Creation: Page to Screen
From the press release
Creation is based on “Annie’s Box: Charles Darwin, his Daughter, and Human Evolution,” a biography penned by Darwin’s great-great-grandson Randal Keynes using personal letters and diaries of the Darwin family. We take a unique and inside look at Darwin, his family and his love for his deeply religious wife, played by Jennifer Connelly as, torn between faith and science, Darwin struggles to finish his legendary book “On the Origin of Species,” which goes on to become the foundation for evolutionary biology.
As author Randal Keynes recalls when he was asked to discuss taking his from page to screen, “I met with John Collee, Jon Amiel and Jeremy Thomas and was excited at once when I realised how good a company RPC is, and their filmmaking standards. Then I realised John had written the script for Master and Commander, a wonderful film with a proto-Darwin figure as the ship’s doctor, who plays an important part. It was obvious that this was going to be a very special film, carefully authentic but also, I think most importantly, imaginative.”
For Keynes, the deftness of Collee’s screenwriting talent in adapting his biographical material to create the story we see on screen gave new life to the story of his great, great grandfather, “When I read the script, I expected it to wander off the path of absolute historical truth in one or two places, and I was happy for it to do so because this enables the screenwriter, director and producer to make more of the film than can be evidenced from surviving documents and other material. They had a freedom that I did not have when I wrote my factual biography. They made very good use of it because they brought out truths about Darwin, Emma, Hooker and the whole story, that I could only imagine, that I could only guess at.”
Casting to Design
As Jon Amiel recalls, “It was obvious to me and to everybody else that Jennifer Connelly would be wonderful casting as Emma, she has tremendous intelligence and the sense of an inner life. Emma was a great linguist; she spoke French and Italian fluently, as does Jennifer. Emma was a concert level pianist who studied under Chopin. Jennifer couldn’t play a lick on the piano, but by golly she worked so hard, she will totally convince you as she convinced me, and I can play the piano, that she’s playing one of Chopin’s most difficult virtuoso pieces.”
Jon Amiel and casting director Celestia Fox auditioned many young girls in their search for Annie. Amiel recollects, “When I saw Martha, who has an almost ethereal beauty, just exquisitely lovely, I thought, ‘she’s too pretty, she’s too fine, fragile’. And yet the more I worked with her, the more I realized that she alone, of all the girls I met, made me feel what I wanted Annie to make an audience feel. The character of Annie required a sense of courage, openness, emotional transparency and intelligence - all so important in this girl, and so hard to fake in a young actor. Martha had all of this. She has an extraordinary ability to learn and adapt. She had never made a film before, but I saw in her a willingness to learn, a capacity to learn quickly, and a readiness to confront things that scared her.”
Creation opened here January 22 and is currently playing at Landmark Theater's E Street Cinema.
Calendar of Events
American Film Institute Silver Theater
Starting February 5 is a month-long retrospective of films starring Jean Arthur (1900-1991) including Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (Frank Capra, 1936), The Whole Town's Talking (John Ford, 1935), If You Could Only Cook (William A. Seiter, 1935), The Talk of the Town (George Stevens, 1942), The More the Merrier (George Stevens, 1943), History is Made at Night (Frank Borzage, 1937), You Can't Take it With You (Frank Capra, 1938), Only Angels Have Wings (Howard Hawks, 1939), Easy Living (Michell Leisen, 1937), The Devil and Miss Jones (Sam Wood, 1941), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Frank Capra, 1939) with two more in March.
A retrospective of films directed by Clint Eastwood from the 1970s through the 2000s includes Gran Torino, Million Dollar Baby, Play Misty For Me, Flags of Our Fathers, Letters From Iwo Jima, White Hunter Black Heart, High Plains Drifter, Mystic River, Pale Rider, Changeling, Unforgiven, A Perfect World with two more in March.
"Screen Valentines: Great Movie Romances" is just in time for Valentine's Day. Titles include Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938), The Palm Beach Story (Preston Sturges, 1942), Lover Come Back (Delbert Mann, 1961), Roman Holiday (William Wyler, 1953), What's Up Doc? (Peter Bogdanovich, 1972), When Harry Met Sally (Rob Reiner, 1989), Sense and Sensibility (Ang Lee, 1995), and one more in March.
Special events include The Secret to a Happy Ending (Barr Weissman), a documentary about the Drive-By Truckers and Mine (Geralyn Pezanoski, 2009), a documentary about people, their pets and hurricane Katrina.
