OPENING THIS WEEK

Softie – Opens Friday, September 18

“Softie” tells the story of Boniface Mwangi, daring and audacious, and recognized as Kenya’s most provocative photojournalist. But as a father of three young children, these qualities create tremendous turmoil between him and his wife Njeri. When he wants to run for political office, he is forced to choose: country or family?

Love & Busking (Fiction & Other Realities) – Opens Friday, September 18 – Pre-order available now

2019 Cinetopia Audience Favorite!  Bobby Choy, a.k.a. singer-songwriter Big Phony, makes his directorial debut with the intimate semi-biographical musical drama.

Space Dogs – Opens Friday, September 18

Visually and conceptually sophisticated, Space Dogs traces the story of Laika, the first dog in space. Remarkable archival footage recounts the story of his selection, and directors Elsa Kremser and Levin Peter powerfully document the lives of his descendants, offering insight not only into the past and space travel, but also life today on earth.

Warning: SPACE DOGS is Not Rated, and contains some graphic content and scenes of animal violence that some viewers may find distressing. Viewer discretion is advised.

**AgileLink title. Member discount pricing applies.

 

SCREENINGS OF SPECIAL INTEREST TO WEMU LISTENERS

Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President

Part-rockumentary, part-presidential portrait, this doc traces how music helped propel Jimmy Carter to the White House, and the significant role that music has played in President Carter’s life and work.

Meeting the Beatles in India

In 1968 the Beatles travel to Rishikesh, India, to study transcendental meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

VINYL NATION

The vinyl record renaissance over the past decade has brought new fans to a classic format and transformed our idea of a record collector: younger, both male and female, multicultural. This same revival has made buying music more expensive, benefited established bands over independent artists and muddled the question of whether vinyl actually sounds better than other formats. Vinyl Nation digs into the crates of the record resurgence in search of truths set in deep wax: Has the return of vinyl made music fandom more inclusive or divided? What does vinyl say about our past here in the present? How has the second life of vinyl changed how we hear music and how we listen to each other?

SOUL (Ellis Haizlip)

From 1968 to 1973, the public television variety show SOUL!, guided by the enigmatic producer and host Ellis Haizlip, offered an unfiltered, uncompromising celebration of Black literature, poetry, music, and politics—voices that had few other options for national exposure.  The series was among the first to provide expanded images of African Americans on television

 

Academy Creates Inclusion Standards for Best Picture Oscars

Starting in 2024, films that want to be considered for Best Picture must meet inclusion thresholds both on screen and off. — Anne Thompson, IndieWire

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, as part of the Academy Aperture 2025 initiative, has detailed new representation and inclusion standards for Oscars eligibility in the Best Picture category, starting in 2022. Academy governors DeVon Franklin and Jim Gianopulos lead a task force that adapted the British Film Institute Diversity Standards for funding eligibility in the UK as well as eligibility in some categories of the British Academy of Film and Television Awards, in order to serve the specific needs of the Academy, which also consulted with the Producers Guild of America. “The aperture must widen to reflect our diverse global population in both the creation of motion pictures and in the audiences who connect with them. The Academy is committed to playing a vital role in helping make this a reality,” said Academy President David Rubin and Academy CEO Dawn Hudson in a statement. “We believe these inclusion standards will be a catalyst for long-lasting, essential change in our industry.”

For the 94th Oscars (2022) and 95th Oscars (2023), the Academy requires a confidential Academy Inclusion Standards form for Best Picture consideration; however, those films will not be subject to inclusion thresholds. Inclusion thresholds will be required for eligibility in the Best Picture category with the 96th Oscars (2024). Starting in 2024, a film must meet two out of four of the following standards to be deemed eligible:

STANDARD A: ON-SCREEN REPRESENTATION, THEMES AND NARRATIVES – To achieve Standard A, the film must meet ONE of the following criteria:

A1. Lead or significant supporting actors – At least one of the lead actors or significant supporting actors is from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group.

  • Asian
  • Hispanic/Latinx
  • Black/African American
  • Indigenous/Native American/Alaskan Native
  • Middle Eastern/North African
  • Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
  • Other underrepresented race or ethnicity

A2. General ensemble cast – At least 30% of all actors in secondary and more minor roles are from at least two of the following underrepresented groups:

  • Women
  • Racial or ethnic group
  • LGBTQ+
  • People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

A3. Main storyline/subject matter – The main storyline(s), theme or narrative of the film is centered on an underrepresented group(s).

  • Women
  • Racial or ethnic group
  • LGBTQ+
  • People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

STANDARD B: CREATIVE LEADERSHIP AND PROJECT TEAM – To achieve Standard B, the film must meet ONE of the criteria below:

B1. Creative leadership and department heads – At least two of the following creative leadership positions and department heads—Casting Director, Cinematographer, Composer, Costume Designer, Director, Editor, Hairstylist, Makeup Artist, Producer, Production Designer, Set Decorator, Sound, VFX Supervisor, Writer—are from the following underrepresented groups:

  • Women
  • Racial or ethnic group
  • LGBTQ+
  • People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

At least one of those positions must belong to the following underrepresented racial or ethnic group:

  • Asian
  • Hispanic/Latinx
  • Black/African American
  • Indigenous/Native American/Alaskan Native
  • Middle Eastern/North African
  • Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
  • Other underrepresented race or ethnicity

B2. Other key roles – At least six other crew/team and technical positions (excluding Production Assistants) are from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group. These positions include but are not limited to First AD, Gaffer, Script Supervisor, etc.

