Posts Tagged ‘Nicole Kidman’

2017 Cannes Film Festival

2017 CANNES FILM FESTIVAL WINNERS

Winners of the five main prizes at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival were as follows: –

(No film poster available for The Square)

Palm d’Or:The Square directed by Ruben Ostlund

Best Director:  Sofia CoppolaThe Beguiled starring Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning

(No film poster available for You Were Never Really Here)

Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix – You Were Never Really Here

Best Actress:  Diane Kruger –  In the Fade

Best Screenplay:  prize shared between  Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou for The Killing of a Sacred Deer

(The Killing of a Sacred Deer stars Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell)

Lynne Ramsay for You Were Never Really Here

(You Were Never Really Here also stars Alessandro Nivola, John Doman and Ekaterina Samsonov)

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2017_Cannes_Film_Festival

Finding Ganesh Talai

Lion

Director: Garth Davis

Cast: Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara, Sunny Pawar, David Wenham, Priyanka Bose, Abhishek Bharate

If child trafficking or the plight of India’s lost street children is the point of the true life drama Lion, then first time Australian director Garth Davis achieves a momentous and riveting family film made particularly poignant by the breakout performance of the young Saroo, aged five, wonderfully played with a resilience by screen newcomer Sunny Pawar.

Hindi speaking Sunny Pawar portrays the streetwise Saroo, a young Indian boy who after losing his older brother Guddu played by Abhishek Bharate on a train platform in Khandwa, central India mistakenly gets on a decommissioned train heading for Calcultta, some 1600 kilometres away from his family and his beloved mother Kamla played by Priyanka Bose. Surviving on the overcrowded and voluminous streets of Calcutta, Saroo is eventually picked up by child services and placed in a poverty stricken orphanage.

Fortunately, Saroo is adopted by an Australian couple John and Sue Brierley, played by Australian actor David Wenham (300, Public Enemies) and Oscar winner Nicole Kidman (The Hours). Fast forward roughly twenty years from 1987 to 2008 and the young man Saroo, superbly played by Dev Patel (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) who burst onto international screens in the Oscar winning smash hit film Slumdog Millionaire in 2008.

In the second half of the film, set in Tasmania, Australia where the twenty something Saroo Brierley starts questioning his real identity in a move to Melbourne where his passion to find his real mother and siblings is ignited with the help of his American girlfriend Lucy, brilliantly played by Oscar nominee Rooney Mara (Carol, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).

With the assistance of Google earth and threw a series of random calculations, Saroo manages to identify the exact train station in India where he first went missing and was fatefully separated from his birth family.

With a measured screenplay by Luke Davies coupled with stirring music by Dustin O’ Holloran and Volker Bertelmann, Lion is sure to pull at any audiences heartstrings, as the film intricately explores the issues of family, adopted or birth, identity and the continued quest to find answers.

What makes Lion so exhilarating is the first half of the film primarily focused on the harrowing experiences of young Saroo expertly acted by Sunny Pawar who takes on each challenge in Calcutta with a tenacity and bravery that a very smart young boy is known for. Lion is assisted by strong supporting roles particularly by the ever versatile Kidman as Sue Brierley whose intense scenes with her adopted son, played by Patel are electrifying.

Lion is a nuanced portrayal of one man’s search for his real identity, an emotional journey emblematic of the many train tracks he inadvertently stumbles on both literally and metaphorically.

Director Davis focuses the emotional crux of Lion on an overwhelming human desire to find meaning in one’s existence and a naturally passionate urge to reconnect with one’s birth family. This is a fascinating and complex film, beautifully shot and exceptionally well-acted by Kidman and Patel adding to its cross cultural appeal which is even more refreshing because it does not have an American context.

