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SXSW 2017: your guide to the best music, films and TV

Premieres from Terrence Malick and Edgar Wright will pull in the crowds, but theres an impressive list of talks, TV showcases and music to investigate

This year, South by Southwest (SXSW) has had to weather a storm in the buildup to the annual week-long festival in Austin. Artist outrage and an open letter concerning a clause in contracts that seemed to suggest collusion between organizers and immigration officials has seen the festival promise to make a change for 2018. It has overshadowed a year that looks like one of the strongest yet, with the film element snagging premieres from the likes of Terrence Malick and Edgar Wright, and a list of featured speakers that offers looks into the topical issues of surveillance and virtual reality. The TV coverage continues to become an increasingly important part of the festival, with first looks at the highly anticipated Neil Gaiman adaptation American Gods and the film to TV transformation of Dear White People. Music is its usual sprawling mix of on-site showcases and offerings off the beaten path. Heres our pick of the must-see moments this year.

Interactive

One of the most anticipated talks this year sees the Gawker founder, Nick Denton, discuss what has happened to first amendment rights in the internet era after his battle with Hulk Hogan in Life After Gawker (12 March, 11am, Austin Convention Center). You can also hear from one of the founders of the internet at Vint Cerf: An Internet For And By The People (12 March, 11am, JW Marriott). Hell be talking about an initiative to help connect the 3 billion people who still dont have access to the web.

Are Biometrics the New Face of Surveillance? (10 March, 5pm, Hilton Austin) will discuss the increasingly intrusive techniques used to track us wherever we go, from iris scans to palm prints. What this means for privacy and other questions will be answered there. Another menace of the digital age is fake news, brought to the fore in the wake of the 2016 presidential election. A Post-Truth World? Nope We Can Fight Fake News (13 March, 11am, Hyatt Regency Austin) discusses how to ensure the truth wins out. In Virtual Lifes a Drag: Queering in VR (13 March, 3.30pm, Hilton Austin), artists and scholars will explore how virtual environments can be used to create empathy for others. Later that day the much-criticized FBI director James Comey was supposed to be in conversation with Jeffrey Herbst, CEO of the Newseum, but he dropped out and will be replaced by the FBI general counsel, James Baker, (13 March, 5pm, Hilton Austin), who will talk about terrorist threats at home and abroad.

Film

SXSWs opening film is bit of a coup: the world premiere of Song to Song (10 March, 6.30pm, Paramount Theatre), the new film from local boy Terrence Malick, with an extremely impressive cast of acting heavyweights: Rooney Mara, Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender, Natalie Portman and Cate Blanchett. Known for being media-shy, Malick always plays his cards close to his chest, but its emerged that much of this modern love story set against the Austin music scene was filmed in the city itself, with scenes shot at the Austin City Limits and Fun Fun Fun festivals. Good old-fashioned sci-fi horror is the premise for SXSWs closing film, Life (18 March, 8pm, Zach Theatre): a team of astronauts on the International Space Station discover to their consternation that the extraterrestrial organism they are carrying home has turned nasty and may wipe out the planet. Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson and Ryan Reynolds star; Child 44s Daniel Espinosa directs.

Another high-profile world premiere for SXSW: this is Edgar Wrights crime yarn, Baby Driver (11 March, 9pm, Paramount Theatre), which he rolled on to after parting ways with Marvels Ant-Man. Apparently inspired by a music video Wright made for Mint Royale and described as the ultimate rocknroll car chase film, this features Ansel Elgort as a music-obsessed getaway driver (called Baby) forced to work against his will by a crime boss played by Kevin Spacey. On the Road (16 March, 7pm, Paramount Theatre, among other showtimes) is another music-inflected film, which suits SXSWs style: this is nothing to do with Jack Kerouac but is instead a creative merger of documentary and drama by the 24 Hour Party People director, Michael Winterbottom. Its mostly a straight study of the British indie act Wolf Alice as they tour the UKs big cities; the twist is that two of the backroom people a roadie and a photographer are actors, and Winterbottom films their romantic relationship alongside the real stuff. A Judd Apatow world premiere is definitely an event: here the prolific producer-director has co-directed a documentary about the folk-rockers the Avett Brothers with Michael Bonfiglio. May It Last (15 March, 7pm, Paramount Theatre) follows the Avetts (Scott and Seth) in the studio for two years as they work on their 2016 album True Sadness.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2017/mar/09/sxsw-2017-guide-best-music-films-tv-music-interactive


Moonlight shines at Film Independent Spirit awards on eve of Oscars

The drama about the life of a black gay man picked up six awards, including best feature while Isabelle Huppert and Casey Affleck won lead acting prizes

Oscar-tipped drama Moonlight was the big winner at this years Film Independent Spirit awards, picking up six awards, including best feature.

The low-budget tale of a black gay man growing up in a deprived Miami neighborhood now holds the record for the most awards won by a single film this decade at the ceremony. Jeremy Kleiner thanked fellow producer Brad Pitt who continues to inspire us with his curiosity and his desire for good work.

The film also won best director for Barry Jenkins, best cinematography, best editing, the Robert Altman award and the prize for best screenplay for Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney, whose semi-autobiographical play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue was the inspiration for the project.

There are a lot of people who pushed that script away from their desks, a tearful McCraney said. He went on to thank those who made the decision to sign onto the film without worrying about the potentially damaging effect a gay film would have on their careers.

Oscar nominee Isabelle Huppert won best female lead for her role in darkly comic thriller Elle, winning out over Natalie Portman and Annette Bening. I think good cinema is always independent, she said. I want to thank [Elle director] Paul Verhoeven for being so independent.

The
The team behind Manchester by the Sea: producer Matt Damon, writer/director Kenneth Lonergan and award-winning star Casey Affleck. Photograph: Alberto E. Rodriguez/(Credit too long, see caption)

Casey Affleck was also named best male lead for playing a grieving brother in Manchester by the Sea. At the end of his speech he made reference to Trumps government, saying: The policies of this administration are abhorrent and they will not last. Theyre really un-American.

Hell or High Waters Ben Foster beat out category favorite, and Oscar nominee, Lucas Hedges for best supporting male for his role in the heist thriller while an excitable Molly Shannon picked up best supporting female for playing a mother dealing with terminal cancer in comedy drama Other People.

The award for best documentary was won by O.J.: Made in America, the critically acclaimed seven-hour film thats also the favorite to win the same award at tomorrows Oscars. Another Oscar front-runner, German comedy Toni Erdmann picked up best international film. Im really happy and proud to stand here as a female director because its still not normal enough that women are directing films, director Maren Ade said. The acclaimed film was recently picked up for a Hollywood remake, set to star Jack Nicholson and Kristen Wiig.

Period horror tale The Witch was awarded best first feature while writer-director Robert Eggers picked up best first screenplay. He thanked all the Puritans for writing so much of their lives down, making his job easier.

Hosts
Hosts John Mulaney and Nick Kroll. Photograph: Kevork Djansezian/(Credit too long, see caption)

We like to think of these awards as the ones without Mel Gibson co-host Nick Kroll said before joking about the Academys acceptance of this years best director nominee after his anti-Semitic jokes. He then claimed that, using the same eight year forgiveness logic, Steve Bannon will be featuring at the Oscars in 2024.

His comedy partner John Mulaney made the first political reference of the night, referring to the downbeat nominees: These films are, to quote the president sad!

The hosts also predicted that speeches throughout the night were likely to include more Trump jabs. But given the small scale of the ceremony, Kroll joked: In terms of impact, you could give your speech direct to camera or you could whisper it in the bathroom.

Mulaney added: Hey Trump, you and Robert Durst are both rich sociopaths from New York real estate empires but somehow Robert Durst is more likable

The awards arrive on the eve of this years Oscars where Moonlight is one of the front-runners with eight nominations alongside La La Land and Manchester by the Sea.

Best feature

Moonlight

Best male lead

Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Best female lead

Isabelle Huppert, Elle

Best supporting male

Ben Foster, Hell or High Water

Best supporting female

Molly Shannon, Other People

Best director

Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Best screenplay

Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney, Moonlight

Best documentary

O.J.: Made in America

Best international film

Toni Erdmann

Best cinematography

James Laxton, Moonlight

Best editing

Nat Sanders and Joi McMillon, Moonlight

Best first feature

The Witch

Best first screenplay

Robert Eggers, The Witch

Robert Altman award

Moonlight

John Cassavetes award

Spa Night

Someone to watch award

Anna Rose Holmer, The Fits

Truer then fiction award

Nafu Wang, Hooligan Sparrow

Piaget producers award

Jordana Mollick, Hello My Name is Doris

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/feb/26/moonlight-shines-at-film-independent-spirit-awards-on-eve-of-oscars


Choose Facebook, revenge porn, zero hours’: what does the Trainspotting speech mean today?

Rentons original rant has been repurposed so many times that even George Osborne has parodied it. Can the new films update ever be more than a middle-aged delusion?

Twenty-one years ago, Ewan McGregor, albeit briefly, tapped into prevailing anxieties over the spiritual bankruptcy of western consumerist society. Choose life, began his monologue as smackhead Mark Renton in Danny Boyles film adaptation of Irvine Welshs novel Trainspotting. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electrical tin can openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol and dental insurance. Choose fixed-interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home

Can Ewan do it again? Can he speak to 2017s zeitgeist as he did in 1996? In the sequel, T2 Trainspotting, Renton, sexy druggie nihilist turned 46-year-old failed accountant with heart problems, updates the iconic speech from the original film over dinner with an underwritten Bulgarian sex worker-cum-ex-communist-bloc-femme-fatale called Veronika. The must-have consumer goods of 1996 CD players, electric can openers and starter homes have gone, replaced by a scattergun assault on dismal features of millennial life, especially social media. Choose Facebook, says middle-aged Renton, Twitter, Instagram and hope that someone, somewhere cares Choose reality TV, slut shaming, revenge porn. Choose a zero-hours contract, a two-hour journey to work. And choose the same for your kids, only worse, and smother the pain with an unknown dose of an unknown drug made in somebodys kitchen

It is Veronika I feel sorry for, having to listen to this middle-aged blether from a privileged white western-European man. If only scriptwriter John Hodge had had Veronika roll her eyes and say, in her fluent Scots demotic: Och stop whining, yauld radge.

Back in 1996, though, Rentons rant struck a chord. If you were a student between the mid-90s and now, the safe money says you or at least one of your peers had the poster with this speech printed on it on your wall and can quote the rest of the monologue more accurately than anything you were supposed to be studying.

Leisure wear. Matching luggage. DIY. Three-piece suites bought on HP. Gameshows. Junk food. On and on went Rentons monologue, snarlingly excoriating ostensibly must-have consumer goods and pre-millennial lifestyle options (were electric can openers really must-have in 1996? It seems unlikely).

The monologue, as Renton explains to Veronika in T2, riffed on a well-meaning slogan from the 80s from an anti-drugs campaign. It was more than that. Choose life, in those days, was a sunny post-punk comeback to Johnny Rottens no future philosophy, a reactionary switcheroo typified by Wham! on Top of the Pops in 1983. There, the late lamented George Michael, and Andrew Ridgeley, mimed Wake Me Up Before You Go Go wearing Katharine Hamnetts oversized T-shirts emblazoned with the Choose Life slogan. Rentons rant belatedly turned that upbeat Wham! into a splat! of Schopenhauerian pessimism about the nature of human existence, bedevilled as it was by the curse of fatuous and insatiable human desire for inherently degrading stuff. It was also a speech, in case you didnt get it, that indicted the lie-dream of capitalism; the idea that knuckling down in straight society delivered contentment rather than economic exploitation and spiritual ruin.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/jan/25/choose-facebook-revenge-porn-zero-hours-what-does-the-trainspotting-speech-mean-today


The Founder review: Michael Keaton supersizes McDonald’s and births Trump’s US

Fascinating, subtle film on the machinations of Ray Kroc, the man who made a burger stop an empire, sold out its originators and birthed Trump America

All this films irony and ambiguity are showcased in the title, though Birth of a Salesman was an alternative that occurred to me. The Founder is an absorbing and unexpectedly subtle movie about the genesis of the McDonalds burger empire. There is an avoiding of obviousness that resides in its clever casting of not-immediately-dislikable Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc, the needy, driven, insecure marketing type with the predatory surname who masterminded a nationwide franchising for the original California hamburger restaurant in the 1950s; finally taking it away from its owners and revolutionary fast-food pioneers, Dick and Mac McDonald, played by Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch.

