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THE WIND THAT SHAKE THE BARLEY
For more than 40 years Ken Loach has been creating films that have meat with acclaim, outrage and controversy, often all at once. He has echewed overtures from Hollywood and honors from the British government, choosing instead to remain a deliberate outsider to the film community and to his country. His greatest films (Kes, Raining Stones, Land And Freedom, My Name Is Joe) focus on the personal and
political, and the impossibility of separating the two. In his latest, The Wind That Shakes The Barley, Cillian Murphy is one of two brothers who are first brought together by war, and then torn apart by it. It has not only been heralded as one of the best films of the year, but also as one of Loach's best films yet. Even against stiff competition from much hyped films like Pan's Labyrinth, Babel, and Volver, The Wind was awarded the Golden Palm at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival.

EXTERMINATING ANGELS (Les Anges Exterminateurs)
France's Enfant Terrible Jean-Claude Brisseau first crashed onto screens with the critical and popular success Sound and Fury, a film that saw him immediately labeled "realist", and a director concerned with "social Issues". He more or less proceeded to trump this label, confounding many by making highly stylized and violent films that often veer to surrealism and worship the female form. Following his success with 2004's controversial SECRET THINGS (voted best film of the year by prestigious CAHIER DU CINEMA) he returns with EXTERMINATING ANGELS (Les Anges Exterminateurs). A semi-autobiographical tale of a filmmaker driven to distraction by the actresses he auditions, Angels examines the thin line between director and voyeur. As the main character is destroyed by the very women he is accused of sexually harassing, it becomes unclear exactly who the victim is in the end. Lush, shocking and blackly humorous, Brisseau's latest is further proof of his mastery over the most outrageous material, and a must-see film to boot.

SXSW BRIEF
The two words I was hearing on everyone's lips here in Austin - at least on Friday and Saturday - were spring and break, and it was difficult to respond to this with anything but full and enthusiastic agreement. Given the sunny 80-degree weather, and Austin's slacker charm welcoming the mass of excited filmmakers and industry attendees, the vacation connotation was obvious. Despite the casual vibe here, navigating SXSW is not for the laid-back. With a strong lineup of concurrent premieres, panels and films in competition (and with theaters filling up quickly) attendees have their hands full. The pre-screening and sidewalk chatter is overwhelmingly positive, and there's simply more to see than time permits.

 
     
 

CANNES DO SPIRIT
Over at their MySpace page, the American Pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival is announcing the First Annual American Pavilion Student Filmmaker Program Short Film Contest (whew!). The deadline is March 9, and submitted films should tackle the question, "How will Cannes 07 change your life?" The prize? A trip to the Cannes Film Festival. For more info, click on the MySpace page above or visit the American Pavilion website.

 
     

STAIR MASTER
Joe Swanberg's latest picture, Hannah Takes the Stairs, premiered here at SXSW tonight (it's not in Competition, so I missed it -- I'm on the jury and was watching another film at the time) -- and Ray Pride has a mammoth interview up with the director. Here Swanberg talks about how he developed the film and got it produced following a meeting with producer Anish Savjanti here at the festival last year...

Read the complete stories at Filmmakermagazine's Blog...

   

BATTLE TESTED - By Jason Guerrasio
“Zack Snyder brings Frank Miller’s ultraviolent graphic novel, 300, to life with amazing special effects and non-stop action.

It’s been two years since Sin City introduced audiences to the world of Frank Miller. Under the direction of Robert Rodriguez, who shot actors using blue screen technology and then added the computer-generated backgrounds in post, Miller’s graphic novel made it to celluloid as a depraved trio of vignettes that both updated film noir and pointed towards a new way of making motion pictures. Now director Zack Snyder (2004’s Dawn of the Dead), employing the same production method as Rodriguez, takes on Miller’s 300, a blood-soaked retelling of the battle of Thermopylae. The result is as breathtaking to watch as it is entertaining...

Click here for the rest of the article

 

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