Offscreen 2015-Picturenose Reader Giveaway

texas_chainsaw_05The eighth edition of the Offscreen Film Festival will start on Wednesday 4 March in Brussels. This annual event for lovers of exceptional cinema and cult films is held at four locations in Brussels: Cinema Nova, Cinematek, Bozar and Cinema Rits. From 4 to 22 March, the festival offers three weeks of cinematic wonders, with a selection of the most exciting new films and a vast collection of cult classics, and the guest of honour of this year’s festival is the legendary director Tobe Hooper.

And, of course, Picturenose is in on the act – we haven’t let you down before, now have we? Thanks to our friends at Offscreen, we have 60 (count ’em) tickets (two pairs of tickets for each film) to give away, giving you the chance to see any of 15 films from the festival’s remarkable line-up.

All you have to do is choose your film from those listed below, and send an email with Offscreen Giveaway in the subject line to james@picturenose.com. Remember to include your name, choice of film, address and a daytime ‘phone number with your email – it’s first-come first-served, so good luck and enjoy the festival!

Thursday 05.03    20h    Cinema Nova    Honeymoon 
22:00    Cinema Nova    Cobra 
Friday 06.03   Midnight    Cinema Nova    Exterminator 2 
Sunday 08.03    20h    Cinema Nova    The Creeping Garden 
Thursday 12.03    21h30    Cinematek    Salem’s Lot 
Thursday 12.03    22h    Cinema Nova    The Little Shop of Horrors (1960) 
Friday 13.03    20h    Cinema Nova    Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films 
Saturday 14.03    18h    Cinema Nova    Death Wish III 
22h    Cinema Nova    Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 
Sunday 15.03    22h    Cinema Nova    Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) 
Wednesday 18.03    21h30    Cinematek    10 To Midnight 
Saturday 21.03    18h    Cinema Nova    Matango: Attack of the Mushroom People 
Sunday 22.03    14h    Cinema Nova    Matinee: King Solomon’s Mines 
17h    Cinema Nova    Mole Song: Undercover Agent Reiji 
17h    Cinematek    The Mangler

EFA Initiates ‘Treasures of European Film Culture’

1._vendredi_ouverture16_openingThe European Film Academy (EFA) proudly presents a new initiative: Treasures of European Film Culture, a list of places of a symbolic nature for European cinema, places of historical value that need to be maintained and protected not just now but also for generations to come.

The initiative was inspired by an idea of EFA Members Naum Kleiman and Ulrich & Erika Gregor. Film historian and former director of the Moscow Film Museum Naum Kleiman will be awarded the Berlinale Camera this year. Ulrich and Erika Gregor (association Freunde der Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin) are co-founders of the Berlinale Forum and have received this award in 2010. All three of them have received an EFA Award of Merit in 1993.

The list will grow over the years but the first four places we will put on that list are:

The Bergmancenter in Fårö

The Bergmancenter is a museum and meeting place that focuses on the life work and artistic achievements of Sweden’s legendary director and EFA’s founding president Ingmar Bergman.

It includes different exhibitions, Fårö Museum – displaying a recreated old shop from the 1960s, as well as an exhibition about the widespread emigration from Fårö in the late 19th century, a café and a library, a private cinema (64 seats), creative workshops and guided tours.

The Eisenstein Centre in Moscow

Starting from a small apartment on Smolenskaya Street, where a scientific memorial cabinet of Sergei Eisenstein was organized, the Eisenstein Centre’s task is not only to conserve Sergei Mikhailoich’s personal belongings and library, but also to prepare the edition of his theoretic works, to carry out film retrospectives and exhibitions of Eisenstein’s drawings, to advise researchers, teachers and students, to help translators and foreign editing houses. Currently in a state of re-organisation, the collection will hopefully soon find a new home with the necessary conditions of safety and public accessibility.

The Institut Lumière in Lyon

Based in Lyon, the Institut Lumière is dedicated to the promotion and preservation of filmmaking. It runs a library, a gallery and a museum that honour the contribution to filmmaking by Auguste and Louis Lumière – inventors of the cinématographe and fathers of cinema. It is also a cinematheque and a museum. Every year, in October, the Institut Lumière organises the Lumiere Film Festival in Lyon Metropole.

