Jeremy Saulnier is sticking with Netflix, and he’s getting some help from John Boyega. The Green Room director previously helmed the Netflix movie Hold the Dark, and now he’s set to direct Rebel Ridge, which will star Boyega. There’s not a whole lot known about the project at the moment beyond a description stating it’s a “high-velocity thriller.” But the news of Saulnier working with Boyega is exciting enough on its own.
Variety broke the news about John Boyega starring in Jeremy Saulnier’s Netflix movie Rebel Ridge. Plot details are non-existent, but here’s how Rebel Ridge is being described:
Similarly to Saulnier’s 2013 crime dramaGreen Room, his upcoming movie will be a high-velocity thriller that explores systemic American injustices through bone-breaking action sequences, suspense and dark humor.
Bone-breaking action and American injustices? Who could resist?
Boyega is about to finish his time in the Star Wars universe with The Rise of Skywalker, which will, in turn, free him up for more projects like this. Boyega is a strong actor with energetic charisma, and I’m all-in on him branching out into darker movies and working with people like Saulnier. In short, even though I have no idea what the hell Rebel Ridge is about, I can’t wait to see it.
Rebel Ridge will be co-produced by Filmscience and Bonneville Pictures, along with Saulnier, Anish Savjani, Neil Kopp, Vincent Savino. Frequent Saulnier collaborator Macon Blair – who has had acting roles in all of Saulnier’s movies, and wrote the script for Hold the Dark – is executing producing. No word yet on when we might get to see this thing, but I’m guessing it won’t be until 2021, unless it has a quick shoot and turnaround and manages to arrive on the streaming service at the end of next year.
Well, it’s happened. There are so many streaming services now we have to round-up the news about them into one big post. I hope you’re happy. Here’s what’s new on the streaming service front: Apple TV+ has launched, but no one seems to care. But hey, Apple just renewed a bunch of shows anyway. Disney+, meanwhile, is about to kick-off in the U.S., but won’t arrive in the U.K. until March. And finally, if you have an older Samsung Smart TV, you might not be able to watch Netflix in December.
Apple TV+’s Soft Launch
Hey, did you know Apple TV+ is live? More than a few people seem to be unaware of this fact, and it’s showing. Parrot Analytics examined the 24-hour period following the Apple TV+ launch, then compared it against the same demand levels following the release of all the other new streaming titles debuting in 2019 via Variety. The results weren’t great. Of all the Apple TV+ shows, only one – See – cracked the top 20.
The Morning Show, perhaps the most high-profile series on Apple TV+, seems to have performed the worst. Ouch. Despite all this, Apple has gone ahead and renewed almost everything. They actually revealed this news weeks ago, but for some reason, it’s making the rounds again today. According to THR, Dickinson, See, and For All Mankind and The Morning Show have all been given second seasons.
Disney+ Across the Pond and Beyond
Disney+ goes live in the U.S. on November 12, but there’s been no word about other countries – until now. Disney has confirmed that on March 31 the service will be live in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain, with more locations announced soon.
Just announced: #DisneyPlus will be available in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and more to be announced soon starting on March 31st. Please note: Titles may vary by territory. pic.twitter.com/lE6nzBeaXy
— Disney+ @disneyplus November 7, 2019
Netflix Woes for Smart TVs
Do you have a Samsung Smart TV from 2010 and 2011? If so, you might run into some trouble next month trying to watch Netflix. Samsung has announced that “Due to technical limitations, Netflix will no longer be supported on 2010 and 2011 TVs beginning on December 1st, 2019.” They add:
If you have one of the affected models, you may see a message on your TV indicating that Netflix will no longer be available on this device. You’ll still be able to watch Netflix on your TV by connecting another device with Netflix on it.
Although some of our older TV’s 2010 and 2011 models, with C or D after the screen size in the model code will no longer support Netflix directly beginning December 1st, 2019, many other devices you may have connected to your TV are still supported. You can find a list from Netflix at netflix.com/compatibledevices. As long as you have one of the supported devices, like a game console, streaming media player, or set-top box, you’ll still be able to watch Netflix on your TV
So head’s up. And hey, Black Friday deals are coming. Why not splurge on a new TV anyway? That’s how capitalism works, baby!
