JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015 NEWS

02.15.15:

The team behind the new Disney adaptation of the classic fairytale CINDERELLA descended on the Berlin International Film Festival on Friday. Before the premiere that evening, director Kenneth Branagh was joined by his cast for a photo call and press conference. Cast members present were Stellan, Lily James, Helena Bonham Carter, Richard Madden and Cate Blanchett.

It's interesting to note that Disney's 1950 animated classic won the Golden Bear for music at the first-ever Berlin film festival in 1951. Now, 64 years later, another version of the fairy tale has returned. The photo below shows Stellan playing the Grand Duke.

All the reviews thus far have been positive. Claudia Puig of USA Today writes, "With its vibrant sparkle and enchanting visuals, Cinderella almost makes you believe in magic. The oft-told story has a surprisingly fresh exuberance. Nearly everything in this Disney live-action fairy tale is charmingly conveyed, while still faithful to the original film. Most of all, it's a visual treat. The lavish production design is baroque and meticulous, down to the detailed appliques on the dazzling costumes and individual beads on the palace chandeliers."

For photos of this Berlinale event, follow this link. The film will premiere in the US on March 13, 2015.

01.23.15:

The films that will compete for the Golden Bear and Silver Bear awards at the 65th International Berlin Film Festival, also known as Berlinale, were announced on Tuesday. Among the films in competition is CINDERELLA. It was announced that Stellan is expected to attend the festival, which runs from February 5-15, 2015.

In a recent interview with Germany's Cicero magazine, Stellan was asked whether or not his roles as a freedom-loving character hinted at his own personality. He responded, "Yes, I do not care about social conventions. My father didn't adhere to them when he was young, which is very unusual in Sweden... It's really important to challenge everything, even accepted behavior and what words we may say and what not to say and what issues you can discuss." He also related a sweet memory from his childhood when his family lived in a country house outside the city of Uppsala. He remembers how his mother would bring in the laundry that had hung outside in the cold weather overnight. All the towels and shirts were frozen so the siblings would grap one of these board-hard towels and beat each other without seriously hurting anyone. Again, he expounded on his opinion of famed director Igmar Bergman - "He was a great director, extremely intelligent, talented and good at what he did... What was not fun was the atmosphere he created for the entire ensemble. You have to laugh at everything he said if he were joking - as servants. There was such a fear in the air even when Bergman was hilarious because everyone knew that he could easily destroy your career."

One of the first films I viewed starring Stellan was "Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg" (1990). It's an inspiring film. Raoul Wallenberg has been celebrated for over 70 years for saving tens of thousands of Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary during the Holocaust. While serving as Sweden's special envoy in Budapest between July and December 1944, he issued protective passports and sheltered Jews in buildings designated as Swedish territory. This role apparently touched Stellan deeply and here he shares his thoughts:

"When we were shooting Good Evening Mr Wallenberg in Hungary 1989 in what once was the actual ghetto of Budapest, the boarders between fiction and reality were broken down when we were confronted with old survivors who came up to me who played Wallenberg, and smiled, and cried and touched me. And I felt ashamed. I was embarrassed because I was using their lives to make something as trivial and trifling as an art-house film that would never be able to give even a glimpse of the horrors they had lived through.

But the old Jews that came up to me all knew that I was just an actor. They were moved by what I represented and I represented a man that had had an enormous importance in their lives. A man who’s power as a symbol had not diminished in 44 years.

The greatness of a man like Raoul Wallenberg doesn’t lie in his risking his life for his ideas, people do that all the time for the most stupid ideals and beliefs and with the most horrible consequences. The really admirable thing he did was that he, in a situation where most people let go of any ounce of civilization and humanity, refused to follow and become brutalized. He insisted that humans were equally worthy of a life and that empathy and solidarity with the powerless was not only worth standing up for but a necessity if we still wanted to call ourselves humans.

That’s why he is still alive, and still an example to follow…."