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Oscar Docs: Lucy Walker Talks Waste Land, Rival to Front Runners

The field of five Oscar-nominated docs is strong this year, not a weakling in the bunch. As street artist Bansky wages a campaign for Exit Through the Gift Shop against front-runner Inside Job, another film about art, Waste Land, could pose some competition. Justin Lowe reports from a recent screening at the Landmark Theatre in West LA, where director Lucy Walker presented her film for an invitation-only audience:Facing a formidable field of competitors for the best documentary Academy Award, Walker and the film itself made a convincing case for consideration among the top three contenders. Waste Land focuses on Rio de Janeiro’s community of catadores, waste recyclers who live and work in the slum adjacent to the Jardim Gramacho landfill, following Brazilian artist Vik Muniz from his studio in Brooklyn to the garbage dump for an ambitious project. An internationally recognized photographer who frequently employs non-traditional materials, Munoz’s goal at Jardim Gramacho, the world’s largest trash disposal facility, was to work with catadores from the waste pickers’ association known as ACAMJG to create large-scale portraits composed primarily of re-purposed solid waste.
  • By Justin Lowe
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  • February 22, 2011 4:58 AM
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Depressed Holiday Weekend Box Office Taken by Unknown

Depressed Holiday Weekend Box Office Taken by Unknown
Unknown, Liam Neeson's follow-up to sleeper hit Taken, grabbed moviegoers at the Presidents Day weekend box office, which did little to pull Hollywood box office out of its ongoing depression. So far, first quarter box office is off 24 to 28 % from last year, reports Anthony D'Alessandro:
  • By Anthony D'Alessandro
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  • February 21, 2011 6:20 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Weekend Preview: Unknown, I Am Number Four, Big Mommas, Last Lions, Putty Hill

It's no surprise that indie offerings Putty Hill and the doc The Last Lions score the best reviews of the motley crew of movies that opened for the holiday weekend. Unknown, Liam Neeson's follow-up to sleeper hit Taken is next.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • February 19, 2011 1:18 AM
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Is Banksy Campaigning For (Or Against) The Oscars? UPDATED

Is Banksy Campaigning For (Or Against) The Oscars? UPDATED
Wily Brit street artist and documentary filmmaker Banksy is in Los Angeles, grabbing attention for himself as only Banksy can. That doesn't mean that he does public appearances, or in-person interviews (here's a good email exchange), or shows up at the Academy luncheon. No, he's putting up art, all over the city. And that is getting media attention that mentions his Oscar-nominated doc Exit Through the Gift Shop, which some Oscar pundits think could beat Inside Job for the win. When he was nominated, Bansky put out a statement: "This is a big surprise. I don't agree with the concept of award ceremonies, but I'm prepared to make an exception for the ones I'm nominated for. The last time there was a naked man covered in gold paint in my house, it was me."
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • February 17, 2011 9:15 AM
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  • 2 Comments

New Directors/New Films Opens with Margin Call, Features Incendies, Happy, Happy, Attenberg, Octubre

The Museum of Modern Art and the Film Society of Lincoln Center announce the 2011 New Directors/New Films Festival lineup, running March 23 - April 3. J. C. Chandor's Margin Call (here's our Sundance video interview) will open the festival and Maryam Keshavarz's Circumstance will conclude the festival's 40th edition. Programming director Richard Pena says both films are "dynamic and riveting dramas from first time feature film directors that give a unique view into the human lives at the core of two vastly different, but very immediate worlds.”
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • February 16, 2011 6:25 AM
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Box Office Surges on Sandler vs. Bieber Weekend Duel

Just Go With It's established comedy stars Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston dueled teen music phenom Justin Bieber's 3-D concert doc Never Say Never at the surging weekend box office, which had been in the doldrums compared to last year's Avatar-fueled winter frame. Anthony D'Alessandro reports:
  • By Anthony D'Alessandro
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  • February 13, 2011 5:15 AM
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Oscar Video: Santa Barbara Producers and Womens Panels

For those who missed coverage of last week's Santa Barbara International Film Festival producer's panel, Lynda.com has posted video clips (below). Producers on the panel moderated by the LAT's Patrick Goldstein include Darla K. Anderson of Toy Story 3, Iain Canning of The King’s Speech, Alix Madigan of Winter’s Bone,Todd Lieberman of The Fighter, Mike De Luca of The Social Network and Jamie Patricof of Blue Valentine.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • February 11, 2011 9:16 AM
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SXSW 2011 Adds Midnighters, Fest's "Bloody Beating Heart"

We have the SXSW Midnighters and SXFantastic sections, plus the complete short films lineup for the Austin fest, which runs March 11 – 19. The Midnighters program includes two two midnight feature programs of five films each. Fest producer Janet Pierson calls the programs:“the bloody, beating heart of SXSW. Since the beginning, midnight films have been an essential ingredient to what makes SXSW so exciting and fun, and this year's selections are no exception.”
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • February 10, 2011 7:58 AM
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Sundance Dealbook: Oprah Winfrey Buys Feminist Media Critique Miss Representation

One of the big stories out of Sundance was Oprah Winfrey's determination to acquire docs for the Oprah Winfrey Network Documentary Film Club, to do for docs what she has done for books. At Sundance, OWN acquired Chaz Bono's Becoming Chaz, which offers the right combo of celeb biopic and gender-bending exotica. Also feeding the female demo is actress-documentarian Jennifer Siebel Newsom's earnest feminist media critique Miss Representation, which lays out the argument about how the way women are portrayed in the media--as objects of beauty-- impacts real girls and women. Siebel interviewed a wide range of women leaders including Condoleezza Rice, Nancy Pelosi, Katie Couric, Rachel Maddow, Margaret Cho, Rosario Dawson and Gloria Steinem.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • February 10, 2011 6:13 AM
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Jamie Foxx Presents: Thunder Soul, A Tribute To Kashmere's Funk Powerhouse

Music doc Thunder Soul is a heartfelt celebration of Funk and the transformative powers of a great teacher. Mark Landsman's doc, which won an audience award at SXSW and Los Angeles Film Fest, among other fests last year, also earned an Indie Spirit nomination. It's about how in the 1970s one teacher turned Houston's Kashmere High School jazz band into a tight-grooving funk award-winner, years in a row. (Think Glee on Funk steroids.) Landsman follows the alumni from Kashmere, who after 35 years, travel home to play a tribute concert for 92-year-old Conrad Johnson.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • February 4, 2011 7:52 AM
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  • 0 Comments

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