Benedict and “The Mauritanian” team talk with Variety

Yesterday, Variety held an exclusive screening of The Mauritanian followed by a Q&A with the main cast and director Kevin Macdonald. Now, the 42-minutes-long talk is available for all to watch! Check it out below:

Cast, Director of ‘The Mauritanian’ Examine Themes Behind the Film: ‘It’s Beyond His Innocence or His Guilty’

By Natalie Oganesyan

The cast and director of “The Mauritanian,” based on a true story of the torture and trial of a suspected 9/11 terrorist, want audiences to take away lessons of empathy, love and justice from the film.

Academy Award-winning director Kevin Macdonald, along with stars Jodie Foster, Benedict Cumberbatch, Shailene Woodley and Tahar Rahim joined Variety film awards editor Clayton Davis in the Variety Streaming Room to discuss the difficulties of and preparation required to recount the gargantuan story of Mohamedou (Rahim), a man who unwittingly got involved with al-Qaida and was subsequently tortured at Guantanamo Bay without trial for his alleged involvement in 9/11.

For Macdonald, one of the challenges of the film was weaving the separate storylines of an ensemble cast — Mohamedou, his defense (Woodley and Foster) and military prosecutor’s (Cumberbatch) — into one cohesive story.

“How do you take these disparate stories and weave them together in a way that is compelling … and where you don’t feel like these are three completely disconnected stories,” Macdonald said.

The stars reflected on the complications of portraying real people, which they surmounted by researching the case and meeting with their respective characters. “With Nancy, you do feel that responsibility to make sure that you honor not just who she is, but her mission,” said Foster of her character Nancy Hollander, Mohamedou’s defense attorney who emphasizes the importance of the rule of law throughout the pic.

The panelists said a main driver of the film is the intellectual themes behind the story, such as the universality of humanity, the necessity of protecting civil liberties and the overwhelming power of fear and bias.

“When we look at fear, it’s easy to look at it from a very mental-based place, but I think, for [Teri,] she had a deep emotional fear, a fear of isolation, a fear of feeling neglected, a fear of being kicked out of society, in a way, because what she wants to do is right, but then she gets in her head about are the decisions she’s making right?” Woodley said of her character Teri Duncan, who is an amalgamation of the defense behind the case. “What does right and wrong even mean?”

Cumberbatch, who plays Lt. Stuart Couch, said he was attracted to the role because of the journey his character takes in unraveling the institutional issues that plague the U.S. military, particularly at Guantanamo.

“From wanting blood and then being brought to a realization that everything that he founds his belief on, from the law to the military to Christianity, and not necessarily in that order, was being undone by the actions at Guantanamo, and he couldn’t, with any conviction, square his conscious, and so he stepped away, he did that extraordinary thing of giving up the case,” Cumberbatch said.

Rahim, who plays the titular role, said his main obstacle was getting into the mental space required to depict a torture victim. To help with the reality of the scenes, he asked Macdonald to make his cell as cold as possible and be put in shackles. “It was tough. Because how could I possibly know what it is to be tortured like this?”

For Macdonald, the film serves as a lens through which audiences can understand the multiple facets of humanity beyond the realms of guilt or innocence.

“The Muslim man accused of terror is probably the least loved person in the world and the least understood person, and I think … it’s that emotional connection,” Macdonald said. “It’s a film about humanity and about why are we doing this to other human beings? What possible excuse can there be? And it’s beyond his innocence or his guilt.”

Source: Variety

‘The Mauritanian’ is nominated at the London Critics’ Circle Film Awards

‘The Mauritanian’ is nominated at the London Critics’ Circle Film Awards

Great news! The Mauritanian has recieved three nominations at the London Critics’ Circle Film Awards: Best Film, Best Director (Kevin Macdonald) and Best Actor (Tahar Rahim). See the nominees:

FILM OF THE YEAR
About Endlessness
Collective
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Lovers Rock
The Mauritanian
Minari
Nomadland
Promising Young Woman
Rocks
Saint Maud

DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR
David Fincher – Mank
Rose Glass – Saint Maud
Kevin Macdonald – The Mauritanian
Steve McQueen – Small Axe
Chloé Zhao – Nomadland

ACTOR OF THE YEAR
Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal
Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Anthony Hopkins – The Father
Delroy Lindo – Da 5 Bloods
Tahar Rahim – The Mauritanian

The London Critics’ Circle Film Awards will be presented virtually on Sunday, February 7. This post will be updated once the winners are announced. Congratulations to everyone involved in The Mauritanian!

