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Kunjue Li Receives ‘Young Icon Award’ at BAFTA

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Chinese-British actress, Kunjue Li was honored on Wednesday night by established UK-based charity, Arts for India (AFI), with the ‘Young Icon Award’ for her contributions in Film, Television and Theatre at BAFTA 195 Piccadilly, in London.

Kunjue Li – AFI Award

The Annual Golden Gala star-studded evening, hosted by Bollywood actress, Amy Jackson, consisted of a champagne reception, dinner, auction and awards ceremony, with all proceeds going on to help young students with the education they deserve.

Presented by esteemed award-winning director Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth), Kunjue Li is best known for her roles in the BBC drama TV series’ of ‘Ripper Street’, ‘Peaky Blinders’ and ‘One Child’.

“It is such an honor to receive the Young Icon Award from Arts for India,” commented Kunjue Li. “I am dedicated to supporting opportunities for women and minority ethnic backgrounds with such a worthy cause.”

During the evening, attended by Bollywood, Hollywood and British personalities, veteran British actress Vanessa Redgrave CBE was awarded with the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ for her outstanding contribution to the film industry.

Previous Arts for India awardees include Lord Richard Attenborough, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Colin Firth, Goldie Hawn and Dame Joan Collins among others.

The Golden Gala for Arts for India, is a prestigious philanthropic event bringing together fiscally responsible organizations, resources, celebrities, people of influence and synchronistic brands to have a transformative global impact on the Arts.

 

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

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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.

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

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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.

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Downsizing Dominates Awards Talk in Venice

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If every Oscar nominated director was ranked by fame and notoriety, Alexander Payne would surely feature near the bottom. The 46 year old hardly has the box office bankability of Speilberg, Tarantino or Scorsese, but as another awards season heats up you may just want to remember his name.

Payne most recently took his black and white comedy Nebraska to the Oscars, picking up a nomination for directing, two years after his previous nomination for The Descendants – a film for which he won his second screenplay Oscar. To date the writer/director/producer has a total of two wins and five nominations with a slate that includes SidewaysElection and About Schmidt.

That he can draw A-listers including Jack Nicholson and George Clooney to indie/prestige projects at the height of their fame indicates the respect he garners from his peers.

It therefore goes without saying that when Alexander Payne makes a movie, Hollywood pays attention and, by default, the six thousand or so Academy members add another contender to their list. However, with reputation comes expectation, so when Downsizing was confirmed to open the Venice Film Festival it was arguably a make or break moment for his Oscar campaign.

Venice is generally regarded as one of the early trend-setters on the road to the Oscars. A good response here and Toronto sets the bar, from which the awards favourites become abundantly clear, so did Downsizing deliver the goods?

DOWNSIZING TRAILER

Early reactions from festival-goers has been strong but not overwhelming for the sci-fi comedy drama. Scott Foundas describes it as “miraculous – a deeply philosophical, laugh-out-loud comedy”, while Awards Daily’s Sasha Stone hails it a potential Oscar contender.

The personal non-commitment from Sasha Stone is echoed by many others, as general opinion lauds the comedy but falls short of hailing the film as a success in entirety. It is, as one Tweeter commented, a “love-it-or-hate-it Oscar contender”.

If the Oscar goes to the most divisive film, then Downsizing will certainly be a frontrunner. However, considering it offers a film that straddles typically Oscar-repellent genres, the very fact it features in awards dialogue this season suggests this is a film that may buck trends, even if it doesn’t dominate the honours roll.

Film festivals often reflect a knee-jerk reaction from critics and press who are in the midst of festival season and caught up in the atmosphere and swept into the gossip tornado. Often the immediate perspective is refined in time and films treated with immediate ambivalence win support with early success.

Following its largely well-received debut at Venice, Downsizing received a much cooler reaction at Telluride which certainly doesn’t bode well for Payne, but the real test will come in Toronto.

One thing’s for sure – Payne needs to call in all of his favours this year and get the PR machine rolling sooner rather than later if he wants another nomination this year.

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