Keaton is never the cartoon bad guy, not even at the very end. His moonfaced openness makes him look like a giant, middle-aged baby, wide-eyed with optimism about the world. He looks like the kind of unemployed comedian who might earn a buck playing scary clown Ronald McDonald who is not in fact mentioned in the film.

The films first act is careful to show Kroc sympathetically; screenwriter Robert D Siegel and director John Lee Hancock cleverly set up Rays early struggle, his genuine ecstasy on discovering the McDonald brothers and his acumen in seeing the global potential of their little burger joint. And is it so wrong to call him the Founder? After all, the corporate-franchised experience of going into McDonalds anywhere in the world is what Kroc envisioned and effectively founded. Along the way, the film shows us something about postwar entrepreneurial capitalism, innovation, corporate expansion and intellectual property rights. It even casts an oblique light on the new age of Trump.

Keatons Kroc is a hardworking man whos always on the road, driving from town to town, exasperated by slow and erratic service at the drive-ins where he gets lunch, while his bored wife (a thankless role for Laura Dern) stays at home. Ray is trying to sell restaurant managers a new five-spindled milkshake machine which makes five times as much as the usual single-spindle model and crucially sell them on the concept that an increase in supply creates its own demand through market stimulus. The poor guy gets doors slammed in his face all over the country. But not in California, where a couple of bright, cheery brothers, Dick and Mac McDonald, have created an extraordinarily efficient fast-food system in their burger restaurant with no plates, no cutlery, no tedious wait times. They want six or eight of Krocs five-spindle milkshake machines. They dont have to create demand. Theyve already got more than they can handle.

Ray listens to their story and is electrified by their innovative genius and American can-do. He positively insists on setting up a franchise operation for them. Too late, the poor McDonald brothers realise that this pushy fellow has pulled off what might be Americas first corporate takeover.

Like the young Donald Trump, Kroc is a huge fan of self-help and how-to-win-friends-and-influence-people type stuff. Alone in his scuzzy hotel rooms, he listens to a motivational LP which intones the words of Calvin Coolidge: Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence, talent will not, nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent It was the McDonald brothers who had the talent. Kroc was the one with the persistence. Yet that, after all, is a kind of talent.

Sold
Sold out? John Carroll Lynch, left, and Nick Offerman as the McDonald brothers in The Founder. Photograph: Daniel McFadden/AP

Also like Trump, Krocs wealth is to be founded on land and real estate, not burgers. He finally understands the importance of buying the land for his franchise outlets. And like Trump, he becomes an early connoisseur of branding and market identity. To the brothers astonishment, he takes out a copyright on their solidly reassuring name. And he finally returns to his supply-over-demand theory: America didnt know it wanted or needed an identikit burger joint until he gave it to them.

Yet for all this, The Founder has a very different effect to, say, Morgan Spurlocks gonzo documentary Super Size Me from 2004, which set out to show Americas Big Mac habit as nasty and damaging. However bad Krocs behaviour in this film, and however poignant the innocence of poor Mac and Dick, the actual customers of the restaurant are never shown as anything other than happy. Perhaps we are invited to see all this as the inevitable, rough business of market forces.

Crucially, Keatons Ray does not see himself as a sociopath or a narcissist but as the Capraesque hero of a feelgood underdog drama. He thinks he is the little guy making good. Yet by the end, we have seen quite another side to him.

The Founder is released on 20 January in the US and 17 February in the UK.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/jan/16/the-founder-review-ray-kroc-micheal-keaton-dick-and-mac-mcdonald


Fight the power: documentaries to unleash the activist in you

Children in poverty, rape in the military, mass murderers at large Oscar-nominated director Lucy Walker picks 10 powerful documentaries to galvanise you into action

The documentaries praised on these pages are all ones that fired me up, galvanised me into action, but they should not be considered my top 10 favourites of all time because there is just too much work that has meant too much to me. There are films that have brought justice to individuals such as The Central Park Five (directed by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, David McMahon) about five black and Latino teenagers wrongly convicted of raping of a white woman jogging in New York in 1989.

In this category, I would also mention The Jinx (directed by Andrew Jarecki) about the real estate heir Robert Durst, accused of murder and the subject of a manhunt; and The Thin Blue Line (directed by Errol Morris) about a man sentenced to death for a crime he didnt commit. Then there are films that are such titans that it seems a waste of time to consider them again here. That list would be topped by Davis Guggenheims An Inconvenient Truth, about Al Gores mission to get the planet to wake up to global warming.

The Up series (1964-present)

7
7 Up, Michael Apteds original 1964 documentary following a group of British children. Our most recent meeting with them was in 56 Up. Photograph: ITV

To care for your fellow creatures is to want them to be happy and prosper, to want to change what is causing them to suffer. To see director Michael Apteds series which has followed the lives of 14 British children since 1964, when they were seven is to be confronted by social inequality. You quickly realise the evil of imagining that life is played on a level field, and that individuals can be judged fairly, or at all.

Whats shocking is to see how much is already determined by the time someone has turned seven. A fairytale of social inequality, this ongoing series, so groundbreaking in format and ahead of its time in every way, offers the clearest look at contemporary Britain. To know the world, its joys and its sufferings, is to want to change it. And this series, like the best work in any medium, helps me to know the world.

The Gleaners & I (2000)

Agnes
Agns Vardas The Gleaners & I. Photograph: Zeitgeist/Alamy

This might not quite fit the galvanising notion, but Agns Vardas film is no less vital a work. And, personally, I respond more to being gently inspired than harangued. My activism comes from my love for the world: I am a film-maker not an activist. I trust the audience and want to respect them by giving them the space to create their own meaning, their own responses.

Varda travels the French countryside, as well as the city, to find and film various groups of gleaners as they hunt for food, knicknacks, and discarded items. Her film has me thinking, looking, experiencing gleaning, in fact. Varda notes that her work is another kind of gleaning, which is artistic gleaning. You pick ideas, you pick images, you pick emotions from other people, and then you make it into a film.

