Elevation Pictures x Mr. Will want to give Readers a chance to win digital downloads of some exciting new releases, available this week digitally!
STARDUST (AVAILABLE ON-DEMAND AND IN SELECT THEATRES)
Singer David Bowie reinvents himself as Ziggy Stardust/em> while touring America to promote his new album “The Man Who Sold the World.”
THE NEW CORPORATION (AVAILABLE DECEMBER 1, 2020)
A documentary that exposes how companies are desperately rebranding as socially responsible – and how that threatens democratic freedoms.
AMMONITE (AVAILABLE DECEMBER 4, 2020)
1840s England, acclaimed but overlooked fossil hunter Mary Anning(Kate Winslet) and a young woman (Saoirse Ronan) sent to convalesce by the sea develop an intense relationship, altering both of their lives forever.
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Enter for a chance to #win Digital Downloads of new @Elevation_Pics releases STARDUST, THE NEW CORPORATION and AMMONITE, all out this week digitally!
Following the critical acclaim of 2017’s GOD’S OWN COUNTRY, Francis Lee returns with AMMONITE which came out of TIFF ’20 with a deafening amount of buzz. The Drama written and directed by Lee, stars Kate Winslet as reputed British Paleontologist Mary Anning. Having made several famous discoveries hunting fossils in her career, wealthy tourist Roderick Murchison (James McArdle) finds Anning and tasks her with taking his wife Charlotte (Saoirse Ronan) under her wing. She accepts reluctantly out of financial need. While the two women have very little in common coming from entirely different worlds, they realize they might just be what the other has been missing.
We had the pleasure of chatting virtually with Lee about AMMONITE, which sees its release now theatrically, as we enter Awards Season.
Lee was drawn to story of Mary Anning in that he sees many parallels between her and him.
Lee: “The thing that struck me was discovering Mary Anning is that here was this working class woman born into a life of poverty with little or no education, in a deeply-patriarchal and class-ridden society. And through her own ingenuity, courage, strength and will to survive, she became one of the leading Paleontologists of her generation. There were just some parallels there to my own life. I’m not saying I’m as brilliant as Mary Anning was at all, but I grew-up working class in very rural Northern Britain and I didn’t have a great education. I always knew from quite an early age I would’ve loved to write, direct or do both couldn’t see how I could get into such a rarified profession. I couldn’t afford film school or know anyone like me who did what I wanted to do. So there were just some subtle parallels there.”.
There’s been a good bit of controversy surrounding AMMONITE. Anning‘s family even has refuted the idea that she ever had been in a relationship with a woman, calling Lee‘s re-imagination of her, “pure Hollywood”. Lee comments about his decision to portray her in a same-sex relationship.
Lee: “I’m very obsessed with intimate human relationships and I like to explore them because I’m still figuring out how to manage them myself. I wanted to bring a relationship into this world of her’s. I wanted to respect and elevate her in a way that hadn’t happened when she was alive because all these men who came to buy her fossils re-appropriated her work for themselves. In this time, men owned women and giving her a relationship with a man wouldn’t feel equal. And of course there never was any evidence that Mary had a relationship with a man, but there was evidence she had friendships with women. So I felt giving her a relationship with a woman felt so much more respectful and equal in that sense.”.
We ask Lee about the importance of “unstraightening Queer History” which is something explored both in GOD’S OWN COUNTRY and AMMONITE.
Lee: “What’s so fascinating about this debate that’s seemed to have happened, which I didn’t quite realize would be such a big debate. It made me look at history, who records it and how they record history. And it led me down the path to think that history is subjective. It is created. It isn’t a science in a sense. It was really interesting to see where there is absolutely no concrete evidence of a same-sex relationship, historians presume heterosexuality when we know people could be gay, lesbian, asexual or bisexual. The lack of investigation or thought of thinking through what an individual or historical figure could have been or experienced I found really fascinating.”.
