‘Ben Is Back’ Raises The Ante For Holiday Stories – The Contenders NY

Being touched by addiction is not foreign to the senior Hedges, who said that he was looking for ways to, “tell more urgent and authentic stories,” ahead of writing Ben Is Back, which opens in theaters December 7.
Ben's mom, Holly (Julia Roberts), is relieved and welcoming but wary of her son's drug addiction. Over a turbulent 24 hours, new truths are revealed, and a mother's undying love gets put to the test as Holly does everything in her power to keep Ben clean. Enter Lucas Hedges as Ben, a son who unexpectedly returns to his family's suburban home on Christmas Eve.
A family drama is not unusual fodder for a holiday big screen story, but add elements of a suspense thriller by way of drug addiction, then the ante rises for a holiday release. Oscar-nominated filmmaker Peter Hedges took on the challenge, tapping his son, Lucas Hedges, as the son struggling with addiction, while his mother, played by Julia Roberts, fights to help him overcome his disease.
He added to more laughs: “It’s rare that you have the unconditional love of a director.”
“As I researched the [epidemic], it seemed impossible to cover [broadly]. But the more I researched, the more I thought I could talk about the epidemic through the story about one family.” “I’ve had a relative, a friend and a fellow actor overdose,” said the filmmaker at Saturday’s Contenders event when speaking with Deadline’s Pete Hammond.
Though the actor, who is currently on Broadway and also stars in Boy Erased which opened earlier this fall, said it “meant a lot” to work with Roberts, he said the “most pressing thing” was working with his dad. Traversing fear, intensity and even humorous moments, Lucas Hedges and Julia Roberts run the gamut of emotions on screen.
Peter Hedges admitted that he doesn’t “always get what he wants” when making movies, but was grateful he triumphed in persuading Julia Roberts to take the role of Holly.
“She and Lucas were remarkable together. “I knew she’d just crush it,” said the director. It was an honor to watch these two and the other cast members.”
Concluding the senior Hedges noted: “That I got to work with my favorite movie star [Julia] and my favorite actor who I’m the father of — I’m a lucky man.”” />
“When I read this script, I had a feeling that ‘I have to do this,’” he said sitting next to his father on stage. “It occurred to me that having my dad could be my greatest strength.”  “I knew everything would work out with Julia, but I wasn’t as sure about my dad he said to laughs from the audience at the DGA Theater in Midtown.

‘Boy Erased’ & ‘On The Basis Of Sex’ Champion Those Who Fight For Change — The Contenders LA