What I gleaned from this film helped me make my film Waste Land. Released in 2010, it focused on the lives of Rio de Janeiros rubbish-dump dwellers and inspired practical change throughout Brazil, as well as individual behaviour. When I think of what might flash before me on my deathbed, I hope it will be the impact of my film.

The Invisible War (2012) and The Hunting Ground (2015)

The
The personal possessions of one servicewoman featured in The Invisible War. Photograph: Cinedigm/Docurama Films

These films by the formidable team of director Kirby Dick and producer Amy Ziering dont just tell riveting stories they break those stories and follow them up, creating a massive impact and bringing positive change. The investigative reporting is as strong as the film-making, fearless and commanding.

The Invisible War lifted the lid on sexual assault in the US military. It featured interviews with veterans recounting their assaults and identified common themes, such as the lack of an impartial justice system and reprisals against survivors. The documentary has been praised for its influence on government policies aimed at reducing rape in the armed forces.

The Hunting Ground followed that up by transforming our understanding of sexual assault on college campuses by arguing that educational institutions are failing to deal with it adequately. Lady Gaga co-wrote the song Til It Happens to You for the film. It was nominated for an Oscar and she performed it at the 2016 Academy Awards, notably introduced by vice-president Joe Biden in a rare political moment for the event. With her on stage, survivors of sexual assault revealed parts of their bodies with things like Not your fault written on them. It may not have won a gold statue but, for most viewers, it won the Oscars outright for its emotional power.

The Farm: Angola, USA (1998)

Prisoners
Prisoners head out on farm labour duty at the state penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana. Photograph: Bill Haber/AP

Everything you need to know about human justice is here in this film, directed by Liz Garbus, Jonathan Stack and Wilbert Rideau. Set in Americas infamous maximum security prison in Angola, Louisiana, the film follows the lives of six inmates who tell their own stories of life, death and survival in a place few will ever leave. It still makes me cry not because of the cruelty of the legal system and its representatives, but because of the breathtaking grace of the so-called felons.

The Act of Killing (2012) and The Look of Silence (2014)

Lack
Lack of remorse The Act of Killing.

The first of Joshua Oppenheimers documentaries looks at the individuals who took part in the Indonesian mass killings of 196566. When Suharto overthrew Sukarno, the president of Indonesia, gangsters Anwar Congo and Adi Zulkadry took control of a powerful death squad and targeted communists. Anwar, who is said to have personally killed 1,000 people, recounts and re-enacts his killings for the cameras. What makes the film extraordinary is the lack of remorse, even the glee, as they put on costumes and cackle to recreate the crimes even as compatriots recall tortured relatives.

The Look of Silence, meanwhile, focuses on the story of one man whose brother was murdered and who confronts his killers. Again, none expresses sadness, though the daughter of one is evidently highly moved. Its with the second film that these works resolve and achieve masterpiece status in my mind.

Bowling for Columbine (2002)

Michael
Michael Moore in Bowling for Columbine. Photograph: Moviestore/Rex/Shutterstock

Ideally, I would actually include everything Michael Moore has ever done, up to and including 2015s Where to Invade Next, a sort of travelogue full of lovely inspirational stories about countries where things get done right. But Bowling for Columbine, about the 1999 high-school massacre, was Moores big breakthrough. Sometimes we need these bright lights on a dark night. We gather together and remember. Good things can be accomplished, lessons can be learned.

13th and I Am Not Your Negro (both 2016)

Two astounding new documentaries. The title of the first, by Ava DuVernay, refers to the 13th amendment to the constitution, which outlaws slavery in the US. The film progresses from that to the horrors of mass criminalisation and the prison industry.

The second, by Raoul Peck, is narrated by Samuel L Jackson and is based on an unfinished work by James Baldwin about civil rights leaders Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King.

These documentaries demand to be seen now. I dont even want to delay you by listing any more. Just stop reading and track them down right now. This is your call to action. Go!

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/jan/02/documentaries-to-unleash-the-activist-in-you-lucy-walker


Fight the power: documentaries to unleash the activist in you

Children in poverty, rape in the military, mass murderers at large Oscar-nominated director Lucy Walker picks 10 powerful documentaries to galvanise you into action

The documentaries praised on these pages are all ones that fired me up, galvanised me into action, but they should not be considered my top 10 favourites of all time because there is just too much work that has meant too much to me. There are films that have brought justice to individuals such as The Central Park Five (directed by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, David McMahon) about five black and Latino teenagers wrongly convicted of raping of a white woman jogging in New York in 1989.

In this category, I would also mention The Jinx (directed by Andrew Jarecki) about the real estate heir Robert Durst, accused of murder and the subject of a manhunt; and The Thin Blue Line (directed by Errol Morris) about a man sentenced to death for a crime he didnt commit. Then there are films that are such titans that it seems a waste of time to consider them again here. That list would be topped by Davis Guggenheims An Inconvenient Truth, about Al Gores mission to get the planet to wake up to global warming.

The Up series (1964-present)

7
7 Up, Michael Apteds original 1964 documentary following a group of British children. Our most recent meeting with them was in 56 Up. Photograph: ITV

To care for your fellow creatures is to want them to be happy and prosper, to want to change what is causing them to suffer. To see director Michael Apteds series which has followed the lives of 14 British children since 1964, when they were seven is to be confronted by social inequality. You quickly realise the evil of imagining that life is played on a level field, and that individuals can be judged fairly, or at all.

Whats shocking is to see how much is already determined by the time someone has turned seven. A fairytale of social inequality, this ongoing series, so groundbreaking in format and ahead of its time in every way, offers the clearest look at contemporary Britain. To know the world, its joys and its sufferings, is to want to change it. And this series, like the best work in any medium, helps me to know the world.

The Gleaners & I (2000)

Agnes
Agns Vardas The Gleaners & I. Photograph: Zeitgeist/Alamy

This might not quite fit the galvanising notion, but Agns Vardas film is no less vital a work. And, personally, I respond more to being gently inspired than harangued. My activism comes from my love for the world: I am a film-maker not an activist. I trust the audience and want to respect them by giving them the space to create their own meaning, their own responses.

Varda travels the French countryside, as well as the city, to find and film various groups of gleaners as they hunt for food, knicknacks, and discarded items. Her film has me thinking, looking, experiencing gleaning, in fact. Varda notes that her work is another kind of gleaning, which is artistic gleaning. You pick ideas, you pick images, you pick emotions from other people, and then you make it into a film.

