Gkids Acquires French Animated Film ‘Mars Express’ – Film News in Brief

Gkids has announced the acquisition of the North American rights for the upcoming French sci-fi animation film “Mars Express,” directed by Jérémie Perin in his feature debut.

The film’s synopsis reads: “In 2200, private detective Aline Ruby and her android partner Carlos Rivera are hired by a wealthy businessman to track down a notorious hacker. On Mars, they descend deep into the underbelly of the planet’s capital city where they uncover a darker story of brain farms, corruption, and a missing girl who holds a secret about the robots that threatens to change the face of the universe.”

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Perin’s debut was part of the official selection at the Cannes and Annecy film festivals this year.

Mars Express is a film we have been excited about for years, since we saw the very first footage,” said Gkids president David Jesteadt. “This is a timely and provocative story set in one of the greatest animated sci-fi worlds I’ve seen, and we are thrilled to help bring it to North American audiences.”

LAIKA Recruits Pete Candeland, Victor Maldonado, Alfredo Torres For Animation Feature Projects

Animation director Pete Candeland, known for his Gorillaz music video, and Annie Award-winning duo Headless (Victor Maldonado and Alfredo Torres) have joined LAIKA to develop animated feature projects.

Maldonado and Torres won best animated feature at the Goya Awards in 2007 for their film “Nocturna.” Additionally, the filmmakers have directed three episodes each of the Emmy-winning series “Love, Death & Robots.” They also worked on Guillermo del Toro’s series “Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia,” earning an Annie Award for the episode “Win, Lose or Draal.” Most recently, the duo was developing feature films and series at Skydance Animation.

Candeland is a director who works with 2D, 3D and live action mix animation. He is best known for his Gorillaz music videos, “Rock Band” game franchise spots and BBC trailers.

Soundtrack for Bradley Cooper’s ‘Maestro’ Releasing Nov. 17

Deutsche Grammophon will be releasing the “Maestro” soundtrack digitally on Nov. 17, featuring songs from the Leonard Cohen biopic starring, directed and produced by Bradley Cooper. It will be available on CD and vinyl on Dec. 1.

Cooper selected all of the sounds on the soundtrack, which were recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin. The finale of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection,” featuring soprano Rosa Feola, mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, the London Symphony Chorus and the LSO, and conducted by Cooper, will be released on Oct. 27.

The film’s synopsis reads, “’Maestro’ is a towering and fearless love story chronicling the lifelong relationship between Leonard Bernstein and Felicia Montealegre Cohn Bernstein. A love letter to life and art, Maestro at its core is an emotionally epic portrayal of family and love.”

“Maestro” will be released theatrically in the U.S. on Nov. 22, in the UK on Nov. 24, and elsewhere between Dec. 1 and 8. It will stream on Netflix on Dec. 20.

Director Agnieszka Holland to Receive Career Achievement Award from Los Angeles Film Critics Association

The Los Angeles Film Critics Association has selected director Agnieszka Holland for the 2023 Career Achievement award.

LAFCA’s awards honoring the year’s best achievements in filmmaking will be decided on Dec. 10. Alongside Holland, the winners will be honored at the awards event on Jan. 13.

“Few directors have been as fearlessly confrontational with their historical gaze as Agnieszka Holland has across decades, and we’re thrilled to honor her this year,” said LAFCA president Robert Abele in a statement. “With moral clarity, deep empathy and invigorating filmmaking, her work lays bare the damage that oppressive regimes and sociopolitical conflicts wreak on everyday souls. At a time of increasing worldwide unrest, with authoritarianism on the rise, Holland’s fiercely humane films remind us history isn’t entirely behind us, and that a vibrantly political cinema is more vital now than ever.”

Holland’s Oscar-nominated films include Holocaust dramas “Angry Harvest,” “Europa Europa” and “In Darkness.”

Chicago International Film Festival Announces Audience Choice Awards Winners

The Chicago International Film Festival announced the winners of the Audience Choice Awards, following the 59th edition of the festival on Oct. 22. The Audience Choice Awards are presented by Xfinity.

Minhal Baig’s “We Grown Now” won the Audience Choice Award for U.S. Feature, while “The Space Race,” directed by Lisa Cortés and Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, received the Audience Choice Award for Documentary. “Green Border,” directed by Agnieszka Holland, won the Audience Award for International Feature, and Claude-Aline T. Nazaire-Miller’s “376 Days (Nick Cave: Keep It Movin’)” was the audience favorite for Short Film.

“This year’s Audience Awards reflect the growing attention to unique and powerful stories of resilience, courage, and creativity in an ever-changing world,” Chicago International Film Festival artistic director Mimi Plauché said in a statement. “Truly reflecting a global perspective, the slate of films in this year’s 59th Festival brought our audiences to every corner of the planet to tell complex, evolving, and surprising stories while demonstrating the exceptional talent from both established and emerging filmmakers.”