We both have broken glass ceilings in our own ways, in different generations." "I felt I had to make this movie because I felt like I had lived through it in so many ways," Leder added. But there was so much more. "I’d never compare myself to the accomplishments of Justice Ginsburg, but we’re both Jewish women, we both have very long-standing marriages, we both have children.
Clearly in terms of its subject, On the Basis of Sex is an examination of change on a societal level. "I think having a role like that out right now in this time specifically, it’s great to show hopefully a ton of guys that your important job can also be supporting the family, and doing whatever you need to do." It depicts a romance for the ages between two lawyers who support one another in their pursuits no matter what, regardless of what other people think. "This is a movie about how change can happen," Leder remarked. "So much change has happened, and [there’s] so much more to go." With its concerns for justice and equality, the film is equally a love story. He knew that what his wife was doing was so important and needed to be done, so he was there to support her in any way," the actor reflected. "They were partners. [Martin] was also willing to defy the gender norms of the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s.
For the director, it was hope that made him want to make the film—hope that people can challenge their own deeply-ingrained belief systems. "I find that unbelievably moving, and I love her for that statement, with what she’s allowed us to do." "I think even allowing the film to be made and allowing all of this to be aired to the world, which is an incredibly vulnerable position to put your family in, allows change and allows her to apologize," the Oscar winner said. Meeting with Martha Conley, who served as the basis for her character, Kidman respected the courage it took to bring her family's difficult moment to light. Hope that redemption and change are possible.
This awards season — to quote Sam Cooke — a change is gonna come, courtesy of Focus Features. Today at Deadline's The Contenders Los Angeles, the distributor presented two of its timely contenders in Boy Erased (which bowed in theaters Friday) and AFI Fest opener On the Basis of Sex, dramas that concern themselves with those who demand change, and the fights that make progress possible.
In the year of Ginsburg — which already has seen the Supreme Court justice celebrated with a successful summer documentary — Leder honors everything she has in common with her film's subject. "I’ve had a lot of doors slammed in my face," the director admitted in a conversation with Deadline's Pete Hammond. First, there were her own battles in her industry of choice, which she had to overcome. Directed by Mimi Leder, On the Basis of Sex tells the story of young lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Felicity Jones) and husband Marty (Armie Hammer), examining their struggles against gender discrimination and the obstacles Ginsburg overcame to become an iconic change leader.
While Jared's journey through one of these centers is at the crux of the film, the director did see a number of broader thematic concerns embedded in the story. In conversation with Kidman and Deadline's Joe Utichi, Edgerton commented on the tens of thousands of individuals currently affected by gay conversion therapy, the 36 states without laws to combat programs of this sort, and the Trevor Project, an American non-profit seeking to protect LGBTQ youth from exactly these circumstances. "To me, the film is about the choices we make as people," he said.
Constitution," he recalled. Leder's was a film that emerged from a personal place, in more ways than one. Seeing here an incredible story that needed to be told, Stiepleman took it upon himself to bring a project to life, with the permission and participation of RBG herself. It was her first case ever, and the first case to convince a federal court that women and men should be equal under the U.S. "Our friend just got up and gave a eulogy, and he told the story of the only case that Ruth and Marty ever argued together. The process started with writer Daniel Stiepleman, Ginsburg's nephew, who now has his first produced screenplay. As he recounted on the Focus panel — which also featured Hammer and Jones — he first heard the story at the heart of the film at his uncle Martin's funeral in 2010.
"I think it’s lovely to think that it’s never too late to look at the things that you’ve done and the choices you’ve made," Edgerton added. "It’s never, ever too late."” />
Adapted from Garrard Conley’s eponymous memoir, Boy Erased follows Jared Eamons (Lucas Hedges), a young man torn between his sexual identity and his conservative Southern upbringing. With a Baptist preacher father (Russell Crowe) and a mother (Nicole Kidman) who bends to his will, Jared is forced to enter a church-supported gay conversion program after he is abruptly outed to his parents. Again, there is an exploration of the intersection between love and change, and once again, the implications for society at large are profound. If Leder's film considers change in a broad context, Joel Edgerton's second feature takes an intimately personal approach. Indeed, in this case, the change that really matters is not the change that is initially sought.

Nicole Kidman Takes Over Telluride Film Festival With Two New Acclaimed Roles In ‘Boy Erased’ And ‘Destroyer’

