Ava DuVernay blasts decision to disqualify Lionheart from Oscars consideration

Ava DuVernay has blasted Oscars bosses for disqualifying Nigeria’s submission for the Best International Feature Film category because its main language is English.Lionheart, helmed by actress-turned-director Genevieve Nnaji, who also stars in the movi…

Ava DuVernay has blasted Oscars bosses for disqualifying Nigeria’s submission for the Best International Feature Film category because its main language is English.

Lionheart, helmed by actress-turned-director Genevieve Nnaji, who also stars in the movie, was disqualified from the running by officials from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) in an email issued on Monday.

Despite the film being partially in the Igbo language of Nigeria, it is mostly in English, violating an Academy rule that states entries in the category must have “a predominantly non-English dialogue track”.

The decision sparked outrage, with filmmaker Ava taking to Twitter to share her confusion over the decision.

“To @TheAcademy, You disqualified Nigeria’s first-ever submission for Best International Feature because it’s in English,” she wrote. “But English is the official language of Nigeria. Are you barring this country from ever competing for an Oscar in its official language?”

The Farming actress went on to share Ava’s post and added: “Thank you so much @ava I am the director of Lionheart. This movie represents the way we speak as Nigerians. This includes English which acts as a bridge between the 500+ languages spoken in our country; thereby making us #OneNigeria… As ever, this film and many like it, is proudly Nigerian. @TheAcademy.”

The Academy is yet to comment on the matter.

More than 90 countries have submitted films to be considered for the category, which was previously known as Best Foreign Language Film. From the long list, 10 finalists will be shortlisted in December, while the final five will be read out with the main nominations in January.

The 92nd Academy Awards will take place on 9 February at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

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Ava DuVernay and Sam Rockwell to be honoured at Gotham Awards

Ava DuVernay and Sam Rockwell are set to receive honours at the 2019 Gotham Independent Film Awards. The Selma filmmaker and Vice star will receive the director and actor tributes, respectively, during the annual ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street in Ne…

Ava DuVernay and Sam Rockwell are set to receive honours at the 2019 Gotham Independent Film Awards.

The Selma filmmaker and Vice star will receive the director and actor tributes, respectively, during the annual ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street in New York on 2 December.

“Ava DuVernay is a groundbreaking and influential filmmaker whose work casts an overdue and much-needed light on the history of our nation’s systemic racism embedded in our institutions of justice today,” said Jeff Sharp, executive director of the Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP), which presents the awards, and the Made in NY Media Center, in a statement. “She is enlightening and impactful to a new wave of filmmakers and her films are profoundly consequential to our nation’s continued endeavour to provide equal justice for all.”

The When They See Us director shared the news on Twitter and thanked the IFP for “this lovely honour.”

“We are equally delighted to present the deeply talented Sam Rockwell with the actor tribute,” the statement continued. “Sam simply brings brilliance to every role he plays – whether an anti-hero in an auteur-driven film, a hero in a studio tentpole or a legendary icon in a limited series. His compelling and genuine performances are a gift to us all. Both Ava and Sam are leaders and champions for independent film.”

The Gotham Awards, which recognise the best in independent film, traditionally marks the official start of Oscars season. Additional tribute recipients are to be announced in coming weeks, while the nominations will be read out on 24 October.

DuVernay is currently nominated for the Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special Emmy for When They See Us, while Rockwell is nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for Fosse/Verdon. The ceremony takes place on 22 September.

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Storm Reid eyed to play Idris Elba’s daughter in The Suicide Squad

Storm Reid is reportedly the top choice to play Idris Elba’s daughter in the new Suicide Squad movie.Editors at film publication The Wrap have claimed that the 16-year-old is being eyed for role in the upcoming The Suicide Squad, though a deal has yet …

Storm Reid is reportedly the top choice to play Idris Elba’s daughter in the new Suicide Squad movie.

Editors at film publication The Wrap have claimed that the 16-year-old is being eyed for role in the upcoming The Suicide Squad, though a deal has yet to be reached. Specific details about the part Reid could potentially play are being kept secret, with little known about Elba’s character either.

Should the 16-year-old sign on for the movie, she and Elba will join John Cena among the new castmembers of the follow-up to 2016’s supervillain film.

Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, and Jai Courtney are reportedly set to return as DC Comics characters Harley Quinn, Rick Flag, and Captain Boomerang, respectively, while Oscar winner Viola Davis will also be back as Amanda Waller.

Reid has enjoyed a steady rise to fame in Hollywood, and recently appeared in HBO’s new show Euphoria, alongside Zendaya, and reunited with A Wrinkle in Time director Ava DuVernay for her critically-acclaimed Netflix series, When They See Us.

