Friday, December 26, 2008

2008 Oscar® Nomination Ballots Mailed

Ballots for Oscar nominations for the 81st Academy Awards® are being mailed today to the 5,810 voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The deadline for ballots, which must be returned to the office of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), is 5 p.m. Monday, 12 January. Ballots received after the deadline will not be counted. The 81st Academy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, 22 January, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

Nomination and final award ballots are tabulated by PricewaterhouseCoopers to ensure that all aspects of the balloting process are conducted with fairness and accuracy. Prior to mailing, the PricewaterhouseCoopers staff administers a thorough verification process to ensure that there are no duplicate ballots and that none are missing. In addition to being counted and sorted, the ballots are numbered to guarantee that each one is addressed to the appropriate Academy voter.

The 81st Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2008 will be presented on Sunday, 22 February 2009, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


These five films were nominated by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) to vie for a Golden Globe as best foreign language film (BFLF):



I'VE LOVED YOU SO LONG (IL Y A LONGTEMPS QUE JE T’AIME, France). Releasing: Sony Pictures Classics;
WALTZ WITH BASHIR (Israel)*. Releasing: Sony Pictures Classics.
* Submitted to the Academy for consideration for BFLF Oscar. EVERLASTING MOMENTS submitted by Sweden, and France submitted THE CLASS instead.

In addition, the "little movie that might," SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, received a best picture (drama) nomination, and the director Danny Boyle received a best director nomination. SLUMDOG also received a best original score nomination for composer A. R. Rahman. This movie has been picked up by Fox Searchlight. Pay attention to it.

All the directors in the best motion picture (drama) competition were nominated, to wit: THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON (David Fincher) , FROST / NIXON (Ron Howard), THE READER (Stephen Daldry), and REVOLUTIONARY ROAD (Sam Mendes). Oh, if the Oscars could only be that clean this year.

Four of the nominated pictures picked up nominations for their leading actors: Leonardo DiCaprio (Revolutionary Road), Frank Langella (Frost / Nixon), Sean Penn (Milk), and Brad Pitt (The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button). However, the one to watch in this category is Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler).

Only one actress from the nominated best motion picture (drama) list was nominated, Kate Winslet (Revolutionary Road). The other actresses are: Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married), Angelina Jolie (Changeling), Meryl Streep (Doubt), and Kristin Scott Thomas (I've Loved You So Long). Meryl Streep is also nominated for best actress (musical or comedy) for MAMMA MIA!

The five nominees in the best motion picture (musical or comedy) category are: BURN AFTER READING, HAPPY-G0-LUCKY, IN BRUGES, MAMMA MIA! and VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA. The actresses nominated in this category, other than Streep, are: Rebecca Hall (Vicky Cristina Barcelona), Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky), Frances McDormand (Burn After Reading) and Emma Thompson (Last Chance Harvey).

My favorite actor leads the actors nominated in the best actor (musical or comedy) category, Javier Bardem (Vicky Cristina Barcelona). The others are: Colin Farrell (In Bruges), James Franco (Pineapple Express), Brendan Gleeson (In Bruges) and Dustin Hoffman (Last Chance Harvey).

You can see the full list of nominees by clicking here, or the title of this post and hopefully, there will be a Golden Globes ceremony. You must remember that the gala was canceled last year because of the Writers Guild strike. Well, the actors (Screen Actors Guild) have been threatening to walk. Let us hope not, especially with the economy in such bad shape.

Friday, November 21, 2008

15 Docs Continue in 2008 Oscar® Race

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that 15 films in the Documentary Feature category will advance in the voting process for the 81st Academy Awards®. A record 94 pictures originally qualified in the category. The Documentary Branch Screening Committee viewed all the eligible documentaries for the preliminary round of voting. Documentary Branch members will now select the five nominees from among the 15 titles on this shortlist.

The 15 films are listed below in alphabetical order:


THE BETRAYAL (Nerakhoon)














The 81st Academy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, 22 January 2009, at 5:30 a.m., PT, in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2008 will be presented on Sunday, 22 February 2009, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Fourteen Features May Qualify For 81st Oscars®

Fourteen feature films have been submitted for consideration in the Animated Feature Film category for the 81st Academy Awards®. However, seven are not yet fully qualified to proceed in the Oscar-nomination process because they have not had their required Los Angeles qualifying theatrical releases.

The complete conditional list is:

BOLT, DELGO, DRAGON HUNTERS, $9.99, THE SKY CRAWLERS, THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX, and WALZ WITH BASHIR have not yet had their required Los Angeles qualifying runs. Submitted features must fulfill the theatrical release requirements and meet all of the category’s other qualifying rules before they can advance in the voting process.

Under the rules for this category, a maximum of three (3) films can be nominated in a year in which the field of eligible entries numbers at least eight (8) but fewer than 16. Right now, there are eight (8) films qualified to move forward, and only seven (7) left to qualify. Thus, there will definitely be fewer than 16 eligible films, and the maximum nominations can only be three (3). Films submitted in the Animated Feature Film category also may qualify for Academy Awards in other categories, including Best Picture, provided they meet the requirements for those categories.

The 81st Academy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, 22 January 2009, at 5:30 a.m., PT, in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater. Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2008 will be presented on Sunday, 22 February 2009, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Author Rushdie and Director Mehta Team

Mehta and Rushdie

Director Deepa Mehta is collaborating with Salman Rushdie on a feature-film adaptation of the author's 1981 novel "Midnight's Children," which won Britain's prestigious Booker literary prize. The story is narrated by a young man born on the stroke of midnight 15 August 1947, the day India won independence from Britain.

Both Mehta and Rushdie were born in India, with the filmmaker eventually making her base in Toronto, Canada, and Rushdie resides somewhere in Britain. They will co-write the screenplay and hope to roll cameras in 2010. Indian actors Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das, who starred in two earlier Mehta films, FIRE and EARTH, will star in the project.
Mehta's movie WATER was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Language Film (BFLF) category in 2007. Germany's Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's "Das Leben der Anderen" (THE LIVES OF OTHERS) captured the Oscar for best foreign-language film that year.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Digitally Restored “Rashomon” to Premiere in NYC

Machiko Kyo

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ “Monday Nights with Oscar®” series will present the East Coast premiere of the new digitally restored print of renowned filmmaker Akira Kurosawa’s 1950 masterpiece RASHOMON on Monday, November 17, at 7:30 p.m. at the Academy Theater in New York City. The Academy Theater is located at 111 East 59th Street in New York City. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. All seating is unreserved.

RASHOMON won the Honorary Foreign Language Film Award for Japan and was nominated for Black-and-White Art Direction (Takashi Matsuyama, H. Matsumoto). It stars Toshiro Mifune and Machiko Kyo. This screening will feature the new restoration from the Academy Film Archive in association with the Kadokawa Culture Promotion Foundation and The Film Foundation.

A crime drama that questions the very nature of truth, RASHOMON is set in feudal Japan and depicts a violent incident from four different points of view. The film’s innovative approach and style cemented Kurosawa’s international reputation as a significant creative force and had a profound influence on cinematic storytelling, reflected in such films as THE USUAL SUSPECTS (1995) and COURAGE UNDER FIRE (1996), and on numerous works in other media.

Tickets are $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members and students with a valid ID. Tickets may be purchased through the Academy's online ticketing system at There are no transaction or processing fees. Tickets may also be purchased by mail or at the door on the night of the event (subject to availability). For additional information call (212) 821-9251 or visit

Friday, October 24, 2008

Motion Picture Academy Awards $450,000 to Festivals

The Academy Foundation of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences® has awarded $450,000 to 24 U.S. film festivals for the 2009 calendar year, Festival Grants Committee Chair Gale Anne Hurd announced yesterday.