Lion is highly recommended viewing, an intelligent exploration of a truly extraordinary real life story spanning decades and two very different countries: India and Australia.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saroo_Brierley

 

 

Look Homeward, Angel

Genius

genius

Director: Michael Grandage

Cast: Colin Firth, Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Laura Linney, Guy Pierce, Dominic West, Vanessa Kirby

Jude Law reunites with his Cold Mountain co-star Nicole Kidman and shares the screen with Oscar winner Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) in actor turned director Michael Grandage’s handsome literary film, Genius which premiered at the 37th Durban International Film Festival – http://www.durbanfilmfest.co.za/

Genius is based upon the biography of Max Perkins written by A. Scott Berg and transformed into an enlightening screenplay by John Logan.

Set in New York in the late 1920’s and on the brink of the Great Depression, Colin Firth gives a measured and subtle performance as the literary editor Max Perkins who has to contend with the overzealous and brilliant Carolingian writer Thomas Wolfe wonderfully played by Jude Law (The Talented Mr Ripley) who has written a masterpiece, Look Homeward, Angel but needs the editing skills of the diligent Max Perkins to edit the text into a readable novel.

Perkins was responsible for editing the literary works of Ernest Hemingway played in this film by Dominic West (Testament of Youth) and F. Scott Fitzgerald post his Parisian phase, played by Guy Pearce (L.A. Confidential). Genius is the examination of a male bond and friendship which strikes up between the reserved and slightly conservative Perkins and the wild and exuberant Thomas Wolfe, whose patronage is supported by the jealous and possessive Aline Bernstein superbly played by Nicole Kidman (The Hours).

Genius is about the evolution of a literary text, from creation through editing to publication, and how that process can be fraught with distraction, despair and most importantly passion.

Perkins neglects his long suffering wife Louise played by Oscar nominee Laura Linney (Kinsey, Mr Holmes) and his family of daughters. Perkins unwittingly and perhaps subconsciously finds solace in the male friendship of the erratic and gifted Thomas Wolfe, although their affection for each other borders upon the homo-erotic, which both Aline and Louise can perceive and are certainly threatened by.

Firth wears a hat for the majority of the film and only at the end of Genius after he admits his true feelings for the incorrigible Wolfe, does he take it off. Perkin’s hat serves as a signifier of conformity in the film, despite the raging modernist and Bloomsbury movement which was engulfing Paris and London at the times. New York was still fairly conservative by European standards especially as the full effects of the Great Depression are realized by American society.

Despite an Oscar worthy cast and ambitious literary intentions, Genius is not a superb film in the same vein that The Hours was or Christopher Hampton’s Carrington, yet it is worth watching and would appeal to audiences who possess sophisticated literary tastes.

Nevertheless with polished production values, and brilliant performances by Jude Law and Nicole Kidman, Genius is an informative portrayal of a hugely talented writer Thomas Wolfe who never quite achieved the same international posthumous recognition as F. Scott Fitzgerald or Ernest Hemingway.

Genius is recommended viewing and certainly a reason to rediscover the literary works of Wolfe who wrote Look Homeward, Angel  and Of Time and The River.

Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Wolfe

Love is a Tyrant

Queen of the Desert

queen_of_the_desert

Director: Werner Herzog

Cast: Nicole Kidman, James Franco, Robert Pattinson, Damian Lewis, Jenny Agutter, David Calder, Jay Abdo, Mark Lewis Jones

German documentary filmmaker Werner Herzog directs Oscar winner Nicole Kidman (The Hours, The Paperboy) in a majestic towering role as Gertrude Bell, a fiercely independent British woman who after escaping the stifling confines of a her wealthy family estate in England travels to Arabia at the turn of the 20th century as the ruling Ottoman Empire is on the verge of collapsing.

The Arabian Peninsula especially modern day Syria and Jordan and into Iraq, 100 years ago was on the point of being carved up by the European powers with England eagerly wanting a slice of Arabia especially with their most prominent colony Egypt right next door.

Gertrude Bell, cartographer, explorer, archaeologist and traveller is first stationed in the British Embassy in Tehran, now contemporary Iran, and there she meets her escort and guardian, a junior diplomatic secretary Henry Cardogan rather underplayed by James Franco (Milk, 127 Hours) who soon declares undying love for her. Bell has to seek permission from her father for the marriage to take place and when her father refuses, Henry promptly dies in mysterious circumstances in Persia.

