Ang Lee's Lust, Caution was the surprise toast of Venice last year, stealing the Golden Lion from under the nose of critical favourite, Abdellatif Kechiche's Couscous (aka The Secret Of The Grain). It went on to dominate at the Golden Horse Awards in Taiwan, with seven wins including best feature, director, actor and adapted screenplay, and was nominated for best foreign film at the Baftas and the Golden Globes. However, it controversially failed to secure a single Oscar nomination. After Venice, Focus Features sold Lust, Caution to 40 countries, and it went on to gross $66m worldwide. It took $17.1m in China despite the film's sex and politics provoking the ire of officials. Ang and his co-writer and Focus CEO James Schamus are now working on Taking Woodstock, based on Elliot Tiber's memoir about his role in establishing the seminal 1969 music festival.
Couscous (aka The Secret Of The Grain)
Abdellatif Kechiche's Couscous won Venice's special jury prize (shared with Todd Haynes' I'm Not There), the Fipresci prize and the Marcello Mastroianni award for best emerging actress for Hafsia Herzi. The film was hailed a cinematic triumph by the French press and has been adopted as a vehicle for improving relations with France's North African community. Kechiche won comparisons to Francois Truffaut, Jean Renoir and Marcel Pagnol, and Couscous won several Cesar awards (including best film, director, original screenplay and most promising actress) and France's prestigious Louis Delluc Prize. Pathe sold it around the world including to the UK (Artificial Eye), Italy (Lucky Red), Germany (Arsenal Filmverleih) and Australia/New Zealand (Palace Films). To date, Couscous has grossed $11m worldwide; it will be released in the US in December by IFC Films. The film was showcased at the Tribeca Film Festival in April, and won the first ever critics' award at the 12th Colcoa (City of Lights, City of Angels) festival. Kechiche returns to Venice this year as head of the jury for the Golden Lion of the Future Award for first-time film-makers.
I'm Not There
Todd Haynes' experimental Bob Dylan biopic shared Venice's special jury prize and Cate Blanchett picked up the best actress award. After premiering at the Telluride Film Festival, I'm Not There screened at Toronto. Following Venice, it had a limited release in the US via The Weinstein Company, grossing $4.1m. It was sold internationally by Celluloid Dreams to territories including Australia/New Zealand (Icon), France (Diaphana) and Norway/Sweden (Scanbox), and went on to gross $11.1m worldwide. Blanchett was nominated for an Oscar and a Bafta, and won the Golden Globe for best supporting actress. The film was recognised by the Independent Spirit Awards where Haynes, the cast and the casting director took the Robert Altman Award.