Sandra Melissa Torres Earns Critics’ Week Rising Star Award

Sandra Melissa Torres’ star is on the rise…

Cannes Film Festival organizers have begun announcing prizes ahead of the main closing ceremony on Saturday night, with the Latina actress among the honorees.

Sandra Melissa Torres in Amparo

Parallel section Critics’ Week, celebrating its 60th edition, is up first with Torres receiving the Louis Roederer Foundation Rising Star Award.

Torres picked up the award for her work in Amparo by Simón Mesa Soto. She plays a single mother struggling to free her teenage son after he is drafted by the army and assigned to a war zone.

Former Palme d’Or winner Cristian Mungui chaired the Critics’ Week jury for its 60th anniversary this year.

Here’s the full list of winners:

Prizes of the Jury

Nespresso Grand Prize
Feathers, dir: Omar El Zohairi

Louis Roederer Foundation Rising Star Award
Sandra Melissa Torres in Amparo

Leitz Cine Discovery Prize for Short Film
Duo Li (Lili Alone), dir: Zou Jing

Partner Prizes

Gan Foundation Award for Distribution
Condor (Rien A Foutre)

SACD Prize
Elie Grappe and Raphaëlle Desplechin for Olga

Canal+ Award for Short Film
Brutalia, Days of Labour, dir: Manolis Mavris

Kleber Mendonça Filho Named to This Year’s Cannes Film Festival Jury

Kleber Mendonça Filho is on the jury…

Organizers for the 74th Cannes Film Festival have unveiled the nine-person jury group, which includes 52-year-old Brazilian film director, screenwriter, producer and critic.

Kleber Mendonça Filho

In addition to Filho, the jury includes president Spike Lee, French-Senegalese actor-director Mati DiopOscar nominated actress Maggie Gyllenhaal, French actress Mélanie Laurent, Austrian filmmaker Jessica Hausner and French singer Mylène Farmer.

Rounding out the jury are French actor Tahar Rahim and South Korean actor Song Kang-Ho.

Filho’s first movie, Neighboring Sounds, made its world premiere at the Rotterdam International Film Festival in 2012 and was Brazil’s entry in the race for the Oscars. His second feature film, Aquarius, starring Sonia Braga, played in competition at the 69th Cannes in 2016 before being nominated for a César and an Independent Spirit Awards. In 2019, Bacurau, which Filho co-directed with Juliano Dornelles, screened in competition in Cannes was awarded the Jury Prize.

All together, the jury will watch 24 films in competition during the delayed film festival from July 6-17. The jury will announce its winners on the last day of the festival.

Natalia Reyes to Star in the Post-Apocalyptic Sci-Fi Thriller “Tomorrow Before After”

Natalia Reyes has big plans for tomorrow

The 34-year-old Colombian actress has signed on to star in Tomorrow Before After, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller that’s scheduled to start shooting this month in Colombia.

Natalia Reyes

The film, from writer/director Alfonso Quijada (El Suspiro del Silencio), centers on a woman with no name (played by Reyes) who struggles to survive on her own in a post-apocalyptic world, searching for others, with only a stray dog by her side.

In her quest, she collides with a world that is collapsed and utterly destroyed, and it seems, for a long time, that she is the only survivor in the world—until she discovers one day that she is pregnant. Not understanding how this could be possible, she then begins to question her own existence.

Reyes is best known for her turn as Dani Ramos in Tim Miller’s Terminator: Dark Fate, which James Cameron produced for Skydance and Paramount.

She also starred in the crime drama Birds of Passage, directed by Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra, which premiered in the Directors’ Fortnight section of the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

Among her television credits is Sony’s hit Latin American series Lady, La Vendedora de Rosas, in which she played Lady Tabares.

Focus Features Releases Trailer for Anya Taylor-Joy’s Psychological Thriller “Last Night in Soho”

Anya Taylor-Joy is preparing for her last night

The first trailer has been released for Edgar Wright’s psychological thriller Last Night in Soho, starring the 25-year-old Argentine-British actress.

Anya Taylor-Joy, Last Night in Soho

Focus Features will release the film on October 22.

The film stars Taylor-Joy, Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie, Matt Smith, Terence Stamp and Diana Rigg in a story set in 1960s Soho, London.