“What was interesting about AMMONITE is that there was no evidence that Mary ever had a relationship with a man, there was evidence of her having friendships with women. And there are a couple of historical fiction novels about Mary Anning and in one of them, it does suggest she had a relationship with a man and nobody complained. And it did make me really think where we are at in society where we need absolute concrete proof for anything that is not considered to be hetero-normative. I just felt to myself whether it’s about my character’s working class or how they identify with their sexuality, these characters have had their voices taken away from them and we haven’t heard from them.”.
“Queer Histories haven’t been recorded because a lot of the time it’s been hidden, illegal, with big consequences if you identified with the LGBTQ community. Often people from the community don’t have children, so their stories aren’t passed-on generationally. So for me it feels like if I can give voices to people or situations that have been overlooked or neglected, then I’m very happy to do that.”.
We ask about Winslet and Ronan becoming involved the with project.
Lee: “It’s quite a boring story, Will. I thought about who I’d like to be in it. First of all, Kate was top of my list because regardless of what she has been in, there’s always been such a truth and honesty to her performances. She felt like a very natural choice for me. Her agent read the Script and sent it to Kate the same day and said, ‘You have to read this because if you don’t say yes, somebody will take it immediately.’. So Kate came back the next day and said she’d like to do it. Pretty much the same thing happened with Saoirse. She got the Script, read it and rang me up to say she’d like to do it! (laughs) I wish it was more about I was in the supermarket and I bumped into somebody and their wife’s brother’s husband once cleaned for Kate Winslet and sent it to her but it wasn’t like that!”.
“The lovely thing is that this is only my second film. The first movie I did was made for no money whatsoever and not-so-famous actors. Nobody really cared about it when I was making it. What was lovely about this film was getting access to actors who not only are at the top of their game but also are very, very established and famous. And the way in which they wholeheartedly jumped on-board with me and wanted to work with me in a way in which I like to work.”.
Lee elaborates more on how working with Kate Winslet actually got weird.
Lee: “What was brilliant about working with Kate is that we like to work in a similar way. It’s very, very much about research and character building. I worked with Kate four or five months before the shoot one-on-one and we really built this character from scratch from the moment she’s born to the moment we first see her in the Film. We worked through every detail and knew every detail about the Mary we were creating. Kate has a real ability and not every actor does, to really transform herself into being somebody else.”.
“So when we were shooting, I wouldn’t recognize one part of the Kate that I knew in that character. She’s very demonstrative, she’s very physical and she talks with her hands. She’s very open emotionally. One of the things we worked so hard on was stillness, silence and internalized emotion and playing everything with looks, gestures and subtleties. I remember finishing the Film and I hadn’t seen Kate for quite some time because I was in the edits and she was away working. I couldn’t look her in the eye, I couldn’t speak to her because I didn’t know who she was, because of who I’d been looking at for the last eight or nine months was not this person. And I was quite shy. It was difficult to switch from Kate‘s performance as Mary to Kate as a human being. It took me a while to adjust.”.
“The way I see Kate now is in Mary Anning, which is so different from who Kate is. It’s kind of a bit weird. Once on-set, there was a scene she wasn’t in and I was working. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone walking around and looking around. I’m quite private and aware, so I turned to the First Assistant Director and asked ‘Who the fuck is that?’. And he said ‘It’s Kate!’. I literally didn’t recognize her because the only time I’d see her is her as Mary Anning.”.
Following-up on two very well-received films can be a daunting task. We ask Lee what’s next.
Lee: “I am writing and finding writing much slower than normal because of COVID, because I find my focus is a bit allover the place. It’s a bit worrying but I’m getting through it. I can tell you that it is a Horror film exploring the same themes I always obsess about – deep human relationships, landscape and loneliness but hopefully with some hope.”.
Elevation Pictures release AMMONITE, now playing in theatres. It will be available on Premium Digital and On-Demand December 4, 2020.
At just age 26, Saoirse Ronan has managed to become one of the top Actors of her generation. She got nominated for her first Academy Award at the age of 13 for her work in Atonement. Since then, she’s been nominated three more times.
