2021 Cannes Film Festival: ‘Annette’ is the opening night film

Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard in “Annette” (Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios)

The following is a press release from Amazon Studios:

Amazon Studios’ “Annette” was announced as the opening night film at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival. Directed by Leos Carax, and starring Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard, “Annette” will make its world premiere on July 6, 2021 on the Croisette, marking the return of the film festival after last year’s cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Amazon Studios will release the musical love story in late summer 2021 in theaters and on Amazon Prime Video. “Annette’s” original screenplay, original songs and score were written and composed by Ron Mael and Russell Mael of the innovative pop/rock band Sparks. “Annette” is produced by Charles Gillibert and Paul-Dominique Win Vacharasinthu. Simon Helberg also stars.
Legendary filmmaker Leos Carax returns to Cannes with his first feature film since the critically acclaimed “Holy Motors” (2012).

About “Annette”
Los Angeles, today. Henry (Adam Driver) is a stand-up comedian with a fierce sense of humor who falls in love with Ann (Marion Cotillard), a world-renowned opera singer. Under the spotlight, they form a passionate and glamorous couple. With the birth of their first child, Annette, a mysterious little girl with an exceptional destiny, their lives are turned upside down. A film by visionary director Leos Carax (Holy Motors), with story & music by Ron & Russell Mael of Sparks, this original musical is a journey of love, passion & fame. 

2018 Cannes Film Festival: Inside the festival’s controversial restrictions on streaming services and selfies

March 26, 2018

by Carla Hay


Dustin Hoffman, director Noah Baumbach, Emma Thompson, Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler at the Cannes Film Festival premiere of “The Meyerowitz Stories” at Palais des Festivals in Cannes, France, on May 21, 2017. (Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage for Netflix)

The annual Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, is one of the world’s most prestigious film festivals, but Cannes Film officials have made two controversial decisions that could potentially alienate large segments of festival attendees and movie fans. First, movies that are from streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu or Amazon will no longer be eligible for awards at the Cannes Film Festival, such as the Palme D’or (the top prize), Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, etc. However, films from streaming services (and TV networks such as HBO) can still have screenings and premieres at Cannes. The second change, which is even more alienating to movie fans, is that the festival has now banned “selfies” from being taken on the red carpet. The changes go into effect for the 71st edition of the Cannes Film Festival, which takes place from May 8 to May 9, 2018.

In an exclusive interview with French magazine Le Film Français that was published on March 23, 2018, Cannes Film Festival director Thierry Fremaux explained that these changes have mostly to do with adhering to French laws which state that a movie that was originally released theatrically cannot be available for streaming in France until 36 months after the theatrical release. If streaming services such as Netflix release any of their movies in cinemas, it’s typically on the same day or within two weeks of the day it premieres on the streaming service. The new Cannes policy now requires that all films eligible for competition at the Cannes Film Festival must be available for release in French theaters, and the theatrical release of the movie must be before any release on TV or on streaming services. Since Netflix and other streaming services do not have business models that allow them to wait three years to stream their content in France in order to get a theatrical release in France,  that leaves Netflix and other streaming services out of the loop to compete for awards at the Cannes Film Festival.

The United States and many other countries do not have laws mandating a three-year delay between when a movie is released in theaters and when it can be made available for streaming, which is why many critics of this Cannes policy think that the policy is out-of-touch and detrimental to a film festival that should pride itself on being a truly international event. However, those who agree with the Cannes policy believe that the festival has a right to support French cinema laws and preserve the specialness of a theatrical release.

Byung Heebong, Giancarlo Esposito, Steven Yeun, Tilda Swinton, Ahn Seo-Hyun, Bong Joon-Ho, Paul Dano, Lily Collins, Jake Gyllenhaal and Devon Bostic at the Cannes Film Festival premiere of “Okja” at Palais des Festivals in Cannes, France, on May 19, 2017. (Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage for Netflix)

In 2017, the Netflix films “Okja” and “The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. Both films had a limited release in U.S. theaters, as did Netflix’s period drama “Mudbound” and sports documentary “Icarus,” which did not premiere at Cannes, but were nominated for Academy Awards because they met Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences requirements of being released in at least one U.S. cinema for a minimum of one week. (“Icarus” won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, the first Academy Award won for a Netflix film.)

