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Neon Buys Horror Movie ‘Enys Men’ Ahead of Cannes Premiere

Neon has purchased North American distribution rights to Mark Jenkin’s “Enys Men,” ahead of the horror film’s premiere in the Directors’ Fortnight section of the Cannes Film Festival.

The film, which sounds very shades of “The Wicker Man,” stars Mary Woodvine and Edward Rowe. Jenkin wore a lot of hats on this one. He wrote and directed the picture, as well as served as its cinematographer, sound designer, and composer. Presumably, manning the catering truck was left to someone else. “Enys Men” was shot on 16mm color negative using a 1970’s clockwork Bolex camera and post sync sound, in order to convey, the press release says, “…the feeling of discovering a reel of never before seen celluloid unspooling in a desolate, haunted movie palace.”

“Enys Men” is set in 1973 on an uninhabited island off the British coast. There, a wildlife volunteer descends into a metaphysical journey that challenges her grip on reality and pushes her into a living nightmare.

The film is produced by Denzil Monk for Bosena. Johnny Fewings serves as executive producer. Film4 co-financed the film, with Ben Coren and Lauren Dark serving as executive producers, and Kingsley Marshall for Sound/Image Cinema Lab.

Jenkin received two BAFTA nominations and one win for ‘Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer’ for his previous effort, “Bait.”

Neon’s Sarah Colvin negotiated the North America deal with Protagonist Pictures’ George Hamilton who are also representing the worldwide sales rights.

Neon has a busy Cannes. It will premiere David Cronenberg’s “Crimes of The Future” starring Léa Seydoux, Kristen Stewart, and Viggo Mortensen and Brett Morgen’s look at the career of David Bowie, “Moonage Daydream.”

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Kate Moss, Lucian Freud Film Set by Oscar Winner James Lucas

“Moss & Freud,” a film about supermodel Kate Moss and famed British artist Lucian Freud will be the next feature film for James Lucas.

Lucas won an Oscar for live action short film “The Phone Call,” starring Sally Hawkins and Jim Broadbent.

“Moss & Freud” is a dramatized account of supermodel Moss who, at the peak of her fame, made the decision to sit for British artist Freud. It was a decision that deeply impacted and transformed both of their lives. Freud’s nude portrait of Moss sold in 2005 for almost $5 million.

Moss will executive produce with the support of the Lucian Freud Archive. Cornerstone Films will handle worldwide sales and distribution and will commence sales later this year.

“Moss & Freud” is a GFC Films production, produced by Matthew Metcalfe (“McLaren”).

Moss said: “Sitting for Lucian was an honor and incredible experience. After watching ‘The Phone Call’ I knew that James would convey the emotion in the storytelling in a fitting way, one this memoir deserves. Having been involved in the project and script development from the beginning I am now very excited to see the film come to life.”

Lucas said: “In many ways, I believe all paths led me to make this film. It’s topography, emotional and psychological drama, bohemianism, beauty, characters and artistic process all align with my life and the way I have lived it. So much so, I symbolically begun writing the screenplay in Lucian’s studio, the scent of his oil paint still lingering in the air. I’m grateful to Kate Moss and the Freud Estate for entrusting me with this precious and unconventional love story. It allows our diverse audience to take a look behind the curtain and see, truthfully, what makes these cultural titans tick. Not only will they find incongruity but, perhaps surprisingly, a type of commonality that is threaded through all of us.”

Metcalfe added: “From the moment James put this idea in front of me I was intrigued and hooked. As a child of the 90’s, I remember Kate Moss and her profound cultural impact. Her rise mirroring that of ‘Cool Britannia’; her face becoming that of a new and forward looking United Kingdom. And as an art lover, they idea of exploring her story through the powerful work of Lucien Freud is something is I couldn’t say no to.”

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Tallinn Black Nights Boosts Festival’s Profile With Year-Round Slate of Events

The Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival is already recognized as one of the most influential industry showcases in the Baltic and Nordic regions. But the organizing team of the festival, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, are keen to point out that the popular event isn’t just a one-off affair. “What our year-round efforts bring is opportunities to cater to more diverse audiences and to ensure cinema audiences grow in the future,” says the festival’s director Tiina Lokk.

Along with its anchor event, which takes place this year from Nov. 11-27, the Tallinn team hosts the Haapsalu Horror and Fantasy Film Festival, held in the seaside town of Haapsalu, as well as the PÖFF Love Film Festival, held in the historic town of Tartu (pictured), “bringing in new audiences geographically, but also through offering more audience-friendly lineups of horror/fantasy and love-focused films,” says Lokk.

