Press's avatar

About Focus Features Press

Focus Features is part of NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment television networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. Comcast Corporation owns a controlling 51% interest in NBCUniversal, with GE holding a 49% stake.

More About Focus Features Press »

Archives

Focus Features Press

Focus Features Announces Winners of Africa First Program

Posted September 24, 2008

NEW YORK, September 24th, 2008 – The five filmmakers being awarded $10,000 apiece in Focus Features’ Africa First Program, an initiative earmarked exclusively for emerging filmmakers of African nationality and residence, were named today by Focus Features CEO James Schamus.

Earlier this year, Focus offered participating filmmakers the chance to be awarded the financing for production and/or post-production on their narrative short film made in continental Africa and tapping the resources of the film industry there. Complete details on Africa First can be accessed through www.filminfocus.com/africafirst.

The winning filmmakers comprise three women and two men; Mr. Edouard Bamporiki (from Rwanda), Ms. Jenna Bass (from South Africa), Mr. Jan-Hendrik Beetge (also from South Africa), Ms. Dyana Gaye (from Senegal), and Ms. Wanuri Kahiu (from Kenya).

The short films that they will be directing are, respectively, Long Coat, a drama about a young Hutu coming to terms with Rwanda’s and his own family’s past; The Tunnel, a 1980s-set story centering around a 10-year-old girl’s quest; The Abyss Boys, a thriller about an illegal trade in a small fishing town; the public transportation musical N’Dar [Saint Louis Blues]; and Pumzi [Breath], a futuristic sci-fi tale.

Africa First is supervised by producer Kisha Imani Cameron (…Sometimes in April), whose Completion Films company has a first-look and consulting deal with Focus. Focus creative executive Matthew Plouffe coordinated Africa First submissions and evaluations with Ms. Cameron. In addition to on-site work in Africa, a weekend of workshops in New York City with the program’s international advisory board of experts in African cinema will take place this fall.

Mr. Schamus said, “Given the response to our program, there was no shortage of new talent to choose from. The final five have great stories to tell that are original in every respect, but what was even more impressive were the scores and scores of other strong projects we were unfortunately not able to help – this time.”

Ms. Cameron added, “We are hoping to work closely with these filmmakers on any aspects of their films that they want assistance with, so that they can fully realize their artistic visions. I’m so pleased that we found diverse finalists from all over continental Africa.”

The submission period began on May 12th, 2008 and ran through July 15th, 2008. The five filmmakers retain the copyrights and the distribution rights to their completed shorts, with the exception of North American rights; Focus retains those, as well as the right of first negotiation to productions derived from the shorts, such as a feature-length expansion.

Completion is developing feature, documentary, and television projects. Its president, Ms. Cameron, previously worked as director of development at Walden Media, and as an executive at New Line Cinema, where she oversaw the development and production of Spike Lee’s Bamboozled.

Focus Features (www.filminfocus.com) exists to produce, acquire and distribute original and daring films that challenge the mainstream to embrace and enjoy voices and visions from around the world that deliver global commercial success.

Current and upcoming Focus Features releases include Joel and Ethan Coen’s hit comedy thriller Burn After Reading, starring George Clooney, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, Richard Jenkins, and Brad Pitt; Henry Selick’s 3-D stop-motion animated feature Coraline, starring Dakota Fanning and Teri Hatcher; Shane Acker’s animated fantasy epic 9, starring Elijah Wood and Jennifer Connelly; Cary Fukunaga’s immigrant thriller Sin Nombre; writer/director Jim Jarmusch’s new film, tentatively titled The Limits of Control, starring Isaach De Bankolé; a contemporary comedy directed by Academy Award winner Sam Mendes and starring John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph; Joel and Ethan Coen’s A Serious Man; Taking Woodstock, the new film from Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee; and Gus Van Sant’s Milk, starring Sean Penn as Harvey Milk.

Focus Features is part of NBC Universal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. Formed in May 2004 through the combining of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, NBC Universal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. NBC Universal is 80% owned by General Electric and 20% owned by Vivendi.

Comment And Interact »


PRODUCTION BEGINNING IN MINNESOTA ON JOEL AND ETHAN COEN'S A SERIOUS MAN

Posted September 10, 2008

Production begins today on location in Minnesota on A Serious Man, for Focus Features and Working Title Films. Joel and Ethan Coen, Academy Award winners for No Country for Old Men and Fargo, are writing, producing, and directing the film. Working Title co-chairs Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner are executive-producing the film with Robert Graf, who has worked on the Coens’ last six features in various producing capacities.

The director of photography on A Serious Man is seven-time Academy Award nominee Roger Deakins, who is marking his tenth feature collaboration with the Coens. Mary Zophres is the film’s costume designer, marking her ninth feature collaboration with the Coens. Jess Gonchor is the production designer, marking his third feature collaboration with the Coens.

