-his-luck, alcoholic country music singer at the center of the drama—deservedly garnered the iconic performer his first Oscar® for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role. The performance also earned him the Golden Globe, SAG Award and the IFP/Spirit Award for Lead Actor.

The film follows Blake, who, through his experiences with a female reporter (Maggie Gyllenhaal), is able to get his career back on track while playing mentor to a hotshot contemporary country star and simultaneously struggling in his shadow. The movie, directed by Scott Cooper, is based on the debut novel by Thomas Cobb and also stars Robert Duvall and Colin Farrell. Bridges’ moving and multi-layered performance is one of many in a career that spans decades.

He earned his first Oscar® nod in 1971 for Best Supporting Actor in Peter Bogdanovich’s “The Last Picture Show,” co-starring Cybill Shepherd. Three years later, he received his second Best Supporting Actor nomination for his role in Michael Cimino’s “Thunderbolt and Lightfoot.” By 1984 he landed top kudos with a Best Actor nomination for “Starman”; that performance also earned him a Golden Globe nomination. In 2001, he was honored with another Golden Globe nomination and his fourth Oscar® nomination for his role in “The Contender,” Rod Lurie’s political thriller, co-starring Gary Oldman and Joan Allen, in which Bridges played the President of the United States.

In December 2010 his reunion with the Coen Brothers in the critically acclaimed western “True Grit” landed him his sixth Oscar® nomination. The film focuses on fourteen-year-old Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) whose father has been shot in cold blood by the coward Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), and she is determined to bring him to justice. Enlisting the help of a trigger-happy, drunken U.S. Marshal, Rooster Cogburn (Bridges), she sets out with him — over his objections — to hunt down Chaney.

The same month he was seen in the highly anticipated 3D action-adventure “TRON: Legacy.” Bridges reprised his role of video-game developer Kevin Flynn from the classic 1982 film “TRON.” With state-of-the-art technology, “TRON: Legacy” featured Bridges as the first actor in cinematic history to play opposite a younger version of himself.

He will next be seen in the first animated feature film adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s iconic masterpiece “The Little Prince” as the Aviator for director Mark Osborne. He was last seen in the action adventure fantasy film “Seventh Son,” reuniting with Julianne Moore and directed by Sergey Bodrov.

In August 2014, Bridges starred in “The Giver” opposite Meryl Streep, Brenton Thwaites, Alexander Skarsgard, Katie Holmes, Odeya Rush and Cameron Monaghan. Based on the bestselling young adult novel by Lois Lowry, the film – which he also produced – was a passion project of his for more than 2 decades and was directed by Phillip Noyce.

Prior to “Crazy Heart,” Bridges was seen in the war comedy “The Men Who Stare at Goats,” playing Bill Django, a free-spirited military intelligence officer, who is the leader of a secret group of warriors in the army. The Peter Straughan screenplay (based on the Jon Ronson book and directed by Grant Heslov) is based on a true story about a reporter in Iraq, who meets a former member of the US Army’s First Earth Battalion, a unit that employs paranormal powers in their missions. He stars opposite George Clooney (also a producer), Ewan McGregor and Kevin Spacey.

Additionally, he starred in “A Dog Year” for HBO Films/ Picturehouse, based on the memoir by Jon Katz and directed by George LaVoo (who also wrote the screenplay) and garnered an Emmy nomination; as well as opposite Robert Downey, Jr. in the Paramount Pictures/Marvel Studios blockbuster “Iron Man,” playing the character of Obadiah Stane.

He starred opposite Shia LaBeouf as Geek, a cantankerous and washed-up surfer penguin, in the Academy Award®-nominated “Surf’s Up,” from Sony Pictures Animation. Prior to that, he was in his second film for director Terry Gilliam, entitled “Tideland,” where he played Noah, a drug addicted, has-been, rock guitarist.

The actor’s multi-faceted career has cut a wide swathe across all genres. He has starred in numerous box office hits, including Gary Ross’ “Seabiscuit,” Terry Gilliam’s offbeat comedic drama “The Fisher King” (co-starring Robin Williams), the multi-award-nominated “The Fabulous Baker Boys” (co-starring his brother Beau Bridges and Michelle Pfeiffer), “The Jagged Edge” (opposite Glenn Close), Francis Ford Coppola’s “Tucker: The Man and His Dream,” “Blown Away” (co-starring his late father Lloyd Bridges and Tommy Lee Jones), Peter Weir’s “Fearless” (with Isabella Rossellini and Rosie Perez), and Martin Bell’s “American Heart” (with Edward Furlong, produced by Bridges’ company, AsIs Productions). That film earned Bridges an IFP/Spirit Award in 1993 for Best Actor.

