UTAH – Sundance is American Independent cinema’s annual gathering, taking place in the high altitude resort of Park City and promoted by Robert Redford. But how much do we really know about this most secretive of cinematic happenings.

The Studio Exec FACT squad – under the direction of Steven Soderbergh – were dropped by helicopter to find out.

1. Although success at Sundance is a guarantee of lifelong wealth (see Steven Soderbergh), failure at Sundance can result in the payment of a terrible price. Filmmakers whose films are met with anything less than enthusiasm are ritually stripped of their clothes and forced to run through the snow in the nude, midst pelting stones and stinging mockery. 

2. The name Sundance comes from a role that Robert Redford played in the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. However, for the first seven years of its thirty year existence the festival went by a number of names, including: ‘The Big Halsy Fest’, ‘The Sting Fest’ and the ‘The Bob Woodward Festival for the Appreciation of the Cinematic Arts.’

 3. Paul Newman also started a film festival in Berlin, Germany called ‘The Butch Cassidy Film Festival’ but he was so cool, he forgot to tell anybody about it and, after a disastrous inauguration year, it changed its name to ‘The Berlin Cassidy Film Festival’ and then ‘The Berlin Film Festival.’

4. Approximately 62% of the state of Utah are Mormons, which means for a film to be shown, there must be no scenes of coffee drinking and at least two wives per male character. 

5. The first film ever to be shown at the Sundance Film Festival was The Bad News Bears Go To Japan. The filmmakers were stripped naked and forced to run through the snow in the nude, midst pelting stones and stinging mockery.

For more FACTS click HERE.


CANNES – Controversial director Gaspar Noé has confirmed that he has prepared a PG-13 cut of Love to be shown in the US.

Speaking EXCLUSIVELY to the Studio Exec on the Croisette the shock director Gaspar Noé said that he believed the core message of the film was so important that he wanted young people to have the opportunity to watch it as well, albeit in a truncated form.

It was very difficult obviously to reduce a film with some quite explicit scenes to something that the MPAA would award a PG-13 certificate to, but we consulted with them and listened to their concerns and we cut accordingly. Even at times perhaps erring on the side of caution.

Noé denied the move was prompted by commercial  necessities which make it very difficult for an R rated movie to make money.

I am an artist and my most important thing is my message. But second to that is having my message heard and understood by as wide an audience as possible. I want to have all the children in the world see my film and join hands and dance around little bonfires. And then we can sit down and discuss the implications. The yogurt quirts and nudity and crass language are not essential to that message.

Love won’t be the first film that has been cut for a wider audience, despite having explicit adult content. The children friendly version of Mary Poppins is now even more famous than the original three hour sex epic.

The 23 minute Love will be released in July.


HOLLYWOOD – The Venice Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival will be marrying and having children, it was learned today

Alberto Barbera unveiled the lineup to the 72nd Venice Film Festival this morning, and in doing so he also stated that the event will be getting together with its archrival the Toronto International Film Festival and marrying sometime in October:

We want to have beautiful babies and I believe the time has come to put our differences aside and get down and dirty and produce progeny that will shock the world.

The announcement has come as a shock as the two festivals have always competed for movies and often argue about the type of thing a festival should do. Toronto has played the field—a promiscuous beast gladly accepting streams of lovers into her arms without much care for quality. She has also been more than happy to take Venice’s leftovers, but in recent years she has grown jealous and wont to grab anything Venice has written an artful sonnet to.

Toronto chief Cameron Bailey confirmed the news via Skype:

We got together early in the summer to see if we could organize things so we wouldn’t overlap so much. We had some wine. Then some grappa, and one thing led to another. Why always be fighting and grappling? There’s room enough for both of us and we’re both so beautiful. Imagine the gorgeous offspring that will fill the world with cinematic love.

Venice has three adult children from a former marriage with Cannes. 


