Mélanie Laurent Explores Sustainable Future With ‘Tomorrow’ Documentary

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Tomorrow, a documentary directed by actress Mélanie Laurent (Inglorious Basterds, Beginners) and activist Cyril Dion, is headed to the U.S. in April after a celebrated run in France.

Winner of the Best Documentary Feature at the César Awards, Tomorrow follows the filmmakers as they travel around the world to discover and spotlight concrete solutions to the various social and challenges that humanity faces. After giving birth to her son, Laurent became more aware of the eco-dangers that are facing the world and teamed up with Dion on this ambitious project. During their stops through such countries as Finland and India, the filmmakers visit urban agriculture projects and delve into renewable initiatives that are making a difference in the world.

Laurent’s previous directing credits include the dramas Breathe and The Adopted. Grossing over $10 million in France, Tomorrow was also named Best Documentary at the COLCOA French Film Festival in Los Angeles. Check out the trailer below and tell us what you think!

Tomorrow opens in select theaters April 21 with Earth Day taking place the following day.

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Posted by: Greg Srisavasdi

‘By Sidney Lumet’ Provides Insightful Look At Revered Director

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Kicking off a new season of American Masters, By Sidney Lumet is an informative and immersive look at the late filmmaker. Directed by Nancy Buirski (The Loving Story), the documentary was shaped from a 2008 interview Lumet conducted with Daniel Anker. Along with that resource, Buirski also had a treasure trove of Lumet films to watch, and the result is an insightful look at Lumet’s lifelong passion for storytelling.

“I thought this was a rare opportunity to let Sidney be our narrator,” said Buirski, who also helmed The Loving Story. “To guide us through his life and his work and let his work be the echo. And also curate the films around the themes that were coming out of this interview. Not necessarily chronologically or a linear way, but just let those themes come through and see how they emerge in his work. That was very creative and exciting to do it that way.”

Lumet’s impressive body of work includes 12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon, Prince of the City, and Night Falls on Manhattan. By Sidney Lumet airs tonight on PBS (8 pm – check local listings).



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‘Tree Man’ Of New York City Spotlighted In Engaging Documentary

Photos: Christine DiPasquale

Photos: Christine DiPasquale


Directed by Jon Reiner and Brad Rothschild, Tree Man centers on Francois, a Quebec native who ventures each year to New York City to sell Christmas trees. Setting shop on the corner of Broadway and 102nd street, Francois’ friendly and candid demeanor has endeared him to various Big Apple customers. Though the documentary also spotlights various tree sellers of New York and Francois’ loyal employees, most of the documentary is seen through his point of view.

“When I saw the whole thing evolving with the music, the editing, and everything that was going into the final story – that was just amazing,” said Francois. “I never thought the documentary would be so good. It doesn’t mean that I don’t trust the two directors, for me it was just a much smaller project than it ended up being.”

Along with the documentary, Francois has also been the spotlight of various news articles which, along with aiding his business, has also made him a recognizable face around the neighborhood.

“When you’re famous, everything changes,” said Francois. “Some people who were buying trees without even noticing that I was a human being a year before the film, now consider me as their friend. It’s interesting how much the visibility and the fact that being kind of notorious changes the way people act to you.”

Currently recovering from a hernia, Francois is staying in Quebec with his family this holiday season, as he understands the rigors of tree selling demands a healthy mind and body.

“It’s kind of a dog day afternoon,” said Francois. “You’re doing the same thing every day. You’re stuck at the same geographical position for 35 days. You’re always using the same muscles and you have to work intelligently.  You can’t fall sick when you’re (in New York City). That’s why this year I didn’t go because I didn’t know if I could finish the whole thing. Lifting trees and working 15 hours a day – it’s a crazy job. Most of the people working that job are much younger than I am.”

Tree Man is now out on VOD and iTunes via XLrator Media.



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Keanu Reeves Narrates Sumblime ‘Mifune: The Last Samurai’ Documentary

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Now playing in select theaters, Mifune: The Last Samurai is a documentary that spotlights the legendary career of Toshiro Mifune. Narrated by Keanu Reeves, the feature contains interviews with past Mifune collaborators as well as directors Steven Spielberg (he directed Mifune in 1941) and Martin Scorsese. Oscar winning director Steven Okazaki directs the film, and one would assume this was a dream project for the filmmaker.

“I saw my first Mifune film when I was about 12 years old,” said Okazaki. “The community center in Venice, Ca. ran a 16mm print. They had a crummy, noisy project and a king size bed sheet as a screen. I remember the final scenes from Seven Samurai vividly. And then my mother was a big Japanese film fan so we went to the Toho La Brea to see the Mifune releases.”