In the summer of 2004, he appeared opposite Kim Basinger in the critically acclaimed “The Door in the Floor” for director Todd Williams and Focus Features, which earned him an IFP/Spirit Award nomination for Best Actor.

He played a major featured role in “The Muse” (an Albert Brooks comedy starring Brooks, Sharon Stone and Andie MacDowell); appeared in the suspense thriller “Arlington Road” (co-starring Tim Robbins and Joan Cusack, directed by Mark Pellington); and starred in “Simpatico,” the screen version of Sam Shepard’s play (with Nick Nolte, Sharon Stone and Albert Finney). In 1998, he starred in the Coen brothers’ cult comedy “The Big Lebowski.” Before that, he starred in Ridley Scott’s “White Squall,” Walter Hill’s “Wild Bill,” John Huston’s “Fat City” and Barbara Streisand’s romantic comedy “The Mirror Has Two Faces.”

[Let's not forget the heart-smashing Eastwood starrer Bridges was in in 1974.]

[Let’s not forget the heart-smashing Eastwood starrer Bridges was in in 1974.]

Some of Bridges’ other acting credits include “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People,” “K-PAX,” “Masked and Anonymous,” “Stay Hungry,” “Fat City,” “Bad Company,” “Against All Odds,” “Cutter’s Way,” “The Vanishing,” “Texasville,” “The Morning After,” “Nadine,” “Rancho Deluxe,” “See You in the Morning,” “Eight Million Ways to Die,” “TRON,” “The Last American Hero” and “Heart of the West.”

In 1983, Bridges founded the End Hunger Network, a nonprofit organization dedicated to feeding children around the world. He produced the End Hunger televent, a three-hour live television broadcast focusing on world hunger. The televent featured Gregory Peck, Jack Lemmon, Burt Lancaster, Bob Newhart, Kenny Loggins and other leading film, television and music stars in an innovative production to educate and inspire action.

He is currently the national spokesman for the Share Our Strength/No Kid Hungry campaign that is fighting to end childhood hunger in America.

Through his company, AsIs Productions, he produced “Hidden in America,” which starred his brother Beau. That television movie, produced for Showtime, received a Golden Globe nomination in 1996 for Best TV/Cable Film and garnered a Screen Actors Guild nod for Best Actor for Beau Bridges. The film was also nominated for two Emmy Awards.

One of Bridges’ true passions is photography. While on the set of his movies, he takes behind-the-scenes pictures of the actors, crew and locations. After completion of each motion picture, he edits the images into a book and gives copies to everyone involved. Bridges’ photographs have been featured in several magazines, including Premiere and Aperture, as well as in other publications worldwide. He has also had gallery exhibitions of his work in New York (at the George Eastman House), Los Angeles, London and the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego. In 2013, Bridges was the recipient of an Infinity Award, presented by the International Center of Photography, NY.

The books, which have become valued by collectors, were never intended for public sale, but in the fall of 2003, powerHouse Books released Pictures: Photographs by Jeff Bridges, a hardcover book containing a compilation of his photographs taken on numerous film locations over the years, to much critical acclaim. Proceeds from the book are donated to the Motion Picture & Television Fund, a nonprofit organization that offers charitable care and support to film-industry workers.

In February 2015 Bridges released a spoken word/ambient album titled “Sleeping Tapes.” The collaboration was co-produced with musician Keefus Ciancia who also supplied the music. The album was released by web hosting service Squarespace as part of its Super Bowl advertising campaign, with all proceeds from the album sales going to Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign.

In August 2011 Bridges released his self-titled major label debut album for Blue Note Records. Multiple-Grammy Award-wining songwriter, musician and producer T Bone Burnett produced the album. It is an organic extension and culmination of his personal, professional and music friendship with Burnett, whom he has known for more than 30 years. The critically acclaimed album was a follow up to his first solo effort “Be Here Soon,” on Ramp Records, the Santa Barbara, CA label he co-founded with Michael McDonald and producer/singer/songwriter Chris Pelonis. The CD features guest appearances by vocalist/keyboardist Michael McDonald, Grammy-nominated Amy Holland and country-rock legend David Crosby. In 2014 he released his first live album “Jeff Bridges & The Abiders Live” and has been touring off and on when he is not working.