A Serious Man is the story of an ordinary man’s search for clarity in a universe where Jefferson Airplane is on the radio and F-Troop is on TV. It is 1967, and Larry Gopnik, a physics professor at a quiet midwestern university, has just been informed by his wife Judith that she is leaving him. She has fallen in love with one of his more pompous colleagues, Sy Ableman, who seems to her a more substantial person than the feckless Larry. Larry’s unemployable brother Arthur is sleeping on the couch, his son Danny is a discipline problem and a shirker at Hebrew school, and his daughter Sarah is filching money from his wallet in order to save up for a nose job. While his wife and Sy Ableman blithely make new domestic arrangements, and his brother becomes more and more of a burden, an anonymous hostile letter-writer is trying to sabotage Larry’s chances for tenure at the university. Also, a graduate student seems to be trying to bribe him for a passing grade while at the same time threatening to sue him for defamation. Plus, the beautiful woman next door torments him by sunbathing nude. Struggling for equilibrium, Larry seeks advice from three different rabbis. Can anyone help him cope with his afflictions and become a righteous person – a mensch – a serious man?

Tony Award nominee Michael Stuhlbarg (whose films include The Grey Zone) stars as Larry; Fred Melamed (Suspect) plays Sy; Richard Kind (The Visitor) portrays Arthur; and Minnesota actors Aaron Wolf, Sari Wagner, and Jessica McManus are cast as Danny, Judith, and Sarah, respectively.

The Coens’ comedy thriller Burn After Reading, also from Focus Features and Working Title Films, world-premiered last month as the opening-night film of the 2008 Venice International Film Festival; made its North American premiere last week at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival; and will be released by Focus nationwide on Friday, September 12th. The film stars George Clooney, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, Richard Jenkins, and Brad Pitt.

Focus president of production John Lyons, who is overseeing A Serious Man and oversaw Burn After Reading on behalf of the company, has previously collaborated with the Coen brothers extensively, as casting director on their features Raising Arizona, Miller’s Crossing, Barton Fink, The Hudsucker Proxy, Fargo and The Big Lebowski.

Messrs. Bevan and Fellner have also had a long association with the Coens; Fargo (which won Oscars for Ms. McDormand as Best Actress and for the Coens in the Original Screenplay category), The Hudsucker Proxy, The Big Lebowski, O Brother, Where Art Thou? (for which Mr. Clooney won a Golden Globe Award), The Man Who Wasn’t There, and Burn After Reading were all made by the Coens with Working Title. Working Title Films is Europe’s leading film production company, making movies that defy boundaries as well as demographics.

Currently in post-production at Working Title are a record number of films: Beeban Kidron’s Hippie Hippie Shake, starring Cillian Murphy, Sienna Miller, Emma Booth, and Max Minghella; Kevin Macdonald’s State of Play, starring Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Robin Wright Penn, and Helen Mirren; Ron Howard’s Frost/Nixon, adapted by Peter Morgan from his play of the same name and starring Frank Langella and Michael Sheen; Joe Wright’s The Soloist, starring Jamie Foxx, Robert Downey, Jr., and Catherine Keener; Richard Curtis’ The Boat That Rocked, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, Rhys Ifans, and  Nick Frost; and Paul Greengrass’ untitled thriller starring Matt Damon.

Focus Features (www.filminfocus.com) exists to produce, acquire and distribute original and daring films that challenge the mainstream to embrace and enjoy voices and visions from around the world that deliver global commercial success.

In addition to A Serious Man and Burn After Reading, upcoming Focus Features releases include Henry Selick’s 3-D stop-motion animated feature Coraline, starring Dakota Fanning and Teri Hatcher; Shane Acker’s animated fantasy epic 9, starring Elijah Wood and Jennifer Connelly; Cary Fukunaga’s immigrant thriller Sin Nombre; writer/director Jim Jarmusch’s new film, tentatively titled The Limits of Control, starring Isaach De Bankolé; a contemporary comedy directed by Academy Award winner Sam Mendes and starring John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph; Taking Woodstock, the new film from Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee; and Gus Van Sant’s Milk, starring Sean Penn as Harvey Milk.


Focus Features and Working Title Films are part of NBC Universal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. Formed in May 2004 through the combining of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, NBC Universal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. NBC Universal is 80% owned by General Electric and 20% owned by Vivendi.
#                                                                #                                                                #

Contact:    Adriene Bowles/Harlan Gulko           
FOCUS FEATURES/818-777-7499; 818-777-7346

V.J. Carbone
FOCUS FEATURES/212-539-4055

Karen Finnegan
FOCUS FEATURES INTERNATIONAL/44-207-307-5591

Comment And Interact »


Burn After Reading

Updated September 08, 2008

Still and behind-the-scene photos from the film BURN AFTER READING

Frances McDormand
Richard Jenkins, Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand
Brad Pitt
Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand
Behind the Scenes
John Malkovich
Frances McDormand and George Clooney
Tilda Swinton
John Malkovich with writers/directors Ethan and Joel Coen
John Malkovich
Tilda Swinton
Brad Pitt
Frances McDormand

© Macall Polay

Frances McDormand

Frances McDormand stars in Joel and Ethan Coen's dark spy-comedy BURN AFTER READING, a Focus Features release.

