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We Were the Lucky Ones tells the story of the Kurc family during the second world war. Until it began they lived in the Polish city of Radom, but following Hitler’s invasion some went into hiding, some were taken to concentration camps and others flew to distant corners of the world. The score is jointly credited to Rachel Portman and Jon Ehrlich with no indication of the division of labour – but there is no doubting who was responsible for the main theme, which is nothing short of magnificent.

Few can write a tune like Portman and this one is a seemingly effortless mixture of effervescence and tragedy – such a difficult mixture to pull off, I imagine its creation was in fact anything but effortless. It is genuinely exceptional, and yes it sounds like various creations from the past works of the composer but that’s the hallmark of a truly distinct and individual voice. The score’s highlights are generally when it appears but elsewhere there are scondary themes, typically for solo piano, and typically very touching and with Portman’s trademark deft touch. Inevitably there are darker moments too which provide the album with a nice balance which help to sustain its long run time. Highly recommended.

Even though Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem was necessarily dumbed down somewhat for its tv adaptation (as wonderful as it is, it does occasionally read more like a physics textbook) it was still made in a way that could have supported a great score. The direct allegory of the novel to Chinese social issues is lost in translation to the screen as the setting of the modern-day segments are shifted to allow more western characters, but there’s still stuff going on under the surface of the story that would have allowed a smart and deep score which could have combined these personal moments with the broad science fiction scope of the underlying narrative.

Unfortunately it didn’t get that. Instead Ramin Djawadi’s score is entirely surface-level, missing all the opportunities the project provided to him (whether this is his fault or the showrunners’, of course I have no idea). The main title piece is the highlight, a jittery and (by design) disorientating little piece with rhythmic cells being constructed then deconstructed over its brief run time. Sadly the rest of the score is just standard modern thriller material, an array of electronically-realised industrial sounds generally drowning out the orchestra with nary a tune in sight. Avoiding any attempt to create any emotional bonds between the characters (or between them and the audience) it’s just musical wallpaper, even the big sci-fi moments reduced in scope by the music. It’s such a dull album, and within the show feels like a big missed opportunity.

Djawadi fares a little (but only a little) better in his other big show released at the same time, Fallout, based on the post-apocalyptic video game series. While it’s not The Last Of Us by any means, I found it to be a reasonably entertaining show. Again the opportunity was there for a distinctive score and again it wasn’t really taken – the big mecha-warrior types, the cowboy/ghoul, the plucky young heroine, the mystery of the creation and leadership of the underground community – easy to see how these elements could have been given their own sounds with some overarching material linking everything together.

Instead it is mostly standard modern thriller material again, a bit grittier and more electronic than 3 Body Problem, but importantly with more of a sense of momen

‘The Falling Sky’ Directors Eryk Rocha and Gabriela Carneiro da Cunha on How The Amazon’s Yanomami Tribe Can Teach ‘White People’ to Dream Collectively

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Brazilian directors Eryk Rocha and Gabriela Carneiro da Cunha’s “The Falling Sky” delves into lives of the Amazonian Yanomami people, who live in the heart of the Amazon rainforest where they are contending with a harsh humanitarian crisis caused by the massive invasion of wildcat miners searching for gold and cassiterite, a mineral used in electronics. […]

Call For Entries- Best Shorts Competition - June 2024 Season - Deadline June 12, 2024

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The Best Shorts Competition is unique in the industry.  Attracting both powerhouse companies as well as talented new filmmakers, The Best Shorts is an exceptional, truly international awards competition, not a traditional film festival – which allows filmmakers from around the world to enter their films in this prestigious competition.

Established in 2011, Best Shorts is an avant-garde worldwide competition that strives to give talented directors, producers, actors, creative teams and new media creators the positive exposure they deserve. It discovers and honors the achievements of filmmakers who produce high quality shorts and new media.  

Our talented award winners have gone on to win Oscars, Emmys, Tellys and other awards.