The World of Tonino Guerra in Pennabilli

More than a museum, the World of Tonino Guerra is the place where the works of legendary screenwriter Tonino Guerra (EFA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002) are presented, where he held lectures on screenwriting, staged his reading theatre, met students and, thanks to the archive and library (of books, videos and photos), it is also a moment of study and analysis of both his work and the context in which it originated and developed.

Further information available here.

Director Tobe Hooper is Guest of Honour at 8th Offscreen Film Festival

logoThe eighth edition of the Offscreen Film Festival will start on Wednesday 4 March in Brussels. This annual event for lovers of exceptional cinema and cult films is held at four locations in Brussels: Cinema Nova, Cinematek, Bozar and Cinema Rits. From 4 to 22 March, the festival offers three weeks of cinematic wonders, with a selection of the most exciting new films and a vast collection of cult classics.

The guest of honour of this year’s festival is the legendary director Tobe Hooper. He owes that status to his influential horror film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), but an extensive retrospective will demonstrate how Hooper brought his penchant for the fantastic to the screen in wildly diverse ways. As an indispensable key film, his feature debut Eggshells (1969) will be shown, as well as cult classics such as Lifeforce (1985), Salem’s Lot (1979) and the newly restored high resolution-version of his masterpiece The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

The Offscreen Film Festival also offers a selection of exciting new films, such as The Duke of Burgundy (2014) by Peter Strickland, Tokyo Tribe (2014) by Sion Sono and Fires On The Plain (2014) by Shinya Tsukamoto. The documentary Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films (2014) will be personally presented by director Mark Hartley, and is joined by a huge retrospective on the infamous production house Cannon Films. For this, the festival managed once again to find a diverse collection of vintage 35mm film prints. You will get the unique opportunity to revisit the exploits of “incorrect” action heroes of the eighties such as Chuck Norris, Stallone and JCVD on the big screen in guilty pleasures like Bloodsport (1988), Invasion USA (1985), Cobra (1986), Masters of the Universe (1987) and Ninja III: The Domination (1984).

Finally, the festival takes you on an expedition to the wonderful world of plants, fungi and related botany. In the pantheon of memorable movie monsters, plants may be underrepresented, but Offscreen still managed to put together a small selection to tickle your green senses. Matango – Attack of the Mushroom People (1963) by Ishiro Honda , Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Don Siegel (1956), The Day of the Triffids (1963) by Steve Sekely  and The Little Shop of Horrors (1986) by Frank Oz: all of them cult classics that feature malignant mutations, blurring the traditional distinction between flora and fauna.

News will follow soon, and the full programme will be online from Wednesday 4 February on the website, and keep it with Picturenose for a big tickets giveaway and an exclusive interview with Tobe Hooper!

Barely Legal Pawn

a_600x315Now I have your attention…

But seriously, that’s the name of this wonderful new promo for the Emmys starring Aaron Paul, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Bryan Cranston. If you’ve never seen Breaking Bad, it’s still an amusing spoof of those History Channel superstars and their seedy pawn shops. If you have seen Breaking Bad, you’ll see the gags and references come thick and fast. Seinfeld and BB references abound as they all send up their characters and have the occasional sly dig about whether a drama or comedy Emmy would be worth more.

Of course, Ms Louis-Dreyfus drives a lovely Audi, the company sponsoring the whole outing but to be fair, it’s subtle and not too in-your-face. The ending is worth waiting for, so don’t skip it.

Three Best Blackjack Scenes in the Movies

Rainman+BlackjackThe big screen has played host to some enthralling action scenes. Whether it’s suspense and drama you seek or even some light-hearted comedy, you are usually rewarded by film-makers with a film to remember. Which brings us onto blackjack – as long as the cinemas and the movies have been around, this card game has been around a lot longer. It has even done more than its fair share for the film industry by bringing us plenty of iconic film moments! It doesn’t matter if it’s Zach Galifianakis or Dustin Hoffman at the tables, viewers have been treated to some dramatic big-screen blackjack moments. Although online blackjack games can be fun, there is simply no replacing the drama of a casino scene being played out in a blockbuster movie and with that so, here’s some of our top picks for you to enjoy.

