“The two film companies acknowledged Monday that they hired a fake news creator to build websites and stories on a variety of subjects. Many were tied to Trump. Others were politically charged: citing a purported Utah bill to jail and publicly shame women who received abortions and referring to a ‘groundbreaking study’ on the mental health challenges of liberals. The made-up stories had only oblique references to director Gore Verbinski’s film.” – Variety
When assaulted by critics of fake news, Regency Enterprises, one of the film’s producers responded with a public statement: “‘A Cure for Wellness’ is a movie about a ‘fake’ cure that makes people sicker. As part of this campaign, a ‘fake’ wellness site healthandwellness.co was created and we partnered with a fake news creator to publish fake news.”
Then came 30 seconds of intensely fake film marketing via the Super Bowl…
What’s left but a fake drug commercial? Can we sell Super Bowl fans A Cure for Wellness? It begins like any other pharmaceutical ploy: “Are you tired of not feeling well? Take the cure and take back your life. Side effects include skin eruptions, severe hallucinations and murderous rage…” encapsulated in 20 more seconds of a rapid descent to hell, rated R.
The spot didn’t make it to the top five 2017 Super Bowl commercials by anmyone’s reckoning but it certainly provides a glimpse of what’s in store for anyone who visits this mysterious wellness center.
Essential film marketing must lead to the hub, a hauntingly beautiful website…
If all of the fakery works as intended, you soon discover… acureforwellness.com, a most serene web world consisting of five beautiful, full screen vistas set to music by Benjamin Wallfisch. Each picture-page poses the same simple command, “Begin Meditation.” You may choose to invoke the healing powers of Water, Earth or Air in a guided meditation.
If past performance is any indicator of future benefits this weekend should be a blockbuster. The film’s director Gore Verbinski is credited with directing the first three “Pirates of the Caribbean” films, starring Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, which cumulatively grossed over $2.6 billion.
“A Cure for Wellness” will be released in theaters on Friday, February 17, 2017 courtesy of 20th Century Fox.
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For the past few weeks I have been searching for the key to what makes a horror film truly scary.
My research was motivated by a recent film festival challenge, one among many that are launched in Fall as Halloween approaches and we celebrate monsters, ghouls and witches. I decided to try digging deeper than cliche horror, beneath the blood, gore, zombies and vampires… to explore the psychology of horror. I never expected to find my answer in a film about the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.
Witnessing the inevitable disintegration of a complex technological system is micro/macro, metaphorically like watching the end of civilization as we knew it. There are plenty of Deepwater monsters including the corner-cutting executives at BP who literally got away with murder-by-negligence, or the ultimate Godzilla, the wounded Earth Mother unchained, a raging, fire-breathing dragon.
The reason this film is so much scarier than a Hollywood slasher film is because it is not a conjured-up fiction. Sit back and witness one of the epic horrors of the decade. Like the visions of war, terrorism or a natural disaster, this man-made cataclysm is real and it unfolds like a nightmare. As we sit back in our comfortable recliners munching popcorn and a soft drink, the silver screen presents an eye-witness observation of death on a massive scale.
The Deepwater Horizon blew up on April 20, 2010. I remember watching the days become months as the oil continued to spew millions of barrels of oil out into the Gulf each day while attempts to cap it off failed. This film only depicts the initial disaster and very briefly touches on the findings of the initial trial. It doesn’t cover the cleanup or the devastation to the shoreline and the creatures that once inhabited the waters of the Gulf.
Director Peter Berg was challenged at each step in the making of Deepwater Horizon, most notably by the executives at BP or British Petroleum who did everything they could to stop or impede the film’s production.
“Because the explosion and oil spill was so huge, that’s what dominated the area. You would go to these small towns in southern Louisiana, places you had never heard of, such as Port Fourchon, and you would see harbours full of boats with brand-new shiny engines, new trucks, people wearing brand-new Rolexes and new shoes. So many lawyers had moved in, there were so many lawsuits, and everyone who lived in that area had sued BP and made millions of dollars. They called them “spillionaires.” A lot of people got rich – some deserved it, some probably didn’t.”
That was just the first impressions Berg gathered up as he began exploring the region where the disaster took place. He had no idea then how difficult BP planned to impede his effort. Paid consultants would show up for a day of two and then call in sick, never to be heard from again. He was barred from accessing any oil rigs.
“We couldn’t even fly by one,” says Berg. “At one point we were in a helicopter on a tour of a rig called the Nautilus and were told if we got any closer we would be perceived to be a threat and they were going to defend themselves.”
