Broadway: "Chicago" in Manila!

The cast of Chicago with Manila journalists

Come on, babe
Why don’t we paint the town?
And all that jazz

I’m gonna rouge my knees
And roll my stockings down
And all that jazz

Start the car
I know a whoopee spot
Where the gin is cold
But the piano’s hot!

It’s just a noisy hall
Where there’s a nightly brawl
And all that jazz

MANILA, Philippines - Oh, yes! Forget Catherine Zeta-Jones. Forget Renée Zellwegger (yes, the actress who transformed her face recently because she found happiness!). Forget Queen Latifah. Heck, forget Rob Marshall’s Oscar-winning adaptation because the real Broadway musical is going to be in Manila — and seasoned Broadway favorites are going to be in town to razzle-dazzle the city to complete submission.

This writer flew to the mystifying city of New Orleans recently upon the invitation of Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, David Atkins Enterprises and Concertus Manila to catch the highly-anticipated debut of this season’s touring production of the phenomenal Broadway hit Chicago. The beautiful and ornate Saenger Theatre, with its old world charm, couldn’t have been the most perfect venue to launch the third longest-running Broadway musical in history. (On Nov. 23, Chicago will officially overtake Cats to hold the record as the second longest-running musical after The Phantom of the Opera.)

Chicago is a dazzling and entertaining musical. To an ordinary Broadway fan like yours truly, I was instantly captivated by it as if I was watching a magic show unravel on stage from very first familiar note to the final curtain call. The musicality! The theatricality! The choreography! The lighting! The costumes! The iconic and symbolic spare stage set that represents the soullessness of the two main protagonists! And, oh, yes, the actors! Everything and everyone were topnotch!

Right off the first trumpet note to the first finger snap, this writer was immediately transported to the world of Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart and, for two hours or so, there was just no looking back. You throw all your cares in the air and you allow yourself to be seduced by the maneuverings and the wrangling of the two infamous vixens as they try to parlay their notoriety into fame. In hindsight, I think the reason why the story felt immediately familiar is because it eerily captured the obsession we have with celebrities today. We want them bad, we want them bold, we want them classless, we want them completely empty and then we move on.

But no. Not for this production of Chicago. Once you’ve been to the show, there is just no easy way moving on from it. The charm that the actors cast their audience will likely linger as it did to this writer for days and weeks. I even occasionally say “Hi” to the very gracious Roz Ryan, who I’ve become somewhat friends with on Instagram. Ryan essays Matron “Mama” Morton on the show.

This production of Chicago features some of the finest Broadway actors and actresses working today. Collectively, the three actresses who inhabit the roles of Velma Kelly, Roxie Hart and Mama Morton have over three decades of experience playing their respective characters in Chicago and have performed together since 2008 — and it shows on stage. Oh, boy, how gloriously it shows!

(Manila is in for a great treat. All three actresses are coming to perform their roles. This writer has an exclusive interview with them and it will be featured in another story. Watch for it.)

From the very minute the luminous Terra MacLeod traipses on stage to open the musical with the signature All That Jazz tune, the audience finds itself helplessly hooked to her — with help from the exquisite lighting that bathes her in a glowing bright white — and the saga that is set to unfold for the succeeding two hours. One can almost feel the well-heeled New Orleans citizens trooping to the theater hold their enthusiasm as they wait for the first opportunity to express their appreciation. And throughout the entire show, at every opportunity, as if on cue, the audience, including this writer, would vigorously clap and applaud the incredible production that we were witnessing on stage.

Terra brings to Velma over 10 years of experience. She first brought life to the role in a French production of Chicago in Canada and has played the part all over the world, including acclaimed performances on Broadway and in London’s West End.

The show’s ultimate bad girl, Roxie, does not appear on stage until after Velma has claimed her spot. Roxie, the ever innocent, sweet girl who does not hide her life’s desire to be famous, tries to grab the limelight and seduce the audience when she sings Funny Honey to her timid husband Amos Hart and to her lover who she just murdered. But the audience will not be fooled. We all know what she’s up to.

Roxie is portrayed in this production by Mexico-born superstar Bianca Marroquin, who made her Broadway debut in 2002 with this role. She brings to the character a Roxie that’s evidently feistier, more cunning and definitely superior than the Roxie portrayed in the film. And, of course, her singing is incomparable. Not to add that the actress who portrayed Roxie in the film is now nearly unrecognizable — but that’s a story for another day.

The most seasoned performer in this production of Chicago is Roz. The very friendly actress holds a unique Broadway record: She has played more performances of Chicago than any other leading actress in the show’s historic 18-year run. She has been Mama Morton on stage for so long and it immediately becomes very apparent the minute she sashays on stage with enormous confidence and ownership of her character as the corrupt prison warden who is Velma and Roxie’s hope of fame and freedom — but not without cost.

Got a little motto
Always sees me through —
When you’re good to Mama
Mama’s good to you!

There’s a lot of favors
I’m prepared to do —
You do one for Mama
She’ll do one for you!

When Roz sings When You’re Good to Mama with such gusto and conviction, the audience feels like being trapped in her own cell block kingdom willing to be her subject and be obedient to her rules just so they can have that chance at fame that the two merry murderesses Velma and Roxie so desire.

There’s a certain perversion in watching and enjoying a show like Chicago but in the end what really matters is that this production brings to life an oft-lamented sick attraction of society to any headline-hogging news of people committing crimes against people while the poor victims are sadly relegated as back stories. Chicago is based on a 1926 play by court reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins who was so disturbed by the stories of crime and corruption in the city of Chicago and the concept of criminals becoming celebrities that she decided to write the play in the form of satire.

Her story seems oddly familiar today. One can change the setting to any city in the world and one will find the likes of Velma, Roxie, Mama Morton and Billy Flynn (the sleazy lawyer who makes criminals look more innocent than an infant) living in our midst.

And, sad as it seems, we may just have to live with it — and enjoy the decadence as a form of entertainment. And just as Roxie predicts her stardom when she sings:

The name on everybody’s lips is gonna be: Roxie
The lady raking in the chips is gonna be: Roxie
I’m gonna be a celebrity,
That means somebody everyone knows,
They’re gonna recognize my eyes, my hair, my teeth, my boobs, my nose.

Only one word will be on everyone’s lips in Manila after Dec. 3: Chicago! Make sure you are in on the conversation.

(Chicago is the inaugural production of The Theatre at Solaire. The show will run for three weeks and tickets are now available at or call tel. no. 891-9999.)

Author's note: This article first appeared in The Philippine Star on November 1, 2014. Online link can be found here: 

Below are my photos with the cast during the Opening Night after-party.

Author with Bianca Marroquin
Author with John O Hurley
Author with Terra MacLeod

Roz and Bianca
Author with Roz Ryan
Terra and Bianca

Raymond Lo

Film Review: "The Trial"

John Lloyd Cruz, Gretchen Barreto "THE TRIAL"

If one wants to be kind to the Star Cinema film "The Trial" by director Chito S. Roño and looks at it as a comedy on the hilarity of the justice system in the Philippines and the awkward integration of homosexuals into mainstream Filipino society then you will find yourself applauding the effort of the writers and the filmmakers. But sadly you will be reminded much too often that what you are watching is a melodrama carefully packaged as a socially relevant discourse on the following: rape, the haphazard justice system in the Philippines, social media, mental retardation, homosexuality, infidelity, death, marriage, and many others. The film attempts to cover so much that it feels like watching a distilled teleserye.

It's too bad because, for the first time in a long time, Gretchen Barreto acted her part quite well. Yes, she's supposed to be a psychologist but she was mostly a grieving mother all throughout and her blank, expressionless face worked to her advantage this time.

Richard Gomez was a disappointment however. The veteran actor has the build of a lawyer but the poorly- written court scenes did not do him any favor. John Lloyd Cruz was mildly effective and, oftentimes, his performance as a high-functioning developmentally disabled individual reminds you of how he usually acts "cute" in his regular rom-coms (I am not sure if it was how the character was researched by the writers).

Character actress Sylvia Sanchez has the meatiest part in the film as the lesbian mother of John Lloyd's character and, except for a few badly-written lines, she delivered the best performance in the movie. The actor who played her gay wife in the film was hilarious but it added nothing to the character.

The movie deliberately withheld one key plot detail until the predictable climax which was setup similar to a key scene in "A Few Good Men" when the two marines finally decide to tell the truth. The editing is the film's biggest strength which, to some extent, made the exposition more interesting but the lack of credible conflict and tension only led to a lackluster and dull finale.