It will continue to be a complicated debate over whether or not a movie from a television network or a streaming service should be eligible for the same awards as movies that were first released in theaters, considering that Netflix, Amazon and other streaming services have become major presences at film festivals to acquire movies that have already been made and need distribution—as opposed to movies that were specifically made for the streaming services. For example, “Mudbound” and “Icarus” were two of several films that Netflix acquired after the movies premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.

Colin Farrell, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Sofia Coppola and Nicole Kidman at the Cannes Film Festival premiere of “The Beguiled” in Cannes, France, on May 24, 2017. (Photo courtesy of the Cannes Film Festival)

As for the ban on taking selfies on the red carpet, Fremaux told Le Film Français why Cannes officials made the decision: “At the top of the red carpet, the pettiness and the hold up caused by the untimely disorder created by taking selfies hurts the quality of the climbing of the steps … And it does the same to the festival as a whole.”

What’s bizarre about this ban is that while taking selfies are prohibited on the red carpet, autograph signing is apparently still allowed. Even if barriers were set up on the red carpet that would put a larger distance between celebrities and fans, there are still some celebrities and other people on the red carpet who will want to go over to fans and let them take pictures and get autographs. (And it could be argued that signing autographs take about the same time, if not more time, than taking selfies.)

Most people would agree that fan interaction is one of the main reasons why red-carpet premieres are exciting to attendees. The success of these types of events are largely dependent on the number of cheering fans who show up, and the fans are usually there to get photos and/or try to get autographs. So unless the Cannes Film Festival is planning to take away fans’ cell phones and cameras and push celebrities away who want to take photos with fans, this “no selfies on the red carpet” policy will be hard to enforce and probably won’t last.

Jeffrey Tambor scandal: Emmy-winning actor quits ‘Transparent’ after being accused of sexual misconduct

November 20, 2017

Jeffrey Tambor as Maura Pfefferman in "Transparent"
Jeffrey Tambor as Maura Pfefferman in “Transparent” (Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios)

by Colleen McGregor

Emmy-winning actor Jeffrey Tambor has quit Amazon Studios’ comedy series “Transparent” after being accused of sexual harassment.  On “Transparent,”Tambor played Maura Pfefferman, a transgender divorced mother whose family is dealing with her trans identity. It is believed the show will go on without Tambor, but it has not yet been announced how the Maura Pfefferman character will be written off of the show. “Transparent’s” fourth season is supposed to premiere in 2018. Tambor, who is 73, won several awards for his role on “Transparent,” including an Emmy, a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Critics’ Choice Award. He has three sons and a daughter with his wife Kasia and multiple daughters from previous relationships.

The first allegations against Tambor came to light on November 8, 2017, when his former assistant Van Barnes posted a private message on her Facebook page, where she wrote that the actor “repeatedly propositioned her, made lewd comments, groped her and threatened to sue her if she spoke up.”

Tambor then issued a statement saying, “I am deeply sorry if any action of mine was ever misinterpreted by anyone as being sexually aggressive or if I ever offended or hurt anyone. But the fact is, for all my flaws, I am not a predator and the idea that someone might see me in that way is more distressing than I can express.”

On November 16, 2017, transgender actress Trace Lysette accused Tambor of being “sexually aggressive” with her by rubbing up against her without her consent and making lewd comments while they were working together in 2015. On November 19, 2017, Tambor announced that he was quitting “Transparent.”

This is the second major sexual-harassment scandal to hit Amazon Studios in as many months. In October 2017, Roy Price was forced to resign as head of Amazon Studios after it was made public that, in 2015, he made unwanted sexual advances on a female producer of the Amazon series “The Man in the High Castle.” Price also allegedly had other troubling incidents involving female Amazon employees that led to his departure.

The downfall of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein  in October 2017 seems to have had a domino effect in business and politics, as more men in powerful positions are being publicly accused of sexual misconduct. Since the Weinstein scandal (in which the Miramax Films/The Weinstein Company co-founder was accused of sexual assaulting and raping several women), other high-profile people have have lost their jobs and/or have had their careers ruined by allegations of sexual misconduct. Those in the entertainment or media industry whose reputations have been forever tarnished include actor Kevin Spacey, comedian Louis C.K. and TV journalist Charlie Rose. In most cases, they have issued public apologies but said they thought these sexual encounters were consensual.