The starlet will reportedly finish filming on The Invisible Man remake, with Elisabeth Moss, before beginning shooting the comic book movie.

Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn is taking charge of the project, simply titled The Suicide Squad, with production expected to begin in September, ahead of an August 2021 release.

The first movie, directed by David Ayer and co-starring Will Smith, Jared Leto and Cara Delevingne, was critically mauled but went on to make almost $750 million (£600 million) at the global box office.

Elba was originally cast as Deadshot, effectively replacing Smith, although it was reported soon after the news was announced that the 50-year-old Oscar nominee was disappointed the British actor did not get his blessing before accepting the role.

According to editors at Collider, Elba and Gunn then created a new part in the movie for the Golden Globe-winning actor, but details are still under wraps.

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Tessa Thompson: ‘People of colour are giving each other the best film opportunities’

Tessa Thompson believes working with directors of colour has been the only way for her to get interesting roles.The Men in Black: International actress, who has Afro-Panamanian, Mexican, and European heritage, has been working solidly for the past five…

Tessa Thompson believes working with directors of colour has been the only way for her to get interesting roles.

The Men in Black: International actress, who has Afro-Panamanian, Mexican, and European heritage, has been working solidly for the past five years on films such as Selma, Creed, and Sorry to Bother You, helmed by the likes of Ava DuVernay, Ryan Coogler and Boots Riley, respectively.

When it was observed during her cover interview with Marie Claire magazine that she has worked with a lot of black directors, Tessa explained that it’s because people of colour have been better at offering interesting roles to other people of colour.

“It remains the only way,” she declared. “I look at actresses who are not of colour and at the opportunities that they’re presented in terms of directors wanting to make work for them. When I look at my contemporaries of colour, it’s only other artists of colour who are doing that in a real, robust way.”

Since filming Men in Black, the 35-year-old has lent her voice to Lady in the Disney remake of the Lady and the Tramp, filmed Sylvie, a love story set in midcentury Harlem, and is gearing up to reprise the role of Charlotte Hale in the third season of TV series Westworld.

Accordingly, Tessa admitted that her schedule is well and truly filled up.

“I’m really lucky to be inside of projects that I’m obligated to, but it means that I’m increasingly aware of the finite time that I have to make the things I just want to do,” the Los Angeles native explained. “I’ve slotted them into any little window, which means I just don’t have any windows right now.”

Men in Black marks her third time working with Australian actor Chris Hemsworth, after they previously teamed up for 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok and this year’s Avengers: Endgame, and the Dear White People star joked that they were like the new Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, who had an onscreen and offscreen partnership for more than 20 years.

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Olivia Wilde wants to direct a Marvel superhero movie

Olivia Wilde wants to direct a Marvel superhero movie and thinks no genre should be off the table for female filmmakers. The 35-year-old recently made her directorial debut with comedy Booksmart, and the actress was quizzed by MTV about possible futur…

Olivia Wilde wants to direct a Marvel superhero movie and thinks no genre should be off the table for female filmmakers.

The 35-year-old recently made her directorial debut with comedy Booksmart, and the actress was quizzed by MTV about possible future projects she’d be inspired to take on.

When asked if she’d try her hand at directing a movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Wilde replied, “Totally yeah, absolutely.”

And with Oscar-nominated filmmaker Ava DuVernay heading up a movie adaptation of DC Comics’ The New Gods and Chloe Zhao directing The Eternals for Marvel, the mother-of-two is excited about the future of female filmmakers.

“I think that it’s exciting that now women like Ava DuVernay and Chloe Zhao are directing Marvel films and it’s exciting to think about what that will do to the franchise. I think it’s a proud… I’m a proud member of the movement of female directors, and I don’t think there’s any genre that should be off the table,” Wilde shared.

While she’s yet to be offered a superhero movie, the Cowboys & Aliens star would join a prestigious group of women when the time comes.

Zhao has become the first solo female director in the MCU, and will helm the highly-anticipated project based on Jack Kirby’s comic book, which follows the super-powered beings known as Eternals.

In addition, Anna Boden co-directed the hugely successful Captain Marvel, starring Brie Larson, and Cate Shortland has been confirmed to direct the Black Widow spin-off movie with Scarlett Johansson.

Wilde also praised the opportunities that are now being given to women in Hollywood, including heading up huge superhero franchises such as Wonder Woman, which is helmed by Patty Jenkins.

The 47-year-old was paid a handsome sum to return – along with leading woman Gal Gadot – for the sequel, Wonder Woman 1984.

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Denzel Washington awarded AFI Life Achievement Award

Denzel Washington was feted by the American Film Institute (AFI) in a special ceremony on Thursday. The movie legend was the 47th recipient of the AFI Life Achievement Award, and was the man of the hour at a gala tribute held at the Dolby Theatre in H…

Denzel Washington was feted by the American Film Institute (AFI) in a special ceremony on Thursday.