Two festivals, the Nashville Film Festival and the New Orleans Film Festival, will each receive a total of $75,000 over a three-year period to help develop long-term projects. The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival and the Virginia Film Festival are each in the second year of a multi-year grant. The San Francisco International Film Festival will receive $50,000 as part of multi-year grant awarded in 2007.

While the grants are awarded for a variety of programs, film festivals are encouraged to submit proposals that make festival events more accessible to the general public, provide greater access to minority and less visible filmmakers, and help strengthen the connection between the filmmaker and the general public.

The 2009 film festival program allocations are as follows:

San Francisco International Film Festival **
Chicago International Film Festival
Heartland Film Festival (Indianapolis, IN)
Mill Valley Film Festival (San Rafael, CA) **
Sarasota Film Festival (FL)
Seattle International Film Festival
Full Frame Documentary Film Festival (Durham, NC)
Nashville Film Festival
New Orleans Film Festival
Virginia Film Festival (Charlottesville)
Portland International Film Festival
Native American Film & Video Festival (New York City)
Roger Ebert’s Film Festival (Urbana, IL) **
Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival (Birmingham, AL)
Woodstock Film Festival (NY)
Asian American International Film Festival (New York City)
Arizona International Film Festival (Tucson)
BAMKids Film Festival (Brooklyn, NY)
Flagstaff Mountain Film Festival (AZ)
Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival (WY)
Olympia Film Festival (WA)
Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival (Colorado Springs)
San Francisco Black Film Festival
Washington Jewish Film Festival (D.C.)

Since its establishment in 1999, the Academy’s Festival Grants Program has distributed 198 grants totaling $3.5 million in funding. For more information on the program, visit

The program is one of the many activities of the Academy Foundation – the Academy’s cultural and educational wing – which annually grants more than $1 million to film scholars, cultural organizations and film festivals throughout the U.S. and abroad. The Foundation also presents the Academy’s rich assortment of screenings and other public programs each year.

** I follow these and more on my Film Festivals Page. Links on sidebar to the 2008 page, parts I, II, and III.

Roger Ebert of Ebertfest

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is the world’s preeminent movie-related organization, with a membership of more than 6,000 of the most accomplished men and women working in cinema. In addition to the annual Academy Awards – in which the members vote to select the nominees and winners – the Academy presents a diverse year-round slate of public programs, exhibitions and events; provides financial support to a wide range of other movie-related organizations and endeavors; acts as a neutral advocate in the advancement of motion picture technology; and, through its Margaret Herrick Library and Academy Film Archive, collects, preserves, restores and provides access to movies and items related to their history. Through these and other activities the Academy serves students, historians, the entertainment industry and people everywhere who love movies.

Friday, October 17, 2008


A record 67 countries (63 last year), including first-time entrant Jordan, have submitted feature films for Oscar® consideration in the Best Foreign Language Film (BFLF) category for the 81st Academy Awards® for Best Foreign Language Film of 2008.

In June, the Academy invited 95 countries to submit a film in the category. The deadline to receive the application and all supporting material was 1 October. Selected committees will now select a short list from which five films will be nominated by those in the full Academy membership who can certify they have seen all five films nominated. [This post is also in the link on the right sidebar from now until next year.]

The 2008 submissions, along with director(s) are:

Afghanistan, OPIUM WAR, Siddiq Barmak;
Albania, THE SORROW OF MRS. SCHNEIDER, Piro Milkani and Eno Milkani;
Algeria, MASQUERADES, Lyes Salem;
Argentina, LION'S DEN, Pablo Trapero;
Austria, REVANCHE, Gotz Spielmann;
Azerbaijan, FORTRESS, Shamil Nacafzada;
Bangladesh, AHA!, Enamul Karim Nirjhar;
Belgium, ELDORADO, Bouli Lanners;
Bosnia and Herzegovina, SNOW, Aida Begic;
Brazil, LAST STOP 174, Bruno Barreto;
Bulgaria, ZIFT, Javor Gardev;
Canada, THE NECESSITIES OF LIFE, Benoit Pilon;
Chile, TONY MANERO, Pablo Larrain;
China, DREAM WEAVERS, Jun Gu, director;
Colombia, DOG EAT DOG, Carlos Moreno;
Croatia, NO ONE'S SON, Arsen Anton Ostojic;
Czech Republic, THE KARAMAZOVS, Petr Zelenka;
Denmark, WORLDS APART, Niels Arden Oplev;
Egypt, THE ISLAND, Sherif Arafa;
Estonia, I WAS HERE, Rene Vilbre;
Finland, THE HOME OF DARK BUTTERFLIES, Dome Karukoski;
France, THE CLASS, Laurent Cantet;
Georgia, MEDIATOR, Dito Tsintsadze;
Greece, CORRECTION, Thanos Anastopoulos;
Hong Kong, PAINTED SKIN, Gordon Chan;
Hungary, ISKA'S JOURNEY, Csaba Bollok;
Iceland, WHITE NIGHT WEDDING, Baltasar Kormakur;
India, TAARE ZAMEEN PAR, Aamir Khan;
Israel, WALTZ WITH BASHIR, Ari Folman;
Italy, GOMORRA, Matteo Garrone;
Japan, DEPARTURES, Yojiro Takita;
Jordan, CAPTAIN ABU RAED, Amin Matalqa;
Kazakhstan, TULPAN, Sergey Dvortsevoy;
Korea, CROSSING, Tae-kyun Kim;
Kyrgyzstan, HEAVENS BLUE, Marie Jaoul de Poncheville;
Latvia, DEFENDERS OF RIGA, Aigars Grauba;
Lebanon, UNDER THE BOMBS, Philippe Aractingi;
Lithuania, LOSS, Maris Martinsons;
Luxembourg, NUITS D'ARABIE, Paul Kieffer;
Macedonia, I’M FROM TITOV VELES, Teona Strugar Mitevska;
Mexico, TEAR THIS HEART OUT, Roberto Sneider;
Morocco, GOODBYE MOTHERS, Mohamed Ismail;
The Netherlands, DUNYA & DESIE, Dana Nechushtan;
Norway, O’HORTEN, Bent Hamer;
Palestine, SALT OF THIS SEA, Annemarie Jacir;
Philippines, PLONING, Dante Nico Garcia;
Poland, TRICKS, Andrzej Jakimowski;
Portugal, OUR BELOVED MONTH OF AUGUST, Miguel Gomes;
Romania, THE REST IS SILENCE, Nae Caranfil;
Russia, MERMAID, Anna Melikyan;
Serbia, THE TOUR, Goran Markovic;
Singapore, MY MAGIC, Eric Khoo;
Slovakia, BLIND LOVES, Juraj Lehotsky;
Slovenia, ROOSTER'S BREAKFAST, Marko Nabersnik;
South Africa, JERUSALEMA, Ralph Ziman;
Spain, THE BLIND SUNFLOWERS, Jose Luis Cuerda;
Switzerland, THE FRIEND, Micha Lewinsky;
Taiwan, CAPE NO. 7, Te-Sheng Wei;
Thailand, LOVE OF SIAM, Chookiat Sakveerakul;
Turkey, 3 MONKEYS, Nuri Bilge Ceylan;
Ukraine, ILLUSION OF FEAR, Aleksandr Kiriyenko;
United Kingdom, HOPE ETERNAL, Karl Francis;
Uruguay, KILL THEM ALL, Esteban Schroeder;
Venezuela, THE COLOR OF FAME, Alejandro Bellame Palacios.

Nominations for the 81st Academy Awards will be announced on Thursday, 22 January 2009, at 5:30 a.m., PT, in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2008 will be presented on Sunday, 22 February 2009, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

San Sebastian IFF and Web Site Success

Awards Presentation and Gala 2008

Final report from San Sebastian IFF. Their improved Web site for the 56th International Film Festival (SSIFF) was a huge success attracting millions. Over-all attendance, media coverage and country participation were also up.

