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Sundance celebrates the ‘magic’ of being back in-person

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Sundance celebrates the 'magic' of being back in-person

The Sundance Film Festival met the moment by going virtual for the past two years because of the coronavirus pandemic. But on Thursday, there was a palpable sense of relief from the festival’s leadership team at being in-person again.

Sundance Institute CEO Joana Vicente, director of programming Kim Yutani, senior programmer John Nein and incoming Sundance Film Festival director Eugene Hernandez gathered Thursday afternoon in Park City, Utah, to discuss what’s to come. Just outside, on a snowy Main Street, finishing touches were being put on storefronts and restaurants that sponsors have taken over for the week.

“It feels so good to be back in person,” Vicente said. “There’s nothing like the magic of being together in Park City.”

Yutani also announced the last-minute addition of “Justice,” a documentary from filmmaker Doug Liman about allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, that will debut Friday.

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“It was a powerful documentary that we felt was important to add,” Yutani said. “We saw it, like, yesterday.”

Eleven films have their world premieres Thursday night, including the documentary “Little Richard: I Am Everything” and the Frankenstein-inspired psychological horror “birth/rebirth,” about a morgue technician who reanimates a little girl. Also on Thursday, “Shayda,” about an Iranian mother and her 6-year-old daughter who go to a women’s shelter in Australia, “The Longest Goodbye,” a documentary about a NASA psychologist preparing Mars-bound astronauts for social isolation, the Daisy Ridley film “Sometimes I Think About Dying” and “Kim’s Video,” a documentary about a hunt for a lost video collection of 55,000 movies.

Programmers watched 16,000 films to determine this year’s slate of 111 films and say that there is something for everyone. Biographical documentaries, films about world issues and diasporic filmmaking are especially popular this year.

Nein said that he expects audiences to be buzzing about the performances of both known stars like Jonathan Majors, in “Magazine Dreams,” Cynthia Erivo, in “Drift,” and Eugenio Derbez in “Radical” and newcomers like Lío Mehiel in “Mutt” and Priya Kansara in “Polite Society.”

The Sundance Institute is also hosting a dinner Thursday night honoring filmmaker Luca Guadagnino, Ryan Coogler, Nikyatu Jusu and W. Kamau Bell. There will also be a fundraising component to support the Institute’s work. Vicente said that it has been a challenging few years for the Institute, financially.

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Sundance is not just a festival, after all. The non-profit institute, founded by Robert Redford in 1981, provides year-round support to emerging filmmakers with labs, fellowships and mentorship.

“The festival is this amazing platform to celebrate and share with audiences,” Vicente said. “But really, as Robert Redford says, the engine, the most important work we do happens year-round.”

Filmmaker Sophie Barthes, whose film “The Pod Generation” is among the opening night selections, attributes her career to the Sundance Institute. Her first short film debuted at the festival almost 20 years ago, marking the beginning of a relationship that continues to this day. Over the years, she participated in the director’s lab, the composers’ lab and the writers’ lab. It’s also where she debuted her first feature, “Cold Souls,” with Paul Giamatti, in 2009.

“I wouldn’t be here without Sundance,” Barthes said in a recent interview. “They helped my career so much. I had like 50 advisers, the best of the best in the industry. It was like a film school on steroids. For filmmakers it’s the best thing that can happen to you because once you enter the family, they help and support you.”

Her film “The Pod Generation” is a futuristic satire about a New York couple (played by Emilia Clarke and Chiwetel Ejiofor) who use an “artificial womb” to get pregnant. She wanted to explore not-so-far-off advancements like artificial gestation and AI therapy and poke at ideas like detachment parenting.

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“It’s a satire about the fact that we’ve lost so many of our instincts because of this modern life, we’re trying to reinvent the wheel and it becomes very comical,” Barthes said. “I think it’s very funny to explore the psychology of parents, especially in New York.”

She hopes the film raises a debate about our relationship to technology. It will also be part of the “beyond film” conversations taking place in Park City outside of the cinemas throughout the week. Subjects range from how to cross-over from television to film, with “Flight Attendant” director Susanna Fogel whose “Cat Person” is premiering at the festival, to representation, with Randall Park and Marlee Matlin. There will be conversations about making your first feature and even burnout, with Majors, food writer Ruth Reichl and graphic novelist Adrian Tomine. Many of the sponsors, from Acura to Adobe, are also hosting timely conversations as well about climate change in movies, reclaiming trans narratives, building inclusive productions and even getting into Sundance.

The festival has continued to evolve over the past few years. Though in-person was the priority, they also committed to a hybrid format. This year some 80 films will be available to watch online for ticketholders. The digital package, Vicente said, sold out very quickly.