Where our filmmakers are from:

The Best Shorts Competition puts filmmakers first and provides a direct opportunity for recognition and publicity for high quality films and documentaries. It is international in scope and has granted awards to producers in Australia, Bahrain, Bali, Brazil, Canada, China, Columbia, Cuba, Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Malta, Martinique, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the United States and more!

What kind of media:

The Best Shorts Competition is an excellent venue for films, documentaries, new and experimental media, television pilot programs, animation, educational programs, remixes & mashups, movie trailers, music videos, webisodes and tube length works. As long as the entry is 57 minutes or less, it is eligible for submission.

Judging

Each year Best Shorts Competition receives thousands of entries. Quality and creativity are celebrated in five levels of awards: Best of Show, Outstnading Achievement, Award of Excellence, Award of Merit and Award of Recognition.

The judging takes place by in-house staff and a committee of industry professionals including Emmy, Telly and Communicator award nominees and recipients.

As with the Tellys and regional Emmy Awards, entries do not compete against each other. Instead, entries are judged against a high standard of merit and are scored accordingly. Judges score entries on a performance scale and winning entries are recognized and awarded as Outstnadning Achievement, Awards of Excellence, Awards of Merit, Award of Recognition or no award.

Best of Show honors are granted to the top scoring entry for each season.  Awards of Excellence are granted to entries with truly exceptional filmmaking.  Notable artistic and technical productions are recognized at the Award of Merit award level and Award of Recognition recognizes achievement in a specific category of entry.

No fixed number of awards are granted at any level but rather fluctuate based on the total number of entries received for each competition deadline.

Notification:

Each submission received through the Best Shorts Competition website or film portals will be contacted via electronic mail to confirm entry. Film portals such as Film Freeway will also be notifies through their system.

After judging is completed, winners in all categories will be notified of their award and are provided the opportunity to acquire statuettes and other keepsakes to commemorate their achievement. Submissions that were not awarded will be notified after the judging process.

We proudly comply with Film Festival best practices

Serving Filmmakers is our

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

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While Heather Morris’s novelisation of the memoirs of Holocaust survivor Lale Sokolov has not been without its controversy (the Auschwitz Memorial Research Centre has criticised it for some factual inaccuracy), it is an extraordinary love story set against the backdrop of evil and I have found the tv adaptation to be harrowing and powerful. I think it is vitally important that these stories keep being told for generations to come.

Sokolov is played with sensitivity by Jonah Hauer-King – who looks uncannily like a young Mark Rylance – while the older version of him, portrayed passing on his memories to writer Morris, comes courtesy of an exceptional performance by Harvey Keitel. It is shocking – over and over, it is shocking – and yet contains moments of genuine human beauty whose contrast with mankind’s most shameful acts makes them seem all the more touching.

Kara Talve and Hans Zimmer

It can’t be at all easy for any composer to find the right tone for this sort of material – overdo any sentimentality and the criticism will flood in, go too hard on emphasising the beautiful moments and risk being accused of smoothing over the terror, treat it anything like a horror movie and then risk losing the small-scale triumph over adversity that ultimately is what plays out for specific characters while most of those around them are wiped out. The credited composers, Hans Zimmer and Kara Talve, both have personal connections to the time – Zimmer’s mother fled the Nazi regime shortly before the outbreak of the second world war, while Talve’s grandmother spent the war hiding with a piano teacher in France.

Poignantly, the very piano Talve’s grandmother used at that time is used in the score (it has a characterful, truly distinctive sound). Zimmer said of the approach to creating the music that he wanted to make it seem like an alien world – one that nobody would ever want to visit – and this lends it a very slightly detached feel which works very well indeed and avoids all the pitfalls mentioned previously.