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Bridges and his wife Susan divide their time between their home in Santa Barbara, California, and their ranch in Montana.

WHY YOU SHOULD DRIVE/FLY OUT THERE TO ATTEND…

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts and educational organization dedicated to discovering and showcasing the best in independent and international cinema. Over the past 30 years, SBIFF has become one of the leading film festivals in the United States – attracting 90,000 attendees and offering 11 days of 200+ films, tributes and symposiums, fulfilling their mission to engage, enrich, and inspire the Santa Barbara community through film.

SBIFF continues its commitment to education and the community through free programs like its 10-10-10 Student Filmmaking and Screenwriting Competitions, Mike’s Field Trip to the Movies, National Film Studies Program, AppleBox Family Films, 3rd Weekend and educational seminars. This past June, SBIFF entered a new era with the acquisition of the historic and beloved Riviera Theatre.  The theatre is SBIFF’s new home and is the catalyst for program expansion and marks the first time that Santa Barbara has had a 24/7 community center to expand their mission of educational outreach.

[See HELL OR HIGHWATER via Redbox rentals, VOD and coming soon via streamers. And make sure to catch everything Jeff Bridges has ever been in, including TRON, original and remake, STARMAN, also 1974’s heart-smashing THUNDERBOLT & LIGHTFOOT.]

SCREENMANCER is a gathering place for people who make movies and fans of The Dude, also Jeff Bridges, and his band of musicians in Santa Barbara.

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The Year Nobody Was a Pundit: Hollywood’s Shock, All Governments Lie, But Zero Days & Sparrow Shortlisted

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent [FilmFestivals.com]

Cui Bono? That’s the famous Latin line that means “who benefits,” and in the realm of conspiracy theories, this blunt tool ranks right up there with “Historian’s Fallacy” as a go-to. The term historian’s fallacy was minted by Brandeis Professor David Hackett Fischer in 1970, who pointed out the bright idea that even when someone is going through a historic event, or having experienced a historic event, said eyewitness may not have a historical perspective because they have no idea what might hit them next. So since 2016 is The Year Nobody Was a Pundit, as far as the US Presidential Election, and while most of Hollywood is still in shock at the shadow conservative vote in their midst, you’ll forgive a meandering but meaningful segue here into the Oscar Documentary Shortlist and why two films, Zero Days and Hooligan Sparrow, had special resonance. But first, Oliver Stone who executive produced a documentary on investigative journalist, I.F. Stone, directed by Fred Peabody. Unlike Zero Days and Sparrow, this is one that didn’t make the Oscar shortlist, but it’s extremely relevant this year.

unnamed-6Titled ALL GOVERNMENTS LIE: TRUTH, DECEPTION, AND THE SPIRIT OF I.F. STONE, it’s based on the book that examines the influential life of investigative journalist, I.F. Stone “whose long one-man crusade against government deception lives on in the work of such contemporary filmmakers and journalists such as  Amy Goodman, Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald, Cenk Uygur, Jeremy Scahill, David Corn, and Matt Taibbi.”

Amy Goodman, as you may know, is the figurehead of Democracy Now, a radio program and media beacon of the American Left that recently stood by the stand-down at the Dakota Access Pipeline. Goodman was even arrested there, but released with charges dropped. Laura Poitras is the filmmaker who brought us CitizenFour, the real-life encounter with Edward Snowden that brought government security to its knees, if only for a moment, while the American Public had their digital eyes peeled open. Glenn Greenwald is her cohort in this endeavor, formerly of the Guardian UK, now of his own media hotspot known as The Intercept. The other names are important, but Matt Taibbi is one journalist who stood firm in dissent as the Donald Trump “Make America Great Again” waves crashed onto voter beachheads. Taibbi is very respected because he stayed up to his ankles in the quick sand of changing poll numbers that made this American US Presidential Election the most highly rated quasi-fiasco in the history of US politics. Election 2016 is the ticket-seller that even Hollywood couldn’t come up with as a plot line: Hamburger Hillary vs The Donald. Initially this match-up looked, as one award-worthy internet troll put it, as “don’t bring a Cheeto to a knife fight” in favor of Hillary Clinton as far as the debates. But a strange thing happened on the way to the ballot box, a swirl of fake news, government reveals, and general discontent took over.