What I gleaned from this film helped me make my film Waste Land. Released in 2010, it focused on the lives of Rio de Janeiros rubbish-dump dwellers and inspired practical change throughout Brazil, as well as individual behaviour. When I think of what might flash before me on my deathbed, I hope it will be the impact of my film.

The Invisible War (2012) and The Hunting Ground (2015)

The
The personal possessions of one servicewoman featured in The Invisible War. Photograph: Cinedigm/Docurama Films

These films by the formidable team of director Kirby Dick and producer Amy Ziering dont just tell riveting stories they break those stories and follow them up, creating a massive impact and bringing positive change. The investigative reporting is as strong as the film-making, fearless and commanding.

The Invisible War lifted the lid on sexual assault in the US military. It featured interviews with veterans recounting their assaults and identified common themes, such as the lack of an impartial justice system and reprisals against survivors. The documentary has been praised for its influence on government policies aimed at reducing rape in the armed forces.

The Hunting Ground followed that up by transforming our understanding of sexual assault on college campuses by arguing that educational institutions are failing to deal with it adequately. Lady Gaga co-wrote the song Til It Happens to You for the film. It was nominated for an Oscar and she performed it at the 2016 Academy Awards, notably introduced by vice-president Joe Biden in a rare political moment for the event. With her on stage, survivors of sexual assault revealed parts of their bodies with things like Not your fault written on them. It may not have won a gold statue but, for most viewers, it won the Oscars outright for its emotional power.

The Farm: Angola, USA (1998)

Prisoners
Prisoners head out on farm labour duty at the state penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana. Photograph: Bill Haber/AP

Everything you need to know about human justice is here in this film, directed by Liz Garbus, Jonathan Stack and Wilbert Rideau. Set in Americas infamous maximum security prison in Angola, Louisiana, the film follows the lives of six inmates who tell their own stories of life, death and survival in a place few will ever leave. It still makes me cry not because of the cruelty of the legal system and its representatives, but because of the breathtaking grace of the so-called felons.

The Act of Killing (2012) and The Look of Silence (2014)

Lack
Lack of remorse The Act of Killing.

The first of Joshua Oppenheimers documentaries looks at the individuals who took part in the Indonesian mass killings of 196566. When Suharto overthrew Sukarno, the president of Indonesia, gangsters Anwar Congo and Adi Zulkadry took control of a powerful death squad and targeted communists. Anwar, who is said to have personally killed 1,000 people, recounts and re-enacts his killings for the cameras. What makes the film extraordinary is the lack of remorse, even the glee, as they put on costumes and cackle to recreate the crimes even as compatriots recall tortured relatives.

The Look of Silence, meanwhile, focuses on the story of one man whose brother was murdered and who confronts his killers. Again, none expresses sadness, though the daughter of one is evidently highly moved. Its with the second film that these works resolve and achieve masterpiece status in my mind.

Bowling for Columbine (2002)

Michael
Michael Moore in Bowling for Columbine. Photograph: Moviestore/Rex/Shutterstock

Ideally, I would actually include everything Michael Moore has ever done, up to and including 2015s Where to Invade Next, a sort of travelogue full of lovely inspirational stories about countries where things get done right. But Bowling for Columbine, about the 1999 high-school massacre, was Moores big breakthrough. Sometimes we need these bright lights on a dark night. We gather together and remember. Good things can be accomplished, lessons can be learned.

13th and I Am Not Your Negro (both 2016)

Two astounding new documentaries. The title of the first, by Ava DuVernay, refers to the 13th amendment to the constitution, which outlaws slavery in the US. The film progresses from that to the horrors of mass criminalisation and the prison industry.

The second, by Raoul Peck, is narrated by Samuel L Jackson and is based on an unfinished work by James Baldwin about civil rights leaders Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King.

These documentaries demand to be seen now. I dont even want to delay you by listing any more. Just stop reading and track them down right now. This is your call to action. Go!

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/jan/02/documentaries-to-unleash-the-activist-in-you-lucy-walker


The best films of 2016 … that you probably didn’t see

Guardian staff compile a list of overlooked films of the past year, including Isabelle Hupperts overshadowed hit, the scariest horror film and a farting corpse

How to Be Single

The post-Sex and the City surge in films and TV shows based around the dating habits of singletons was largely a conveyor belt of deceptively packaged romantic comedies still based around the idea that marriage should remain a womans ultimate ambition. Attempting to cover up a repetitive conservative agenda with cocktails and frank sex chat was a temporary solution to actual progress. But even, as noted in How to Be Single, the independence of Carrie Bradshaw and her pals was something of a fallacy as they spent the majority of their time talking about men.

That casual aside hints at a refreshing agenda for a film that, yes, still falls into formula mode at times (prime real estate for characters on average salaries tick!), but makes a somewhat groundbreaking statement for a film of its ilk: its OK, and often preferable, to be single. Dakota Johnsons incredibly nuanced performance anchors an often rambling ensemble piece that offers up a glossy yet surprisingly sharp view of relationships. Like a more multiplex-friendly take on 2014s underrated drama Wild, we have a film that praises the importance of being alone and not falling into a vortex of co-dependency. Its also a warm and funny comedy with a pitched-just-right comic performance from Rebel Wilson and a damn fine genre-defying ending that comes as a breath of fresh air after years of stuffy rom-coms. BL

Kubo and the Two Strings

For sheer movie theater spectacle you just cant beat Kubo and the Two Strings, an unspeakably beautiful stop-motion animated yarn about a one-eyed boy named Kubo (Art Parkinson) who must find his fathers armor with the help of a silent knight made out of origami paper, a samurai-beetle with amnesia (Matthew McConaughey), and an irascible monkey (Charlize Theron).

The movie vanished without a trace after its opening but it is well worth remembering. Its various set pieces stand alongside the most inventive in contemporary filmmaking: Theres a battle with a huge red skeleton monster the skeleton itself being the largest stop-motion puppet ever assembled and theres the duel with Kubos evil aunts on a ship made out of leaves, as well as a stunning climactic sequence in which the evil Moon King is destroyed in the most unexpected, touching way.

