Cinefile: Oscar Websites... and new Holocaust dramas

If you want to get yourself psyched for the big night, then you might want to check out some of the Internet Websites devoted to the Oscars.

nasatir semple 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
nasatir semple 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
At press time, it's looking as if the Oscars will take place as scheduled, on February 24. If you want to get yourself psyched for the big night (and figure out your picks, if you and your friends are going to have a pick-the-winners contest), then you might want to check out some of the Internet Websites devoted to the Oscars. The best and most fun is still, which until last year was called (the Academy eventually sued for trademark infringement). AwardsDaily gives links to nearly every other Oscar site you can imagine, except one. This one isn't an actual Oscar site but a collection of videos on YouTube called Reel Geezers, in which two Hollywood behind-the-scenes veterans discuss the top movies of the year, as well as the Oscars (you can find it by going to YouTube and searching for Reel Geezers). The twist here is that these two particular Reel Geezers are truly old-timers: screenwriter Lorenzo Semple Jr. and producer Marcia Nasatir, who are both in their eighties. (Full disclosure: Nasatir is a family friend of mine.) In their most recent YouTube post, they discuss the Oscars, with the lively, conversational style that has made their Reel Geezers series so popular. And they know what they're talking about. Nasatir was the first woman to be vice president of a major movie studio, at United Artists in the Seventies. She then went on to produce many films, including The Big Chill with Kevin Kline and William Hurt and Ironweed with Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep. Nasatir's latest film, Death Defying Acts, the story of a psychic who fell in love with Harry Houdini, starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Guy Pearce, had its premiere last fall at the Toronto International Film Festival. Semple is a screenwriter whose credits include the Seventies hits Papillon, starring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman, Three Days of the Condor with Robert Redford, and the classic political paranoia thriller, The Parallax View, with Warren Beatty. So when these two talk, if you're interested in movies, you'd better listen. But expect to be surprised. THE DRAMA of the Holocaust continues to fascinate filmmakers all over the world, and the latest Israeli director to announce he's making a Holocaust-themed film is Joseph Cedar, who is currently in Los Angeles to attend the Oscar ceremony, since his film, Beaufort is in the running for Best Foreign Film. He told Variety earlier this week that he plans to make a biography of Nazi movie director Veit Harlan, a protégé of Joseph Goebbels, who made the notorious anti-Semitic propaganda film, Jud Suss in 1940. The budget for the film is said to be in the $10-$12 million range and will be filmed in Berlin. Director Eytan Fox (The Bubble, Walk on Water) and his producing and life partner Gal Uchovsky are currently at work on the script of their next film, Gad, based on the true story of Gad Beck, a gay Jew who evaded the Nazis and joined the resistance. And the very prolific Amos Gitai, whose latest film, Disengagement, about the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, premiered less than half a year ago, already has a new film out, Later, which was just shown at the Berlin Film Festival this week. Although Haifa-born Gitai is certainly known as an Israeli filmmaker, the movie, which stars Jeanne Moreau as a Holocaust survivor coming to terms with her past, is listed as a French/German production. Next week, veteran director Claude Miller's A Secret, the story of a French family haunted by secrets of its members killed in concentration camps, will open throughout Israel. This mesmerizing film is more of a psychological drama than a historical one, and is based on the best-selling autobiographical novel by Philippe Grimbert, who discovered late in life that he was Jewish and that he had had a half-brother who died in the Holocaust. Miller, Grimbert, and Patrick Bruel, a singer and actor who is one of the film's stars, were in Jerusalem this week to screen their film at Yad Vashem. The movie will be released in theaters this coming Thursday, however, it has no English translation, only Hebrew. It's a haunting movie and is a huge hit throughout Europe.