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Jean-Jacques Beineix, Director of ‘Diva’ and ‘Betty Blue,’ Dies at 75

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Jean Jacques

French director Jean-Jacques Beineix, who made waves with stylish works of 1980s cinema including “Diva” and “Betty Blue,” died Thursday at 75.

He died at home in Paris after a long illness, his brother told Le Monde.

Beineix started out as an assistant director to filmmakers including Claude Berri, Rene Clement and Jerry Lewis. After making a short film, he made his feature debut in 1981 with “Diva,” which won the Cesar for best first feature and three more Cesar awards.

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The thriller was one of the most successful French films to play internationally in the 1980s. It ushered in a new style of filmmaking that melded auteur and genre elements, and Luc Besson and Leos Carax also made films that were described as “cinema du look” for their fashion-forward style and bold cinematography.

After the success of “Diva,” his next film “The Moon in the Gutter” with Gerard Depardieu and Nastassia Kinski was eagerly awaited in Cannes in 1983, but the adaptation of the David Goodis novel was booed in its festival premiere and flopped at the box office.

Beneix rebounded in 1986 with the erotically-charged “Betty Blue,” starring Beatrice Dalle and Jean-Hugues Anglade. It nabbed Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for best foreign film, and again proved to be an arthouse hit in the U.S.

His later films failed to make impression outside of France — they included “IP5: The Island of Pachyderms,” which was Yves Montand’s last role, “Mortal Transfer” and documentaries including “Otaku” and “Loft Paradoxe.”

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Barbie and Beyond: How Mattel Studios Executive Robbie Brenner Brings Beloved Toys to Screen

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Robbie Brenner Mattel Studios 1

Mattel Films executive V.P. Robbie Brenner has not one but two Magic 8 Balls in her office. As a mom, she’s always been partial to Barbie but admits the small black plastic orbs have a strange hold on her.

“To this day, I still shake it and think somehow it’s going to tell me what’s going to happen,” says Brenner, “and usually, I get a ‘Try again later.’”

But the producer of Oscar nominee “Dallas Buyers Club” and this year’s Sundance player “Call Jane” is not waiting around to make her moves at Mattel, the 77-year-old toy manufacturer with some of the most iconic and recognizable brands in stores (including Barbie, Hot Wheels, American Girl and Thomas & Friends).  Three years ago, Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz tapped Brenner to help transform the company into a content powerhouse. Since then, she has put more than a dozen feature films in motion, all using her connections and pedigree as an artist-first executive.

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“We don’t want to make movies to sell more toys — that would be great, but it has to be about telling stories with authentic voices. Ones that feel original and sticky and exciting, and do their best to serve the individual brands,” Brenner says. Operating entirely in the feature film space for the time being, Mattel has projects at studios and streamers all over Hollywood, with superstar talent attached.

Warner Bros. is in prep for “Barbie,” starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling and directed by Greta Gerwig, who co-wrote the screenplay with partner Noah Baumbach. They’re also at script stage on a Hot Wheels film. In July, Netflix will shoot the anticipated remount of “Masters of the Universe,” with Kyle Allen starring as the buff, blonde He-Man. Universal Pictures is at work on a horror franchise based on Magic 8 Ball with Blumhouse, and the studio is bringing Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Robots to life with Vin Diesel. At Paramount, Tom Hanks will embody his childhood favorite Major Matt Mason, the astronaut action figure, with “A Beautiful Mind” screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, and MGM will put forth Polly Pocket with writer-director Lena Dunham and star Lily Collins.

Variety can exclusively report that the division has also set Dan Mazer, a co-writer of “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” and a prolific feature comedy director, to develop a film based on the ’70s strongman Big Jim action figures. Jason Bateman’s Aggregate Films is also at work on movies based on the Mattel dolls Chatty Cathy and Betsy Wetsy.

“This pipeline is turning over, and we’re really starting to produce these incredible films that were only ideas three years ago. Ynon has empowered us, and we’ve got great energy as a company,“ Brenner says.

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In turn, she says, the toymakers have taught the studio unit about everything from the supply chain to doll-hair sourcing.

“There is so much history. Take Barbie: There’s a team that makes her hair, her clothes. There’s a team that does her social media. You need these immersions,” Brenner says. “You get into really big questions like, what is the play pattern of a toy? Why do girls like princesses and boys like the Hot Wheels loop? The psychology is fascinating.”

Mattel Studios has plenty more in the works that’s yet to be announced — including a big creative partner to adapt Matchbox toys and cars for the screen, and the rumored all-star supporting cast behind Robbie and Gosling in “Barbie.” But Brenner won’t spill the details.

“Try again later,” she says.

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Virtual Sundance Festival Announces Winners Via Twitter — Updating Live

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1643407924 Sundance Park City Atmophere

The virtual Sundance Film Festival concluded with a virtual awards show, announcing the winners via social media in a series of tweeted statements and videos.

After hosting an abridged version of the 2021 edition virtually, Sundance organizers hoped to return with a hybrid online and in-person (Park City, Utah-based) event this year, but rising COVID-19 infections due to the Omicron variant forced them to shift the program online again. With the infrastructure already in place, the festival was able to make the pivot to the safer model, while losing out on much of the excitement and attention generated by the pre-pandemic model.

The full list of winners appears below — UPDATING LIVE:

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U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION

Grand Jury Prize: “”

Audience Award: “”

Directing:

Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: “”

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Special Jury Award: “”

U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION

Grand Jury Prize: “”

Audience Award: “”

Directing: “”

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Special Jury Award: “”

WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC COMPETITION

Grand Jury Prize: “”

Audience Award: “”

Directing Award: “”

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Special Jury Award: “”

WORLD CINEMA DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION

Grand Jury Prize: “”

Audience Award: “”

Directing Award: “”

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Special Jury Award: “”

OTHER AWARDS

NEXT Innovator Award: Chase Joynt, “Framing Agnes”

Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize: “After Yang”

Sundance Institute NHK Award: Hasan Hadi, “The President’s Cake”

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Sundance Institute/Amazon Studios Producers Award for Narrative Features: Amanda Marshall, “God’s Country”

Sundance Institute/Amazon Studios Producers Award for Documentary Features: Su Kim, “Free Chol Soo Lee”

Sundance Institute/Adobe Mentorship Award for Editing Documentary: Toby Shimin

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