Her talent is undeniable as seen through the unforgettable mix of characters she’s brought to life on-screen over multiple genres, such as survivor Hanna, homesick Eilis, uninhibited Lady Bird, and Writer Jo Marsh.
Her latest role has her starring as a grieving Charlotte in Francis Lee’sAmmonite. It follows Palaeontologist Mary Anning, played by Kate Winslet, who cares for Charlotte while her husband leaves for work. The two build an undeniable bond and fall in love.
Today, she joined Canadian Novelist Anne T. Donahue for TIFF’s In Conversation With… Saoirse Ronan.
On where home is to Ronan:
“It’s less of a physical location for me. I think that’s always been the case. I have tried to find it in a place or country, but now I’m older and I realize there are a few core people. That is my home.”.
On becoming an Actor:
“When we moved out to Ireland my dad was working on a film and they needed someone and I was added into it. I didn’t really want to do it. I was a quiet kid. It was this weird Art House film where I was half-human and half-clown. *laughs* And I said, ‘No, that sounds terrible. I don’t want to do that.’ But he wanted me to. So I did it. I was 6, 7, or 8. From the moment I got on set I really loved it. I really liked the discipline matched with the play aspect.”.
On when she knew she wanted to be an Actor:
“It wasn’t until I was 12. It was when I was doing Atonement. I loved that. And I knew that that’s what I wanted to do.”.
“I was a wreck. An absolute wreck. I was 20, so hormones were all over the place. I moved to London at that time. I did Brooklyn in the middle of that transition. And I went back to where I grew-up. I hadn’t been there in years. It represented a past time in my life that I will always be connected too, but was moving past. I think what made it overwhelming was that it was a severe meeting of two worlds. My home life, where I went to school and wasn’t an Actor. And this new stage in my career which was me starting to lead as a woman, and it was an Irish woman. I was just thinking, ‘I have to get this right.’ I was completely terrified. I never felt aware of the camera in a negative way or ever felt that it had paralyzed me. But I was feeling like that a lot in Brooklyn. But it ended up being such a special film for me to do. That Film gets to me in a way that nothing else I have done has. It was an honour to tell that story.”.
On Lady Bird:
“It’s not about her [Greta Gerwig] life. But she did grow up in Sacramento and she was in a theatre group. And I think we both wanted to be more like Lady Bird. But we were both more like rule followers. I didn’t mind being influenced by the way [Greta] was. But I couldn’t just carbon copy .
On her Activism:
“I don’t consider myself an Activist. I think it would be unfair for me to say that. We (Actors) are a mouthpiece for the people who actually know what they’re talking about. That’s how I’ve always felt about. I’ve met a lot of people who support incredible causes and are passionate and hardworking about it. And I’m kind of like everyone else asking, ‘What can I do? What do you need me to do to spread that message further?’ I think there are a lot of people who do far more than I do.”.
On Timothée Chalamet:
“[In Lady Bird] we only had a few scenes together. I always knew he was special and magnetic. We are very different people and in our approaches to work. I remember we were on the way to set and were talking about our families and normal stuff. We always felt very comfortable with each other. He’s American and European as well. We sort of were able to tap into that. On Little Women, that’s where it felt more like a collaboration. We had these lengthy scenes where we would ebb and flow performance-wise. He’s someone I want to continue to work with.”.
“I think it’s a luck of the draw whether you get to work with someone who you click with. Kate and I had met and just got on straight away. I think a big part of that is her because she is friendly and open. One of the good things about the junkets and awards season is getting to meet a lot of wonderful people in the mix of the madness. So, I met her a couple of times doing that stuff. And then this came around and she was a real supporter for me doing it. We were just really lucky we got on straight away. Two women getting to come together, and with more of the intimate scenes and being able to choreograph the love scenes ourselves was great. Especially with Kate.”.
On taking on so many roles:
“I don’t work as much as other people. I’m at a place at the minute where I don’t need to run into a job just to work. I think because I’ve been doing it for 16 years or more now. It’s very important that I don’t burn out or kind of lose the love for it. It’s important for me to protect the bond with my work that I have.”.
