‘The Exorcist’ Steps in Georgetown Could Become a Historic Landmark

Washington D.C. based film fans are working to preserve an iconic piece of movie history. “The Exorcist Steps,” a famous outdoor staircase as seen in William Friedkin’s 1973 horror film, could soon achieve historic landmark status.

According to Yahoo!, a community association has petitioned Washington’s historic preservation review board to designate the steps as a landmark and prevent construction of a new condo from encroaching on the staircase.

The review board will make their decision on Nov. 15. The stairs were previously memorialized with a plaque in 2015 by community organizer Andrew Huff, but he’s now leading the effort to get the stairs classified as a historic landmark.

Also Read: ‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’: 7 ‘The Exorcist’ References in That Head-Spinning Tribute Episode

The narrow, spooky, 75 stone steps located at the corner of Prospect St. and 36th St leading down to M Street in Georgetown have been a part of the community since 1895.

They became immortalized when they were used to show the bloody death of “The Exorcist” character Father Damien Karras, who threw himself down the stairs after being possessed with the spirit of a demon.

To film the sequence, a stuntman had to tumble down the stairs covered in a half-inch of rubber to cushion his landing, with the sequence needing to be shot three separate times.

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Washington D.C. based film fans are working to preserve an iconic piece of movie history. “The Exorcist Steps,” a famous outdoor staircase as seen in William Friedkin’s 1973 horror film, could soon achieve historic landmark status.

According to Yahoo!, a community association has petitioned Washington’s historic preservation review board to designate the steps as a landmark and prevent construction of a new condo from encroaching on the staircase.

The review board will make their decision on Nov. 15. The stairs were previously memorialized with a plaque in 2015 by community organizer Andrew Huff, but he’s now leading the effort to get the stairs classified as a historic landmark.

The narrow, spooky, 75 stone steps located at the corner of Prospect St. and 36th St leading down to M Street in Georgetown have been a part of the community since 1895.

They became immortalized when they were used to show the bloody death of “The Exorcist” character Father Damien Karras, who threw himself down the stairs after being possessed with the spirit of a demon.

To film the sequence, a stuntman had to tumble down the stairs covered in a half-inch of rubber to cushion his landing, with the sequence needing to be shot three separate times.

Related stories from TheWrap:

'Halloween' Slices Up $32 Million in 2nd Weekend at Box Office

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'It' Passes 'The Exorcist' to Become Highest Grossing Horror Movie Ever

45 Years After the ‘The Exorcist,’ William Friedkin Still Doesn’t Know Whether He Believes in Possession

Neither, for that matter, does Ellen Burstyn.

Want to feel old? The above picture is what the girl from “The Exorcist” looks like today. (Kidding.) William Friedkin’s classic — recently named the fourth-best horror movie of all time by IndieWire — celebrates its 45th anniversary this year, and as part of the festivities, the director and his leading lady Ellen Burstyn recently engaged in a lengthy discussion following a screening presented by the Academy.

The filmmaker, who won the Academy Award for Best Director two years prior to “The Exorcist” for his work on “The French Connection,” is a natural storyteller who does well in the spotlight. It was clear enough from his recent documentary “The Devil and Father Amorth” that he still struggles with his own beliefs (or lack thereof) when it comes to the supernatural in general and demonic possession in particular, and he attempted to clarify those views onstage.

“I think if I was making the film today, I would use a lot less of the supernatural, to be honest with you. A lot less, but some,” he admitted. “None of the greatest philosophers who ever lived know if there’s a heaven or hell or a God or a devil.”

For that matter, neither does Burstyn. “I don’t pretend to know,” she said. “I only know that there’s more to the universe than we have any idea about, and I don’t pin myself down to one belief system that says, ‘OK, this is the way it is.’ I live in a state of awe and gratitude that the universe keeps surprising us and unfolding more and more of its complexity to us in so many different ways. So I don’t rule out anything, and in my life the metaphysical expresses itself through the physical many times and in many different ways — so I’m open to it all, and grateful for every bit of revelation that comes.”

