November 21, 2017
As 26 films vie for Oscar's attention in the animated feature category, changes in the nominating committee could make it tougher for little films like 'The  Breadwinner' to fend off such studio fare as 'Coco' and 'Despicable  Me  3.'

How a New Oscars Rule Could Shake Up the Animation Contenders

When the Oscar nominations are unveiled Jan. 23, animation fans could be in for a surprise. Traditionally, the nominees have included a mix of high-profile, CG-animated studio films such as Pixar's Inside Out and Disney's Frozen along with acclaimed indie fare — often hand-drawn and submitted by indie distributor GKIDS, which has earned nine animated feature Oscar noms since 2009, second only to Disney/Pixar's 11.
But this year, there's a new rule: In the past, the nominating committee was composed of specially invited Academy members — half from the animation branch, half from other branches. Now, any Academy member willing to put in the time is welcome to join the committee. Will a more inclusive committee opt for bigger studio movies? In the past, committee members who favored traditional animation snubbed the popular The Lego Movie in favor of delicate fables like GKIDS' Song of the Sea. With a bigger pool of voters, could that situation now be reversed? GKIDS CEO Eric Beckman remains optimistic: "I don't see this rule change as dramatic, but it might be harder and more expensive for a smaller film to get attention."
In terms of sheer box office, some of the big players are formidable. Illumination/Universal's Minion-populated Despicable Me 3 topped $1 billion at the worldwide box office (including $264 million in North America) and is hoping to follow in the footsteps of 2013's Despicable Me 2, the only Illumination movie ever to score an animated feature Oscar nom.
Currently, the other animated pics sitting in 2017's top 25 at worldwide box office include DreamWorks Animation/Fox's The Boss Baby ($498.9 million), Pixar/Disney's Cars 3 ($382.8 million) and Warner Bros.' The Lego Batman Movie ($312 million).
The year's other studio submissions include DWA's Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, the superhero movie based on Dav Pilkey's children's books; Warners' second Lego movie of the year, The Lego Ninjago Movie; and a trio of films from Sony Pictures Animation: Smurfs: The Lost Village, The Emoji Movie and The Star.
Two upcoming high-profile CG tentpoles could shake up the studio landscape further: Coco, Pixar's Day of the Dead-themed film from Lee Unkrich (an Oscar winner for Toy Story 3), opens Nov. 22, and Fox/Blue Sky's Ferdinand, based on Munro Leaf's children's book about a peace-loving bull, opens Dec. 15.
On the indie front, GKIDS is definitely looking to do battle with several contenders that already have established themselves as award winners, chief among them The Breadwinner, directed by Nora Twomey of Ireland's Cartoon Saloon and executive produced by Angelina Jolie, which should pique the interest of voters. Based on the young adult novel by Deborah Ellis, the film follows an 11-year-old girl growing up under the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. In October, it won the Grand Prize and Audience Award at the fledgling Animation Is Film Festival in Hollywood.
Additionally, the jam-packed GKIDS lineup includes, among other films, The Girl Without Hands, a hand-painted retelling of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale that won the Jury Prize at the 2016 Annecy Animation Festival; The Big Bad Fox & Other Tales, a farm-set comedy helmed by Benjamin Renner and Patrick Imbert, who served as co-director and animation director, respectively, on the 2012 Oscar-nominated Ernest & Celestine; Mary and the Witch's Flower, the inaugural feature from Japan-based Studio Ponoc, started by alums from Hayao Miyazaki's famed Studio Ghibli; and Birdboy: The Forgotten Children, the Goya Award winner for best animated feature from Alberto Vazquez and Pedro Rivero.
Additional indies looking to make a mark include the Annecy Audience Award winner Loving Vincent, which uses 65,000 frames of oil painting to recount the life of Vincent van Gogh, and Annecy Jury Award winner In This Corner of the World, from Japan's Sunao Katabuchi, which follows a young woman living through World War II.
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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