The Festival was followed online this year in record-breaking numbers. The official Web site,, provided online live and repeat broadcasts of the opening and closing galas, plus the two Donostia award ceremonies. Those impressive new features, plus up-to-date information with a photo gallery, press conference videos, photocalls, Zabaltegi Meetings and other festival events helped the Festival enjoy a very successful run.

The official Web site logged more than four million visits during the ten days of the Festival. In addition, there were nearly 100,000 video downloads.

The Festival had the highest attendance on record. A total of almost 180,000 spectators took part in the various Festival activities. That figure includes 3,041 film industry professionals and members of the press. Among those were 1,091 registered journalists, representing media outlets from 41 countries. The highest film industry and media attendance in the history of the Festival.

A total of 64 films from 20 countries were part of the 14th edition of Films in Progress: Germany, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, United States, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Portugal, Uruguay and Venezuela. Of the 64 films presented, 13 were co-productions between different countries and 12 had participated in previous years.

Cinema in Motion included projects from 13 countries. Four films were selected to take part in the event during the Festival, attended by 63 companies.

Mimi welcomes follow-up reports from the festivals she follows on her Film Festival Page, which has also grown. The 2008 page is now in three parts: Part I (January - May), Part II (June - September), and Part III (October - December). Also, check Mimi's Awards Page as the Movie Awards Season is now open and will get hectic by December. Links to all these pages are on the right sidebar.

Are you a member of Facebook? Please join "Mimi's Movie Gang," in the Entertainment & Arts Groups.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

First Shortlist for Oscar® Nominations Announced

The Academy of Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences® announced today the first shortlist for the 81st Academy Awards®. It is a list of eight films for the Documentary Short Subject category. From this list three to five films will be nominated in January. Other such shortlists will be announced in the coming days.

The deadline for submission to the Academy of short and feature documentary films was Tuesday, 2 September. Voters from the Academy’s Documentary Branch viewed this year’s 31 eligible short-film contenders in Documentary and submitted their ballots to PricewaterhouseCoopers for tabulation from which eight films were selected. For full schedule, click here, or the link on the right sidebar for 81st Academy Awards Schedule.

The eight short films, in alphabetical order, are:

The Conscience of Nhem En
David McCullough: Painting with Words
The Final Inch
Smile Pinki
Tongzhi in Love
Viva La Causa
The Witness from the Balcony of Room 306

The 81st Academy Awards nominations for outstanding film achievements of 2008 will be announced on Thursday, 22 January 2009, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

The presentation of the 81st Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2008 will be televised live by ABC Television, Sunday, 22 February 2009, from the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®, Hollywood.

In February of this year, winners of the 80th Academy Awards in the Documentary Short Subject and Documentary Feature categories, respectively, were Freeheld and Taxi to the Dark Side.

Friday, October 03, 2008

SAG Honors James Earl Jones with Achievement Award

Actor James Earl Jones will receive the Screed Actors Guild (SAG) Lifetime Achievement Award when the Guild's annual awards are presented Sunday, 25 January 2009. His million-dollar voice is one of the most recognizable of any actor working today.

He is probably best known as the voice of Darth Vader in STAR WARS and Mufasa in THE LION KING. He has also done countless voiceovers (VO) in commercials and on CNN.

Jones has garnered laurels for his distinguished acting on television and in movies, as well as his appearances on the stage. This year, he starred in Broadway revivals of 'On Golden Pond' (Normal Thayer Jr.) and 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof' (Big Daddy). His honors include one Golden Globe, two Tony awards, three Emmys, an Oscar nomination (male lead actor in THE GREAT WHITE HOPE, 1971), and the National Medal of Arts.

In 1995, he received the prestigious National Board of Review, USA, Career Achievement Award. The next year, he was nominated for a SAG award for best performance by a male leading actor in a movie, CRY, THE BELOVED COUNTRY.

Probably few know today that Jones had a terrible stuttering problem as a child. His problem was so acute that he actually stopped speaking for a long time. His love of reading eventually helped him gain confidence to begin speaking again.

When he did find his voice, he soon became aware his presence and deep resonant voice might lead to an acting career. The 77-year-old actor says his voice is his most prominent asset.

He has two VO projects in the pipeline at the moment: JACK AND THE BEANSTALK (2008), completed, and QUANTUM QUEST: A CASSINI SPACE ODYSSEY (2010), in post-production. However I suspect, as an accomplished actor his real love is live theatre.

For more on current and upcoming awards, click the link on the right sidebar for Mimi's Awards Page.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

San Sebastián Film Festival Winners

View of San Sebastián and Festival Office

Award winners at the 56th San Sebastián International Film Festival (56 Festival Internacionál de San Sebastián Donostia Zinmaldea), 18 - 27 September 2008, have been announced. The winner of the Golden Shell (Concha de oro) for Best Film was: PANDORANIN KUTUSU / PANDORA'S BOX, Yesim Ustaoglu, (Turkey - France - Germany - Belgium).

An American movie, FROZEN RIVER, won two awards for the director, Courtney Hunt, and a Silver Shell (Concha de plata) best-actress for Melissa Leo, in a tie with the lead actress of PANDORA'S BOX.

Here is the FULL LIST with many pictures and much info. Click title of this post for the Festival's official Web site.

There is extensive information about the Festival, including the opening gala, on my Film Festivals Page. Here's the direct link for 2008. The opening gala was broadcast live on the Festival's Official Video Site, Telefestival, the Screen of Plaza Oquendo, and on Spanish Television's 2nd channel. This is the widest coverage the SSIFF has ever guarnered. The General Coordinator of the multi-media broadcasts was my buddy Diego Galán, and Manuel Palacios directed.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Oscar® Entries Deadline for Foreign Language, and Shot Films

The Best Foreign Language Film submission deadline for possible Oscar® nomination is Wednesday, 1 October 2008. It is also the deadline for Live Action Short Film and Animated Short Film.

Entry forms for consideration for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nomination for the 81st Academy Awards®, along with documentaion and one English-subtitled film print, and all other required materials, must be at the Academy in Beverly Hills by 5:00 p.m., 1 October. Only one entry per country.

The Academy mailed entry forms to 95 countries in June. Last year, the Academy invited 93 countries to submit. Of those who submitted, films from 61 countries were qualified for nomination.

In the short film categories, filmmakers must submit an entry form, one film print, or copy in an approved digital format, and all other required materials by the same deadline.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2008 will be presented on Sunday, 22 February 2009, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®, Hollywood, and televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.

For more information contact:

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences®
8949 Wilshire Boulevard Beverly Hills, CA 90211-1972
Or, click the title of this post.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Win a Seat Along Red Carpet at Academy Awards®

There will be only 300 seats available along the 500-foot-long walkway that leads into the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center® 22 February 2009, when Academy Awards® are awarded. Beginning this Monday, 22nd, fans are invited to submit an online application for the chance to win one of those seats. In previous years, as many as 20,000 fans have applied but luck might be on your side this year.

The lucky winners will watch and cheer Oscar® nominees, presenters and other ceremony guests as they arrive at the 81st Academy Awards on Sunday, 22 February 2009. Following the red carpet arrivals, the winners will be invited to watch the Academy Awards telecast at a nearby location.

Excited about it? In that case, pay attention to the procedure:

Beginning on Monday, 22 September, at 9 a.m. PT / noon ET, and continuing for only one week, fans may apply on the Academy's Official Web Site
to win seats along the Academy Awards® red carpet. The application form will be available at The online-only application process will close on Sunday, 28 September, at 9 p.m. PT / midnight ET.

To be eligible for the random drawing, an individual must complete the application form in its entirety. Applications may only be submitted online. Forms may not be returned via U.S. mail, fax or private delivery service such as UPS or FedEx.

Applicants may register up to four persons. However, only one form will be accepted per person or group.