It follows a young girl (McKenzie), passionate in fashion design, who is mysteriously able to travel back in time where she encounters her idol, a dazzling wannabe singer (Taylor-Joy), but her journey isn’t without consequences.

Last Night in Soho originally was due to debut in September before being disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, it was then scheduled for April 23 before being pushed back again.

Universal is handling the international release. The film had been tipped for a Cannes Film Festival premiere, but there’s no confirmation yet on whether it could turn up at the French festival, which announces its lineup next week.

Universal to Release Penelope Cruz’s Highly Anticipated Femme Action Feature “The 355”

Penelope Cruz is heading to the 355 a week earlier…

Simon Kinberg’s femme action feature The 355, starring the 47-year-old Spanish Oscar-winning actress, will be released a week earlier, on January 7, 2022.

Penelope Cruz

The film was original scheduled to be released over MLK Weekend.

In the film, five women band together to stop a global organization from acquiring a weapon that could thrust the teetering world into total chaos.

The film was bought by Universal for domestic distribution at the Cannes Film Festival back in 2018 for a reported $20M.

The foreign partners, arranged through FilmNation, are hoping for a global launch for what they hope will be another Bourne Identitylike franchise, this one led by an all female lead cast including Jessica Chastain, Diane Kruger, Lupita Nyong’o, Cruz and Fan Bingbing, with Édgar Ramirez and Sebastian Stan also appearing.

The 355 is directed by Kinberg. He co-wrote the screenplay with Theresa Rebeck.

The Match Factory Acquires Rights to Lorenzo Vigas’ Acclaimed Feature “The Box”

Lorenzo Vigas is thinking outside the box

The Match Factory has acquired the rights to The Box (La Caja), the second feature of the Mexican filmmaker, who previously won the Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion with From Afar.

Lorenzo Vigas

The Box will likely to find a berth at the Cannes Film Festival or the Venice Film Festival.

The film follows Hatzin, a teenager from Mexico City, who travels to collect the remains of his father, which have been found in a communal grave in the northern part of Mexico. But a casual encounter with a man who shares a physical resemblance with his father fills Hatzin with both doubts and hope about his parent’s true whereabouts.

The Box / La Caja

Vigas says that in the film he reflects on “the theme of identity from various points of view.” He adds: “Latin American history is very young. Until a relatively short time ago, we were still European colonies; as a continent, we are trying to understand who we are and where we are going. Though still an adolescent, Hatzin is an uncanny presence through which the film explores this theme from various perspectives.”

Hatzin’s story gets entangled with one of north Mexico’s saddest realities, an area well known for the disappearance of more than 20,000 women in the last 10 years in mysterious circumstances.

Vigas was able to shoot in an actual maquiladora – the low cost assembly plants of the Ciudad Juarez region. These plants’ international owners rarely share details about their production lines or their working conditions.

The Box is the third film in a thematic trilogy Vigas has developed about Latin American fathers. The first film, the short Elephants Never Forget (Cannes Critics’ Week, 2004) provided the seed for the second work, Viga’s first feature, From Afar.

The Box cast includes Hernán Mendoza and Hatzín Navarrete. It is written by Vigas and Paula Markovitch.

Noomi Rapace to Star in Gender-Swapped Adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” 

Noomi Rapace is taking on the Bard’s work…

The 40-year-old half-Spanish actress will lead cast in a gender-swapped adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet from filmmaker Ali Abbasi.

Noomi Rapace

The film will reunite Abbasi with Meta Film after they produced the director’s Oscar-nominated Cannes Film Festival 2018 hit Border.

Iceland’s Sjón is writing the project, with Stine Meldgaard Madsen producing for Meta Film. The film will be produced in collaboration with Boom Films, with principal photography scheduled for autumn 2021.

Swedish-Danish-Iranian filmmaker Abbasi said: “Shakespeare stole the Hamlet story from us. Now it’s our turn to claim it back and make a version so insane and so bloody that make him turn in his grave. Let’s make Hamlet great again!”