No less important is a web cinema initiative that was born out of the coronavirus pandemic, which forced organizers to host a hybrid event for the first time in 2020. “While it was terrifically sad to not have so many in-person festival experiences, we were able to reach new audiences in new corners of our native Estonia,” says the Tallinn topper. “We’ve reached a more diverse audience and can also present them with a more diverse range of cinema.”

It’s one of the many ways in which the long-running fest has set its sights on the future. Under the umbrella of the Discovery Campus, the Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event has introduced a range of initiatives geared toward training the next generation of film talents, including established programs tailormade for composers, actors and production designers.

The festival recently bulked up its offerings with Future to Film, a program targeting emerging scriptwriters, directors and producers. “This Spring, Discovery Campus began a new training program for below-the-line film professionals for the first time,” adds Discovery Campus managing director Triin Tramberg, calling it “the first of many such trainings, cross-pollinating the film and creative industries in our home country and beyond.”

As the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival looks ahead to its next 25 years as an industry leader, with Israel selected as the focus country of this year’s fest, such programs reflect its ability to adapt to changing times and grow from strength to strength. “Our web cinema, continuing education programs and other initiatives aim to give people more of what they want, when they need it,” says Lokk. “All of these projects reinforce and support each other.”

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Jack Ma Biopic Series in the Works at France’s Oble (EXCLUSIVE)

“Jack Magic,” a biographical series about Jack Ma, the colorful co-founder of Chinese tech giant Alibaba, is in development at French production house Oble. The series is adapted from Duncan Clark’s best-selling book “Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built.”

Details of the series such as start date, director and eventual distributor, broadcaster or streamer have not been revealed. But Oble said that it will work closely with Clark, who is providing on-going advice and insights.

Published in 2016, “The House That Jack Ma Built” charts Ma’s epic rise from modest English teacher to wildly successful corporate titan, who personified China’s booming economy and Internet market. Ma and his team in 2014 oversaw the largest global flotation in history) on the New York Stock Exchange.

However, in 2020 he riled the political establishment with comments about regulation of the finance-technology sector. Within days, another groundbreaking IPO, of Ma’s spinoff Ant Group, was canceled on government orders. For much of the past two years, he has rarely been seen in public, lost his chairmanship of Alibaba, stepped down from his African educational charity.

None of this has dented his iconic status and international reputation, both of which are potential thorns in the side of the Beijing regime. Despite his current estrangement from Alibaba, reports that Chinese police had this month arrested a man with the same surname wiped $25 billion form Alibaba’s market valuation.

“Jack Ma’s life-story is fascinating but not well known in the West. He’s an unlikely business hero who was among the very first in China to understand the potential of the internet and who against all the odds was able to harness it, navigating regulations and beating Silicon Valley giants to build a home-grown champion,” said Hugo Brisbois, co-founder of Oble. “With this series we wish to celebrate the innovative mind of a passionate man with whom we, as a young ambitious team, identify closely.”

Book cover: The House That Jack Ma Built.
Duncan Clark

“From his remarkable life story and what it tells us about a rapidly changing China to his lasting imprint on China’s economy and culture, Ma has in recent years become a victim of his own success, his firm targeted by a government keen to reassert its authority,” said Clark. “Jack Ma has served as an inspiration to entrepreneurs and investors far beyond China’s shores, yet his story isn’t well known by the wider public.”

Oble is an International production and distribution outfit. It describes itself as “acting at every stage of the creation, from developing a concept to its international funding as well as producing and handling worldwide sales.”

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Francois Ozon Filming ‘Madeleine’ With Isabelle Huppert, Dany Boon; Playtime Handles Sales (EXCLUSIVE)

Francois Ozon, whose latest film, “Peter von Kant,” opened the Berlinale, is already shooting his next movie, “Madeleine,” with a flurry of stars including Isabelle Huppert, Dany Boon and Fabrice Luchini.

The project, which is believed to be his most ambitious since “8 Women,” is being introduced to buyers at Cannes by Playtime and has already sparked strong interest. The plot is being kept under wraps, but Playtime is presenting the script to select buyers.

Ozon is one of the few bankable European directors whose films have opened at major festivals and traditionally sell around the world, including in the U.S.

“Madeleine” reteams Ozon with his regular producers, Eric and Nicolas Altmayer at Mandarin Cinema. Gaumont will be distributing the film in France.

The cast also includes Rebecca Marder, the rising French star of Arnaud Desplechin’s “Tromperie” and Sandrine Kiberlain’s “Une jeune fille qui va bien.”