Bell, wonderfully played by Nicole Kidman returns to Arabia and using Amman and Damascus as a base she wilfully decides to travel through the Arabian peninsula and desert, hoping to get a more comprehensive understanding of the nomadic Bedouin tribes and who the rival Sheiks’ are.

The more Bell travels across the desert the more she realizes how complex the local political situation is. With the assistance of the quick witted and slightly effeminate T. E. Lawrence, superbly played by Robert Pattinson (Cosmopolis, Maps to the Stars, Twilight), Bell becomes an expert on the Arab people and complexities of dividing up such a huge area, for geo-political purposes.

From an ethnographic point of view, Herzog’s Queen of the Desert is a fascinating film to watch and purely interesting, especially if viewed through the current political turmoil that is sweeping parts of the Middle East, namely Syria and Iraq.

The best scenes in the film are between Kidman as the fiercely brave Bell, a statuesque blond and commanding woman who swept through Arabia unafraid of the local customs or inherent dangers and the cautious British major Charles Doughty-Wylie played by Damian Lewis of Homeland and Wolf Hall TV fame.

Not to be confused with Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, which was about Drag Queens in the Australian outback, this Queen of the Desert is a captivating and episodic historical tale of one woman’s brave adventures across the entire Arabian peninsula and her subsequent recommendations on the division of the desert into different self-governing states, namely The Kingdom of Jordan and Iraq.

Best scene in the film is the pompous photo opportunity involving Bell and Colonel T. E. Lawrence with Winston Churchill on top of camels outside the great pyramids of Giza in Egypt.

Whilst the men in Gertrude’s life fade away during the First World War, it is really Nicole Kidman’s film which makes her performance as Gertrude Bell, Queen of the Desert so admirable. Kidman’s ability to hold her own amidst such dramatic and majestic scenery, the windswept sand dunes of Arabia is reminiscent of Debra Winger’s brilliant performance in Bernardo Bertolucci’s handsome film The Sheltering Sky.

Queen of the Desert is highly recommended viewing, slightly long but nevertheless an astonishing historical portrait of a woman who shaped the future of the Arabian Peninsula.

 

Passion Drives Us

Secret in their Eyes

secret_in_their_eyes_ver5

Director: Billy Ray

Cast: Nicole Kidman, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Julia Roberts, Alfred Molina, Michael Kelly, Dean Norris, Zoe Graham, Joe Cole

Secret in Their Eyes is an American remake of the 2010 Argentinian film “El secreto de sus ojos” which won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

The director of the Spanish language film  Juan José Campanella co-writes the screenplay with Captain Philips writer Billy Ray and this new version teams up the talents of Oscar winners Nicole Kidman (The Hours) and Julia Roberts  (Erin Brockovich, Charlie Wilson’s War) with Oscar nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave).

This three handed complex murder mystery is set in Los Angeles and Ejiofor plays a Counter-Terrorism detective Ray Kasten whose allegiance to an unsolved murder case involving his partners daughter Carolyn Cobb, glimpsed in flashbacks and played by Zoe Graham last seen in Boyhood, leads him and ambitious and beautiful district attorney Claire Sloane, played by Kidman to believe that Carolyn Cobb’s killer is still out there since the case was never technically solved.

Julia Roberts plays a washed out and grim-faced detective Jess Cobb, whose only daughter was the victim of a horrific crime. Secret in Their Eyes is a tense psychological thriller with a brilliant twist at the end, although at times the action could have been more captivating.

Considering the acting talents involved, Secret in Their Eyes tends to disappoint at times as the plot, stumbles along stretched between two time periods 2002 and 2014 which makes following the narrative more difficult.

The best scene in the film is when Kidman’s character Claire is questioning the main suspect Marzin played by Joe Cole with a hint of psycho-sexual paranoia thrown in. Audiences should look out for great performances by supporting actors Alfred Molina (Abduction, Prince of Persia) as Martin Morales and Michael Kelly, last seen in Netflix’s House of Cards as Reg Siefert.