The movie legend was the 47th recipient of the AFI Life Achievement Award, and was the man of the hour at a gala tribute held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

Peers including Ava DuVernay, Chadwick Boseman and Jodie Foster were there to cheer him on.

Talking to Entertainment Tonight about his biggest achievement in life, Denzel ignored his stellar film career, which has won him two Oscars, and instead chose his wife of nearly 36 years, Pauletta.

“(Actually) I was pointing to her,” Denzel said when Pauletta suggested their four children. “That’s my biggest lifetime achievement.”

The 64-year-old also revealed how honoured he was to be chosen by the AFI, following in the footsteps of Al Pacino, Tom Hanks and Jane Fonda.

“I’m humbled, I’m grateful, I’m thankful… I’ve never done this before so I can’t really tell you how I feel,” he smiled. “It doesn’t feel like other times I’m on the red carpet. I’m usually promoting a film or at an award show. (Here) I’ve already won, I guess, so it’s different. It’s relaxed.”

Other guests in attendance included Morgan Freeman, Mahershala Ali and Michael B. Jordan.

And Beyonce surprised guests when she stepped out on stage to heap praise on another honouree of the night, Franklin J. Schaffner Award recipient Melina Matsoukas.

Denzel can next be seen in Joel Coen’s version of Macbeth, which is in the pre-production stage. He is also about to start work on Little Things, with Rami Malek.

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Designers and models slam Alabama’s controversial anti-abortion law

Top fashion designers and models are among those slamming Alabama’s new anti-abortion law.Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed into law the controversial bill on Wednesday evening, after senators from the U.S. State passed the bill late the previous day, w…

Top fashion designers and models are among those slamming Alabama’s new anti-abortion law.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed into law the controversial bill on Wednesday evening, after senators from the U.S. State passed the bill late the previous day, with the law only allowing for terminations of ectopic pregnancy, if the unborn child has a “lethal anomaly” or to “avoid a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother”.

Under the legislation, doctors who perform abortions may face life in prison, and while Democrats attempted to re-introduce an amendment to exempt rape and incest victims, they were unsuccessful – with a number of members of the fashion community now speaking out over the divisive law.

Taking to Instagram, Zac Posen uploaded a picture of a poster with the words, “Abortion is a personal decision, not a legal debate,” and in the caption wrote, “Deeply shocked and disappointed by Alabama criminalising abortion. I know from my mother what it was like for women before Roe v. Wade. Women’s rights are human rights. Let’s move forward, not backwards.”

In her statement, Ivey commented that she was aware the new law may be unenforceable due to the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v Wade decision in 1973 which legalised abortion in all 50 states, but insisted that the new regulation was passed with the aim of challenging that law.

Elsewhere, luxury footwear designer Brian Atwood shared vintage images of women fighting for the right to have abortions and added, “Total BS!!! Alabama wake the f**k up! We will not stand for this!!!! Men will not govern a woman’s body!!!!”

While model Bella Hadid reposted a comment on the issue penned by artist Petra Collins, and Hailey Bieber shared a Twitter user’s post on her Instagram Stories in which they pointed out that the 22 Alabama senators who voted for the bill were all male.

Other A-listers including Lady Gaga, Alyssa Milano, Sarah Silverman, Ava DuVernay, Chris Evans, and Padma Lakshmi have all spoken out over the law too.

The bill will not take effect for six months after becoming law.

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Netflix makes statement as Steven Spielberg calls for ban at Oscars

Netflix representatives have declared “we love cinema” as Steven Spielberg campaigns for streaming service-made movies to be ineligible for the Oscars. The Jurassic Park director has been vocal in his criticism of Netflix and how Netflix bosses give s…

Netflix representatives have declared “we love cinema” as Steven Spielberg campaigns for streaming service-made movies to be ineligible for the Oscars.

The Jurassic Park director has been vocal in his criticism of Netflix and how Netflix bosses give some of their films a short theatrical run to make them eligible for the Oscars even though they are available to watch at home the same day.

Over the weekend (02-03Mar19), it was reported that the veteran filmmaker was pushing for a rule change following the success of Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma, a Netflix film, at the 2019 Academy Awards, where it was nominated for 10 prizes, including Best Picture, and won three.

Spielberg, the Academy’s directors branch governor, is reportedly set to introduce the idea of a change in eligibility rules at an upcoming board meeting, in which he will apparently push for films to have an exclusive theatrical window of at least four weeks to qualify for major Oscars.

Netflix representatives have seemingly responded to the headlines by making a clear statement about their position on cinema via a Twitter post on Monday.