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Kareena ignores Shahid Kapoor at award show

Kareena ignores Shahid Kapoor at award show

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Kareena ignores Shahid Kapoor at award show

The Dadasaheb Phalke International Film Festival Awards (DPIFF) 2024 took place in Mumbai on Feb 20. 

On the red carpet, exes Kareena Kapoor Khan and Shahid Kapoor had an awkward encounter, which is now going viral on social media.

It looks like Kareena ‘royally’ ignored Shahid and went on to pose for the paparazzi.

The viral video, which is now doing the rounds, shows Shahid Kapoor holding a trophy in his hands and posing with director duo Raj and DK.

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As the photo session was underway, Kareena Kapoor arrived and greeted the directors as she moved past them to pose for the paparazzi.

Shahid Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor Khan’s past relationship has always made headlines.

The two worked in superhit films like ‘Jab We Met’ and ‘Udta Punjab’. In several interviews, they have spoken about sharing a cordial relationship after they moved on with their respective lives.

But, the recent video seems to indicate otherwise.

Work-wise, Kareena Kapoor Khan will be seen next in ‘The Crew’ and ‘Singham Again’. Shahid Kapoor’s upcoming release is ‘Deva’, which is currently under production.

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Faryal Makhdoom threatens to expose ITV after CBB axe

Faryal Makhdoom threatens to expose ITV after CBB axe

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Faryal Makhdoom threatens to expose ITV after CBB axe

Faryal Makhdoom has threatened to expose ITV after she was dropped from Celebrity Big Brother, just days before the show airs.

The wife of Amir Khan was reportedly signed up for the show.

However, Faryal later said Celebrity Big Brother axed her over her pro-Palestine views on social media.

On Instagram, Faryal said: “As many of you know, I was offered to do a show for which the producers had offered me a few years ago and I had previously refused.

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“This time, they made a very lucrative offer and after a lot of convincing, I finally agreed to sign for the show.

“I also wanted to do this show to make it more inclusive for the Muslim community.

“But it seems from my social media activity and being pro-Palestine is not appropriate for ITV and its sponsors.

“Mind you, ITV and this particular show has had many controversial people on it before, but for some reason, I was singled out.

“I was told to step down 10 days before going in.

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“I have never in my life been treated like this. It’s a violation of free speech.

“This is why cowards with a huge following (especially Muslims) refuse to speak on this issue because they deprive you of opportunities and so you have no choice but to support them and stand them.

“Bear in mind, I was offered substantial money not to speak on this issue but I rejected it.

“For me, no amount of money will ever stop me from speaking on the injustice happening in Palestine.”

ITV responded and denied Faryal’s claims, with a spokesperson saying: “We meet numerous prospective housemates when casting for Celebrity Big Brother, however the final lineup is not confirmed until closer to transmission.

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“As per our welfare protocols, we are unable to comment on the casting process for individual prospective Housemates, other than to say that suitability to participate is determined by a number of factors.”

Faryal hit back, sharing what appeared to be a screenshot of her contract between herself and Celebrity Big Brother producer Banijay.

She wrote: “Attempting to downplay a situation when I have my contract right here.”

In another post, she said: “Do better with the lies ITV.

“I had gone through all of the relevant and necessary assessments, including a mental health assessment.

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George Michael honoured with UK collectible coin

George Michael honoured with UK collectible coin

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George Michael honoured with UK collectible coin

Late British singer-songwriter George Michael is being honoured with a personalised collectible coin.

Britain’s Royal Mint said on Monday the new coin, which depicts Michael wearing his trademark sunglasses, pays tribute to the music star’s 1987 hit solo single “Faith”.

Officially approved by Michael’s estate, it was designed by artist and sculptor Sandra Deiana.

“From his debut with WHAM! to becoming one of the bestselling solo musicians of all time, George Michael is a global superstar whose work has inspired and influenced generations with his music and his unique style,” said Rebecca Morgan, director of Collector Services at The Royal Mint.

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“Loved by millions of fans worldwide, we are delighted to be introducing an official UK coin celebrating his life and legacy,” she said in a statement.

Michael, who rose to stardom in the 1980s with Wham! before embarking on a successful solo career, died on Christmas Day in 2016 at the age of 53.

Wham!’s enduring 1984 festive song “Last Christmas” finally secured the “Christmas Number 1” spot for the first time on the UK music charts in December, 39 years after its release.

The new coin is the latest addition to the Royal Mint’s “Music Legends” series, which has previously honoured David Bowie, Elton John and Queen with coins, and will be available to purchase from Monday.

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