Kubo and the Two Strings stuffs its 102 minutes with action and humor, but the films deep well of sadness makes it memorable beyond the sheer adrenaline of its flamboyant visuals. As Kubo wanders through the movies notionally medieval-Japanese setting, director Travis Knight and the Laika staff offer up image upon image of ruin, the little boy stark against empty buildings and abandoned temples.

The screenplays beats stay refreshingly unpredictable all the way to the movies end, and its open-hearted hero has more to offer the children of the films intended audience than the unbearable believe in yourself or growing up is hard of its kid-movie competitors. The film-makers carefully build a desolated world with the care of the best stop-motion craftspeople, and within it, they still make hope plausible.

Swiss Army Man

Seeing a film that most people referred to as the farting corpse film on the final day of a festival after watching more than 30 films at altitude wasnt ever that appealing of a prospect. Ten minutes into Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinerts gay necrophilia movie, there was an almost irresistible urge to walk out just after the scene where Daniel Radcliffes corpse had ridden over the waves, propelled by that most eco-friendly of fuels: flatulence.

You cant really get around the fact that this is a feature about a farting corpse, but the directors know that and reveled in it: What if we took that really stupid idea and poured our hearts into it? was the question they asked themselves when making it. Swiss Army Man is the result of that questionable approach. After the initial 10 minutes of head shaking, eye rolling and prudish giggles the plot begins to emerge and what Kwan and Scheinert manage, incredibly, is to create a film that is strangely uplifting as it is ridiculous.

Paul Danos hopeless, deluded loner is brilliantly wrought and perhaps a comment on the kind of characters he usually gets cast as. While Radcliffe does as well as anyone could expect of an actor whose main motivation is post-death bowel movement. It might have been the altitude, it might have been the farts, but by the end the film had gone from perhaps the worst thing Id ever experienced to something that I couldnt stop telling people about.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2016/dec/25/best-films-2016-you-didnt-see-isabelle-huppert


Jane Fonda targets Trump over climate and inequality: ‘A boy in the bully pulpit’

Actor says her biggest fear about the incoming administration is Trumps pick to lead the EPA and she is ready to do whatever it takes to fight back

The screen legend and activist Jane Fonda said shes prepared to do whatever I need to do to counter a Donald Trump administration, and called the president-elect a sexist boy in a bully pulpit who is missing an opportunity to be an eco-hero.

The actor let loose on Trumps choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency, the global-warming skeptic Scott Pruitt, and called the pick her greatest fear about the incoming administration.

A self-confessed late bloomer as a feminist, Fonda also predicted that womens rights are going to come under incredible attack at the federal and state level in the aftermath of the Trump election victory.

But she chose the environment when asked to name her biggest worry about a Trump White House in an interview with the Guardian.

We are confronted by someone who is against the very existence of the agency hes being put in charge of. There are many dangers with Trump but the difference here is that we have no time. The tipping point for climate change is looming, Fonda said.

Experts are warning that Pruitt will be an unprecedented disaster for the environment, not just in the US but the world if he leads the charge to unwind Barack Obamas push against carbon emissions and pollution and his commitment to the global agreement signed in Paris to combat soaring atmospheric and ocean temperatures.

Thats what scares me the most. I will not be around to see the ultimate fallout from climate change, but its coming. I hoped the fact that he was meeting with Al Gore meant that he was open to seeing the light, but then he appointed Pruitt, she said.

Gore, a Nobel prize-winning environment campaigner and Bill Clintons vice-president, met with Donald Trump in New York last Monday and declared afterward that it was a productive session and they expected to talk further.

Three days later Trump announced his new head of the EPA would be Pruitt, the attorney general of Oklahoma who has been one of the chief architects of state-led legal challenges to Obamas environmental agenda.

Unlike Gore and his fellow eco-campaigner Leonardo DiCaprio, who met Trump last Wednesday, Fonda has failed in apparent attempts to connect with the president-elect to argue the case for action on climate change.

Her voice heavy with sarcastic humor, Fonda described her unorthodox efforts to win an audience with Trump prior to his naming Pruitt.

I was hoping there was some way I could reach Trump. He knows my favorite ex-husband, Ted Turner, whos a staunch environmentalist; he knows me. I thought if I come with Ted and some gorgeous women and explain to him that he is in a position where he can save the world … but its too late now because of his appointment of Pruitt, she said.

Fonda said she had hoped to visit the president-elects Trump Tower residence and offices in New York with the actors Pamela Anderson and Rachel McAdams, who had agreed to lobby with her, she said.

I wanted to have beautiful celebrities who are very smart and passionate to get his attention – and I would have said: You can turn the rust belt into the green belt and save the environment and jobs, she said.

Fonda indicated that she wanted Trump to develop an economic strategy that would create jobs developing clean energy equipment in areas where traditional industry is in decline and frustrated voters had turned to the real estate magnate as a savior.

The people who voted him in in the rust belt, most are not gloating, they are not thrilled with him, and they are going to be hurt and disappointed under his administration, she said.

Fonda, 78, is currently starring in the TV series Grace and Frankie, with Lily Tomlin, and remains a vigorous political activist.

In 1972, the year she won her first best actress Oscar, she also became known worldwide for her activism when she traveled to Hanoi to protest US bombing damage during the Vietnam war.

She spoke to the Guardian last Thursday at an event for Donor Direct Action, a New York-based non-profit she is involved with that supports womens causes around the world and is campaigning with the Nigerian womens organization WRAPA to rescue almost 200 girls still being held by the extremist rebel group Boko Haram after a mass abduction in 2014.

Fonda called the women standing up for feminist rights in countries like Nigeria fierce and said that women and other activists in the US must be ready to counterattack expected threats to their freedom in a Trump administration.

In Trump we have a boy in the bully pulpit. He is sexist and his whole sense of self is based around dominating women, said Fonda.

He does not like a free press and wants to shrink government, and people are going to be really badly hurt by that, so they will start protesting and there will be a further militarization of the police in response.

She intends to continue with her activism and said she would do whatever it takes to make her voice heard in resistance to Trump.

She declined to be specific about what that could include but hinted at direct action.

Im old now what have I got to lose?

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/dec/12/jane-fonda-donald-trump-climate-change-interview


How a writers first film script inspired Idris Elba to become its star

Leon Butler asked a friend for help and ended up meeting the Wire actor

Even in his wildest dreams, Leon Butler never imagined that he would make a film with Idris Elba one of Britains biggest stars of film and TV.