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‘The Mauritanian’ and ‘The Electrical Life of Louis Wain’ on Total Film January issue

This month’s edition of Total Film magazin brings articles on The Mauritanian and The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, as well as new photos of Benedict in both productions. Check out the scans on our photo gallery:

Read the transcriptions below:

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‘The Mauritanian’ features in Empire UK magazine February issue

Last year the Empire UK magazine visited the set of The Mauritanian in South Africa, and that report features in its latest issue. Check out the scan on our photo gallery:

A transctiption to those who need it:

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SunnyMarch to co-produce movie about the life of Omoba Aina aka Sarah Forbes Bonetta

SunnyMarch to co-produce movie about the life of Omoba Aina aka Sarah Forbes Bonetta

What a week!

Deadline Hollywood just reported that SunnyMarch will co-produce a feature film based on the life of Omoba Aina, a 19th century West African princess who, after being enslaved by King Ghezo of Dahomey in the aftermath of a war with his kingdom, was ”gifted” to Queen Victoria and given the name Sarah Forbes Bonetta, becoming her protégé.

Starring Cynthia Erivo, who is also co-producing, the movie will have the the biography At Her Majesty’s Request: An African Princess in Victorian England by Walter Dean Myers as its source material. Check out the full article below:

Harriet Actress Cynthia Erivo To Star In & Produce Story Of Princess ‘Gifted’ To Queen Victoria; BBC Film, Benedict Cumberbatch’s SunnyMarch & So So Producing

By Andreas Wiseman
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First trailer and poster for “The Mauritanian” have been unveiled

First trailer and poster for “The Mauritanian” have been unveiled

It’s only Tuesday, but this week is already serving so much, folks! The very first trailer, poster and stills for The Mauritanian (formerly known as Prisoner 760) are here!

Check out the trailer in HD and with English subtitles below:

And, in our gallery, you can find the poster and screencaps of the trailer in HQ and the still of Benedict as Lt. Colonel Stuart Couch in UHQ:

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“The Gender Games” made it to the 2020 Brit List

“The Gender Games” made it to the 2020 Brit List

Variety has just announced the script for The Gender Games – the TV adaptation of Juno Dawson’s memoir of the same name which SunnyMarch is producing – has made it to this year’s Brit List, the famous annual showcase for the best unproduced screenplays as recommended by companies in the UK film and TV industries.

The 30-minute pilot written by Matthew Barry (Banana, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Death in Paradise) was recommended 9 times, being the fourth most recommended among the 14 selected out of the 246 put forward this year:

NINE RECOMMENDATIONS
“The Gender Games” by Matthew Barry (The Agency)
Producers: SunnyMarch
Form: TV Genre: Comedy Drama
Summary: Half hour comedy drama about sex and dating based on Juno Dawson’s memoir.

Dawson, Barry and the SunnyMarch team expressed their excitement over the achievement on Twitter:

Here’s hoping it won’t be long until we get more good news about this project!

Source: Variety

“Louis Wain” gets new title and still

“Louis Wain” gets new title and still

Studiocanal UK has unveiled an incredibly lovely new still for Louis Wain, now titled The Electrical Life of Louis Wain. Check it out below:

The studio has also confirmed the movie is set to released in theatres next year, date to be confirmed.

The Mauritanian gets a February 2021 release date

The Mauritanian gets a February 2021 release date

The Mauritanian (formerly known as Prisoner 760) will arrive in US theatres on 19 February 2021, thus becoming an entry into the awards race for STX Films, Variety just reported. The magazine’s Film Awards Editor, Clayton Davis, even said the movie has the potential to be a game-changer and that Benedict will be submitted in Best Supporting Actor categories.

Check out the article below:

Jodie Foster, Tahar Rahim Make Late Entry Into Awards Race With STX Films’ ‘The Mauritanian’ (EXCLUSIVE)

By Clayton Davis

STX Films has decided to enter this unconventional awards season with a mighty and timely drama, “The Mauritanian,” formerly called “Prisoner 760,” from Scottish director Kevin Macdonald. The film will be released in theaters on Feb. 19, 2021, and could echo the same late-breaking awards success that past movies like “Million Dollar Baby” were able to execute. With an impressive cast that includes Tahar Rahim, Jodie Foster, Benedict Cumberbatch and Shailene Woodley, the inspiring true story could resonate with AMPAS voters, especially its large international membership.

“The Mauritanian” tells the true story of Mohamedou Ould Slahi (Rahim), who was held captive and tortured by the U.S. government in Guantanamo Bay detention camp for 10 years without a charge or trial. Losing faith, he finds hope in defense attorney Nancy Hollander (Foster) and her associate Teri Duncan (Woodley), who face countless legal obstacles in their pursuit of justice.

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Benedict attends GEANCO’s Virtual Gala for Africa

Unbreakable Joy, the Virtual Gala for Africa organized by GEANCO, was broadcast last night, October 24, and featured some guests like Benedict Cumberbatch, David Oyelowo, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Whitney Cummings. A couple of days earlier Benedict had recorded a message inviting the public to the online event:

Benedict’s part begins at 59:17, but we’d like to invite you to watch the whole event if you can: