Dark drama a long time coming for director

Latest News, Movie News, Breaking News - Posted by The Province on April 5, 2013

That showbiz line about a 30-year overnight success could apply to director Ana Valine, who wraps filming on her first feature early this week.

With a resumé that includes teen years as a stage actor, subsequent roles in short films, and work in the production-office side of feature films, Valine’s career picked up dramatically just over two years ago when she came upon writer Billie Livingston’s dark novella The Trouble With Marlene.

The novella became the currently-filming feature Sitting On The Edge Of Marlene, with help from a roster of Valine’s friends and past collaborators.

“There’s nothing wrong with being a late bloomer,” the 46-year-old Valine says as she heads to the Maple Ridge set to start a night of filming. “I’ve just been gathering stories along the way — eavesdropping.”

She came to the feature after directing several short films. The dark drama stars Quebecoise actor Suzanne Clément as Marlene, who runs scams with her boyfriend (Callum Keith Rennie) and her teenaged daughter (newcomer Paloma Kwiatkowski), while still pining for her jailed husband.

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Suzanne Clément Headlines the Canadian Indie 'Sitting On The Edge of Marlene'

Latest News, Movie News, Breaking News - Posted by The Hollywood Reporter on April 1, 2013


Suzanne Clément, Paloma Kwiatkowski and Callum Keith Rennie have jumped on board writer/director Ana Valine’s mother and daughter drama Sitting on the Edge of Marlene.

Clément (Laurence Anyways) plays the pill-popping, alcoholic mother in Valine's adaptation of the Billie Livingston novellaThe Trouble With Marlene.The indie from Foundation Features and Rodeo Queen Pictures sees Kwiatkowski play a 16-year-old waiting for her father to get out of prison as she gets drawn into the family con business.

Sitting on the Edge of Marlene is shooting in Maple Ridge and Langley, British Columbia.

Rennie has just completed a star-turn in Jean-Pierre Jeunet'sThe Young and Prodigious Spivot feature, which shot in Canada, and Kwiatkowski performed the role of Thalia in the 20th Century Fox’s Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters.

Sitting on the Edge of Marlene is produced by Amber Ripley and executive produced by Rob Merilees.

Denys Arcand (The Barbarian Invasions) is also executive producing.

Entertainment One has the Canadian releasing rights to the indie, and is handling all foreign sales.

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Foundation Features, Ana Valine on the ‘Edge’

Latest News, Movie News, Breaking News - Posted by Variety on April 1, 2013

Pic is produced by Amber Ripley and exec-produced by Rob Merilees of Vancouver-based Foundation. Denys Arcand (“The Barbarian Invasions”) also serves as exec producer.

Arcand was involved during script development, mentoring Valine as she was writing the first draft, based on author Billie Livingston’s young adult novella.

Pic concerns Sammie (Kwiatkowski), a teen who is drawn into the family con business to help her addict mom (Suzanne Clement). Callum Keith Rennie (“The Killing”) plays her mom’s con partner and wannabe boyfriend.

“We knew we would be casting an unknown up-and-comer for the character of Sammie,” Ripley told Variety. “We were aware of Paloma’s amazing talent and lucky to have her in one of our first casting sessions.

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Victoria Film Festival Reviews

Movie News - Posted by Michael D. Reid on February 6, 2011



Toronto filmmaker Bruce McDonald is "caught inside my own frame," as his fictional self says in his dizzyingly absurd and at times, unexpectedly tender followup to his 1996 cult hit, a quasi-documentary about a legendary Vancouver punk band's disastrous comeback tour. In wisely opting not to repeat themselves, McDonald and co-writer David Griffith have triumphed with a vastly different and more stationary animal, yet his cheekiness and flair for inspired juxtapositions is intact as he references the original. This time out, McDonald increases the profile of his alter-ego, the filmmaker who returns to Canada after a lucrative Hollywood career. His new mission takes McDonald and a Wiccan video artist to a Saskatchewan dance hall where Bucky Haight, the original's cadaverous punk legend, is producing an album for punk band Die Mannequin's lead singer Care Failure, who resembles a cross between Courtney Love and Catherine O'Hara and claims she's inhabited by the spirit of Joe Dick, the rocker who committed suicide in the original. This brilliantly edited film is at once contemplative and an over-the-top rush with a killer soundtrack. Just don't expect a carbon copy of the original.