Rating: 3 stars

Raymond Lo

Filming: “Same Kind of Different As Me”

Paramount Pictures announced today that Renee Zellwegger has started filming in Mississippi the adaptation of the best-selling nonfiction book by Ron Hall and Denver Moore with Lynn Vincent, author of the bestselling book Heaven Is for Real. The title of the movie? “Same Kind of Different As Me”. Hmm, what did she just say recently to explain her new look?

The Academy Award®-winning actress, who created quite a stir this week when she was photographed looking very much unlike the old Renee we all loved, will star with Academy Award®-nominees Greg Kinnear, Djimon Hounsou and Academy Award®-winner Jon Voight.

Michael Carney will make his directorial debut from a screenplay he co-wrote with Alexander Foard and Ron Hall. Mary Parent and Cale Boyter will produce through Disruption Entertainment, alongside Darren Moorman, Stephen Johnson and Ron Hall. The executive producers are Chris Bancroft, Hans Graffunder Michael Carney and Foard.

Principal photography began October 27th in Jackson, Mississippi.

“Same Kind of Different As Me” is the story of an international art dealer Ron Hall (Kinnear) who must befriend a dangerous homeless man (Hounsou) in order to save his struggling marriage to his wife (Zellweger), a woman whose dreams will lead all three of them on the most remarkable journey of their lives. Voight plays Hall's father, with whom he reconciles thanks to the revelations of his new life.

Raymond Lo

Oscars 2015: "Concrete Night"

Jari Virman (Ilkka) and Johannes Brotherus (Simo), CONCRETE NIGHT

“Concrete Night” starts with a dream that morphs into a nightmare for Simo, the central character in Finnish filmmaker Pirjo Honkasalo’s relentlessly depressing film about a boy’s final hours.

The film is shot in gorgeous black-and-white that heightens the dreamlike quality of the storytelling. The story is about Simo and his brother, the prison-bound Ilkka and tracks the final day of freedom for Ilkka before he starts serving his prison sentence. Simo is forced by his mother to spend the day with his brother because she fears Ilkka might harm himself.

Simo, at 14, is as impressionable as any teenager on the verge of puberty. He adores his brother, he hates his mother (who doesn’t seem to have any sense of what proper parenting is) and he regards with suspicion his neighbor – just because he behaves strangely (the film suggests that the neighbor could be gay.)

The film puts the audience into a hypnotic spell as it follows the two brothers around town. The movie is told from Simo’s perspective and from a night spent with his drunken brother he develops this belief that there is no more hope to be had from this world. That hope belongs to the weak.

It’s difficult to place the story in a world that’s familiar to the audience. Yes, it’s about a boy losing his sense of perspective but it seems more than that. Simo’s story seems to mirror society’s disregard of the promise of its youth. From the mother who would consider going on a date with a lover than to spend the day with her son or to a photographer who is misunderstood just because he appears different. The youth here is left to fend for itself. To recognize what is right and wrong. To act on impulse and disregard any consequence of his action until it is too late. And what is really depressing for this writer is how, until the very end, the youth is left to decide for him a fate he did not design, but a fate he thought was intended for him

This is definitely one of the best movies this writer has seen all year. It moves you to think about the story it presents but at the same time it comforts you with the notion that what you are watching is all but a dream and you have the option to wake up anytime. The beautiful cinematography and the strong performances by the cast specially the stunning young actor Johannes Brotherus, who plays Simo, make you all feel that – or, I guess, I am only trying to make me feel good by looking at it with hope versus Simo’s bleak perspective.

For a lover of cinema, the filmmaking here is simply majestic: The filmmaker’s aesthetic choices, her narrative technique and her brave depiction of the recklessness and hopelessness of the characters seem organic and innate – and it makes me so even sadder for Simo and Ilkka now that I am writing this review. Please excuse me, as I cry in sorrow again.

Rating: 5 Stars

Raymond Lo

Chito Rono's "The Trial" hits US cinemas!

Filipino director Chito Rono's latest film "The Trial" started its US theatrical run yesterday. The movie is playing in more than 30 cinemas all across the United States. To check for theaters and screening schedules near your city, click on this link:

Produced by Star Cinema, the top film company in the Philippines, "The Trial" gathers some of the finest talents working in local cinema today. Roño worked on the story and screenplay by Kriz G. Gazmen, Ricky Lee and Enrico Santos. The sterling cast is led by John Lloyd Cruz, Gretchen Barretto, Richard Gomez, Enrique Gil, Jessy Mendiola, Sylvia Sanchez, Vivian Velez, Vincent De Jesus, Benjamin Alves, among others.

A Curious Case: Flaws and Secrets

The marriage of lawyer JULIAN (Richard Gomez) and developmental psychologist AMANDA (Gretchen Barretto) is already crumbling. Aggravated by the tragic death of their only son, their relationship now is beyond any chance of mending.

That chance came when one day Julian and Amanda encounter a curious case. RONALD (John Lloyd Cruz), a person with intellectual disability, is accused of raping the niece of a renowned university head, BESSY (Jessy Mendiola). The already curious case becomes more intriguing when they learn that Ronald was their son’s best buddy.

Amanda is hired by Bessy’s camp to look into Ronald to prove his lucidity and intention – hence, implicating him of the crime. However, as she tries to get to know him, the truth about Ronald and his relationship with Bessy and her deceased son all unfold before her. Believing that Ronald could have not committed the crime, she withdraws from Bessy’s camp and decides to help him.

Working together, Julian and Amanda exert every possible effort to acquit Ronald of the crime. Little do they know that his case would mean facing the truth about their broken family – something they have forever lied to themselves about.

I invite you to watch the trailer of the "The Trial" below and then proceed to the nearest theater near you to watch the movie in full.

See you at the movies!

Raymond Lo

AFIFest2014: 3 Films in Focus

Free tickets are still being distributed until the start of the Festival on November 3. You may consider below three films when selecting what movies to watch. The subjects are diverse and the screening schedules are not in conflict.

To get your free tickets courtesy of Audi, go to this link:

Belgium, France. 
North American Premiere.

Director: Quentin Dupieux (RUBBER)
Screenplay: Quentin Dupieux
Cast: Alain Chabat, Jonathan Lambert, Elodie Bouchez, Kyla Kenedy, John Glover, Eric Wareheim, Jon Heder

A cameraman for a TV show is offered a chance to direct in this tapestry of dream logic that slides from one brilliantly bizarre situation to the next.

Festival screenings: Saturday, November 8, 9:30 PM and Sunday, November 9, 4:00 PM. 

United Kingdom

Director: Peter Strickland (BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO)
Screenplay: Peter Strickland (BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO)
Cast:Sidse Babett Knudsen, Chiara D'anna

An amateur butterfly collector and her housekeeper can’t get enough of their sadomasochistic games in this phantasmic tale.

Festival screenings: Tuesday, November 11, 10:00pm and Wednesday, November 12, 6:30pm.

Official Israel selection for the 87th Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film

Director: Ronit Elkabetz and Shlomi Elkabetz
Screenplay: Ronit Elkabetz and Shlomi Elkabetz
Cast: Ronit Elkabetz, Menashe Noy, Simon Abkarian, Sasson Gabay , Eli Gorstein, Rami Danon, Roberto Pollack.


Unfolding entirely in a small courtroom, this edge-of-your-seat film follows Viviane Amsalem’s tense battle for a divorce in Israel’s strict rabbinical court. 

Festival screenings: Saturday, November 8, 2:00pm and Wednesday, November 12, 7:45pm.

See you at the festival!

Raymond Lo

Trailers: "Avengers: Age of Ultron"

It's here! The future biggest movie of 2015 is here. The trailer, that is.

Oscars 2015: "Sayang Disayang"

“Sayang Disayang” is a poetic endearment in the Malay language that literally means “Dear, oh dear.”  I learned that a few days ago when I watched the film selected by Singapore as its official entry to this year’s Best Foreign Language Film race.

The movie tells the story of the fractious relationship between Murni, a homesick Indonesian caregiver slash domestic helper and her crabby and disabled older Singaporean master, a widower named Park Harun who sits on his wheelchair all day by the sliding glass door where the curtains are shut and seemingly waiting for someone to rescue him from his loneliness and helplessness. Park Harun resists all basic conversation with Murni and rudely expresses his dislike of the food that she serves him everyday including the traditional Nusantara dish Sambal Goreng. (Nusantara is a region in the Malay Archipelago – I hope I am correct.)