As a quantity surveyor and property developer, Butler had no connections with that world, let alone with an actor on the wishlist of most casting directors. Yet Butlers first screenplay inspired the star of crime series Luther and The Wire to waive his usual fee to both star in it and produce it.

The film, 100 Streets, is a drama about modern city life. It is set in London, on the streets around the Albert Bridge, Chelsea and Battersea.

Elba plays a former rugby superstar who has lost his way since his glory days and is on a downward spiral with a disintegrating marriage. Other characters include a small-time drug dealer who strikes up an unlikely friendship with an ageing actor, and a cab driver torn apart by an accident. Relationships and loyalties are pushed to the limit.

Butler, 42, told the Observer that watching Elba bring to life his character was just surreal. He recalled: There were many times on the set where I would pinch myself. He will be walking up the red carpet at the films charity premiere in London on 8 November, three days before its release in UK cinemas.

Leon
Leon Butler. Photograph: Getty

It was Elbas compelling portrayal of the complex but deadly lieutenant of a Baltimore drug empire in The Wire that propelled the actor to international fame. His depiction of the complex anti-hero Detective Chief Inspector John Luther in the crime series Luther earned him Golden Globe recognition, among other awards. His films include Mandela: the Long Walk to Freedom.

But he was drawn to the novice scriptwriters work, helping to shape it, advising on the musical score and producing videos expressing his enthusiasm for the project, to entice investors. His involvement immediately opened doors. He introduced Butler to sales agents, distributors and other key players.

Butler said: Its a very difficult world out there for independent drama. Without Idris, [the film] would be nowhere with Idris, of course thats how we got Sony to buy worldwide distribution. I owe him everything.

In the films production notes, Elba says: I respected Leons drive and wanted to try to help make the project happen. Its so important that smaller-scale British films still get made and I was keen to do my bit.

He also brought in other A-list actors, including Gemma Arterton, who starred alongside Daniel Craigs 007 in Quantum of Solace and was Elbas co-star in Guy Ritchies gangster film RocknRolla. In 100 Streets, she plays Elbas estranged wife. Butler said: She worked with us for a couple of weeks. You couldnt have found a more professional young woman.

The son of a builder and architect, Butler grew up in Bedfordshire before studying quantity surveying and commercial management at Manchester University. He then moved to London, working on high-end refurbishments.

A sports injury led indirectly to his change of career. While he was convalescing, and unable to do anything else, he was urged by a friend to occupy himself with a screenwriting course. He had always loved watching films, but he never had a burning desire to write one until then.

When he later started to raise money for his film, he approached friends from school and the City. Their initial reaction was one of disbelief. But he inspired them with his enthusiasm.

One friend, a financial adviser, introduced him to a leading casting director, Ros Hubbard, after he happened to organise her mortgage. She has cast about 140 films and TV productions, including The Da Vinci Code.

She read the script, and loved it so much that she became one of its producers and showed it to Elba. Butler recalled: She said that Idris would love to meet you. That was a real buzz.

He added: Its difficult to walk into an industry armed with a first draft of a script. Idris does these huge movies in Hollywood now, but hes very keen to show real stories about real people.

100 Streets conveys the loneliness of life in a big city. Even when living cheek by jowl with other people, we can all be lost, Butler said.

Elba believes that the film will appeal to a worldwide audience as the characters are familiar to all city life. If theres a message, its mainly that, although city life can be lonely, we can all be part of something. People are always willing to help you in your hour of need. Its a complex, but ultimately a positive film.

DEBUT CLASSICS


Citizen Kane (1941)

Orson Welles produced, co-authored, directed and performed the lead role. It won an Academy Award for best writing.

Rocky (1976)

Sylvester Stallones first screenplay became the highest-grossing film of 1976 and won three Oscars.

Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Quentin Tarantino wrote and directed the cult classic, his first feature-length film, later named the greatest independent film of all time by Empire.

Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

First-time writer Michael Arndt won the Academy Award for best original screenplay. It was also the joint feature film debut of husband-and-wife team Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris.

Juno (2007)

Diablo Codys debut script won an Academy Award and a Bafta for best original screenplay.

Rebecca Ratcliffe

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/oct/29/film-script-idris-elba-premiere


Wang Jianlin: does China’s richest man have a plan to take over Hollywood?

The Chinese real estate billionaire is storming into the film industry, but his ties to the Communist party have some suspecting a bid for cultural influence

Chinas richest man, Wang Jianlin, didnt mince words in a major address to Hollywood on Monday. Hollywood, which is famous for its storytelling, apparently is not as good as it used to be in telling stories, he said, citing the industrys obsession with sequels and remakes.

Those sequels might have worked before, but Chinese audiences are more sophisticated now. If you want to participate in the growing Chinese market, you must improve film quality.

To those familiar with Wang, the chairman of the Dalian Wanda Group, a sprawling real estate company attempting to transform itself into a global entertainment brand, the forceful tone didnt come as a surprise.

Since acquiring AMC Entertainment, the second-largest cinema chain in the US, for $2.6bn in 2012, Wang, who is worth an estimated $32.5bn and has ties to the communist Chinese government, has been aggressively staking his claim on the industry. So far, hes snapped up Europes biggest cinema group, Odeon and UCI, purchased the US production house Legendary Entertainment (the company behind the Dark Knight trilogy and Jurassic World), and boasted that he intends to soon buy one of the six major US studios. Currently, Wang is said to in preliminary talks to purchase Dick Clark Productions, producer of the Golden Globe Awards, American Music Awards and Billboard Music Awards.

Following introductions from Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, and the Los Angeles mayor, Eric Garcetti (he referred to Wang his friend), Wang launched into his companys plans to offer a 40% production rebate for foreign and local films and television shows at his huge new film studio in eastern China (expected to cost $8.2bn and open in 2017). This metropolis will actually increase opportunities for Hollywood, Wang said. This is an opportunity for Hollywood, not competition for Hollywood.

Wangs takeover of Hollywood, however, has attracted a fair share of scrutiny from US lawmakers concerned that he is providing the Chinese government a platform to promote communist ideologies.