Harvey Weinstein scandal: How it has changed award shows in the entertainment industry

October 16, 2017

by Colleen McGregor

Harvey Weinstein and Nicole Kidman
Harvey Weinstein and “Lion” star Nicole Kidman at the Weinstein Company’s Pre-Academy Awards Dinner at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on February 25, 2017. (Photo by Hagop Kalaidjian/BFA)

The Harvey Weinstein scandal has made this year’s award-show season a turning point in the entertainment industry that has largely shunned and condemned Weinstein, one of the most powerful award-show campaigners of the past 30 years. Since October 5, 2017, dozens of stories about 65-year-old Weinstein have been made public (most notably in articles published by the New York Times and the New Yorker), accusing the former movie mogul of sexual misconduct, including verbal harassment, indecent exposure, groping, rape and other forms of non-consensual assault spanning nearly 30 years. The reported victims (all women) include actresses, assistants, producers and executives, who all claim to either have been personally harassed or assaulted by Weinstein, or know those who have been victims of Weinstein’s misconduct but were pressured to stay silent about it.

Actresses who have claimed that Weinstein sexually harassed them include Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Mira Sorvino, Ashley Judd, Rosanna Arquette, Kate Beckinsale, Angie Everhart, Minka Kelly and Cara Delevingne, while actresses Rose McGowan and Asia Argento have accused Weinstein of rape. Weinstein has denied that he had non-consensual sexual contact with any of his accusers. According to the New York Times, Weinstein settled at least eight sexual harassment cases out of court, most recently in 2015. Police in New York, California and London are reportedly investigating claims of sexual misconduct by Weinstein, and are urging anyone with information to contact the proper authorities.

Weinstein co-founded Miramax Films in 1979, and left the company in 2005 to co-found The Weinstein Company (TWC). He has since been ousted from TWC, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the organization behind the Oscars) and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (the organization behind the BAFTA Awards). Weinstein is the second person to ever be expelled from AMPAS. (The other person, actor Carmine Caridi, was expelled in 2004 for leaking Academy movie screeners.) Although he has been expelled from AMPAS and BAFTA, Weinstein can still keep any awards that he has won from those organizations. (He won an Oscar for being one of the producers of 1998’s “Shakespeare in Love.”) TWC, which has publicly condemned Weinstein, has announced that it is changing the company name, and the company will probably be put up for sale.

The End of an Era

“Shakespeare in Love” producers David Parfitt, Donna Gigliotti, Harvey Weinstein, Edward Zwick and Marc Norman at the 71st Academy Awards in Los Angeles on March 21, 1999. (Photo courtesy of AMPAS)

Miramax first made a big impact at the Oscars with 1989’s “My Left Foot,” which was nominated for five Oscars (including Best Picture), and won two Oscars: Best Actor (for Daniel Day-Lewis) and Best Supporting Actress (for Brenda Fricker). Miramax’s Oscar-winning streak continued with numerous movies, including 1994’s “Pulp Fiction,” 1996’s “The English Patient,” 1997’s “Good Will Hunting,” 1998’s “Shakespeare in Love,” 2002’s “Chicago,” 2003’s “Cold Mountain,” 2004’s “The Aviator,” 2007’s “No Country for Old Men” and 2007’s “There Will Be Blood.”

TWC also has many films that won Oscars. It can be said that TWC’s power peaked from 2010 to 2012. The company had back-to-back wins for Best Picture with 2010’s “The King’s Speech” and 2011’s “The Artist,” two movies that won Oscars in several other major categories, including Best Director and Best Actor. In 2012, TWC had Oscar-winning box-office hits with “Silver Linings Playbook”(for which Jennifer Lawrence was named Best Actress) and “Django Unchained,” which won Oscars for Quentin Tarantino (Best Original Screenplay) and Christoph Waltz (Best Supporting Actor). Waltz also won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for 2009’s “Inglourious Basterds,” a Tarantino film distributed by TWC. Tarantino (who has worked with Miramax or TWC for all the movies that Tarantino has directed) has since released a statement condemning Weinstein, as have former Weinstein colleagues such as Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet, Ben Affleck and Judi Dench.

In recent years, TWC’s clout during awards season has significantly decreased. The 2013 African-American drama “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” which was once predicted to be a dominate force at the Oscars, was famously snubbed by not getting any Oscar nominations. The 2015 Western crime drama “The Hateful Eight” (directed by Tarantino) was a box-office disappointment, failed to win in major categories at several award shows, and ultimately won only one Oscar:  for Best Original Score. The 2015 lesbian drama “Carol” didn’t win any Oscars, despite getting six nominations. The 2016 adoption drama “Lion” was also nominated for six Oscars, but didn’t win any.  Although nominated at several other award shows, “Lion” was also shut out of winning prizes at the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards.