This stirring film, directed by Sanif Olek, is primarily a two-character drama that seeks to show how two people, yearning for comfort and happiness and are forced to live together by circumstances beyond their control (poverty for Murni and disability for Park Harun), gradually overcome the pains, bitterness and disappointments in their pasts by opening their broken hearts and accepting the basic fact about being a survivor – that life will inevitably march on whether we participate in it or not and that despite how hard we hold on to the things that we believe makes us faithful to our past, the present will always assert itself and allow us to choose, decide whether we want to be happy or not.

“Sayang Disayang” is structured in a multiple, fractured flashbacks and uses food and lots of music to tell a beautiful love story hidden in every shot of Murni pressing those bright red chili peppers as she prepares her signature Sambal Goreng dish or of Park Harun napping quietly in his favorite corner of the house next to the picture of his dead wife or of a pair of giant gold fish swimming in a pond outside the kitchen window which, to this writer at least, symbolizes the helplessness of Murni and Park Harun being trapped in a house together with their interaction limited to just her serving him meals or carrying him to his bed or of him verbally abusing her for anything be it food or her singing.

Murni sings to ease her homesickness and loneliness. She sings when she prepares food. She sings when she is doing the laundry. Most of the songs in this movie have cheerful lyrics that evoke of love and the happiness it brings, however, when Murni sings them, it brings forth a sense of prayer, a plea for some sort of release, of liberation.

I loved the movie. It’s simple and I admire how food and music were integrated into the narrative and made the film so rich in symbolic meanings and beautiful imagery. I also enjoyed the performances of the two leads. Aidli Mosbit and Rahim Razali are impressive in their respective roles and I thought the scenes of Aidli carrying Rahim up and down the stairs were some of the movie’s most powerful and moving scenes.

Rating: 4 Stars

Raymond Lo

AFIFest2014: "The Midnight Swim"

US Premiere (Breakthrough Category)

Screening dates: 
Friday November 7 - 7:00PM Chinese Theater 5
Saturday November 8 - 1:00PM Chinese Theater 5

When their mother goes missing in Spirit Lake, three half-sisters travel home to settle her affairs. The youngest sister, June (Lindsay Burge), a documentary filmmaker, captures their bittersweet homecoming. But when the sisters jokingly summon a local ghost, their relationship begins to unravel and they find themselves drawn deeper and deeper into the true mystery of the lake.

Transporting its audience to a place drenched in the supernatural, THE MIDNIGHT SWIM is an eerie, atmospheric exploration of the inexplicable pull towards the unknown. In her first feature, Sarah Adina Smith has created a world that is reminiscent of PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK, subverting the obvious genre tropes in favor of a touching tale of three women struggling to say goodbye.

THE MIDNIGHT SWIM stars Lindsay Burdge (A TEACHER), Jennifer Lafleur (DO-DECA PENTATHALON), Aleksa Palladino (“Boardwalk Empire”), Ross Partridge (BAGHEAD, THE OFF HOURS), Beth Grant (NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, THE ARTIST), Michelle Hutchison (FARGO, THIN ICE), and Shirley Venard (THE CURE).

THE MIDNIGHT SWIM is directed and written by Sarah Adina Smith. Producers are Mary Pat Bentel and Jonako Donley, with Executive Producers Jennifer Wilson, Samuel T. Bauer, and Steve Pearson. Director of Photography is Shaheen Seth and soundscape is by Ellen Reid.

USA / 2014 / 88 mins / DCP / English

Check out the film's website for more details: 

See you at the Festival!

Raymond Lo

AFIFest2014: Full Program Slate

Click here to get FREE tickets to the festival sponsored by Audi.


Opening Night (Thursday, November 6, 2014)

A MOST VIOLENT YEAR – Set in 1981, during one of the most crime-ridden winters in New York City’s history, A MOST VIOLENT YEAR follows the lives of Abel and Anna Morales (Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain) as they attempt to capitalize on the American Dream, while the rampant violence, decay, and corruption of the day drag them in and threaten to destroy all they have built.  World Premiere.

Centerpiece Galas 

INHERENT VICE – INHERENT VICE is the seventh feature from Academy Award® nominee Paul Thomas Anderson and the first ever film adaptation of a Thomas Pynchon novel.  When private eye Doc Sportello’s ex-old lady suddenly out of nowhere shows up with a story about her current billionaire land developer boyfriend whom she just happens to be in love with, and a plot by his wife and her boyfriend to kidnap that billionaire and throw him a loony bin…well, easy for her to say.  It’s the tail end of the psychedelic ‘60s and paranoia is running the day and Doc knows that “love” is another of those going around at the moment, like “trip” or “groovy,” that’s being way too overused—except that this one usually leads to trouble.  With a cast of characters that includes surfers, hustlers, dopers and rockers, a murderous loan shark, LAPD Detectives, a tenor sax player working undercover, and a mysterious entity knows as the Golden Fang, which may only be a tax dodge set up by some dentist…Part surf noir, part psychedelic romp – all Thomas Pynchon.

Screening Schedule: Saturday, November 8, 2014

THE GAMBLER – Jim Bennett (Academy Award® nominee Mark Wahlberg) is a risk taker.  Both an English professor and a high-stakes gambler, Bennett bets it all when he borrows from a gangster (Michael Kenneth Williams) and offers his own life as collateral.  Always one step ahead, Bennett pits his creditor against the operator of a gambling ring (Alvin Ing) and leaves his dysfunctional relationship with his wealthy mother (Academy Award® winner Jessica Lange) in his wake.  He plays both sides, immersing himself in an illicit, underground world while garnering the attention of Frank (John Goodman), a loan shark with a paternal interest in Bennett’s future.  As his relationship with a student (Brie Larson) deepens, Bennett must take the ultimate risk for a second chance… World Premiere.

Screening Schedule: Monday, November 10, 2014

THE HOMESMAN – When three women living on the edge of the American frontier are driven mad by harsh pioneer life, the task of saving them falls to the pious, independent-minded Mary Bee Cuddy (Hilary Swank).   Transporting the women by covered wagon to Iowa, she soon realizes just how daunting the journey will be, and employs a low-life drifter, George Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones), to join her. The unlikely pair and the three women (Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto, Sonja Richter) head east, where a waiting minister and his wife (Meryl Streep) have offered to take the women in. But the group first must traverse the harsh Nebraska Territories marked by stark beauty, psychological peril and constant threat.

Screening Schedule: Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A SPECIAL TRIBUTE TO SOPHIA LOREN – The evening will celebrate Loren’s illustrious career and coincides with the 50th anniversary of her Academy Award® nominated role in MARRIAGE ITALIAN STYLE [MATRIMONIO ALL’ITALIANA] (DIR Vittorio De Sica, 1964). A screening of her son Edoardo Ponti’s short film HUMAN VOICE (VOCE UMANA) in which she stars and MARRIAGE ITALIAN STYLE [MATRIMONIO ALL’ITALIANA] (DIR Vittorio De Sica, 1964).  MARRIAGE ITALIAN STYLE was restored in 2014 by Cineteca di Bologna, the Technicolor Foundation for Cinema Heritage and MEMORY! Cinéma Association and Surf Film.

Screening Schedule: Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Closing Night (Thursday, November 13, 2014)

FOXCATCHER – FOXCATCHER tells the story of Olympic Gold Medal-winning wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum), who sees a way out from the shadow of his more celebrated wrestling brother Dave (Mark Ruffalo) and a life of poverty when he is summoned by eccentric multi-millionaire John du Pont (Steve Carell) to move onto his estate and train for the 1988 Seoul Olympics.  Desperate to gain the respect of his disapproving mother, du Pont begins "coaching" a world-class athletic team and begins to lure Mark into an unhealthy lifestyle and erodes the athlete's already shaky self-esteem.  Fueled by du Pont's mercurial personality, increasing paranoia and alienation from the brothers, the trio is propelled towards a tragedy no one could have foreseen.  Based on actual events, FOXCATCHER, directed by Bennett Miller, is a gripping and profoundly American story of brotherly love, misguided loyalty, and the corruption and emotional bankruptcy that can accompany great power and wealth.


MOMMY (Official Oscar Entry from Canada)
SAINT LAURENT (Official Oscar Entry from France)
TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT (DEUX JOURS, UNE NUIT) (Official Oscar Entry from Belgium)

Click here for more details:


ON ACTING: A CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL KEATON AND EDWARD NORTON – Known for creative fearlessness and meticulous approaches to their craft, actors Michael Keaton and Edward Norton will discuss their careers.   Keaton and Norton currently star opposite each other in BIRDMAN OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE) (DIR Alejandro González Iñárritu).

ON CINEMATOGRAPHY: A CONVERSATION WITH ROGER DEAKINS – Legendary director of photography and 11-time Academy Award® nominee Roger Deakins shares his wisdom and expertise in a discussion about the art of cinematography, and his upcoming release UNBROKEN (DIR Angelina Jolie).