The Hangover (2009)
Blackjack rooms are usually cigar smoke-laden atmospheres, full of wealthy and exuberant gamblers who seem to have a knack for picking the right cards at exactly the right times. None of this could be more false when it comes to Zach Galifianakis though, who plays a socially-inept son-in-law named Alan Garner in this 2009 classic. The film sees four men, dubbed ‘The Wolfpack’, head to Vegas for a bachelor party, before ending up in a whirl of trouble after forgetting the events of the night before. The chances are that you have seen this film, given its success – which sparked two sequels – so we really shouldn’t be spoiling anything when we reveal that the future of one of the Wolfpack is left in the hands of Alan, who remarkably uses the art of card-counting to earn the vast sum of $80,000 to save their supposedly kidnapped pack-brother. Although the casino scene only takes up a couple of minutes, it is simply hilarious to see a man, who believes Caesar actually lived in Caesars Palace – the casino – succeed at delivering a small bankruptcy on a Vegas-strip casino.

Rain Man (1988)
Speaking of Alan Garner, the character actually references this 1988 classic directly on more than one occasion during The Hangover. Rain Man sees two long-lost brothers journey across the country in a relationship building road trip. Whether the two brothers – played by Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman – would have reconnected had Hoffman proved to be inept at card counting remains to be seen, but his shrewd ability to earn enough cash for Cruise to pay his debts, despite the fact his brother is clearly using him, is as heart-warming as you will ever see. In fact, the casino scene in this movie is so integral to the brothers’ reconciling, that had Hoffman simply blown what little money they had left, the scene would probably be on this list anyway.

21 (2008)
The more serious successor to Rain Man’s exploits, 21 sees Kevin Spacey lead an elite MIT blackjack team across a host of Las Vegas casinos, as they look to exploit them for every penny they have through the art of card counting. With individual group needs and objectives proving too much for the group to handle, the film sets itself up for a dramatic conclusion as Lawrence Fishbourne – who plays a ‘man-on-a-mission’ type pit-boss – enters the fray as he bids to capture the group one by one. Although the film didn’t receive that much critical acclaim, a lot of the scenes give insight into the underground world of casinos and card-counting, whilst also showing how excelling academics can make a lot of money fast (if they break the rules of course!).

Movie News: Ghostbusters’ 30th Anniversary Set To Be Celebrated Big Time

ghostbusters_43343According to Eric Eisenberg at Entertainment Weekly, the 30th anniversary of Ghostbusters (1984) is set to rock cinemas this summer – can it really be 30 years since Bill Murray, Dan Akyroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson took up shop in a former New York City firehouse to form a company that involves the extermination of ghosts? Ivan Reitman’s Ghostbusters first came to US theatres on 8 June, 1984, and cemented its place in comedy history.

The theatrical re-release is only part of a much bigger anniversary plan that, according to EW, will also include special events, collectible merchandise, and a brand new Blu-ray set. Dubbed the Ghostbusters 30th Anniversary Edition, the disc set will not only include presumably the restored version of the first movie, but also a copy of Ghostbusters II – which has not yet been available on Blu-ray. New special features will include conversations with Ivan Reitman and Dan Aykroyd as well as deleted scenes from the sequel. The home video release will be coming a few weeks after the big screen experience and will be in stores 16 September.

Cannes to Screen 21 Films Backed by Creative Europe MEDIA fund

Cannes-2014-poster20 films directed by some of the biggest names in European cinema and supported by the EU’s Creative Europe MEDIA programme will be screened at the 67th Cannes International Film Festival (14-25 May), including seven films in competition for the top prize, the Palme d’Or.

