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Matt Walsh wins directing award for 'High Road' at 2011 Newport Beach Film Festival

Apr 1, 2015

Newport Beach Film Festival wraps and announces winners

The 12th annual Newport Beach Film Festival concluded Thursday night with record-matching attendance, the Southern California premiere of the comedy adventure A Beginner's Guide to Endings, a closing-night party and award winners chosen by a jury and audience members.

The jury award for best feature film went to the closing movie, A Beginner's Guide to Endings, starring Harvey Keitel, Scott Caan, Paulo Costanzo and others. That film also won jury awards for best cinematography (Samy Inayeh) and best screenplay (Jonathan Sobol).

Another big winner was the Australian drama Face to Face, which won best actor (Vince Colosima), best actress (Ra Chapman) and best director (Michael Rymer). My So-Called Enemy won best feature documentary film, while We Were Here got an honorable mention. Warriors of Qiugang won best short documentary, with Moth in Spring nabbing an honorable mention.

Fly got the prize for best short animated film, while Bottle got an honorable mention. Love Song of Iskra Prufrock won best narrative short film, with The Escape getting an honorable mention.

About 51,000 people attended this year's festival, matching the record set in 2009 and achieved again in 2010. That's a 21.4 percent increase over 2008, when 42,000 people attended.

"We had more sold-out screenings for the film festival than in the last 12 years," said Gregg Schwenk, chief executive officer and executive director of the festival. "I'm extremely pleased as far as the early numbers are concerned. We're very close, if not matching, maybe exceeding last year's numbers."

Schwenk added that he was happy with the new venue this year, Starlight Cinemas at Triangle Square in Costa Mesa. Major renovations at Edwards Island Cinemas in Fashion Island - the festival's base since its start in 2000 - forced the bulk of the festival out of Newport Beach for the first time.

"Whenever you move a complicated event like a film festival, there's bound to be a few hiccups," Schwenk said. "Definitely a positive relationship has been forged." The fest will return to Edwards Island Cinemas next year.

During its eight-day run, the festival screened more than 400 films from 50 countries. This year's budget was $450,000 to $500,000, not including in-kind contributions exceeding $1 million. Schwenk said he's hopeful that the festival will break even and perhaps have a little extra to put in the bank.

Audience award winners were also announced Friday: Hamil won the audience award for best U.S. feature; My Afternoons with Margueritte won the award for foreign feature; Defining Beauty: Ms. Wheelchair America won for best documentary; Splinters won for action sports feature; and "Moonfishing" won for short film.

Outstanding achievement in filmmaking honors went to the following: Jericho Rosales (acting), Subject: I Love You; Matt Walsh (directing), High Road; Takeshi Koike, Redline (feature); Andre Ovredal, Trollhunter; Drew and Brett Pierce, Deadheads; Liz Garbus, Bobby Fisher Against the World; Alana Morshead, Peach Plum Pear. Outstanding achievement in documentary awards went to Project Nim and Press Pause Play. Splinters and Like A Lion won prizes for outstanding achievement in action-sports filmmaking.

The following short films were recognized with outstanding achievement awards: The Lift (animation), The Legend of Beaver Dam (horror), Skot Bright (directing) for Ollie Klublershturf vs. the Nazis, Rita, Stanley Pickle and Ghild. Chuck Jones Special Recognition Awards went to Le Cirque (direction, story and character development): Fly (comic timing); Thought of You (art direction); and Blind Date (character development).

For the first time, the festival announced MacGillivray Freeman Films Awards, after the Laguna Beach documentary production company. My So-Called Enemy won this prize for excellence in documentary filmmaking (feature), The Dancer won for documentary filmmaking (short), and This is Your Ocean: Sharks won for environmental filmmaking.
LA General

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Jason Mantzoukas to play Sacha Baron Cohen's sidekick in 'The Dictator'

Apr 1, 2015

Kristen Wiig, Anna Faris, Gillian Jacobs Front-Runners for Sacha Baron Cohen's 'Dictator' (Exclusive)
"The League" actor Jason Mantzoukas is in negotiations to play Cohen's sidekick in the comedy.

The casting for Sacha Baron Cohen's latest comedy, The Dictator, is starting to come into focus.

Larry Charles, who directed Borat, is back in the helming saddle for the Paramount movie, which has been described as "the heroic story of a dictator who risked his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed." Baron Cohen is said to play dual roles of a goat herder and a deposed foreign ruler who gets lost in the U.S.

The movie is being done in a similar manner as Borat in the sense that Baron Cohen and his team are looking for people with very strong improvisational skills.

Right now, Jason Mantzoukas is in negotiations to play Baron Cohen's sidekick, a fellow from the Middle East. Mantzoukas has been working mostly in TV, making appearances in Parks and Recreation and Traffic Light, as well doing a run on The League, FX's semi-scripted comedy.

Dictator is also in the midst of nabbing the female lead, with Kristen Wiig, Anna Faris, and Gillian Jacobs (Community) emerging as front-runners. Despite the readings, sources have cautioned that is the producers - Baron Cohen along with Scott Rudin, Alec Berg, Jeff Schaffer and David Mandel - are still looking and that the part may end up with someone else.

The movie is aiming to start this May in locations in New York and Morocco.

Mantzoukas is repped by CAA, Mosaic and attorney Jeff Endlich.
LA General

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DING DONG MEOW: The Andrea Rosen Show Reviewed in TheComicsComic.com

Apr 1, 2015


Ding Dong Meow (Cookie!), aka The Andrea Rosen Show


Andrea Rosen's current show at the UCB Theatre, 'Ding Dong Meow,' really should be called 'Ding Dong Meow (Cookie!)'

It's neither one-woman show nor performance art piece, but rather a showcase for Rosen's variety of talents as a comedian. Want to hear her stand-up comedy about true and often embarrassing stories from her life? Ding! Want to see her portray various oddball characters such as a half-deaf bride, an embarrassed mafia don or a kangaroo? Dong! Did you know that she writes consumer complaint letters when companies and restaurants let her down? Meow! Would you like a home-baked cookie? Cookie!

Rosen life-changing revelations are funny, nauseating and downright sentimental. Thankfully more of the former and the latter than the middle part.

Did I mention her cookies!

'Ding Dong Meow: The Andrea Rosen Show' at the UCB Theatre in New York City.
NY Shows

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