Venice Film Festival to Honor Jane Fonda and Robert Redford


The festival will screen the Netflix original film ‘Our Souls at Night.’

Jane Fonda and Robert Redford will be honored with Golden Lions for Lifetime Achievement at the 74th Venice International Film Festival on Sept. 1 at the Palazzo del Cinema.

After the awards ceremony, the festival will screen the world premiere of Netflix film Our Souls at Night by Ritesh Batra, starring Fonda and Redford and produced by Redford and his company Wildwood Enterprises, organizers said Monday.

Our Souls at Night is a Colorado-set film about two neighbors who meet after decades of living in the same small town with very little contact.

Actress and producer Fonda also has an honorary Palme d’Dr, as well as two Academy Awards (for best actress in 1971 for Klute and in 1978 for Coming Home), three Golden Globes and an AFI Life Achievement Award.

Noted environmentalist, actor, director and producer Redford, in addition to founding the Sundance Institute, has won a Directors Guild of America Award, a Golden Globe Award and the Academy Award for best director for his feature film directorial debut Ordinary People. He has also won six Golden Globes and in 2012 won the Venice Film Festival’s Open Prize and Vittorio Veneto Award for The Company You Keep.

The 74th Venice International Film Festival takes place Aug. 30-Sept. 9. 



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'The Big Sick,' 'Marjorie Prime,' Kristen Stewart's Short Heading to Sundance London


The 14 feature-strong lineup for the festival’s U.K. summer spin-off has been revealed.

The program for the 2017 edition of Sundance Film Festival: London, the Utah festival’s British spin-off, has been announced. 

14 feature films have been selected from the offerings at Park City in January, including the Judd Apatow-produced comedy The Big Sick, Jonn Hamm-starrer Marjorie Prime, Brooklyn-based actioner Bushwick and environmental documentary Chasing Coral, which won the U.S. doc audience award. Also in the lineup are 15 shorts, including Come Swim, written and directed by Kristen Stewart, while the festival will close with David Lowery’s A Ghost Story, starring Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara. Lowery will also take part in one of the festival’s Q&As. 

“As we head into our fifth festival in London, we remain committed to introducing new American independent films to audiences around the world,” said Sundance founder Robert Redford. “Our success in the U.K. is a reflection of the enormous creativity of independent artists and the stories they tell, as well as the curious and adventurous audiences who have made us feel right at home in the heart of London.”

As had previously been announced, Sundance: London will open with Beatriz at Dinner, with star Salma Hayek set to introduce the film. 

The festival will run June 1-4 at London’s Picturehouse Central cinema. 



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'Goodfellas' Cinematographer Michael Ballhaus Dies at 81


The German DOP worked with star directors like Martin Scorsese, Robert Redford, Rainer Werner Fassbender and Wolfgang Petersen.

Veteran German cinematographer Michael Ballhaus, who brought his trademark panoramic tracking shot to the works of Robert Redford, Martin Scorsese and Rainer Werner Fassbender, has died. He was 81.

Ballhaus passed away Tuesday evening in Berlin after a short illness, the German publishing house Verlags-Anstalt, which published his autobiography in 2014, said Wednesday. “Michael Ballhaus was an cinematographer who create unforgettable images. And he was a man with a sense of style, subtlety and a political commitment,” DVA’s Thomas Rathnow, a publisher with Random House Germany, said in a statement while paying tribute to Ballhaus. 

The German cinematographer received three Oscar nominations during his career, for work on Gangs of New York, The Fabulous Baker Boys and Broadcast News. Born in August 1935 in Eichelsdorf, Germany, Ballhaus started in film after director Max Ophuls, a relative, allowed him onto the set of Lola Montes in 1955.

He followed Lilienthal to New York to handle the camera work on Dear Mr. Wonderful in 1981. A year later, Ballhaus worked with John Sayles on Baby, It’s You.

Over a long Hollywood career, Ballhaus’ DOP credits included Goodfellas for Martin Scorsese, Robert Redford’s The Legend of Bagger Vance and Air Force One for Wolfgang Petersen. Scorsese first picked Ballhaus to lens the 1985 dark comedy After Hours and they instantly connected.

The German cinematographer would go on to shoot other Scorsese films like The Last Temptation of Christ and The Departed, his last Hollywood effort.

