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Thompson on Hollywood

News Update: Crude Goes to Court, Stewart Goes On the Road, Tarantino Heads Venice

In an alarming development, Joe Berlinger may become an unwilling participant in the very lawsuit he chronicled in his latest documentary, Crude. A United States district court judge has ruled that Berlinger must turn over 600 hours of footage to Chevron, owner of Texaco, the oil giant that Amazon rainforest dwellers accuse of polluting their environment with billions of gallons of toxic waste. Only about 1 percent of the footage was used in Berlinger's film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009, and was released in theaters last fall.  Berlinger's lawyer plans to appeal, and says the decision "threatens grave harm to documentary filmmakers and investigative journalists." Casting news: Kristen Stewart has joined the cast of Walter Salles' On The Road, now set to begin shooting in August.  She'll play Marylou, wife of Dean Moriarty, who'll be played by Garret Hedlund. Michael Imperioli will star in Richard Lede's horror-thriller Foreclosure, set in Queens. 
  • By Amy Dawes
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  • May 7, 2010 1:37 AM
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SFIFF53 Day Eight: Walter Salles Redux, Linha de Passe, Chez Panisse

SFIFF53 Day Eight: Walter Salles Redux, Linha de Passe, Chez Panisse
Meredith Brody's Bay Area blitz continues with a problematically packed film schedule and a master class with Walter Salles. Awards, food, and Borges quotations follow:
  • By Meredith Brody
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  • May 6, 2010 12:26 PM
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SFIFF Awards, Filmmaking Grants Announced

SFIFF Awards, Filmmaking Grants Announced
The 53rd SFIFF winners have been announced, along with the San Francisco Film Society's Filmmaker Grants.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • May 6, 2010 8:31 AM
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EXCLUSIVE: Red Flag Opens 8: The Mormon Proposition in Thirteen Markets Day-and-Date with VOD

New distributor-on-the-block Red Flag Releasing--led by two ex-Warner Independent execs, Paul Federbush and Laura Kim--is embracing both the digital future and the theatrical past with its first release, the controversial hot-button Sundance doc 8: The Mormon Proposition.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • April 16, 2010 5:39 AM
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  • 3 Comments

Tribeca: Gibney Brings Three Pics to Fest, Sells My Trip to Al-Qaeda to HBO

Tribeca: Gibney Brings Three Pics to Fest, Sells My Trip to Al-Qaeda to HBO
At a time when filmmakers the world over are struggling for funds and distribution outlets, a documentary filmmaker is doing well to sell his movie before it debuts at a fest like Tribeca. Now more than ever, as the breakout documentary hit is largely confined to the likes of pop culture entertainers Morgan Spurlock and Michael Moore, often the best sale to make is to HBO Documentary Films, which pays serious upfront dollars, throws you a premiere, and even markets your movie. That's more than most distributors are coughing up in this DIY era.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • April 15, 2010 12:22 PM
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  • 3 Comments

U.S. Army Closes Afghanistan Outpost Restrepo

The U.S. Army has finally closed the remote Afghanistan Restrepo outpost in the deadly Korangal Valley, where some 42 American service men have died. Named after a soldier who died in Afghanistan, the post was the setting for Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington's unforgettable documentary Restrepo, which debuted at Sundance and will be released in July by National Geographic Films under new president Daniel Battsek.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • April 14, 2010 8:41 AM
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Age of Stupid Self-Release Spawns Good Screenings Site

Indie filmmakers take note.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • March 26, 2010 10:12 AM
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  • 1 Comment

#SXSW: Kashmere Band Doc Thunder Soul Builds Buzz

#SXSW: Kashmere Band Doc Thunder Soul Builds Buzz
Film Festival rule number one: ask people what they like, and when two in a row say the same film, get thee to the next screening.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • March 21, 2010 8:15 AM
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#SXSW: Tiny Furniture, Brotherhood Win Dramatic Jury and Audience Awards

#SXSW: Tiny Furniture, Brotherhood Win Dramatic Jury and Audience Awards
At the SXSW closing awards ceremony Tuesday night, Lena Dunham's offbeat autobiographical drama Tiny Furniture won the narrative feature jury prize. Shot in November and edited in December, the filmmakers finished the micro-budget drama last Monday, and flew into Austin with a tape in hand. Dunham also won the Emergent Narrative Woman Director Award.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • March 17, 2010 1:20 AM
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Oscar Backstage: Short Subjects

The three short films, animated, live action and doc, did not go the way I expected. I thought Logorama--a must-see clever short made up entirely of commercial logos-- would be too hip for the Academy, which would go for Nick Park for the second time, but they must have gotten tired of Wallace & Gromit being nominated five times before. The live action short The New Tenants was my favorite and I shouldn't have listened to the people telling me why it couldn't win! So much for winning any Oscar pools. The five films vying for doc short were all strong, but I admit that HBO's Music by Prudence, about a disabled South African singer, haunted me for days.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • March 8, 2010 2:28 AM
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