“Wind River” actress Julia Jones and Harvey Weinstein at The Weinstein Company party in celebration of “Wind River” at Nikki Beach in Cannes, France, on May 20, 2017. (Photo by Dave Benett)

TWC had a sleeper hit and critical acclaim with the 2017 crime mystery “Wind River,” but the movie didn’t get much Oscar buzz after it debuted at the Cannes Film Festival. Now, TWC movies have virtually no chance of getting any nominations at the Oscars or other major award shows for the forseeable future, which is why the company is changing its name and will likely be sold in order to reinvent itself.

In addition to being a powerful awards campaigner, Weinstein (and TWC and Miramax) developed a reputation for throwing lavish, star-studded parties during awards season. That Weinstein party era is effectively over. It’s likely that Netflix and Amazon will take over the reigns as the companies outside the major studio system that will throw the most lavish parties during awards season, while older major studios such as Fox and Warner Bros. will still have considerable influence in the party circuit. In addition, A24 (which won big at the Oscars this year with “Moonlight”) is poised to become the independent movie studio with the most clout during awards season—a reputation that TWC had back in the early 2010s. One thing is for certain: Weinstein will not be invited to the most important industry parties for the forseeable future, although it’s probable that he will eventually be invited to less influential events several years after the scandal.

Weinstein’s second (and future ex) wife, Georgina Chapman, has also had her career ruined by the scandal. Chapman, who married Weinstein in 2007, co-founded the luxury fashion label Marchesa in 2004, around the time that she started dating Weinstein. Numerous stories have since come out that Weinstein told many famous actresses to wear Marchesa outfits at important events, and he allegedly threatened to hurt their careers if they didn’t wear the outfits. Marchesa’s rapid rise to success has been so interwined with Weinstein’s influence that people have found it difficult to separate Marchesa’s identity from Weinstein, even though Chapman announced on October 10, 2017, that she was leaving Weinstein. She hasn’t officially filed for divorce yet, but it’s only a matter of time until she does. Marchesa has already lost important business deals because of the scandal, and the label is unlikely to be worn by any star at major events this awards season.

As heinous as the crimes are that Weinstein has been accused of committing, AMPAS’s decision to expel Weinstein might strike many people as hypocritical, considering that convicted rapist Roman Polanski won an Oscar for Best Director for 2002’s “The Pianist,” even though he has famously avoided serving his sentence for raping a 13-year-old girl in Los Angeles in 1977. Polanski (who pled guilty to the crime) fled to France in 1978, and his status as a fugitive from the law means that since 1978, he has not been in the United States or countries that could extradite him back to the U.S., because he knows he would be sent immediately to prison.

[May 3, 2018 UPDATE: Convicted rapists Roman Polanski and Bill Cosby have been expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Academy released this statement: “The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Board of Governors met on Tuesday night (May 1) and has voted to expel actor Bill Cosby and director Roman Polanski from its membership in accordance with the organization’s Standards of Conduct. The Board continues to encourage ethical standards that require members to uphold the Academy’s values of respect for human dignity.”]

Amazon Studios and the Effects of the Weinstein Scandal

“Manchester by the Sea” Oscar winners Kenneth Lonergan and Casey Affleck at Amazon Studios’ Oscar Celebration at Delilah in West Hollywood, California, on February 26, 2017 . (Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images for Amazon)

But now it’s 2017, and AMPAS is clearly sending a message that any Academy member or potential Oscar nominee who is publicly accused of multiple incidents of sexual misconduct will no longer be as tolerated as they once were. That’s why Amazon Studios’ “Manchester by the Sea” dodged several bullets, but the company could still feel the effects of the Weinstein scandal. Casey Affleck, who settled two sexual-harassment lawsuits in 2010, won an Oscar and several other major awards for Best Actor for 2016’s “Manchester by the Sea.” Casey Affleck’s sexual-harassment scandal was reported many times in media coverage of “Manchester by the Sea” and during the movie’s awards campaign. However, in the wake of the Weinstein scandal, it’s doubtful that Casey Affleck (the younger brother of Oscar winner/former Weinstein colleague Ben Affleck) would have much of a chance of being nominated if he were eligible for the same awards today.