INDIE CONTENDERS ROUNDTABLE – The Hollywood Reporter presents a diverse panel of distinguished filmmakers who have done standout work this year in independent films.  The discussion, moderated by THR’s columnist and blogger Scott Feinberg, will touch on their lives, careers and influences, as well as the challenges and rewards of working on indies.

YOUNG HOLLYWOOD ROUNDTABLE – The Los Angeles Times returns with its very popular Young Hollywood Roundtable.  Some of the year’s hottest rising starts will engage in a lively discussion with the Times’ Amy Kaufman on their life in the industry and being thrust into the limelight.


GETT, THE TRIAL OF VIVIANE AMSALEM (Official Oscar Entry from Israel)
HAEMOO (Official Oscar Entry from South Korea)
HUMAN CAPITAL (IL CAPITALE UMANO) (Official Oscar Entry from Italy)
LEVIATHAN (Official Oscar Entry from Russia)
TIMBUKTU (Official Oscar Entry from Mauritania)
WILD TALES (RELATOS SALVAJES) (Official Oscar Entry from Argentina)

Click here for more details:


ALLELUIA – A hustler has the tables turned on him when a besotted con victim becomes his partner in crime in this genre-bending tale of sex and obsession.  DIR Fabrice Du Welz.  SCR Fabrice Du Welz & Vincent Tavier.  CAST Laurent Lucas, Lola Dueñas, Stéphane Bissot, Edith Le Merdy, Anne-Marie Loop, Helena Noguerra, Pili Groyne, David Murgia.  France, Belgium.

A HARD DAY (KKEUT-KKA-JI GAN-DA) – When corrupt Detective Ko is involved in a hit-and-run, a chain of events is unleashed that pits him against a diabolical nemesis.  DIR Kim Seong-hun.  SCR Kim Seong-hun.  CAST Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Jin-woong.  South Korea.

IT FOLLOWS – A group of friends is plagued by a nightmarish supernatural threat in this coming-of-age horror film from AFI FEST alum David Robert Mitchell.  DIR David Robert Mitchell.  SCR David Robert Mitchell.  CAST Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Daniel Zovatto, Jake Weary, Olivia Luccardi, Lili Sepe.  USA.

WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS – In this hilarious mockumentary, the undead lives of five flat-mates are thrown into pandemonium when a recently turned hipster tries to join the party.  DIR Taika Waititi & Jemaine Clement.  SCR Taika Waititi & Jemaine Clement.  CAST Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Jonathan Brugh, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Stu Rutherford, Jackie Van Beek, Ben Fransham.  New Zealand.


The Breakthrough section is dedicated to the true discoveries of the programming process. It exists as a platform for artists at a crucial stage in their career to share their innovative work with enthusiastic audiences.

THE BLUE WAVE (MAVI DALGA) – Deniz and her friends are restless Turkish teenagers, distracted by love interests and ever-changing friendship dynamics, as they await the end of high school.  DIR Zeynep Dadak & Merve Kayan.  SCR Zeynep Dadak & Merve Kayan.  CAST Ayris Alptekin, Onur Saylak, Baris Hacihan.  Turkey, Germany, Netherlands, Greece.

FISH & CAT – Achieved in one stunning long take, this Iranian arthouse slasher follows a group of students in the woods and the sinister crooks they encounter there.  DIR Shahram Mokri.  SCR Shahram Mokri.  CAST Babak Karimi, Saeed Ebrahimifar, Abed Abest, Ainaz Azarhoush, Mona Ahmadi, Neda Jebraieli, Parinaz Tayeb, Samaneh Vafaiee.  Iran.

MAY ALLAH BLESS FRANCE! (QU’ALLAH BENISSE LA FRANCE!) – French rapper Abd Al Malik adapts his raw memoir chronicling the way religion and hip-hop saved him from the streets.  DIR Abd Al Malik.  SCR Abd Al Malik.  CAST Marc Zinga, Sabrina Ouazani, Larouci Didi, Mickaël Nagenraft, Matteo Falkone, Stéphane Fayette-Mikano.  France.  U.S. Premiere.

THE MIDNIGHT SWIM – Three half-sisters try to unlock the mystery of their mother’s deep-water disappearance in this unsettling tale, part ghost story and part family drama.  DIR Sarah Adina Smith.  SCR Sarah Adina Smith.  CAST Lindsay Burdge, Aleksa Palladino, Jennifer Lafleur, Ross Partridge, Beth Grant, Michelle Hutchison, Shirley Venard.  USA.  U.S. Premiere.


Now in its second year, Cinema’s Legacy is AFI FEST’s celebration of motion picture history, and a special opportunity to screen recent restorations of film classics and films about the history of cinema.

CINEMA PARADISO (1989) - A famous Italian film director reflects on his childhood friendship with a local theater projectionist in this must-see classic.  DIR Giuseppe Tornatore.  SCR Giuseppe Tornatore. CAST Philippe Noiret, Jacques Perrin, Antonella Attili, Enzo Cannavale, Isa Danieli, Leo Gullotta, Marco Leonardi, Pupella Maggio, Agnese Nano, Leopoldo Trieste, Salvatore Cascio.  Italy.

LOVE STREAMS  (1984) - Centering on a boozy, hedonistic writer and his beleaguered sister, this latter-era film by the great John Cassavetes celebrates its 30th anniversary.  DIR John Cassavetes. SCR John Cassavetes.  CAST Gena Rowlands, John Cassavetes, Diahnne Abbott, Seymour Cassel, Eddy Donno, Tom Badal, Joan Foley, Jakob Shaw, Al Ruban, Margaret Abbott.  USA.

MAGICIAN: THE ASTONISHING LIFE AND WORK OF ORSON WELLES (2014) – Combining extensive filmmaker interviews and rare archival footage, Chuck Workman’s documentary takes us through the life of one of cinema’s greatest masters: Orson Welles.  DIR Chuck Workman.   USA.

YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW (IERI, OGGI, DOMANI) (1963) - Vittorio De Sica’s unique, three-part omnibus film features the mega-watt star coupling of international icons Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni.  DIR Vittorio De Sica.  SCR Eduardo De Filippo, Isabella Quarantotti, Cesare Zavattini, Bella Billa and Lorenza Zanuso.  CAST Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni, Aldo Giuffrè, Agostino Salvietti, Lino Mattera, Tecla Scarano, Silvia Monelli, Carlo Croccolo, Pasquale Cennamo, Armando Trovajoli.  Italy, France.



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8 BULLETS (8 BALLES) - A grief-stricken expat hunts the man he believes is responsible for killing his family in this mixed-media fever dream.  DIR Frank Ternier.  SCR Frank Ternier.  France.

130919 • A PORTRAIT OF MARINA ABRAMOVIĆ - This one-take 3D film majestically documents legendary performance artist Marina Abramović in a manner befitting her art.  DIR Matthu Placek.  SCR Matthu Placek.  CAST Marina Abramović.  USA.

AFRONAUTS - Inspired by true events, It's July 16, 1969: America is preparing to launch Apollo 11. Thousands of miles away, the Zambia Space Academy hopes to beat them to the moon.  DIR Frances Bodomo.  SCR Frances Bodomo.  CAST Diandra Forrest, Yolonda Ross, Hoji Fortuna.  USA.

BATH HOUSE (SIMHALL) - The mice are going after the bath house safe in this droll stop-motion puppet short.  DIR Niki Lindroth von Bahr.  SCR Niki Lindroth von Bahr & Jerker Virdborg.  Sweden.

BUFFALO JUGGALOS - There is a secret land in upstate New York, where the Juggalos roam free...  DIR Scott Cummings.  SCR Scott Cummings.  USA.

THE CHAPERONE 3D - More than 10,000 drawings intersect with a series of animation techniques to tell the true story of a lone teacher's stand against a motorcycle gang in the 1970s.  DIR Fraser Munden.  SCR Fraser Munden & Neil Rathbone.  CAST Ralph Whims, Stefan Czernatowicz.  Canada.

CHILDREN'S SONG - Children sing a song.  DIR David O'Reilly.  USA.

THE CUT (LA COUPE) - A father and daughter fluctuate between proximity and detachment during the course a haircut.  DIR Geneviève Dulude-De Celles.  SCR Geneviève Dulude-De Celles.  CAST Milya Corbeil-Gauvreau, Alain Houle.  Canada.

DAY 40 - Sinister forces take hold in the untold sordid story of what really happened on Noah's Ark.  DIR Sol Friedman.  SCR Evan Morgan.  CAST John Boylan, Rowie Spodek.  Canada.