One gets the feeling that the original Argentinian film was far more riveting. Secret in Their Eyes is recommended viewing but nothing spectacular and although Roberts, Kidman and Ejiofor are superb, one gets the sense that a better director would have made this English language version more riveting and less contrived. Viewers can judge for themselves.

 

 

 

56th BAFTA Awards

THE  56TH BAFTA AWARDS /

THE BRITISH ACADEMY FILM AWARDS

Took place on the 23rd February 2003 in London

BAFTA WINNERS IN THE FILM CATEGORY:

The pianist

Best Film: The Pianist

Best Director: Roman Polanski – The Pianist

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Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis – Gangs of New York

The hours

Best Actress: Nicole Kidman – The Hours

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Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Walken –Catch Me If You Can

chicago_ver3

Best Supporting Actress: Catherine Zeta-Jones – Chicago

warrior

Best British Film: The Warrior directed by Asif Kapadia

talk_to_her

Best Original Screenplay: Talk to Her (Hable con ella) – Pedro Almodóvar

adaptation

Best Adapted Screenplay: Adaptation. – Charlie and Donald Kaufman

lord_of_the_rings_the_two_towers

Best Visual Effects: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Best Foreign Language Film: Talk to Her (Hable con ella) directed by Pedro Almodóvar (Spain)

56th BAFTA Awards

Outback Vanishing

Strangerland

strangerland_ver2

Director: Kim Farrant

Cast: Nicole Kidman, Joseph Fiennes, Hugo Weaving, Maddison Brown, Nicholas Hamilton, Sean Keenan

Spoiler Alert valid until date of Commercial Release

Oscar winner Nicole Kidman (The Hours) gives another provocative performance in her home country of Australia in the sexually charged mystery thriller, Strangerland as she plays Catherine Parker mother of two children, who one night mysteriously vanish into the Outback. Directed by Kim Farrant and co-starring Joseph Fiennes (Hercules, Elizabeth) as her husband, the straight laced, brutal tempered pharmacist Matthew Parker and Hugo Weaving (The Matrix; Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) as the small town Detective David Rae who eventually gets to the heart of the mystery.

With beautiful cinematography by P. J. Dillon who captures the isolation and vastness of the Australian outback on the edge of the small town of Nathgari where the Parkers reside. As the days of the Parker’s children’s disappearance increase, town rumours run riot along with all sorts of sexual innuendo involving sexual abuse and psychological meltdown. The children Tommy and the precocious Lily are played by Nicholas Hamilton and Maddison Brown respectively.

Coupled with the blistering heat, the Parkers relationship as husband and wife, each with their own secrets is carefully dissected in a fascinating if at times slightly drawn out character study of the disintegration of a marriage.

Naturally Nicole Kidman is superb as the young and sexually frustrated mother who eventually blames herself for her children’s inexplicable disappearance yet while trying to remain actively involved in the investigation, which includes a vast manhunt in the blistering Australian manhunt.

Joseph Fiennes is equally good as the pent-up husband although he is not given as much scope as his co-star but still makes the most of his role. Fiennes is the younger brother of Oscar-nominee Ralph Fiennes and although he has not had as a prolific film career as Ralph, it’s wonderful to see Joseph Fiennes take on more gritty film roles after his initial success in Shakespeare in Love.

Although Strangerland could have been edited, it’s still a gripping family drama about parents dealing with loss and a sense of their own failure and is worth watching for lovers of suspense filled Australian drama in a similar vein to the brilliant Animal Kingdom.

After its debut at the Sundance Film Festival Sundance, Strangerland had its South African premiere at the 36th Durban International Film Festival DIFF. This film is another opportunity to see the immensely talented Nicole Kidman continue in her daring streak of taking on more sexually explicit film roles such as those in The Paperboy and Stoker.