“Madeleine” also reunites Ozon with Huppert 20 years after “8 Women,” the mystery musical romance that is one of Ozon’s most iconic films, along with “Swimming Pool.” It’s the first time, however, that Ozon will work with Boon, a French comedy fixture who usually stars in mainstream movies rather than auteur fare. Boon recently completed the shoot of Netflix’s “Murder Mystery 2” with Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler.

Ozon was in competition at last year’s Cannes with “Everything Went Fine,” starring Sophie Marceau. Some of his notable recent credits include “By the Grace of God,” a searing psychological drama based on a real-life French priest abuse scandal.

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‘The Bourne Identity’s’ Doug Liman to Adapt ‘Rise and Kill First’ for Story Syndicate, Abot Hameiri (EXCLUSIVE)

“The Bourne Identity” helmer Doug Liman is attached to direct the adaptation of a chapter from acclaimed nonfiction book “Rise And Kill First.” 

It details how Israel’s Mossad reached out in desperation to former Nazi Waffen SS lieutenant colonel Otto Skorzeny, a favourite of Hitler’s -branded by British intelligence services as “the most dangerous man in Europe,” to thwart an existential threat to Israel’s existence.

The stranger-than-fiction true story is set up at New York’s Story Syndicate (“I’ll Be Gone In the Dark,” “Britney vs Spears,” “Becoming Cousteau”), headed by Academy Award- and Emmy Award-winning Dan Cogan and Liz Garbus, and at Israel’s Abot Hameiri, producer of “Shtisel,” “The Attaché” and “Power Couple.” A Fremantle company, its co-founder, Guy Hameiri, assembled the world-class direction-production team.

A Cannes Festival alum with 2010’s Palme d’Or contender “Fair Game,” Liman will also oversee development of the limited series. David Bartis also produces through Hypnotic.

The story unspools against the background of Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser secretly hiring a team of former Nazi scientists to build a missile program that could destroy Israel. 

A young Mossad initiates a campaign of espionage, kidnappings, extortions and assassinations that slows down but does not eliminate the threat. Desperate, it turns to the unthinkable – seducing Hitler’s got-to-man for covert missions, dashing SS commando leader Otto Skorzeny, into cooperating with them. 

Hitler once entrusted Skorzeny to rescue Benito Mussolini from captivity. He did. Now Mossad asks Skorzeny to eviscerate Nasser’s program from the inside. 

“This is the ultimate spy story, replete with the original James Bond, a nascent Mossad and Israel facing its extinction,” said Liman, whose credits also include the acclaimed “Edge of Tomorrow” and “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.”

Cogan and Garbus call Mossad’s partnership with Skorzeny “one the strangest, most surprising and dramatic true stories we have encountered in some time.” “It is an extraordinary spy-thriller and character drama, and we’re so excited to partner with Doug and Guy to bring it to life,” they added. 

Hameiri observed: “This is a remarkable account from one of the most controversial and thrilling stories in Israel’s history. It’s incredibly exciting to be working with Doug and Dan who share an irresistible vision for this project and are the perfect creative team to bring this dramatic story to life.”

An Economist Book of the Year and winner of the 2018 National Jewish Book Award, “Rise and Kill First” is written by New York Times journalist Ronen Bergman who in 2017 received the Sokolov Award, the highest Israeli honour in journalism. 

“This story recounts one of the most dramatic episodes in the history of Israeli intelligence operations. Israel, a little more than just one decade old, was facing an existential danger,” said Bergman. 

He added: “Mossad and other branches of the Israeli defence establishment were late in discovering the program, and realized that there was only one man who could save the situation, a favorite of Hitler’s. But how do you go about recruiting a wealthy, well-connected Nazi?”

Founded by Eitan Abot and Hameiri, Abot Hameiri also produced original format “Hear Me, Love Me, See Me.” 

Other scripted projects in development include “Bibi,” a high-end TV series on the life of the Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu written by award-winning screenwriter Kirk Ellis. 

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In Postmortem Deal, Stan Lee to Stick with Marvel for 20 More Years

Stan Lee’s relationship with Marvel turns out to be stronger and stranger than previously known earthly agreements, as the Spider-Man co-creator’s been dead for two and a half years and has just signed on to serve another two decades with the uncanny studio.

