30 March, 2012

Woody Targets Copenhagen

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

Woody Allen could be looking to continue his tour of great European capitals, a critically acclaimed and financially successful late phase in his astonishing film career. The Oscar-winning director, who just won an award last month for his original screenplay for MIDNIGHT IN PARIS (the biggest box office hit of his career), is reportedly eyeing Copenhagen as the location for his next, still-untitled feature. This has not been confirmed by Allen’s production company, but if it is true, it would be the master filmmaker’s first film set in Denmark.

After decades of being the quintessential New York filmmaker, whose films virtually represent Manhattan to the rest of the world, Allen has found inspiration (and new sources of foreign financing) in the past decade by setting his films in Europe. It all began with MATCH POINT, set in London, and has included YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER, also set in the British capital; as well as the Paris of MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, the Spanish setting of VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA and his upcoming feature NERO FIDDLES, which takes place in the ancient city of Rome. The latter film features an American and Italian ensemble cast that includes Ellen Page, Penelope Cruz, Roberto Benigni, Alec Baldwin, Judy Davis, Ornella Muti, Isabella Ferrari and Jesse Eisenberg. The film is currently in post-production and set to open in the United States via Sony Pictures Classics in mid-June. It is almost certain that the the film will premiere at May’s Cannes Film Festival. According to Danish sources, Letty Aronson, Woody’s sister and producer of all of Allen’s European-set features, is in talks with Danish producer Per Holst (PELLE THE CONQUEROR) for a planned 2013 shoot in the Danish capital.

28 March, 2012

Sexy Period Drama Gets U.S. Release

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

Magnolia Pictures will be releasing the sexy period film BEL AMI in the United States. The film, starring Robert Pattinson, Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Christina Ricci, and Colm Meaney, had its World Premiere in the Official Selection of last month’s Berlin International Film Festival. In this sexy retelling of Guy de Maupassant’s classic tale of blackmail, manipulation, and social-climbing, set against 19th century Paris, Pattinson stars as the young and very ambitious George Duroy, who discovers that his unadulterated passion and seduction skills with influential Parisian ladies (Ricci, Thurman, and Thomas), above-all, is the fastest and most effective way to the upper echelons of the society he so desperately wants to control. Directed by Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod, the film was adapted by Rachel Bennette. It will be released in the United States in early June.

26 March, 2012

NDNF Full Of European Talents

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

With record warm temperatures bringing early blossoms to New York, the surest sign yet that winter is over and spring is here is the appearance this week of New Directors/New Films, one of the city’s most provocative film festivals, co-presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Film Department of the Museum of Modern Art. Culling the gems from previous festivals (Sundance and Berlin especially), with a focus on first-time directors, this year’s edition is essential viewing and a great way to check the pulse of the indie and international film world (which, I am happy to report, is strong). NDNF runs from March 21 to April 1, with screenings at both MoMA and Lincoln Center.

Amidst the 29 features (24 narrative, 5 documentaries) and 12 short films from 28 countries, NDNF highlights a strong roster of European films and co-productions, most being feature debuts or second films. Here are some of the highlights of this year’s event with descriptions provided by NDNF. To see the full line-up and follow interviews and other details, visit:

BREATHING (Karl Markovics)

The remarkably assured directorial debut from veteran Austrian actor Karl Markovics (best known for The Counterfeiters) creates an interplay between the perilousness of youth and the inevitability of death. Roman is an inmate at a juvenile detention center whose last hope of parole rests on his ability to hold down a job, in this case as a morgue assistant. A chance observation of a body bag sparks the first bit of initiative in a previously aimless life, but a brief reunion with his wayward mother further stymies his search for a sense of purpose. As Roman attempts to connect with a life hanging in the balance, his work leads to remorse, horror, and ultimately a glimmer of illumination. A Kino Lorber release.

DONOMA (Djinn Carrénard, France)

Rumored to have been shot for about $200, DONOMA announces the arrival of an intriguing new talent on the French scene, Haitian-born, Paris based Djinn Carrénard. Devised, shot (often guerrilla-style) and edited over a period of years, the film is a choral piece that chronicles the romantic destinies of three women, offering a fresh, funny portrait of an emerging French generation.

5 BROKEN CAMERAS (Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi, Palestine/Israel/France)

Emad Burnat’s and Guy Davidi’s documentary began five years ago in the Palestinian town of Bil’in when Burnat bought a camera to record the birth of his son Gibreel. Gibreel’s arrival, however, coincided with a period of great unrest in the area, which is witnessed by five video cameras, each subsequently damaged by bullets or rocks. A Kino Lorber release.