The highlights however come in the scoring of those shimmers of light. The main theme, “Whatever It Takes”, underscores most of these in one form or another. Its simple, unmistakably Hebraic central melody is affecting – whether heard on solo violin, cello, the old piano and even in a vocal version by no less than Barbra Streisand it is powerful and direct. The other most powerful device in the score is a kind of (presumably) electronic chime which is used to horrifying effect to signify deaths – if you hear it out of context without having seen the show you may be tempted to think it is anachronistic, but it’s actually quite extraordinarily powerful in context – it appears throughout the score, and proves the notion that sometimes the most simple ideas are the best.

Necessarily – and obviously – the album can be an uncomfortable listen at times. “Not Long Now” is harrowing – the familiar violin transported to an instrument of terror, those chimes of death dotted hauntingly throughout. “I Will Find You” contrasts screeching violin with a calm cello as tragedy unfolds. But you need those moments – for the shimmers of light to appear so bright, they have to be there. The whole story has to be told, and Zimmer and Talve tell it so well. It is unflinching in its portrayal of evil, gently and entirely unsentimentally celebratory when it can portray beauty. It’s an impressive piece of work.

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“Saved!” and “Rudo y Cursi” Among Films With May Anniversaries

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Diego Luna’s character Beto aims to play professional soccer in Carlos Cuarón’s film “Rudo y Cursi.”

By Lucy Spicer

Can you believe we’re almost at the midpoint of 2024? Before summer arrives (and flies by in what will surely feel like mere moments), why not take some time to look back on what this year has brought into your life so far? Our monthly ritual of commemorating anniversaries for Sundance-supported film releases may leave us feeling old (how has it already been 20 years since Mandy Moore threw a Bible at Jena Malone in Saved!?), but it also reminds us that our favorite films have had a hand in shaping our lives.

This month’s batch of films includes a tale about a persistent (and hilarious) Australian family, a love story set in a small Chinese village, a religious satire that doubles as a teen film, a comedy-drama where two brothers compete on the soccer field, and a documentary about one of the world’s largest parties for electronic dance music.

The Castle (1999) — Tow-truck driver Darryl Kerrigan (Michael Caton) has a distinctly working-class lifestyle with his loving family in their home located directly adjacent to the airport. But to the Kerrigans, their house is their castle and they couldn’t be happier. The family’s unconventional paradise is threatened when the government sends them a notice of compulsory acquisition — their house will be sacrificed so that the airport can expand. Unwilling to relinquish their precious home, the Kerrigans take their claim of unlawful eviction all the way to the highest court in the country. Directed by Rob Sitch and shot in only 11 days on Super 16 mm film, The Castle has become an icon of Aussie cinema. The extremely quotable comedy opened in Australia in 1997 before screening at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival and releasing in U.S. theaters the following year. Check here for viewing options.

The Road Home (2001) — When narrator Luo Yusheng (Sun Honglei) hears that his father has died, he departs for the village where he grew up — and where his father served as a teacher for 40 years — to help his mother prepare for the funeral. The film’s present-day black-and-white scenes serve as a frame for the narrator’s parents’ epic love story, recounted in vibrant color. Directed by Zhang Yimou, The Road Home was adapted for the screen by Bao Shi based on his novel Remembrance. The film screened at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the World Cinema Audience Award. Check here for viewing options.

Saved! (2004) — Teenage Mary (Jena Malone) is living her best life as an Evangelical Christian: She’s entering her senior year at a good Christian school, she’s a member of a girl group led by super-Christian Hilary Faye (Mandy Moore), and she’s dating Dean (Chad Faust), the ideal Christian boyfriend. When Dean admits that he might be gay, Mary’s world turns upside down. Her efforts to “help” Dean go awry, but even as Mary begins to question everything she’s built her life on, she discovers friendship and acceptance in unexpected places. Director Brian Dannelly’s tongue-in-cheek satire premiered at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival and features an ensemble cast that includes

SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: LONDON 2024 REVEALS FULL PROGRAMME LINE-UP BURSTING WITH BOLD CINEMATIC VOICES FOR 11TH EDITION

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IN ADDITION TO FICTION AND DOCUMENTARY FEATURES, THE SELECTION INCLUDES:
● PROGRAMME OF SPECIALLY CURATED UK SHORT FILMS ● SURPRISE FILM SCREENING RETURNS ● PROGRAMME WILL ALSO INCLUDE TITLES TO CELEBRATE 40TH EDITION OF THE SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL IN THE U.S.

