Rushes: Gazzara | Rotterdam | Rasoulof

6.February.2012: There were several deaths in cinema over the weekend, actor Ben Gazzara most prominent among them. Gazzara brought his understated intensity to three of John Cassavetes’ films (Husbands, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, and Opening Night) in addition to many other credits ranging from Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder to Lars Von Trier’s Dogville. “A New York native of Sicilian heritage,” begins Dennis McLellan’s obit for The Los Angeles Times, “Gazzara was a strongly masculine, subtly menacing screen presence with a gravelly voice that one writer described as ‘saloon-cured’ and another said could strip paint at 50 paces.”  “Mr. Gazzara studied with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio in Manhattan,” adds Neil Genzlinger for The New York Times, “where the careers of stars like Marlon Brando and Rod Steiger were shaped, and like them he had a visceral presence.” Peter Bogdanovich, who directed Gazzara in Saint Jack and They All Laughed, tells Indiewire’s Dana Harris, “I don’t think they make actors like Ben anymore.”

The Melbourne based Herald Sun reports that cinematographer Mike deGruy and producer Andrew Wight were killed in a helicopter crash on Saturday. The two had been working with director James Cameron on an oceanographic documentary for National Geographic. Wight produced Cameron’s film Sanctum and had recently been named head of Cameron’s 3D production office in Melbourne. The Hollywood Reporter reports that Zalman King, producer of 9 ½ Weeks, died last week of cancer. Meanwhile, it’s already been nearly two weeks since Bingham Ray’s death cast a pall over the Sundance Film Festival, but there’s a fresh tribute from Manohla Dargis for The New York Times, and it’s one of the best: “Certainly mushy talk about values and loyalty isn’t what feeds the celebrity-crazed entertainment maw, one reason why a lot of people, even passionate movie lovers, have never heard of Mr. Ray, who died at 57 on Jan. 23. They should have. Mr. Ray, whose career paralleled the ups, downs and triumphant and difficult studio detours of the contemporary independent film movement, was one of its most heroic figures.”

The International Film Festival Rotterdam has announced this year’s three Tiger Awards Competition winners: Clip from Serbia, De jueves a domingo, a Chile/Netherlands co-production, and Egg and Stone from China. Clip, a sexually explicit chronicle of Serbian youth run wild, is the most controversial choice by some distance. “The one indisputable element of Clip is the astonishing, no-holds barred perf of newcomer Isidora Simijonovic,” writes Jay Weissberg for Variety. “Despite a disclaimer saying none of the plentiful sex scenes were shot with underage actors (which means body doubles worked overtime), there’s no getting around the fact that Milos’ in-your-face approach raises complex issues the pic seems unable to address satisfactorily.” The FIPRESCI critics’ award went to the Brazilian film Neighbouring Sounds, which Weissberg praises as “superbly constructed, skillfully acted and beautifully lensed.” In a separate release, the festival announced that the UPC Audience Award was awarded to the Canadian film Monsieur Lazhar, while the Dioraphate Award for the best-polling audience film made with support from the Hubert Bals Fund went to Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof’s Goodbye. Rasoulof was arrested with Jafar Panahi last year, but he made it to Rotterdam and gave an interview about his precarious legal situation to Kim van der Meulen for the festival. “To be quite honest, I don’t know what the current status of my sentence is,” Rasoulof explains. “My own sentence has been reduced to one year, but for the time being I am still being issued with visas so I can attend festivals like Cannes and the IFFR. I have no idea what’ll happen next.”

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