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Steve McQueen on the Power of Small Axe: “These Stories Are Monumental”



The director speaks just as passionately about Parkes, comparing the lesser-known star to a young Al Pacino. “Shaun has the weight of the world and you see it on his face,” he says. “He is like a silent-movie star. There’s not much he has to do with his face to convey emotion, to convey depth.”

A director speaking fondly of their actor isn’t novel, but it carries special meaning with McQueen, who shepherded Lupita Nyong’o and Michael Fassbender into the mainstream. Part of the director’s mission with Small Axe was to usher in a wave of new talent both in front of and behind the camera, partly an ode to all the Black talent that was barred from the industry between the late 1960s and the early 1980s, the era the series represents. 

“There have been two generations of filmmakers, editors, costume designers, cinematographers, actors who have been lost in this country because they were never given the opportunity, or never thought they had the possibility of being involved in the film world,” he said. “We have a lost narrative in our trajectory. That’s why I wanted to make five films. In some ways, it’s trying to fill that gap from ’68 to the mid-’80s. That’s why we were ambitious with what we wanted to do, because it was necessary.”

“We have Marlon Brandos driving buses in this country. We have Montgomery Clifts who are on building sites. We had Audrey Hepburns who are working in I.T.,” he continued. “We had those people, but they were not invited to participate in this industry. Fact.”

While working on the BBC production, McQueen made it mandatory for each department to include a young POC trainee, as a means of offering aspiring artists a way into the industry. “It was about making room for people to come in,” he said. “Because a lot of people who are a certain age don’t give any light to younger people. I needed that around me. I wanted to see that around me. First and foremost, I want to make a great movie, but to have young people around me being involved, it just inspires me.” 

It was also imperative “to see them be treated with respect and care, because sometimes people are treated very badly on movie sets,” he added. He wanted Small Axe to be a place where newcomers could make mistakes and grow, though some might view that as a waste of precious, hard-won time on a film set. “It was very integral,” McQueen says. “It’s actually to the advantage of the film. Fact!”

The filmmaker has been vocal about the industry’s lack of inclusion for years, most recently calling out BAFTA for not doing enough to support nonwhite artists. Naturally, he’s extremely supportive of John Boyega similarly taking the industry to task. The Star Wars actor led a Black Lives Matter protest over the summer and spoke with unshakeable candor about racism in the film industry in a recent interview. 

“It’s fantastic,” he said of Boyega’s outspokenness. “First and foremost, he’s a great artist. He actually is a movie star. He has that quality. And I support him 110 percent in what he’s doing and how he’s doing it.”

“I wish more people would do it,” he adds slyly. “But they don’t.”

McQueen is, by contrast, less intrigued by the film Academy, which recently announced a series of easily surmountable inclusion standards for Oscar eligibility, as a means to force film sets to be holistic when it comes to diversity. “Fair dues to the Oscars for doing their best and trying a new idea, but I’m more interested in people who are coming into the industry,” he said. 

“I want to go at the bottom on the mountain and start people to try and climb the mountain,” McQueen added. “That’s what I’m after. So I’m grateful of, again, what they’re trying to do, but my focus is trying to put people on a footing where they can actually at least try and climb that mountain.”

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Sharon Osbourne Is Stuck In Quarantine After Her 3-Year-Old Granddaughter Tests Positive For COVID-19




Hang in there, Sharon Osbourne!

On Monday’s season 11 premiere of The Talk, the 67-year-old host appeared remotely and explained that although she had intentions of appearing live in-studio for their broadcast, she’s been stuck in quarantine after learning that her 3-year-old granddaughter Minnie tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Oh no!

Related: TWO Stars Skip Emmys Pre-Show After Testing Positive For COVID-19 At The Last Minute

Addressing co-hosts Carrie Ann Inaba, Sheryl Underwood, and Eve — who’s also virtually fulfilling her hosting duties across the pond in England — Osbourne revealed:

“I was meant to be in the studio, I was so looking forward to it. And then, unfortunately, one of my granddaughters [Minnie] has come down with Covid.”

As of right now, Minnie — the youngest child of Jack Osbourne, Sharon’s 34-year-old son with husband Ozzy Osbourne — is the only person to test positive within the family thus far. The daytime TV host said that everyone else including herself, Jack, his ex-wife Lisa Stelly, and their two other daughters, Pearl, 8, and Andy, 5, have all tested negative.

“She’s okay; she’s doing good. I don’t have it. Her daddy doesn’t have it. Her mommy doesn’t have it. Her sisters don’t.”

Sharing more about Minnie’s diagnosis, she continued:

“She got it from somebody who works for my son. And it just goes to show you, she’s 3 years of age, that children can get Covid.”