Francis Lee’s latest takes us to 19th-century Dorset. It follows real-life Palaeontologist Mary Anning (Kate Winslet) as she searches the coastline for marine fossils. She spends her days alone, walking the shore and helping at her mother’s tiny shop. Soon she finds her solitary life becomes upended when she’s asked by another Palaeontologist to care for his melancholic wife, Charlotte (Saoirse Ronan). In need of the money, she agrees. Gradually, Mary and Charlotte grow close.
Lee does an amazing job shooting the Film in a show-don’t-tell way. There is limited dialogue throughout. Instead, he creates scenes where the weather, objects and characters actions speak volumes. This becomes integral in escalating visually the blossoming love between Mary and Charlotte. In the First Act, Mary is rightfully angry and curt, while Charlotte is mourning the loss of her child. The beautiful coast’s weather parallels their emotions. There are overcast skies and violent waves attacking the coastline. As they spend time together, the clouds clear and the waters calm.
Ammonite is more than a period-Romance. Lee focuses on the work of the incredible Mary and the theme of women taking ownership of their work. During the 19th-century, no Scientific Society would take-in a woman. No matter how hard and astounding Mary’s work was, she was excluded. However, there were male Scientists who were interested in learning from her, being the best in her field. But in the end, they knew she was in need of money. So, they would pay her for what she found and put their names on it. In focusing on this, Lee enhances his Script with a love story involving ownership and class.
Mary loved and lived for her work. It didn’t matter that in doing so, she wouldn’t be part of the upper-class. However, Charlotte is part of the upper-class. It’s here that conflict arises in their relationship. So many times, we have witnessed a forbidden same-sex romance. Although that is at play here, Ammonite focuses on their differing upbringings and that divides them no matter how badly they want to be together. Once again, Lee shows us this instead of telling us. He places his characters on opposite sides of Mary’s glassed sea-creature on display inside the British Museum.
With the talent of Winslet and Ronan in the Film’s lead roles, we are expecting greatness, and they do not disappoint. Winslet is always dynamite. Here, she gives one of her strongest performances. She encapsulates the anger Mary has for having to sell her work and her vulnerability when falling in love with Charlotte. Ronan gives a performance like we’ve never seen from her before. She’s strongest in portraying Charlotte’s grief and her desperation to keep Mary close to her. Their raw emotion feels authentic and honest, especially in their love scenes that are shot meticulously and delicately. And with minimal screen time, Fiona Shaw captivates as a previous love of Mary’s.
While at times it lags a little, this period-Romance which fuses Gender Politics and Classism, is made-up for with stellar performances, particularly by Winslet.
Official TIFF ’20 selection AMMONITE gets its first official Trailer. We know many of you like us are excited about this!
1840s England, acclaimed but overlooked fossil hunter Mary Anning(Kate Winslet) and a young woman (Saoirse Ronan) sent to convalesce by the sea develop an intense relationship, altering both of their lives forever.
See the Trailer:
AMMONITE is in theatres this November via Elevation Pictures.
The complete list of Films to premiere at the 45th Toronto International Film Festival was released earlier today. More than ever, this year’s films are focused on representation and inclusion being a point of focus. We see loud and clear, movies this year about women, black people, indigenous people and people of colour.
Added to the slate are films like Kornél Mundruczó‘s PIECES OF A WOMAN starring The Crown’s Vanessa Kirby as a woman coping with the loss of her baby; Viggo Mortensen‘s directorial debut FALLING, shot here in Toronto, about a gay man dealing with his prejudiced father Emma Seligman‘s SHIVA BABY starring Molly Gordon (Good Boys) about a young woman who runs into her sugar daddy at a funeral with her family; J Blakeson‘s I CARE A LOT is about a legal conservator (Rosamund Pike) who defrauds elderly clients who has a run-in with a gangster;Cathy Brady‘s WILDFIRE starring Anne Heche, centering on a young girl who releases a dark secret in her friendship with a wild horse; Sonia Kennebeck‘s Documentary ENEMIES OF THE STATE which is about a family targeted by the U.S. government when it is learned their son is a hacker; Florian Zeller‘s THE FATHER starring Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman, centering on a man who refuses help from his daughter and his coping with aging; the Horror SHADOW IN THE CLOUD by Roseanne Liang and starring Chloë Grace Moretz, about a WWII pilot travelling with top secret documents, who discovers an evil force; and Regina King‘s ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI where we see Boxer Cassius Clay work together with Malcolm X, Sam Cooke and Jim Brow to change the course of history in the segregated South. Mira Nair‘s A SUITABLE BOY is set to close the Festival.
