Layla A. Jones
You may recognize the names Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady for their work on such documentaries as “Jesus Camp” and “Detropia.” For their most recently released work, a short documentary chronicling American kids using technology to connect with adolescents in other countries, the filmmaking duo came to Philadelphia.
“The World Is As Big or As Small As You Make It” began as a 140-character essay entry and was created with money from a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Sundance Institute. It follows children living in North Philadelphia (one young woman mentions a playground at 12th and Susquehanna streets) who are involved in a local program called Do Remember Me.
Sannii Crespina-Flores, who runs Do Remember Me, takes resources a lot of children already have — iPhones, iPads and the like — and helps children use them to explore the outside world. The kids video chat with others in Paris, Kazakhstan, Tanzania and other countries and learn about other cultures while exploring their similarities. One student in Paris shows some boys in North Philly his beat-boxing skills. In return, a group of Philadelphia dancers show the Parisian kids a routine. At one point, a boy from Philadelphia whispers, “Do y’all have any girlfriends?” to a group of Parisian students. During that same exchange, the cross-country communicators connect on Instagram.
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Disney and Lucasfilm have tapped Oscar-nominated actress Felicity Jones to star in the "Star Wars" standalone movie from director Gareth Edwards.
Jones was one of several actresses to have met for the role, along with Rooney Mara and Tatiana Maslany.
Edwards ("Godzilla") is directing the 3D feature, with Chris Weitz penning the script. Weitz replaced Gary Whitta, who wrote the first version of the screenplay.
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Consumers still haven't grown cold on "Frozen."
The movie, which became the highest-grossing animated film after its release in November 2013, continues to play for Disney, this time in the retail aisle.
Merchandise tied to the toon was a significant seller for Disney, especially its Disney Stores, during the holidays, with the company's consumer products division reporting a 22% boost in revenue and profits by 46% during the Mouse House's first quarter of fiscal 2015, which ended Dec. 27.
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Warner Bros. has moved its reboot of "Point Break" back nearly five months from July 31 to Christmas -- essentially swapping dates with Tom Cruise's "Mission: Impossible 5."
The action-thriller, starring Edgar Ramirez (pictured above) and Luke Bracey, is directed by Ericson Core from Kurt Wimmer's screenplay. Ramirez plays the part portrayed by Patrick Swayze in the 1991 original, while Bracey plays Johnny Utah, originally acted by Keanu Reeves.
Warner Bros. made the move a week after Paramount decided to move "Mission: Impossible 5" forward from Christmas to July 31.
Terry Gross from NPR’s program, “Fresh Air,” sat down with Bradley Cooper recently and discussed not only his role as Chris Kyle in “American Sniper,” but how he’s responded to the criticism surrounding the film.
Right off the bat, Gross asks Cooper if he was expecting this film to become a “cultural lightning rod.”
“Absolutely not. No, I did not at all think anyone could foresee something like that,” Cooper acknowledged.
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Charlie Hunnam will star in James Gray's "Lost City of Z" opposite Sienna Miller and Robert Pattinson. The project has just locked down financing from MICA Entertainment.
Sierra/Affinity will continue international sales at the Berlin Film Festival this week. CAA represents domestic rights.
Production is expected to start this summer. The project is based on David Grann's 2009 book of the same name.
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl," Alfonso Gomez-Rejon's visually inventive comedy-drama about the friendship between a misfit teenager and a classmate diagnosed with leukemia, received both the grand jury prize and the audience award at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival on Saturday night. Part cancer-themed tearjerker and part tribute to obsessive movie love, "Me and Earl" was acquired by Fox Searchlight earlier this week in one of the festival's biggest deals.
This marks the third year in a row that one movie has taken both top prizes at Sundance, following the lead of "Fruitvale Station" in 2013 and "Whiplash" last year. "Me and Earl's" victory was even more noteworthy given what many considered one of the stronger U.S. dramatic competitions in recent memory, with strong critical and audience buzz for "Dope," "The Witch" and "The Diary of a Teenage Girl," all of which also received prizes.
In addition to "Me and Earl's" big wins, the grand jury prize for U.S. documentaries went to another movie about the power of cinema and the creative instinct: "The Wolfpack," Crystal Moselle's intimate portrait of the Angulo siblings, who alleviated their confined existence by watching and reenacting movies.
Brent LangLOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - "American Sniper" is nearing the $250 million mark after picking up $31.8 million to set a new Super Bowl weekend record.
The previous high-water mark for football's big weekend was "Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour," which nabbed $31.2 million when it premiered in 2008.
If it continues on this torrid clip, Clint Eastwood's biopic of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle could challenge "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1" as the highest-grossing 2014 release and will pass "The Matrix Reloaded" to become the second-biggest R-rated release in history. It has earned $248.9 million -- an unbelievable result for an adult drama about such hard-hitting topics as war and its psychological effects.