Prometheus and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo star Rapace added: “Hamlet is a dream project in its purest and most explosive way. I’ve been hoping, dreaming, wishing for this as long as I’ve been an actress. I base this as much on the material as on the creative alliance that surrounds it. Ali, Sjón and Meta are for me creatives on the highest level. They’re truly brave and groundbreaking in their different areas and always on top of their game. To take on a Danish story with a Scandinavian touch and bring it out into the world with this group of people is a dream.”

Abbasi trained at the Danish Film School and made his feature debut in 2018 with Shelley, which was selected for the Panorama competition at the Berlin Film Festival. His second film, Border, won in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival in the same year.

Cristina Gallego Signs with Verve for Representation in All Areas

Cristina Gallego is going global…

Verve has signed the Colombian filmmaker, and will rep her in all areas as she moves to widen her reach and continue her passion for telling untold stories from a female perspective.

Cristina Gallego

Gallego co-directed Birds of Passage, which premiered in the Directors’ Fortnight section at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, was selected as the Colombian entry and made the shortlist for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards. The film is not a traditional Colombian drug-running story; it follows the journey of a Wayuu Indian family as they forego their traditions and fall into the drug trade.

Gallego was at the forefront of the creative process and wanted to subvert the genre that has typically been very macho by focusing on stories from the female members of the family and community. She directed the film with Ciro Guerra, her ex-husband; she produced the acclaimed 2015 film Embrace of the Serpent, which Guerra directed and which landed them their first foreign-language Oscar nomination. It was the first Colombian film to be nominated in the category. That led to Birds of Passage, a 10-year journey.

Most recently Gallego was in production on Cortes, a massive event miniseries for Amazon that she was executive producing and attached to direct multiple episodes of. Written by Steve Zaillian and starring Javier Bardem, this project was unfortunately a COVID-19 casualty and was shut down by the streamer back in September.

Gallego’s other producing credits include Wajib, the Palestinian official submission to the 90th Academy Awards and Ruben Blades is Not My Name, Panama’s submission to the 91st Academy Awards.

Luis López Carrasco’s “The Year of Discovery” Wins Top Prize at Mar del Plata International Film Festival

Luis López Carrasco is celebrating his big Discovery

The 39-year-old Spanish filmmaker took home the Best International Film prize for his documentary The Year of the Discovery (El año del descubrimiento) on Sunday at Argentina’s Mar del Plata International Film Festival, the only Latin American film fest granted a Category A status by producers association FIAPF, placing it in the same league as the Cannes Film Festival, Venice Film Festival, San Sebastian Film Festival and Locarno Film Festival, among others.

Luis López Carrasco

Due to the restraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival hosted an online edition and offered free access to all Argentine residents.

 

Carrasco’s sophomore feature follows his debut film El Futuro, which premiered at Locarno and collected numerous awards on the festival circuit.

The Year of the Discovery portrays the flipside of 1992 Spain, which celebrated hosting the 1992 Barcelona Games and the World Expo in Seville while in Murcia, south-east Spain, enraged workers from the naval, mining and chemical sectors where companies were shut down, battled alongside students against the police, culminating with the launch of Molotov cocktails that set fire to the regional government’s Parliament.

In a video call from Spain, a grateful López Carrasco dedicated the award to his parents and brother “for being the people who most taught me how to listen.”

Colombian Camilo Restrepo’s Los Conductos won the best film prize in the festival’s Latin American competition. Winner of last year’s Mar del Plata Work in Progress competition, Los Conductos marks an attempt to explore Colombia’s civil conflicts with a style outside the canons of social realism as it follows a man in his attempts to flee from a sect and the trauma that still haunts him.

Maria Alvarez’s The Lost Time (El Tiempo Perdido) trounced a strong lineup in the Argentine competition, which included notable titles like Esquirlas, The History of the Occult and Las Ranas, to nab the best Argentine film prize.

In The Lost Time, a group of now aged friends find new and personal meaning in Marcel Proust’s seven-volume novel In Search of Lost Time at each of the 18 years they have gathered at a Buenos Aires bar to discuss it.

“In this online edition, more than 200,000 people saw the films we have programmed, and on YouTube, more than 180,000 people followed our events, so I congratulate the public who have known how to adapt to our circumstances,” said festival president Fernando Juan Lima at the online closing ceremony. “We miss the City of Mar del Plata and its movie theaters, but we are going to return,” he declared.