So, production designer Chris Seagers and his team of welders spent 8 months building an 85% scale replica of the Deepwater Horizon using 3.2 million pounds of steel plus a functioning helipad!
It would get worse, much worse. His studio, Lionsgate had a wall of attorneys assigned to the film. He had as much trouble fighting with them for what he could DO and he did with BP over what he couldn’t do. Deepwater Horizon makes one specific point absolutely clear and Berg fought for a week to be permitted to say it. This disaster was caused by corporate greed.
Death of a President, a fictional documentary covering the October 19, 2007 assassination of George W. Bush in Chicago, Illinois, premiered at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival where it garnered the International Critics Prize.
Despite the fact that Death of a President captured a total of 6 awards, Newmarket Films, who paid one million dollars for the U.S. distribution rights, failed to sway Regal and Cinemark, two of the largest U.S. cinema chains, to screen the British film. CNN and National Public Radio refused to broadcast any ads. Thus, you probably never even heard of “the most controversial film of 2006.”
Although she had not bothered to see Death of a President, Hillary Clinton, then junior Senator from New York, was also quick to condemn it. “I think it’s despicable. I think it’s absolutely outrageous. That anyone would even attempt to profit on such a horrible scenario makes me sick.”
Now, we have Kim Jong-un, threatening cyber war over The Interview, as Sony briefly cancels its planned Christmas release, citing threats of violence by hackers who ironically call themselves the Guardians of Peace. The FBI and the White House both claim that North Korea is behind the initial computer hack waged against Sony Pictures, as well as the threats of 9/11 type retribution should Sony permit The Interview to play in theaters.
Senator John McCain called Sony’s decision to cancel the movie a “troubling precedent that will only empower and embolden bad actors to use cyber as an offensive weapon even more aggressively in the future.” But, I wonder what he said back in 2006 when roles were reversed.
The Bush assassination film is technically considered a docudrama while the Jong-un assassination film is categorized as a mockumentary, a comedy like Spinal Tap. Death of a President intends and succeeds to appear as a historic record of the events that led up to the October 19, 2007 sniper shooting in Chicago and what followed in the year thereafter. President Dick Cheney extends the powers of government surveillance with the passage of Patriot III, a Muslim is framed with the crime on weak evidence, hardly comedic. Because there are no immediately recognizable star actors in the cast, it presents with the look and feel of an authentic collection of news clips and interview footage. The film re-purposes archival footage of Bush and Cheney, along with historic photographs of the President, Photoshop-ed to include the film’s actors, interspersed with Chicago street scenes in which hundreds of extras effectively portray fierce anti-war protests and other fictional scenes staged by the filmmakers. And it works!
Critics who liked the film include Rex Reed of The New York Observer who called the film, “clever, thoughtful, and totally believable. This is a film without a political agenda that everyone should see.”
It was not the director’s intention to make a political film. As Gabriel Range explains, “The purpose of the film was not to imagine how the world stage would reset with the assassination of George Bush. The intent of the film is really to use the assassination of President Bush as a dramatic device—using the future as an allegory to comment on the past. If people go to the cinema expecting to have some great moment of catharsis watching the president being shot, I suspect they’re in for a pretty big surprise. I think that anyone who’s expecting this to be a liberal wet dream is in for quite a shock… It was very important that the film was not a political rant. It was not just a condemnation or polemic because I think that polemics are easy to dismiss.”
Peter Howell‘s review in the Toronto Star said, “The film’s deeper intentions… elevate it into the company of such landmark works of historical argument as Peter Watkins’s The War Game, Costa-Gavras’s Z and, closer to home, Michel Brault’s Les Ordres. Every thinking person should see Death of a President.”
I first discovered the film in 2006, a bootleg DVD among the wares of a Chinese street vendor. I bought it for less than a dollar and got my money’s worth. It wouldn’t load or play, but I have kept the dust jacket for all of these years since returning to America. I always wondered what the film was like and with Sony’s latest self-censorship, I was determined to discover what it was like in 2006, when the shoe was on the other foot.
You can rent or buy Death of a President on Amazon or on YouTube for as little as $2.99. Hulu streams it with commercials for free or watch it without commercials on Hulu Plus. It was a $2 million dollar production with a musical score by British musician Richard Harvey, that concludes with a surprising turnaround (no spoilers). It screened in the U.S. for only 14 days, showing at 143 theatres. The motion picture ethics committee in Japan prevented Death of a President from being shown in most cinemas there in 2007. Worldwide, it only grossed $869,352.
