25.January.2012: The Associated Press reports that Greek director Theo Angelopoulos died Tuesday in a road accident while working on his upcoming film, The Other Sea. He was 76. Kevin Jagernauth writes for Indiewire, “Filmmaking wasn’t the first career chosen by the director, who studied law and later attended the Sorbonne before finally studying film at the IDHEC (Institute of Advanced Cinematographic Studies). Over the course of his career, Angelopoulos directed only thirteen feature length films, but a handful of them are regarded as some of the finest ever made.” Eight years ago, David Thompson wrote rhapsodically about Angelopoulos in an entry in his New Biographical Dictionary of Film: “How many of the medium’s greatest practitioners are alive and/or still functioning?…It may be more helpful to be more stringent in making the list, in which case let it hold at Antonioni, Rivette…and Theo Angelopoulos, who is sixty-eight and at work.”
Commentaries on the Oscar nominees began proliferating soon after the Academy’s press release yesterday. Blogging for The Boston Globe, Wesley Morris notes the nostalgic tint of this year’s contenders and then explains a little about the revised nominating process: “Last summer, the Academy’s board of governors introduced a new nominating system, which uses a version of preferential voting that eliminates from consideration any film that failed to appear as the number-one choice on at least 10 percent of members’ ballots. There are just around 5,000 voting members of the Academy, which means that at least nearly 500 voters would have had to put, say, Bridesmaids, in the first slot on their ballot, which didn’t happen.” Among the snubs, a lot of people are noticing Albert Brooks’ absence among the Supporting Actor nominees for his role as a charismatic gangster in Drive. Jason Bailey refers to it as the Drive shut-out’s “most unfortunate victim,” while Richard Brody dedicates a full blog post to the subject for the New Yorker. Meanwhile, Slate’s Dan Kois is calling for suggestions to improve the big show itself.
Back to Sundance, Jason Guerrasio reports for Indiewire that buyers have their wallets out in spite of several flops among last year’s buys. Among the big deals are The Surrogate and Beasts of the Southern Wild, with several more acquisitions in the works. The festival also announced its jury prizes in short filmmaking this morning. The overall Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking went to Fishing Without Nets, “a story of pirates in Somalia, told from the perspective of the pirates themselves.” Sundance vets Josh and Benny Safdie won best in the domestic fiction category for The Black Balloon, while Waste Land director Lucy Walker took home the non-fiction prize for her Japan-set The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom.
Many more remembrances of indie film stalwart Bingham Ray have been published since he died following a stroke on Monday. Three in-depth tributes to his personal history and legacy come from Eugene Hernandez, David D’Arcy, and Scott Macaulay. Macaulay ends his piece by quoting Ray speaking in 1992 about October Films, the indie production company he co-founded: “We’ve always been passionate and sincere about the films we’re working on. A lot of people become jaded and cynical in this business, but it’s never been like that for us and never will.”