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Hard Core Logo II - Whistler Film Festival 2010 (World Premiere)

Movie News - Posted by Andrew Long on December 6, 2010

More than a decade after filming the final reunion tour of legendary (and fictional) Canadian punk band Hard Core Logo, filmmaker Bruce McDonald (again played with remarkable authenticity by... Bruce McDonald) remains disturbed by the swift and ugly death of the band's volatile lead singer, Joe Dick (Hugh Dillon in his first film role). When McDonald's vastly lucrative Hollywood career (as with the first Hard Core Logo, we're clearly in an alternate universe) takes a sudden dive, he can no longer contain his inquietude. It is then that the singer of punk band Die Mannequin, Care Failure (played wildly over the top and/or or dead straight by... yes, Care Failure of Die Mannequin) claims to be possessed by the spirit of Joe Dick, and McDonald sallies forth with a Wiccan video artist in search of the truth; in search of peace of mind; in search of a bad hangover, and a mid-life crisis babe, and unusual wildlife.

The original Hard Core Logo is hallowed ground in Canadian cinema, boldly stylistic, darkly funny, and so unrepentantly in-your-face that many of us could hardly believe it was a Canadian film at the time: but above all, it's honest. To call it a mockumentary is a misleading convenience; it's really a hilarious punk tragedy with a documentary conceit. Few films have ever galvanized my attention the way HCL did in the mid-nineties. Accordingly, this is essentially The Empire Strikes Back for my adult life. Like Empire, I've waited a significant percentage of my life to date from original to sequel, and like Empire, the sequel is a more brooding film and leaves us sensing a vastly more complicated world. Does Hard Core Logo II live up to the original? Absolutely, though they're rather different films. If the original HCL is an amphetamine-fueled street fighter trying to punch through your face to get to your brain, HCL II is a self-effacing, philosophical assassin, humbly and genially clowning around in front of you for your pleasure, and deftly screwing on the silencer when you turn your back. McDonald gets great effect using personal footage and facts about his real family to counterweight the comical absurdities of his fictional self. Die Mannequin's tunes keep the adrenaline pumping, and like Dillon, Failure has a furious presence. The edit is razor sharp. David Griffith and McDonald's screenplay meshes beautifully with the original film while still accomplishing something completely different. If there's one more HCL film out there in the ether to make it a trilogy, I'll be thrilled again. Hell, if McDonald makes a prequel trilogy, I'll probably love those, too.

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Hopkins & Hoffman To Sing A "Song"

Latest News, Movie News - Posted by Dark Horizons on May 16, 2010

Anthony Hopkins and Dustin Hoffman are set to headline the drama "The Song of Names" for Feel Films, Egoli Tossell and Foundation Features says The Hollywood Reporter.

Based on Norman Lebrecht's award-winning novel, the story follows two young Jewish men - one a Brit and the other a Polish violin prodigy, the later vanishing on the eve of his international debut. Four decades on, the Brit gets a clue as to the other man's fate and the mystery begins to unravel.

Vadim Perelman ("House of Sand and Fog") directs from a script by Jeffrey Caine ("The Constant Gardener").

Nick Hirschkorn, Jens Meurer and Dave Valleau will produce while James Horner composes the score.

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Just Friends paved the way for future productions

Movie News - Posted by By The Leader-Post on November 26, 2009

When Just Friends was released in 2005, it was the first hit feature film commissioned by a major studio and filmed in Saskatchewan -- representing a key moment in the evolution of the province's growing film industry.

Starring well-known actors Ryan Reynolds, Amy Smart, Anna Faris and Chris Klein, and set over the holidays in a New Jersey suburb, Just Friends presented producer Rob Merilees with the perfect project to bring to Saskatchewan.

Merilees, then with Infinity Features in Vancouver, had been meeting frequently with Susanne Bell and Valerie Creighton of SaskFilm, and liked what they had to say about the benefits of shooting in Saskatchewan.

"They'd been telling me all about Saskatchewan; the amazing tax incentives, the new stages that had been built, and how they could service a production. I was very interested in working with them, and had been looking for a project that would suit the setting."

Just Friends came to Infinity through New Line Cinema, and the decision was made to co-finance the project. In discussions with director, Roger Kumble, Merilees suggested Saskatchewan as a potential stand-in for New Jersey during the wintry Christmas season.