John Crist's debut on the streamer is on hold after multiple women accused him of harassment.
Netflix has pulled a stand-up special by comedian John Crist after multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct.
Crist's debut special on the streamer, I Ain't Prayin' for That, had been scheduled to premiere on Thanksgiving. As of Thursday afternoon, however, the special's title page has been removed, and a Netflix spokesperson confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that the special is on hold.
Crist is a Christian and has gained a large following 1.2 million Instagram followers, half a million YouTube subscribers for stand-up comedy and videos poking gentle fun at Christian culture. Netflix's press materials for the special describe him as "the son of a pastor and one of eight homeschooled children" and said I Ain't Prayin' for That would tackle "the weakness of millennial culture, how to be a 'good' Christian, dating in the modern era and more."
Christian publication Charisma News on Wednesday published accounts from five women who accuse Crist of inappropriate conduct ranging from unwanted sexting to "offering show tickets in exchange for sexual favors" and, according to one woman, grabbing her and trying to kiss her while propositioning her for sex.
Crist has canceled tour dates for the remainder of the year and said in a statement to Charisma News that he's focusing on "getting healthy spiritually, mentally and physically."
"Over the past number of years, various women have accused me of behavior that has been hurtful to them. While I am not guilty of everything I've been accused of, I confess to being guilty of this — I have treated relationships with women far too casually, in some cases even recklessly," Crist said in a statement to the publication. "My behavior has been destructive and sinful. I've sinned against God, against women and the people who I love the most. I have violated my own Christian beliefs, convictions and values, and have hurt many people in the process. I am sorry for the hurt and pain I have caused these women and will continue to seek their forgiveness. I have also hurt the name of Jesus and have sought His forgiveness."
On the Netflix Hollywood compound recently, a capacity crowd gathered in an amphitheater for an event with the crackling energy—and almost the look—of a UFC title bout.
The contenders in the ring at Real to Reel: A Netflix Documentary Showcase Presented by Deadline were all heavyweights, not in MMA but nonfiction filmmaking—Oscar nominees, Emmy winners and Sundance honorees all with important new work streaming on the Netflix platform.
“Documentary filmmaking is about capturing truth,” declared Karim Amer in round 1 of Real to Reel. He and Jehane Noujaim directed The Great Hack, a film untangling the complex Cambridge Analytica/Facebook data scandal that exploded after the 2016 presidential election.
Deadline's Awardsline editor Joe Utichi refereed the discussion, asking Amer and Noujaim about the truth they capture—that information shared by people through social media is “being bought and sold like stocks.”
“In many ways I think people will look back at this time like this was the grand theft, where we gave up so much of our autonomy without fully realizing by [skipping over] the terms and conditions” of social media apps, Amer observed.
The Great Hack has triggered “a really strong reaction,” Noujaim commented. “Everybody who has a cell phone and uses social media...cares about this. From women that have seen it and have decided to delete apps because they've read the terms and conditions and realized they don't want their kid near it to the reaction that we got in Trinidad and Tobago because they realized that their election was manipulated, to here.”
“I think that no matter what happens with the data, we have to mobilize people,” responded Rachel Lears, director of Knock Down the House, which documents the 2018 insurgent primary campaigns of four Democratic women candidates, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
“I think that our democracy is stronger the more people believe that their voice matters,” Lears continued. “That's very much what we were trying to do with Knock Down the House is make everyone feel at multiple levels—emotionally, intellectually—that their voice matters and not just their vote but that you can work and organize and come together with your neighbors and friends, colleagues and really build a movement that can challenge established power structures.”
The theme of round 1 of Real to Reel was “The World of 2019.” No film speaks to contemporary times more directly than American Factory, from directors Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert. Issues related to globalization, U.S.-China relations and, indirectly, immigration come up in the documentary about a billionaire Chinese auto glass entrepreneur who built a factory in Dayton, Ohio in the shell of an old GM plant.