She and Friedkin were also in agreement about something else: their favorite scene. Both cited the sequence in which the detective played by Lee J. Cobb reveals that 12-year-old Regan (Linda Blair) has, in her possessed state, murdered a man. Friedkin went so far as to describe it as “my favorite scene ever of anything I’ve ever worked on — no, seriously — because it is so extremely subtle in a film that might no be known for its subtlety,” he said. “It’s two of the greatest American actors — and I use that word advisedly — working together. To me, it’s like watching a great tennis match or great boxing match, two people at the absolute height of their powers working together.”

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Warner Bros/Hoya Prods./Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5885474g)The Exorcist (1973)The Exorcist - 1973Director: William FriedkinWarner Bros/Hoya ProductionsUSAScene StillHorrorL'Exorciste

“The Exorcist”

Warner Bros/Hoya Prods./Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

“You understand what he’s saying to her, she understands what he’s saying to her. He doesn’t use the words, but he’s telling her that her daughter killed this guy. And she knows it, but she can’t show it. As simple as it looks, it is so profoundly effective,” Friedkin added. Burstyn agreed, calling the scene “so potent and subtle.”

While fielding questions from the audience, the two were eventually asked whether anything inexplicable occurred during production. Friedkin expressed skepticism on the subject, describing a fire on set that was odd but otherwise dismissing the notion that anything especially strange went on. “There have been more lies and bullshit written about ‘The Exorcist’ than anything I can imagine — outside of the last election,” he said to applause. “I have never seen such horrible crap as what’s been written about this picture and about me and people involved with it.”

(That election reference wasn’t Friedkin’s only political comment: “Warner Bros., by the way, was at 666 5th Avenue, which is an address that still exists — and the building is owned by Jared Kushner, so process that,” he couldn’t help saying earlier in the evening.)

“You said that a lot of people died in the making of this film, and I remember my answer to you last night,” Friedkin said to Burstyn near the end of the conversation, referencing a discussion they’d had the night before. “I quoted to you a Bob Dylan song in which he said, ‘Those not busy being born are busy dying.’ And the fact that some people died, I did not think was unusual.”

“It was a lot,” Burstyn responded. The director added, “How many? I don’t know. People die all the time.”

Their difference of opinion seems telling — and may just account for part of why “The Exorcist” remains so haunting today.

‘Friedkin Uncut’ Review: The Oscar-Winning Filmmaker Exorcises His Demons in Intimate Documentary — Venice

He has much to say about his work, from “The Exorcist” to “The French Connection.”

When William Friedkin says that Hitler and Jesus are the two most interesting characters in history, one is inclined to listen. The Oscar-winning director of “The Exorcist,” “Sorcerer,” and “The French Connection” is fascinated by the extremes they represent: One brought people down to hell with him, the other helped them ascend to heaven. Friedkin proves so talkative in Francesco Zippel’s documentary about him, riffing on matters both cinematic and spiritual, that it’s almost surprising he didn’t pursue a career that allows him to do it more — you can almost imagine him in front of a congregation of his own.

He isn’t the only one with a lot to say. “Friedkin Uncut” also includes testimonials from collaborators and admirers such as Ellen Burstyn, Wes Anderson, Quentin Tarantino, and Francis Ford Coppola; docs of this type never lack for talking heads, but there’s a sense that Friedkin’s work and career inspire a level of insight that’s comparatively rare. That’s in large part due to “The Exorcist,” which continues to fascinate not only for its brilliance but because its dark subject matter has rarely been afforded such serious treatment. Experts won’t learn much about the horror masterpiece they don’t already know, but there’s a joy to be had in simply hearing its creators delve into it in such detail.

Friedkin revisited it in his own “The Devil and Father Amorth” last year, and here he remains troubled by the question of demonic possession (whose existence he still doubts). Speaking with his strong Chicago accent, he grapples with this and other questions while being interviewed by Zippel as he sits in a director’s chair from his Los Angeles home. The setup is casual and unadorned, which is apropos of its subject: Friedkin is entirely unpretentious, and perhaps humble to a fault as he discusses the highs and lows of his storied career.