HOLLYWOOD – Everyone is doing a top ten, so I’m doing a top ten, but I don’t know if it’s a top ten of the best films, the worst films, the most middling films: it’s a top ten of something. That’s all.

1. A Most Wanted Man. This is the top of the ten films that came out this year featuring a final performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman. If you weren’t pissed about PSH dying watch this and you’ll be pissed once more and depressed. A fantastic John Le Carré adaptation. Perhaps even better than the sprawling and unfocussed Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Read the review here.

2. Boyhood. Richard Linklater’s weird sociological/anthropological experiment is a kind of epic Seinfeld episode, essentially a film about life itself and nothing at all. The bildungsroman is epic, rich and beautiful, and this from the man who brought us the wonders of the Sunset/Sunrise trilogy. And School of Rock. Read about Ethan Hawke’s new project here. 

3. Whiplash. Crash! Bang! Wallop! What a Picture! Miles Teller is brilliant as the young drumming student and so is J.K. Simmons as the sadistic teacher. For the review, Click Here.

4. Birdman. Michael Keaton is back and he is kicking ass in this superlative satire on the film industry, acting, theatre, journalism, YouTube, oh Jesus, everything. Read the review here. 

5. Pompeii. I didn’t see it but it’s supposed to be brilliant and there’s a chance it will win all the Oscars. Read about that here.

6. Interstellar. Christopher Nolan not only makes a film complete with worm holes, black holes and plot holes, he also spectacularly illustrates the uncertainty principle, how can someone so clever, in such a clever film, occasionally do things which seem so stupid. I went with it. Read about that here.

7. The Interview. I haven’t seen the film, but I’m going to have to. So thanks for that Kim Jong-un. I think you won round one. Read some of the stuff we wrote about it here.

8. The Guardians of the Galaxy. Marvel are now following the Pixar model of basically making old fashioned Studio era comedies dressed up as films for kids. Funny and clever and a bench mark for the Marvel house style. Click here to read about Chris Pratt’s celebrations.

9. The Nightcrawler and The Babadook and ’71: three cracking movies, all feature débuts, all fantastic with the promise of great things to come. Also all genre films. Here are the reviews of Babadook and Nightcrawler.  

10. Leviathan, The Look of Silence and Mommy: Just to prove I can read, these are the films that are in foreign which you might want to have a look at.  I saw them at the Cannes and Venice Film Festivals. Here are some reports from them.  

Happy Xmas, Happy Hanukka, Happy mid-winter atheism for those who still enjoy food and giving. 


TORONTO – The Studio Exec FACT Squad have crossed the border into Canada and are even now rooting out FACTS from the country that invented spinach on the occasion of the Toronto International Film Festival.

  1. The Toronto Film Festival was first held in 1832. It lasted three days and consisted of the participants wondering what film was and then realizing it didn’t exist and disbanding.
  2. Rapidly becoming one of the most important international film festivals, the Toronto International Film Festival is still a relatively young event in the cinema calendar and if it comes into a restaurant where Cannes and Venice are eating is routinely ignored, as they talk among themselves and laugh loudly much to Toronto’s discomfort.
  3. Popularly known as Tiff, no one knows where this name came from, but the best theory is that during an early edition of the festival David Puttnam and Ridley Scott had an argument, known in British English as a Tiff and the name stuck.
  4. Cameron Bailey is the current artistic director of the festival and states that he is a fan of singing and rain, but strangely despises Singing in the Rain, calling it ‘too easy’.
  5. Toronto is known as the “festival of festivals”, collecting some of the best films screened at other festivals around the world. In recent years it has bagged some prestigious world premiers of its own including Crash, The Silver Linings Playbook and Taken 2.

The Studio Exec is brilliant and everyone should realize it. For more FACTS click here.



VENICE -Our man on the Lido has been roaming the 71st Venice Film festival which means that almost by accident he has seen some films. Here is that.

So here are my reviews from the Venice Film Festival so far.