Bognar addressed how he and Reichert gained the trust of so many characters—Chinese and American factory workers, managers and even the billionaire chairman himself, Cao Dewang.
“It is an ongoing relationship,” Bognar noted. “Someone can say, 'Yeah, you can hang out with me for awhile,' but if you are not a good person in the room...and say that stupid thing that was in your head you can easily derail a relationship and then the film can go off the track... Access is one thing; trust is a whole other level, and trust is an everyday kind of question.”
Filmmaker Nadia Hallgren developed trust by empathizing with subjects of her short documentary After Maria, about people from Puerto Rico who sought refuge in New York after Hurricane Maria wiped out their island home.
“They're still struggling in the ways that many people do when they don't have active employment,” Hallgren revealed. “There are deep trauma issues from the storm and the way that they were treated while they were in Puerto Rico, having no access to food, having no access to water and then coming to the United States and losing their dignity in a lot of ways, the way that the government handled them. So those experiences don't just go away.”
A year ago the Camp Fire incinerated Paradise, California, killing dozens of residents and displacing tens of thousands of others. Filmmaker Drea Cooper, who had spent time in the community as a boy, returned with cameras to document the devastation for his Netflix short documentary Fire in Paradise.
“What we found was a lot of these people hadn't really told their story yet,” Cooper shared. “This was just an amazing testament to the documentary process where it becomes this therapeutic process and can be very positive and revelatory. It's a chance for a lot of people for the first time to just verbalize what they'd gone through. And just in doing that you could see this weight kind of lift off people.”
Identity was the theme of round 2 of Real to Reel. African-American identity and the struggle to share in American opportunity come into focus in The Black Godfather, about Clarence Avant, a behind-the-scenes power broker who quietly advanced the careers of black entertainment, sports and political figures. While making the film, producer Nicole Avant—Clarence's daughter—discovered how her father helped NFL great Jim Brown transition from the gridiron to movie stardom.
“I did not know the Jim Brown story,” Avant commented. “My dad [had told me] he knew him and helped him with something and then I see the footage. 'Helped him with something? You created a whole career for this person! And helped change civil rights in this country based on him trying to get into Hollywood and get into these films.' I just didn't realize the layers of humanity, the layers of the human soul that we were going to catch...It's about civil rights, social justice, dreaming against all odds, dreaming through adversity, dreaming for other people, serving other people.”
The identity at stake in The Edge of Democracy is an entire country's. Petra Costa's film questions whether her native Brazil is heading back towards dictatorship.
“One of the main things I learned making The Edge of Democracy was how Brazil as a nation decided to forget its past, the time of the military dictatorship and the crimes committed during the military dictatorship,” Costa observed. “As many other nations—Portugal, Spain—they thought that that was the best way to deal with the pain because otherwise it would re-traumatize, it would create anger. The United States did that with slavery to a certain extent and when you do that your past comes back to haunt you.”
The challenge of putting subjects at ease was a constant refrain for filmmakers at the Real to Reel event, whether Brazil's ex-president Dilma Rousseff in The Edge of Democracy or the families in Life Overtakes Me, the short doc by Kristine Samuelson and John Haptas.
“We ate a lot of cookies, we had a lot of cups of coffee. I did magic tricks for the siblings in the families,” Haptas explained. “But it just took a lot of time of being there before some of these parents could tell their very difficult stories.”
The difficult stories in Life Overtakes Me involve refugee children in Sweden. Hundreds of them have mysteriously fallen into a coma-like state, all kids from families traumatized by war in the Middle East.
One such child Samuelson and Haptas filmed eventually awoke, but remembered nothing.
“Basically she said, 'Was I sleeping?' But she just picked up her life as if she'd gone to bed the night before even though she was a year older,” Samuelson stated. “That is not always true for children who undergo this. Sometimes they have some memories. Some of the things they talk about is feeling like they were in a glass cage underwater or if they moved they would die.”
