Connect with us


Backstage Interview: Documentary Feature



Q. Congratulations.  Having been a reporter who covered Rodney King and the three Simpson trials, I was quite taken by your documentary.  I want to know, though, what in you felt the connection enough to bring about this massive effort, this documentary, and how old were you when Rodney King happened?  Were you a young child?  Is it part of your guts, in other words?

A. (Ezra Edelman)  I guess I’m not as young as I look.  I was in high school, and that was a really seminal event for me.  I grew up in Washington, D.C., and when that happened, it was an awakening.  It was sort of a loss of innocence as far as how innocent black men are treated in our ‑‑ you know, by the police and then ultimately in our justice ‑‑ criminal justice system.  And so, look, everything about this story, you know ‑‑ the story is what it is.  It’s an incredible tale about our country, but, you know, I think I definitely channelled who I am, my world view, my relationship to O.J. as a person before those murders ever happened, but also my experience of growing up where I did with the parents I have and seeing the world the way I did.  So it’s hard to tell you exactly where it came from, but I’m sure it’s ‑‑ some of it is all in there, yeah.

Q. Like many other reporters in this room, I followed every second of O.J., reported on it, but I never dreamt that this many years later it would be a conversational point.
Can you ‑‑ can you understand this movie, the TV movie, why it ‑‑ we know the outcome, why it became such a topic again?  So, in a sense, current again?

A. (Ezra Edelman)  Well, history is the present.  It’s past, but it’s present.  And I can’t speak for the FX series, but I know that when we were offered the chance to make this movie, it was very clear that the story that was covered and told 20‑some‑odd years ago, you know, we were missing something.  And we were missing the context to have us understand how we got to that moment, how we ended up where we did after that trial.
There was room for more of this story to be told, and that people have responded the way they did to the film, I think speaks to that.  It’s an American story about these fundamental American themes, race, celebrity, class, gender, domestic abuse, the criminal justice system, the media.  It’s sports, sex, murder.  It has everything.

And so I think that’s why it’s always going to be something that fascinates us, and I think there is a lack of resolution, considering what happened with the trial and when many people ‑‑ the majority of people saw one thing, how it ended up was something else, and so I think there is always going to be a sense of intrigue surrounding that story.  And so that’s my…

Q. What were some of the tougher interviews to get for the documentary?

A. (Ezra Edelman)  I mean they’re ‑‑ honestly, we interviewed 72 people.  Many of them were tough.  This was a story that a lot of people didn’t want to revisit.  They hadn’t talked about it in 20 years.  There are many people that wouldn’t speak to us.  I think that the members of the prosecution and of the jury were the hardest.  They, you know ‑‑ the prosecution, I think, got burned by the media.  They were also on the wrong side of the case in terms of winning or losing, and they had been reluctant to talk about this.  So that three of the four main lawyers trusted us enough to participate in the film, you know, meant a great deal, and as the jurors themselves ‑‑ again, the jurors have been persecuted over the years for, you know, their role in this case, and many people feel that they somehow didn’t fulfill their duty, that they ‑‑ that Carrie and Yolanda, two of the 12 agreed to talk to us, was very courageous, so…

Q. Hi.  You said you spoke to some of the jurors and people involved.  Did any of them indicate that any of the things they may have seen from what you talked about in the documentary might have changed the outcome of the case?  Because it just seemed like there was a lot of things that were focused on, that if you knew the story the way that you told it, and the way many of us knew it before the trial, that we would not have seen O.J. Simpson as a victim of racism as was portrayed in the trial.

A. (Ezra Edelman)  Well, I’m not sure I completely understand your question, because one of the jurors in the film does talk about the influence of her feelings about Rodney King and the history of abuse within the criminal justice system that she was influenced by more so than the evidence itself in the case.
And so I don’t know if that answers your question.

Q. We talked with you on the Carpet, and had a very interesting conversation.  Your mother, in particular, both of your parents have been freedom fighters and very active in this movement for a long time.  What do you think they’re going to say about the Oscar, and what did they say about this documentary when you finished it?

A. (Ezra Edelman)  Well, first of all, I’ll say you get up on stage and it’s an experience like no other, and I had some plans, and I was going to do something I rarely do, which is thank my parents.  And they deserve it.  They have spent their whole life working tirelessly to make this a more just and humane society, and I feel ‑‑ I just ‑‑ I hope this honors them.

A. (Caroline Waterlow) I can attest to the fact that they were very proud of him.  And they attended our screening at Sundance, and I know they were very proud.

Oscar and film awards expert. American Beauty, Grease and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre are prominent DVDs on my shelf.

Awards News

Black Panther Aiming For Best Picture, Not Best Popular, According To Chadwick Boseman



It’s Hollywood’s worst-kept secret; Marvel Studios’ chief Kevin Feige wants an Oscar. And not just a technical Oscar either. Following in the footsteps of Walt Disney, Feige’s ultimate goal is for one of his movies to win Best Picture. With Black Panther being a cultural juggernaut, the producer-extraordinaire sees it as his best chance yet and has reportedly hired veteran award strategist Cynthia Schwartz’s company – Strategy PR – to push for the nomination.

