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Paul Giamatti joins cast as silverware gets polished for 3rd 'Downton Abbey' film

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Los Angeles, May 13 (IANS) They’re going to need an even bigger dining room table, says ‘Variety’, as it reports that the winner of multiple Emmy, Golden Globe and BAFTA awards, and recently Oscar-nominated Paul Giamatti, is joining the cast of the third ‘Downton Abbey’ feature film.

Joely Richardson, Alessandro Nivola, celebrated stage actor Simon Russell Beale, last seen in ‘Thor: Love & Thunder’, and Arty Froushan will be giving Giamatti company in the film that is being written by ‘Downton’ creator and Oscar-winning ‘Gosford Park’ writer Julian Fellowes.

Giamatti, who was in the race for the Oscars for playing an ornery teacher in ‘The Holdovers’, is reprising his role as Harold Levinson, the brother of Elizabeth McGovern’s Cora Grantham who lives in America. It is a part, ‘Variety’ notes, he played in the TV show that spawned the film franchise.

Cora Grantham is the American wife of the Earl of Grantham, the central character of the British period drama played by Hugh Bonneville.

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There’s word yet, according to ‘Variety’, on who Richardson, Nivola, Beale and Froushan will portray. Nor are there any details about the plot, but this being ‘Downton Abbey’, ‘Variety’ notes, you can expect silverware to be polished to a high gloss, tables set with military precision and a mad dash to find an adequate number of ladies’ maids to service all the guests for this or that soiree.

‘Downton Abbey’ regulars — McGovern, Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Laura Carmichael, Jim Carter, Phyllis Logan, Robert James-Collier, Joanne Froggatt, Allen Leech, Penelope Wilton, Lesley Nicol, Michael Fox, Raquel Cassidy, Brendan Coyle, Kevin Doyle, Harry Hadden-Paton, Sophie McShera and Douglas Reith — will all return for the third film, ‘Variety’ adds.

Dominic West will also reprise his role as silent film star Guy Dexter from ‘Downton Abbey: A New Era’.

Simon Curtis is returning to direct after helming 2022’s ‘Downton Abbey: A New Era’, while Gareth Neame, Fellowes and Liz Trubridge will produce the picture.

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–IANS

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12-minute Cannes ovation for Iranian film that earned its maker 8-year jail term

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Cannes, May 24 (IANS) ‘The Seed of the Sacred Fig’, Iranian dissident director Mohammad Rasoulof’s latest film, for which he received an eight-year prison sentence back home, got a rapturous 12-minute standing ovation at its Cannes Film Festival premiere on Friday, says ‘Variety’.

Rasoulof risked his life by appearing at the film’s premiere as he fled Iran for Europe on May 13 to avoid going to prison.

The only prominent member of the film’s star cast who was with Rasoulof on the red carpet was Golshifteh Farahani, who was seen with Irrfan Khan in the Swiss-French-Singaporean Rajasthani film, ‘The Song of Scorpions’, premiered at the Locarno Film Festival in 2017.

There was undeniable applause as the credits of Rasoulof’s film began to roll (it is ‘Variety’ policy, though, to begin timing standing ovations once the house lights come up). Rasoulof got teary and waved enthusiastically to the balcony.

Ali Abbasi, director of fellow competition title ‘The Apprentice’, stood next to Rasoulof and encouraged the crowd to keep clapping — not that they needed it, as their cheers just got louder and louder.

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There was even a sign in the audience that read ‘Femme! Vie! Liberté!’ (‘Woman! Life! Freedom!’), the slogan for solidarity with Iranian women who are demanding their fundamental rights.

The ecstatic response to and political weight of ‘The Seed of the Sacred Fig’ has cemented its status as a frontrunner for the festival’s prestigious Palme d’Or, according to ‘Variety’.

On the red carpet, Rasoulof, who has previously served prison time in Iran, held up images of stars Soheila Golestani and Missagh Zareh, who were unable to leave Iran for the premiere.