All of the films in the Netflix Real to Reel showcase are contenders this awards season and many have already claimed prizes, including Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese. That feature, about a rollicking Dylan tour of 1975, won the Stanley Kubrick Award for Bold & Innovative Filmmaking at the Traverse City Film Festival and it's up for three awards at this weekend's Critics' Choice Documentary Awards.
“Dylan's been such a touchstone for [Scorsese], just the music and the poetry and also the trickster kind of nature of Dylan,” producer Margaret Bodde noted, adding that Dylan—true to form—wasn't the most eager of interviewees. “We have a subject who really was not interested in being there...He didn't want the hundred days [of shooting]. He wanted the least amount of time. 'Get me out of here. I don't remember anything.'”
Dylan wears a mask of white greasepaint at times in Rolling Thunder Revue, in keeping with his desire to remain opaque. The subjects of the Netflix short Ghosts of Sugar Landconcealed their identities behind masks for different reasons—to speak about a fellow Muslim-American friend who left the U.S. to fight for ISIS.
“They wouldn't agree to do it without the masks,” stated Farihah Zaman, the film's producer. “It became really like their avatars. Like, 'Okay, I'll do it but only if I can be Ironman.' We were a little bit surprised to see how much it conveyed emotionally.”
A terrible secret is unmasked in Ed Perkins' film Tell Me Who I Am, the extraordinary story of twins Marcus and Alex Lewis. After Alex sustained a traumatic brain injury in an accident, he remembered only his twin Marcus and nothing else. His brother helped Alex reconstruct his memory, but intentionally omitted their devastating childhood of physical and sexual abuse. Over the course of the film, the brothers eventually confronted what really happened.
“That's one of the paradoxes of the story we were lucky enough to tell,” Perkins noted, “which is so often the importance of talking about our past and learning from it is key and yet the human experience also suggests that sometimes it's easier to believe a lie than to admit the truth.”
In recent years Netflix documentaries have claimed multiple Oscars and Oscar nominations, including Icarus, The White Helmets and The Square the latter film directed by The Great Hack's Amer and Noujaim. Nonfiction filmmaking is in the streamer's blood, said Lisa Nishimura, vice president of independent film and documentary features, as she introduced the Real to Reel showcase.
“From the very inception of Netflix...documentaries have always been core and essential to the Netflix experience,” she affirmed. “Our commitment to the craft and to the unique filmmakers who bring these incredible stories alive only continues to grow.”
Documentary group Cinema Eye on Thursday unveiled nominations for the 2020 Cinema Eye Honors, with Netflix’s American Factory and Neon’s Apollo 11 leading the way with five nominations each. Netflix tops all distributors with 17 noms, the most ever in a single year.
Winners will be revealed at a ceremony January 6 at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens.
American Factory, which counts Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground among its executive producers, and Todd Douglas Miller’s deep dive into the 1969 moon mission Apollo 11 were nominated in the marquee Outstanding Nonfiction Feature category. They are joined there by For Sama, the PBS/Frontline Syrian drama from Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watt; Neon’s Honeyland, the Sundance-winning Macedonian beekeeper tale from Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevsk; 1901 Media’s Mexico City ambulance industry pic Midnight Family; and Amazon Studios’ Sundance U.S. Grand Jury Prize-winning One Child Nation.
Last year, Hale County This Morning, This Evening took the top award.
Netflix’s record haul todaay included three noms for Beyonce’s Homecoming. Neon, with Apollo 11, Honeyland and The Biggest Little Farm, had 10 noms, and HBO had nine noms including two for its Michael Jackson documentary Leaving Neverland.