THE DIGGERS - These are the grave diggers. This is their day.  DIR Robert Machoian & Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck.  USA.

THE DRAGON IS THE FRAME - This experimental detective film explores the enigma of depression and its subtle interplay between presence and absence.  DIR Mary Helena Clark.  USA.

EXCHANGE AND MART - An unorthodox self-defense class at a remote Scottish boarding school yields unusual results.  DIR Cara Connolly & Martin Clark.  SCR Cara Connolly.  CAST Ewen Bremner, Grace Chilton.  United Kingdom.

FUNNEL - A man's car breaks down and sends him on a quest across town that slowly turns into the most fantastically mundane adventure.  DIR Andre Hyland.  SCR Andre Hyland.  CAST Andre Hyland.  USA.

GARY HAS AN AIDS SCARE - Gary might have a bit of a problem...  DIR Joe Callander.  USA.

HACKED CIRCUIT - This circular study of the Foley process portrays sound artists at work constructing complex layers of fabrication and imposition.  DIR Deborah Stratman.  USA.

THE HAIRCUT - In 1976, Amy defies expectations and joins the first class of female cadets accepted for military service. She'll have to prove to all that she has what it takes.  DIR Alexis O. Korycinski.  SCR Julia Cox.  CAST Bailey Noble, Molly Quinn, David Starzyk, Walter Fauntleroy, Chad Michael Collins.  USA.

HAZE - A well-intentioned young man struggles to explain last night.  DIR Chloe Domont.  SCR Chloe Domont.  CAST Casey Drogin, Hannah Gross.  USA.

HERE I AM...THERE YOU ARE... - When a married couple’s foreplay veers into domination, reality is stronger than the imagination.  DIR Dikla Jika Elkaslassy.  SCR Dikla Jika Elkaslassy.  CAST Ohad Knoller.  Israel.

HOLE - A fearless portrait of a disabled man in search of intimacy.  DIR Martin Edralin.  SCR Martin Edralin.  CAST Ken Harrower, Sebastian Deery, April Lee.  Canada.

HUMAN VOICE (VOCE UMANA) - Sophia Loren stars in this spirited adaptation of Jean Cocteau's one-woman play.  DIR Edoardo Ponti.  SCR Erri De Luca & Edoardo Ponti.  CAST Sophia Loren, Virginia Da Brescia, Enrico LoVerso.  Italy.

LIGHT - After suffering a devastating loss, a Lebanese man is challenged by a mother's request.  DIR Yassmina Karajah.  SCR Yassmina Karajah.  CAST Ahmed Muslimani, Soad Karim, Timothy J O'Leary.  Canada, Lebanon.

MAN ON THE CHAIR (L'HOMME SUR SA CHAISE) - Does the man on the chair exist?  DIR Dahee Jeong.  SCR Dahee Jeong.  France, South Korea.

MASTER MUSCLES - Veronica and Efren take an explosive road trip through a strange America.  DIR Efrén Hernández.  SCR Efrén Hernández.  CAST Jehina Malik, Efrén Hernández.  USA.

MI NINA MI VIDA - The bustling crowds and noisy rides of the amusement park won't be enough to make Jack smile today.  DIR Yan Giroux.  SCR Yan Giroux.  CAST Joël Henriques.  Canada.

MIGRATION - Observe the migration patterns of a most unusual herd.  DIR Fluorescent Hill.  SCR Mark Lomond.  Canada.

NDA - Man enacts legal fantasy.  DIR David O'Reilly.  USA.

THE OBVIOUS CHILD - Somebody broke the girl's parents. The rabbit was there when it happened. It was an awful mess.  DIR Stephen Irwin.  SCR Stephen Irwin.  CAST Ron Masa.  United Kingdom.

ONE YEAR LEASE - Brian and Thomas document one year's worth of their communication from their landlady, who has an itchy speed-dial finger and much to say.  DIR Brian Bolster.  CAST Brian Bolster, Thomas Harrington.  USA.

PERSON TO PERSON - A stranger passed out on his floor after last night's party. Now she won't leave. At least it will make a good story.  DIR Dustin Guy Defa.  SCR Dustin Guy Defa.  CAST Bene Coopersmith, Deragh Campbell.  USA.

THE PRESENT - An Eastern ghost story with haunting implications.  DIR Joe Hsieh.  SCR Joe Hsieh & Ching-Chwang Ho.  CAST Yu-Jane Liu, Pi-Li Yeh, Ming-Shiou Tsai.  Taiwan.

RABBITLAND - Those brainless rabbits are completely fulfilled. Why should their votes matter?  DIR Ana Nedeljkovic & Nikola Majdak Jr.  SCR Ana Nedeljkovic.  CAST Masa Mileusnic.  Serbia.

RAT PACK RAT - Even Sammy Davis Jr. impersonators have it tough.  DIR Todd Rohal.  SCR Todd Rohal.  CAST Steve Little, Eddie Rouse, Margie Beegle.  USA.

SEND - The Internet can be a dangerous place for teenage girls.  DIR Peter Vack.  SCR Peter Vack.  CAST Julia Garner, Jake Cannavale.  USA.

SHIPWRECK - A tour de force rumination on the terrible tragedy that befell a boat carrying 500 Ethiopian refugees on October 3, 2013.  DIR Morgan Knibbe.  SCR Morgan Knibbe.  Netherlands.

SILENT - A magical contraption brings the history of the movies to life!  DIR Brandon Oldenburg & Limbert Fabian.  SCR Limbert Fabian & Brandon Oldenburg.  USA.

SLAP - A teenage boxer comes to terms with his true self.  DIR Nick Rowland.  CAST Joe Cole, Elliott Tittensor, Skye Lourie, Stephen Bent.  United Kingdom.

SLEEPING GIANT - The chaotic nature of boys is captured in this lyrical coming-of-age journey.  DIR Andrew Cividino.  SCR Andrew Cividino.  CAST Isaac Wiebe, Nick Serino, Reece Moffett, Zoey Sawdo.  Canada.

SLUT - A young girl with love in her heart unwittingly attracts the attention of a murderous sociopath.  DIR Chloe Okuno.  SCR Chloe Okuno.  CAST Molly McIntyre, James Gallo, Sally Kirkland, Kasia Pilewicz, Cody Beverstock.  USA.

SOUND THAT - A few minutes spent looking for leaks in the infrastructure with the employees of the Cleveland Water Department.  DIR Kevin Jerome Everson.  SCR Kevin Jerome Everson.  CAST Kaulee Miller, Mark Pottinger, Terrance Martin.  USA.

WASHINGTONIA - The Washingtonia is the only palm tree whose heart is not devoured by the red beetle, because its heart is small and dry and no one likes small, dry hearts.  DIR Konstantina Kotzamani.  SCR Konstantina Kotzamani.  CAST Mamadu Dialo.  Greece.

WHITE MORNING - The violent little boys become violent little men.  DIR Paul Barritt.  SCR Paul Barritt.  United Kingdom

WRONG NUMBER - Girl can't throw up.  DIR David O'Reilly.  USA.

YEARBOOK - A man is hired to compile the definitive history of human existence before Earth blows up.  DIR Bernardo Britto.  SCR Bernardo Britto.  USA.

YES WE LOVE (JA VI ELSKER) - Four generations, each in crisis on Norwegian Independence Day.  DIR Hallvar Witzø.  SCR Hallvar Witzø.  CAST Edvard Hægstad, Terje Ranes, Hanne Skille Reitan, Johan Fredrik Bergflødt-Johannessen.  Norway.

YOUNG LIONS OF GYPSY (A CIAMBRA) - Over the course of one long night, a young Romani boy grows up.  DIR Jonas Carpignano.  SCR Jonas Carpignano.  Italy, France.


10,000 KM

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About the American Film Institute

AFI is America’s promise to preserve the history of the motion picture, to honor the artists and their work and to educate the next generation of storytellers.  AFI programs include the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and AFI Archive, which preserve film heritage for future generations; the AFI Life Achievement Award, the highest honor for a career in film; AFI Awards, honoring the most outstanding motion pictures and television programs of the year; AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies television events and movie reference lists, which have introduced and reintroduced classic American movies to millions of film lovers; year-round and special event exhibition through AFI FEST presented by Audi, AFI DOCS and the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center; and educating the next generation of storytellers at the world-renowned AFI Conservatory.  For more information about AFI, visit or connect with AFI at, and

About AFI FEST presented by Audi

A program of the American Film Institute, AFI FEST presented by Audi is a celebration of global cinema and today’s Hollywood ­– an opportunity for master filmmakers and emerging artists to come together with audiences in the movie capital of the world.  AFI FEST is the only festival of its stature that is free to the public.  The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognizes AFI FEST as a qualifying festival for both Short Film categories for the annual Academy Awards®.  This year’s edition takes place November 6 – 13, 2014.  Additional information about AFI FEST is available at  Connect with AFI FEST at, and

About Audi 

Audi of America Inc. and its U.S. dealers offer a full line of German-engineered luxury vehicles.  AUDI AG is among the most successful luxury automotive brands globally.  The Audi Group delivered 1,575,500 vehicles to customers globally in 2013, and broke all-time company sales records for the fourth straight year in the U.S.  Through 2018, AUDI AG will invest about $30 billion in new products, facilities and technologies.  Visit or for more information regarding Audi vehicles and business topics.