GENERATION P (Victor Ginzburg, Russia)

Ginzburg’s GENERATION P could be described as a metaphysical Mad Men from the go-go 1990s – a wonderland of images and ideas that emerged from the rebirth of a nation as a marketer’s paradise. The film offers a “view” of post-Communist Russia as the arrival of democracy and Pepsi-Cola brought the advance of capitalism with all of its mechanisms and fuzzy messages.

HEMEL (Sacha Polak, The Netherlands/Spain)

A sexually aggressive woman is a dangerous thing — or at least that’s what we’ve been led to believe. Images of the vamp, the damaged innocent, and the prostitute are staples of cinema, but what about the woman who uses sex as a distraction or comfort and isn’t hung up on emotional attachments? Filmmakers have largely ignored her story. This is what makes Hemel such a discovery. Hannah Hoekstra plays a strongwilled, complicated, and vulnerable heroine who longs (perhaps too much) to connect with her elusive father and ultimately find herself. The film follows her raw investigation of both physical and intellectual intimacy.

IT LOOKS PRETTY FROM A DISTANCE (Anka and Wilhelm Sasnal, Poland)

A Polish village virtually cut off from civilization and seemingly on the verge of dissolution serves as the setting for this brooding, almost wordless drama. The rough and impassive Pawel makes a living scavenging for scrap metal. There’s bad blood between him and the “community”.

OMAR KILLED ME (Roschdy Zem, France)

Actor-turned-director Roschdy Zem’s OMAR KILLED ME tells a story of racism, politics, and injustice with the clarity of a documentary and the pacing of a thriller. When a rich widow was murdered in the south of France 20 years ago, her Moroccan gardener was convicted and jailed with no evidence; it took a committed journalist to try to unravel the rush to judgment that laid bare the racism that was hidden in the French justice system.

OSLO, AUGUST 31ST (Joachim Trier, Norway)

Daylight lingers at the end of August in Oslo, but sunlight is not a friend to Anders, a semi-recovered addict, facing a new life, which may not be appealing without former habits. Adapted from the same novel as Louis Malle’s THE FIRE WITHIN (1963), Joachim Trier’s OSLO, AUGUST 31ST follows Anders as he tries to adjust – making love, wandering through Oslo, having a job interview, seeing old friends, and trying to get comfortable with his situation. A Strand Releasing Film.

TEDDY BEAR (Mads Matthiesen, Denmark)

This teddy bear is quite a sight: a gentle giant of a bodybuilder named Dennis, who sculpts his muscles by day and lives quietly at home with his mom at night. At 38, Dennis wants a girlfriend badly, and despite his mother’s resistance (she is a master of emotional manipulation) and his own profound awkwardness, he leaves on a journey to Thailand to find his true emotional core.

THE AMBASSADOR (Mads Brugger, Denmark)

The consummate agent-provocateur–his method fittingly described as “Graham Greene meets Borat”–Brügger (THE RED CHAPEL, NDNF 2010) shocks and mightily entertains by performing an artistic intervention in reality using role-playing and hidden cameras to expose an awful truth.

THE MINISTER (Pierre Schöller, France)

French politicians have been in the news a lot lately, making this breathless political thriller especially timely. A cabinet minister in charge of national transportation believes himself to be a man of the people. He wants to be good, but in order to get anything done he must compromise, cajole, bend, and even betray.

THE RABBI'S CAT (Joann Sfar & Antoine Delesvaux, France/Austria)

Adapted from the graphic novels of Joann Sfar, The Rabbi’s Cat is a vivid, lively, and imaginative animated film co-directed by Sfar and Antoine Delesvaux. The story takes place once upon a time (not too long ago) in Algiers, where Jewish and Islamic communities existed in relative peace and rabbis and mullahs could be friends.

TWILIGHT PORTRAIT (Angelina Nikonova, Russia)

Twilight Portrait is a powerhouse collaboration co-written and co-produced by Angelina Nikonova, who directed, and Olga Dihovichnaya, who stars in this dark, provocative, and constantly surprising debut feature. In a modern Russian city where corruption, apathy, and class warfare are the norm, a woman is raped, rather casually, by the police. What follows explodes the conventions of sexual politics and will certainly have viewers talking. This staggering film features great performances and an unvarnished view of life in the age of Putin.