Those whose names are selected in the random drawing will be notified in early October. They will then be required to submit additional information for security purposes prior to final approval. Eligible attendees will receive a confirmation letter in early December with information pertinent to the event. The Academy will not be responsible for securing travel and/or hotel accommodations for winners.

Only those individuals who have been pre-approved by the Academy will have access to the bleachers. Those who wait overnight to attempt admittance will not be granted entry.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2008 will be presented on Sunday, 22 February 2009, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center, and televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Toronto Festival Wraps - Let the Film-Awards Season Begin

Dev Patel and Freida Pinto in SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE

The film festival in the city that has been dubbed "Hollywood North," Toronto, Canada, wrapped Sunday. The Toronto International Film Festival is also considered the opening of the film-awards season, which culminates with the Academy Awards® in February.

However, the first major awards after Toronto's IFF are usually the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences' Primetime Emmy Awards®. This year is no exception.

The 60th Primetime Emmy gala (Diamond Jubilee) will be broadcasting live on ABC from the NOKIA Theatre, Staples Center, Los Angeles (8:00-11:00 PM, ET / PT, 7:00 PM CT) next Sunday the 21st. The New York party will be held at the Frederick P. Rose Hall, Time Warner Building, NYC.

The next night, Monday 22, the 29th News and Documentary Emmy Awards is at the Fredrick P. Rose Hall, Time Warner Building, NYC, and will not be broadcast.
You can get a bird's eye view of both the Primetime and the News and Documentary awards on my Awards Page. Here's the link to the Official Primetime Emmy Site for more details.

As for Toronto, it is interesting to me that the Cadillac Audience Award went to British Director Danny Boyle's movie SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE filmed in India, the story of a orphaned young man trying to win big on a television show that is the Indian version of a U.S. show, and the Best Canadian First Feature Film was awarded to Marie-Hélène Cousineau and Madeline Piujuq Ivalu's BEFORE TOMORROW. The movie is based on the novel by Danish author Jørn Riel, which is about a strong Inuit woman and her beloved grandson, who become trapped on a remote Island.

Toronto IFF proves every year how truly international filmmaking is becoming. Go to my Film Festivals Page and see what I am talking about. There's plenty of highlights on my page, including pictures and the recent awards. For more details go to the TIFF Official Site.

Also, I have highlighted some of the movies at the festival that most likely will make the nomination list, in some aspect, for the upcoming 81st Academy Awards® on Sunday, 22 February 2009. Go. Get a heads-up!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Duplicate Capra Oscar® Returned to Army

Duplicate statuette and PRELUDE TO WAR poster on display at ceremony returning Oscar statuette to the Department of the Army, 3 September 2008. Photo: Todd Wawrychuk / ©A.M.P.A.S.

A duplicate of an Oscar statuette earned by director Frank Capra’s acclaimed 1942 documentary PRELUDE TO WAR, the first film in the United States Army Special Services’ seven-picture “Why We Fight” series, was removed from the auction block by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Academy President Sid Ganis returned the statuette to the care of the U.S. Army in a special ceremony yesterday.

The duplicate statuette was requested by and granted to the Department of Defense in 1958 in connection with a special exhibition. In the years following the exhibition, the award was in the care of the Army Pictorial Center. The original Oscar for Best Documentary of 1943, PRELUDE TO WAR, remains in the care of the Capra family.

The Army Pictorial Center closed in 1970. Academy officials, who monitor auction houses, on-line sales, and other sales outlets, saw that Christie's auction house was offering the statuette for sale. The Army asserted its claim on the Award immediately after being notified by the Academy. Exactly what happened to the statuette between 1970 and 2008 is unknown, but the auction house was pleased to return the statuette to the Army.

Frank Capra (L) and John Ford during World War II, undated.
Photo courtesy of the Margaret Herrick Library.

The “Why We Fight” films, directed by then-Major Frank Capra (IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, 1946) are widely recognized as the most effective of the many films produced by the armed services to educate Americans in general, and new servicemen in particular, about the nation’s objectives in entering WWII.

“We are very grateful that the Academy contacted us and has returned the Oscar to the U.S. Army. . . . The award will be proudly and prominently displayed at the Department of the Army Headquarters for Public Affairs Office at the Pentagon for all to see," said Brigadier General Jeffrey E. Phillips, Deputy Chief of Public Affairs.

TRIVIA NOTE from Mimi: Frank Capra (18 May 1897, Sicily - 3 September 1991, Palm Springs, CA)

Actually, Frank Capra was not credited on PRELUDE TO WAR, the official World War II US Government film made for distribution to the American public. It defines the various enemies of the Allies and why they must be fought. It was made at a time when the war was going badly for the USA, 1942. The entire "Why We Fight" series, directed by Frank Capra, was placed on the National Film Registry, National Film Preservation Board, USA, in 2000.

Capra's first studio feature film after returning from his Army film assignment was IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946), starring Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, etc. He won three Oscars for directing in the 1930's for YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU, MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN and IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT. Ironically, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE was nominated for five Oscars, including directing, but won none.

MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON, also starring Jimmy Stewart, was nominated for 10 Oscars in 1940, including Stewart and Capra, but only Lewis R. Foster received one for writing the original story.

Capra has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but never received a lifetime achievement Oscar from the Academy. His last movie was the 1961 POCKETFULL OF MIRACLES.

I met him at the La Quinta Resort, Palm Springs, CA, about 1984. I was there working with a partner's meeting for what was then Price Waterhouse. I was distributing credentials for the evening parties, when a casually dressed older gentleman, only slightly taller than I, walked up to me and asked, "May I come to the parties."

I knew he was not part of the seminar and asked, "What is your name?"

"Frank Capra. Do you think you could get me in?"

I was stunned for a moment, and then recognized him as, indeed, one of the Hollywood directors that I most admired. I replied, "I'm not sure, Mr. Capra, these are private parties, but I'll be happy to ask my boss."

"Oh," he said, "I was just kidding, but thank you."

He gave me a card with only the number of his residence at La Quinta. The next day, I knocked on the door at the time he had indicated.

Mr. Capra answered, invited me in, and I visited with him for about an hour. We exchanged pleasantries and talked in generalities - - families, current movies, current events, about his life at La Quinta, my work at Price Waterhouse, etc.

Although tempted, I never asked him any questions. He seemed very pleased about the visit and invited me to visit him again the next time I was at the resort. Much to my regret, due to circumstances in my life that were beyond my control, I never returned to La Quinta.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Olympics Over. Now, We Have Political Conventions.

I enjoyed the Olympics so much that I haven't had time to see, or write about, a movie. Imagine that? However, I do not apologize for having other interests in the year of a national election.

Almost as soon and the Olympics finished, the Democratic National Convention opened in Denver, CO. The Republican National Convention will begin almost immediately after the Democratic one closes. However, I do not apologize for having other interests in the year of a national election.

Therefore, I am now posting on my "Boggling the Mind" blog, and I shall not be posting here until the RNC Convention is over. Sorry, but there are not enough hours in the day.

Meanwhile, you might enjoy reading Woody Allen's "Excerpts of the Spanish Diary" in the New York Times 24 August about his lastest, VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA. It's a hoot!

You might also enjoy my salute to this year's outstanding Spanish athletes on my Foreign Movies Page. There is a heck-of-a-lot there about this year's foreign films, too.

Until I return to the movies, please enjoy my informative "Boggling the Mind" blog. Link on the right sidebar.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

China's Olympic Opening Directed by Zhang Yimou

Zhang Yimou at press conference the day after the opening.

Okay. You read the title of this post and asked, Zhang Yimou, who? He was the chief director for the opening ceremonies of the Olympics in Beijing, China, yesterday. Zhang Yimou (pronounced Yee-Mo), is one of China's best filmmakers in the so-called "fifth generation." He is my favorite, and he does not make films in English, only in Mandarin, unlike Taiwan's Ang Lee (BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN), my second favorite Chinese director.