Marvel has clinched a 20-year deal with Stan Lee Universe, a venture between Genius Brands International and POW! Entertainment, to license the comic book godfather’s name and likeness for use in future feature films and television productions, as well as Disney theme parks, various “experiences” and merchandising, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Now, before anyone goes throwing around words like “crass,” “unconscionable,” “ghoulish”… Lee has already made cameos in 22 Marvel Cinematic Universe films, three of them posthumously, and that’s just his MCU pop-ins.

But while it might actually be cool to see Lee in some new walk-ons in future bits of the multiverse, THR‘s “insiders caution” that “this new deal does not necessarily pave the way for the return of Lee cameos in movies, at least not in the way fans traditionally knew them.”

Although it’s unclear what purpose such a caveat serves, Genius Brands CEO Andy Heyward said of the deal, “It really ensures that Stan, through digital technology and archival footage and other forms, will live in the most important venue, the Marvel movies, and Disney theme parks.”

Heyward added, “The audience revered Stan, and if it’s done with taste and class, and respectful of who he was, [uses of his likeness] will be welcomed. He is a beloved personality, and long after you and I are gone, he will remain the essence of Marvel.”


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Dallas ISD Names Stephanie Elizalde Lone Finalist for Superintendent

If all goes as planned, Dallas ISD’s new superintendent will be an extremely familiar face, and one that has a couple of years of experience at the top spot under her belt.

In a called meeting Wednesday night, the district’s board of trustees (including new trustee District 4 trustee Camile White) unanimously named Dr. Stephanie Elizalde as its lone finalist to replace Dr. Michael Hinojosa, who announced his retirement in January. Elizalde had served as the district’s chief of school leadership before decamping to Austin ISD in July 2020, where she served as superintendent.

Since January, the board has been focused on a timeline that would name a finalist by summer, so that the new hire could be on deck for the first day of school.

Stephanie Elizalde | Courtesy of Dallas ISD

Elizalde was first Dallas ISD’s STEM coordinator, and prior to that was a teacher and administrator in schools in San Antonio ISD and neighboring Southwest ISD. She was named chief of school leadership in 2015 and oversaw campus leadership for the district’s schools. She also received a doctorate in education leadership and policy in 2020.

Now that trustees have named their finalist, there is a 21-day state-mandated waiting period before the district can officially name Elizalde its new superintendent. By naming her the finalist Wednesday, the board will be able to meet and name her superintendent before the district goes on its traditional July break.

Hinojosa will stay until December as emeritus superintendent, the district said, to help with the transition.

Hinojosa’s announcement caps off a 42-year career as an educator, from being a teacher, coach, assistant principal, central office staff member, and superintendent for five different districts in both Texas and Georgia — including two separate stints as superintendent at Dallas ISD.

In January, he told reporters that his decision boiled down to a desire to see new blood continue the work of improving the district. There is broad speculation that he is planning to run for mayor, but he has refused to discuss that publicly until he is no longer with the district.

“I could’ve finished my contract,” he said. “But they (school board trustees) need to find someone who can keep this magic going for 10 years and 20 years.”

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Bethany Erickson is the senior digital editor for D Magazine. She’s written about real estate, education policy, the stock market, and crime throughout her career, and sometimes all at the same time. She hates lima beans and 5 a.m. and takes SAT practice tests for fun.

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Woman’s Dog Saves Her Life in NorCal Mountain Lion Attack

A woman’s dog saved her life when she was violently set upon by a mountain lion earlier this week in Northern California.

As the Sacramento Bee reports, 24-year-old Erin Wilson was attacked Monday while walking with her 2.5-year-old Belgian Malinois, Eva, in a the remote Big Bar area of Northern California along Highway 299. Eva was walking a few feet ahead Wilson when the large cat pounced on the woman from behind and began digging its claws into her shoulder.

As Wilson screamed, Eva rushed over to fight off the mountain lion, Capt. Patrick Foy of California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Law Enforcement Division told the Bee.

“The dog and the lion were in a pretty vicious fight,” he said.

The mountain lion then bit into the dog’s head and latched on. Wilson said she began hitting the cat with rocks and sticks and attempted to choke it and gouge its eyes. She was scratched by the lion’s hind legs as it kicked her away.

When she couldn’t fight the lion off, Wilson ran back to the highway and flagged down passerby Sharon Houston for help.

Houston, who lives in the area, pulled over and armed herself with a four-foot length of PVC pipe and can of pepper spray. Together, they beat the lion until it ran off.

“At first I was like, ‘Wow, she’s OK,’” Wilson told the Bee. “But when I looked at her closer, I realized she had a couple of puncture wounds in her face.”