These are in addition to some of the centerpiece films announced prior like AMMONITE, NOMADLAND, GOOD JOE BELL, CONCRETE COWBOY, BRUISED and Opening Night Gala DAVID BYRNE’S AMERICAN UTOPIA.
Canadian representation is also very pronounced with Director Aisling Chin-Yee returning with NO ORDINARY MAN, a Documentary about a transgender Jazz Musician Billy Tipton who for many years was framed as an ambitious woman passing as a man in pursuit of music career. Others include Tracey Deer‘s BEANS, Michelle Latimer‘s two films INCONVENIENT INDIAN and TRICKSTER and both Madeleine Sims-Fewer/Dusty Mancinelli co-directed VIOLATION.
On this year’s lineup, TIFF Co-Head and Artistic Director says, “This year’s lineup reflects that tumult. The names you already know are doing brand new things this year, and there’s a whole crop of exciting new names to discover.”.
Complete line-up below:
180 Degree Rule Farnoosh Samadi | Iran 76 Days Hao Wu, Anonymous, Weixi Chen | USA Ammonite Francis Lee | United Kingdom Another Round (Druk) Thomas Vinterberg | Denmark Bandar Band Manijeh Hekmat | Iran/Germany Beans Tracey Deer | Canada Beginning (Dasatskisi) Dea Kulumbegashvili | Georgia/France The Best is Yet to Come (Bu Zhi Bu Xiu) Wang Jing | China Bruised Halle Berry | USA City Hall Frederick Wiseman | USA Concrete Cowboy Ricky Staub | USA David Byrne’s American Utopia Spike Lee | USA (Opening Night Film) The Disciple Chaitanya Tamhane | India Enemies of the State Sonia Kennebeck | USA Falling Viggo Mortensen | Canada/United Kingdom The Father Florian Zeller | United Kingdom/France Fauna Nicolás Pereda | Mexico/Canada Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds Werner Herzog, Clive Oppenheimer | United Kingdom/USA Gaza mon amour Tarzan Nasser, Arab Nasser | Palestine/France/Germany/Portugal/Qatar Get the Hell Out (Tao Chu Li Fa Yuan) I-Fan Wang | Taiwan Good Joe Bell Reinaldo Marcus Green | USA I Care A Lot J Blakeson | United Kingdom Inconvenient Indian Michelle Latimer | Canada The Inheritance Ephraim Asili | USA Lift Like a Girl (Ash Ya Captain) Mayye Zayed | Egypt/Germany/Denmark Limbo Ben Sharrock | United Kingdom Memory House (Casa de Antiguidades) João Paulo Miranda Maria | Brazil/France MLK/FBI Sam Pollard | USA The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel Joel Bakan, Jennifer Abbott | Canada New Order (Nuevo orden) Michel Franco | Mexico Night of the Kings (La Nuit des Rois) Philippe Lacôte | Côte d’Ivoire/France/Canada/Senegal Nomadland Chloé Zhao | USA No Ordinary Man Aisling Chin-Yee, Chase Joynt | Canada Notturno Gianfranco Rosi | Italy/France/Germany One Night in Miami Regina King | USA Penguin Bloom Glendyn Ivin | Australia Pieces of a Woman Kornél Mundruczó | USA/Canada/Hungary Preparations to Be Together For an Unknown Period of Time (Felkészülés meghatározatlan ideig tartó együttlétre) Lili Horvát | Hungary Quo Vadis, Aïda? Jasmila Žbanić | Bosnia and Herzegovina/Norway/The Netherlands/Austria/Romania/France/Germany/Poland/Turkey Shadow In The Cloud Roseanne Liang | USA/New Zealand Shiva Baby Emma Seligman | USA/Canada Spring Blossom Suzanne Lindon | France A Suitable Boy Mira Nair | United Kingdom/India (Closing Night Presentation) Summer of 85 (Été 85) François Ozon | France The Third Day Felix Barrett, Dennis Kelly | United Kingdom Trickster Michelle Latimer | Canada True Mothers (Asa Ga Kuru) Naomi Kawase | Japan Under the Open Sky (Subarashiki Sekai) Miwa Nishikawa | Japan Violation Madeleine Sims-Fewer, Dusty Mancinelli | Canada Wildfire Cathy Brady | United Kingdom/Ireland
The Toronto International Film Festival runs September 10–19, 2020.