And this is why, although ALL GOVERNMENTS LIE didn’t make anybody’s shortlist, it’s an important film to watch. I.F. Stone’s legacy is the history of dissent in its modern form that we know it. He made his reputation as a journalist by flipping over the hallowed cobblestones of the American Democracy so we could get a view under the sheen of tradition. In fact, in 2015, I.F. Stone’s son Jeremy Stone was behind the release of a Knight Foundation documentary “The Legacy of I.F. Stone” produced out of Canada. According to Glenn Greenwald’s The Intercept, (Greenwald also has a role in this doc) I.F. Stone is known as “The Patron Saint of Bloggers,” and the first known journalist to tap “unofficial sources.”

And here’s where we went collectively, as a voter nation with the rest of the watching-world dragged with us, down a very, very, very long rabbit hole in the 2016 General Election. It was supposed to be a simple contest to determine who would become the next President of the United States, or POTUS in the shorthand. Yet the whole campaign turned into He Said, She Said, fueled by unnamed sources, hacked documents, and purported criminal activity on display.

I.F. Stone’s pioneering “unofficial sources” gambit in the Digital Age became a hellride into inter-party Spy vs Spy, a weltering clash of Anonymous vs Anonymous Global, and a final FBI Director James Comey showdown vs the CIA “counter coup.” Comey is the one whose October Surprise was a November game-changer for the Clinton campaign as it hinted at a 33,000 email-deletion related indictment imminent for her.  Oh wait, he recanted within days. Next, there was even a former US State Department operative, now a sci-fi writer, named Steve Pieczenik who began to leak YouTube videos about the “FBI soft coup” to stop Hillary Clinton, who apparently they’d been tracking for Clinton Foundation fraud, from becoming POTUS. Finally elusive global-hacktivist entity Anonymous really got into the act by flooding YouTube with “Wake Up America” type calls to action to halt the current questions over alleged “Russian” hacking into the US electoral process… exhausting, isn’t it? It’s like everyone on earth and in the media lost the plot in 2016. Even genius poll predictor Nate Silver, who called elections within percentage points in the past, had Donald Trump losing by a 67% chance even as the vote count began.

Again, 2016 is The Year Nobody Was A Pundit. But “unnamed sources” and unsubstantiated allegations, as well as hit videos ruled the day. Although it’s not what was intended by I. F. Stone (no relation to Oliver), this election year is in many ways the slap in the face that Hollywood needed too. When a real life election is more fascinating than any feature film releases on their slate, the Studios can no longer grind out the same rebooted content, folks. People still went to the movie theaters and downloaded filmed content in 2016, but the US Election was beyond gripping – and not in a good way. We’re supposed to be the nation that sets the stage for the much-touted “fair and free elections.” We’re the country that points out the polling stations cheaters in so-called “banana republics,” restores justice when rogue countries go awry and thumbs our nose at humans rights violators with harsh sanctions.

Those very attributes the United States prides itself on came into question in 2016, even the idea that we could shake a fist at corruption in other countries when we ourselves seemed pretty porous as far as scandals from within.

This political preamble is why, in my humble opinion as a critic, two documentaries – Hooligan Sparrow and Zero Days – really mattered on a world-events scale this year. Lynda Weinman and Bruce Heavin, the tech couple behind Lynda.com, an online tutorial empire they have since sold, hosted a very crucial screening of Hooligan Sparrow, a documentary about women’s rights in China that becomes a visual essay on the struggle for human rights and freedoms on a visceral level. Hooligan1sht16

Here’s the official description of the film:

“The danger is palpable as intrepid young filmmaker Nanfu Wang follows maverick activist Ye Haiyan (a.k.a Hooligan Sparrow) and her band of colleagues to Hainan Province in southern China to protest the case of six elementary school girls who were sexually abused by their principal. Marked as enemies of the state, the activists are under constant government surveillance and face interrogation, harassment, and imprisonment. Sparrow, who gained notoriety with her advocacy work for sex workers’ rights, continues to champion girls’ and women’s rights and arms herself with the power and reach of social media.

Filmmaker Wang risks her own life and becomes a target along with Sparrow, as she faces destroyed cameras and intimidation. Yet she bravely and tenaciously keeps shooting, guerrilla-style, with secret recording devices and hidden-camera glasses, and in the process, she exposes a startling number of undercover security agents on the streets. Eventually, through smuggling footage out of the country, Wang is able tell the story of her journey with the extraordinary revolutionary Sparrow, her fellow activists, and their seemingly impossible battle for human rights.”