Hint: In China the last names are first. So, Zhang Yimou's given name, Yimou, is written last while his sir name, Zhang, is first. Articles in Chinese newspapers write it that way, and the IMDb often does too, but the name is generally reversed for English speakers, e.g. Yimou Zhang. In China, Ang Lee's name is written Lee Ang. So check both ways when searching on the Web.

Did you see the Olympic opening ceremony yesterday? If you didn't you will have to wait for the DVD to enjoy the synchronized performances of hundreds of people in the high tech extravaganza, that was an amazing live performance. In every Olympiad the opening ceremony grows more spectacular.

I wish to salute Zhang for his own conceived and fantastically directed production. Unfortunately, no one did at the opening. Perhaps, someone will at the closing. He will be directing that also, as he will the ceremonies for the Paralympics that follow these games, also in Beijing. As he said at a press conference today, "Yesterday was only the beginning."

Have you seen any of Zhang Yimou's movies? The first one I saw was RED SORGHUM with his favorite leading lady - - in his movies as she used to be in his real life, gorgeous Gong Li. Then, I saw RAISE THE RED LANTERN, and I was hooked.

Yesterday, in the opening ceremony Zhang included a giant yellow ball that morphed into a red Chinese lantern and, in turn, into the globe of the world. The red lantern = China, the globe = one world, only two of the symbols in the ceremony that represented the slogan for this year's Olympiad: One World, One Dream.

On top of that revolving globe Sarah Brightman, and China's current favorite male pop singer Liu Huan, sang "You and Me," the official song of this year's Olympics. Theirs was only one of many beautiful musical moments accompanied by the Beijing Ceremony Symphony. I hear the CD is in stores now.

Three of Zhang's movies have received Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominations, JU DOU, RAISE THE RED LANTERN, and HERO, but he has never taken home the statuette. I think it is because his movies are iconic Chinese, and Americans just don't know enough about China to understand them as well as they do the movies of "
westernized" Taiwanese director Ang Lee.

Don't get me wrong. I like Ang Lee's movies, too. CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON is spectacular and won the Best Foreign Language Oscar, but it isn't as folk-centered as Zhang's HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS. Ang Lee's BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN won a best picture Oscar and one for Lee's directing.

On the other hand, when Lee tried sex as a subject in LUST, CAUTION, he failed. His approach was a bit too raw for most Americans. Zang's earlier movie, SHANGHAI TRIAD, is less raw with more subtlety, and is sexier, but he doesn't have the "name recognition" in the U.S. that Lee has.

Lee is Taiwanese and Zhang is mainland China. The latter's geographic location doesn't cut as much favor in Hollywood as Taiwan. Lee is definitely a more commercial (box office-favored) director than Zhang, but if you, like me, fell in love with the China of Pearl Buck in her book The Good Earth, get that sensation again each time you view a Zang Yimou movie.

I have seen all the movies mentioned above, plus Zhang's THE STORY OF QIU JU, and CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER. My favorite Ang Lee Chinese movie is CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON. I simply can't pick a favorite Zhang movie. They are that good! Zhang's filmography on Fandango.

The numbers are in and the Olympic opening night ceremony on NBC averaged 34.2 million households in the U.S., the biggest audience ever for an Olympic opening ceremony not held in the U.S., Nielsen Media Research reported. It eclipsed this year's Academy Awards, and the finale of "American Idol," making it the biggest television event since this year's Super Bowl. The summer Olympics in Athens four years ago averaged 25.4 million households for its first night. Sydney in 2000 had 27.3 million.

The Web site registered 70 million page views on Friday, its heaviest traffic ever. The site did not post videos, but did post still pictures. The estimated statistics for world-wide television (Internet) viewership of the opening have not yet been announced, but the count is expected to approach one billion viewers.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Madonna Warmly Received at Traverse City FF - WRAP

Find them all on my Film Festivals Page (direct link to full list).

Sorry, haven't found out which ball cap Michael is wearing today. Too much partying, I guess!

Actress Christine Lahti, New Board Member

Madonna, and her documentary, I AM BECAUSE WE ARE, were warmly received this evening at a screening at the Traverse City (MI) Film Festival, accoring to the AP. The movie concerns orphans in Malawi, the African country where she and her husband Guy Ritchie adopted a son. Proceeds from the screening will go to a foundation that helps Malawian orphans.

Madonna was accompanied by the movie's director Nathan Rissman and her daughter Lourdes, 11. Michael Moore shared the stage with Madonna before the screening, and it was a mutual admiration society between the two Michigan natives. Read a full AP article by clicking the title of this post.

Last week, Michael sent an e-mail proclaiming this year's festival's opening night the best one ever, even though there were thunder storms. He reported the on-stage introduction of two new board members for the TCFF - - Oscar-winning actress and Michigan native Christine Lahti, and acclaimed Italian director and TCFF-fave Sabina Guzzanti.

Rumors are flying again that Spanish actors Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz (see previous post) will soon announce an engagement. They co-star in Woody Allen's latest movie, and Festival opener, VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA (official site). The couple first met on the set of Bigas Luna's 1992 movie JAMON JAMON (Ham, Ham), but only began dating after reuniting onscreen for Allen's movie, which opens in the U.S. 15 August. Trivia: Did you know the working title was "Midnight in Barcelona?"

According to Michael, VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA, "was a huge hit - - smart, funny, sexy, and intended for an adult audience that is rarely served these days with smart, funny, and sexy films. What a joy! Ok, who wants to go to Barcelona?!"

Answer - - I do, Michael. I haven't been there since 1998, and I am really home sick for that wonderful city, which really gets going about midnight, and my friends who live there and one, the aforementioned Bigas Luna, who has since moved. Most of them are in the Spanish movie business - - producers, writers, directors, actors, etc. I always try to include a visit to Madrid to see my other cinephile friends. How about it, Michael, are you game? Click.

Back to the Festival, there is a bidding war going on to determine which ball cap Michael will wear this year - - Michigan State University or the University of Michigan? He reports that at the end of the opening night festivities, MSU offered the most for the night. Which one will ultimately prevail? I will update this post with the festival wrap. So, y'all come back now, and y'all will know.

For previous posts about Traverse City FF, click the Traverse City label at bottom of this post.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Michigan Filmmaker Award Today

Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem in Traverse City Festival's Opening Movie

Michael Moore, founder and Grand Puba of the Traverse City Film Festival, will present the Michigan Filmmaker Award to Oscar-winning screenwriter Kurt Luedtke (OUT OF AFRICA and ABSENCE OF MALICE ) at the official opening of the Traverse City Film Festival this afternoon (2:00 pm).

Tonight's opening-night party has been moved to Building 50 as rain is expected. GHOSTBUSTERS is due to be shown outdoors tonight, and should it get rained out, it will be shown on Sunday night. The opening movie, VICKI CRISTINA BARCELONA starring Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem, will be shown as scheduled.

Moore reports that Luedtke, "wrote OUT OF AFRICA on Glen Lake! How cool is that?!" Luedtke was born in Grand Rapids.

For those of you who, like me, are not Michiganders, Glen Lake is in Northern Michigan (Leelanau County) next to Lake Michigan. It is separated by a small strip of land, known as Leelanau Peninsular, upon which some quaint towns and a number of resorts reside.

Traverse City, is located at the base of Lake Michigan's western arm of Grand Traverse Bay. When counting its micropolitan area, which it does in order to be a city (an official city has a population of 50,000 or more), is the largest city in a 21-county area of Northern Michigan, with over 142,000. Within the actual city limits of Traverse City, the population is about 15,000. See MAP.

For previous posts about the TCFF on this blog click:(1) (2).