Ballhaus shot 17 movies with German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder, including The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant and The Marriage of Maria Braun. It was during the shooting of Martha that Ballhaus developed his legendary 360-degree tracking shot, where the camera moves in a full circle around an actor.

He was married to the German actress Helga Maria Betten from 1960 to 2006 and to Sherry Hormann starting in 2011.



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Hollywood Flashback: In 1998, Scarlett Johansson Was 'Horse Whisperer's' Tomboy Teen


The ‘Ghost in the Shell’ actress, who landed her breakout role at 13, “brought a heartache to the part that seemed to come from experience beyond her years,” says co-writer Richard LaGravanese.

The word “whisperer” is slapped on to obstreperous subjects — dogs, ghosts, U.S. presidents, what have you — to denote someone skilled at reining them in. The trope began with The Horse Whisperer, a 1998 weepy directed by and starring Robert Redford. He plays Tom Booker, a Montana wrangler/Zen master who helps a tomboy named Grace (Scarlett Johansson, then 13) and her horse, Pilgrim, overcome the trauma of a riding accident that left her leg partially amputated.

Based on the 1995 best-seller by Nicholas Evans, the movie was the first to feature Redford on both sides of the camera. It was also Johansson’s first starring role in a studio picture. (She had earned a Spirit award nomination for the 1996 indie Manny & Lo.)

The shoot was not without its controversies: While trainer Buck Brannaman, who inspired the title character, served as a technical consultant, the final cut contained several horse-training no-nos, including Redford wearing a large ring — a sure way to lose a finger. The film drew high marks from THR, which called it a “vital, subtle story” and singled out its trio of leads — Kristin Scott Thomas rounds things out as Grace’s workaholic mom — as its strongest asset. “Johansson is winning,” the review noted. “She gains our sympathies as a young girl whose future has been horribly changed.” Richard LaGravanese, who co-wrote the screenplay (he also adapted 1995’s The Bridges of Madison County), says Johansson “brought a heartache to the part that seemed to come from experience beyond her years.”

The $80 million movie was a hit for Touchstone, earning $187 million globally ($280 million today). Johansson’s films have earned $3.6 billion, making her the highest-grossing actress of all time. She next headlines Ghost in the Shell, based on the Japanese manga property, out March 31. 

This story first appeared in the March 29 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.



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Robert Redford Pens Letter Opposing Trump's NEA Defunding Proposal


“This is entirely the wrong approach at entirely the wrong time. We need to invite new voices to the table, we need to offer future generations a chance to create, and we need to celebrate our cultural heritage,” writes Redford.

Robert Redford is joining the various groups, including the Sundance Institute, that are speaking out against Trump’s proposed federal budget cut to the arts. In an open letter, Redford credited the National Endowment for the Arts for the success of his Sundance Institute and the Sundance Film Festival, saying that the funding “must not only survive, but thrive.”

“This is entirely the wrong approach at entirely the wrong time,” writes Redford. “We need to invite new voices to the table, we need to offer future generations a chance to create, and we need to celebrate our cultural heritage.”

Redford noted that the NEA budget is small compared to other government spending, writing that “more than dollars, the NEA represents a civilization that values critical and creative thought.”

“I’m asking you to please join me in adding your voice to the chorus of concerned citizens by contacting your congressional representative and voicing your opposition to these cuts and in favor of continued support for the role the arts play in enriching our American story,” Redford added.

Trump’s $1.15 trillion budget (unveiled to Congress on Thursday) cuts funding for many arts organizations, including public broadcasting, to finance an increase in the military and put a down payment on the U.S.-Mexico border wall. The budget has caused organizations including the Sundance Institute, the Recording Academy and the PBS to speak out – PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger told THR the cost of public broadcasting is $1.35 per citizen, per year, which is “less than a cup of coffee.”

Redford credited the NEA for contributing a $25,000 grant in 1981 that launched his Sundance Institute as well as the Sundance Film Festival to support young filmmakers.

“That first promising investment from the NEA, and their belief in my project was vital to launching programs that now support tens of thousands of American artists working in film and theater and new media,” writes Redford.

