Museum exhibit in Washington, D.C., explores history of black filmmaking through movie posters

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Arthur Dreifuss’s Murder on Lenox Avenue (1941), named after a major thoroughfare in Harlem, was a gangster picture inspired by Othello, and one of the many “race films” marketed to black audiences between 1916 and 1956. (Image Courtesy: DCist).

Since November 22, the National Museum of African American History and Culture has been hosting the exhibit Now Showing, which will be featured at the Amanda Stafford Center for African American Media Arts gallery until November 2020, according to DCist. It is made up of more than forty movie posters and lobby cards from the Larry Richard Collection, a cache of more than seven hundred posters the museum acquired in 2013, and an app will play film clips and curator interviews for museum visitors in a classic theater setting. Curator Rhea Combs says posters from before the 1980s were works of art.

Palm Springs International Film Festival: Antonio Banderas to earn International Star Award

Antonio Banderas will be honored with the thirty-first annual Palm Springs International Film Festival’s International Star Award, Actor, for his performance in Pedro Almódovar’s Pain and Glory (2019), at the Palm Springs Convention Center Film Awards Gala, according to Deadline. Jennifer Lopez (Spotlight Award), Joaquin Phoenix (Chairman’s Award), Martin Scorsese (Sonny Bono Visionary Award), Charlize Theron (International Star Award, Actress), and Renée Zellweger (Desert Palm Achievement Award, Actress), will also be recognized January 2. Past recipients of the International Star Award include Javier Barden, Nicole Kidman, Helen Mirren, Gary Oldman, as well as Saoirse Ronan, and the festival will run from January 2 to January 13, 2020.

“Sight & Sound” calls Joanna Hogg’s “The Souvenir” (2019) the top release of the year

Sight & Sound named Joanna Hogg’s semiautobiographical The Souvenir (2019), introducing Honor Swinton Byrne as a promising young filmmaker who falls for a charismatic (if self-indulgent) heroin addict, as the greatest film of the year, according to IndieWire. The BBC also listed it in the hundred best movies directed by women; in addition, Sight & Sound included Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite (2019), Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019), Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman (2019), and Jordan Peele’s Us (2019) in its top twenty. Neither Sight & Sound, nor Time with its top ten, recognized Todd Phillips’s Joker (2019), but both did Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story (2019).

Feminist documentarian releases new anti-Mafia film

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Kim Longinotto’s other films document survivors of female genital mutilation in Kenya and misogynistic divorce courts in Iran. (Image Courtesy: The New Statesman).

Kim Longinotto’s documentary, Shooting the Mafia (2019), biographizes Letizia Battaglia, a Palermo-born eighty-four-year-old woman who left behind her life as an unhappy housewife in her forties to photograph Mafia atrocities for L’Ora, according to the New Statesman. Battaglia was the first female photographer to work at a daily Italian newspaper, and she would go on to take six hundred thousand pictures of the Costa Nostra as well as the devastation they wrought on Sicilian communities, where eighty percent of businesses still pay protection money. The filmmaker, whose other feminist documentaries include Divorce Iranian Style (1998) and The Day I Will Never Forget (2002), hopes her latest release will counterbalance Hollywood’s popular Mafia narrative, which still inspires young Sicilian men to join the Cosa Nostra.

Xfinity reconnects E.T. and Elliot

Lance Acord’s four-minute A Holiday Reunion (2019), a sequel to Steven Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), will reunite E.T. and a now married-with-children Elliot (Henry Thomas) at theater pre-shows over the long holiday weekend, according to Deadline. The Comcast commercial, produced by their advertising agency, Goodby Silverstein & Partners, premiered as a two-minute cut during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on NBC, before the full edit played on Syfy during their airings of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Thursday night. Spielberg never took creative control of the ad, but was consulted throughout the process and responded favorably to the theme of “connection.”

The future of artificial intelligence in the film industry

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Deep fakes will become more of a concern with AI, as well as corporate gatekeeping of moviemaking resources, but special effects and animation will be enhanced. (Image Courtesy: Screen International).

As part of a screening for her documentary, iHUMAN (2019), at Tallinn’s European Film Forum, Norwegian filmmaker Tonje Hessen Schei says while Artificial Intelligence (AI) changes media consumption, humans should still tell the stories, according to Screen International. With footage of more than eighty interviews shot over five years for her to edit into iHUMAN, Hessen Schei says an AI editor would have been more efficient, but at the price of unpredictability. “The best art in the world is created by error and human madness, and beautiful fantasy that we have,” Hessen Schei says, adding that the United States and China may be leading the AI race, but Europe should develop ethical guidelines for top-one-percent production companies.

Michael Jackson biopic will span singer’s life in all its “complexity”

Graham King, who produced Bryan Singer’s Bohemian Rhapsody (2018), has acquired the rights to make a Michael Jackson biopic spanning his entire life (including the 1994 and 2005 child molestation allegations), as well as access to all his music, according to The Independent. John Logan, who wrote Ridley Scott’s Gladiator (2000), will be the scriptwriter, having previously collaborated with King on Martin Scorsese’s Howard Hughes biopic, The Aviator (2004). Jackson has been in the headlines this year ever since the release of Dan Reed’s Leaving Neverland (2019), in which Wade Robson and James Safechuck come forward with new allegations against the King of Pop.