To everyone working at, and attending, the festival - - Happy Festival!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Traverse City prepares for Film Festival

State Theater in downtown Traverse City, MI.

Today, I received an e-mail from Michael Moore asking that I make it clear that there are many films at the Traverse City Film Festival (29 July - 3 August) not sold out. Since documentary is his passion, he wants to recommend the section, "Movies from People Who Want to Kill Us." They are from Muslim countries and half of the directors are women. Surprised? However, Michael tells me he is concerned about the title of the section, because the people involved in these films definitely do not want to kill us. They want us to see their movies.

Chief among them is BUDDHA COLLAPSED OUT OF SHAME, a powerful documentary screening at the festival, and the debut of 18-year-old Iranian director Hana Makhmalbaf. The movie is set in Bamian, a small town in Afghanistan where the Taliban destroyed giant Buddha statues in 2001. Michael says about this film, "A wonderful celebration of the human spirit. My second-favorite film of the festival." Hmmmm. Is he going to tell me his favorite?

Two others in the section are: BAGHDAD HIGH - A group of kids secretly record their life at a Baghdad high school; MY DINNER WITH THE PRESIDENT - A [Pakistani] woman decides to invite a dictator to dinner. He accepts. She asks to film it. He agrees.

Michael is also concerned that people will stay away from the documentary ANVIL! THE STORY OF ANVIL, "because it is about a heavy metal band [Anvil], and perhaps there aren't that many metalheads among you. You do NOT need to like heavy metal to love this film. Anvil is the band that essentially invented heavy metal -- but they were a couple years too soon. . . . ANVIL is at times is hilarious (these guys are the real life Spinal Tap)."

ANVIL, the movie, directed by Sacha Gervasi, features Steven "Lips" Kudlow and Robb Reiner, not the same as Rob Reiner, the actor known as "Meathead" from TV's All in the Family, director of the movie THIS IS SPINAL TAP (1984), and son of the legendary Carl. After the movie on Friday and Saturday night, Anvil [the band] will take the stage and play a set live for the audience.

The historic State theatre in downtown Traverse City, MI, will be dark this weekend (July 25-28) in order to upgrade the already excellent sound system, install a bigger screen, and to permanently install the theater organ in time for the Traverse City Film Festival, mostly thanks to an anonymous donor. Yes, sir, the folks in Traverse City have reason to be excited.

There are some films sold out for the festival, which opens 29 July and runs through 3 August, but dozens are still available. They are available at the walk-up box office located downtown at 300 E Front Street in the Art Center, online, and by phone.
Among the exciting events, Singer / actress / and producer Madonna who, like Michael Moore, is a Michigan native, will appear during the festival for a screening of her documentary, I AM BECAUSE WE ARE, on 2 August. See previous post on this blog for more detail. The event is oversold, but they are trying to add additional screenings of the movie.

The opening movie, VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA, directed by Woody Allen, is sold out, and the party afterward may be as well. There are still some tickets for writer-director Andrew Fleming's closing movie, HAMLET.

You can read more, and view some video about the Traverse City Film Festival, a.k.a. Michael Moore's Film Festival, and order available tickets online by clicking the title of this post. There is more about the film in this post on my Film Festivals Page II (link on the right sidebar). On that page you will find more information about this festival, and many others. There is always a link to the official Web site for each festival covered on my Film Festivals Page, and you might find it a handy page to bookmark (favorite) for quick reference.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Actress Annette Bening Newly Elected to Academy Board

Actress Annette Bening is the only new Governor elected to the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the ensuing three-year term. She is representing the Actors Branch. Eight incumbents were reelected, along with six other filmmakers who will return to the Board after a time away.

The other five electrets for this term are returning to the Board after a hiatus. They are: Jeffrey Kurland, Art Directors; Martha Coolidge, Directors; Arthur Hamilton, Music; Don Hall, Sound; and Phil Robinson, Writers.

The Board of Governors oversee the Academy's business, artistic, preservation, and philanthropic endeavors related to cinema. One of their main duties is to establish and enforce rules for the Academy Awards®.

Fourteen of the Academy’s 15 branches are each represented by three governors, who may serve up to three consecutive three-year terms. Terms are staggered so that each branch elects or reelects one governor each year. The Makeup Branch is represented by a single governor, currently Leonard Engelman, whose seat was not part of this election cycle.

Incumbent governors reelected to another term are Owen Roizman, Cinematographers; Michael Apted, Documentary; Robert Rehme, Executives; Donn Cambern, Film Editors; Kathleen Kennedy, Producers; Sid Ganis, Public Relations; John Lasseter, Short Films and Feature Animation; and Craig Barron, Visual Effects. Hall’s return to the Board fills a seat left vacant when J. Paul Huntsman died earlier this year.

Governors who were not up for reelection and who continue on the Board are Ed Begley, Jr. and Henry Winkler, Actors Branch; Rosemary Brandenburg and Jeannine Oppewall, Art Directors; Caleb Deschanel and Vilmos Zsigmond, Cinematographers; Curtis Hanson and Paul Mazursky, Directors; Rob Epstein and Richard Pearce, Documentary; Jim Gianopulos and Tom Sherak, Executives; Dede Allen and Mark Goldblatt, Film Editors; Bruce Broughton and Charles Fox, Music; Mark Johnson and Hawk Koch, Producers; Cheryl Boone Isaacs and Marvin Levy, Public Relations; Carl Bell and Jon Bloom, Short Films and Feature Animation; Curt Behlmer and Kevin O’Connell, Sound; Richard Edlund and Bill Taylor, Visual Effects; and James L. Brooks and Frank Pierson, Writers.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Film Festivals and Awards in June Wrap

Sir Sean Connery presented the awards in Edinburgh.

All the film festivals that I follow in June have wrapped, Edinburgh (Scotland) and Los Angeles (USA) this past weekend. For information about these, and others held this month: Jackson Hole (USA), AFI SILVERDOCS (D.C.), and Shanghai (China), click the link on the right sidebar for my Film Festivals Page II. There is also a link for Part I, which began in January with Palm Springs and ended with Cannes.

Next up: Michael Moore's Traverse City (fellow Michigander Madonna will be there with her new film) and then, Sarajevo (Bosnia). Festivals in August and September are also in Part II.

The Daytime Emmy and Broadway's Tony Awards wrapped in June, too. The Emmys had three awards sessions: the sports awards, daytime creative arts and entertainment awards, and the 35th daytime Emmy gala hosted by ABC's Cameron Masterson (All My Children) and Sherri Shepherd (The View). Regis Philbin (Live With Regis and Kelly) took home the lifetime achievement Emmy.

For more on these awards and many more for this year, click the link on the right sidebar for my Awards Page.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

AMPAS® Invites and Issues New Rules

Foreign Language Film Entry Forms Go to 95 Countries - -

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS®) mailed Foreign Language Film (BFLF) award entry forms to 96 countries yesterday, inviting submissions in the BFLF category for the 81st Academy Awards®, 22 February 2009, rewarding the best of 2008. Last year, the Academy invited 93 countries to submit. Of those who submitted, films from 61 countries were qualified for nomination.

To qualify for the 2008 Awards, a film must be released in the submitting country between 1 October 2007, and 30 September 2008, and be publicly screened in 35mm or 70mm film, or in a qualifying digital cinema format, for at least seven consecutive days in a commercial motion picture theater.

The dialogue track must be predominantly (not quantified) in a language or languages other than English. Accurate English subtitles are required. The director, producers and the production crew must be predominantly (not quantified) from the country submitting the film.

Entry forms and film prints must be received at the Academy by Wednesday, October 1, 2008. Only one picture will be accepted from each country.

Countries that have not received entry packets but are interested in submitting a film for consideration should contact Awards Coordinator Torene Svitil at (310) 247-3000, ext. 116, or via e-mail at

In 2007, the Austrian film THE COUNTERFEITERS won the Oscar® over a field of nominated films from Israel, Kazakhstan, Poland and Russia. See last year's list of qualifying films listed by country.