WHERE DO WE GO NOW? (Nadine Labaki, France/Lebanon/Italy)

Women of different religions in a remote Lebanese village band together and invent schemes to prevent their men from killing each other in the intractable religious conflict that surrounds their community. This entertaining and unlikely near-musical tears down stereotypes of women in the Middle East and uses humor to explore serious subjects, with one eye toward Aristophanes’ Lysistrata and the other toward Bollywood. Winning audience awards at the Toronto and San Sebastian Film Festivals after a successful premiere in Cannes, Labaki’s follow-up to the delicious Caramel is refreshing and unflinching.

23 March, 2012

French Epic Opens San Francisco Film Festival

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

The 55th edition of North America’s oldest film event, the San Francisco International Film Festival, will open on April 19 with the French period epic FAREWELL MY QUEEN, directed by the prolific Benoît Jacquot. The film is an atmospheric historical drama about the turmoil at the court of Versailles in the early days of the French revolution, with German superstar Diane Kruger as Queen Marie Antoinette and Léa Seydoux as her reader and confidante. The film will screen at the historic Castro Theater, with the director and special guests expected to attend, followed by the Opening Night Party at San Francisco’s chic art gallery, Terra. The film opened the Berlin International Film Festival in February and was also featured in the Rendez-Vous With French Cinema program at the Film Society of Lincoln Center earlier this month. It will hit U.S. theaters via distributor Cohen Media Group in May. For information on the full SFIFF program and other events coordinated by the San Francisco Film Society, visit:

21 March, 2012

Louisiana Film Prize Open To All

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

In the last few years of the economic downturns, individual states in the USA have been offering strong incentives to international producers and filmmakers to come to their communities to shoot and even post-produce their films. The state of Louisiana has been particularly aggressive in attracting these, with generous tax incentives, on location shoots and use of their actors, technicians and production services. Now the city of Shreveport in the northwestern part of the state is enticing international filmmakers with a prize. The inaugural Louisiana Film Prize pays out a grand total of USD $50,000 (35,000 Euros) and invites filmmakers from all over the world to create and present a short film under one condition – it must be shot in the Shreveport-Bossier area.

Filmmakers have until July 9, 2012 to submit their film. Each filmmaker will be provided with an ambassador, to guide them to find the appropriate resources and aids to help with production, housing, promotional events and other needs during their stay. On August 9, 2012, the top 20 films will be selected to screen as part of the LA Film Prize Festival Weekend, October 5-7, 2012. The grand prize winner will be chosen based on the votes of a panel of expert judges from all over the country and the festival audience.

The film community in Shreveport-Bossier in Northwest Louisiana has rapidly expanded, with more than 100 films and television shows shooting on location in the past 5 years. Recent shoots have included the films THE GUARDIAN, BATTLE LOS ANGELES, THE MIST, LEAVES OF GRASS, DRIVE ANGRY, SUPER and STRAW DOGS, to name a few. Shreveport is also home to Moonbot Studios, who recently won their first Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film with THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE. The community offers great locations at low cost, as well as four sound stages, full grip/electric rental facilities, local camera rentals, experienced crew, and a wide base of talent.

The initiative is headed by filmmaker Gregory Kallenberg, whose latest film HAYNESVILLE: A NATION’S HUNT FOR AN ENERGY FUTURE premiered at the SXSW Film Festival. After touring the world, talking about the importance of moving towards a cleaner energy future, Kallenberg returned to his home in Shreveport, Louisiana and became a part of a vibrant, emerging film community. For more information on the Louisiana Film Prize contest and festival, visit:

19 March, 2012

Portugese Film Coming To USA

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

Adopt Films, the new distribution shingle headed by co-managing executives Jeff Lipsky and Tim Grady, has acquired all U.S. rights to Portuguese director Miguel Gomes’s prize-winning film TABU, the fledgling company’s fourth acquisition out of the recent Berlin Film Festival. Stunningly beautiful and lushly romantic, TABU explores an impossible love affair in colonial Africa. The film won this year’s Alfred Bauer Prize, awarded in memory of the Berlin Film Festival’s founder, for a work of particular innovation, as well as the FIPRESCI International Critics Prize. Adopt, which plans to release the film in late December with a national roll-out in early 2013, is now strategizing for the release of its other Berlinale titles, including Golden Bear winner CAESAR MUST DIE, Silver Bear for Best Director winner Christian Petzold’s BARBARA, and Silver Bear winner Ursula Meier’s SISTER.