In covering it earlier this year, I’d asked Nanfu Wang “What is the history of protests in China? And do you think the West influenced this?” Nanfu takes a short breath, she is remarkably composed for someone who literally had to smuggle her footage out of China. “Protests are taboo in China,” she begins. Then she detailed the barriers for giving a proverbial “voice to the voiceless” in her home country. In a modest floral theme red dress, and Nanfu Wang safe in the West, it’s a disconnect to imagine the gritty street fights she’s had to face, even under the pressure of a second language here. Nanfu Wang is definitely someone to watch for more powerful visual essays on film, with Hooligan Sparrow just a first salvo, hopefully.

The connector to the next hugely impactful documentary, Zero Days, is that ripple effect, when an issue for someone like Sparrow’s activist Ye Haiyan ignites a global reaction. In Zero Days, a few watchers on the wall of technology saw something odd, shared it amongst themselves, and didn’t realize they’d discovered the tail of international espionage-made virus that could literally crash the world.

Zero Days is my personal pic for Best Documentary because it reveals the inner workings and internecine fighting going on within the highly insulated and highly secure secret world of CyberSec, including cybersecurity operatives and the divisions between “three letter agencies” which later becomes writ large in the so-called “soft coup” shoot-out between the FBI and the CIA firing back with hacking allegations even you read this. It’s a very dangerous game of Spy Agency vs Spy Agency that has shaken some truly home-grown crazy out of the American woodwork. YouTube is replete with claims and counter-claims of hacking, spying, even purporting to reveal a laundry list of conspiracy theories. Some of these “theories” – from Clinton unspeakable evil-doing to Trump’s Jesus-like magic – make David Aaronvitch’s book “Voodoo Histories, The Role of Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History” look tame. Aaronvitch makes compelling arguments that conspiracy theories actually serve a purpose in the pattern of history as it unfolds… but the 2016 Presidential Election crazy, especially where high-level official discussions and briefings included the possibility of “foreign actors” (read: Russia) hacking Democractic emails, the Election, and the polling machines, well it just went beyond rational human understanding.

Which makes Alex Gibney’s documentary on the events leading to the detection of a computer virus designed to destroy Iran’s nuclear centrifuges in order to sabotage their entire nuclear program, that much more important as an object lesson.

Zero Days stars a range of officials and high-level tech players who unravel the Stuxnet story. Starring Colonel Gary D. Brown, Eric Chien, Richard A. Clarke, General Michael Hayden, Olli Heinonen, Chris Inglis, Vitaly Kamluk, Eugene Kaspersky, Gibney’s “ZERO DAYS is a documentary thriller about the world of cyberwar.” ZeroDaysPoster16

Here’s the official description: “For the first time, the film tells the complete story of Stuxnet, a piece of self-replicating computer malware (known as a “worm” for its ability to burrow from computer to computer on its own) that the U.S. and Israel unleashed to destroy a key part of an Iranian nuclear facility, and which ultimately spread beyond its intended target. ZERO DAYS is the most comprehensive accounting to date of how a clandestine mission hatched by two allies with clashing agendas opened forever the Pandora’s Box of cyber warfare. Beyond the technical aspects of the story, ZERO DAYS reveals a web of intrigue involving the CIA, the US Military’s new cyber command, Israel’s Mossad and Operations that include both espionage and covert assassinations but also a new generation of cyber weapons whose destructive power is matched only by Nuclear War.”

Some of this is a recap from my earlier coverage and interview with Eric Chien this year, but there’s a lot of implied geopolitics embedded here, and again, along with the hacking component, really cements it as my Best Doc pic for 2016. Before seeing ZERO DAYS, it’s critical to understand the US’s former relationship to the Shah of Iran. Before he was deposed, the Shah of Iran received a key first piece of their nuclear program from the US. It was supposed to be used for energy generation, power plants. The Christian Science Monitor did a round-up once that put dates on the whole mess. “In 1967, under the ‘Atoms for Peace’ program launched by President Eisenhower, the US sold the Shah of Iran’s government a 5-megawatt, light-water type reactor… the foundation of Iran’s nuclear power program.” The Shah reigned from Sept. 16, 1941 until Feb. 11, 1979, when he was toppled by the Iranian Revolution. However questionable the Shah’s regime was, it’s axiomatic that something would go wrong once the largely secular world of his rule fell into theological hands as the 1980’s began.