Tickets on sale to Picturehouse members and festival passholders now

Tickets to general public on sale April 30

Festival runs at Picturehouse Central, London, 6-9 June 2024

London, 23 April 2024 — Picturehouse and the nonprofit Sundance Institute announced today the lineup of 11 feature fiction and documentary films, a specially curated programme of UK short films and a strand of repertory titles to celebrate the 40th edition of the Sundance Film Festival in the U.S. for the 11th edition of Sundance Film Festival: London 2024, taking place from 6 to 9 June at Picturehouse Central.

These 11 feature films premiered at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival in Utah in January and were specially curated for London by the Sundance Film Festival programming team in collaboration with Picturehouse. The Festival previously announced that it will open on 6 June with the UK premiere of writer and director Rich Peppiatt’s raucous and infectious Irish-language film, Kneecap and will close on 9 June with the UK premiere of Dìdi (弟弟) written and directed by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Sean Wang.

In addition to those award-winning opening and closing night films, the Festival presents a full programme bursting with buzzy hits from established and first-time feature filmmakers, across narrative film and documentary. These titles are: Sasquatch Sunset by acclaimed directors David and Nathan Zellner, starring Riley Keough (Mad Max: Fury Road, American Honey) and Academy Award® nominee Jesse Eisenberg (Zombieland, The Social Network); Rob Peace, Chiwetel Ejiofor’s adaptation of Jeff Hobbs’ bestselling and critically acclaimed biography; monster rom-com Your Monster, Caroline Lindy’s wholly original debut; Megan Park’s fresh coming-of-age journey of self-discovery My Old Ass starring Maisy Stella (Nashville) and Aubrey Plaza (Emily The Criminal);  Jane Schoenbrun’s second feature, I Saw The TV Glow;  Shuchi Talati’s Girls Will Be Girls winner of the 2024 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic and World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Acting presented to Preeti Panigrahi earlier this year. The list is rounded off with Thea Hvistendahl’s chilly, disturbing Handling The Undead from Norway, winner of the 2024 Sundance Film Festival World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Original Music presented to Peter Raeburn at this year’s Festival, starring Renate Reinsve (The Worst Person In The World). The documentaries include Skywalkers: A Love Story by multi-Emmy award winning filmmaker Jeff Zimbalist and Never Look Away by Lucy Lawless in her directorial debut.

Once again, the line-up includes a short film programme that is dedicated to UK productions, highlighting some of the amazing talent in the Short Film art form, in films either produced with the UK or made by fil

A Primer on Global Warming, Courtesy of 8 Sundance Film Festival Films

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A still from Climate Refugees

By Vanessa Zimmer

Every April 22 since 1970, Americans have celebrated Earth Day, the dawn of the environmental movement. Now, joined by more than 190 countries on the occasion, activists have banded together to battle polluted air, polluted water, the loss of natural spaces and wildlife, and so much more.

Filmmakers take part in their own fashion, using their lenses to bring the reality of these universal dangers to the masses and a sense of humanity to the stories — like the villagers who lose their livelihoods, their homes to disappearing water supplies.

This year, we at the Sundance Institute choose to focus on perhaps the most urgent of all environmental threats: global warming. We have selected eight films about climate change, which take a look at rising temperatures not only across the land, but also in the seas.

From the Oscar-winning An Inconvenient Truth to 2022’s winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Festival, Utama, check out these explorations of the harmful effects of weather changes globally. (For a more in-depth piece on Utama, click here).