He speaks with reverence of other filmmakers — Kathryn Bigelow, he says, is the best American director working today, and Damien Chazelle has all the potential in the world — but modesty when referring to himself. “I don’t have a perception of myself as an artist,” he says after citing a handful of filmmakers (Federico Fellini, Henri-Georges Clouzot, Charlie Chaplin) he does thinks of in that elevated way. “That’s the beginning of the end of a career, when you start to believe you’re an artist instead of just striving for the utmost professionalism in the telling of a story.” There’s nothing particularly new or inspired about Zippel’s decision to simply train a camera on Friedkin and let him riff, but the man is such a captivating speaker that it ultimately doesn’t matter much.

Those who’ve worked with him offer nothing but praise, even when it doesn’t come across that way. He’s described by Gina Gershon as a method director, one whose interactions with his cast are increasingly affected by the characters they’re playing — which, in her case, resulted in him “treating me like shit” during the making of the underrated “Killer Joe.” (He apologized and explained himself after the fact, and Gershon seems entirely unfazed by the experience.) Matthew McConaughey, whose McConaissance began in part with that same film, says he got his “True Detective” role thanks to it.

Burstyn shares another anecdote too good not to mention: Max Von Sydow, an atheist, struggled with delivering his famous “the power of Christ compels you” line in “The Exorcist”; Friedkin joked that, of all the problems a film of that nature could have, an actor of von Sydow’s caliber flubbing a line never would have occurred to him.

Attention is given to Friedkin’s lesser-known works as well, like the 1962 TV documentary “The People vs. Paul Crump. The story of a death-row inmate who was ultimately released, it’s a kind of forerunner to Errol Morris’ “The Thin Blue Line.” Ultimately, the focus is on the hits: “The Exorcist” and “The French Connection” get the most screentime, which is as it should be.

Then there’s “Sorcerer,” a high-profile failure with a notoriously difficult production process that, along with “Heaven’s Gate,” is frequently cited as helping end the director-driven New Hollywood era. Though rightfully reclaimed in recent years as its own kind of masterpiece, it had the misfortune of being released shortly after “Star Wars” and remains polarizing 40 years later. Friedkin seems unbothered: “Success has many fathers, and failure is an orphan,” he says. If that’s true, he inhabits both modes like few others.

Grade: B

“Friedkin Uncut” world premiered at the Venice Film Festival. TaTaTu, which acquired distribution rights prior to the festival, has not yet set a release date.

TaTaTu Acquires ‘Friedkin Uncut’ Doc For North America, UK – Venice

Friedkin Uncut, the documentary by Francesco Zippel about the Exorcist and French Connection director William Friedkin, has been acquired by social entertainment platform TaTaTu ahead of the film’s world premiere in Venice.
TaTaTu, whose founder…

Friedkin Uncut, the documentary by Francesco Zippel about the Exorcist and French Connection director William Friedkin, has been acquired by social entertainment platform TaTaTu ahead of the film’s world premiere in Venice. TaTaTu, whose founder Andrea Iervolino is a producer on the movie, has taken North American and UK rights. The film is among the first blockchain/cryptocurrency backed titles to screen at a major film festival. It’s running in the Venice Classics…

Nazi Titanic: That Time the Nazis Made the Most Expensive Propaganda Film in History

In 1943, Nazi Germany produced the most expensive propaganda film ever made: a retelling of the Titanic disaster that blamed British greed for the disaster at sea. But the story of the Nazi Titanic is even more tragic than the story of the real Titanic.

It’s the subject of our new “Shoot This Now” podcast, where we talk about stories that should be made into TV shows or movies. You can listen on Spotify or listen right here.



And now, it’s time for an embarrassing confession. One of our rules for “Shoot This Now” is that we don’t bother with stories that are already being made into movies. But moments after we posted this episode online, we discovered that a Nazi Titanic movie is already in the works. We feel dumb that we didn’t discover this in our hours of Googling about the Nazi Titanic. But we’re not going to delete this episode, because we really enjoyed making it. And we can’t wait to see director George Gallo’s take on “The Nazi Titanic,” which is written by Scott D. Rosenbaum and Josh Posner, according to Deadline.

