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By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

56 UP will open at New York’s IFC Center January 2013

First Run Features is proud to announce the release of

The latest installment in the ground breaking documentary film series known as THE UP SERIES

56 UP will open at New York’s IFC Center on Friday January 4th, 2013 with a national theatrical run to follow

Offering an extraordinary look at the unfolding of lives, THE UP SERIES has been called “an inspired, almost noble use of the film medium” by renowned film critic Roger Ebert.

In 1964, acclaimed filmmaker Michael Apted (Coal Miner’s Daughter, Gorillas in the Mist, The World is Not Enough, Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader) began his career as a researcher on a new experimental series for Granada TV called Seven Up, which explored the Jesuit maxim “Give me the child until he is seven and I will give you the man.” The original concept was to interview 14 children from diverse socio-economic backgrounds from all over England, to see whether a class system was in place. By asking the children about their lives and their dreams for the future, differences in attitudes and opportunity were witnessed.

For almost a half century, Apted has interviewed the original group every seven years, examining the progression of their lives. Now they are 56. From cab driver Tony, to schoolmates Jackie, Lynn and Susan and the iconoclast Neil, the present age brings more life-changing decisions and surprising developments. From success and disappointment, marriage and childbirth, to poverty and illness, nearly every facet of life is discussed with the group, as they assess whether their lives have ultimately been ruled by circumstance or self-determination.

About THE UP SERIES, Apted says: “This project has spanned my entire working life. It has been a unique and fulfilling experience, the one I treasure most in my career. I owe a debt to Granada for their five decades of unstinting support, to First Run Features for launching the films in the USA and sticking with us, but my biggest debt is to the participants for their commitment and courage in seeing it all through. It’s no small matter offering your life up for public appraisal every seven years to a large international audience. I’ve known them so long that they’re more like a family than fellow workers. Like a family, we’ve had our good times, our disagreements, but now, all but one of the participants are back for 56UP. I never know how each new film will turn out, except that it’ll be quite different from the last. 21 UP was full of hope, 28 was about children and responsibility, 35 was concerned with mortality when some were losing parents, and 49 had a sense of disappointment with lives maybe not fully achieved. Yet 56 is quite different again, which goes to prove, if nothing else, that our series mirrors life, and is always full of surprises.”

Michael Apted is of one of the most prolific directors of his generation. Since the 1960s, Apted has helmed an extensive list of feature films and documentaries. His feature films include Coal Miner’s Daughter, Gorky Park, Gorillas in the Mist, Thunderheart, Nell, The World is Not Enough, Enigma, Amazing Grace, and the third installment of C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. His most recent film Chasing Mavericks for Walden Media and Twentieth Century Fox, tells the true story of Jay Moriarity, the youngest person to surf Mavericks, a famous giant wave in Northern California.

Apted’s documentary credits include, the Boris Grebenshikov film The Long Way Home, Incident at Oglala, Bring on the Night, Moving the Mountain, Me and Isaac Newton, The Power of the Game, and his other longitudinal series Married in America I and II. He also directed the official 2006 World Cup Film. But among Mr. Apted’s most widely recognized documentary directorial achievements are his internationally acclaimed, multi-award winning sequels based on the original 7 UP documentary: 7 Plus 7, 21, 28, 35, 42 UP, 49 UP, and the recent 56 UP, which aired in May on ITV to much acclaim. In addition to his documentary and feature work, Apted has worked extensively in television, including directing the first three episodes of HBO’s epic series Rome.

Apted was born in England in 1941 and studied law and history at Cambridge University. He has received numerous awards and nominations for his extensive body of work, including a Grammy, British Academy Awards, a DGA Award and the International Documentary Association’s highest honor, the IDA Career Achievement Award. By the order of Queen Elizabeth II, Apted was recently made a Companion of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George for his work in the film and television industries. Apted joined the DGA in 1978, was elected to the Western Directors Council in 1997 and became the Fifth Vice President of the National Board in 2002. He was elected President at the DGA biennial convention in June 2003. He served three terms as President of the Guild, which he concluded in July 2009. He became the Secretary-Treasurer of the DGA in 2011, and sits as a Governor of the Academy of Motion Pictures.

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Tsangari: With my next film, White Knuckles, it comes with a budget — it’s going to be a huge new world for me. As always when I enter into a new thing, don’t you wonder how it’s going to be and how much of yourself you are going to have to sacrifice? The ballet of all of this. I’m already imaging the choreography — not of the camera, but the choreography of actually bringing it to life. It is as fascinating as the shooting itself. I find the producing as exciting as the directing. The one informs the other. There is this producer-director hat that I constantly wear. I’ve been thinking about these early auteurs, like Howard Hawks and John Ford and Preston Sturges—all of these guys basically were hired by the studio, and I doubt they had final cut, and somehow they had films that now we can say they had their signatures.  There are different ways of being creative within the parameters and limitations of production. The only thing you cannot negotiate is stupidity.
Filmmaker: And unfortunately, there is an abundance of that in the world.
Tsangari: This is the only big risk: stupidity. Everything else is completely worked out in the end.
~ Chevalier‘s Rachel Athina Tsangari

“The middle-range movies that I was doing have largely either stopped being made, or they’ve moved to television, now that television is a go-to medium for directors who can’t get work in theatricals, because there are so few theatricals being made. But also with the new miniseries concept, you can tell a long story in detail without having to cram it all into 90 minutes. You don’t have to cut the characters and take out the secondary people. You can actually put them all on a big canvas. And it is a big canvas, because people have bigger screens now, so there’s no aesthetic difference between the way you shoot a movie and the way you shoot a TV show.

“Which is all for the good. But what’s happened in the interim is that theatrical movies being a spectacle business are now either giant blockbuster movies that run three hours—even superhero movies run three hours, they used to run like 58 minutes!—and the others, which are dysfunctional family independent movies or the slob comedy or the kiddie movie, and those are all low-budget. So the middle ground of movies that were about things, they’re just gone. Or else they’re on HBO. Like the Bryan Cranston LBJ movie, which years ago would’ve been made for theaters.

“You’ve got people like Paul Schrader and Walter Hill who can’t get their movies theatrically distributed because there’s no market for it. So they end up going to VOD, and VOD is a model from which no one makes any money, because most of the time, as soon as they get on the site, they’re pirated. So the whole model of the system right now is completely broken. And whether or not anybody’s going to try to fix, or if it even can be fixed, I don’t know. But it’s certainly not the same business that I got into in the ’70s.”
~ Joe Dante

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