Next things go from theological to zealot by US estimations. And then there’s 9/11. Allegations are Iran is inching its way toward the “bomb,” because it’s not a huge stretch from power-reactor fuel to weapons grade material. You can see why the US government would consider cyber war in the wake of 9/11, especially since the hardware and software for their nuclear program comes mostly from the West (read: a way in via upgrades to the tech). Plus, would anyone ever find out? Someone high up likely gambled on the wrong side of “No.” So malware was secretly engineered, somewhere, to attack the centrifuges at Iran’s Natanz facility.

Alex Gibney’s take on it is, “I started out making a small film investigating ‘Stuxnet…’ What I discovered was a massive clandestine operation involving the CIA, the NSA, the US military and Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad to build and launch secret cyber ‘bombs’ that could plunge the world into a devastating series of… attacks on critical infrastructure, shutting down electricity… this science fiction scenario…”

That’s Alex Gibney for you, outing the whole gamut of international players from “three-letter agencies” to nation states. But then you talk to someone like Eric Chien, Technical Director of Symantec’s Security Technology and Response division, who was among the first handful to discover and name the Stuxnet virus, and it becomes clear that the message of ZERO DAYS is not rehashing old news about the perils of technology. (As in the current alleged Russian election hacking fracas, and the role of governments in controlling infighting among agencies tasked with cyber security.)

Although it is public record that Belorussian engineer Sergey Ulasen was the first responder to the then-unnamed Stuxnet virus as a BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) reboot over there in the Iranian nuke-related nest of computers; the message of this film is really about the knowledge gap between policy makers and digital purveyors, who, at the speed of technology, will reshape the world for us if we don’t watch out.

In person, Eric Chien is incredibly personable, a youthful exemplar of next-generation digital professionals. “We make Norton Anti-Virus,” he begins, to kind of define Symantec. He also apologies that colleague Liam O’Murchu couldn’t make it. “He had his hands on it first,” Chien adds, meaning Stuxnet. “Normally what we do, day-to-day, is we look at the latest (cyber) attacks. About one million a day. A lot of it is handled through automation, which automatically create fixes for them.”

“When we come across some big attacks, we share (with stakeholders)” pieces of the code for others to monitor or give feedback on. “Recently someone tried to transfer $1 BN from the Bank of Bangladesh,” he said, and this discovery brought back some similarities to the adrenaline of the Stuxnet discovery.

Chien mentions the possible government or shadowy players that he’s encountered in untangling the virus. “When you have black motorcycles, wearing all black following you, behind you, you start to wonder.”

On why Stuxnet wasn’t part of the Snowden leak, he casually mentions, “Edward Snowden didn’t leak this because those files are stored on a different server.” Then, ironically, Chien says he is not under an NDA (non-disclosure agreement), because “we don’t have a two-tiered system. We share this information with our clients… we would never work for hostile nations.” Chien reveals that ‘zero-day’ is a term that basically means the virus is discovered at the same time the vulnerability is revealed that makes the exploit even possible. (Think of it as a hole-in-one golf shot, but nobody knew there was a hole there until the ball hit. Now you’ve got two problems.)

“Stuxnet had not one, but four zero-days in it,” he emphasizes, “even one zero day is rare, but four?” This is how “we knew nation states must be involved.” But breaking the code, finding out what this virus was supposed to do “was the needle in the haystack. I mean it had a (kill) date in it, but it was not easy to figure out.” Tying into the election theme, Stuxnet’s “kill date” mysteriously coincided with the 2012 election.

With all the current election brouhaha, the focus on Russia, Chien made a shocking remark that puts Moscow’s capabilities in perspective. “There’s something to be said for obsolesce,” he revealed. “Because when Russia tried to shut down (the gird) in the Ukraine, their technology was so old, they could actually go to each site and crank it back on by hand.” That’s not in Zero Days, but insider terms like Nitro Zeus are, and maybe what’s most important about this film is that it details the bones of contention, the lines of power, and the factions opposed to one another behind the scenes in our government agencies.

And this comes full circle to the opening focus on the current contested election results… agencies are infighting and all we can do is find our own way back up the rabbit hole, back into the reasonable margin of error that Democracy lives by.

A complete list of the Academy’s Best Documentary shortlist for the 89th Academy Award Presentation to be held  February 26, 2017, can be found on www.oscars.org

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