Also Read: ‘Jaws 2’ Was Almost ‘Saving Private Ryan’ With Sharks (Podcast)

Like so many things that happened in World War II, the story of the Nazi Titanic sounds too insane to be true. At the height of the war, Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels spent the modern-day equivalent of $180 million dollars to film a propaganda film. He even allowed the director, Herbert Selpin (nicknamed “The Hedgehog”) to use a real German ship, the Cap Arcona, which had been designed to improve on the Titanic.

But the “Titanic” shoot was beset by problems — besides the inherent problem of being a Nazi propaganda film. Selpin’s complaints about rampant sexual harassment on the set eventually got him killed.

And the fate of the Cap Arcona, in the final days of the war, is horrifically tragic.

In our research for this episode, we relied heavily on Robert P. Watson’s book, “The Nazi Titanic,” and this article by the Times of Israel. The interview between Fritz Lang and William Friedkin that we discuss in the episode can be viewed here.

As embarrassed as we are that we didn’t know about Gallo, Rosenbaum and Posner’s project, we’re very excited to see how their vision for the film will blow away the ideas we kick around in this episode of “Shoot This Now.”

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In 1943, Nazi Germany produced the most expensive propaganda film ever made: a retelling of the Titanic disaster that blamed British greed for the disaster at sea. But the story of the Nazi Titanic is even more tragic than the story of the real Titanic.

It’s the subject of our new “Shoot This Now” podcast, where we talk about stories that should be made into TV shows or movies. You can listen on Spotify or listen right here.

And now, it’s time for an embarrassing confession. One of our rules for “Shoot This Now” is that we don’t bother with stories that are already being made into movies. But moments after we posted this episode online, we discovered that a Nazi Titanic movie is already in the works. We feel dumb that we didn’t discover this in our hours of Googling about the Nazi Titanic. But we’re not going to delete this episode, because we really enjoyed making it. And we can’t wait to see director George Gallo’s take on “The Nazi Titanic,” which is written by Scott D. Rosenbaum and Josh Posner, according to Deadline.

Like so many things that happened in World War II, the story of the Nazi Titanic sounds too insane to be true. At the height of the war, Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels spent the modern-day equivalent of $180 million dollars to film a propaganda film. He even allowed the director, Herbert Selpin (nicknamed “The Hedgehog”) to use a real German ship, the Cap Arcona, which had been designed to improve on the Titanic.

But the “Titanic” shoot was beset by problems — besides the inherent problem of being a Nazi propaganda film. Selpin’s complaints about rampant sexual harassment on the set eventually got him killed.

And the fate of the Cap Arcona, in the final days of the war, is horrifically tragic.

In our research for this episode, we relied heavily on Robert P. Watson’s book, “The Nazi Titanic,” and this article by the Times of Israel. The interview between Fritz Lang and William Friedkin that we discuss in the episode can be viewed here.

As embarrassed as we are that we didn’t know about Gallo, Rosenbaum and Posner’s project, we’re very excited to see how their vision for the film will blow away the ideas we kick around in this episode of “Shoot This Now.”

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Jacques Audiard & More Amplify Call To Free Oleg Sentsov From Russian Jail

The European Film Academy on Friday again called for the immediate release from a Russian prison of Ukranian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov who has been on a hunger strike for more than 50 days. France’s Société des Réalisateurs de Films, which organizes…

The European Film Academy on Friday again called for the immediate release from a Russian prison of Ukranian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov who has been on a hunger strike for more than 50 days. France’s Société des Réalisateurs de Films, which organizes the Directors’ Fortnight section at the Cannes Film Festival, has also launched a campaign with Palme d’Or winner Jacques Audiard delivering an impassioned video message (see below). In a letter posted to the SRF website and…

Peter Bart: Fifty Years In, Three Directors Continue To Build Their Legacies

As several excellent books and articles are reminding us, 1968 was a year of tumult. Regimes were collapsing on this date 50 years ago, protesters jammed the streets, and the worlds of music and film were being re-imagined. Even the tightly regimented …