Regarding that other assassination film that we have yet to see, Senator David Vitter (R-Louisiana) has written President Barack Obama with the aim of getting the White House to screen The Interview just to prove that the US “will not bend to the will of bad actors.”
“The policy of rewarding terrorists, authoritarianism and cruelty with concessions should not be the legacy we pursue. Therefore, I ask that you host a screening of comedy film ‘The Interview’ for members of Congress in the White House the week of January 5, to be followed by a serious discussion of the strong, substantive retaliatory measures we plan to take as a nation against cyber attacks,” Vitter writes.
But the best response so far is that of Hustler publisher Larry Flynt who says that he’ll be starting his own production, a porn parody of The Interview.
“I’ve spent a lifetime fighting for the First Amendment, and no foreign dictator is going to take away my right to free speech,” Flynt told the Hollywood Reporter. “If Kim Jong-un and his henchmen were upset before, wait till they see the movie we’re going to make.”
West of Thunder is winning numerous awards including two from the USA Political Film Society based in Hollywood, California for “Best Film on Human Rights” and “Best Film on Peace”.
Dan Davies… as Henry Seed
They were competing against some powerful contenders that included George Lucas’ Red Tails and the Andy Garcia/Eva Longoria/Peter O’Toole film For Greater Glory. Since 1987 these awards have been given to such films as Platoon, Schindler’s List, Good Morning Vietnam, Dances with Wolves, Saving Private Ryan, The Insider, The Green Mile, Remember the Titans, Hotel Rwanda, Dead Man Walking, Blood Diamond, The Hurt Locker, Gran Torino, Avatar, Inglorious Bastards – you get the idea. By the way, the other two March 2013 USA Political Film Society awards were won by Ben Affleck‘s Argo (Best Film Expose) and Steven Spielberg‘s Lincoln(Best Film on Democracy).
Dan Davies (‘Johnny’) and Sadie Kaye star in this 2012 American Western feature film, directed by Jody Marriott Bar-Lev and Steve Russell. My friend and actor Ed DiMaio played the Bookstore Owner, listed among the full cast and crew. He invited me to attend a local film screening at Hope Church here in Sturgeon Bay. I went expecting to be polite and sit through a semi-professional local film. What I saw was much better than anything I have seen out of Hollywood in years – if for no other reason than to hear the beauty of Native American people speaking to each other in their own language with English subtitles appearing at the bottom of the screen.
But there are lots more reasons why I am quite impressed with this film. It breaks or blurs the boundaries between spirit and imagination, between ghosts and the incarnate. It provides a bridge that spans the missing gap in American history as European tides of un-settlers swept across the old West. It revokes the medals awarded to the decorated “heroes” of Wounded Knee, holding them accountable for their acts of barbarism imposed upon indigenous peoples. I would categorize this film as a spiritual mystery tale. It’s spooky and very thought provoking.
If you are lucky enough to find it, resist judging the film by the opening titles or the credits. They are both absolutely repellent, each in their own distinctive manner. Call that the stale bread and toss it aside. The core of this sandwich is a rich treat. The actors are real unvarnished people, the kind who might be found more than a hundred years ago in a dried up small town on the outskirts of the Lakota Pine Ridge Reservation. They have sinned and are held accountable in this dark tale of revenge and personal responsibility.
A musical score from both cultures is woven into the story, performed with fiery passion… be sure to sit quietly through those endless closing credits for a reward performance by Neville Farmer, Ian Hatton, Deni Bonet, and Jon Bridger. There are numerous Native dancers and an explanation of the Spirit of the Drum to accompany the beat of the Lakota.
And today… “Pine Ridge is the poorest area of the United States with the statistics of a third world country, lack of housing, lack of heat and running water, 85% unemployment, 70% school drop out, high rates of alcoholism and drugs, very high teenage suicide rates, poor health and nutrition and a life expectancy of only 47 years. The current reality is that Lakota people are at a precipice—unless something is done to affect change, this once noble nation will be ‘just pages in history books.'”
Profits from screenings of the film support the building of a K-12 school that will serve the Lakota tribe. Have I given you enough reasons to track down and see this film?
“This was a wonderful movie that honestly conveyed the real issues that affect the “silent minority” to this day. I loved the cultural awareness woven in through the film and how it makes us aware that The People truly survived through their choice of completing their circle, choosing harmony and peace-keeping ways. They knew that to do otherwise would destroy them. Their losses were so great through the massacres, loss of family, land, language and way of life. This is a part of “OUR” history and we are all complicit in our silence. Our prayers and actions are needed for all Indigenous People of the world. They are survivors, having much to teach us about living simply, in harmony and balance with Nature and each other.” – Melissa Nelson
Writer Sam Kozel and director Rex Sikes are co-producing a medical, science fiction work that might also be classified as a horror film.