Here’s the full list of nominees:
Outstanding Nonfiction Feature
American Factory Directed and Produced by Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert Produced by Jeff Reichert and Julie Parker Benello
Apollo 11 Directed and Produced by Todd Douglas Miller Produced by Thomas Petersen and Evan Krauss
For Sama Directed by Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts Produced by Waad al-Kateab
Honeyland Directed by Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska Produced by Atanas Georgiev and Ljubomir Stefanov
Midnight Family Directed and Produced by Luke Lorentzen Produced by Kellen Quinn
One Child Nation Directed and Produced by Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang Produced by Christoph Jörg, Julie Goldman, Christopher Clements and Carolyn Hepburn
American Factory Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert
The Cave Feras Fayyad
Cold Case Hammarskjöld Mads Brügger
Honeyland Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska
The Hottest August Brett Story
One Child Nation Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang
17 Blocks Jennifer Tiexiera
American Factory Lindsay Utz
Apollo 11 Todd Douglas Miller
Letter to the Editor Alan Berliner
Mike Wallace is Here Billy McMillin
Aquarela Aimara Reques, Sigrid Dyekjær and Heino Deckert
Apollo 11 Todd Douglas Miller, Thomas Petersen and Evan Krauss
The Cave Kirstine Barfod and Sigrid Dyekjær
For Sama Waad Al-Kateab
Midnight Family Luke Lorentzen and Kellen Quinn
Midnight Traveler Emelie Mahdavian and Su Kim
Aquarela Victor Kossokovsky
Anthropocene: The Human Epoch Nicholas De Pencier
Honeyland Fejmi Daut and Samir Ljuma
Midnight Family Luke Lorentzen
What You Gonna Do When the World's On Fire? Diego Romero
Outstanding Original Score
American Factory Chad Cannon
Anthropocene: The Human Epoch Rose Bolton and Norah Lorway
Apollo 11 Matt Morton
Aquarela Eicca Toppinen
Black Mother 4th Disciple
Symphony of the Ursus Factory Dominik Strycharski
Outstanding Graphic Design or Animation
The Great Hack Ash Thorp, Matthew Hornick and Patrick Cederberg
The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley Hazel Baird
Moonlight Sonata: Deafness in Three Movements Brian Kinkley and Ben Luce
Our Time Machine Ryan Wehner
The Disappearance of My Mother Directed by Beniamino Barrese
Jawline Directed by Liza Mandelup
Scheme Birds Directed by Ellen Fiske and Ellinor Hallin
Searching Eva Directed by Pia Hellenthal
Swarm Season Directed by Sarah Christman
Symphony of the Ursus Factory Directed by Jasmina Wójcik
Outstanding Nonfiction Short
Crannog Directed by Isa Roa
Fast Horse Directed by Alex Lazarowich
Ghosts of Sugar Land Directed by Bassam Tariq
Lowland Kids Directed by Sandra Winther
Stay Close Directed by Luther Clement and Shuhan Fan
Subject to Review Directed by Theo Anthony
Audience Choice Prize
17 Blocks Directed by Davy Rothbart
The Amazing Johnathan Documentary Directed by Ben Berman
American Factory Directed by Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert
Apollo 11 Directed by Todd Douglas Miller
Ask Dr. Ruth Directed by Ryan White
The Biggest LIttle Farm Directed by John Chester
The Cave Directed by Feras Fayyad
For Sama Directed by Waad Al-Kateab and Edward Watts
Knock Down the House Directed by Rachel Lears
Maiden Directed by Alex Holmes
Always in Season Directed by Jacqueline Olive
Bellingcat: Truth in a Post-Truth World Directed by Hans Pool
Dark Suns Directed by Julien Elie
Present.Perfect Directed by Shengze Zhu
The Raft Directed by Marcus Lindeen
The Unforgettables Non-Competitive Honor
Advocate Lea Tsemel
The Amazing Johnathan Documentary The Amazing Johnathan
Ask Dr. Ruth Dr. Ruth Westheimer
The Cave Dr. Amani Ballour
The Disappearance of My Mother Benedetta Barzini
For Sama Waad and Hamza al-Kataeb
Hail Satan? Lucien Greaves
Honeyland Hatidze Muratova
Knock Down the House Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Maiden Tracy Edwards
Midnight Family Juan Ochoa
Midnight Traveler Fatima Hussaini and Hassan Fazili
What You Gonna Do When the World's On Fire? Judy Hill
XY Chelsea Chelsea Manning
2020 Shorts List Films
All on a Mardi Gras Day Directed by Michal Pietrzyk
In the Absence Directed by Seung Jun-Yi