Androulla Vassiliou, the European commissioner for culture, will be at the festival to present the third annual European Union ‘Prix MEDIA’ to the director and producer of the best new film project supported by Creative Europe. The winners will be unveiled at a ceremony in the Palais des Festivals on 17 May. The commissioner will also hold meetings with young film-makers and industry figures to discuss the new Creative Europe programme, launched in January with a budget of nearly €1.5 billion over the next seven years – 9% higher than previous levels. In addition, she will address a debate organised by the Commission on expanding the audience for European films and the Commissioner will be a special guest at the opening of the ‘Directors’ Fortnight’ (La Quinzaine des Réalisateurs) selection on 15 May.

“I am delighted that European films selected for funding from MEDIA are once again in the Cannes spotlight. More than 50% of our new Creative Europe programme will support European film development and distribution, as well as training for film-makers and technicians. This investment is a guarantee of cultural and linguistic diversity, greater choice for cinema-goers and a more competitive industry. I am proud to have achieved a budget increase for Creative Europe at a time when many are cutting spending on culture, to have played a strong role in defending the cultural exception and in helping to ensure that our new state aid rules continue to support public funding for film-making,” said Vassiliou, ahead of what will be her final visit to Cannes in her capacity as culture commissioner.

Among the MEDIA-supported films selected is the movie chosen to open the festival, Grace de Monaco, starring Nicole Kidman as the Hollywood heroine who married a prince. The others (see full list below) feature new releases by leading European directors such as Michel Hazanavicius (winner of five Oscars in 2012 for The Artist), Mike Leigh (winner of the 1996 Palme d’Or for Secrets & Lies), Ken Loach (2006 Palme d’Or for The Wind That Shakes The Barley), the legendary Jean-Luc Godard and Belgium’s Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (winners of the 1999 Palme d’Or for Rosetta and 2011 Grand Prix for Le Gamin au Vélo). Wim Wenders (winner of the 1984 Palme d’Or for Paris, Texas) is represented in the section ‘Un Certain Regard’.

The 21 EU-funded films to be screened at Cannes represent a variety of European countries, languages, genres and talents. To date, they have received a total of more than €1.3 million in funding from MEDIA – but this figure is likely to increase substantially due to their exposure at the festival and take-up by distributors.

Creative Europe

Creative Europe is the fifth generation of EU funding programmes supporting the cultural and creative sectors. It combines the EU’s MEDIA and Culture programmes. The programme will allocate at least 56% of its budget for the MEDIA sub-programme. MEDIA supports the development, distribution and promotion of content produced by the EU film and audiovisual industries. One of its chief aims is to help European film-makers to reach markets beyond national and European borders.

Creative Europe will provide funding for at least 250,000 artists and cultural professionals, 2,000 cinemas, 800 films and 4,500 book translations. It will also launch a new financial guarantee facility enabling small cultural and creative businesses to access up to €750m in bank loans.

Since 1991, MEDIA (acronym for ‘Mesures pour encourager le développement de l’industrie audiovisuelle’ – Measures to encourage the development of the audiovisual industry) has invested €1.7bn in film development, distribution, training and innovation with the aim of enhancing the diversity and international competitiveness of the European film and audiovisual industry.

More information

European Commission: Creative Europe
Androulla Vassiliou’s website
Follow Androulla Vassiliou on Twitter @VassiliouEU
Annex 1: List of MEDIA films selected for the Cannes Film Festival

                 

Opening film

Grace de Monaco(Out of Competition) Olivier Dahan FR

Official competition

Sils Maria Olivier Assayas FR
Deux Jours, Une Nuit Jean-Pierre Dardenne,Luc Dardenne BE
Adieu Au Langage Jean-Luc Godard CH
Jimmy’s Hall Ken Loach UK
The Search Michel Hazanavicius FR
Mr. Turner Mike Leigh UK
Le Meraviglie Alice  Rohrwacher IT

Out of Competition

  In the Name of my Daughter (L’Homme qu’on aimait trop) André Téchiné FR  
Midnight screenings
The Salvation Kristian Levring DK
Special Screenings

Caricaturistes – Fantassins de la Démocratie Stéphanie Valloatto FR
 
 
Un Certain Regard
The Salt of the Earth Wim Wenders FR
Bird People Pascale Ferran FR
Amour Fou Jessica Hausner AT, DE, LU
Xenia Panos Koutras GR
Hermosa Juventud Jaime Rosales ES
Turist Ruben Ostlund SE
 