See you at the festival!!!

Raymond Lo

AFIFest2014: "Haemoo", "From What is Before", "Wild Tales" in World Cinema Selections

Melanie Laurent "Breathe"
The American Film Institute announced today the 29 films selected for the World Cinema Section of this year's AFIFest.

The second directorial film of acclaimed French actress Melanie Laurent, "Breathe", is in the lineup along with the new film, "'71", starring the sensational Irish actor (and this generation's Daniel Day-Lewis) Jack O'Connel and the Locarno-winning film, "From What is Before", from Filipino filmmaker Lav Diaz.

Other titles in the selection are films competing for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar this year: "Leviathan" (Russia), "Wild Tales" (Argentina), "GETT: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem" (Israel), "Timbuktu" (Mauritania), "Haemoo" (South Korea) and "Human Capital" (Italy).

AFIFest 2014 runs from November 6-13.


'71 - A rookie British soldier (rising star Jack O’Connell) must survive one night in war-torn Belfast at the height of the Troubles in this taut thriller.  DIR Yann Demange.  SCR Gregory Burke.  CAST Jack O'Connell, Paul Anderson, Richard Dormer, Sean Harris, Barry Keoghan, Martin McCann, Charlie Murphy, Sam Reid.   UK.

THE ABSENT (LOS AUSENTES) – When an elderly man loses his isolated cabin deep in the Mexican woods, he also loses his grip on reality.  DIR Nicolás Pereda.  SCR Alejandro Mendoza.  CAST Guadalupe Cárdenas, Eduard Fernández, Gabino Rodríguez.  Mexico.  U.S. Premiere.

AUGUST WINDS (VENTOS DE AGOSTO) – When a young Brazilian couple makes a discovery in the ocean waters off their small village, they must confront the realities of life and death.  DIR Gabriel Mascaro.  SCR Gabriel Mascaro & Rachel Ellis.  CAST Dandara de Morais, Geová Manoel dos Santos, Maria Salvino dos Santos, Gabriel Mascaro.  Brazil.

BLACK COAL, THIN ICE (BAI RI YAN HUO) – In this Berlin Film Festival Grand Jury Prize winner, a down-and-out former detective is lured back to an old murder case when the brutal killer re-emerges.  DIR Diao Yinan.  SCR Diao Yinan.  CAST Liao Fan, Gwei Lun Mei, Wang Xuebing, Wang Jingchun, Yu Ailei, Ni Jingyang.  China, Hong Kong.   This screening is co-presented by the China Onscreen Biennial 2014 and is the closing night screening of their Los Angeles series.

BREATHE (RESPIRE) – High school student Charlie is sent reeling after her intense friendship with Sarah falls apart in Mélanie Laurent’s sophomore feature.  DIR Mélanie Laurent.  SCR Mélanie Laurent & Julien Lambroschini.  CAST Joséphine Japy, Lou de Laâge, Isabelle Carré, Claire Keim.  France.

THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY – An amateur butterfly collector and her housekeeper can’t get enough of their sadomasochistic games in this phantasmic tale.  DIR Peter Strickland.  SCR Peter Strickland.  CAST Sidse Babett Knudsen, Chiara D'anna.  UK.

EDEN – Mia Hansen-Løve’s 20-year journey through the electronic dance music scene follows DJ Paul, whose love for the turntables stays strong even after the craze has ended.  DIR Mia Hansen-Løve.  SCR Mia Hansen-Løve & Sven Hansen-Løve.  CAST Felix De Givry, Pauline Etienne, Vincent Macaigne, Greta Gerwig, Golshifteh Farahani, Laura Smet, Vincent Lacoste.  France.

THE FOOL (DURAK) – A small-town plumber must evacuate a building before its occupants are put in a deadly situation, but citywide corruption makes it nearly impossible to find help.  DIR Yury Bykov.  SCR Yury Bykov.  CAST Artem Bystrov, Natalia Surkova, Dmitry Kulichkov, Ilya Isaev, Maxim Pinsker, Lyubov Rudenko.  Russia.

Lav Diaz "From What is Before"
FROM WHAT IS BEFORE (MULA SA KUNG ANO ANG NOON) – Filipino arthouse sensation Lav Diaz’s latest epic centers on a coastal village haunted by strange and supernatural occurrences.  DIR Lav Diaz.  SCR Lav Diaz.  CAST Perry Dizon, Roeder Camañag, Hazel Orencio, Karenina Haniel, Joel Saracho, Reynan Abcede, Ching Valdes-Aran, Mailes Kanapi, Ian Lomongo, Noel Sto. Domingo, Evelyn Vargas, Bambi Beltran, Teng Mangansakan.  Philippines.  U.S. Premiere.

"Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem"
GETT, THE TRIAL OF VIVIANE AMSALEM – Unfolding entirely in a small courtroom, this edge-of-your-seat film follows Viviane Amsalem’s tense battle for a divorce in Israel’s strict rabbinical court.  DIR Ronit Elkabetz & Shlomi Elkabetz.  SCR Ronit Elkabetz & Shlomi Elkabetz.  CAST Ronit Elkabetz, Menashe Noy, Simon Abkarian, Sasson Gabay , Eli Gorstein, Rami Danon, Roberto Pollack.  Israel.

GIRLHOOD (BANDE DE FILLES) – Teenager Marieme drops out of school and finds acceptance with a gang of free-spirited girls, while taking on a new feminine identity.  DIR Céline Sciamma.  SCR Céline Sciamma.  CAST Karidja Touré, Assa Sylla, Lindsay Karamoh, Mariétou Touré.  France.

GOODNIGHT MOMMY (ICH SEH, ICH SEH) – Twin boys fear that their mother, whose face is masked with bandages after plastic surgery, has been subsumed by an evil being.  DIR Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala.  SCR Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala.  CAST Susanne Wuest, Elias Schwarz, Lukas Schwarz.  Austria.

HAEMOO – Amid a shroud of sea fog, the voyage of a South Korean boat smuggling a group of illegal immigrants turns into a catastrophe.  DIR Shim Sung-bo.  SCR Shim Sung-bo & Bong Joon-ho.  CAST Kim Yoon-seok, Park Yu-chun, Han Ye-ri.  South Korea.

HUMAN CAPITAL (IL CAPITALE UMANO) – The fates of two seemingly unrelated families become increasingly intertwined in this stylish Italian murder mystery.  DIR Paolo Virzì.  SCR Paolo Virzì, Francesco Bruni and Francesco Piccolo.  CAST Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Fabrizio Bentivoglio, Valeria Golino, Fabrizio Gifuni, Luigi Lo Cascio.  Italy.

THE IRON MINISTRY – Three years spent on China’s vast train system are distilled into a one-of-a-kind sensory experience in this immersive, formally daring documentary.  DIR J.P. Sniadecki.  China, USA.

JAUJA - Viggo Mortensen stars as a 19th-century Danish general who must search the unforgiving Patagonian wilderness for his runaway daughter.  DIR Lisandro Alonso.  SCR Lisandro Alonso & Fabián Casas.  CAST Viggo Mortensen, Viilbjork Malling Agger, Ghita Nørby. Argentina, USA, Netherlands, France, Mexico.

LEVIATHAN – In the latest work from Russian filmmaker Andrey Zvyagintsev, a small-town auto mechanic becomes embroiled in a property dispute with devastating consequences.  DIR Andrey Zvyagintsev.  SCR Oleg Negin & Andrey Zvyagintsev.  CAST Alexey Serebryakov, Elena Lyadova, Vladimir Vdovitchenkov, Roman Madyanov, Anna Ukolova, Alexey Rozin, Sergey Pokhodaev. Russia.

MANOS SUCIAS – Brothers Jacobo and Delio agree to transport millions of dollars of cocaine into Panama in this suspenseful portrait of lives forever altered by the drug trade.  DIR Josef Kubota Wladyka.  SCR Alan Blanco & Josef Kubota Wladyka.  CAST Cristian Advincula, Jarlin Martinez, Manuel David Riascos, Hadder Blandon.  Colombia, USA.