In fact, considering how much the award-show campaigning will be affected by the Weinstein scandal, “Manchester by the Sea” (which was nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture) is an example of the type of movie that probably wouldn’t have been nominated for as many Oscars or other major awards in this post-Weinstein-scandal era. If “Manchester by the Sea” (which also garnered writer/director Kenneth Lonergan an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay) had been released in 2017, not 2016, the movie might have been passed over for any Oscar nominations altogether if there had been enough boycott pressure around the movie. And it wouldn’t have just been because of Casey Affleck. Matt Damon, one of the producers of “Manchester by the Sea,” has been tainted by the Weinstein scandal because Damon was accused of pressuring the Los Angeles Times to kill a story in 2004 that would have exposed Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct. Damon, who won a screenwriting Oscar with Ben Affleck for Miramax’s “Good Will Hunting,” has vehemently denied that he knew about or tried to cover up for Weinstein’s misdeeds, and Damon has publicly condemned Weinstein since the scandal broke.

Amazon Studios, the distributor for “Manchester by the Sea,” is also caught up in the Weinstein fallout in other ways. On October 12, 2017, the company suspended Amazon Studios head Roy Price after “The Man in the High Castle” producer Isa Hackett accused him of sexual harassment. Meanwhile, McGowan (who has accused Weinstein of raping her in 1997) claims that she told Price about the rape, and urged him not to work with Weinstein, but he did nothing about it because Price allegedly told McGowan that there wasn’t enough proof. In the wake of the scandal, Amazon has announced that it is reviewing its relationship with TWC.

[October 17, 2017 UPDATE: Price has officially exited Amazon Studios. Although he resigned, his resignation was reportedly forced. In other words, he was fired.]

Amazon also has a contract with Woody Allen, who has had his own sex scandals that have negatively affected his reputation, including accusations that he molested his adopted daughter Dylan in the 1980s. Allen has vehemently denied the allegations, and was cleared in a police investigation. Allen has also commented on the Weinstein scandal by condemning sexual harassment but also cautioning against the dangers of false accusations and having a “witch hunt” mentality. But given Amazon Studios’ association with Weinstein and two other high-profile men accused of sexual misconduct, it remains to be seen if Amazon will be a major contender for movies during this awards season. Amazon’s comedy film “The Big Sick” has gotten overwhelmingly positive reviews, but will acclaim from movie critics be enough for the movie to get Oscar nominations?

For TV awards, it remains to be seen how Amazon Studios (which has award-winning shows such as “Transparent,” “Mozart in the Jungle” and “The Man in the High Castle”) will fare at the 2018 Emmy Awards, since the Weinstein scandal broke after the 2017 Emmy Awards took place.

TWC TV Fallout

TWC’s TV series include “Project Runway,” “Spy Kids: Mission Critical,” a still-untitled show from former NBC News host Tamron Hall and a still-untitled show from “Silver Linings Playbook” director David O. Russell. Of those series, “Project Runway” is the only one likely to survive long past the Weinstein scandal and possibly win awards.

“Project Runway” host/executive producer Heidi Klum (who won an Emmy for hosting the show in 2013) is one of numerous people in the entertainment industry who have issued statements condemning Weinstein and sexual misconduct. “Project Runway” debuted in 2004, and has been renewed through 2019. The series spinoffs “Project Runway All-Stars” and “Project Runway: Junior” also are renewed. Even before the Weinstein scandal, “Project Runway” has won just two Emmy Awards out of 44 Emmy nominations. But in the wake of the scandal, the show’s chances of winning an Emmy again have significantly diminished.

Weinstein Broadway Backlash

Weinstein’s recent Broadway credits include “Finding Neverland,” “The Elephant Man” and the Tony-winning “All the Way.” His biggest Broadway success was 2002’s “The Producers,” which holds the record for the most Tony Awards (12 Tonys) won by a production in a single year. However, in light of the scandal, Weinstein will likely be shunned from working on Broadway productions for the next several years.

Golden Globes Litmus Test

The first major award show to feel the effects of the Weinstein scandal will be the 75th annual Golden Globe Awards, which will take place on January 7, 2018. Nominations for the show will be announced on December 11, 2017. The Golden Globes, which are voted for by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, give prizes to movies and TV shows. Considering that Weinstein will be virtually shut out of major award shows for many years to come, any project associated with him is unlikely to end up being a winner.

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