16 March, 2012

Retrospective Of Russian Master

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

The Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York has announced that it will screen the full oeuvre of Russian filmmaker Aleksei Guerman, whose films have rarely played outside the borders of his native country. The series, entitled War and Remembrance: The Films of Aleksei Guerman, will screen at the Walter Reade Theater from March 14 to 20. This is the first North American retrospective for the Russian filmmaker, who Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Associate Director of Programming, Scott Foundas described as “one of the masters of contemporary world cinema, but whose films have been nearly impossible to see in the West. We are particularly excited to be able to present Guerman’s debut feature, THE SEVENTH COMPANION, and his masterpiece, TRIAL ON THE ROAD, in new 35mm prints made expressly for this series.”

Guerman’s films–five features to date, all shot in stunning black-and-white and staged in complex, obsessively detailed tracking shots that rank with the best of Scorsese and De Palma–have long been championed by a small but enthusiastic cult of admirers, including the programmers of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, who selected MY FRIEND IVAN LAPSHIN for the 1987 edition of New Directors/New Films and KHRUSTALYOV, MY CAR! for the 1998 New York Film Festival. For more information on the series, visit:

14 March, 2012

Miami Film Festival Winners

BONSAI (Cristian Jimenez, Chile)

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

After 9 days of film screenings and special events, the 29th edition of the Miami International Film Festival presented its closing awards ceremony at the historic Olympia Theater of The Gusman Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Miami. A special A special screening of the US Premiere of Sebastián Borensztein’s CHINESE TAKE-AWAY, starring Argentine superstar Ricardo Darín, followed the ceremony.



Grand Jury Prize:

BONSAI (Cristian Jimenez), a co-production of Chile, Argentina, Portugal and France. A $30,000 USD cash prize awarded by the Miami-based John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which will be split with US distributor Strand Releasing.

Grand Jury Discretionary Prize:

BLOOD OF MY BLOOD (João Canijo, Portugal). A $5,000 USD cash prize awarded by the Miami-based John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Grand Jury Discretionary Prize:

VIOLETA WENT TO HEAVEN (Andrés Wood), a co-production between Chile, Argentina and Brazil. A $5,000 USD cash prize awarded by the Miami-based John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.


Grand Jury Prize:

THE IMPOSTER (Bart Layton, United Kingdom). A $10,000 USD cash prize awarded by the Miami-based John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Honorable Mentions:

UNFINISHED SPACES (Alysa Nahmias and Benjamin Murray, USA)

THE STRAWBERRY TREE (Simone Rapisarda Casanova, Canada)


BONSAI (Cristián Jiménez)
, a co-production with Chile, Argentina, Portugal and France, based on the novel by Alejandro Zambra. A $5,000 USD cash prize awarded by the Jordan Alexander Ressler Charitable Fund.


EXPIRATION DATE (Kenya Márquez, Mexico). A $5,000 USD cash prize sponsored by Lexus, official automotive sponsor of MIFF.

12 March, 2012

The Enfant Terrible Of Polish Cinema

Isabelle Adjani and Sam Neill in POSSESSION

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

Dubbed the enfant terrible of Polish cinema, Andrzej Zulawski is one of the most controversial and polarizing filmmakers in the world. His work is not as well known in the United States as that of Kieslowski, Polanski, Holland and other Polish auteurs. Well, the BAMcinématek, the arthouse treasure at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York City's coolest borough, is currently presenting the first US retrospective of the uncompromising auteur’s complete work.

Zulawski worked both in his native Poland and in France, where he lived for many years while encountering resistance from the Polish authorities to make his unique and underlying subversive cinema. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Polish-born filmmaker became a box office phenomenon in France with a series of sexually erotic and morally provocative films that features some of the biggest stars of French cinema. The films were barely seen outside of Europe, although they did develop a cult following in the United States because of their explicit nudity and eroticism.

In the retrospective program, these qualities are revealed in such films as L'IMPORTANT C'EST D'AIMER (1975), a film that earned actress Romy Schneider as Cesar award as Best Actress for her role as a soft-core porn actress; POSSESSION (1981), one of the early hits for iconic French actress Isabelle Adjani, who won the Cannes Film Festival award for Best Actress for her portrait of a married woman with a love on the side; and LA FEMME PUBLIQUE (1984) with Valerie Kaprisky starring as an actress involved in a sado-masochistic relationship with her manipulative director.