He concluded the letter with a quote to which he “couldn’t agree more”  from President Lyndon Johnson in 1965 when the NEA was founded. “It is in the neighborhoods of each community that a nation’s art is born. In countless American towns there live thousands of obscure and unknown talents. What this bill really does is to bring active support to this great national asset, to make fresher the winds of art in this great land of ours.”



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Berlin: Robert Redford, Jackie Chan to Narrate 'Earth: One Amazing Day'


The film is a sequel to BBC Earth Films’ ‘Earth.’

Robert Redford will narrate Earth: One Amazing Day, the sequel to BBC Earth Films’ hit 2007 film Earth, while Jackie Chan will narrate the Mandarin language release.

Directed by Peter Webber (The Girl with the Pearl Earring) and Richard Dale (The Human Body), Earth: One Amazing Day will explore Earth’s creatures on the big screen, up close and personal in an immersive voyage across the continents.

The film is currently in post-production at the BBC Earth Films’ studio under a production team including leading screenwriter Frank Cottrell-Boyce and composer Alex Heffes.

A BBC Earth Films and SMG Pictures co-production, Earth: One Amazing Day is the first film to be produced under the U.K. and China co-production deal and co-producer SMG Pictures. Chan will narrate the Mandarin version of the film, which is being co-directed by Lixin Fan (Last Train); screenwriter Geling Yan (Flowers of War, Coming Home) and music producer Roc Chen (Chinese Music Consultant on Kung Fu Panda 3) rounding out the team.

Pascal Degove, managing director of Goldcrest Films will be hosting a private screening for select distributors at the European Film Market in Berlin.

“Robert Redford and Jackie Chan each lending their voices to the film is the icing on the cake for what is already a formidable international talent line up on this world class film,” says producer Stephen McDonogh. “Their storytelling will further captivate the hearts and minds of audiences, by bringing them closer to wilds of nature in this extraordinary cinematic journey across the natural world all in a single day.”

Redford, known for his iconic acting career, founding of the Sundance Film Festival and his environmental activism, was most recently seen in the Captain America franchise and Charlie McDowell’s The Discovery, which premiered at Sundance. He is repped by WME and Jackoway Tyerman.

Chan was most recently seen in Railroad Tigers, and voices a character in the  upcoming LEGO Ninjago Movie. He is repped by CAA and Bloom Hergott.

The first Earth recorded $112 million in box office.

 



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Critic's Notebook: Sundance Needs to Go on a Diet


The festival has grown too unwieldy, THR’s chief film critic writes, and could address logistical concerns and make a statement of artistic integrity by downsizing.

There are many different possible takeaways from the 2017 edition of the Sundance Film Festival, but the following is one of them: This is the year that it can be definitively said that Sundance has grown too big for Park City. I’ve been here every year since 1985 and so have witnessed every stage of the growth of both the festival and the town. It’s easy to be nostalgic about the early days, when you could find a parking space on Main Street anytime, most of the screenings were at the Egyptian, the awards ceremony was held in a hotel dining room and there were precisely two taxi cabs in the entire town.

But I’m not nostalgic, and that’s not the point. I think it’s extraordinary what Sundance has become, and what it’s done on behalf of Robert Redford’s stated original intent, which was to serve the interests of the filmmakers. Everything else was secondary. So many careers have been made, boosted and celebrated here, and what started as a small gathering of like-minded pioneers making films outside the Hollywood system (however much many of them craved becoming part of it) has become one of the three or four essential destinations on the international festival circuit.

Sundance grew in spasms, responding to the sudden growth spurts of the independent American cinema — along with increased specialized distribution — through the 1990s and beyond. Park City grew enormously as well, partly because of the attention the festival brought to it; crucial venues — the Eccles, the Racquet Club (now the MARC), and then the more far-flung Temple and the Redstone screens — vastly expanded the festival’s capacity to handle more screenings and audiences. But while Park City may have become known to some initially because of the festival, much more responsible for the boom in the town’s fame and fortune were the area’s growth as a ski destination and the Winter Olympics in February of 2002, which made Park City internationally known.

It’s hard to put an exact date on it, but pop-up branding sites and retail establishments starting turning up on Main Street during the festival in the 1990s, and by the end of that decade traffic was getting pretty bad on the weekends. There was a time Redford threatened to take the festival elsewhere (Los Angeles was one mentioned possibility) unless the city complied with certain requirements, and obviously he prevailed, as a deal was made to keep the festival in Park City for many years. That agreement has reportedly been extended until, I believe, 2020, at which time the issue can once more be addressed. But I’m told — and I firmly believe — that Redford will never move the festival out of Park City, no matter what.

