‘Leonor Will Never Die,’ Love-letter to Cinema and Early Award Circuit Winner, Releases Official Trailer – Film News in Brief

Writer and director Martika Ramirez Escobar’s feature, “Leonor Will Never Die” has quickly made waves in its early awards circuit, with recognitions including the Amplify Voices Award at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival and the Special Jury Prize for Innovative Spirit at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. As the film’s Nov. 25 premiere at the Metrograph in New York City encroaches, signifying the start of its limited theatrical release, Music Box Films dropped a first look at the movie with an official trailer.

The film centers around Leonor Reyes (played by Sheila Francisco), a once beloved filmmaker in the Filipino entertainment scene, now burdened by old age, the grief of loss and financial hardship. The plot thickens when Leonor flips through an unfinished script she had written, and soon after, finds herself a character of her own creation after a coma-inducing head injury. Lying in a hospital bed, she envisions herself in the story of her script, bringing fantastical, genre-bending elements into the fictional drama.

In a sense, it’s a film about film — a playful love-letter to cinema from Escobar that feels intimately personal for a directorial debut.

“She knows every new TV show but can’t remember to pay the electric bill!” Rudie (played by Bong Cabrera), son of Leonor exclaims in the trailer. The struggle is one that is cross-generational and cross-cultural — a concept demonstrated throughout the quirky dialogue featured in the 2-minute sneak-peek.

Co-stars Rocky Salumbides and Anthony Falcon will take on supporting roles alongside Francisco and Cabrera on-screen, with Salumbides playing the character Ronwaldo and Falcon playing the dead version of Ronwaldo.

Watch the trailer below.


Ava DuVernay’s Array Releasing Acquires ‘Bantú Mama’

Ava DuVernay’s Array Releasing has acquired the distribution rights of Ivan Herrera’s “Bantú Mama,” the official selection of the Dominican Republic for the 95th Academy Awards International Feature Film. The news was announced Monday by Array president Tilane Jones. 

The film follows an Afropean woman who manages to escape after being arrested in the Dominican Republic. She is then sheltered by three children in a dangerous district of Santo Domingo. 

Array Releasing has acquired distribution rights in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia and New Zealand. 

“Bantú Mama” will be released on select screens and on Netflix Nov. 17.

MakeMake Entertainment Announces Residency Program for Professionals in Editorial, Design and Animation, Visual Effects, Color, Sound, and Producing

MakeMake Entertainment has announced its inaugural MakeMake Residencies program. The nine-month paid program, aimed for early-to-mid-career professionals of diverse backgrounds working in the entertainment industry, including those focused on editorial, design and animation, visual effects, color, sound and producing. The company aims to expand the field of talent across these disciplines.

Alongside residencies in original content creation, the program will offer positions in a range of post-production roles to address the industry-wide need to increase visibility and access to these vital storytelling careers. The program is funded by the Netflix Fund for Creative Equity, and the streamer will serve as its flagship sponsor.

“Stories are the human operating system, and new stories are required for change,” said Angus Wall, founder of MakeMake Entertainment. “As new stories emerge and the tools to tell them evolve, our industry needs to increase awareness of the opportunities and careers available to diverse and talented professionals in these specialized areas. We’re excited to utilize our studio in order to help develop residents’ careers. We are so grateful to Netflix for their commitment to the next generation of creators.”

MakeMake Residencies are currently accepting applications here.

SXSW to Host First South Asian House in Festival’s 37-Year-History

For the first time in South by Southwest’s 37-year history, an initiative to highlight South Asian creatives representing seven countries – India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, and Maldives – will be unveiled at the first South Asian House at SXSW in March 2023.

The event comes from veteran producers, curators and programmers Rohi Mirza Pandya, Monika Samtani, Jitin Hingorani and Kirtana Banskota, which will showcase programming around film, television, dance, music, technology, business, fashion, comedy and climate change from a South Asian world view. The two days of plenaries, sessions, panel discussions, workshops, art exhibits, book launches, music concerts and more will take place during the first weekend of SXSW, March 11 and 12, in the 4th Street neighborhood of downtown Austin, just blocks from the Austin Convention Center event headquarters.

“We are thrilled to be commissioned to curate the first-ever South Asian House in the 37-year-history of this iconic film, tech, and music festival that is now in the global spotlight,” proclaimed the curatorial team of Mirza Pandya, Samtani, Hingorani and Banskota. “Our subcontinent is rich in history, art, culture, and science, and we want the thousands of expected attendees at SXSW to experience our contributions to the world first-hand. Never has South Asia been represented on such a massive scale at an A-list festival.”

One of the highlights will include a red carpet and awards ceremony on Oscar Sunday to recognize South Asian talent and filmmakers who have been featured at past SXSW festivals, as well as those nominated for the 2023 Academy Awards. All the curated events at the South Asian House will require an official SXSW badge OR attendees will be required to RSVP to each event on a first-come, first-served basis.

Los Angeles Film Critics Association to Honor Claire Denis with Career Achievement Award

The Los Angeles Film Critics Association has chosen writer-director Claire Denis as the recipient of their 2022 Career Achievement Award.

LAFCA’s awards ceremony, honoring the year’s best achievements in filmmaking including Denis’ Career Achievement Award, will take place at the organization’s first in-person awards event in three years, scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023.

“We are thrilled to be honoring Claire Denis, one of the best living film auteurs and a master at depicting the identity crises faced by both the colonizer and the colonized,” said LAFCA president Claudia Puig. “A distinctive sociopolitical point of view and anti-patriarchal sensibility infuse her work, which is deeply evocative — often tender and intimate but never sentimental — and always uncompromising.”

This year, LAFCA will also introduce gender-neutral acting categories, with two awards for Best Lead Performance and two awards for Best Supporting Performance. Other award categories include Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Film Not in the English Language, Best Documentary/Nonfiction Film, Best Animation, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Production Design, Best Music/Score, New Generation and the Douglas Edwards Experimental Film Award.

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