Life Overtakes Me Directed by John Haptas and Kristine Samuelson
St. Louis Superman Directed by Smriti Mundhra and Sami Khan
Outstanding Broadcast Film
Apollo: Missions to the Moon Directed by Tom Jennings | National Geographic
At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal Directed by Erin Lee Carr | HBO
Breslin and Hamill: Deadline Artists Directed by John Block, Jonathan Alter and Steve McCarthy | HBO
Homecoming Directed by Beyoncé Knowles-Carter | Netflix
Leaving Neverland Directed by Dan Reed | HBO
The Sentence Directed by Rudy Valdez | HBO
Outstanding Broadcast Series
The Case Against Adnan Syed Directed by Amy Berg | HBO
The Family Directed by Jesse Moss | Netflix
Jonestown: Terror in the Jungle Directed by Shan Nicholson and Richard Lopez | SundanceTV
Last Chance U: Season 4 Directed by Greg Whiteley | Netflix
Salt Fat Acid Heat Directed by Caroline Suh | Netflix
Tricky Dick Directed by Mary Robertson | CNN
Outstanding Broadcast Editing
Apollo: Mission to the Moon David Tillman | National Geographic
Homecoming Alexander Hammer, Andrew Morrow, Nia Imani and Julian Klincewicz | Netflix
Leaving Neverland Jules Cornell | HBO
Tricky Dick Benji Kast, David Mehlman, Diana DiCilio and Seth Skundrick | CNN
Outstanding Broadcast Cinematography
Homecoming Mark Ritchie, Julian Klincewicz, Dikayl Rimmasch and Irie Calkins | Netflix
Into the Okavango Neil Gelinas | National Geographic
Salt Fat Acid Heat Luke McCoubrey | Netflix
Tigerland Matt Porwoll and Ross Kauffman| Discovery
Atlantics Directed by Mati Diop
Honey Boy Directed by Alma Har'el
The Infiltrators Directed by Alex Rivera and Cristina Ibarra
The Souvenir Directed by Joanna Hogg
Vitalina Varela Directed by Pedro Costa
Koyaanisqatsi Directed and Produced by Godfrey Reggio Cinematography Ron Fricke Editing Ron Fricke and Alton Walpole Original Score Philip Glass
Last year, Netflix proved our cultural obsession with cults is far from over with “Wild Wild Country,” the hit docu-series about Rajneeshpuram cult leader Bhagwan Rajneesh and his followers. In the years since its massive international popularity has grown, yoga has attracted millions of devotees as fervent as any cult followers. But none as cult-like as Bikram yoga, or hot yoga, founded and popularized by Bikram Choudhury. A new Netflix documentary titled “Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator” tells the story of the cult-like figure, who abused his position to rape, assault, and harass multiple women in his ranks. The newly released trailer showcases countless interviews with his followers and victims, often blurring the line between them.
“He sees himself as a cross between Mother Teresa and Howard Stern,” one male interview subject says in the trailer. Another woman recalls, “I’d see flashes of megalomania, but I didn’t know how diabolical he actually was.” The rest of the trailer is full of explosive interviews with women who remain supportive of Choudhury, as well as difficult to stomach archival footage of Choudhury literally standing on top of multiple women in supine yoga poses.
In his positive review of the film out of its Toronto International Film Festival premiere, IndieWire’s Eric Kohn praised the film’s urgent political message while acknowledging its filmmaking was underwhelming. “It doesn't bring much new information to the table, but it's an infuriating look at the way Choudhury seduced thousands of followers with his yoga franchise, while raping and assaulting innumerable women, and how he managed — so far — to get away with it. Choudhury belongs in jail, and this frustrating overview provides the latest opportunity to keep that conversation in the public eye.”
“Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator” was directed by Eva Orner, an Australian filmmaker and producer who won an Academy Award in 2008 as a producer on Alex Gibney’s torture documentary “Taxi to the Dark Side.” This is the fourth feature documentary she has directed, and it follows “The Network,” “Chasing Asylum,” and “Out of Iraq.”
Netflix will release “Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator” for streaming on November 20. Check out the compelling trailer below.