And I don’t think he should; the mountain setting is integral to the festival’s identity and its timing as the first major international festival of the year is ideal. But something’s got to give. This year it became painfully obvious that there were too many people and cars for Park City to handle. The snow didn’t help, nor did the Women’s March, which closed down the main drag for hours. But those were exceptional events. The traffic has been horrendous, the logistics ridiculous. I took two Uber rides of less than ten minutes’ duration that each cost $60. There’s no other film festival in the world where the physical combination of weather, distance between venues and too many people in a small town create such obstacles to doing what you’re here to do.

Since I don’t believe the festival will ever move, I see only one possible alternative: It should deliberately shrink itself a bit. Under the venturesome yet steady guidance of John Cooper and Trevor Groth, Sundance has grown to the point where you can reasonably call it a mature festival. The addition of the Next category a few years ago was an excellent move and the international sections have consolidated to proper sizes.

But the impulse to constant growth does not have to be indulged; the Sundance Film Festival is not an international corporation or a ravenous sea monster that must keep growing or die. A tad more than 100 new films debuted at Sundance in 2017, which is more than enough, maybe even a few too many. If the impulse to trim the festival’s sails a bit were to be considered, it could be initiated by eliminating three or four titles in the Premieres section, where there are always a few duds. The competition categories, the core of the festival, should remain as they are, whereas the number of films in the remaining categories of Next, Midnight and Kids should be flexible, as they already seem to be up to a point, depending upon the quality available.

Because television is where so much of the great action is these days, and because there is an increasing overlap and blurring of what constitutes cinema and television, Sundance is going to have to decide how to handle what was formerly considered an entirely different medium. The festival has started wading into “television” and video, just as it has always provided a sampling of avant-garde fare. But because the amount of quality and adventurous work will increasingly be done for what is broadly called “home entertainment,” trying to accommodate all this visual work under the banner of the Sundance Film Festival will inevitably bust the seams of the place.

One option would be to keep the number of programs more or less fixed and invite only the best from both worlds, thereby avoiding the issue of what should be deemed film or television (Sundance scored a major and daring coup last year by running the entirety of the extraordinary eight-hour documentary O.J.: Made in America on opening day, although I can’t imagine too many people sat through the whole thing at the Egyptian that day. That said, Sundance can still claim the “film” as one of its own.)

An alternate approach to keeping the festival from growing to an ever-more unmanageable size would be to do what is still done in Europe, which is to stage separate film and television festivals. Even though the dividing line is growing increasingly vague by the day, definitions and ground rules could undoubtedly be promulgated.

The other factor I personally have no idea how to address is the fact that so many people are in Park City during Sundance who are not here to see, or work on behalf of, the films being shown. In the early days, undue crowding took place over the opening weekends when loads of college students from Salt Lake City and Provo piled in just to hang out on Main Street and gawk. The festival eventually got a handle on that. But now so many people come for reasons perhaps affiliated with aspects of things related to the festival, but not necessarily intrinsic to it.

I recall a year early on, more than 25 years ago, when Clint Eastwood made his only trip to Sundance, accompanied just by two of his close colleagues from Warner Bros. Eastwood walked the streets, checked out a couple of indie films at the Egyptian and the Holiday Cinemas, participated in one program and at night knocked back beers in the basement of one of the few local bars allowed to operate then while enthusing about a script called Unforgiven that he was looking forward to making soon. No one bothered him, and I’ll never forget the look on a local cop’s face when he ticketed Dirty Harry’s car late on a Saturday night for being parked slightly into a red zone. The ticket was torn up.

Now, every member of the cast and crew of every film seems to show up at Sundance, along with entourages of varying sizes. You go to parties where your first thought is, “Who are all these people?” As someone who’s been coming here virtually since the beginning, I can testify that Sundance is the only film festival in the world where, as you keep getting older, the filmmakers always remain exactly the same age. And I’ve had several 50-years-or-older taxi drivers this week readily (and remarkably cheerfully) admit that the biggest mistake they ever made was not investing in real estate back in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

The festival is not leaving town. So here’s one vote for it to lose a few pounds and tighten its belt a notch as a statement that quality, refinement and efficiency — and not unlimited growth — are Sundance’s intentions going forward.