The Look of Silence

Do not go on holiday to Indonesia until they fess up to the shit they been doing.

The Humbling

Al Pacino plays Philip Roth playing Al Pacino.

Far from Man

Aragorn is French and living in Algeria during the 1954 war of liberation. Very beautiful landscapes and a pretty good Western when it comes down to it.


Al Pacino plays Manglehorn, a lock smith who needs to find the key to his heart. Yep. Get through the style and quality acting and it is kind of that trite.

Fires on the Plain

Japanese retreat in the Philippines turns into madness and cannibalism. Brutal, bloody and brilliant.

Three Hearts


The Cut

Should have been.

99 Homes

Spider-man tries to make a bomb on the housing market.

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence

Swedish remake of The Kentucky Fried Movie


VENICE – The festival moves on  and now everyone else is on their way to Toronto our man can spill the beans about the doings of the film folk.

A wise man (it was Al Pacino) once said to me you never know what’s going to happen next. Then he punched me in the face. So when I met Al again I felt I was prepared for anything. He’s on the Lido to promote two films: The Humbling and Manglehorn, one of which (and I’m not telling) is in competition for the Golden Lion.

Al’s one of the most relaxed superstars you can hope to meet. We met for a quick lunch in-between interview junkets and red carpet strolls.

‘So Al,’ I said easing into my subject. ‘Jack and Jill? What the f*ck?’

‘What can I say?’ said Al. ‘The money was good and Adam had kidnapped my kids until I signed on.’

‘Jesus that’s terrible.’

‘I know. I love my kids.’

‘No I wasn’t thinking about your kids, I was still thinking about Jack and Jill.’

‘Oh come on,’ says Al. ‘It wasn’t that bad.’

So I punched him in the face.

As security piled onto me, the last thing I saw was Al holding his bleeding nose, but I swear to God, there was a devilish twinkle of admiration in his eye.


CANNES – The jury of the 67th Cannes Film Festival have awarded the coveted Palme d’Or to How to Train Your Dragon 2, the sequel to the popular animation film How to Train Your Dragon 1.
The award was presented by Quentin Tarantino and Uma Thurman, on the Croisette for a special anniversary screening of Pulp Fiction, which won the prize 20 years ago. Accepting the award director Nuri Bilge Ceylan dedicated it to the young courageous people of Turkey who have been dying on the streets in their protests against the government:

It has long been my dream to make such a film. A film which speaks to the people.  

President of the jury Jane Campion at the post-awards press conference admitted to have felt trepidation before seeing How to Train Your Dragon 2:

Well, I liked the original so much [she said in Australian]. I thought, how can he top this? And the running time as well had me wondering if my bloody bladder could stand up for it. But the pacing of the film was perfect and it just took me along with it. I could have watched it for another four hours. Seriously.

Although the film had been a favourite early on in the competition, many saw the radical changes from the original as damaging its chance of getting award recognition. ‘It’s in Turkish, it’s four hours long and there are no dragons,’ said film critic Morgan Malito. ‘Other than that it’s exactly the same. Oh but it isn’t animated. Or 3D.’

For all of our Cannes coverage click here. 


CANNES – ‘RAUUUUUUUUUL’ a voice shouts in the darkness. Followed by a smattering of applause and laughter.

This tradition has been with festival goers since 1974 when an unknown Spanish film critic in the Debussy Theatre, despairing of finding his friend as the lights of the room went down, cried out in horror ‘RAUL!’ 

Now as the lights go down it is common for a lone man to shout the name out. Some variations are allowed. When Harvey Weinstein is here, the lone voice shouts ‘HARVEY!’ for instance. 

What people don’t know however is that the unknown Spanish journalist died that night. The lights were down and Raul hadn’t made his presence clear and as he continued his useless search in the darkness, he stumbled over the balcony and fell to his death, exploding across the cinema goers like a bag of paint filled water melons.