Minor Rule Change for BFLF Category - -

The governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences approved the rules for the 81st Academy Awards at their 17 June meeting. Most modifications of the rules include normal date changes and minor “housekeeping” changes. The only significant changes were in the Best Foreign Language Film and the Best Original Song categories.

The change for the BFLF category is mainly procedural. The two-phase process by which the nominees are selected will remain intact. However, the Phase I committee – which is open to any voting member who views a minimum number [not quantified] of the eligible films – will now vote to determine only six of the nine films that will ultimately go to the Phase II committee.

The other three titles will be determined by those members of the 20-member Foreign Language Film Award Executive Committee who have qualified to vote in the category. The executive committee’s selections will be made after the Phase I voting has been tallied. Think of the FLF Executive Committee as "super delegates."

This change was evidently made because last year's selection of the final list, from whence the actual nominees came, was a disaster. There was a huge outcry because the highly acclaimed Romanian movie, 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS, AND 2 DAYS, director Cristian Mungiu, which won best film at Cannes in 2007, did not make the final nomination cut. Some felt it was a political rather than an artistic call because the subject of the movie is forced abortions. Hopefully, things will go better this year. 4 MONTHS is now available on DVD. Click NETFLIX graphic on right sidebar.

Changes in Music Award for Best Original Song - -

There are three changes in the Best Original Song category. First, while there continues to be no limit on the number of songs from a given film that can be submitted for consideration, no more than two songs from any one film may be nominated for an Academy Award. Many felt it was highly unfair that three out of the five song nominations last year went to ENCHANTED.

Second as refers to voting, in addition to the annual screening event at which members of the Music Branch view clips featuring the eligible songs as they appear in the films and vote, DVDs of those same clips will be made available to branch members who are unable to attend the screening; ballots will accompany the DVDs and must be returned by mail.

Thirdly, Music Branch members who have one or more songs in contention for nominations do not vote in the above phase for nomination. Again, to keep the playing field fair. However, they remain eligible to vote on the final ballot to select the winner. See all Academy rules for 81st Oscars.

AMPAS Invites 105 to Become New Members in 2008 - -

The membership policies that the Academy adopted in 2004 in order to slow the growth of the organization would have allowed a maximum of 137 new members in 2008, but as in the previous years, the various branch committees sometimes endorsed fewer candidates than were proposed to them. Voting membership in the organization has now held steady at just under 6,000 members since 2003.

New members will be welcomed into the Academy at an invitation-only reception at the Fairbanks Center for Motion Picture Study in Beverly Hills in September. See list of the 2008 invitees.

The Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2008 will be presented on Sunday, 22 February 2009, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live by the ABC Television Network. Also, the Oscar presentation will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Javier Bardem Wins Spain's National Film Award

Javier Bardèm with SAG Award

César Antonio Molina, Minister of Culture of Spain, announced today in Madrid that Spanish Actor Javier Bardèm is the winner of Spain's 2008 National Film Award, an honor given annually by the Cultural Ministry. Bardem, 39, was selected for the $46,500 prize for "goals achieved throughout a long career," for his "defense of the acting profession and a constant commitment to Spanish cinema."

Bardem won a best-supporting actor Oscar and a SAG award for NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN in February. His screen credits also include THE SEA INSIDE (Mar Adentro) and BEFORE NIGHT FALLS.

Friday, June 06, 2008

People Already Queuing for Madonna Tickets at TCFF

[See previous post for more detail about this event.]

Tickets for Madonna's visit to the Traverse City (Michigan) Film Festival August 2nd will go on sale tomorrow morning (Saturday, June 7th) at 11 a.m. at the downtown State Theatre. However, Deb Lake, Executive Director of the Festival reported at 8:00 p.m. tonight that a line for tickets began forming at the State Theatre sometime in the wee hours Wednesday night. By last night, three tents had been erected on the sidewalk.

She characterized the crowd as resembling an unofficial Friday Night Live with "vogue-ing" on Front Street. She also admonishes not to fear, because arrangements have been made to accommodate the demand for TC's Madonna Night.

Madonna has agreed to a simultaneous showing of her movie in another venue, and her remarks at the State will be beamed "live" to this other yet-to-be-named location as well. Tickets to this "overflow theater" will be $15, and again, all the proceeds will go to the Raising Malawi Foundation. This way, hundreds more people will have a chance to participate in "Madonna in TC."

Tickets for the alternate event will be split 50-50 between the public and Friends of the TC Festival, as originally announced. So, if you are a Friend and have already sent your Post Card, you are in the lottery pool for both.

She thanks everyone for their overwhelming support and wishes each, "Good luck!" tomorrow.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Madonna in Traverse City, MI, 2 August - get tickets now!

Yes, that's correct. Singer / Actress / Writer / Producer Madonna will appear in person at the Traverse City Film Festival (TCFF), 2 August, for a screening of her documentary, I AM BECAUSE WE ARE. The feature documentary, directed by Nathan Rissman, had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in April.

The tickets will be available to the general public, ONLY at the historic State Theatre box office in downtown Traverse City, Michigan, and will go on sale this Saturday, 7 June. NO tickets will be sold online or by phone. Tickets are $25. To see Madonna in person? Wow!

The screening is part of the program for the Traverse City Film Festival, which will run from 29 July - 3 August at the downtown State Theatre. It was co-founded by filmmaker Michael Moore and others. He, like Madonna, is a native of Michigan, and the festival is often referred to as Michael Moore's Film Festival.

Michael Moore in SICKO

I AM BECAUSE WE ARE is Madonna's personal journey and meditation about the African country of Malawi, a nation devastated by poverty and disease but filled with a desire to overcome all that it faces. The documentary has been described as "searing," "thoughtful," and "powerful."

The film features Bishop Desmund Tutu, President Bill Clinton, and author/activist Jeffrey Sachs. All proceeds from the event will go to the Raising Malawi Foundation, a project of Madonna's that helps orphans in one of the world's poorest countries.

For more about the festival, and relevant links, click title of this post, or HERE. Also, you might like to read
Madonna's remarks at the screening of the documentary in Cannes last month.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

June! Tony and Emmy Awards, and Film Festivals!

Whoopi Goldberg will host Tonys.

Regis gets Lifetime Emmy.

Ah. The month of June will be here next week. Two of my favorite award shows come out of the gate in June - the Tony Awards (15 June, NYC) and the Daytime Emmy Awards (20 June, Hollywood).

The nominations for both organizations are in, and the hosts have been announced. Click here for the Tony nominations, and for the Daytime Emmy nominations. To find much more, and access official sites, click my 2009 Awards Page link on the right sidebar.

At the same time the Theatre Wing and the Television Academy are honoring their own in June, the film festival crowd tries to beat the heat in Wyoming (Jackson Hole), Scotland (Edinburgh), or on the beach in L.A. It's a great life, if you can live it. Should they prefer more exotic and hotter times with their movies, they may head for Shanghai. Or, later, to Sarajevo.

I'm now following so many film festivals that one page is not enough. So, for 2008, I'm splitting the coverage into at least three parts.

Part I began in Palm Springs, California, and ended in Cannes, France. Cannes closed this week, but you can read about it, and others during the first part of year, for as long as you like by clicking the link for Part I on the right sidebar.

Film Festivals Part II is now online, with lots of interesting festivals. A link is also on the sidebar.

Part II begins with the Jackson Hole Festival and ends in early October with the 46th New York Film Festival in NYC. In between you'll find Montreal, Telluride, San Sebastian, and more.

Coming online in August will be Part III. It begins with Vancouver in September. I'm not sure where it will end. It may be necessary to add a Part IV. At any rate, watch this blog for notification when Part III is online sometime in August.