OVER YOUR DEAD BODY (KUIME) – Actors rehearsing a classic play find their violent, double-crossing stage roles seeping into real life in a ghost story from Takashi Miike.  DIR Takashi Miike.  SCR Kikumi Yamagishi.  CAST Ebizo Ichikawa, Ko Shibasaki, Hideaki Ito, Miho Nakanishi, Maiko, Toshie Negishi, Hiroshi Katsuno, Ikko Furuya.  Japan.

REALITY (RÉALITÉ) – A cameraman for a TV show is offered a chance to direct in this tapestry of dream logic that slides from one brilliantly bizarre situation to the next.  DIR Quentin Dupieux.  SCR Quentin Dupieux.  CAST Alain Chabat, Jonathan Lambert, Elodie Bouchez, Kyla Kenedy, John Glover, Eric Wareheim, Jon Heder.  Belgium, France.  North American Premiere.

RED ARMY – The Cold War plays out with vivid intensity – on the ice – in this vibrant documentary on the history of the Soviet Union’s Red Army hockey team.  DIR Gabe Polsky.  FEATURING Slava Fetisov, Vladislav Tretiak, Scotty Bowman, Vladimir Pozner.  USA, Russia.

THE SALT OF THE EARTH – This documentary on Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado, often referred to as the master of black-and-white photojournalism, is co-directed by filmmaker Wim Wenders and Salgado’s son, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado.  DIR Wim Wenders & Juliano Ribeiro Salgado.  SCR Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, Wim Wenders and David Rosier.  France.

SONG OF THE SEA – In this Irish animated film, a brother and sister embark on a magical journey to discover their connection to the mythical selkies.  DIR Tomm Moore.  SCR Will Collins.  CAST Brendan Gleeson, Fionnula Flanagan, Pat Shortt, Jon Kenny, Liam Hourican, Colm Ó’Snodaigh, Lucy O’Connell, Kevin Swierszcz, David Rawle, Lisa Hannigan.  Ireland.  U.S. Premiere.

STATIONS OF THE CROSS (KREUZWEG) – Fourteen masterfully composed single-shot scenes tell the story of adolescent Maria, a girl caught between a secular world and the strict religious teachings of her church.  DIR Dietrich Brüggemann.  SCR Anna Brüggemann & Dietrich Brüggemann.  CAST Lea van Acken, Franziska Weisz, Florian Stetter.  Germany.

TIMBUKTU – Mauritania’s official entry for the Best Foreign-Language Film Oscar® centers on the 2012 Islamic jihadist takeover of northern Mali, and its toll on the region’s civilians.  DIR Abderrahmane Sissako.  SCR Abderrahmane Sissako & Kessen Tall.  CAST Ibrahim Ahmed, Toulou Kiki, Abel Jafri, Fatoumata Diawara.  France, Mauritania.

TITLI – Young Titli must risk everything to escape his life of abject poverty and intergenerational crime in this assured debut feature.  DIR Kanu Behl.  SCR Sharat Katariya & Kanu Behl.  CAST Ranvir Shorey, Amit Sial, Lalit Behl, Shivani Raghuvanshi, Shashank Arora.  India.

TU DORS NICOLE – Nicole trips aimlessly through her post-college summer in this delightfully light and sublime film.  DIR Stéphane Lafleur.  SCR Stéphane Lafleur.  CAST Julianne Côté, Catherine St-Laurent, Francis La Haye, Simon Larouche, Godefroy Reding, Marc-André Grondin.  Canada.

VILLA TOUMA – A teenage Palestinian orphan’s life is turned upside down when she goes to live in the secluded home of her three aristocrat aunts.  DIR Suha Arraf.  SCR Suha Arraf.  CAST Nisreen Faour, Ula Tabri , Cherien Dabis , Maria Zriek.

"Wild Tales"
WILD TALES (RELATOS SALVAJES) – Characters are pushed to delightfully deranged savagery in this anthology of six sublimely absurd short films.  DIR Damián Szifrón.  SCR Damián Szifrón.  CAST Ricardo Darin, Oscar Martinez, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Érica Rivas, Rita Cortese, Julieta Zylberberg, Dario Grandinetti.  Argentina, Spain.

See you at the festival

Raymond Lo

Renee Zellwegger: "I am different"

Renee Zellwegger issued a statement to PEOPLE magazine yesterday and she explained why she looks "different" today. I must admit, i am among the millions of her followers who were caught surprised by how different she looked when she stepped on the red carpet at Elle Magazine's Women in Hollywood event Monday evening.

She doesn't look bad, oh, goodness no! I, like many others, just took some time to get over my disbelief over how her face changed so dramatically. I was shocked how radically different she looks. And if it is science to blame or to thank depending on your sense of humor today, that's a debate for another day. But for the entire day, yesterday, I was gushing along with many of my Facebook friends at her improbable, magical facial transformation...

Here's Renee's statement:

"I'm glad folks think I look different! I'm living a different, happy, more fulfilling life, and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows.

"It seems the folks who come digging around for some nefarious truth which doesn't exist won't get off my porch until I answer the door.

"My friends say that I look peaceful. I am healthy. For a long time I wasn't doing such a good job with that. I took on a schedule that is not realistically sustainable and didn't allow for taking care of myself.

"Rather than stopping to recalibrate, I kept running until I was depleted and made bad choices about how to conceal the exhaustion. I was aware of the chaos and finally chose different things.

"People don't know me (as) healthy for a while. Perhaps I look different. Who doesn't as they get older?! Ha. But I am different. I'm happy."

And I say, "You go, Girl!"

Happiness is what we all chase. If we have to alter, change, drop or improve anything in our bodies and our lives, we are all entitled to it. Thank you, Renee, for making me realize that.

Raymond Lo

AFIFest2014: 8 Must-see Special Screenings!

The American Film Institute (AFI) announced today eight Special Screenings for AFI FEST 2014 presented by Audi.  The Special Screenings section includes three official Foreign Language Film Oscar® submissions and new films from Olivier Assayas and Mike Leigh.

The films are:

Actress Maria (Juliette Binoche) struggles to return to the stage play that made her famous 20 years earlier, but this time in a different role, and opposite a rising young starlet.  DIR Olivier Assayas.  SCR Olivier Assayas.  CAST Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart, Chloë Grace Moretz, Lars Eidinger.  Switzerland, Germany, France.

Oscar® nominee Robert Kenner’s (FOOD, INC.) latest documentary focuses on the PR masterminds and spin doctors who are paid to shift blame and delay governmental action on climate change.  DIR Robert Kenner.  SCR Robert Kenner & Kim Roberts. CAST Naomi Oreskes, Bob Inglis, James Hansen, Stan Glantz, Marc Morano, Patricia Callahan, Sam Roe, Jamy Ian Swiss, John Passacantando.  USA.

Xavier Dolan’s latest film, selected as Canada’s official Oscar® entry, centers on a mother’s tumultuous relationship with her teenage son after he returns home from a correctional facility.  DIR Xavier Dolan.  SCR Xavier Dolan.  CAST Anne Dorval, Suzanne Clément, Antoine-Olivier Pilon.  Canada.

MR. TURNER – Timothy Spall (in a Cannes Best Actor-winning performance) stars as unconventional, groundbreaking painter J.M.W. Turner in this gorgeous biopic by Mike Leigh.  DIR Mike Leigh.  SCR Mike Leigh.  CAST Timothy Spall, Dorothy Atkinson, Marion Bailey, Paul Jesson, Lesley Manville, Martin Savage.  UK.

Selected as France’s official Oscar® entry, this stylish biopic follows the life and career of iconic fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent (Gaspard Ulliel), from 1967 through 1976.  DIR Bertrand Bonello.  SCR Thomas Bidegain & Bertrand Bonello.  CAST Gaspard Ulliel, Aymeline Valade, Jérémie Renier, Léa Seydoux, Louis Garrel, Amira Casar.  France.

Julianne Moore gives a heartbreaking performance as a linguistics professor facing early onset Alzheimer’s disease in this festival favorite.  DIR Richard Glatzer & Wash Westmoreland.  SCR Richard Glatzer & Wash Westmoreland.  CAST Julianne Moore, Kristen Stewart, Alec Baldwin, Kate Bosworth, Hunter Parrish.  USA.