For more Cannes news CLICK HERE.  


CANNES – Ken Loach arrived on the red carpet today, wearing Gucci, which was a surprise as he’s been much more of Valentino man in recent years.
Armed only with his gold embalmed iPad and eating a basket of Israeli oranges, Ken told me that he was looking forward to finalizing a deal during Cannes in order to make Sex and the City 3. 
‘It’ll be my final film and my legacy,’ he said.
The news comes after Mr. Turner Mike Leigh director revealed that he would be putting his hat in the ring for the Devil Wears Prada 2
In other development news, first time director Ryan Gosling, confided that his dream project was getting some interest from European backers. Only Fools and Horses Forgive would be a three movie deal, featuring a cast of unlikely wide boys from London who go to Bangkok and get lost. 

For more Cannes news CLICK HERE.


CANNES – After the party, the annual slap Ryan Gosling competition began.
In Un Certain Regard with his directorial debut Lost River, Ryan was hoisted above the terrace of the Palais du Cinema and then quite literally tossed to the critics, each one of which took the opportunity to give Ryan – a surprisingly light young man – a hefty slap. The sound of the slaps could be heard above the sound of the fireworks, but Mr. Gosling took it all in good sport, especially because (due to the physical weakness of the film critic community) the slaps landed as heavily as robustly flapped butterfly wings. Gosling was finally rescued by the French who had decided (obviously) to like the film. 

Tomorrow there will be a lunch with the Jury in which Lars Von Trier will be cooked in plum sauce and devoured. 

For more Cannes related fun CLICK HERE.


CANNES -The Studio Exec fact team landed in Cannes on a helicopter and immediately set about facting the fact out of the festival. Here are their 5 FACTS about the Dardennes brothers.

1. Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardennes pretend to be Belgian, because they think its ‘cool’.

2. Before becoming filmmakers, the Dardennes also invented what came to be known as the ‘bicycle’.

3. At the insistence of Jane Campion – Jury President – the Dardennes will be known throughout the course of the fesitval as the Dardennes Sisters, ‘because its funny.’

4. The Dardennes first film was Hell Boy, their only fantasy movie.

5. The Dardennes brothers have won the Palme d’Or 68 times even though there have only been 67 festivals, mainly because they cheat, telling their fellow competitors the wrong address.

For more Cannes CLICK HERE.


CANNES – The Foxcatcher is Brent Miller’s hilarious new comedy starring Anchorman star Steve Carrell, Jump Street 22 star Channing Tatum and the Gruffalo’s Mark Ruffalo. It’s a little bit like The Wrestler mixed with Semi-Pro.

Miller is making a reputation for himself with these side-splitting sports comedies, following on from Brad Pitt’s Oscar winning Crazy Zany Money Balls which was released simply as Money Ball.  This ones sees Mr. Burns from The Simpsons pitted against the Hulk and his brother. It’s knock about fun, with some of the most hilariously filmed wrestling scenes since Barton Fink – ‘I Vill Destroy HIM!’

In other news, James McAvoy has confirmed he will be reappearing as Mr. Tumnus in an as yet untitled Narnia spin off.

For more from CANNES, Click Here.


CANNES – Saint Laurent is a film about someone who made clothes.

It goes on for a couple of hours and shows the inner demons and the grief behind the ‘genius’ who made clothes. It is the second film this year about the same man who made clothes. In the film, you see the man making clothes. Or you see women making clothes and him going ‘no like this… perfect.’
The sun is out and I’m determined to go to some parties. The Stella Artois party tonight involves watching men pour beer and pretending to care how well they do it. There’s a party to celebrate Gerard Depardieu but as I don’t speak Russian and I know how to use a toilet, I won’t be going. Roman Polanski and James Franco are hosting a party but there’s an age limit and I’m way too old. The Expendables 3 party looks good but I’m too young.

For more Cannes Cannes CLICK HERE!