As several excellent books and articles are reminding us, 1968 was a year of tumult. Regimes were collapsing on this date 50 years ago, protesters jammed the streets, and the worlds of music and film were being re-imagined. Even the tightly regimented Cannes Film Festival exploded in a noisy chaos of demonstrations. The convulsions of five decades ago, to be sure, did not have the enduring impact that many had imagined. Game-changing ideas crashed and burned, taking…

Philip D’Antoni, ‘The French Connection’ Producer, Dies at 89

Philip D’Antoni, who produced Oscar-winning films like “The French Connection” and “Bullitt,” died at age 89 on April 15. The producer died at his home in New York. D’Antoni was best known for the 1971 crime drama &#…

Philip D’Antoni, who produced Oscar-winning films like “The French Connection” and “Bullitt,” died at age 89 on April 15. The producer died at his home in New York. D’Antoni was best known for the 1971 crime drama “The French Connection,” which won three Golden Globes and five Oscars, including best picture. Gene Hackman won for […]

PopPolitics: William Friedkin on His Return to DC for ‘The Devil and Father Amorth’ (Listen)

WASHINGTON — William Friedkin returned to Washington last week to talk about his latest project — “The Devil and Father Amorth,” a documentary project that explores real-life exorcisms. In it, Friedkin witnesses and films an exo…

WASHINGTON — William Friedkin returned to Washington last week to talk about his latest project — “The Devil and Father Amorth,” a documentary project that explores real-life exorcisms. In it, Friedkin witnesses and films an exorcism in Italy in 2016, of a young Italian woman named Christina who believed that she was possessed. The experience […]

‘The Devil And Father Amorth’ Review: William Friedkin’s Docu Look At A Real Exorcism Is Perfect Companion To His 1973 Horror Classic

In a chilling new documentary, Oscar-winning director William Friedkin returns to the roots of one of the most successful horror films of all time, his frightening film of William Peter Blatty’s bestseller The Exorcist. That 1973 classic had audi…

In a chilling new documentary, Oscar-winning director William Friedkin returns to the roots of one of the most successful horror films of all time, his frightening film of William Peter Blatty’s bestseller The ExorcistThat 1973 classic had audiences fainting in their seats, became a box office sensation and was nominated for 10 Academy Awards including Best Picture and won two. But that film was fiction. As I say in my video review (click the link above to watch), his…

William Friedkin on Witnessing a Real Exorcism 45 Years Later, And What ‘The Exorcist’ Got Right

The Academy-Award winning director also talks about why he doesn’t consider his 1973 classic “The Exorcist” to be a horror film.

William Friedkin already had a Best Director Oscar under his belt when “The Exorcist” came to theaters in 1973, but even he wasn’t quite prepared for what the film would mean for his career. “The Exorcist” was a box office smash, and long before the advent of social media, the film went viral the old-fashioned way — through word of mouth. Today, the audience reactions almost seem like a publicity stunt, but people really did faint and get sick after seeing the movie, lending many to believe the film is cursed. “The Exorcist” was terrifying, and its creepiest aspect was that it drew from real accounts.

Even 45 years later, Friedkin can’t escape the shadow of “The Exorcist,” not that he has a problem with that. When IndieWire joined the legendary director for a day in Georgetown, Washington D.C., Friedkin’s love of the city made famous by his film was more than evident, as he gushed about each filming location in the quaint neighborhood. And the city loves him back. Friedkin’s film is still shown to Georgetown University freshman as part of their undergraduate curriculum, and the infamous “Exorcist” steps were officially recognized as a cultural landmark in 2015 by the city.

On the Georgetown campus, students whipped out their cell phones to capture glimpses of the director, who was surrounded by journalists and cameras. They huddled in packs, staggering around at a close distance. “That’s the guy who made ‘The Exorcist!'” one of them whispered.

Friedkin is as much a legend as his film, which continues to terrify audiences even decades later, as younger generations continue to revere it as one of the greatest horror movies ever made.

