By Ruairidh Villar TAIJI, Japan (Reuters) - In an unusual move, U.S. ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy has expressed deep concern over the traditional dolphin hunt in western Japan, where local fisherman corral the mammals into a secluded bay before killing many for meat. The annual hunt currently under way in Taiji in western Japan has long been a source of controversy and was the topic of "The Cove", an Oscar-winning documentary. Every year the fishermen of Taiji, in Wakayama prefecture, drive hundreds of dolphins into a cove, select some for sale to marine parks, release some back into the sea and kill the rest for meat. Japan has long maintained that killing dolphins is not banned under any international treaty and that the animals are not endangered.
The Alfonso Cuaron film "Gravity" and the harrowing historical drama "12 Years a Slave" shared the top prize Sunday at the Producers Guild of America (PGA), a first for the awards. In the past six years the winner of the PGA then picked up the Oscar for best film at the Academy Awards, as Hollywood's prize-giving season moves into full flow. But it was the first time the big prize at the PGA, in Los Angeles, has been shared in its 25-year history, according to Variety magazine. "12 Years a Slave," about a free black man sold into slavery in 1840s America, and "Gravity," starring Sandra Bullock, who plays an astronaut stranded in space with George Clooney, were already among the Oscar frontrunners.
By Mary Milliken BEVERLY HILLS, California (Reuters) - Hollywood producers injected drama into the race for Oscars on Sunday by choosing not one but two movies as their best films of the year, the space thriller "Gravity" and the slavery drama "12 Years a Slave". The PGA has correctly chosen the eventual Academy Award winner for best picture for the last six years, including Iranian hostage drama "Argo" a year ago. The PGA decision clashes with that of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), which on Saturday chose the 1970s-set corruption caper "American Hustle" from director David O. Russell for its top prize, best film ensemble cast.
By Piya Sinha-Roy PARK CITY, Utah (Reuters) - Robert De Niro may best be known as an Oscar-winning actor, but in a new documentary he takes on the role of a devoted son as he spotlights his own artist father, Robert Sr., for his influential but not well-known works in the New York City abstract expressionist art movement. De Niro, 70, who won Oscars for his lead role in "Raging Bull" and his supporting turn in "The Godfather: Part II", attended the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah on Sunday to premiere "Remembering the Artist Robert De Niro, Sr.," a HBO documentary about his father, who emerged alongside contemporaries including Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. Robert Sr. grew up in a conservative Italian-American family in New York and married fellow artist Virginia Admiral, with whom he had one child, De Niro. While Robert Sr.'s works emerged during that time period, his style was not described as abstract expressionist but instead as figurist, often depicting still life "in simple set-ups with no pretension," as described in the half-hour documentary.
Crime caper "American Hustle" won the top film prize at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards on Saturday, earning another big boost in Hollywood's all-important Oscars race. Australian Cate Blanchett won best actress for her role in Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine," while Matthew McConaughey took home best actor for AIDS activist movie "Dallas Buyers Club." Jared Leto won best supporting actor for his role in "Dallas Buyers Club" and best supporting actress went to Lupita Nyong'o in the harrowing drama "12 Years a Slave." On the small screen, best drama went to cult series "Breaking Bad" and best comedy to "Modern Family."
Truth can be stranger than fiction, so they say. But when it comes to movies, truth can also be more powerful than fiction, at least judging by this year's Oscar nominees. No fewer than six of the nine films nominated for the best picture Academy Award are based on true events -- possibly the biggest proportion ever vying for Hollywood's highest honor. "It's always been something of a trend, but has become an explosion in the last couple of years," said film critic and author Molly Haskell, a day after the Oscar nominations were announced in Los Angeles.