In addition to his prison sentence, adds ‘Variety’, Iranian authorities had been pressuring him to pull ‘The Seed of the Sacred Fig’ from Cannes and harassing the film’s producers and actors. In an interview with ‘Variety’ on Thursday, Rasoulof said that Golestani has been arrested by Iranian security services.

–IANS

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Effusive praise for 'All We Imagine As Light' raises Payal Kapadia's Palme d'Or hopes

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New Delhi, May 24 (IANS) “Will this ‘magical’ ode to nocturnal Mumbai win the Palme d’Or?”

The question asked by the BBC’s reviewer, Nicholas Barber, after watching Payal Kapadia’s debut feature film, ‘All We Imagine As Light’, must have been uppermost in the minds of an audience that gave the film’s cast and crew an eight-minute standing ovation.

In the Cannes tradition, the longer the applause, the better the chances of the film returning home with a trophy. The longest applause thus far at the festival has been for nine minutes and 30 seconds for the Italian auteur Paolo Sorrentino’s ‘Parthenope’, where Gary Oldman plays the American writer John Cheever.

In a video now circulating of the moment after the film’s screening, in fact, shows one of the cast members, Hridu Haroon, asking, “The applause has been going on for too long. Shouldn’t it stop?”

The video shows the cast members soaking in their eight minutes of fame and hugging each other heartily, unable to contain their joy.

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Kani Kusruti, whom viewers outside Kerala know better for playing the private secretary of Huma Qureshi’s character in the OTT series ‘Maharani’, followed in the footsteps of Cate Blanchett and Leila Bekhri and showed her solidarity for the Palestinian people’s struggle, flaunting her watermelon clutch and flashing a ‘V’ sign.

The colours of the watermelon — deep green and red — are those of the Palestinian flag.

As noted by News Minute, the watermelon became a symbol of Palestinian resistance in 1967 after Israel militarily seized control of the West Bank and Gaza, and annexed East Jerusalem. And to circumvent the Israeli government’s ban on the Palestinian flag being displayed anywhere in Gaza and the West Bank, people started using watermelons.

Chhaya Kadam, another cast member who has become everyone’s favourite railway platform feminist after her stellar performance in ‘Laapataa Ladies’, sported an oversized ‘nath’ on her nose as a tribute to the traditions of her home state Maharashtra.

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The BBC, meanwhile, does not stint on its praise for the film and goes on to note: “Given that the Competition jury is chaired by Greta Gerwig, and this warm, female-led film resembles her own work in certain ways, ‘All We Imagine as Light’ could well be a winner when the Festival’s prizes are announced on Saturday evening.”

And it predicts with a degree of certainty: “Whether Kapadia takes home a trophy or not, ‘All We Imagine As Light’ is bound to be one of those international films that break out of the art-house festival circuit and into cinemas and hearts everywhere.”

Payal Kapadia is no stranger to Cannes glory. In 2021, her documentary feature, ‘A Night of Knowing Nothing’, won the L’Oeil d’Or, an award given every year since 2015 to the best in the category. Now, it’s the Palme d’Or that beckons. Will she come back home with it?

–IANS

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Tejasswi Prakash sizzles in golden shimmery dress, wet hair and glossy makeup

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Mumbai, May 24 (IANS) The winner of ‘Bigg Boss 15’, Tejasswi Prakash, set Instagram on fire on Friday with a video of her photoshoot in a shimmery golden strappy dress, wet hair, and glossy makeup.

The ‘Naagin 6’ actress dropped a Reel on Instagram in which she can be seen posing sensually in a golden dress. The look was accentuated by glam makeup — pink glossy lips, winged eyeliner, and highlighted face.

She opted for a wet hairstyle, keeping her tresses open. The look was rounded off with golden earrings.

“When the days are made of colour, I choose the golden hour,” Tejasswi captioned the post.

Tejasswi is known for her work in ‘Khatron Ke Khiladi 10′, Karn Sangini’, and ‘Pehredaar Piya Ki’, among others.