Expanding Chinas cultural influence and cultural soft power around the world is a goal of the party, says Michael Forsythe, a Hong Kong-based New York Times journalist who has spent years investigating the billionaires business dealings. I dont think anybody would dispute that. And he is certainly doing that. Its pretty clear that is what he is doing.

Forsythe claims Wang, who has been a member of the Communist party since 1976, was quick to react to a meeting of top party leaders in October 2011, which focused on ways to boost the countrys cultural soft power overseas. Just a few months later, Wang closed the deal to buy AMC Entertainment.

Last month, 16 US congressmen signed a letter to encourage greater scrutiny of Chinese investment in American industry, citing Wandas investments in AMC and Legendary Entertainment. In the letter, John Culberson, the chairman of the House subcommittee on commerce, justice, science and related agencies, asks assistant attorney general John Carlin to consider changes to the Foreign Agents Registration Act that would allow US authorities to monitor Wandas acquisitions more closely citing Wangs close relationship with the Chinese government and Communist party. The affiliation has profound implications for American media, the letter reads.

The letter and editorial arrived months after Richard Berman, a lawyer and public relations executive, launched a campaign called China Owns Us, which paid for a billboard on in the heart of Hollywood that reads: Chinas Red Puppet: AMC Theaters. The groups underlying concern, per its mission statement, is that Chinas investments in the United States coincide with the promotion of pro-China propaganda at Americas expense.

Not everyone is buying into the fear stoked by the backlash to Wangs move into Hollywood. Adam Minter, who serves as an Asia-based columnist at Bloomberg View, argues that Wang has no business case in exporting Communist dogma to Hollywood.

Unless you can give me a business case for why Wanda would do this, it just seems to me bringing propaganda to the US that doesnt sell in China is about as good a business model as bringing spoiled food to the US that wouldnt sell in China, says Minter. Chinese people arent interested in it and neither are Americans.

To prove his point, Minter points to The Mermaid, Chinas biggest ever film. The blockbuster is a wholly original comic fantasy with no propagandistic undertones. And although Beginning of a Great Revival: The Founding of a Party, a retelling of how Chinas first communists banded together to change a country humiliated by foreign powers, performed well in China in 2011, reports allege that cinemas were ordered to secretly inflate their sales, ensuring the propagandist epic was a hit.

Wang
Wang Jianlin: If you want to profit from what is destined to become the [worlds] largest film market, you will have to understand the Chinese audience. Photograph: Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Stanley Rosen, a USC political science professor and China expert, agrees, noting that if Wang were to attempt to put overt communist ideology in US films, Americans would react negatively. That would hurt the studios, he says. If Wang were to own another major studio, hes smart enough to know that economics is important, and so hes not going to damage his brand.

A more valid concern, argues Bill Bishop, publisher of the Sinocism China newsletter, is the self-censorship cropping up in Hollywood products to appease Chinas notoriously strict censor board. Its a view even shared by Wang, who told CNN that any change to Hollywood content was a result of US studios adding local elements to court the Chinese film market and not the other way around.

Films ranging from Transformers: Age of Extinction to Oscar-winner Gravity have pandered to China, or featured huge amounts of Chinese product placement. In 2011, the Hollywood studio MGM went so far as to change the Chinese villains into North Korean ones in its Red Dawn remake. This year, Marvel is rumored to have changed the ethnicity of a Tibetan character in forthcoming superhero epic Doctor Strange, by casting British actor Tilda Swinton in the part of the Ancient One, to avoid upsetting China.

Studios appear willing to go to extraordinary lengths to keep local authorities happy and avoid the damaging withdrawal of a Chinese theatrical release date in a country that only allows 34 international films to screen in cinemas each year.

Its subtle and insidious, Bishop says of the popular trend. Whats getting taken out of movies [to appease China], what actors arent being given roles? There are so many changes being made to movies.

Look at the case of Warcraft, Legendarys $160m blockbuster based on the popular video game, which made only $47.2m in US during its entire theatrical run, but racked up a whopping $156m in its first five days in China. The reason: China is estimated to be home to about half of the worlds World of Warcraft players, making interest among Chinese gamers a given. The films China tally helped set a record for the biggest disparity between domestic and foreign receipts, leading to industry rumors that a planned sequel might forego a US release altogether, to open only in China.

If you want to profit from what is destined to become the [worlds] largest film market, you will have to understand the Chinese audience, Wang stressed to Hollywood in his closing remarks. Some politicians in the US are demanding for films to be politically independent, but such a view is against the common sense of business. That is why my point is that business is business. We better not make it political.

The China effect in five blockbusters

Transformers:
Transformers: Age of Extinction Photograph: Moviestore/Rex/Shutterstock

Now You See Me 2 (2016)

The franchises new director, Jon M Chu, cast the Taiwanese star Jay Chou (who is largely unknown in the US) in the sequel, and filmed a significant portion of the film in the Chinese region of Macau. Chu told Vulture these decisions werent on his part a conscious effort to appeal to Chinese audiences, but admitted Lionsgate was no doubt pleased by his choices. Tellingly, the magic caper scored a record opening day in China for the studio.

Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)

Michael Bays sequel, made in conjunction with Chinas official state broadcaster and a company that specializes in deals between Hollywood studios and Chinese investors, not only features rampant product placement (the Hollywood Reporter described the film as the shopping channel for the new middle class, and the rich, in China) it also goes to great pains to depict the Chinese government as benevolent. Members of US government agencies are meanwhile portrayed as indecisive and corrupt.

Iron Man 3 (2013)

The Chinese cut of the Marvel blockbuster ran four minutes longer to include a positive propaganda spin for Gu Li Duo, a popular milk drink brand that prior to Iron Man 3s arrival had come under fire after batches were found to contain mercury. Iron Mans nemesis in the film, the Mandarin, was changed from a Chinese-born villain to a man of mysterious origin played by the British actor Ben Kingsley.

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

Chinese star Li Bingbing was added to the ensemble to cater to her large fanbase, while half an hour of action took place in Hong Kong. A Chinese boyband also makes an extended cameo.

World War Z (2013)

The writers of the zombie apocalypse epic changed the origin of the virus from China in Max Brookss book to Russia in the Brad Pitt-led film.

Additional reporting by Tom Phillips

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/oct/19/wang-jianlin-chinas-richest-man-hollywood


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