“We celebrate [the festival’s] continuity even with the challenges that the pandemic has imposed on us,” concurred festival artistic director Cecilia Barrionuevo. The festival paid homage to filmmaker-politician Fernando ‘Pino’ Solanas, Argentine actress-writer-director Maria Luisa Bemberg and, naturally, Argentina’s greatest hero, soccer star Diego Maradona, who died Nov. 25 from heart failure.

Augusto Costa, minister of production, science, and technological innovation, also announced that Mar del Plata would be the site of the fifth regional headquarters of Argentine film school, Enerc.

“From the government and from the ministry, we reaffirm our absolute commitment to the festival and to the audiovisual industry of the province,” said Costa.

2020 MAR DEL PLATA ASTOR PIAZZOLLA PRIZES

OFFICIAL INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION

BEST FILM
“The Year of the Discovery,” (Luis López Carrasco, Spain, Switzerland)

BEST DIRECTOR
Matías Piñeiro, (“Isabella,” Argentina)

BEST PERFORMANCE
María Villar, (“Isabella,” Argentina)

BEST SCREENPLAY

Nicolás Prividera, (“A Farewell to Memory,” Argentina)

SPECIAL JURY
“Moving On,” (Yoon Dan-bi, Korea)

LATIN AMERICAN COMPETITION

BEST FILM
“Los Conductos,” (Camilo Restrepo, Colombia, Brazil, France)

SPECIAL MENTION
“Mascarados,” (Marcela Borela and Henrique Borela, Brazil)

SPECIAL MENTION
“Fauna,” (Nicolás Pereda, Mexico)

BEST SHORT
“Correspondence,” (Dominga Sotomayor and Carla Simón, Chile)

ARGENTINE COMPETITION

BEST FILM
“The Lost Time,” (María Álvarez, Argentina)

SPECIAL MENTION
“Las Ranas,” (Edgardo Castro, Argentina)

BEST SHORT
“Homage to the Work of Philip Henry Gosse,” (Pablo Martín Weber)

BEST DIRECTOR
“Esquirlas,” (Natalia Garayalde, Argentina)

ALTERNATE STATES

BEST FILM
“My Dear Spies,” (Vladimir Léon, France)

SPECIAL MENTION
“Heliconia,” (Paula Rodríguez Polanco, France, Colombia)

WORK IN PROGRESS

BEST PROJECT
“Morichales,” (Chris Gude, Colombia, U.S.)

BEST LATIN AMERICAN DEBUT FILM, YOUNG CRITICS PRIZE
“History of the Occult,” (Cristian Ponce, Argentina)

Universal Pictures Releases First Trailer for Penelope Cruz’s Female-Fronted Espionage Thriller “The 355”

Penélope Cruz is ready to demonstrate her intelligence

Universal Pictures has released the official trailer for the espionage thriller The 355, starring the 46-year-old Spanish Oscar-winning actress..

Penelope Cruz

In addition to Cruz, the female-fronted globetrotting actioner stars Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o, Penélope Cruz, Diane Kruger, Fan Bingbing, Sebastian Stan and Edgar Ramírez.

Universal still has plans to release the film on January 15 in the United States.

Simon Kinberg directs the story that kicks off when a top-secret weapon falls into mercenary hands. Wild card CIA agent Mason “Mace” Brown (Chastain) will need to join forces with rival badass German agent Marie (Kruger), former MI6 ally and cutting-edge computer specialist Khadijah (Nyong’o) and skilled Colombian psychologist Graciela (Cruz) on a lethal, breakneck mission to retrieve it, while also staying one-step ahead of a mysterious woman, Lin Mi Sheng (Fan) who is tracking their every move.

The action-packed trailer sees Chastain recruit her team of international special agents, who must bond against a common enemy. If they don’t stop them, “they’ll start World War III,” says Chastain’s Mace.

The picture came together during the Cannes Film Festival in 2018, where it was the hottest project in the market. The hope is to launch a franchise based on an idea by Chastain of a Bourne Identity-like thriller revolving around female spies from agencies around the world.

Shooting took place last summer in locations like Paris, London and Morocco — each of which figures lushly in the trailer above.

Theresa Rebeck and Kinberg wrote the script.