The series includes two rare, early shorts Zulawski directed for Polish television (PAVONCELLO and THE SONG OF TRIUMPHANT LOVE), along with a new 35mm print of his first feature, THE THIRD PART OF THE NIGHT. The series, which runs through March 20 and will tour the United States afterwards, is presented in partnership with the Polish Cultural Institute New York and the Cinefamily. Additional support comes from the Polish Film Institute, The Polish Film Archive, and Cultural Services of the French Embassy.

09 March, 2012

Acclaimed Greek Film Finally Opens

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

Greece has, of course, been in the news lately, for its economic travails and rioting in the streets. But something else is happening in the southern European nation....a film renaissance that is bringing something unique to international film festivals and screens. One of the finer examples of this trend is ATTENBERG,the acclaimed 2010 film by writer/director/producer Athina Rachel Tsangari. The film made its international debut at the 2010 Venice Film Festival, where it won several awards. The North American premiere was at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, and the film has charmed festival audiences in North America for the past year, before finally opening theatrically today in New York via specialty distributor Strand Releasing.

In this wonderfully deadpan, surprisingly touching tale from the burgeoning new Greek cinema (and the country’s official submission to the 2012 Oscars), awkward 23-year-old Marina is stuck in a dead-end seaside town. She passes the days watching David Attenborough nature documentaries and listening to Suicide songs, but relationships with her ailing father, promiscuous friend Bella and a visiting engineer (DOGTOOTH director Yorgos Lanthimos) push her into contact with the strange and funny world of adulthood.

The film opens in limited release at the IFC Center in downtown Manhattan and will be slowly opened wider in the weeks ahead. That such an acclaimed film took almost two years to reach American screens is frustrating, but it is finally here for adventurous audiences to discover and cherish. In the time it took to finally get seen on the big screen here, Tsangari has produced two films, the 2011 film ALPS and the recent PEAR BLOSSOM HIGHWAY. Hopefully it will not take as long for these films to hit American shores.

07 March, 2012

Brit Musical At SXSW

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

The South By Southwest Film Festival and Conference (SXSW) is rather dominated by American independent features, documentaries and shorts. However, there is a smattering of European titles spread among the various program strands. One of the most anticipated is the UK musical drama HUNKY DORY, directed by Marc Evans, and featuring a cast that includes Minnie Driver, Aneurin Barnard, Danielle Branch and Robert Pugh. In the film, set during the summer of 1976, a drama teacher fights sweltering heat and general teenage apathy to put on an end of year music version of Shakespeare’s THE TEMPEST. To engage her students, she uses hits of the time, which are performed by a fresh young cast led by screen find Aneurin Barnard. What emerges is a funny and tender tale reflecting the high school experience itself in which the kids’ voices add a particular poignancy and beauty to some familiar classic tunes, making the film a nostalgia trip for the older audience members and a fresh introduction to some classic pop to the younger cinema goers. The film's GLEE like atmosphere could very well help it find a North American distribution deal.

Director Marc Evans had his first success with MY LITTLE EYE, a UK indie film. A psychological thriller followed, the Warner Brothers’ film TRAUMA starring Colin Firth and Mena Suvari. In 2007, he scored with SNOW CAKE, starring Alan Rickman, Sigourney Weaver and Carrie-Anne Moss, which opened the Berlin Film Festival before going on to international success. The film was produced by the Aegis Film Fund and first premiered at the London Film Festival. The international sales agent is London-based Independent Film Company (www.independentfilmcompany).

05 March, 2012

Russia Opening U.S. Promotion Agency

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

Roskino, formerly known as Sovexportfilm, has decided to open up a full time promotion office in Los Angeles to promote the Soviet film industry in the USA and to create more opportunities for co-productions and co-ventures. The new Russian Film Commission will be looking to build relationships with US distributors for Russian films and to promote Russia as a filming location. Sergei Rakhlin, a prominent Los Angeles based Russian journalist and board member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association that presents the Golden Globes, will serve as Director of the Russian Film Commission Office. In addition to networking, the new office will create screening programs, panel discussions, cultural exchanges, and eventually host a Russian Film Week, to expose the newest talents emerging on the Russian film landscape.