However, The Academy themselves threw a spanner in the works last month, when they announced the introduction of a brand new category at next year’s awards ceremony: Best Achievement in Popular Film. With Black Panther presently the highest-grossing film of the year domestically, and the second-highest internationally, it’s the clear favourite to win in the new category (at least, to the best of everyone’s knowledge – The Academy have, frustratingly, refused to define the new award). However according to King T’Challa himself, Black Panther actor Chadwick Boseman, that’s not the goal.

“We don’t know what [Best Popular] is, so I don’t know whether to be happy about it or not,” Boseman told The Hollywood Reporter, “What I can say is that there’s no campaign for Popular Film; like, if there’s a campaign, it’s for Best Picture, and that’s all there is to it.”

“A good movie is a good movie,” the Get On Up star continued, “and clearly it doesn’t matter how much money a movie makes in order for it to be ‘a good movie’ because if [it did], the movies that get nominated and win [predominantly low-grossing, highly-praised art-house fare] wouldn’t get nominated; and if it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter on both sides. For my money, the only thing that matters is the level of difficulty.”

“What we did was very difficult. We created a world, we created a culture … we had to create a religion, a spirituality, a politics; we had to create an accent; we had to pull from different cultures to create clothing styles and hair styles. It’s very much like a period piece. … So, as far as that’s concerned, I dare any movie to try to compare to the difficulty of this one. And the fact that so many people liked it — if you just say it’s [only] popular, that’s elitist.”

Chadwick has a point – the gross of a film has never, and should not, affect a film’s chances at winning Best Picture. However, whilst The Academy has made clear that a film can be nominated for both Best Film and Best Popular (frustrating many members who have then rightfully asked what the point is), they have somewhat written themselves into a corner when it comes to Black Panther. See, through a very specific sequence of events, The Academy have manufactured a situation where the most likely events to play out on the night will be Damien Chazelle’s buzzy First Man, a movie with an all-white cast and crew, winning Best Picture… whilst the all-black cast and crew of Black Panther accept the new ‘separate but equal’ award for Best Achievement in Popular Film. Yikes.

Black Panther is available on Digital, DVD, Blu-Ray and 4K now, and is rated 12A.

Continue Reading

Awards News

Danny DeVito To Receive Lifetime Achievement Award At The San Sebastian Film Festival



Batman Returns star Danny DeVito is set to receive the coveted Donostia Award, honouring him for his career achievements, at the sixty-sixth annual San Sebastian Film Festival this September.

“The award recognizes a career of almost five decades related to acting in theatre, film and television, telling stories as an actor, producer and director,” the Spanish festival’s organisers said in a statement, “The Golden Globe and Emmy Award winner is known for his roles in television series Taxi and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and movies such as One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Terms of Endearment, Romancing The Stone, Twins, Ruthless People, and Tin Men.”

“He has also directed – and starred in – hugely emblematic films, including The War of the Roses (1989), Hoffa (1992), Death to Smoochy (2002), Throw Momma From the Train (1987), Curmudgeons (2016), Duplex (2003), The Ratings Game (1984), and The World’s Greatest Lover (1977).”

The San Sebastian Film Festival will run from the 21st to the 29th of September. Danny DeVito can next be heard in animated children’s flick Smallfoot, which will premiere on the 23rd at the Festival.

Continue Reading

Oscars 2018




2017 was not overly kind to Hollywood. A drop in cinema audiences. Dismal summer box office. Increasing competition from the rise of Netflix and compelling television shows. Decreasing ratings for movie awards shows. Justice League.
And please, nobody even mention Harvey Weinstein or Kevin Spacey.

In short it all went a bit Pete Tong for La La Land last year.
In fact the La La Land /Moonlight mix up at the Oscars in February now seems a rare bright spot in the 2017 tinsel town calendar. Reading out the wrong best picture winner? Light relief! Oh, how we can laugh now at a ‘wrong envelope mishap’ in the wake of #metoo and #sheknew

So, where and when did the rot start?
I’d suggest November 2016. On 8th November to be precise. Hollywood was tux and gown ready to celebrate the presidential victory of the woman whose campaign many A listers had funded to the tune of millions. However, 60 million Americans had a different plan. Enter the Donald!
The rest is outrage history.

Hollywood has since used Twitter, late night chat shows the press and most of all, awards shows to bash Trump……….and by association the 60 million who voted for him. 60 million potential movie fans.

Some love the political content of awards shows. Some are infuriated by it. But for many the politics has just got old really quickly. All they want from their movie and tv stars is entertainment. Yet the one industry that has the power to bring polarised communities together isn’t managing it. Nor does the entertainment media help.