–IANS

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Sakshi Pradhan found shooting for traumatic scenes in 'Qaatil Haseena' 'mentally exhausting'

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Mumbai, May 24 (IANS) Actress Sakshi Pradhan, who plays Shanaya, a relentless killer, in the upcoming film ‘Qaatil Haseena’, has shared that shooting for the traumatic scenes in the movie was tough and mentally exhausting for her.

Talking about the challenges she faced while portraying Shanaya, Sakshi, who was part of ‘Bigg Boss 4’, said: “Some of the emotional scenes, where my character reflects on the past trauma, were mentally exhausting. Tapping into those deep emotions while maintaining the authenticity of the character was a real challenge.”

“I did my homework before I entered the set, as much as I could in the limited time. I was uncomfortable at the start, but we did every scene with the point of view that the film should look authentic, and every scene has a meaning. The kissing scene in the film was more about expressing love than lust,” she added.

In the film, Sakshi plays a complex and multifaceted individual.

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“On the surface, they might appear calm and composed, but underneath lies a burning desire for revenge. This character has experienced a significant trauma or betrayal, which fuels her quest for justice. It’s a character driven by emotion, and a relentless pursuit of retribution, making her both captivating and unpredictable,” said Sakshi, who also starred in the TV show ‘Naagin 3’.

On how she prepared for the film, the ‘Ragini MMS: Returns’ actress said: “To be honest, I had very little time to prepare. I was cast three days before the shooting started, so for two days, while I was reading the script, I got involved in a deep dive into the character’s psyche and motivations. My experience of being in the acting field for 13 years helped me get into Shanaya’s character and catch the details of her inner wants.”

The murder mystery also starring Sharon Panday and Vikram Sakhalkar is set to release on ALTT on May 31.

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–IANS

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Priyanka's husband-pop star Nick Jonas brings the house down at Cannes AIDS gala

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Cannes, May 24 (IANS) Priyanka Chopra’s husband and pop star Nick Jonas performed his headbanger number ‘Jealous’ in a white tuxedo jacket at the annual HIV-AIDS charity dinner at Cannes, getting the global A-list invitees up on their feet after dinner was served late on Thursday night, reports ‘Variety’.

“I had the pleasure of playing [the Four Seasons frontman] Frankie Valli in a movie coming out later this year called ‘Jersey Boys’,” Jonas said, before crooning the Valli ballad ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’.

Nick, who was rocking out on a guitar, was joined by his brother Joe, who serenaded Cannes with ‘Cake by the Ocean’ — the smash 2015 pop song from his band DNCE.

Before the Jonas Brothers performed, Cher, despite her 78 years, belted out one hit number after another for 15 minutes, dressed in a dazzling sequined purple pantsuit, from her own ‘Believe’ to an acoustic rendition of ‘Walking in Memphis’, Marc Cohn’s ballad that she had covered on her 1995 album ‘It’s a Man’s World’, ‘Variety’ adds.

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The 30th edition of amfAR Cannes drew a crowd of high bidders and celebrities that included, according to ‘Variety’, Michelle Yeoh, Magic Johnson, Heidi Klum, Kelly Rowland, Colman Domingo, Paris Jackson, Andie MacDowell, Tommy Hilfiger, Michelle Rodriguez and Maria Bakalova.

Demi Moore, who served as the evening’s host, kicked off the night by reminding the crowd of amfAR’s mission.

“This has become the single most important year of the night in the fight against HIV,” she said. “With your help, amfAR Cannes has raised more than a quarter of a billion dollars.”

Moore recalled how she last hosted the black-tie charity dinner in 1997, filling in for one of the pioneering founders of the American Foundation for AIDS Research, ‘Variety’ notes.

“I happened to be a pinch hitter because the great Elizabeth Taylor personally called me at the last minute because she couldn’t make it,” Moore said. “Everyone that year was abuzz about a new research breakthrough — a powerful drug cocktail made possible in part by amfAR’s research that stopped people from dying of AIDs almost overnight.”

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Concluding on a note of hope, she said, “And now, a single pill each day allows many people living with HIV to enjoy a long and beautiful, full life.”

–IANS

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