Disney rebranding 20th Century Fox

After buying 20th Century Fox last year for seventy-one billion dollars, Disney will remove “Fox” from the name of this film division, which will be rebranded as “20th Century Studios” without the word “Fox” in its iconic logo, according to The Washington Post. Fox Searchlight, the prestige unit, will also be renamed “Searchlight Pictures,” while Twentieth Century Fox Television as well as Fox 21 Television Studios will retain “Fox” in their names for now. The maneuver comes as Disney’s attempt at distancing itself from Rupert Murdoch’s new Fox Corporation, which counts the Fox Broadcasting Network and Fox News among its assets.

One critic’s take on the politicization of film criticism

The Guardian contributor Jessa Crispin writes that 2019 was a mediocre year for film, even though police departments issued warnings about mass shootings at premieres for Todd Phillips’s Joker (2019) because critics participated in an online moral panic over incel violence. According to Crispin, this overestimation of a movie’s sway over the course of real-world events has led to an overappraisal of releases such as Greta Gerwig’s Little Women (2019), with reviewers accusing filmgoers like Crispin of misogyny because she found it oversentimental. Crispin says shaming viewers into seeing certain titles for political reasons, even if the titles in question are poorly made, further divides audiences from the critic’s authority over the cinematic arts, and shifts the blame for nondiverse storytelling from the producers, where it belongs.

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.

No women nominated for Best Director at this year’s Academy Awards

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Only five female directors have been nominated a total of five times for the Academy Award for Best Director, and only one – Kathryn Bigelow – has won. (Image Courtesy: The Hill).

Even though Greta Gerwig’s Little Women (2019) was nominated for Best Picture as well as Best Adapted Screenplay at this year’s Academy Awards, the filmmaker herself was not nominated for Best Director, nor were any other women, according to The Hill. 2020 marks the third year in a row no women have been nominated in the category, despite the fact that more than ten percent of the top films in 2019 were directed by women, the most in more than a decade. Women of color are even more underrepresented; out of two hundred seventy-three nominations over the last thirteen years at the Golden Globes, Oscars, Directors Guild of America, and Critics’ Choice Awards, Ava DuVernay was the only female director of color to be nominated.

Iowa museum hosts film-based photography exhibit

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Blanden Memorial Art Museum Director Eric Anderson says film photography demands more investment in the film itself (with a limited number of frames per roll) and more patience than digital photography. (Image Courtesy: The Fort Dodge Messenger).

The Blanden Memorial Art Museum in Fort Dodge, Iowa, will host the “Analog It” juried film-based photography exhibit from January 4 until May 7, according to The Fort Dodge Messenger. The Fort Dodge/Kosovo Art Initiative, an international exchange between Fort Dodge and Iowa’s sister state, the Republic of Kosovo, is running the exhibit, with submissions received from fifteen photographers at anywhere from two to five images apiece. Hans Madsen, a reporter as well aa photographer for The Messenger, saw four of his five submissions selected, and says it doesn’t matter what kind of camera a photographer uses when shooting on film.

Warner Bros. signs deal with AI startup to predict film success

Film company Warner Bros. has signed a deal with Los Angeles startup Cinelytic, which utilizes machine learning to predict film success at the greenlight stage, but the artificial intelligence will assist the studio’s marketing as well as distribution decisions, according to The Verge. The software’s fantasy football algorithm allows customers to pitch a genre, budget, actors, and so forth, tweaking individual elements to see how they affect the hypothetical movie’s performance in different demographics and markets. Scientific studies, however, show that AI only regurgitates self-evident findings (such as “Scarlett Johansson is a bankable star”) which can be discovered without AI.

“Forbes” recommends five films all entrepreneurs should watch

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Forbes contributor Kelly Richmond Pope teaches research fraud and forensic accounting. (Image Courtesy: Forbes).

Since Forbes contributor Kelly Richmond Pope says she uses film to teach accounting to her students because, she writes, “numbers tell the best stories,” she has come to discover while composing this year’s syllabus that film could also teach entrepreneurs about fraud schemes. Companies lose five percent of their annual revenues to payroll fraud, cash theft, as well as expense fraud, and entrepreneurs are especially vulnerable because so little of their time or resources are invested in internal controls. The five films Pope recommends for entrepreneurs are: Steve James’s Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (2016); Netflix’s Ozark (2017-); Pope’s own All the Queen’s Horses (2017); Frank Darabont’s The Shawshank Redemption (1994); and AMC’s Breaking Bad (2008-2013).