The festival also announced the winners of this year’s jury competitions on Oct. 20. Gábor Reisz’s “Explanation For Everything” won a Silver Hugo for Best Screenplay, Rodrigo Moreno’s “The Delinquents” won the Silver Hugo Jury Prize and Aki Kaurismäki’s “Fallen Leaves” won the Silver Hugo for Best Director. Amr Gamal’s “The Burdened” won the Gold Hugo and Ena Sendijarević’s “Sweet Dreams” took home the Silver Hugo in the new directors competition. The Roger Ebert Award was given to Mohamed Kordofani’s “Goodbye Julia.” Finally, “The Echo” from Tatiana Huezo won the Gold Hugo in the International Documentary Competition, and Maciek Hamela’s “In the Rearview” received the Silver Hugo.

SCAD Announces Opening of New Hollywood Backlot

The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) has announced the opening of their Hollywood Backlot on the Savannah Film Studios campus for use by students and film studios. At 11 acres, it is now the largest university film studio in the United States.

The backlot is split into phases resembling various cities. Phase One is modeled after Savannah’s historic district and includes 17 different street facades. Phase Two, scheduled to open in 2024, will include a myriad of New York City façades like the Financial District and Brooklyn brownstones. Phase Three, slated for 2025, will include a town square, city hall, a single family home, convenience store and more.

SCAD president and founder Paula Wallace said, “Together, the backlot, soundstages, and LED volume form the sought-after trinity of filmmaking opportunities, placing everything at a filmmaker’s fingertips, from outdoor shooting locations to indoor sets to entirely computer-generated worlds. Add our television studio in Hamilton Hall and all models of production are being taught right here in Savannah. If you have a story you want to tell on a screen, big or small, you can tell it at SCAD.”

Gravitas Ventures Acquires Environmental Thriller ‘Liberty’ for November Release

Gravitas Ventures has acquired the environmental animal-rights thriller “Liberty,” which will be released digitally on Nov. 21.

The film’s logline reads: “Deftly walking the line between Stephen King and Henry David Thoreau, ‘Liberty’ follows an idealistic park guide who holds six strangers captive, treating them like caged animals, to deliver his chilling message of freedom to the world. As his hostages run the gamut from confusion and disbelief to anger and hostility to grief and despair, our anti-hero compares their mental and physical breakdown to those of wild animals struggling in captivity.”

“Liberty” stars Nicholas Michael McGovern, Alice Barrett, Olan Montgomery, Denny Dale Bess, Samantha Smart, Jonathan Kirkland and Andrea McKinnon.

The films screened at multiple festivals last year including the Burbank International Film Festival and the Montreal Independent Film Festival.

Andscape and Issa Rae’s ColorCreative Announce New Documentary ‘The Honorable: Shyne’

Andscape, Disney and ESPN’s Black-led multimedia brand, has begun production on a documentary feature chronicling the life of rapper turned politician, the Honorable Moses Michael “Shyne” Levi Barrow.

Issa Rae, Deniese Davis and Talitha Watkins’ management company ColorCreative is leading production for the project, directed by Brooklyn-born film director Marcus A. Clarke (“Blood Brothers: Malcolm X & Muhammad Ali,” “The WIZRD”).

“The Honorable: Shyne” explains how the former Bad Boy artist and Diddy protégé became a political leader in Belize, pinpointing the one night outside Club New York in 1999 that ultimately changed the direction of his life.

“Immigrating from Belize to Brooklyn as a child left to survive and thrive in the concrete jungle of New York, Hip-Hop had a massive influence on my life, giving me the space and community to explore my creativity and amply the voice of my pain and purpose,” states Barrow, who is currently leader of the opposition in the Belize House of Representatives, and leader of The Belize United Democratic Party.

“The difficult decisions of my life have shaped me into the person I am today, steadfast in my desire to build a better life for the people of Belize and humanity,” he continues. “By bringing my story to audiences, I hope to inspire them to find the indomitable spirit within so they can overcome all adversities and be the best version of themselves positively impacting their part of humanity with their unique footprint as I have done through music, faith and public service”

Executive producers are DJ Khaled, Talitha Watkins, Carolina Groppa, James Shani, Ameer Collier and Raina Kelley.

Set Decorators Society of America Announces Film Awards Timeline

The Set Decorators Society of America, an international organization, has announced the timeline for the 2023 SDSA Film Awards, which celebrate excellence in the craft of set of decoration for films released in the calendar year of 2023.

On Dec. 27, eligible films will be announced. On Dec. 29, nominations balloting opens; nominations balloting closes Jan. 4. The nominations will be announced on Jan. 5, with final voting opening Jan. 26. Final voting closes Feb. 2, ahead of the SDSA Film Awards, which take place on Feb. 23. The winners will be announced on that date.

For more information on the organization, visit www.setdecorators.org.

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