Okazaki was impressed with Reeves’ work in the cinephile centric documentary Side By Side, and adding the actor to the project, coupled with receiving support from Mifune and director Akira Kurosawa’s families, were integral to the documentary’s creative success.

“There is just an everyman quality that Mifune had. Mifune didn’t have handlers or agents around him all the time and Keanu Reeves likewise doesn’t take himself too seriously,” said Okazaki, whose previous directing credits include Black Tar Heroin: the Dark End of the Street and Living on Tokyo Time. “He’s not protected by an entourage. He just rolls up to the sound recording place on his motorcycle and says, ‘Let’s get to work.’ I thought that would somehow fit. Luckily, we have been getting great responses to the narration.”

By showcasing the intricate working relationship between Mifune and Kurosawa, Mifune: The Last Samurai also delves into the importance of artistic collaboration and continuing that journey through thick and thin (the pair made 16 films together). It’s a partnership that isn’t lost on Riki Mifune, the late actor’s grandson.

“Since I’m also in the film production business, I have a lot of opportunities to see the Mifune films,” said Riki Mifune. “Some of the films, I’ve seen multiple times especially the ones that I really like. Also, a lot of the film directors I work with compare their work to the Kurosawa films. So if the director is trying to portray a strong female character, he would compare her to the princess to the Throne of Blood. Since I was young, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to see his films and regarding my favorite films, they would be the Kurosawa films. For example with Yojimbo, there is not a single scene that bores you. It’s always exciting and the story is always moving forward.”

Whether you’re a cinephile who’s enamored with Mifune’s work or a neophyte to Japanese cinema, Mifune: The Last Samurai is a well crafted and inspired documentary which should steer you down a highly immersive cinematic path.

Mifune: The Last Samurai opens in Los Angeles, CA (Laemmle-Ahrya Fine Arts Theatre) and Cambridge, MA (Landmark’s Kendall Square Cinema) on Friday, December 2. On December 9, the documentary hits the Landmark Theatres in San Francisco, CA and Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas in Berkeley, CA.

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Posted by: Greg Srisavasdi

‘OJ: Made In America’ Tops Inaugural Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards

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BROOKLYN, NY - NOVEMBER 03: Director Ezra Edelman attends Critics' Choice Documentary Awards at BRIC Arts Center on November 3, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for BFCA and BTJA)

The inaugural Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards, hosted by Penn Jillette and organized by the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association, named OJ: Made in America as the Best Documentary (Theatrical Feature).

OJ: Made in America also took home Best Director (Ezra Edelman), Best Limited Documentary, and Best Sports Documentary honors.

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay received Best Director (TV/Streaming) for her project 13th, which also won for Best Documentary and Best Political Documentary in the TV/Streaming categories.

Though The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years won for Best Music Documentary, the Best Song in a Documentary honors went to Sharon Jones for “I’m Still Here” (she’s the subject of the doc Miss Sharon Jones!). The Tower took home The Most Innovative Documentary honor and Best Ongoing Documentary series went to ESPN’s 30 for 30.

The Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards spotlight the best of the best in documentary features and non-fiction television. For more information on the BFCA and BTJA, please go to www.CriticsChoice.com.

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Harrison Ford Takes Flight With ‘Living in the Age of Airplanes’

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Living in the Age of Airplanes is a documentary directed by Brian J. Terwilliger that took six years to make. Shot in 18 countries with 95 different locations, the project’s attempts to show how airplanes is an integral aspect of our interconnected world ends up an engaging experience due to a variety of aspects.

For one, the film’s score was created by James Horner (Glory, The New World), the late composer who was at the top of his field. Harrison Ford, whose passion for aviation has been well documented, is the film’s narrator.

“Of course you want a famous star and a recognizable voice and a good narrator’s voice,” said Terwilliger. “But above all else, they need to be able to carry that story and really truly transcend the words on the page and make people feel totally engrossed. And he did all of those things. He was so committed to doing it, and I explained the expectations up front and he signed up for an incredible journey that was incredibly committed to all the way through the end.”

Blessed with what Terwilliger describes with an “A team” of talent, Living in the Age of Airplanes encourages us to look at planes with an entirely deeper perspective, and it’s this different flight plan that lifts this narrative to greater heights.

“When we think about planes, we often think about where we go with them or who comes to us,” he added. “We’re going to a meeting, a vacation, or going to see grandma or grandma is coming to see us. And you forget about how the world is coming to us. And for people who’ve never been on an airplane, the airplane is bringing the world to them every day.”

Living in the Age of Airplanes is now out on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital.



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Posted by: Greg Srisavasdi