 

Semaine de la Critique

When Animals Dream (Når Dyrene Drømmer) Jonas Alexander Arnby DK

Directors’ Fortnight

Alleluia Fabrice du Welz BE
Queen and Country John Boorman  UK
Pride Matthew Warchus  UK

Annex 2:

Films with MEDIA support which received the Palme d’Or

2013: La Vie d’Adèle (Blue is the Warmest Colour) – Abdellatif Kechiche (France / Belgium / Spain)

2012: Amour – Michael Haneke (Austria / France)

2009: Das Weisse Band (Le Ruban Blanc) – Michael Haneke (Austria / Germany)

2008: Entre Les Murs – Laurent Cantet (France)

2007: 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (4 Mois, 3 Jours, 2 Semaines) – Cristian Mungiu (Romania)

2006: The Wind That Shakes The Barley (Le Cent Se Lève) – Ken Loach (United Kingdom)

2005: L’Enfant – Jean-Pierre et Luc Dardenne (Belgium)

2002: The Pianist (Le Pianiste) – Roman Polanski (France / Germany / Poland / UK)

2001: La Stanza Del Figlio (La Chambre du Fils)- Nanni Moretti (Italy)

2000: Dancer in the Dark – Lars Von Trier (Denmark)

Regret! Wins EFA Young Audience Award 2014

Setbezoek Spijt!Youth juries in 17 European cities elect Dutch film by Dave Schram.

In a truly European vote, more than 1,000 12-14-year-olds in Aalborg (Denmark), Barcelona (Spain), Belgrade (Serbia), Bratislava (Slovakia), Budapest (Hungary), Cluj-Napoca (Romania), Erfurt (Germany), Izola (Slovenia), London (UK), Prizren (Kosovo), Riga (Latvia), Sofia (Bulgaria), Stockholm (Sweden), Tbilisi (Georgia), Tel Aviv (Israel), Valletta (Malta) and Wroclaw (Poland) have elected Regret! (Spijt!) (2013) by Dave Schram (the Netherlands) as the winner of the European Film Academy Young Audience Award 2014.

Having watched the three nominated films on today’s Young Audience Film Day, the young cinema-lovers across Europe had the opportunity to discuss the films before electing their favourite. The results were then reported live via video conference to Erfurt (Germany) where Polish actor Maciej Stuhr moderated the awards ceremony transmitted online as a live stream. The German jury speakers Emma and Elias presented the award to director Dave Schram who thanked the audience and expressed his hope that the film may help to do something against bullying.

In its third year, this special initiative was realised with a network of the following nine partners: BFI British Film Institute, Centre for Educational Resources (Denmark), DokuFest (Kosovo), EducaTIFF (Romania), Film Center Serbia, Filmoteca de Catalunya (Spain), Georgian National Film Center, German Children’s Media Foundation GOLDEN SPARROW, Hungarian National Film Fund, Maltese Ministry for Tourism (Culture Directorate), National Film Centre of Latvia, New Horizons Association (Poland), Otok – Institute for the Development of Film Culture (Slovenia), Sofia International Film Festival (Bulgaria), Swedish Film Institute, Tel Aviv Cinematheque (Israel) and Visegrad Film Forum (Slovakia).

The European Film Academy Young Audience Award is organized and presented by the European Film Academy and EFA Productions with the support of the Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung (MDM). The national Young Audience Film Day events were organised with the support of the respective national partners.

Movie News: Creative Europe

slide-1For someone who loves film as much as your correspondent does, Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou’s presentation of the European Commission’s proposal for the new ‘Creative Europe’ programme was a happy revelation.

The Commission proposed a budget of €1.8 billion for the 2014-2020 period for ‘Creative Europe’ – of this sum, more than €900 million will be allocated to its ‘MEDIA’ arm, which supports the European film industry and audiovisual sector.