B3. Overall crew composition – At least 30% of the film’s crew is from the following underrepresented groups:

  • Women
  • Racial or ethnic group
  • LGBTQ+
  • People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

STANDARD C:  INDUSTRY ACCESS AND OPPORTUNITIES – To achieve Standard C, the film must meet BOTH criteria below:

C1. Paid apprenticeship and internship opportunities – The film’s distribution or financing company has paid apprenticeships or internships that are from the following underrepresented groups and satisfy the criteria below:

  • Women
  • Racial or ethnic group
  • LGBTQ+
  • People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

The major studios/distributors are required to have substantive, ongoing paid apprenticeships/internships inclusive of underrepresented groups (must also include racial or ethnic groups) in most of the following departments: production/development, physical production, post-production, music, VFX, acquisitions, business affairs, distribution, marketing and publicity.

The mini-major or independent studios/distributors must have a minimum of two apprentices/interns from the above underrepresented groups (at least one from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group) in at least one of the following departments: production/development, physical production, post-production, music, VFX, acquisitions, business affairs, distribution, marketing and publicity.

C2. Training opportunities and skills development (crew) – The film’s production, distribution and/or financing company offers training and/or work opportunities for below-the-line skill development to people from the following underrepresented groups:

  • Women
  • Racial or ethnic group
  • LGBTQ+
  • People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

STANDARD D: AUDIENCE DEVELOPMENT – To achieve Standard D, the film must meet the criterion below:

D1. Representation in marketing, publicity, and distribution

The studio and/or film company has multiple in-house senior executives from among the following underrepresented groups (must include individuals from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups) on their marketing, publicity, and/or distribution teams.

  • Women
  • Racial or ethnic group:
  • Asian
  • Hispanic/Latinx
  • Black/African American
  • Indigenous/Native American/Alaskan Native
  • Middle Eastern/North African
  • Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
  • Other underrepresented race or ethnicity
  • LGBTQ+
  • People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

 

Movie Theaters Returned. Audiences Didn’t. Now What?

People aren’t going to the movies at anywhere close to the numbers that Hollywood hoped, prompting studios to postpone more big releases. Marvel’s “Black Widow” could be the next to retreat.

Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” has collected a tepid $29.5 million at the North American box office after two weekends. By Nicole Sperling and Brooks Barnes, Sept. 15, 2020

LOS ANGELES — “Tenet” was supposed to mark the return of the movie theater business in the United States. Instead, it has shown just how much trouble the industry is in. After five months of pandemic-forced closure, the big movie theater chains reopened in roughly 68 percent of the United States by Labor Day weekend, in large part so they could show the $200 million film, which Warner Bros. promoted as “a global tent pole of jaw-dropping size, scope and scale.” But “Tenet,” directed by the box office heavyweight Christopher Nolan, instead arrived with a whimper: It collected $9.4 million in its first weekend in North America and just $29.5 million over its first two weeks. Theaters remain closed in New York and Los Angeles, the two biggest markets in the United States and the center of Mr. Nolan’s fan base. In the areas where “Tenet” did play, audience concern about safety — even with theater capacity limited to 50 percent or less in most locations — likely hurt ticket sales. Box office analysts also noted that “Tenet” is a complicated, cerebral movie with little star power; a frothier, more escapist offering may have had an easier time coaxing people back to cinemas.

Theaters are not yet open in the three biggest markets in the U.S.: New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. In recent days, Warner Bros. shifted “Wonder Woman 1984” to Christmas Day from Oct. 2, and MGM/Universal pushed back the slasher remake “Candyman” to next year. STX announced it was moving its Gerard Butler-starring disaster movie “Greenland” out of September to later this year. Marvel’s “Black Widow” and Pixar’s “Soul” are two films supposed to come out in November whose future now seems in question.

“I’m disappointed that the marketplace is still 30 percent unopened,” Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros. president of distribution, said. “The markets we are missing are key markets where Chris Nolan movies have really performed well in the past.” Mr. Nolan’s last three non-franchise movies — “Inception,” “Interstellar” and “Dunkirk” — opened in the $50 million range in North America and went on to collect between $527 million and $837 million worldwide, with the bulk of sales coming from overseas. Theater owners now must put their faith into two factors out of their control: studios staying the course with end-of-year releases, and New York and Los Angeles (along with San Francisco, the No. 3 market in the country) allowing theaters to reopen. “Death on the Nile” from Disney’s Twentieth Century division is the biggest-budgeted movie still scheduled to come out in October. If “Black Widow” (Nov. 6) or the James Bond spectacle “No Time to Die” (Nov. 20) get pushed back or moved online — as Disney did recently with “Mulan” — theaters are likely to face arduous conversations about their futures with investors and lenders.

“We’re learning that markets being opened, cinemas having safety protocols and studios releasing movies are all tied together,” John Fithian, chief executive of the National Association of Theatre Owners, said in an email. “Open markets need safe cinemas, movies need open markets, cinemas need movies. All these things raise audience awareness and comfort in returning to movies. You can’t do one at a time.”

When it comes to the three largest film markets, expectations are tempered for both Los Angeles and San Francisco given the strict metrics California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently announced as part of its reopening plans. For New York though, exhibitors and studio executives alike are incensed that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has given no specific time table for when movie theaters can reopen, coupling them with other large-crowd places like concert venues and amusement parks, while allowing bowling alleys and restaurants to resume indoor operations. Not only is New York City crucial for sales, much of the media coverage and online buzz surrounding new movies is generated from there. (The New York Times typically does not review films that are not playing in New York.)

For Mark Gill, the chief executive of Solstice Studios, the studio behind “Unhinged,” the film’s grosses are not nearly at the level he hoped for five weeks after release. Yet he says the international performance of “Tenet” — it has brought in $177 million worldwide — illustrates that if the United States can get its public safety issues under control, people will start going out to movie theaters again. “You can see that this just links to the public health situation here,” he said. “The longer it takes us to get that under control, the tougher it’s going to be. It’s not a permanent problem but it’s a large temporary problem.”