Freer Gallery of Art
The Freer's 14th annual festival of Iranian film shows recent works in January and February. On February 5 at 7:00pm and February 7 at 2:00pm is Two-Legged Horse (Samira Makhmalbaf, 2008); on February 12 at 7:00pm and February 14 at 2:00pm is Niloofar (Sabine El Gemayal, 2008); and on February 19 at 7:00pm and February 21 at 2:00pm is Heiran (Shalizeh Arefpour, 2008).
National Gallery of Art
The "Chekhov on the Russian Screen" series concludes in February with The Lady with the Dog (Iosif Kheifitz, 1960) on February 6 at 2:30pm and Chekhovian Motifs (Kira Muratova, 2002) on February 13 at 12:30pm.
"Peleshian: Poet of the Cinema" is a program of films by Armenian cinema poet Artavazd Peleshian. On February 20 at 2:00pm is a program of short films: The Beginning (1967) about the 1917 October Revolution, followed by We (1969), The Inhabitants (1970) and Life (1993). On February 21 at 4:00pm The Seasons (1975) followed by Our Century (1982) and The End (1994).
"In Praise of Independents: The Flaherty" is a selection of films from the 2009 Flaherty Seminar "Witnesses, Monuments, Ruins." On February 27 at 2:00pm is Wedding of Silence (Pavel Medvedev, 2003), followed by White Sky (Susanna Helke and Virpi Suutari, 1998), both from Russia. On February 27 at 3:45pm is The Chickens (Omar Amiralay, 1977) from Syria, preceded by Kristallnacht (Chick Strand, 1979) and Flaherty and Film (1960). On February 28 at 4:30pm is Sweetgrass (Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Castaing-Taylor, 2009), about Montana sheepherders.
Special events include Henry V (Kenneth Branagh, 1989) on February 7 at 4:30pm; "Agnes Varda Short Films" on February 13 at 3:30pm, "Love Letters and Live Wires: England's GPO Film Unit in the 1930s," a collection of British public service shorts on February 14 at 4:30pm; and "Festival of New French Shorts" on February 20 at 4:00pm.
National Museum of African Art
"Africa in Reel time: Nollywood Film Festival" is a series of programs on Nigeria's film industry including lectures, documentaries and feature films. On February 4 at 7:00pm is Nollywood Babylon (Ben Addelman and Samir Mallal, 2008), a documentary about Nigeria's cinema industry or "Nollywood." Discussion with directors Ben Addelman and Samir Mallal follows screening. On February 5 at noon is a lecture "Considering Nollywood." Film historian Frank Ukadike from Tulane University looks at key Nollywood films and the Nigerian film industry. His talk places Nollywood within the history, theory, and practices of African cinema. On February 11 at 7:00pm is Arugba (Tunde Kelani, 2008), a feature film about a corrupt king in a small town. Director Tunde Kelani will be present for discussion. On February 18 at 7:00pm is Nollywood Lady (Dorothee Wenner, 2008), a documentary about Peace Anyiam-Fibresima, a spokesperson for the film industry and the "Nollywood Lady." Clips from popular films are part of this insider's view. Peace Anyiam-Fibresima will be present for discussion after the screening. On February 25 at 7:00pm is The Figurine (Kunle Afolayam, 2009), a feature film about some down-on-their-luck buddies who discover a mysterious figurine in an abandoned shrine.
National Museum of the American Indian
On February 14 at 7:00pm is The Wind and the Water (2008), a coming of age story set in Panama. Reservations are required; see the website.
National Portrait Gallery
As part of the "Reel Portraits" series is Brush with Life: The Art of Being Edward Biberman (Jeff Kaufman, 2008) on February 13 at 2:00pm with director Jeff Kaufman present for discussion. On February 13 at 4:30pm is Stormy Weather (Andrew L. Stone, 1943) starring Lena Horne.
Smithsonian American Art Museum
To accompany the exhibit "Framing the West: The Survey Photographs of Timothy H. O'Sullivan" are two films. On February 11 at 6:30pm is 3:10 to Yuma (Delmer Daves, 1957) starring Glen Ford and Van Heflin. On February 24 at 6:30pm is A Fistful of Dollars (Sergio Leone, 1966) starring Clint Eastwood.
Washington Jewish Community Center
On February 2 at 7:30pm is Leon (Jack and Margalit Matitiahu, 2008), a documentary about the northern Spanish town of Leon and its Jewish history. On February 11 at 7:00pm is Casablanca, part of the "Young Jewish Professionals Cinema Club." On February 14 at 3:00pm is The Eyes of Me (Keith Maitland). Two programs of short films from American and Israeli film schools will be shown on February 23 and 24.