 

 

 

FOCUS FEATURES INTERNATIONAL SALES DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCES PROMOTIONS

Posted September 07, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NEW YORK, September 4th, 2008 – Focus Features has promoted Peter Kujawski to senior vice president, international sales, and Gabrielle Stewart to manager of international sales. The appointments are effective immediately, Focus president of international sales and distribution Alison Thompson announced today.

Mr. Kujawski, who has been with Focus since it was formed in the spring of 2002, will remain based in the company’s Manhattan offices. In being raised from vice president to senior vice president, he succeeds Tim Spencer, who is segueing from the film business to a different field.

Ms. Stewart will remain based in the company’s London offices. She joined the company in 2005 to work directly with Ms. Thompson and in May 2007 added additional responsibilities as sales coordinator.

Ms. Thompson said, “Peter is very much part of the Focus family; truly, there is no one else who could have filled Tim’s shoes as well. Gabrielle’s promotion to junior executive is a well-deserved natural progression. Since she shares Peter’s talent and dedication, I really can’t think of a better sales team.”

Mr. Kujawski added, “During this first weekend of the Toronto International Film Festival, Alison and I will be working closely with master filmmakers like the Coen Brothers and Fernando Meirelles, exciting new talent like Lance Daly, and top distribution companies from around the world. I’m thrilled to be taking a more active role at this company.”

Beginning as director of international sales, Mr. Kujawski has over the years sold such hits as Pedro Almodóvar’s Volver; Zhang Yimou’s House of Flying Daggers and Curse of the Golden Flower; Jet Li’s Fearless (directed by Ronny Yu), on which he also was a production executive; Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation; Fernando Meirelles’ The Constant Gardener; David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises; and Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution and Brokeback Mountain (the company’s all-time top-grossing film).

Mr. Kujawski previously worked at Focus as manager of creative affairs, during which time he was involved in production and distribution, and oversaw all soundtrack album rights and negotiations for such films as Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Alejandro González Iñárritu’s 21 Grams.

Holding a BA in Film Studies from Columbia University, Mr. Kujawski’s industry career began at the independent film production company Good Machine. There he worked as an assistant to company founder and co-president James Schamus, who is now CEO of Focus, including during the worldwide rollout of Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. When Good Machine was absorbed into Focus in the spring of 2002, Mr. Kujawski joined Focus at its inception.

Prior to joining Focus, Ms. Stewart worked at Renaissance Films International in London. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh, she began her career in radio and television; her capacities in those mediums ranged from assistant director to researcher to camera operator. She combined the latter on the 15-part documentary “Portland Babies 2,” for the Discovery series.

Focus Features (www.filminfocus.com) exists to produce, acquire and distribute original and daring films that challenge the mainstream to embrace and enjoy voices and visions from around the world that deliver global commercial success.

Focus Features International is currently handling the overseas sales and distribution of, among other films, Joel and Ethan Coen’s Burn After Reading, starring George Clooney, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, Richard Jenkins, and Brad Pitt, which world-premiered as the opening-night film of the 2008 Venice International Film Festival and screens at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival this week; Lance Daly’s Kisses, which took top honors at the 2008 Galway Film Fleadh Festival and also screens at the Toronto International Film Festival this week; Andrew Fleming’s irreverent comedy Hamlet 2, starring Steve Coogan; Fernando Meirelles’ Blindness, starring Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo, which world-premiered as the opening-night film of the 2008 Cannes International Film Festival; Shane Acker’s animated fantasy epic 9, starring Elijah Wood and Jennifer Connelly; writer/director Jim Jarmusch’s new film, tentatively titled The Limits of Control, starring Isaach De Bankolé; Chris Nahon’s Blood: The Last Vampire, based on the best-selling comic book; Lucrecia Martel’s La mujer sin cabeza [Headless Woman], which world-premiered at the 2008 Cannes International Film Festival; Carlos Cuarón’s Rudo y Cursi, starring Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna; AGORA, an historical epic from Academy Award-winning filmmaker Alejandro Amenábar (The Sea Inside) starring Academy Award winner Rachel Weisz; Brandon Camp’s Traveling, starring Jennifer Aniston and Aaron Eckhart; Pedro Almodóvar’s new film Broken Embraces, starring Penélope Cruz; a contemporary comedy directed by Academy Award winner Sam Mendes and starring John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph; Taking Woodstock, the new film from Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee; and Gus Van Sant’s Milk, starring Sean Penn as Harvey Milk.

Focus Features is part of NBC Universal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. Formed in May 2004 through the combining of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, NBC Universal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. NBC Universal is 80% owned by General Electric and 20% owned by Vivendi.

#                                                                #                                                                #

Contact:    Adriene Bowles; Harlan Gulko           
FOCUS FEATURES/818-777-7499; 818-777-7346

V.J. Carbone
FOCUS FEATURES/212-539-4055

Karen Finnegan
FOCUS FEATURES INTERNATIONAL/44-207-307-5591

Comment And Interact »