01 March, 2012

All Hail Harvey, The Awards King

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

If one took a survey of the word that was uttered the most times during the past few months of this grueling and never-ending awards season, it would be a single name “Harvey”. That name, sort of like Madonna, Prince or Elvis, is all that one needs to identify the American distribution mogul Harvey Weinstein, who has re-emerged as the awards king following the big Oscar, Independent Spirit and guild award wins for his films THE ARTIST, THE IRON LADY, MY WEEK WITH MARILYN and the documentary UNDEFEATED. This harkens back to the mid-1990s, when King Harvey reigned supreme at his legendary and revolutionary company Miramax, with wins by such films as PULP FICTION, THE ENGLISH PATIENT and SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE. He may have suffered the loss of his Miramax kingdom (which became a fiefdom of Disney and then slipped outside his grasp) and the lean years when his newly patented The Weinstein Company came into existence, but King Harvey is back with a vengeance, man, and his grizzled face as an awards king is one that will stick around for the foreseeable future.

Not to take away anything from the merits of THE ARTIST, a film with oodles of charm, pathos and likeability, but this was a really unlikely awards winner when it got its first standing ovations at the Cannes Film Festival last May. The film was picked up by Weinstein almost a month before, but even he had to wonder if mainstream audiences and jaded critics would be wowed by a silent film that is not light on melodrama and that so conspicuously wears its heart on its sleeve. Critics being the cynics that they are could easily have savaged the film (as a few did) but King Harvey must have sensed that this was a film that had it all…..audience accessibility, true technical prowess, enchanting performances, wild-eyed commitment of its filmmakers and a clear valentine to the power and mystery of the movies itself. In retrospect, his bet that the film could go all the way seems prescient, but it certainly has done that, winning major awards in America, its native France, and even at last Saturday’s Independent Spirit Awards, where it grabbed major prizes for Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Cinematography and got instant American indie cred in the process. Can a film be hailed as being oh so French, oh so Hollywood and oh so American indie at the same time? In theory, no…..but that did not stop Harvey Weinstein and his crackerjack team from making THE ARTIST a chameleon to be appreciated by all sides at once. All this attention will of course raise the bar for the box office take for the film, which already is at $80 million worldwide and assured of much more loot in the weeks to come.

While THE ARTIST was the major juggernaut of King Harvey’s attention, he also was able to elevate films that received less than stellar reviews (and did not make it on to most critics top ten lists) into important films of the season. MY WEEK WITH MARILYN did not win Oscars for its two nominees, Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh, but has emerged as one of the top indie grossers of the year ($25 million worldwide and still in wide release). THE IRON LADY, which won Meryl Streep her third Oscar (and made film history for a 30 year spread of wins since her last one in 1982 with SOPHIE’S CHOICE), was rather savaged by film critics who praised the performance but pitied the film, but will still goose the box office take of a film that has already taken in $60 million worldwide. W.E., the romantic pastiche directed by Madonna that has been almost universally panned by critics, did at least surface at both the Golden Globes and Oscars. And the Harvey magic even worked to elevate UNDEFEATED, a feel good sports film that did not have the love of the documentary community (the film did not appear at the International Documentary Awards or any major documentary film festivals) into another Oscar winner. The film’s inspirational message will now find a much wider audience as the Weinstein Company takes it into wider theatrical release.

The big question is whether King Harvey will continue his awards alchemy success into the coming year. He is overseeing the release of such films as INTOUCHABLES, a French box office hit that won for its lead a Best Actor Cesar Award last week; BACHELORETTE, an adaptation of an off-Broadway satirical hit with a winning all female cast that was received with mixed reviews at its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January; LAY THE FAVORITE, the latest film from veteran director Stephen Frears about the Las Vegas betting world with an intriguing cast headed by Bruce Willis, Rebecca Hall and Catherine Zeta-Jones that also got little love at its Sundance premiere; THE MASTER, the newest film from Paul Thomas Anderson that takes a veiled look at L. Ron Hubbard, the founder/head priest of the Church of Scientology, with a stellar cast that includes Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Joaquin Phoenix and Laura Dern; THE WETTEST COUNTY, a Depression-era set gangster film set to star Gary Oldman, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hardy and Guy Pearce; COGAN’S TRADE, another mobster-oriented flick set in the world of underground gambling, with a high powered cast that boasts Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta, James Gandolfini and Sam Shepard; and the latest genre-bending phenomenon from Quentin Tarantino, the spaghetti western-tinged DJANGO UNCHAINED, with a cast that includes the likes of Leonardo Di Caprio, Samuel L. Jackson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Sacha Baron Cohen, Kurt Russell, Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz. These may be some of the titles leading next year’s awards season juggernaut, if King Harvey has something to say about it (and believe me, he will).