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Peter saw his first movie when he was just a little boy, and has never gotten over that experience.

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Ewan McGregor to be a presenter at Hero Dog Awards

Posted July 29, 2011

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After working with Cosmo on BEGINNERS, Ewan McGregor has woofing it up for his four-pawed pals. This Fall, he'll be joining a host of other celebrities (like Betty White) as a presenter at the American Humane Associations Hero Dog Awards. People nominate dogs to eight categories (such as Guide Dogs, Hearing Dogs, Law Enforcement/Arson Dogs, Thearpy Dogs, etc) and the winners from these categories will be presented on October 1 at a star-studded, diamond-collar gala in Beverley Hills. 

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Time Out London takes time for Mike Mills

Posted July 29, 2011

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As BEGINNERS hits England, Time Out London took a moment to speak with the film's writer/director Mike Mills. The short interview focuses on the nature of creating personal stories. Indeed at one point, Time Out London asks him  "What made you want to tell such a personal story?


Well, I think personal stories can reach out. I love Leonard Cohen and Federico Fellini, people who express very personal or real things. The intention is to share, not to look inward. What happened with my dad was deeply human, filled with things I could write about, that described life on a deeper level.

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HYDE PARK ON HUDSON Begins Production

Posted July 28, 2011

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The historical drama HYDE PARK ON HUDSON started production this week. The script, penned by Richard Nelson, creatively imagines a real event: the first-ever visit of a reigning English monarch to America. In this case, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of England coming in June, 1939 to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Hudson Valley home Hyde Park.

Roger Michell will direct HYDE PARK ON HUDSON, with Bill Murray as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Olivia Williams (recently from HANNA) as his wife Eleanor. Samuel West will play King George VI, with Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth. Despite all these historically important names, the story really belongs to Daisy (Laura Linney), Franklin's distant cousin, neighbor, and intimate. In all, it's an unforgettable weekend, with world-changing issues (like war with Germany) on the table, and complicated family and personal issues percolating behind closed doors. Focus CEO James Schamus notes, "Filmgoers will be intrigued by this unique exploration of the all-too-human side of one of history's great men. Roger is an actor's director who will guide Bill and Laura through their playing of Richard's script, which beautifully encompasses satire and drama."

For complete details, see HYDE PARK ON HUDSON Press Release.

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The Guardian sees possible gold for 4 Focus Films

Posted July 28, 2011

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If the Guardian's recent slide show "Should be a contender: the 50 big films vying for Oscar's attention" proves true, Focus Features is going to be awfully busy come award season next year. In their slide show, they run through fifty films, of which four come from Focus Features. For Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, the Guardian notes "the big-screen version of John le Carré cold war thriller, was always going to be hotly-anticipated. Just look at that cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Ciaran Hinds, Colin Firth, Gary Oldman, Mark Strong, Simon McBurney, Tom Hardy." For Beginners:, the Guardian highlights that "ts 81-year-old star Christopher Plummer has been having something of a renaissance of late, and could well find himself ushered onto the stage to pick up various best supporting actor gongs." It also showcases Jane Eyre - "Once Hollywood's starlet-du-jour Mia Wasikowska signed up to this adaptation of Charlotte Brontë's novel, it immediately shot into the award-bait category" -- and The Debt.

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indieWIRE checks into Focus' Story Camp

Posted July 27, 2011

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In the indieWIRE article, "Why James Schamus Believes There's a Business in Very Low-Budget Features," editor Brian Brooks discusses the newest Focus Features initiative "Story Camp" with Focus CEO James Schamus. As Brooks reports, "Story Camp is a three-day laboratory and workshop for six emerging filmmakers and producers." Brooks goes on to describe some of the projects at the debut "Story Camp," including Africa First Alumna Jenna Bass' supernatural drama Tok Tokkie and Damien Chazelle musical So Long, Jupiter, among others. Brooks speaks with Focus CEO Schamus about Story Camp and the new business of specialized film. For Schamus' story camp emerged because, among other reasons, today small budgets don't have to mean poorly produced films.

