• [The Daily] In the Works: Polanski, Cuarón, and More

    By David Hudson

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    Back in August, a woman identified only as Robin became the third woman to accuse Roman Polanski of sexual assault, after Samantha Geimer and Charlotte Lewis. On October 3, two days before the New York Times blew the Harvey Weinstein scandal wide open, a fourth woman, Renate Langer, accused Polanski of raping her in 1972 when she was fifteen. Last week, Marianne Barnard became the fifth woman to come forward and, as Martha Ross reports for the Mercury News, her call to have Polanski expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has been met with considerable support.

    Whatever the outcome, films such as Rosemary’s Baby (1968) and Chinatown (1974) will endure, even if the context in which they’re viewed now or in the future evolves. The Cinémathèque française will present its Roman Polanski retrospective from October 30 through December 3, and Polanski, now eighty-four, will evidently carry on working. He’s “returned to Poland for the first time since the country's top court rejected a U.S. extradition request last year to shoot a documentary about his life in wartime Krakow,” according to Nick Holdsworth in the Hollywood Reporter. Polanski, Horowitz (working title) will be “about his childhood and youth in the southern Polish city with his longtime friend, the photographer Ryszard Horowitz.” The AP notes that they’ve specifically visited “the site of the former ghetto where he was held as a child by the German Nazis. His mother was taken from there to her death at Auschwitz, and later his father made him flee the ghetto.”

    Above: Adrien Brody and Polanski on the set of The Pianist (2002), based the memoir by pianist and composer Władysław Szpilman, who took part in the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

    ALSO IN THE WORKS

    First up, not a film that’s in the works, but a restoration, 4K, “from the original Super 16mm negatives” of Anna Karina’s directorial debut, Vivre Ensemble (1973). As Jamie Lang reports for Variety, it’s “set in the St Germain neighborhood of Paris’ Latin Quarter and the spirit of the late ’60s and pre-oil crisis ’70s sets the backdrop for the film’s love story. It was selected for the 1973 Cannes Film Festival Critics’ Week lineup.”

    As noted yesterday, Matías Piñeiro writes about the film he’s currently working on in the new issue of La Furia Umana. Portia will be another “Shakespearead,” the “name I informally put to these series of films around the female roles in Shakespeare Comedies,” Rosalinda (2011), Viola (2012), The Princess of France (2014), and Hermia & Helena (2016). “The first decision I make is which play I will work with. That decision comes from which female role I am most curious about and that curiosity comes first from the scene I find most challenging. From a scene, a role is chosen and so is the play, and so is the title of the actual film. So, in this occasion it means the three caskets scene took me to The Merchant of Venice and so to Portia.” And he’ll be working once again with María Villar.

    The Playlist’s Kevin Jagernauth notes that David Fincher’s interviewed on the new Empire Film Podcast (42’24”), discussing Mindhunter, of course, but also why his HBO series Utopia fell apart and the current state of the sequel to World War Z with Brad Pitt: “We’re hoping to get a piece of material that’s a reason to make a movie not an excuse to make a movie.”

    “Chiwetel Ejiofor’s The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind which marks the actor’s directorial debut has started production in Malawi,” reports Deadline’s Anita Busch. “Ejiofor will star in the project he also adapted from the book written by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer. . . . The film follows 13-year-old William Kamkwamba (newcomer Maxwell Simba) who is thrown out of the school he loves when his family can no longer afford the fees. Sneaking back into the school library, he finds a way, using the bones of the bicycle belonging to his father Trywell (Ejiofor), to build a windmill which then saves his village from famine.”

    “Antonio Campos (Afterschool) has signed on to rewrite and direct the upcoming horror film, Splitfoot (fka Voices Through the Trumpet), based on a 1936 article in the New Yorker about the first documented haunted house, written by journalist and bestselling author Carl Carmer.” Amanda N’Duka has more at Deadline.

    Also, screenwriter Eva Vives (Raising Victor Vargas) is making her directorial debut with the “semi-autobiographical dark comedy,” All About Nina, starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Common.

    Feud: Bette and Joan writers Michael Zam and Jaffe Cohen are making a biopic about iconic star Vivien Leigh,” reports Variety’s Dave McNary. Based on Hugo Vickers’s Vivien Leigh: A Biography, the story “will focus on the life of the actress and her relationship with Laurence Olivier, who was her spouse from 1940 to 1960.”

    Also, Hilary Swank is joining Clara Rugaard in director Grant Sputore and writer Michael Lloyd Green’s I Am Mother. “Rugaard portrays the first of a new generation of humans raised by ‘Mother’—a kindly robot designed to repopulate the earth following the extinction of mankind. But their unique bond is threatened when a blood-drenched woman (played by Swank) inexplicably arrives, calling into question everything she’s been told about the outside world.”

    And Morgan Freeman will star as Colin Powell in Powell, Reginald Hudlin’s film focusing “on Powell’s 2003 speech to the United Nations to seek support for the Bush administration’s plan to forcibly remove Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, based on intelligence—later discredited—that Iraq was developing nuclear weapons.”

    Paolo Virzì has begun shooting Notti magiche (Magic Nights), reports Vittoria Scarpa at Cineuropa: “It’s a comedy that’s also a noir,’ states the director who co-wrote the screenplay with Francesca Archibugi and Francesco Piccolo. ‘A well-known film producer is found dead in the river Tiber in Rome and the main suspects are three young aspiring writers. One night, by order of the carabinieri, they must retrace their tremendous, sentimental and ironic journey in the splendour and misery of the last glorious season of Italian cinema.’

    SERIES

    Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity) and Casey Affleck (A Ghost Story) are teaming up on a series currently being “pitched to pay cable and streaming outlets, garnering interest from multiple networks,” reports Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva. “Details about the project are being kept under wraps but I hear it is a horror genre series that tracks the origins of a cult. Cuarón is writing, directing and executive producing; Affleck is starring and executive producing.”

    Also, Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine) will write and direct I Know This Much Is True, based on Wally Lamb’s bestselling 1998 novel, an “an epic family saga that explores the American identity following the parallel lives of twin brothers Dominick and Thomas Birdsey throughout the latter half of the 20th century. [Mark] Ruffalo will pull double duty, starring as both brothers.”

    And Kat Candler (Hellion), “who served as producing director on the second season of Queen Sugar, has been named executive producer/showrunner for the hit OWN drama’s upcoming third season.”

    One more from Andreeva: “Steve Buscemi has been tapped as the co-lead opposite Daniel Radcliffe in TBS’ anthology comedy series Miracle Workers, executive produced by Lorne Michaels. Buscemi replaces Owen Wilson.”

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