Weekly Roundup: Cannes moves to summer, Sundance gets rolling, and Cicely Tyson won’t be forgotten

Your handy one-stop-shop for film news, interviews, articles, and videos from the week that was.

The spring of 2020 saw Cannes employing a defiant “the show must go on” attitude, insisting that they’d stage an in-person festival and announcing a series of postponements until they ultimately cancelled. (Of course, that didn’t stop them from staging an elaborate ceremony to unveil the films that would’ve been in their lineup.) This year, they’ve acted more decisively and moved their event from May to July. This shift will invariably cause ripple effects throughout the fall festival season but it’s been met with enthusiasm by the film industry.

Of course, there’s still some business to be tended to with the 2020 film year. Namely: having several more voting bodies announce who they’ve determined to be the “best” in various categories. While the Oscar nominees won’t be announced until March 15, the Independent Spirit Awards have unveiled their ballot. Eliza Hittman’s Never Rarely Sometimes Always leads the pack with seven nominations, while Minari and Nomadland also put in strong showings. (Vancouver audiences should finally have the chance to see those films in the next few weeks.)

Hittman’s film premiered at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, where it claimed its first accolade: a Special Jury Award for Neorealism. This year’s edition of the preeminent American festival is now underway, albeit with attendees tuning in from the comfort of their own homes rather than braving the snowy streets of Park City. There’s no shortage of press on the year’s first major film festival, including IndieWire‘s Sundance bible, which includes their reviews, interviews and features.

Ninja Thyberg’s boundary pushing Pleasure is one of the Sundance titles amassing buzz in advance of its world premiere. Originally destined for Cannes 2020, the film examines gender roles and power dynamics in the adult film industry. In an interview with Screen’s Wendy Mitchell, the Swedish director explains, “We’re literally turning the camera around to show the other angle. I wanted the scenes with sex workers to be about something else than what people expect.”

As Sundance was getting rolling on Thursday, news broke that pioneering actress Cicely Tyson had passed away at the age of 96. Writing for The New York Times, Robert D. McFadden recounts, “In a remarkable career of seven decades, Ms. Tyson broke ground for serious Black actors by refusing to take parts that demeaned Black people. She urged Black colleagues to do the same, and often went without work. She was critical of films and television programs that cast Black characters as criminal, servile or immoral, and insisted that African-Americans, even if poor or downtrodden, should be portrayed with dignity.”

Having screened as part of last festivals short forum, Will Niava’s ZOO now gets the Criterion treatment. The short is paired with Michael Haneke’s Code Unknown on the Criterion Channel while Will sits down with Alex Proulx to discuss his immigration from Ghana to Canada, police brutality and the making of his powder keg film. “With everything happening in the States these last years, I wanted to talk about abuse of power from a Montreal point of view. These things happen in Canada, but they’re always hushed. You’ll never see anything on the news. You’ll only find out if someone happens to capture an incident on their phone or from your barbershop. My barbershop’s where I hear all the stories about people being harassed by cops or the metro police.”

Finally, the National Film Board marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Wednesday by releasing Daniel Schubert’s Martha. Schubert’s short documentary traces his grandmother’s journey from Auschwitz to Winnipeg and crafts a portrait of an indomitable survivor.

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