Ugh, that’s awful!

Unfortunately, stars like Pink, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and Neil Patrick Harris also faced the harsh reality that kids can in fact get COVID-19 because their respective children battled the virus this year, too. Sometimes, you can take every precaution in the book like wearing face coverings and social distancing, but things just happen. Health officials are still learning more about how the virus behaves in age groups that were once thought to be exempt from catching it every day — so it’s important to stay informed with updates.

We’re just so glad to hear all of the aforementioned celebs and their little ones have since recovered, and we’re sending lots of love to Minnie throughout this challenging time.

Related: Neil Patrick Harris Reveals His Entire Family Had Coronavirus Earlier This Year

As for Sharon, she’s taking the necessary precautions to protect herself and others until it’s safe to return to work:

“Oh my Lord, I want to see you guys so bad. I’ve got one more week left of quarantining and then I’m out. And as I say, I don’t have it. I keep testing negative, but, you know, you have to be safe.”

Agreed, safety first! And before you know it, she’ll be back to her family at The Talk soon enough. WATCH the on-air announcement for yourself (below):

[Image via Sharon Osbourne/Instagram & The Talk/YouTube]

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A New Generation of Basque Filmmakers Hits San Sebastian




An emerging generation of new Basque filmmakers is making its mark in the San Sebastian Festival, building on the foundations of now consolidated creative and industrial infrastructures.

Only time will tell if the Basque Country can follow in the footsteps of Catalonia, another richer region of Spain, and launch a modern day new wave. Expectations however, remain high.

The new generation is widely represented at this year’s San Sebastian.

A prominent member of the group is David Pérez Sañudo, whose highly anticipated feature debut, mother-daughter social drama “Ane,” plays at the festival’s New Directors sidebar. Handled by Latido Films, “Ane” was developed at the Madrid Film School ECAM Incubator, then won three prizes at Málaga’s WIP in April.

Imanol Rayo, winner of the Zinemira Award with “Bi anai” in 2011, presents in New Directors his rural tale “Hil Kanpaiak” (“Death Knell”), produced by Bilbao-based Abra Prod.

Six of the 11 features at Zinemira, San Sebastian’s Basque showcase, are first or second works.

They boast a wide range of themes. For example, “Nora,” the Zinemira opener and sophomore film by Lara Izagirre (“An Autumn Without Berlin”), is a drama-comedy about a 30-year-old woman who lives with her grandfather in a small village in the north of the Basque Country.

When Nora’s grandfather dies, she inherits his old van and decides to take a road trip along the Basque coast to deliver the man’s remains in the south of France, where her grandmother is buried.

In “Hijos de Dios” (God’s Children”), Ekain Irigoyen tells the story of friendship focusing on two homeless veterans, sleeping under one of the cornices at Madrid’s tourist-packed Plaza de la Ópera. They star to journey down the busy streets of the capital, the film becoming a hymn to life, death and dignity.

Aitziber Olaskoaga’s “Jo ta ke” (“Non Stop”), which participated in San Sebastian’s Ikusmira Berriak development program in 2019, narrates how a film crew embarks on a trip from the Basque Country to La Mancha, which has Spain’s only high-security prison as the film explores concepts of national identity.

Amaia Merino and Miguel Ángel Llamas’ “Non Dago Mikel?” (“Where Is Mikel?”) recounts the disappearance in 1985 of Mikel Zabalza, a young man from Navarre arrested by the Guardia Civil, who confused him with an ETA activist. 35 years after his death his family still demands the truth.

The pix-in-post WIP Europa sidebar hosts documentary “918 Gau” (“918 Nights”), the feature debut of Arantza Santesteban, which narrates her arrest and subsequent 918 nights in prison charged with terrorism. An 2018 Ikusmira Berriak project, it is produced by Marian Fernández Pascal at Txintxua Films.

Beyond social issues, the features address further universal themes such as family, violence and dignity, but often have very specific settings in the region. That entails building stories with maximum detail, truthful and faithful to the people that inhabit the region, how they walk, understand life, and interact with others.

“Thematically, Basque Cinema has started to become more universal, which will give it a greater presence on the international festival circuit,” says Jara Ayucar, Basque Audiovisual co-ordinator.

A young or youngish generation of filmmakers have had access to fils across the globe, making for genre-blending movies, where different style coalesce, even in single sequences.

Pérez Sañudo’s “Ane,” made with highly dynamic sequence shots, sets a mother-daughter relationship in the context of the protests against the construction of the high-speed train in the Basque Country.

“Multiple new directors are emerging with projects, and that’s no coincidence,” San Sebastian Festival director José Luis Rebordinos says.