60th Golden Globe Awards

The 60th Golden Globe Awards

Took place on Sunday 19th January 2003 hosted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association

Golden Globe Winners in The Film Categories:

The hours

Best Film Drama: The Hours

chicago_ver1

Best Film Musical or Comedy: Chicago

about_schmidt

Best Actor Drama: Jack Nicholson – About Schmidt

Best Actress Drama: Nicole Kidman – The Hours

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Best Actor Musical or Comedy: Richard Gere – Chicago

Best Actress Musical or Comedy: Renee Zellweger – Chicago

gangs_of_new_york_ver4

Best Director: Martin Scorsese – Gangs of New York

adaptation

Best Supporting Actor: Chris Cooper – Adaptation

Best Supporting Actress: Meryl Streep – Adaptation

talk_to_her

Best Foreign Language Film: Talk To Her (Spain)

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/60th_Golden_Globe_Awards

59th Golden Globe Awards

The 59th Golden Globe Awards

Took place on Sunday 20th January 2002 organized by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association

Golden Globe Winners in The Film Categories:

A Beautiful Mind

Best Film Drama: A Beautiful Mind

moulin_rouge

Best Film Musical or Comedy: Moulin Rouge

Best Actor Drama: Russell Crowe – A Beautiful Mind

in_the_bedroom_ver3

Best Actress Drama: Sissy Spacek – In the Bedroom

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Best Actor Musical or Comedy: Gene Hackman – The Royal Tenenbaums

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Best Actress Musical or Comedy: Nicole Kidman – Moulin Rouge

iris

Best Supporting Actor: Jim Broadbent – Iris

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Connelly – A Beautiful Mind

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Best Director: Robert Altman – Gosforth Park

no_mans_land

Best Foreign Language Film: No Man’s Land (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/59th_Golden_Globe_Awards

 

 

A Heartless Kingdom

Grace of Monaco

grace_of_monaco_ver2

Director: Olivier Dahan

Cast: Nicole Kidman, Tim Roth, Paz Vega, Frank Langella, Robert Lindsay, Parker Posey, Milo Ventimiglia, Derek Jacobi, Robert Lindsay, Roger Asthon-Griffiths, Geraldine Somerville, Nicholas Farrell

French director Olivier Dahan who directed Marion Cotillard to an Oscar win in La Vie en Rose about the life of Edith Piaf, turns his focus on the more glamourous life of Princess Grace of Monaco, better known as Oscar Winner Grace Kelly who at the age of 26 turned her back on Hollywood and married Prince Rainer of Monaco and soon become embroiled in the politics of that luxurious principality on the edge of the French Riveira. Oscar winner Nicole Kidman (The Hours) returns to a more accessible role as the gorgeous Grace of Monaco after appearing in several darker films including Stoker and Lee Daniel’s The Paperboy. Kidman’s utter versatility as an actress is clearly evident in this fabulous often sensitive portrayal of Grace Kelly in the transitional years soon after her marriage into the House of Grimaldi and her reluctant turn away from lucrative Hollywood roles including the lead in Alfred Hitchcock’s film Marnie, a role which eventually went to Tippi Hedren who starred opposite Sean Connery.

Marnie

Instead in the tumultuous years of the early 1960’s with France threatening Monaco’s sovereignty, Grace Kelly decides to play the more difficult role of a Princess, one who certainly captured the hearts of the French, Americans and the Monagasque. Princess Grace and her erratic Prince Ranier underplayed by Tim Roth, mix with a very wealthy set in the late summer of 1961 including Greek Shipping Tycoon Aristotle Onassis played by Robert Lindsay and his girlfriend opera diva and celebrated Greek soprano Maria Callas, a wonderful turn by Spanish actress Paz Vega (Spanglish), while adjusting to the rigid formality of becoming a European princess. In the especially well-scripted scenes between Grace and her Palace confidant Father Francis Tucker superbly played by Oscar nominee Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon) who describes the House of Grimaldi as a heartless kingdom.

