CAST: SANDRA BULLOCK, GEORGE CLOONEY
DIRECTOR: SANDRA BULLOCK, GEORGE CLOONEY
Academy Award winners Sandra Bullock (‘The Blind Side’) and George Clooney (‘Syriana’) star in ‘Gravity’, a heart-pounding thriller that pulls audiences into the infinite and unforgiving realm of deep space.
Dr. Ryan Stone (Bullock) is a brilliant medical engineer on her first shuttle mission, with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (Clooney) in command. But on a seemingly routine mission, disaster strikes. The shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Kowalski completely alone — tethered to nothing but each other and spiraling out into the blackness. The deafening silence tells them they have lost any link to Earth…and any chance for rescue. As fear turns to panic, every gulp of air eats away at what little oxygen is left. But the only way home may be to go further out into the terrifying expanse of space.
“I have always had a fascination with space and space exploration,” states Alfonso Cuarón, the director, producer and co-writer of the dramatic thriller. “On the one hand, there is something mythical and romantic about the idea of separating yourself from Mother Earth. But in many ways, it doesn’t make sense to be out there when life is down here.”
Right now, orbiting hundreds of miles above the Earth, there are people working in a place where there is very little separation between life and death. The inherent dangers of spaceflight have grown in the decades since we first began venturing beyond our own atmosphere…and those increasing dangers are manmade.
The refuse from past missions and defunct satellites has formed a debris field that can cause disaster in an instant. NASA has even given the scenario a name: the Kessler Syndrome.
Bullock learned about the problem from those most affected by it. “I used to think that astronauts wanted to go into space for the thrill and adventure. When I spoke to them though, I was so moved by their deep, deep love of that world and the beauty of Earth from their perspective, seeing the oceans and mountain ranges and the lights of the cities. It’s amazing to realize how small we are in this massive universe,” she says.
CAST: Naomi Watts, Naveen Andrews, Douglas Hodge, Geraldine James, Charles Edwards, Cas Anvar
DIRECTOR: Oliver Hirschbiegel
‘Diana’ is a compelling portrait of Diana, Princess Of Wales during the final two years of her life. The film stars British-born Academy Award nominated actress Naomi Watts (‘J. Edgar’, ‘Fair Game’, ‘21 Grams’) who assumes the leading role of the eponymous and iconic princess.
The story the filmmakers wanted to tell was the love story between Diana and Dr. Hasnat Khan (Naveen Andrews), a British Pakistani heart surgeon. “It seemed to us that it was the key to understanding the last two years of her life,” says producer Robert Bernstein. Although the producers knew they wanted to make the movie, they weren’t confident they could take it forward into development until the inquests had taken place into Diana’s death. At the inquest, Khan went on record confirming he had had a relationship with Diana. “He went into quite a bit of dignified detail, which was extremely helpful to us in terms of deciding that that period in her life was now history,” explains Bernstein. “We decided now we could interpret that and make a film based on facts.”
From the outset, Bernstein wasn’t interested in making a typical biopic about Diana. They set about to make a film that focused on who Diana became in those last two years, rather than on the tragedy of how she died. “If you’re looking at a famous person’s life you have to consolidate it into a specific time period and through a key relationship, that is largely unknown, you can clarify the filmmaker’s interpretation of that person’s life,” he explains.
The first thought director Oliver Hirschbiegel had about Diana’s character was that she was like an old-fashioned movie star, in the vein of Marlene Dietrich. “She radiated a certain kind of energy that you only see in these stars and, like all icons, she’s wasn’t perfect, but that’s what makes them real and that’s why people adore them. The women of the world loved Diana.”
The heart of the film is the rite of passage of Diana from a slightly depressed, lonely lady to somebody who found fulfilment in her personal life, which extrapolated into her professional life.
Deciding whether to take on such an iconic role was not easy for Watts. At the time they approached her, she was in Australia filming ‘Two Mothers’ for director Anne Fontaine. “I struggled with the idea for some time, obviously because she is the most famous woman of our time, and with that comes a lot of pressure. Everyone feels they know her so I questioned whether I could ever claim her as being my own character.”
The filmmakers continued to pursue her and she finally agreed to read the script. At the same time, she began her own research and quickly discovered there was a lot about Diana she didn’t know. “I was definitely fascinated by the idea and I liked that this was a great love story. I realized there was a lot I didn’t know about her life, which was this relationship at the centre of the movie.”
Very quickly, Watts became captivated by Diana’s character. “I like to play women who are complicated and full of contradictions, and Diana was this and more. At times she was strong and rebellious: she could also be happy, giggly, flirty, mischievous and incredibly wise. I’m interested in watching those kinds of women on screen. I’m also drawn to these kinds of women in my friendships in life.”