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Location Basque Country: Local Industry Sets International Agenda

41 minutes ago

San Sebastian — “Handía” (Giant), San Sebastián’s 2017 flagship Basque movie, a tale of two brothers’ deep affective bonds, says much about the film ambitions of the Basque Country – and why the Basque Country should grow as a shoot locale for films from Europe and beyond.

Set down the decades from 1836, the tale of two brothers’ love, warped but never destroyed by grinding poverty, romantic rivalry and the carnage of the 1833-40 Carlist War, begins with shots of the Basque Country and a voiceover: “Change is the only thing that is not changing.”

One of the biggest attractions of shooting in the Basque Country is the Basque country. “Handia’s” prologue captures rolling pine-clad hills seen in pale dawn light, steep cliffs, and scrub-desert expanses.

As “Game of Thrones” showed, turning Bizkaia’s islet of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe into Season 7’s Dragonstone, and the stark-cliffed beach of Itzurun into the place where Daenarys finally steps onto the »


- John Hopewell

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San Sebastian Film Review: ‘Alanis’

2 hours ago

Roughly as old as the world’s oldest profession are the judgments that surround its practitioners, that persist to this day in even the most enlightened of societies. So it’s refreshing to see the subject approached in as clear-eyed, unsentimental and determinedly non-moralistic a manner as in Argentinian director Anahí Berneri’s small but exceptionally precise fifth feature. “Alanis” is a film that deceives: it’s so naturalistic and authentic in its Buenos Aires streetlife setting, and especially in its terrifically real, truculent performance from star Sofía Gala Castiglione —whose  interactions with her obviously real-life infant son lend quasi-documentary interest to scenes of breastfeeding and diaper-changing — that one could almost miss the artistry and care in its construction.

Yet it cannot be by accident that every so often, the elements within the frame, both stationary and moving, seem offhandedly to arrange themselves into tableaux reminiscent of Renaissance paintings. Sometimes she’s a tattooed, bruised »


- Jessica Kiang

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Singapore Picks ‘Pop Aye’ for Foreign-Language Oscar Contention

4 hours ago

Singapore has selected “Pop Aye” as its national contender for the Academy Awards foreign-language category. Directed by Kirsten Tan, the film won the world cinema dramatic special jury award at Sundance earlier this year.

Set entirely in Thailand, the film stars Thaneth Warakulnukroh as a down and out architect who is reunited with his childhood elephant. They embark on a road trip across the Thai countryside in search of their old home.

“’Pop Aye’ is a story of self-discovery, beautifully told by a Singapore team, including director-writer Kirsten Tan, producers Lai Weijie and Huang Wenhong, and executive producer Anthony Chen. The

film has resonated with audiences both at home and internationally,” said Joachim Ng, director of the Singapore Film Commission.

The film has recently opened theatrically in Taiwan, after releases in North America, France, The Netherlands, Singapore and Thailand. On the festival circuit it will next screen in Zurich, London, Busan and Tokyo. »


- Patrick Frater

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Feng Xiaogang’s ‘Youth’ Loses China Release Ahead of Political Event

5 hours ago

The upcoming release of “Youth,” a bittersweet drama about China’s People’s Liberation Army, has been abruptly halted. Directed by Feng Xiaogang, the film was scheduled to have been released on Sept. 29 and to have dominated the charts over the Oct. 1 National Day holiday.

Instead, ticket sales have been halted. Chinese media report a statement attributing the delay to “discussions with the Film Bureau and other parties.”

The film’s backer and principal distributor Huayi Brothers, has not responded to contact by Variety for explanations.

Local media have been quick to suggest that the release is a casualty of the upcoming National Congress of the Communist Party of China. This highly symbolic political event occurs once every five years, and experience suggests that China’s rulers will crack down on dissent, discussion or any kind of controversy before and during the meeting.

“Youth” which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, tracks »


- Patrick Frater

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