“We love cinema. Here are some things we also love,” they wrote on the official Netflix Film account. “-Access for people who can’t always afford, or live in towns without, theaters -Letting everyone, everywhere enjoy releases at the same time -Giving filmmakers more ways to share art. These things are not mutually exclusive.”

In a statement to IndieWire, a spokesman for Spielberg’s production company, Amblin Entertainment, said: “Steven feels strongly about the difference between the streaming and theatrical situation. He’ll be happy if the others will join (his campaign) when that comes up (at the Academy Board of Governors meeting). He will see what happens.”

The news has reignited the debate about Netflix’s place within cinema, with Ava DuVernay, whose 2016 documentary 13th was distributed by Netflix, one of those to criticise Spielberg’s sentiment.

“One of the things I value about Netflix is that it distributes black work far/wide. 190 countries will get (miniseries) WHEN THEY SEE US,” she tweeted. “I’ve had just one film distributed wide internationally. Not SELMA. Not WRINKLE (in Time). It was 13TH. By Netflix. That matters.”

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Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu named president of Cannes Film Festival jury

Oscar-winning director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu has been appointed the jury president of the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. The Birdman filmmaker, the first Mexican to be given the prestigious position, will head up the jury, to be comprised of members…

Oscar-winning director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu has been appointed the jury president of the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.

The Birdman filmmaker, the first Mexican to be given the prestigious position, will head up the jury, to be comprised of members of the movie industry, and help decide what film competing in the official selection should win the coveted Palme d’Or.

“Cannes is a festival that has been important to me since the beginning of my career,” Inarritu said in a statement. “I am humbled and thrilled to return this year with the immense honour of presiding over the Jury. Cinema runs through the veins of the planet and this festival has been its heart. We on the jury will have the privilege to witness the new and excellent work of fellow filmmakers from all over the planet. This is a true delight and a responsibility, that we will assume with passion and devotion.”

Pierre Lescure, festival president, and Thierry Fremaux, artistic director, said they are “delighted” that Inarritu, who won back-to-back Best Director Oscars for 2015’s Birdman and 2016’s The Revenant, had accepted their invitation.

“Not only is he a daring filmmaker and a director who is full of surprises, Alejandro is also a man of conviction, an artist of his time,” they said in a joint statement.

The 55-year-old’s relationship with Cannes dates back to 2000, when his debut feature Amores Perros premiered there, and he most recently went back in 2017 as his virtual reality experience Carne y Arena (Flesh and Sand) was selected for the competition.

Inarritu follows in the footsteps of his Babel star Cate Blanchett, who served as president in 2018 and awarded the Palme d’Or to Shoplifters with the help of jury members including Ava DuVernay and Kristen Stewart.

The 72nd Cannes Film Festival runs between 14 and 25 May (19).

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Prada taps Ava DuVernay to co-chair Diversity and Inclusion council

Prada has enlisted film director Ava DuVernay and artist/activist Theaster Gates to join its Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council following accusations of racism.The Italian couture house, which is headed by designer Miuccia Prada, announced its de…

Prada has enlisted film director Ava DuVernay and artist/activist Theaster Gates to join its Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council following accusations of racism.

The Italian couture house, which is headed by designer Miuccia Prada, announced its decision to set up an advisory council “to guide our efforts on diversity, inclusion and culture” after being called out for their 2018 Pradamalia collection which featured monkeys with exaggerated red lips and drew comparisons to blackface caricatures.

Prada said in a statement on Wednesday (13Feb19) that the Selma filmmaker and Gates will chair the council, and the group will work to develop “diverse talent” and create more opportunities for students of colour.

“Prada has been my ally in some of the most ambitious artistic projects I’ve done today including the launch of the Black Image Corporation,” Gates said of the project, reports WWD. “Growing diversity efforts in the company is important to Ava, Miuccia and I and I am eager to lead the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council and achieve meaningful impact throughout the fashion industry.”

In the wake of the scandal, Prada pulled the imagery from circulation and issued an apology.

As well as tackling its internal issues through its new programme, the company hopes to reach colleges and organisations and build internships and apprenticeships in “diverse communities”.

“Prada is committed to cultivating, recruiting and retaining diverse talent to contribute to all departments of the company,” the company said in a statement. “In addition to amplifying voices of colour within the industry we will help ensure that the fashion world is reflective of the world in which we live, and we are thrilled to be working with long-time collaborators, Ava DuVernay and Theaster Gates, on this important initiative.”

The programme will be rolled out in the U.S. and every Prada office worldwide.

Fashion house Gucci has recently faced similar accusations and it moved to create diversity initiatives and scholarships this week, in a bid to bring inclusiveness to all creative teams, including collaborator and established Harlem designer Dapper Dan.

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