Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman shines a light on how “stupid, idiotic and small-minded” the Ku Klux Klan were, producer Jason Blum told a CinemaCon audience during the Focus Features lunch presentation on Wednesday (April 25).
Blum was joined on stage by John David Washington, who plays detective Ron Stallworth, whose real-life exploits when he infiltrated the KKK in the 1970s form the backbone of Lee’s Cannes competition selection.
BlacKkKlansman opens on August 11 and also stars Adam Driver, Topher Grace. Blum introduced footage and the tone was energetic, funny and madcap in places.
Focus Features Peter Kujawski introduced the presentation and used the platform to recap the awards season and in particular Gary Oldman’s Oscar win for Darkest Hour.
Saoirse Ronan took to the stage and regaled the crowd with insights into accents during a spot for Mary Queen Of Scots (pictured).
“They’re both muscular accents,” the multi-Oscar-nominated Irish star said of her native tongue and the Scottish dialect she adopted for her latest role in UK theatre maven Josie Rourke’s historical drama and feature directorial debut.
This, she said, was in stark contrast to her accent in Lady Bird, which earned Ronan her third Academy Award nod earlier this year. “The Sacramento accent is kind of lazy… Beautiful, but flat.”
Ronan said she bonded during production with I, Tonya star Margot Robbie, who portrays Mary’s rival to the English throne Elizabeth I, and like Ronan was a fixture on the recent awards season circuit.
Another leading light from the British Isles, Felicity Jones, appeared on stage to talk up her performance as Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Participant Media’s On The Basis Of Sex, which opens later in the year.
“Ruth is a fighter,” Jones said. “When I played her she reminded me of Rocky. She had so many setbacks and kept on going. She grew up in Brooklyn in modest circumstances and became a Supreme Court Justice.”
“Her legacy speaks to the #MeToo movement conversations and gender equality,” director Mimi Leder said. “It felt great to be making the film at that time. It’s more relevant now as much as it was then when she was being this ground-breaking figure.”
Leder added, “We made a real-life superhero origins story.” The director said Ginsburg loved what she had seen of the film, before cueing up footage showing Ginsburg’s early years preparing to fight sexual discrimination cases.
The session included a spot with Lucas Hedges from gay conversion therapy drama Boy Erased (September 28), Joel Edgerton’s second directing effort after The Gift.
Edgerton presented moving footage of a scene in which Hedges comes out to his parents and is asked by his father if he wants to change. Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman play the parents in the Anonymous Content drama.
“What inspired me to make it is the incredible family story,” Edgerton said, adding: “When you leave the movie you leave with the understanding that true conversation is about people’s ideas and [prejudices].”
Focus also showed exclusive footage from the upcoming Johnny English Strikes Again in which Rowan Atkinson dances catastrophically on a nightclub dance floor, unknowingly evading an assassin.
The 2018 slate includes Jason Reitman’s imminent release Tully (May 4), Wim Wenders’ Pope Francis documentary A Man Of His Word (May 18), TV host Fred Rogers documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (June 8), and Lenny Abrahamson’s horror mystery The Little Stranger due out on August 31.