"A Deeper Look" is a selection of films from some of the directors whose work was shown in last month's "Film Neu." On February 1 at 6:30pm is Cloud 9 (Andreas Dresen, 2008) and winner of the Cannes "Coup de Coeur Award. On February 8 at 6:30pm is Baby (Philipp Stolzl, 2002), on February 22 at 6:30pm is The Promise (Margaretta von Trotta, 1994). Two more in March.
The Shakespeare Theater
On February 10 at noon is a one-hour program of silent comedies including Laurel and Hardy in Liberty and All Night Long starring Harry Langdon.
National Geographic Society
Banff Mountain Film Festival, now in its 34th year, offers films on mountain sports and cultures. The series takes place February 2-6 at 7:00pm. Check the website for film titles.
On February 20, three kung fu films will be shown to accompany the exhibit of terra cotta warriors. At noon is Hero (2002) with Jet Li; at 2:15pm is Lao Tou Ho (1979); and at 4:00pm is Legendary Weapons of China (Liu Chia-liang, 1982). Authority on martial arts films Craig D. Reid will introduce all three films.
All five foreign language Oscar nominees will be shown February 26-28. On February 26 at 7:00pm is The Secret in Their Eyes (Juan José Campanella) from Argentina; on February 27 at 5:00pm is Ajami (Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani) from Israel; on February 27 at 8:00pm is The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke) from Germany; on February 28 at 2:00pm is Milk of Sorrow (Claudia Llosa) from Peru; and on February 28 at 5:00pm is The Prophet (Jacques Audiard) from France.
On February 10 at 7:00pm is Someone I Loved (Zabou Breitman, 2009) starring Daniel Auteuil and based on the novel by Anna Gavalda. Reservations are required.
The Japan Information and Culture Center
On February 3 at 6:30pm is Tokyo Grandfathers (Satoshi Kon, 2004). See website for reservation information. On February 17 at 6:30pm is Miracle Banana (Yoshinari Nishikori, 2005), based on an actual project about making paper from Haiti's banana trees. Reservations are required. See website for details.
As part of the exhibit "Fighting for Democracy" is Wings for This Man (1944) a short film about the Tuskegee Airmen on February 17 at 7:00pm. A panel discussion will follow the film with several surviving members of the Tuskegee Airmen.
Two Academy Award winning films accompany the exhibit "Polar Exploration." On February at 7:00pm is With Byrd at the South Pole (1930) about Richard Byrd who became the first person to fly over the South Pole, in 1929. The film won an Oscar for Best Cinematography and will be introduced by historian Guy Guthridge. On February 27 at 2:00pm is March of the Penguins (2005), Oscar winner for Best Documentary Feature.
As part of the "Czech Lions" series is Fighter (Amir Bar-Lev, 1999), a documentary about two two survivors of Hitler's invasion of Czechoslovakia, both now living in the US and working as university professors. This award-winning film shows on February 10 at 8:00pm.
This month's French Cinematheque film, on February 17 at 8:00pm, is God's Offices (Claire Simon, 2008) starring Nathalie Baye and Nicole Garcia.
Kennedy Center for Performing Arts
The NSO Pops conducted by Bill Conti presents an orchestral salute to the Academy Awards "And the Winner Is..." on February 11 at 7:00pm, February 12 at 8:00pm and February 13 at 8:00pm. In the Concert Hall.
On February 24 at 7:00pm is Journey to Mecca (Bruce Neibaur, 2009), an IMAX screening about the epic journey of Ibn Battuta who traveled from Morocco to Mecca in the 1300s, a distance three times that of Marco Polo's. A light reception follows the screening.
On February 22 at 7:00pm is Breakfast on Pluto (Neil Jordan, 2005), starring Cillian Murphy. Films are shown at Flashpoint, 916 G Street, NW.
Sixth and I Synagogue
On February 18 at 7:00pm is A River Wild, a documentary about young adults battling cancer who spent seven days kayaking the Colorado River. After the film, several special guests wil discuss the film and answer questions.
The Phillips Collection
On February 4 at 6:30pm is a program of Czech Avant-Garde films rarely seen in the US. On February 13 at 2:00pm is a documentary I Remember Better When I Paint (Eic Ellena and Berna Huebner, 2009), about the positive effects of art on Alzheimer's patients. The filmmakers will be present for discussion.
On February 5 and 6 at 7:00pm is a program of the best of the 2009 DC Shorts Film Festival. See the website for titles; held at the US Navy Memorial's Burke Theater, 701 Pennsylvania Ave., NW.