To get the overview of the film festivals I cover during a year, take a look at my Film Festivals Page 2007.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

61st Cannes Winners Spread Among Countries

The 61st Cannes Film Festival, which wrapped today, spread the festival awards among many countries with the biggest winners being France and Italy.

The jury headed by Sean Penn named the French movie THE CLASS (Entre Les Murs), the Palme d’Or (Golden Palm) winner for best film at Cannes. It was directed by Laurent Cantet (TIME OUT, 2001, HUMAN RESOURCES, 1999), and is based on an autobiographical novel by Francois Begaudeau who plays himself as a young French teacher facing a sometimes rebellious class (surprise?).

The Grand Prix runner-up prize went to Italy's GOMORRAH (Gomorra), Matteo Garrone's hard-hitting film about the world of modern day Naples crime families, the principal one being the Camorra family. The movie is based on the book by Neapolitan writer Roberto Saviano.

The second Italian competition entry, IL DIVO, a satire on the life of former prime minister Giulio Andreotti and directed by Paolo Sorrentino, won the jury award.

A special prize was given to screen legend Catherine Deneuve, as well as Clint Eastwood whose film THE EXCHANGE (a.k.a., CHANGELING) was in competition. The Camera d'Or for best new directorial debut went to Britain's Steve McQueen for HUNGER. Yes, that's his name.

The Best Director award went to Turkey's Nuri Bilge Ceylan's dark tale, THREE MONKEYS.

Puerto Rican actor Benicio del Toro was named Best Actor for his portrayal of the Argentine revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara in Steven Soderbergh's epic four-and-a-half hour CHE (USA).

The Best Actress award went to Brazil's Sandra Corveloni. She portrays the trials of a now pregnant mother, who already has four sons, in the popular Brazilian drama LINHA DE PASSE (Line of Passage), co-written and directed by Walter Salles, which is set in the slums of Sao Paulo.

Belgium's Dardenne brothers, Jean-Pierre and Luc, won Best Screenplay for LORNA'S SILENCE. Previously, the brothers have won two Golden Palms together: L' ENFANT (2005) and ROSETTA (1999).

The Federation of International Film Critics (FIPRESCI) awarded their FIPRESCI Prize for "Revolation Film" to Mexican filmmaker Fernando Eimbcke's second feature, LAKE TAHOE. The award was announced 19 May during Critics' Week.

Films receiving this award at Cannes must have won a FIPRESCI at a previous festival during the year, and TAHOE won the FIPRESCI at the Berlinale in Berlin this year. His first film, DUCK SEASON, won the same award during the Cannes Critics' Week in 2004.

For a list of the 22 films in competition, to read more about these films and Cannes, click the link on the right sidebar to access my Film Festivals Page-Part I.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

AMPAS® Announces Student Academy Awards®

Students from eight colleges and universities have been named winners of the Academy of Motions Pictures Arts and Sciences' 35th Annual Student Academy Awards®. Eleven students attending college in the U.S., and one film student from the Academy of Media Arts, Cologne, Germany, who has been selected to receive the honorary foreign film award, will receive their awards in a ceremony 7 June at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. Tickets are now available and are free.

The U.S. students first competed in one of three regional competitions. Each of those regions was permitted to send as many as three finalist films in each of four award categories. Academy members then screened the finalists’ films and voted to select the winners.

Winner's placement – Gold, Silver or Bronze – will not be revealed until the ceremony 7 June. In addition to a trophy, Gold Medal winners receive $5,000, Silver Medal winners receive $3,000, Bronze Medal winners receive $2,000, and the Honorary Foreign Film winner receives $1,000.

Winners are (listed alphabetically within each category by University):

San Francisco State University - Phoebe Tooke, CIRCLES OF CONFUSION.
University of Southern California (USC, Los Angeles) - Shih-Ting Hung, VIOLA: THE TRAVELING ROOMS OF A LITTLE GIANT.

California Institute of the Arts (CalArts, Valencia, CA)- Nicole Mitchell, ZOOLOGIC.
The Ringling College of Arts and Design (Sarasota, FL) - Evan Mayfield, THE VISIONARY.
The School of Visual Arts (NYC) - Tatchapon Lertwirojkul, SIMULACRA.

American University (Washington, D.C.) - Laura Waters Hinson, AS WE FORGIVE.
Columbia University (NYC) - J.J. Adler, UNATTACHED.

Florida State University - Z. Eric Yang, THE STATE OF SUNSHINE.
USC - Melanie McGraw, PITSTOP.
USC - Rajeev Dassani, A DAY'S WORK.

Honorary Foreign Film:
Academy of Media Arts, Cologne, Germany - Reto Caffi, ON THE LINE (Auf der Strecke). Caffi was selected from a pool of 43 entries.

Information about tickets, etc.:
The Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. Doors open at 5 p.m. All seating is unreserved. The Gold Medal-winning films and the Honorary Foreign Film will be screened in their entirety. A maximum of four free tickets may be requested online (click title of this post), in person at the Academy box office, by calling the Student Academy Awards department at (310) 247-3000, ext. 130, or by mail: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; 8949 Wilshire Boulevard; Beverly Hills CA 90211-1972.

The Academy established the Student Academy Awards in 1972 to support and encourage excellence in filmmaking at the collegiate level. Past Student Academy Award winners have gone on to receive 35 Oscar® nominations and have won, or shared, six Academy Awards. Two former Student Academy Award winners were nominated in the Documentary Short Subject category at the 80th Academy Awards held earlier this year. James Longley was nominated for SARI'S MOTHER, and Amanda Micheli for LA CORONA (The Crown). The winner was Josh Raskin's I MET THE WALRUS.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Here Comes Cannes 2008

Harrison Ford in Indy4

The Riviera resort of Cannes prepares to welcome the who's who of filmdom Wednesday. That's the opening day of the 61st Cannes International Film Festival, which means the festival is much older than the majority of the potential attendees.

One of the biggest premieres at the festival will surely be INDIANA JONES and the KINGDOM of the CRYSTAL SCULL, or Indy4 for short. It is screening out of competition. Of course, it would be unlikely to win the Golden Palm (Palme d'Or), anyway. But, it will generate a lot of excitement.

One of the longest features, Steven Soderberg's CHE (a.k.a., GUERRILLA - USA, France, Spain), a two-part, four-and-a-half-hour epic on Argentine revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara, will premiere in competition. Benicio del Toro stars as the charismatic Guevara.

These are only two top motion pictures in the 12-day movie marathon, which will command world attention while cinephiles watch for the two, or three, break-out feature films that will make cinematic history in 2008. Then, the question becomes, "Will any one of the favorites at Cannes claim the biggest prize of all, the Oscar® for Best Motion Picture of 2008?"

You can read about Cannes, and 18 other major and/or popular festivals already completed this year, on my Film Festivals Page. This year, I am dividing the festivals into three sections. Every year, I add more, and every year I write more, so it was the only sensible thing to do. Cannes completes Part I for 2008, which began with Palm Springs in January.

Part II is now online. It begins with Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in June, and ends with the New York Film Festival, opening in late September.

Next up will be Part III, beginning with the International Film Festival of Catalonia (Sitges, Spain) the first week in October, and probably ending with the Dubai Festival in mid-December. I can't say for sure yet because the Dubai dates run very close to the New Latin American Festival in Havana, Cuba.

Part III should be online by the last of August. By the end of October the action will shift to my Awards Page, which is the time the Oscar race really shifts into high gear, but there will still be some interesting film festivals to follow until Christmas. Then, my Film Festivals Page for 2009 begins.

I think you will find my Festivals Page handy. I try to note interesting tidbits, sometimes from my personal experience, and I always include handy links to help viewers quickly find the information in which they may be most interested. You can access the page by clicking the title of this post, or the permanent link on the right sidebar. Hope you enjoy!