Production value, however you define it these days, means you can make movies that look pretty darn good for not so much money. So there's different forms of storytelling available to filmmakers today than just a few years ago.

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"The Dude's Abode" in LA Weekly

Posted July 27, 2011

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Sarah LaBrie in the LA Weekly ran a short blog post, "The Dude's Abode: The Big Lebowski's Venice Bungalow Up For Sale," that maps out the intersection of Real Estate avenue and Hollywood. The one-bedroom bungalow in Venice, CA, which served as the Big Lebowski's home in the Coen Brothers' now cult classic, doesn't necessary remind you of his dudeness. No longer rundown, beautifully landscaped with a flowering courtyard, the property appears more upscale than the character ever was. As LaBrie reports:

It's a gorgeous little compound," realtor Winston Cenac tells LA Weekly. "Some of the tenants are decorators, so on the inside, the units just look primo." Which is to say that if you are the type of person who has actually been to Lebowski Fest, you are not the type of person who will want to live here.

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USA Today Talks ParaNorman at Comic-Con

Posted July 26, 2011

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Brian Truitt of USA Today stopped by to talk to both Focus Features and LAIKA about their upcoming feature ParaNorman. It's a hilarious piece with everyone throwing out ever better descriptions about the film. Writer and Co-Director Chris Butler describes the Massachusetts town in which the story takes place as, "Like Salem but a really, really rubbish version of Salem. Salem on a budget."  Truitt sets up the story as "Norman (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee) is the outcast kid in a small Massachusetts town who speaks to the dead.

President/CEO of LAIKA as well as the movie's producer and lead animator Travis Knight drew inspiration from Scooby-Doo in the sense of bringing a bunch of different characters together. Truitt describes some of them:

A team of sorts forms around Norman when danger strikes the town, and many of them are John Hughes archetypes: Norman's chubby friend Neil (newcomer Tucker Albrizzi); Mitch the jock (Casey Affleck); Norman's big sister, cheerleader Courtney (Anna Kendrick); and school bully Alvin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse).

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Cary Fukunaga and Michael Fassbender at Sarajevo Film Fest

Posted July 26, 2011

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Big excitement at the Sarajevo Film Festival as director Cary Fukunaga arrives at this international film festival to present a Open Air Screening of Jane Eyre. And even more excitement when the fest learned that actors Michael Fassbender and  Simon McBurney will join him.

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Caryn James takes a video of Ewan McGregor

Posted July 25, 2011

Ewan McGregor on Beginners from Taylor Levy on Vimeo.

Celebrated critic Caryn James, the "James" behind the indieWIRE blog James on Screen, has posted her interview with the star of writer/director Mike Mills BEGINNERS. James notes in her intro: "From the young Obi-Wan Kenobi in three Star Wars movies to the journalist who stumbles into international intrigue in THE GHOST WRITER, McGregor is one of our best, most versatile actors, so it means a lot to say that his performance in BEGINNERS is among his most nuanced, a low-key triumph."

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Mike Mills enters the Den of Geek

Posted July 21, 2011

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As Beginners opens in the UK, writer/director Mike Mills has been busy talking to the British press. For the entertainment website Den of Geek, Mills spoke to Michael Leader about the film, working with Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer as well as his art and design influences. It's a lively Q&A that covers a lot of ground. At one points, Mills enthuses about his love of actors, especially Mr. McGregor. He remembers watching McGregor at tribute for him in Seattle and thinking how great it is for writer/directors "when they're watching great actors do their lines. It's like, "Oh my God, I wrote that!" So I adore it."

For Mills:

I think a writer-director's a pig in shit when they're watching great actors do their lines. It's like, I think so, because it's not indigenous to me. I'm not an actor, I'm not hot-blooded like that. So I love it, and I adore them. It's exhilarating. And it's so fun as a writer-director to have people doing your own lines. Actors, I think, like seeing a montage of their work.

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