Credit: Filmax

“It’s true that unconsciously there is a previous generation that influences us in a remarkable way. We admire films like Jon Garaño and Jose Mari Goenaga’s ‘Loreak,’ Koldo Almandoz’s ‘Oreina’ or Roberto Castón’s ‘Ander,’ and I would like to think that despite differences, there may be an opportunity for dialogue between ‘Ane’ and those films,” he adds.

“We have drunk from the work of short filmmakers whom we greatly admire: Asier Altuna, Koldo Almandoz, Borja Cobeaga, the Moriarti Factory… Current Basque Cinema owes a lot to the short film development and the Kimuak program,” he adds.

Beyond the San Sebastian lineup, the new generation takes in filmmakers such as Estíbaliz Urresola, whose feature debut “20,000 Species of Bees,” produced by Gariza Films and Sirimiri Films, was selected at Madrid-based ECAM Incubator. The Basque-language project turns on a six-year-old girl who sometimes struggles as the world tries to catch up with the fact that she was born with a penis.

Also, dystopian allegory “The Platform,” the first feature by Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia, at one-point Netflix’s most watched movie in the U.S. during the pandemic, has made the Basque filmmaker a new international talent to track.

Several Basque filmmakers are launching their own production companies to carry out projects in a market where consolidated players such as Irusoin and Moriarti already operate.

“I co-produce because it’s difficult to get someone to back you and develop with you a feature film project,” says Pérez Sañudo, who co-founded Amania Films and relied on Katixa de Silva and Elena Maeso to finance “Ane.”

Factors explaining the emergence of a new film generation and the build in Basque cinema at large cut several ways.

There is a breeding ground for new talents, nurtured by the San Sebastian Festival, its Ikusmira Berriak development residency, the Noka mentoring program, Basque broadcaster ETB and producers associations.

“I think we all are working together, and this is helping the emergence of a new generation,” Rebordinos says.

Another key element is a stable financing environment: After the 2008 crisis, the Basque government has maintained its direct subsidy support for Basque films. Moreover, since 2015, the three Basque territories offer tax breaks that can reach up to 40% in Gipuzkoa when it comes to films shot in the Basque language.

“There are more economic possibilities than in other places. In that sense, we are fortunate. I have the feeling that it is a virtuous circle. As there are more possibilities, more creators emerge. The creators make visible and give value to the industry,” Pérez Sañudo says.

Further obvious changes come on the industrial side. One is the increasingly international ambition of Basque film production.

A growing trend towards co-production, either with Spanish or international production companies, allows Basque producers to up the ante in terms of film budgets.

“Akelarre,” a Spain-France-Argentine co-production, directed by Argentine’s Pablo Agüero, one of the highlights of the Official Selection, is vying for the San Sebastian Golden Shell.

Produced by two top Basque companies, Iker Ganuza’s Lamia Producciones and Koldo Zuazua’s Kowalski Films, “Akelarre” is a revisionist thriller set against the background of the 1609-14 Inquisition trials of suspected witches north and south of the France-Spain border.

As a project, “Akelarre” was selected for San Sebastian’s Europe-Latin America Co-Production Forum, where it earned the Arte Prize.

From the beginning, it was designed as a technical-artistic co-production with France. Later, thanks to its participation at Ventana Sur, Argentine co-producer Campo Cine joined the project.

Via tax vehicle Sorgin Films AIE, “Akelarre” benefited from Bizkaia tax advantages.

“International co-production opened doors to distribution in the project partners’ countries and the film has already been sold near worldwide,” says Iker Ganuza.

“Akelarre” is a clear example of a film with a local theme, but of universal interest, which has crossed borders in both production and distribution, he says, concluding that, “Undoubtedly the film takes advantage of the international outreach and prestige that Basque Cinema has achieved in recent years.”

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Credit: San Sebastian Festival

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Zendaya Just Rocked the Most Glamorous Bandeau Ever at the 2020 Emmys




Zendaya has done it again!

The actress changed out of her plunging Christopher John Rodgers dress just in time to accept her first-ever Emmy—Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her role as Rue on Euphoria—and this time, she opted for custom Giorgio Armani Privé.

While delivering an acceptance speech from home as part of the remote 2020 Emmys, Zendaya could be seen donning a black velvet bandeau top fully embroidered in pearls and crystals, along with a privé black matte weave skirt with powder-pink polka dots. 

Her stylist, Law Roach, made sure to show off the ensemble in its full glory on Instagram, captioning a video of Zendaya striking a pose with, “She’s a WINNER baby.”

And she’s a historic winner at that! By taking home the lead drama actress trophy, Zendaya is now the youngest-ever Emmy winner in the category and the first Black actor to win the award since How To Get Away With Murder‘s Viola Davis in 2015.

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