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First Look: Robert Redford, Jane Fonda Reunite in Netflix Drama 'Our Souls at Night'


The two legendary actors first appeared on film together 50 years ago and haven’t shared the screen since 1979.

For the first time in 37 years, Robert Redford and Jane Fonda will share the screen. Reunited for the fourth time onscreen, Redford and Fonda will once again come together for Netflix’s 2017 drama Our Souls at Night

Redford and Fonda, who first appeared together on film 50 years ago in 1966’s Marlon Brando-led thriller The Chase, play widowed neighbors in Our Souls at Night, as shown in the first-look image released by Netflix below. In the movie based on Kent Haruf’s 2015 novel of the same name, Addie Moore (Fonda) pays an unexpected visit to Louis Waters (Redford) and though they they’d been neighbors for decades, they had little contact. Now all alone in their big houses with their children living far away, Addie seeks to establish a connection and make the most of the rest of the time they have. 

Rounding out the cast are Bruce Dern — another former onscreen beau of Fonda’s in 1978’s Coming Home and the Tom Buchanan to Redford’s Gatsby in 1974’s The Great Gatsby — Judy Greer, Matthias Schoenaerts and Iain Armitage. The film is directed by Ritesh Batra.

Fonda and Redford played a married couple separated by Redford’s character’s imprisonment in The Chase and followed that up a year later to play newlyweds in the 1967 romantic comedy Barefoot in the Park. The pair also starred opposite each other in 1979’s The Electric Horseman.



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Sundance Film Festival: London Sets 2017 Dates


The British edition of Robert Redford’s Utah festival will once again take place at the Picturehouse Central movie theater in the heart of the city’s West End in early June.

The Sundance Institute and U.K. exhibitor Picturehouse said Tuesday that the Sundance Film Festival: London, an international version of Robert Redford’s Utah festival, will return to the British capital in June 2017.

Once again set at the Picturehouse Central movie theater in the heart of the city’s West End, the event will take place June 1-June 4.

The festival will feature the international and U.K. premieres of films from the 2017 edition of the Sundance Film Festival, which takes place Jan. 19-Jan. 29 in Park City, Utah. The Utah lineup will be unveiled soon, with the 2017 London program set to be announced in the spring.

Film fans can register for festival passes for the 2017 London edition starting on Friday. Individual tickets will go on sale following the full London program announcement.

The Sundance Film Festival: London 2016 featured the U.K. and International premieres of 11 features, including Wiener-Dog, Weiner, The Greasy Strangler and Tallulah. The event also always screens short films and offers panel discussions and special events.

Among the attendees of the 2016 London edition were James Schamus, Todd Solondz, Christopher McQuarrie and Gina Rodriguez.

The first editions of the London event were held at the city’s O2 Arena.



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Robert Redford Says He'll Retire From Acting After Next Two Films


“Okay, that’s goodbye to all that,” he said in an interview with his grandson.

Robert Redford says he’ll soon be retiring from acting to focus on directing. 

In a new interview with his grandson, Dylan Redford, the Butch Cassidy actor said after his next two films he will no longer act and instead shift to helming features. 

“I’ve got two acting projects in the works: Our Souls at Night, with Jane Fonda, a love story for older people who get a second chance in life, and Old Man with a Gun, a lighter piece with Casey Affleck and Sissy Spacek,” he said.

Both Our Souls at Night and Old Man with a Gun are still in pre-production.

Redford continued: “Once they’re done then I’m going to say, ‘Okay, that’s goodbye to all that,’ and then just focus on directing.”

The last feature where Redford was at the helm was 2012’s The Company You Keep, which he starred in with Shia LaBeouf.

Redford’s decades-spanning career includes performances in The Sting, Out of Africa and All the President’s Men. Though he has never won an Oscar for acting, he took home the Best Director award for 1980’s Ordinary People.

Redford was most recently seen on the big screen in David Lowrey’s Pete’s Dragon, acting opposite Bryce Dallas Howard in Disney’s live-action/CG hybrid.



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