Commissioner Vassiliou said: “Europe can provide significant added value through targeted investment in the audiovisual and cultural sectors, which are important contributors to growth and jobs. Creative Europe will help the European film industry to respond to the challenges of digitization and globalization, while at the same time helping us to safeguard and promote Europe’s cultural and linguistic diversity.”

Shooting Stars is an initiative that aims to promote new acting talent. Ten actors from across Europe are chosen by a panel of experts from potential candidates nominated by the member organisations of the European Film Promotion (EFP) body.

The Berlinale Co-production Market, which presents around 40 film projects each year to potential investors. Around 65% of the projects originate in Europe. MEDIA has supported the market since 2005 and has contributed €105,000 for the 2012 event.

The Berlinale Talent Campus, which is a training event for more than 350 young filmmakers from all over the world, who participate in workshops and master classes given by leading experts in various fields. In the past, it has given many young directors a first step towards an international career.

The Berlinale Residency is an international fellowship programme which enables six filmmakers to bring their projects to Berlin for four months starting in September. It is supported through MEDIA Mundus, the international version of the MEDIA programme.

Overall, the MEDIA programme is contributing €755 million to support Europe’s film industry from 2007-2013, with a focus on improving the distribution and promotion of European films and strengthening the competitiveness of the sector.

To find out more, click here.

European Film Academy Releases Nominees for EFA Young Audience Award 2014

transformYoung juries in 17 cities across Europe will vote for winner

The European Film Academy proudly announces and congratulates the three nominees for the EFA Young Audience Award 2014:

  The Contest
DIRECTED BY: Martin Miehe-Renard
WRITTEN BY: Martin Miehe-Renard, Gitte Løkkegaard & Hans Hansen
PRODUCED BY: Henrik Møller-Sørensen & Marcella Dichmann
90 mins, Denmark
  Regret
DIRECTED BY: Dave Schram
WRITTEN BY: Maria Peters & Dick van den Heuvel
PRODUCED BY:  Dave Schram, Maria Peters & Hans Pos
95 mins, The Netherlands
  Windstorm
DIRECTED BY: Katja von Garnier

WRITTEN BY: Kristina Magdalena Henn & Lea Schmidbauer
PRODUCED BY: Ewa Karlström & Andreas Ulmke-Smeaton
103 mins, Germany

The nominations were chosen by a committee consisting of Margret Albers, Deutsche Kindermedienstiftung Goldener Spatz (Germany), Michal Matus, Tel Aviv International Children’s Film Festival (Israel), Jan Naszewski, New Europe Film Sales (Poland) and Eszter Vuojala, Oulu International Children’s Film Festival (Finland).

On Young Audience Film Day on 4 May, the three nominated films will be screened to a audiences of 12 – 14 year-olds in 17 cities across Europe: Aalborg (Denmark), Barcelona (Spain), Belgrade (Serbia), Bratislava (Slovakia), Budapest (Hungary), Cluj-Napoca (Romania), Erfurt (Germany), Izola (Slovenia), London (UK), Prizren (Kosovo), Riga (Latvia), Sofia (Bulgaria), Stockholm (Sweden), Tbilisi (Georgia), Tel Aviv (Israel), Valletta (Malta) and Wroclaw (Poland). And it is the young audience that will act as a jury and vote for the winner right after the screenings. In a truly European vote, jury speakers will then transmit the national results live via video conference to Erfurt (Germany) where the winner will be announced in an award ceremony streamed live on a special website that offers further information about the nominated films and the participating cities.

This year’s third edition of the EFA Young Audience Award is realised with a network of the following partners: BFI British Film Institute, Centre for Educational Resources (Denmark), DokuFest (Kosovo), EducaTIFF (Romania), Film Center Serbia, Filmoteca de Catalunya (Spain), German Children’s Media Foundation GOLDEN SPARROW, Hungarian National Film Fund, Maltese Ministry for Tourism (Culture Directorate), National Film Centre of Latvia, New Horizons Association (Poland), Noosfera Foundation (Georgia), Otok – Institute for the Development of Film Culture (Slovenia), Sofia International Film Festival (Bulgaria), Swedish Film Institute, Tel Aviv Cinematheque (Israel) and Visegrad Film Forum (Slovakia).