Soon Grace Kelly has to transform into the luminous and sumptuous Grace of Monaco a dazzling if heartbreaking transformation which director Olivier Dahan emphasizes in every extreme close up shot of Kidman’s gorgeous yet conflicted face. Her intelligent eyes peaking out from a veneer of diplomacy and unhappiness, conveying the depth of an actress who has traded the thrilling life of a film star for the more elegant yet equally scrutinized life of the Princess of Monaco. Grace of Monaco’s legacy is undeniable and this film is out to prove that especially as it recently opened the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. Nicole Kidman’s performance is flawless and while the rest of the tale of Grace of Monaco borders more on sentimentality than substance, it is still a stylish and enjoyable film which carefully blends the glamour of Hollywood with the legacy of old fashioned European tradition.

Grace Kelly's Oscar winning role in The Country Girl

Grace Kelly’s Oscar winning role in The Country Girl

Whilst Monaco now has cemented itself a tax haven for the super rich, a reason why Onassis was initially so interested in maintaining  its sovereignty and the source of the enchanted principality much publicized pending conflict with France, back in the summer of 1961, Grace of Monaco‘s skewers the political agreements reached at that time in favour of the charm of the new and practical American actress who become a princess and her increasing involvement with the International Red Cross.

The politics might be questionable in Grace of Monaco, but Kidman’s superb portrayal of this iconic film star turned princess is pivotal to this charming film’s sumptuous appeal. American indie actress Parker Posey stars as Madge Tivey-Faucon the secretive private secretary to the princess along with Milo Ventimiglia as the dashing press secretary Rupert Alan and Shakespearen actor Derek Jacobi’s flamboyant turn as Count Fernando d’Aillieres, Grace’s etiquette coach.

Audiences that loved films like My Week with Marilyn, The Queen and The Aviator will certainly enjoy Grace of Monaco although this film is by no means in that league in terms of script and overall conception. An enjoyable if not too short cinematic outing nevertheless, Grace of Monaco could have added more substance to the thinly plotted storyline, but that was not Dahan’s intention, which remains an incomparable film to his previous success of La Vie en Rose.

 

 

Film Directors & Festivals
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  • Wong Kar-wai Honored in Lyon, Talks Early Influences, Bruce Lee, Hong Kong Handover and Bigger Canvas for ‘Grandmaster’
    LYON The Lumière Festival honored Wong Kar-wai with the Lumière Award on Friday following a wide-ranging discussion between the Chinese filmmaker and the festival director Thierry Frémaux about his life and career. Asked about his early influences during the master class, held in front of a packed house at the majestic Théâtre des Célestins ahead […]
    John Hopewell
  • Film Review: ‘Same Kind of Different as Me’
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    Peter Debruge
  • Busan: Korea’s ‘After My Death,’ Iran’s ‘Blockage’ Win Competition
    Films from South Korea and Iran were announced Saturday as joint winners of the Busan Film Festival’s main competition section. Kim Ui-seok’s “After My Death” and Mohsen Gharaei’s “Blockage” won the New Currents competition which focuses on first and second features by filmmakers from Asia. “My Death” is critique of the world where reason and […]
    Patrick Frater
  • Film Review: Pixar’s ‘Coco’
    Conceived as a vibrant celebration of Mexican culture, writer-director Lee Unkrich’s “Coco” is the 19th feature from Pixar Animation Studios and the first to seriously deal with the deficit of nonwhite characters in its films — so far limited to super-sidekick Frozone in “The Incredibles,” tagalong Russell in “Up” and Mindy Kaling’s green-skinned Disgust in “Inside […]
    Peter Debruge
  • Film News Roundup: Paul Allen’s Vulcan Productions Backs Oliver Sacks Documentary
    In today’s film news roundup, Paul Allen comes on board an Oliver Sacks documentary, the Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Film Festival unveils its lineup, and animation veteran Teresa Cheng gets a USC post. DOCUMENTARY BACKING Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Productions is backing the documentary “Oliver Sacks: His Own Life” in partnership with Steeplechase Films, American […]
    Dave McNary