The latest documentary by provacateur Nick Broomfield (AILEEN: LIFE AND DEATH OF A SERIAL KILLER, KURT & COURTNEY) delves into the case of a notorious serial killer who menaced South Central L.A. for more than 25 years.  DIR Nick Broomfield.  FEATURING Seymour Amster, Pamela Brooks, Nick Broomfield, Christopher Franklin, Nana Gyamfi, Laverne Peters, Margaret Prescod.  USA, UK.

The Cannes Palme d'Or-winning Dardenne brothers return with this tale of a young Belgian mother (Marion Cotillard) who must convince her co-workers to forego their much-needed bonuses in order to keep her job.  DIR Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne.  SCR Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne.  CAST Marion Cotillard, Fabrizio Rongione, Pili Groyne, Simon Caudry.  Belgium, Italy, France.

See you at the festival!!!

Raymond Lo

Oscars 2015: "Force Majeure"

Force Majeure
Saw "Force Majeure" last night, Sweden's official entry to this year's Best Foreign Language Film race at the Oscars. It's an excellent film about a marriage unraveling during a family's ski trip. Funny, heartfelt and thought-provoking. It's the story of Tomas and Ebba and their two children Vera and Harry.

This movie is the polar opposite of "Gone Girl", the other film about marriage currently playing in theaters and this one feels more real, more relatable but just as damn gorgeous as David Fincher's film.

The scenes in the snow-covered Alps and the symbolic avalanche at the start of the film (and depicted in the film still above) -- just breathtaking!

This is only the 3rd among the 83 films contending for the Oscars that I have seen so far and I believe it has a strong chance at making the shortlist but, personally, I rank it 2nd behind "The Gambler" from Lithuania but ahead of Venezuela's "The Liberator". I have 80 more films to go. Oh, wait, make that 79. I ain't gonna spend 5 hours for a Lav Diaz film!

"Force Majeure" opens in Los Angeles October 24.

Rating: 5 Stars

Raymond Lo

Trailers: Chris Rock's "Top Five"

"Top Five" is an upcoming film written and directed by comedy genius Chris Rock. The film stars Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson, Genevieve Angelson, Rachel Feinstein and Hayley Marie Norman.

In the movie, Chris Rock is Andre Allen, a comedian turned film star who, despite the expectations of his millions of fans, is determined to reinvent himself as a “serious” actor. The film screened at this year's 2014 Toronto International Film Festival and will open on December 12, 2014.

Watch the trailer below...

See you at the movies!

Raymond Lo

AFIFest2014: American Indepedents Selection

Here are the 8 films that were selected to the American Independents selection of this years AFI Fest.

10,000 KM - Alexandra and Sergi’s deeply passionate relationship is tested when it becomes long distance, with computer technology their only medium for communication.  DIR Carlos Marques-Marcet.  SCR Clara Roquet & Carlos Marques-Marcet.  CAST Natalia Tena, David Verdaguer.  Spain, USA.  

HAPPY VALLEY - The Penn State child sex-abuse scandal, and subsequent downfall of local heroes Joe Paterno and Jerry Sandusky, is examined in this insightful documentary. DIR Amir Bar-Lev.  USA.

BUZZARD - Slacker temp-worker Marty goes into hiding following a slew of self-designed scams in this acidic dark comedy from AFI FEST alum Joel Potrykus.  DIR Joel Potrykus.  SCR Joel Potrykus.  CAST Joshua Burge, Joel Potrykus.  USA.  

THE VANQUISHING OF THE WITCH BABA YAGA - This essay film finds a fertile metaphor for Eastern Europe’s changing relationship with the natural world in the Slavic folktale of witch Baba Yaga.  DIR Jessica Oreck.  SCR Jessica Oreck.  USA, Ukraine, Russia, Poland.

FELT - Amy, haunted by a recent trauma, plunges into the world of her art to create an alter ego as a coping mechanism.  DIR Jason Banker.  SCR Jason Banker & Amy Everson.  CAST Amy Everson, Kentucker Audley, Roxanne Knouse, Alanna Reynolds.  USA.

HEAVEN KNOWS WHAT - The Safdie brothers’ third narrative feature explores the lives of three heroin junkies living on the streets of New York City.  DIR Benny Safdie & Josh Safdie.  SCR Ronald Bronstein & Josh Safdie.  CAST Arielle Holmes, Caleb Landry Jones, Buddy Duress, Necro.  USA.    

THOU WAST MILD & LOVELY - In this psychosexual drama, a young farm worker’s attraction to his boss’s daughter unearths dark secrets.  DIR Josephine Decker.  SCR Josephine Decker & David Barker.  CAST Joe Swanberg, Sophie Traub, Robert Longstreet, Kristin Slaysman, Geoff Marslett.  USA.

FAULTS - A washed-up expert on mind control accepts an offer to kidnap a young woman from a cult in this assured indie thriller.  DIR Riley Stearns.  SCR Riley Stearns.  CAST Leland Orser, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Beth Grant, Chris Ellis, Lance Reddick, John Gries.  USA.

See you at the festival!

Raymond Lo

AFIFest2014: Le Meraviglie by Alice Rohrwacher in New Auteurs Program

AFI FEST 2014 presented by Audi, a program of the American Film Institute, announced today the films that will be featured in the New Auteurs program.


ALIVE (SANDA) - A poor mountain laborer finds himself caught between harrowing dramas playing out at work and at home.  DIR Park Jungbum.  SCR Park Jungbum.  CAST Park Jungbum, Lee Seungyeon, Park Myunghoon, Shin Heatbit.  South Korea. US Premiere

BLIND - A recently blinded woman handles the loss of her sight by writing stories about the world she’s beginning to forget.  DIR Eskil Vogt.  SCR Eskil Vogt.  CAST Ellen Dorrit Petersen, Henrik Rafaelsen, Vera Vitali, Marius Kolbenstvedt.  Norway, Netherlands.

FLAPPING IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE (ÐAP CÁNH GIUA KHÔNG TRUNG) - When Huyen dabbles in prostitution to earn money for an abortion, she meets a mysterious client who takes a tender yet obsessive interest in her pregnancy.  DIR Nguyen Hoang Diep.  SCR Nguyen Hoang Diep.  CAST Nguyen Thuy Anh, Tran Bao Son, Hoang Ha, Pham Tran Thanh Duy.  Vietnam, France, Norway, Germany. US Premiere.

GÜEROS - In this playfully energetic debut, three young pranksters embark on a road trip adventure to pay their last respects to their musical hero.  DIR Alonso Ruizpalacios.  SCR Alonso Ruizpalacios & Gibrán Portela.  CAST Tenoch Huerta, Sebastián Aguirre, Ilse Salas, Leonardo Ortizgris.  Mexico.

RUN - This West African mystic fable follows a young man’s trajectory from rainmaker-in-training to fugitive political assassin.  DIR Philippe Lacôte.  SCR Philippe Lacôte.  CAST Abdoul Karim Konaté, Isaach de Bankolé, Reine Sali Coulibaly.  Ivory Coast, France.

SELF MADE (BOREG) - When two young women – one Palestinian and one Israeli – cross paths at a border checkpoint, they experience a magical identity exchange.  DIR Shira Geffen.  SCR Shira Geffen.  CAST Sarah Adler, Samira Saraya.  Israel.

THE TRIBE (PLEMYA) - This daring film, acted entirely in sign language without the aid of subtitles or voiceover, follows a new student at a corrupt Ukrainian school for the deaf.  DIR Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy.  SCR Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy.  CAST Grigoriy Fesenko, Yana Novikova.  Ukraine.

VIKTORIA - Young Viktoria, born without an umbilical cord, is exalted as Bulgaria’s “Child of the Future.” But when the Communist Party falls, she faces a crisis.  DIR Maya Vitkova.  SCR Maya Vitkova.  CAST Irmena Chichikova, Daria Vitkova, Kalina Vitkova, Mariana Krumova, Dimo Dimov, Georgi Spasov.  Bulgaria.

VIOLET - In this visually stunning debut, teen Jesse must readjust to the world and cope with grief after witnessing his friend’s murder at a local shopping mall.  DIR Bas Devos.  SCR Bas Devos.  CAST César De Sutter, Raf Walschaerts, Mira Helmer, Brent Minne.  Netherlands, Belgium. North American Premiere.

THE WONDERS (LE MERAVIGLIE) - When a television competition comes to the Italian countryside, farmer’s daughter Gelsomina sees a way to assert her independence in this mesmerizing tale.  DIR Alice Rohrwacher.  SCR Alice Rohrwacher.  CAST Alexandra Lungu, Sam Louwyck, Alba Rohrwacher, Sabine Timoteo, Monica Bellucci.  Italy, Switzerland, Germany.

See you at the festival!

Raymond Lo