The European Film Academy Young Audience Award is organized and presented by the European Film Academy and EFA Productions with the support of the Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung (MDM). The national Young Audience Film Day events will be organised with the support of the respective national partners. 

Opinion: Enough With the Oscars

a_610x408In my ever-so-humble opinion

Back in my youth, I remember the Academy Awards being a thing of joy, of beauty and romance, tears of joy, tears of pain and fond, funny and sometimes touching acceptance speeches. The winners were deserving of the accolades bestowed upon them by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences itself, the award having been conceived to reward talent and to push the industry forward to strive for greater things, to push the boundaries and to dare to go bigger, better and further.

These days, awards are given for spurious reasons such as the popularity of an artist, the amount of hype preceding a release  and, seemingly, by wetting a finger and holding it in the air to see which way the tide of favour is blowing this week.

But doesn’t all this pomp and procession tell the world all that’s good in cinema and galvanize them into embracing the magic of cinema? Well, yes – if you’re American. Quite why the television networks of the world foist this US-centric show-and-tell on us is beyond me.

I have no truck with America (except the whole ‘World Series’ nonsense) but the fact is that the Oscars no longer represent the be all and end all of cinema. The US does indeed make some wonderful movies but they are far from being a cinematic island. Pick a country – any country – and there will be cinema oozing out all over the place. However, these countries may only submit one film per year each, meaning that the majority will never get the oxygen of publicity afforded to so many mediocre US offerings. I’d rather the Academy weren’t so condescending about ‘Best Foreign Film’ as the winner can rarely be thus.

Aside from the lack of non-US talent it is, ironically, the US talent that irks me. I use the word ‘talent’ in the loosest possible sense, too. I refer, of course to the usual suspects. Here’s how it runs down usually: Pre-awards build-up suggests unlikely contenders when the info has almost certainly already been leaked and said film hasn’t a hope in hell. Someone whom people with even a modicum of musical taste will never have heard of plugs his/her/their latest crappy tune, something contrivedly wacky and/or unexpected happens, giving the internet a chance to explode in a huge hysterical wave of “oh no you di’un!”, haplessly plugging whatever product is being placed by the greedy corporate snake oil salesmen who insist on cheapening everything with their bling. The people expected to walk off with awards do so (except, of course, Leo) and the attendees retire to their parties, posing oh-so-casually for ‘that’ shot in the revealing dress. It’s sickeningly formulaic and yet the product-buying public suck it up like it’s a fairy tale.

If I have to hear one more time about how Cate Blanchett was so (insert adjective here) I’ll be sick. Or how so-and-so rocked the place with his dramatic and edgy acceptance speech (he’s an actor, it’s his job) and yet again, how the film-going public simper and fawn over a film they’ve never seen and likely never will when the Academy announce, yet again, that they’re giving an award to another piece of pointless fluff from the meandering, self-masturbatory mind of Woody Allen, simply because he likely has photos of an Academy big cheese doing odd things to a goat.

Any – any – organization that could give Titanic (1996) an amazingly disproportionate 11 Oscars are entirely and deeply suspicious and should not be trusted in issues of judgement. I tire of the habit of giving a star an Oscar because the Academy realize he/she hasn’t had one yet and think they’d better do some justice before actor drops dead and embarrasses them. I don’t have to name any names. If you’ve seen any of the ceremonies or read the results in the past few years, you’ll know.

Of course, there are many, many people – some of whom have Oscars – that don’t subscribe to the charade any more than they have to contractually and many more talented behind-the-scenes guys and gals doing a stand-up job bringing us the films we love to watch who will never be officially recognized in their whole career.

We, the film-going public know who you are. We read the credits and we know the names. We love what you do and we want you to keep doing it. Please keep doing it for us but don’t be swayed by shiny objects. The hard work and dedication of such people doesn’t deserve to be tainted and have the gloss rubbed off it by an event that makes the Superbowl half-time show look shabby and under-produced. Let’s have a real awards ceremony, where everyone is involved and where the winners are decided by those who buy the DVDs and go to the movies. Until then, I’m out.