More here on Films and their respective Programmes.
So things will be a bit different this year amidst this pandemic. TIFF unveiled what this year’s Festival will look like and there will be physical screenings and drive-ins, digital screenings, virtual red carpets, press conferences and industry talks. The Festival is still slated to go September 10–19, 2020. Film Premieres will be downsized to 50 films only including the likes of:
–Ammonite, directed by Francis Lee (United Kingdom) – starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan
–Another Round, from director Thomas Vinterberg (Denmark) starring Mads Mikkelsen
–Bruised, the debut film from director Halle Berry (USA) – she also stars
–Concrete Cowboy by filmmaker Ricky Staub (USA) starring Idris Elba and Jharrel Jerome
–Fauna, from director Nicolás Pereda (Mexico/Canada) starring Geordy Skolnick and Sammy Mena
–Good Joe Bell by director Reinaldo Marcus Green (USA) starring Mark Wahlberg and Connie Britton
–Spring Blossom, the debut film by director Suzanne Lindon (France) starring Raymond Aquaviva
–True Mothers by director Naomi Kawase (Japan) starring Arata Iura
TIFF Ambassadors will be taking part in the Festival including Ava DuVernay, Taika Waititi, Anurag Kashyap, Nicole Kidman, Martin Scorsese, Nadine Labaki, Alfonso Cuarón, Tantoo Cardinal, Riz Ahmed, Rian Johnson, Jason Reitman, Isabelle Huppert, Claire Denis, Atom Egoyan, Priyanka Chopra, Viggo Mortensen, Zhang Ziyi, David Oyelowo, Lulu Wang, Rosamund Pike, Sarah Gadon, and Denis Villeneuve.
Also added to the list of Ambassadors are: Hiam Abbass, Haifaa Al-Mansour, Shamier Anderson, Darren Aronofsky, Olivier Assayas, Gael García Bernal, Derek Cianfrance, Mark Cousins, Julie Delpy, Barry Jenkins, Jia Zhang-ke, Barbara Kopple, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Brie Larson, Kasi Lemmons, Tatiana Maslany, Carey Mulligan, Genevieve Nnaji, Alanis Obomsawin, Natalie Portman, Zachary Quinto, Isabella Rossellini, Albert Serra, Wim Wenders, Olivia Wildeand Donnie Yen.
Derek Cianfrance (A Place Beyond the Pines, Blue Valentine), will lead a Dialogues session and actor and producer David Oyelowo will be a guest speaker as part of the TIFF Rising Stars programme.
It remains to be seen if talent physically will be in attendance this year.
The TIFF Tribute Awards, which honoured the likes of Meryl Streep and Joaquin Phoenix last year, also will be held once again this year. Kate Winslet wil receive the TIFF Tribute Actor Award on September 15 in a virtual event.
TIFF Artistic Director and Co-Head Cameron Bailey says, “The pandemic has hit TIFF hard, but we’ve responded by going back to our original inspiration — to bring the very best in film to the broadest possible audience”.
More details to come. We appreciate so much the Festival still putting its best foot forward in trying times and you can bet our Team will still be there to deliver you coverage!