Wilson, who sustained scratches and some bruises, noticed that Eva was bleeding from her mouth, so she hopped into her truck and rushed Eva to the closest emergency vet clinic, which was about an hour-and-a-half away in Redding. Eva went into convulsions during the drive, Wilson said.

According to a GoFundMe page Wilson created to cover Eva’s vet bills, the dog sustained two fractures to her skull, a punctured sinus cavity, and severe swelling around her left eye, which is impeding her vision.

“The vet is optimistic,” Wilson wrote.

The campaign had raised more than $22,000 in donations as of Wednesday afternoon.

“My dog is my hero,” Wilson told the Bee. “And I owe her my life.”

(Photo courtesy of GoFundMe)

Foy told the Los Angeles Times that mountain lion attacks are rare in California considering the state’s population and the ranges of the big cats. “At least in my career, I’m not aware of any time we’ve ever had a major incident related to a mountain lion in Trinity County,” he said.

Since 2000, there’s been 11 recorded mountain lion attacks in the state, not including Wilson’s incident, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The most recent attack was in August when a 65-pound mountain lion mauled a 5-year-old boy in Calabasas, the Times reports. The boy’s mother attacked the cat, striking it with her bare hands, until it fled. The cat was later shot and killed by a wildlife agent.

As of Wednesday, officials were still looking for the cat, but it is unclear what may happen to it if and when it is captured, Foy told the Times.

“There’s been no decision yet made on that one,” Foy said, adding that euthanasia has been an option in past attacks, and that he doesn’t want “the public to be unnecessarily alarmed when these incidents occur.”

“It is extremely unlikely that you’re going to be attacked by a mountain lion even if you’re hiking in the middle of mountain lion country,” he said. “But it’s also important to know what to do if confronted by a lion … stand tall, shout aggressively at the animal, throw rocks and certainly fight back if attacked.”


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Imagine Dealing With This Many Condescending Anti-Abortion White Men and Not Losing Your Shit

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/AP

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Today’s House hearing on abortion rights was bound to have its share of ignorant and offensive questions, not to mention disinformation, from a certain cohort of white male Republicans. But at times the questions asked of the witnesses—particularly Dr. Yashica Robinson, an OB-GYN and abortion provider in Alabama—were just too absurd, if not simply hateful.

Dripping condescension, but seemingly unaware of what an abortion is, Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) repeatedly asked Robinson if she would support the abortion of a child who was “halfway out of the birth canal.”

“I can’t even fathom that,” she replied, “just like you probably can’t imagine what you would do if your daughter was raped. If it hasn’t happened, it may be difficult for you to—.” Johnson cut her off before she could continue.

The immense disrespect that these men exhibited toward a testifying doctor, a Black woman, was palpable. “Ms. Robinson, I want to ask you a question,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) said.

“Yes, my name is Dr. Robinson,” she responded, “and I provide abortion care in Alabama.”

Roy proceeded to ask Robinson how she disposed of “baby parts” removed during dilation and extraction, a procedure used for the very slim percentage of abortions that take place during the second trimester.

Robinson refused to engage with Roy’s inflammatory rhetoric. “I am a physician and a proud abortion provider,” she said. “There is nothing that you can say that makes it difficult for me to talk about the care that I provide.”

It got more preposterous from there. “The answer to the question is fairly obvious, that there are baby parts, and you don’t want to talk about how they’re being stored,” Roy said. “You don’t want to talk about putting them in freezers, you don’t want to talk about putting them in Pyrex dishes…”

And so Robinson was put in the unenviable position of having to dignify Roy with a response. “All of those things that you just mentioned, I have never seen that in a health care setting, ever,” Robinson said. “We don’t put baby parts in freezers or Pyrex dishes.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.) tried to pull the same big gotcha question that Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) posed to Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson during her confirmation hearing: What is a woman?

“The reason that I use she and her pronouns is because I understand that there are people who become pregnant who may not identify that way, and I think it is discriminatory to speak to people or to call them in such a way as they desire not to be called,” Robinson responded. Seems reasonable enough. But did the men who are so intent on denying abortion care to those who need it really care about the answer in the first place?

To be clear, not all members of Congress were so bogus today. Here’s Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Ga.) bravely sharing the story of her miscarriages: “The same medicine used to treat my failed pregnancies is the same medicine states like Texas would make illegal,” she said. “If Alabama makes abortion murder, does it make miscarriage manslaughter?”

Wednesday wasn’t the first time this country’s (mostly white, mostly male) Republican representatives have talked over and down to women, and particularly women of color. With the Supreme Court seemingly poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, it looks like women can’t expect certain men to start treating them as humans anytime soon.