The dumbest question on the movie red carpet in 2017 was one that was repeated the most, earnestly each time as if it was something unbelievably profound: what do you think will Trump voters make of your film?
Alexander Payne when asked it at the Venice film festival was one of the few who refused to be baited. He said he hoped that he made films for everybody. Unfortunately for him, his film Downsizing didn’t exactly please everybody but at least he recognised that his role is as a filmmaker not political campaigner. Similarly, while other stars have lost fans due to their relentless political tirades, Frances McDormand has been gaining them by being funny, entertaining and making it clear that her politics are her private business. But Payne and McDormand are rare. Too many stars and filmmakers take the media bait or can’t resist lecturing the world on the cause du jour when it isn’t the time and place to do so.

That is the issue. There is a time and place to make earnest speeches, to berate, to demand change, to highlight injustice. The Oscars podium isn’t it.

I’ve been lucky enough to go to the Oscars. It was a terrific experience. It was everything I’d imagined the Oscars to be; glamorous, fun, starry and an escape from the norm. The dresses were colourful and gorgeous. The jokes were funny. Everyone was out to party!
Was it frivolous, unreal and superficial. Yep. And it was all the more wonderful for that because I’d come to the event from conducting a 15 day case in the High court about a paedophile ring. So I know about the real world, thank you. And so do the millions who watch the Oscars on television around the world. The Oscars is their escape from the real world, as it was mine.

Yes, the Oscars has always been political to a degree; Marlon Brando sending a Native American woman to collect his Oscar for The Godfather, Michael Moore leading the charge against President Bush and the Iraq war, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon highlighting Haiti and many more issues. But those were moments in a lengthy ceremony. The rest of the show remained light and fun. The atmosphere overall wasn’t somber, even funereal. In the last 3-4 years the politics has completely overshadowed the films and the film stars.

The Oscars now seems to be first about race, sexuality, political affiliation, hashtag movements with the actual work second.

The #oscarssowhite in 2016 campaign was the first year that I can remember when a cause dominated the coverage, pushing the films and actors in contention for the awards out of the limelight. But it has continued. Last year the subject was President Trump. This year it’s #metoo and #TimesUp.
Around Oscar time I get asked 3 main questions: which of the nominated films do I recommend? Who do I think will win? Who had the best dress?

The first suggests that being nominated/winning really does help a film’s box office. And since the Oscars is essentially an industry event at which the film business shows off its wares, that’s a good thing. The second shows that humans are a competitive lot at heart. It’s why we love sport. No one truly likes ‘participation prizes’. We want there to be a ‘best’ so we can endlessly argue about it for evermore afterwards.
And yes, the third question is every bit as legitimate as the first two. Hollywood is the epitome of glamour. Fashion is big business that employs many people. The Oscars brings the two together on a world stage. And yes, women get asked about their dresses because it’s what many people tune in to see. The men’s tuxedos are the same each year. They aren’t the draw.
Funnily, the questions that don’t crop up are ‘what does Chris Hemsworth think about Brexit’ or ‘ What are Rebel Wilson’s views on the fiscal crisis’.
Maybe, just maybe, people don’t really care.

As I write this, some media outlets are reporting that Jennifer Lawrence and Jodie Foster will present the best actress award this year instead of Casey Affleck. He withdrew recently from the tradition of the previous best actor winner presenting the new best actress winner with her gong, most likely, because he didn’t want or need the media coverage that would have dogged him in respect of allegations of sexual misconduct which were subject to an agreement between him and two women. None of the trio are legally allowed to speak publicly about the agreement. No one outside their respective close circles and legal advisers knows what the terms of the agreement were. Affleck could have agreed terms because he’s guilty as hell and didn’t want a court trial to prove it. The women could have been lying through their teeth and didn’t want a court trial to prove it.

Or, you know, the truth could lie somewhere in the middle. As it often does. Point is, we will never know.

That, of course didn’t stop hysterical speculation last year on social media of what Casey Affleck was ‘definitely, absolutely, 100% guilty of” – because – wait for it- he always plays creepy guys on screen! And it wouldn’t have stopped it this year, specially in the wake of #metoo. So Affleck stepped aside.

If it’s true that Lawrence and Foster will replace him, has the Academy really thought it through? What’s the message here:

That it takes two women to replace one man?

That there are no men left in Hollywood who can even safely present a woman with an award?

That only women can present an award to a woman because gender segregation is where we’re at in 2018??!!

See, this is what happens when you add politics to the mix. You may think you’re doing something right but it can come out all wrong.

On Oscar night on Sunday, armed police and security guards will protect stars who will go on stage and speak passionately against guns. Actresses who cheered and gave standing ovations to convicted child rapist Roman Polanski will now speak passionately against sexual predators. The list is endless of hypocrisies Hollywood can be called out for, so the wise thing to do might be to leave politics outside the door and, you know, entertain on the biggest night of the glamour industry.

However, I’m not betting on it.

Continue Reading