In the current age of pharmaceutical mayhem, “S E ℞ U M” could just as likely be mis-categorized as a documentary. As they describe it, “A young man takes part in medical testing. Side effects include: nausea, schizophrenia, temporary death.”
I have been following the making of this film in Milwaukee, thanks to the extra efforts of Rex Sikes who is publishing an ongoing series of behind-the-scenes videos. Many of them are great how-to lessons for burgeoning filmmakers. His Movie Beat Website is a special resource for everything film and TV.
With only a few days left in their fundraising campaign, they could use a little help. Unlike some make-it-or-break-it fundraising efforts, “S E ℞ U M” has elected to use Indiegogo’s Flexible Funding so, this campaign will receive all of the funds contributed by Thursday, October 18 at 11:59 PM PT.
“Every bit helps and the ‘widow’s mite‘ (Biblical story) is so applicable,” says Rex. “For some, it is easy to give and we appreciate it for certain. For others, it is very difficult to give – and we appreciate that. When people give for whatever reason, and for however much – it is important and so helpful. BUT for those who give when it is tough – wow – wow – wow – that effort on your part, really touches our hearts and warms us in ways one can not imagine.”
Anticipation builds as “The Tunnel” secures global distribution to BitTorrent’s 100+ million software users.
BitTorrent, Inc. a leading innovator creating advanced technologies to efficiently move large files across the Internet, announced today that “The Tunnel” will be the first Australian film release selected for BitTorrent’s Artist Spotlight program, promising worldwide distribution through the company’s two software products – BitTorrent Mainline and the iconic µTorrent.
“The buzz around this film is astonishing,” says Shahi Ghanem, chief strategist at BitTorrent. “These progressive Australian filmmakers have captured the public’s imagination by funding the project through an entirely new model: the sale of single frames. This affords them the freedom to allow the world to openly enjoy and share the film. We are very excited to be a part of this new chapter in history. We hear only a few frames are left for sale, so we encourage our users to act fast.”
“We are really excited about our partnership with BitTorrent and their ongoing support of independent artists. The BitTorrent technology provides a direct connection to a massive audience all around the globe. It is definitely a new and exciting distribution path for independent filmmakers who have a story that they want people to see,” says co-producers/writers Enzo Tedeschi and Julian Harvey.
“The Tunnel” will debut on BitTorrent on May 18th. People may download the film free via BitTorrent’s App Studio, purchase frames, view trailers, read more about the film’s background and connect with the filmmakers on social media. BitTorrent will also promote the film on BitTorrent.com and µTorrent.com, as well as feature the film to new users who download either software product. “The Tunnel” will also be featured on Vodo.net, a UK-based company dedicated to helping independent filmmakers leverage the benefits of the global file sharing community.
“To see movies such as ours welcomed into the BitTorrent ecosystem marks a significant step in the adoption of the technology as a legitimate film distribution platform. And whilst we might be the first Australian film, I have a feeling we certainly won’t be the last,” said executive producer and marketing director, Ahmed Salama of DLSHS.
“The Tunnel” has received significant attention from mainstream media around the world and was a hit at the A Night Of Horror Film Festival in March. It’s a classic horror film set amidst abandoned underground train tunnels beneath Sydney’s CBD. In 2008, chasing rumours of a government cover-up and urban legends surrounding the sudden backflip, investigative journalist Natasha Warner led a crew of four into the underground labyrinth.
They went down into the tunnels looking for a story – until the story found them.
“The Tunnel” chronicles their harrowing ordeal. With unprecedented access to the recently declassified tapes the crew shot in the claustrophobic subway tunnels, as well as a series of candid interviews with the survivors, viewers come face to face with the terrifying truth.
This never before seen footage takes viewers deep inside the tunnels bringing the darkness to life and capturing the raw fear that threatens to tear the crew apart, leaving each one of them fighting for their lives.
“The Tunnel” has already partnered with traditional Australian distributors – with a DVD release through Transmission Films and its world TV premiere on Showtime Premiere, May 18 at 10:35 pm.
BitTorrent creates advanced, innovative technologies to efficiently move large files across the Internet. The company’s two main products today include the original BitTorrent software and the tiny-but-mighty µTorrent, which combined boast over 100+ million users. BitTorrent is based in San Francisco, Calif. For more information, visit bittorrent.com, and follow on Twitter @bittorrent, or Facebook.
