Colorado Dragon Film Festival celebrates Asian cinema

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Johnny Ma’s To Live To Sing (2019) is the story of the manager of a small opera troupe and her quest to save their theater. (Image Courtesy: 5280).

Beginning February 20 and ending the 23, the Colorado Dragon Film Festival will screen more than a dozen Asian movies at the Sie Film Center, in addition to hosting panel discussions with the filmmakers, according to 5280. With Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite (2019) making history at the Oscars, Jon M. Chu’s Crazy Rich Asians (2018) becoming one of the highest-grossing romantic comedies ever, and Lulu Wang’s The Farewell (2019) garnering rave reviews, Asian cinema is dominating the conversation. Sara Moore, executive director of Dragon 5280 (the nonprofit that oversees the film festival), says wellness and community are this year’s themes.

Olivia Wilde directs short film starring Margaret Qualley, with cinematography by Matthew Libatique

Olivia Wilde’s Wake Up (2020), starring Margaret Qualley and with cinematography by frequent Darren Aronofsky collaborator Matthew Libatique, will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival over the coming days (trailer available from People magazine), according to IndieWire. Wilde and Qualley both had a breakthrough year in 2019, with Wilde directing Booksmart (2019) and Wilde appearing in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019) as well as FX’s Fosse/Verdon (2019), and Libatique has been nominated for two Academy Awards. In Wake Up, Qualley plays Jane Doe, a woman forced to rediscover her humanity in an increasingly digital world.

Spike Lee will be first black person to lead Cannes Film Festival jury

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Cannes president Pierre Lescure as well as festival director Thierry Frémaux write that Spike Lee’s perspective is “more valuable than ever” one day after the the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences drew criticism for nominating mostly white stars in the acting categories at the 2020 Oscars. (Image Courtesy: NBC News).

This year, Spike Lee will become the first black person in the Cannes Film Festival’s seventy-three-year history to serve as jury president, succeeding Alejandro G. Iñárritu, whose 2019 jury of artists awarded Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite (2019) the Palme d’Or, according to NBC News. The sixty-two-year-old filmmaker’s feature debut, She’s Gotta Have It (1986), won the Prix de la Jeunesse in the Director’s Fortnight at that year’s Cannes, and his most recent offering, BlacKkKlansman (2018), took home the Cannes Grand Prix. The festival will take place May 12 through the 23, and the rest of Lee’s jury will be announced in mid-April.

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.

“Knives Out” and “Marriage Story” to bookend this year’s Denver Film Festival

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The Denver Film Society says the 2018 festival sold $442,701 worth of tickets, compared to $401,000 in 2017; however, attendance dropped to 42,415 in 2018 from 46,912 in 2017. (Image Courtesy: The Know).

From October 30 to November 11, the Forty-Second Denver Film Festival will screen more than two hundred fifty features, documentaries, and shorts at the Sie FilmCenter, UA Pavilions, and the Ellie in between virtual-reality specials at the McNichols Building, according to The Know. Colorado native Rian Johnson, the filmmaker behind Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017), will open the red carpet series with his ensemble murder mystery Knives Out (2019) on Halloween at the Ellie, and Noah Baumbach will close it with his Marriage Story (2019).  Denver Film Society anticipates the same turnout of young people as well as new residents as 2018, which was as successful as the year before that, when Emma Stone and director Damien Chazelle came to town with La La Land (2016).

Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood” (2019) premieres at Cannes

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The Wrap reviewer Steve Pond celebrates Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio’s performances in their first time onscreen together. (Image Courtesy: The Wrap).

Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood had its first official press screening Tuesday at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, according to The Wrap. Reviewer Steve Pond writes that the Croisette was swarmed with passholders scrambling to get into the premiere after the film was infamously excluded from the April 18 lineup announcement, a decision Cannes chief Thierry Fremaux says was made to give Tarantino more time to finish the movie. As for the picture itself, Pond criticizes its length (the runtime clocks in at over two and a half hours), but ultimately praises Once Upon a Time… for the personal, semi-autobiographical flourishes the aging director brings to this story of a successful 1950s television actor named Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), fighting to stay relevant in a feverishly stylized vision of 1969 only Tarantino could dream up.