"Saskatchewan is the perfect place for that," said Merilees. "We came out and scouted the area, and once we determined that we could get everything we needed, both creatively and financially, the decision was made."

Shooting took place over February and March of 2005 at a number of different locations in and around both Moose Jaw and Regina.

The biggest challenge, however, proved to be the weather. "We got caught in a real cold snap -- I think it was around -55ƒ with the windchill. We had blizzards and cables snapping and all of that crazy cold-weather stuff."

The results were worth the effort, said Merilees. "What we ended up getting was a look you just can't get anywhere else, where it's very cold but with that bright, beautiful light and sunshine that you only get in Saskatchewan. It suited the movie really well, and worked perfectly as a stand-in for New Jersey."

"I loved shooting there. It's a totally different experience than you get anywhere else, but it's a great one."

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Jessica Lowndes is up for 'Altitude'

Movie News - Posted by The Hollywood Reporter on March 25, 2009


Toronto -- "90210" star Jessica Lowndes has risen to the lead in "Altitude," the feature directorial debut for Marvel Comics artist Kaare Andrews ("Hulk," "Wolverine").

The indie thriller from Escape Factory and Foundation Features will feature Lowndes as a rookie airplane pilot whose weekend getaway flight with friends faces a series of unexplained malfunctions.

No word on additional casting. Production will take place in and around Vancouver in April.

Paul Birkett penned the "Altitude" script, with Ian Birkett producing. Rob Merilees, Dave Valleau, Gary Hamilton and Mike Gabrawy share the executive producer credits.

Alliance Films will release the indie picture in Canada, and Arclight Films will handle worldwide sales.

Lowndes is repped by Apterture's Adam Goldworm, Apa and attorney Harris Hartman.

Click here to view the full article at the hollywoodreporter.com


Filmmaker of Destiny

Movie News - Posted by Playback on October 15, 2007

By Marise Strauss - Playback Magazine

View full article at playbackonline.ca >>>

Charles Martin Smith hopes audiences will take to the underdog story in his latest feature, Stone of Destiny, which the Hollywood-actor-turned Canadian director is currently posting at Vancouver's Infinity Features.

The $13-million Canada/U.K. copro is Smith's second feature collaboration with Rob Merilees of Infinity, which recently scored a massive success with Capote, the inconspicuous release that ended up netting star Philip Seymour Hoffman an Oscar, and collected US$49 million in worldwide box office.

Destiny, which stars Scottish heavyweights Robert Carlyle (Trainspotting) and Billy Boyd (the Lord of the Rings films), tells the true tale of four University of Glasgow students who hatch a plan to retrieve the Stone of Scone, a symbol of Scottish pride, from England's Westminster Abbey.

Smith, who began directing after he moved to Vancouver in the early 1980s, is mostly known as a diminutive character actor, often playing an outsider who transcends his quirkiness. Memorable roles include the zany Terry "The Toad" Fields in George Lucas' American Graffiti (1973), and the accountant-turned-federal agent Oscar Wallace in Brian De Palma's The Untouchables (1987).

His directing career took shape with the low-budget horror Trick or Treat (1986), and later included Disney's Air Bud, which took in a reported US$23 million at the North American box office in 1997, and the Farley Mowat adaptation The Snow Walker, which received nine Genie Award nominations in 2003, but took in only US$200,000 in theaters, despite a $10-million budget.

In a recent interview with Playback, the amiable 53-year-old filmmaker talked movie budgets, television collaborations with Chris Haddock, and fond memories of working with Sean Connery.

How did the Stone of Destiny shoot go this past summer in Glasgow and London? 
It was a very, very intense shoot. I wanted to do so much and there's only so much you can do in the given time. It had that wonderful kind of intensity, where you feel that everyone's just rolling up their sleeves and diving in. Glen [Winter], my cinematographer, did a terrific job. We work very well as a team.

You have a great cast that includes Robert Carlyle and Billy Boyd. How did it work out? 
I've never worked with a cast that was so talented and so easygoing...it was just a joy to come to set everyday. Robert is a dream. Billy Boyd is very much underrated...I'm in the cutting room right now and it's just a delight to see his footage.

How do you feel about the commercial prospects of the film? 
I do leave a lot of that to Rob [Merilees]. To me, this film has the universal appeal of an underdog story...there's such heart and emotion to it. It's a feel-good story full of strange twists and turns. That's the way to market the film.