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Posts Tagged ‘Brigitte Berman’

Friday January 3rd, 2014

Actors on the Oscar Bubble: Hiding in Plain Sight or New to the Scene?

By Mark Pinkert

We’ll find out for sure on Thursday, January 16th, when the Oscar nominees are announced, but for the time being it seems that the Best Actress ticket will be filled with usual suspects. According to the trustworthy Feinberg Forecast, Judi Dench, Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson, Sandra Bullock, and Cate Blanchett are the frontrunners in this category. If one of these five actresses doesn’t make the ticket, my guess is that they’ll have been replaced by Amy Adams, whose performance in American Hustle was seductive, uninhibited, and also widely discussed.

All of these Best Actress frontrunners are already household names with fortified film careers, but there are other actresses on the bubble who deserve and could use some of the Oscar recognition. One actress who has stuck out is Brie Larson of Short Term 12 (2013). Though this must-see film has only done about $1 million in revenue, Larson has received outstanding praise from critics and from the indie award circuit (she won the Gotham award for Best Actress and was nominated for Independent Spirit and Critics Choice awards), and it’s clear that she has a bright future ahead. She’s only twenty four, but she’s been acting since she was very young, and in a way has been hiding in plain sight. She has had roles in the Showtime show United States of Tara (2009), Noah Baumbach‘s Greenberg (2010), Don Jon (2013), 21 Jump Street (2012) and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (2010), but playing Grace in Short Term 12 was definitely her breakthrough performance.

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Sunday August 29th, 2010


Since I first started covering the annual awards seasons a decade ago, one of the most striking trends I have observed has been a marked uptick in the quantity and quality of documentary features. Each November, the Academy’s documentary branch selects 15 for a shortlist from which they ultimately pick five nominees. This year, I don’t know how they’re going to do it — Fall hasn’t even arrived yet and there are already way more than 15 worthy candidates. Frankly, I don’t think it would be going out on a huge limb to declare 2010 the strongest — or, at the very least, the deepest — year yet in the history of documentary filmmaking.

Here’s a bit of commentary on each of the docs that are registering strongest on my radar at the moment…

Now in Theaters

  • “The Tillman Story” (The Weinstein Company, 8/20, trailer) — Amir Bar-Lev (“My Kid Could Paint That”) tells the true story of the man who gave up a multi-million dollar NFL contract to join the U.S. Army; who was killed in Iraq in 2004; whose “heroic” death the Bush Administration tried to use to increase public support for the war; but whose family — most of whom granted interviews for the film — ultimately discovered that the true manner in which he had been killed had been buried as part of a cover-up that led directly to the highest reaches of the military and government.
  • “A Film Unfinished” (Oscilloscope, 8/18, trailer) — The object of recents raves in Entertainment Weekly and the New York Times, Yael Hersonski‘s doc deconstructs “Das Ghetto,” a Nazi propaganda film of Jewish life in the Warsaw Ghetto that was shot in 1942, and which for 40 years was considered to be unmanipulated footage until another reel was discovered and exposes it as anything but that. The most powerful part of this multi-faceted effort to set the record straight: testimony from five Holocaust survivors who lived in the ghetto, as well as one of the cameramen who filmed it.

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Wednesday July 28th, 2010


The friendship of Brigitte Berman and Hugh Hefner, which has endured for nearly 25 years, is fascinating. She’s an attractive blonde who has been a frequent guest at the Playboy Mansion, but she will never be mistaken for a shallow Playmate; she’s a remarkably intelligent and driven 56-year-old German-turned-Canadian who has directed hundreds of films, including one that won an Oscar for best documentary. He’s a notorious ladies’ man whose life has been filled with fame, fortune, and fun, but he is no fortunate son; he’s an 84-year-old who emerged from humble beginnings with a dream, turned it into reality, and then used his clout to advance numerous causes in which he believed. She saw a side of him that most others have overlooked; he saw that she saw it and trusted her in a way that he’d never trusted anyone before. The result? The captivating documentary “Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist, and Rebel” (Phase 4 Films, 7/30, trailer), which opens in select theaters this Friday.

I first met Berman at the Toronto International Film Festival last September, where the film was screened for a large audience (that included Hefner and three of his former girlfriends) and elicited primarily strong notices (including my own). Earlier this month, she was kind enough to answer a number of questions that I had about Hefner the man and “Hefner” the film, as well as the journey that led her to both…

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Wednesday July 28th, 2010


A case could be made that Playboy founder/publisher Hugh Hefner has influenced the average American’s life over the past half-century as much as, if not more than, any other private citizen. This is, of course, largely because his magazine played a key role in ushering in the sexual revolution of the 1960s, but also because — as the Oscar-winning filmmaker Brigitte Berman discovered and conveys beautifully in her new documentary “Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist, and Rebel” (Phase 4 Films, 7/30, trailer) — he has quietly and consistently stood up for First Amendment rights, civil rights, and, yes, even women’s rights over the more than half-century that he’s been in the public eye.

The doc, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last September, will be released on Friday at the Angelika Film Center in New York, the Nuart Theatre in Santa Monica, and the Landmark E Street Cinema in Washington, D.C. Along with never-before-seen footage from Hef’s personal scrapbooks and archives, it features a number of high-profile talking heads, each of whom — like most Americans — have strong feelings either in favor of or opposition to Hefner and everything he stands for. Thanks to the kind help of Ms. Berman (a fascinating woman who I’ll be profiling in another post later today), I was able to speak with Mr. Hefner himself earlier this month and can now bring you his own thoughts on the film and the story it tells/he lived.

Following is a complete transcript of our conversation, minus pleasantries…

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