 

An Inconvenient Truth (2006 Sundance Film Festival) — Perhaps the forefather of global warming films, this is the passionate story of former Vice President Al Gore’s dedication to sounding the alarm on the imperative of reversing the trend. “Traveling the world, he has built a visually mesmerizing presentation designed to disabuse doubters of the notion that climate change is debatable,” writes Sundance programmer Caroline Libresco in the Festival Film Guide. The film won an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. Available on Showtime.

Everything’s Cool (2007 Sundance Film Festival) — Denial and deception play the enemies in this documentary, a character-driven piece focusing on the scientists and activists who tried early on to draw attention to global warming. Those characters include a journalist, a Weather Channel climatologist, and a public servant who whistle-blows on the political manipulation of climate-change research. Co-director Judith Hefland called them the “Paul Reveres” of the energy revolution.

Climate Refugees (2010 Sundance Film Festival) — Drought and rising sea levels, both brought about by global warming, are making emigrants of people in Sudan, Bangladesh, China, the islands of Tuvalu, and elsewhere. Where can they go? Writer-director-cinematographer Michael Nash spent two years traveling the globe to tell these human stories. Available on IMDb, Pluto, and Tubi.

Chasing Ice (2012 Sundance Film Festival) — Director-cinematographer Jeff Orlowski followed National Geographic photographer James Balog, with equipment he developed to withstand extremely harsh weath

Latest RTM Pitch winner announced as IFFR 2025 dates confirmed

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54st International Film Festival Rotterdam
30 January – 9 February 2025

 

 

Researcher and filmmaker Sharine Rijsenburg will receive €20,000 towards the production of her Afrofuturistic project Bubbling Baby.

 

With IFFR 2025 confirmed to take place from Thursday 30 January to Sunday 9 February 2025, International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) announces the winner of its latest RTM Pitch. Bubbling, a cultural movement fusing dance, rhythm and electronic music born out of Rotterdam’s Afro-Caribbean community in the 1990s, is the focus of a documentary project awarded a grant of €20,000 by International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) together with the municipality of Rotterdam.

Researcher and filmmaker Sharine Rijsenburg will explore Bubbling culture as having both a deep imprint on the city’s identity whilst being simultaneously undervalued. As the winner of the RTM Pitch, the project will receive expert guidance and aims to premiere at IFFR 2025.

Sharine Rijsenburg: “I started as a Young Selector at IFFR in 2019, and it feels like a dream to make my own film for the RTM programme now, five years later. For me, Bubbling Baby is a film about how we in Rotterdam, as a multicultural metropolis, celebrate, remember and appreciate our night culture. The Bubbling subculture shows a history that has helped shape Rotterdam’s identity, yet has remained invisible. With this fil

Interview With Composer Will Bates for Score of Michael Mohan’s IMMACULATE; Premiere at SXSW

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Interview With Composer Will Bates About Score For Director Michael Mohan’s IMMACULATE, starring Sydney Sweeney; Premiere at SXS

Composer Will Bates has composed original scores for a myriad of filmmakers including acclaimed directors Mike Cahill (Another Earth; I Origins; Bliss), Alex Gibney (We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks; Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief; Zero Days; The Forever Prisoner), Ry Russo-Young (You Won’t Miss MeNobody Walks) and Fisher Stevens (Mission BlueBright Lights). 

Bates’ upcoming projects include Dark Sky Films’ Blackout, directed by Larry Fessenden and starring Marshall Bell, which hits theaters (limited run) on March 13th. Notable credits include Craig Gillespie’s Dumb Money; FX’s Class of ’09; AMC+’s Anne Rice's Mayfair Witches; Dean Craig’s comedy film The Estate; Michael Mohan’s thriller The Voyeurs; Michael Tyburski’s drama film The Sound of Silence; Starz's Sweetbitter; and the drama/sci-fi series Away; Netflix’s Golden Globe and Emmy-nominated mini-series Unbelievable; and the thriller limited series Devil in Ohio; SyFy’s hit series The Magicians; the George R.R. Martin produced series Nightflyers; Hulu’s series The PathChance; and The Looming Tower; NBC’s Rise; and more. Bates’ recent score for Michael Mohan’s Immaculate, starring Sydney Sweeney, premiered at SXSW on Tuesday, March 12th and hit theaters on March 22nd.


