Documentary is an ardent appeal to conscience in the midst of Europe's refugee crisis
At the age of 80 Oscar-winning actress Vanessa Redgrave has become a director for the first time. Her outrage over the response of Britain and other European countries to the refugee crisis on the continent compelled her to add filmmaker to her resume.
Redgrave's documentary Sea Sorrow, a cri de coeur over the plight of displaced peoples fleeing to Europe in desperation, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival Thursday night. The director attended along with her son Carlo Nero, who produced the film. They were joined by one of the key voices in the film, Alfred, Lord Dubs, a Labourite with a passion for refugee issues that rivals Redgrave's.
C'est une femme de combat et c'est une femme de conviction et d'engagement. (She is a woman of fighting spirit, a woman of conviction and political engagement).
Cannes Film Festival director Thierry Frémaux introduced the group before the screening at the Salle du Soixantiéme, next to the Grand Palais. He saluted Redgrave as a woman of "conviction and political engagement."
Frémaux said Cannes programmers were stunned by the documentary, adding "the film stayed with us a long time after we saw it. Tonight you'll see why."
Announcement coincides with Manning's release after seven years in military prison in connection with bombshell Wikileaks data dump
On the day former military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning walked free from prison in the U.S., a documentary project on her life was announced in Cannes.
British director Tim Travers Hawkins was set to document Manning's release from the maximum security military prison in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas today as part of his film to be titled XY Chelsea, according to a press release from producers involved in the project.
The announcement of the documentary was made as the 70th edition of the Cannes Film Festival opened in the South of France. Footage from the documentary, which has been in production for over two years already, will be screened at an invitation only event in Cannes, producers said.
Now, with Chelsea emerging from confinement, the journey of this film has reached its most historic and exciting moment.
Born Bradley Manning, the U.S. army specialist came out as trans in 2013, the day after she was sentenced to 35 years in a military prison for violating the Espionage Act and other charges. Manning was court martialed after she was revealed as the source who had leaked hundreds of thousands of military and diplomatic documents to Wikileaks, a major embarrassment to the Obama administration. Manning initially defended her decision to release the sensitive information, saying her intent was to spark debate about U.S. military interventions abroad and American foreign policy. She later apologized for "hurting the Unites States."
"I am sorry for unintended consequence of my actions. When I made these decisions, I believed I was going to help people, not hurt people," Manning declared at her sentencing hearing in August 2013.
President Obama commuted Manning's sentence to time served plus 120 days, shortly before he left office. Her original 35 year term was the longest sentence ever handed out for leaking classified information.
"Chelsea Manning’s story is one of the major events of our time, covering a wide range of themes from transgender rights to surveillance to the very nature of core democratic principles," said Julia Nottingham, head of documentary at Pulse Films, one of the companies behind XY Chelsea. "It’s an incredibly ambitious film that will be eye-opening."
Director Jamie Meltzer on his inspiring protagonists: 'The resilience that these guys had... it just deeply affected me'
By rights, Christopher Scott, Steven Phillips and Johnnie Lindsey should be bitter men.
Collectively, they served more than 60 years behind bars in Texas for crimes they did not commit, victims of a pernicious system that sees a successful prosecution as one that throws somebody in prison -- guilty or not.
Entitled to rage, these men say they feel nothing of the sort.
"They want us to be angry. They want us to be bitter. We're neither one of those," Lindsey avowed.
They're not interested in the truth. They just want something to say 'You're guilty. We got this conviction. On to the next one.'
Lindsey's comments came after the film's world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival last month, where the men and director Jamie Meltzer received a standing ovation. It was an emotional moment for the audience and the film's stars alike.
"The standing ovation was even more than I expected. Just the love, the magnitude, it was such a great and high feeling for me,' Scott told Nonfictionfilm.com. "It's like I've never been so high in my life except for two times -- when my kids was born and when I was released from prison. That was it."
Risk a runner-up in its debut weekend
Disney's roly-poly pandas are rolling over their box office competition.
The documentary Born in China from Disneynature easily won the crown for top nonfiction film over the past weekend, collecting another $1,219,025, according to audience measurement firm comScore.
In just three weeks the film starring pandas, golden monkeys and snow leopards has earned nearly $11 mil., making it one of the most successful documentaries of recent years. John Krasinski narrates the film, which takes a mostly lighthearted look at family dynamics among the featured animals.
'He started a cure of LSD to free himself from his demons. For the first time... he retraces his journey.'
The Cannes Film Festival has more than doubled its lineup of documentary films with the announcement of the Cannes Classics program.
Five nonfiction titles -- all of them related to cinema in some way -- will play in the Classics section, which also includes restored versions of fiction films (among them L'Atalante, Belle de Jour and All That Jazz).
Of particular interest to American audiences may be Becoming Cary Grant by Mark Kidel, an exploration of the actor's use of LSD in an attempt to "free himself from his demons."
The story of a man in search of himself and the love he did not find in his life.
"For the first time, with his words, [Grant] retraces his journey. The story of a man in search of himself and the love he did not find in his life," Cannes Classics programmers wrote of the documentary. The film is based on an unpublished memoir by the British-born actor. Jonathan Pryce voices Grant's words.
Showtime is set to premiere the documentary on June 9. The pay channel previously released a trailer for it.
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and Documentary.org.