As to why she chose to be seen in a transformative way we have never seen her before in Destroyer which was directed by Karyn Kasuma and is about as gritty as movies get, it was
On the other hand the devoutly religious real- life southern  mother she plays in Boy Erased, based on the memoir by Garrard Conley (played very effectively in the film by Lucas Hedges) in which his preacher father (an excellent Russell Crowe) sends him to a conversion camp in order to erase any feelings of attraction to men, is every bit as impressive. She is gonna have a hell of a Fall when these two films open beginning in November with Focus Features' Boy Erased on the 2nd, and Annapurna's Christmas Day release of Destroyer (In between just for fun she will be seen as Aquaman's mother!) If all goes smoothly I can see a world in which Kidman could find herself in the running not only for the Best Actress Oscar for Destroyer, but also Best Supporting Actress for Boy Erased. Whenever Kidman is around there is usually awards talk, and this weekend has been no different , especially after the debut of Destroyer in which she goes places I have never seen her go before, both  in appearance and intensity as a police detective who is also a mother, and on a downward spiral after an undercover operation that went very wrong. Kidman ranges from fierce to ferocious to sensitive, to defeated, to determined  and so many other facets in a role that is simply riveting to watch in every way. The film flashes back and forward in time  to put the pieces of the puzzle of this damaged woman together in ways that quite unexpected to say the least.
We are seeing two distinct sides of that talent in World Premieres of both her uber-gritty cop drama, Destroyer, and the less startling but touching humanity of the mother trying to hold here family together after her son is sent to an Arkansas gay conversion camp in Joel Edgerton's tremendously powerful and moving true story, Boy Erased. If this 45th edition of the Telluride Film Festival can be said to be about anybody , way up at the front of that line is Nicole Kidman who is here seen on screens showing the huge range and fearlessness she has done for years in this business.
So then I called up and they said ‘oh it is on offer to another actress, which is fine’. It  was actually written a little younger but then they worked  out a way for it actually to be for an older actress and I was able to step in and make it my own, and that’s just the way things happen,"  she said during a Q&A after a screening of the film. I got taught early on when you really get into a character you are not running  for popularity on a film set. It is what I call the limbo and I just exist in a place that’s uncomfortable if it’s this kind of character." "I do have a strong belief that you can push a bit , but things either gel or they don’t, they come together or they don’t. "I got sent the script and just read it and it grabbed me in my gut. You ‘re there to do the work, and so a lot of times , like with this character, you are just going to have to exist in that place. I don’t even know why I respond to things but when it happens I go ‘okay this is what I am meant to do now’. I would sit in a chair and not talk to anybody. clearly something that spoke to her. It was a really really tough shoot for me, and it was a really tough character for me to play, and I did not like playing it.
When she emotionally shouts, "shame on you, shame on me"  as she grabs her son and runs to the car, the audience burst out into applause. A pivotal scene, as it turns out the first one she filmed upon arriving on location, has her character heeding the desperate pleas of her son to pick him up and take him home from the conversion camp  even as the officials there try to lock her out and keep him there. It is a bravura moment.
"I am not planned. Kidman consistently looks for interesting roles like these as she told Telluride audiences this weekend, but she doesn't have a general blueprint for what she will do.
I don’t care how big the role is, how small the role is, I just want to be able to contribute,"  she said.  "When I heard the subject matter I said that’s really important and I would love to be involved. "I love that the mother is the one that is the bridge , that is able to go ‘I want to keep this family together’. I’ve had my own mother, not with this subject,  but in terms of  just sitting at a kitchen table beating her fists on the table going ‘THIS FAMILY WILL STAY TOGETHER’. In the case of Boy Erased,she was approached by fellow Australian Edgerton ( who plays the head of the camp in the film he wrote and directed), and immediately felt an urgency to be part of it as she explained at yet another Q&A after a screening of that film.   That’s how I feel and no matter what happens in the family the mother so many times tends to be the heartbeat of the family."
I have often caught up with Kidman at high profile film fests like Cannes and Toronto where she has also had years with multiple films on
I also grew up with provocative parents who kind of pushed me. Some times it pays off , and some times it doesn’t but I love  what I do, and the passion for that , and that is why I am willing to work and work and work to try and dig and delve into characters and stories and places, and discover things, and just connect. I have  kind of been pulled to it since I was a little girl and I have just followed that instinct. I started in the Australian film industry sitting on an apple box lucky to have a job, and I still approach it that way. I have a huge love of filmmakers. I have been given some great chances from different directors, and I have been up and down with  ebbs and flows in my career. Or sometimes not connect, sometimes it doesn’t happen but always the desire is to fully immerse myself in it, and I think I can be very very hard on myself and disappoint myself , and  so I have to be careful with that, but I do say thank you , and say thank you so much for giving me the chance to be 51 years old and still doing what I love to do." I also loved reading. "I mean there are so many great actors out there and it is just when you get the chance or not. I grew up around storytellers and filmmakers. So put all that together and I would consider myself very lucky to have the opportunity, because so much of being an actor is just having the opportunity,"  she said.
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With husband Keith Urban, their kids, and even their two cats  along for the trip to the Rockies, she came to play – both personally with the family, and professionally on the massively impressive screens set up each year in skating rinks and high school auditoriums instantly turned into movie palaces. display, but when I talked with her at the beginning of this fest at the annual Patrons Brunch high on a mountaintop she surprised me by telling me this was actually her first time ever at the Telluride Film Festival , but that she was already loving it (something she emphasized all weekend at various venues before leaving town Sunday night).