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The Soundworks Collection is a Vimeo channel whish currently includes 65 videos and has 1,164 subscribers
The SoundWorks Collection is dedicated to profiling the greatest and upcoming “sound minds” from around the world providing a look at the art of foley sound enhancement in the film industry. The Collection is produced by Director Michael Coleman of Colemanfilm Media Group in a partnership with MIX Magazine, several audio focused college schools and programs and the support of the online sound community worldwide.
The SoundWorks Collection takes you behind the scenes and straight to the dub stage for a look into audio post-production feature films, video game sound design, and original soundtrack scoring. This exclusive and intimate video series focuses on individuals and teams behind-the-scenes bringing to life some of the worlds most exciting projects. Here’s an example:
Winnebago Man (2009), an American documentary feature film directed by Ben Steinbauer, is made available by Fandor, a curated service for exceptional independent films on demand.
Jack Rebney is the most famous man you’ve never heard of: an RV salesman whose hilarious, foul-mouthed outbursts circulated on VHS tapes in the 90s before turning into a full-blown Internet phenomenon in 2005, seen by 20 million people worldwide. Filmmaker Ben Steinbauer goes in search of Rebney and finds him living alone on a mountain top, unaware of his fame. Winnebago Man is a laugh-out-loud look at viral culture and an unexpectedly poignant tale of one man’s response to unintended celebrity.
Originally intended as an inside joke, the video spread across the globe earning the salesman the title of “The Angriest Man in the World“. The documentary explores the story of the clip’s origin and how, two decades later, it affects the man who never even knew it existed.
The film premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas on March 14, 2009 and opened theatrically on July 9, 2010 at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema in New York, before expanding nationally.
As a Fandor syndication partner we are able to provide a unique collection of streaming Pay Per View Films that are unavailable elsewhere. Once the rental is purchased, it can be viewed here or on the Fandor site. Once your payment for a film has been processed, Fandor will send an email to the email address you provided containing a URL link to the film you have selected. You may either watch the film here or at the URL provided in the email. When you rent a film, you have 30 days from the date your payment is authorized and processed to start watching the film. Once you have started watching a film, you have 48 hours to complete your viewing. Problems must be reported immediately by emailing email@example.com outlining the nature of the error and the title of the film you were trying to view.
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A screening of “Wo Ai Ni (I Love You), Mommy” followed by a discussion with the film’s director, Stephanie Wang-Breal kicks off 3-day NALIP Workshop,
Stephanie Wang-Breal is fortunate to have a foothold in two worlds. Born in the USA to Chinese speaking parents, she is fluent in English and Mandarin. Nonetheless, she had to interview more than a hundred families before she found the right one to work with. She invested a good deal of her own money to launch the film project but eventually managed to secure significant additional funding to see her film reach completion.
In production, Stephanie found that her role as filmmaker would at times include that of translator and thus, she was reluctantly drawn in as a supporting actor in her own film. As documentaries often do, the project took on a life of its own. Her efforts have resulted in the creation of a remarkable record of the pairing and bonding of Fang Sui Yong, an 8-year-old Chinese orphan girl and the Sadowskys, a Jewish family from Long Island, New York.
Stephanie also touched lightly on another kind of second life that controversial documentary films must now inhabit – the one that is spawned on blogs and in discussion boards across the Web after a film is released. Not all of these “reviews” have been positive, but they fault the subject and not the film. In some ways this too can be seen as a success, exposing the issue to public scrutiny and fostering a passionate debate. Stephanie Wang-Breal is winning awards for her thought-provoking work, including her most recent, “Best Emerging Director in a Documentary Feature” at the Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF) in New York.
The Oscar-winning documentary film has been edited by Japanese distributor Unplugged, blurring out faces of fishermen and police, inserting tickers that express opposing points of view in parts where opinions differ.
If that’s not bad enough, 3 of the 26 theaters that planned to screen the film have backed off, canceling their scheduled screenings after threats of violence and intimidation. Japanese nationalists call the film anti-Japanese and claim that foreigners are trying to disrupt a 400-year-old tradition.
But scientists and environmental activists agree that one of the most important issue affecting the Japanese people is not about saving sea mammals. Dolphin and whale meat has been found to be very high in mercury says Tetsuya Endo, a professor at the Health Sciences University of Hokkaido and one of the world’s foremost authorities on mercury levels in dolphins and whales caught off Japan’s coastal waters. He has shown in studies conducted on hair samples taken from residents of Taiji, Japan who eat the whale and dolphin meat sold in local stores, that they have extremely high concentrations of mercury in their bodies.