In an interview with Will Bates after the festival, here is what he had to say:
 

Can you tell us about your music background and what led you to film scoring?

WILL: I’ve always wanted to be a film composer. I think I was about 6 or 7 when I sang the entire score of Star Wars to my parents one morning. And once I realized that one man was responsible for all the tunes I’d been humming in my head, I decided I wanted to be John Williams when I grew up. I started playing the saxophone and at about 12 or 13 I got very into jazz. I had a rethink and thought maybe I’d like to be Cannonball Adderley instead. With my buddy Quentin Collins, I started playing in jazz clubs and bars around London from the age of about 14, masquerading as an 18-year-old, wearing my dad’s oversized suits. Then I discovered electronic music and released some obscure dance music on tiny London labels. I later moved to New York and became the lead singer of an Indie Rock band called The Rinse. We toured the US, opened for some big bands, and had a record released in Japan. But generally, we somehow dodged success like skilled ninjas. But all through that time, my lingering first love of scoring remained. The only way I ever learnt to support myself was by scoring commercials, first in London, and fi

Mexico City Watchlist: 7 Sundance Festival Films Written by Women

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[Pictured: A still from Sujo]

By Stephanie Ornelas 

“There are so many stories and layers to be told within Ciudad de México,” Paloma Riojas says over Zoom. The screenwriter/producer has a special place in her heart for Mexico City. Having lived and worked there, she knows that the city’s film scene is hungry and ready for more. Later this month, the first edition of Sundance Film Festival CDMX will take place, in partnership with Cinépolis, ready to expand the global community of independent filmmakers and film lovers.

A diverse and vibrant city, CDMX has been the hub of Mexican independent storytelling for decades and, in the runup to the Festival, we’re highlighting Institute-supported stories centered on Mexico City.

“Mexico City is such a rich environment to share stories and to have things written because it is like Los Angeles,” explains Riojas. “It has the gamut of perspectives and experiences that showcase the broad spectrum of how many different lives are being lived all at the same time in that rich and highly populated place.”

Riojas’ short film Nana, which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival as part of the Sundance Institute Short Film Challenge, is one of seven projects written by women that we’re spotlighting today.

Something that’s often discussed is how Latine women filmmakers are still grappling with gender inequity and sourcing funding for their projects. Women storytellers are working tirelessly to change that, and the needle is definitely moving. Last year, for the first time ever, women dominated the nominations for Best Director at the Ariel Awards (Mexican Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences). And just this past January at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival, writer-directors Astrid Rondero and Fernanda Valadez won the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic for their film Sujo

“[Stories written by women] can be universal, but they’re also wholly unique. It’s very important, and needed, to highlight stories written by women and to open up spaces for that to happen,” adds Riojas. 

Before we journey to Mexico City on April 25 to showcase 12 features and 10 Mexican shorts at Cinépolis Diana and Cinépolis VIP Miyana, explore the following Sundance-supported films based in Mexico City that were written by women.  

Red Dawn (Rojo Amanecer) — 1991 Sundance Film Festival

Jorge Fons’ drama, which was co-written by Guadalupe Ortega and Xavier Robles, addresses the massacre of more than 400 students by the Mexican army at Plaza de las Tres Culturas in Mexico City in 1968. Following a middle-class family who live in the Tlatelolco Housing complex that overlooks the plaza, the film explores the atrocities committed by military forces. Red Dawn (Rojo Amanecer) screened in the “Images of Mexico and Latin America” section at the 1991 Sundance Film Festival. 

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