But don’t tell Friedkin that. “The Exorcist” might top most horror lists as the exemplar of the genre, but Friedkin doesn’t see the film as a horror movie at all. Instead, it is a film about the power of faith in the face of unimaginable darkness.

“Faith is a mystery,” Friedkin told IndieWire at a lunch celebrating his new documentary, “The Devil and Father Amorth. “Bill [Blatty, author of the book] identified ‘The Exorcist’ as being a work about the mystery of faith. People call it a horror film. Blatty and I never spoke about a horror film. We made a film about the mystery of faith, which was his concept, his idea, his believe system.”

"The Devil and Father Amorth"

“The Devil and Father Amorth”

The Orchard

Friedkin’s strong faith and belief in “the teachings of Jesus Christ” have guided him in his post-“Exorcist” career, which included a range of bold genre experiments such as “Sorcerer,” “To Live and Die in L.A.,” and “Cruising.” But just as Friedkin has always come back to “The Exorcist,” including releasing an updated version of the film in 2000, it was inevitable that his career would loop back to the supernatural. This time, it’s with his new documentary, “The Devil and Father Amorth.”

In 2016, while in Italy receiving a prize for his work directing operas, Friedkin found himself with some downtime and requested an audience with the Vatican’s official exorcist, Father Gabriele Amorth. Friedkin initially turned his conversations with the priest into an article for Vanity Fair, but he had an idea. He asked if he could witness a real exorcism, assuming the answer would be no. “Nobody gets to see an exorcism,” Friedkin explained. “It’s not a show, it’s a very private matter and I thought he would never allow it.”

To his surprise, Father Amorth not only approved his request, but allowed him to film the exorcism, resulting in “The Devil and Father Amorth.” Friedkin witnessed the exorcism of a 46-year-old woman, a former architect who was receiving her ninth intervention by the priest. The filmmaker said wasn’t sure what to expect; he and Blatty had known of Father Amorth while they were working on “The Exorcist,” and both men had their doubts about the priest, who claimed to have done tens of thousands of exorcisms in his lifetime.

But the experience had an impact on Friedkin. “After I witnessed this exorcism and after I met Father Amorth, I had no doubt that what he was doing was giving of himself and his skills to help people who were in trouble who could not find any other help anywhere.” For Friedkin, his new documentary is a tribute to the priest, who passed away in 2016. “He is an extraordinary man and the film is a tribute both to him and to William Peter Blatty,” Friedkin said.

But fans of “The Exorcist” should be wary — this isn’t Hollywood magic, nor is it designed to operate like a horror movie. “Do not expect ‘The Exorcist,'” Friedkin said. “This is a real documentary with no special effects. ‘The Exorcist’ is a work of fiction by William Peter Blatty, a great story inspired by something that he totally believed occurred and wrote as a work of fiction.”

Still, Friedkin insisted that there are some things that “The Exorcist,” despite Reagan’s theatrical head-spinning and levitation, did get right. “Father Amorth told me that during the course of the exorcism this woman in her altered personality had cited to him some of his actual sins.”

Whether or not you believe that the supernatural forces explored in “The Exorcist” are real, there’s no denying the film’s legacy and power to still shock and provoke audiences. It’s a film Friedkin will never be able to shake, and one that still has the power to creep under the skin, even 45 years later.

 

William Friedkin’s ridiculous documentary The Devil And Father Amorth is almost trashy enough to be funny

The late Father Gabriele Amorth, founder of the International Association Of Exorcists, claimed to have performed tens of thousands of exorcisms in his career, a rate that realistically would have had him working office hours to cast out Satan seven days a week. There were other claims, too: that Stalin and Hitler…

Read more…

The late Father Gabriele Amorth, founder of the International Association Of Exorcists, claimed to have performed tens of thousands of exorcisms in his career, a rate that realistically would have had him working office hours to cast out Satan seven days a week. There were other claims, too: that Stalin and Hitler…

Read more...

‘The Devil and Father Amorth’ Trailer: Witness ‘Exorcist’ Director William Friedkin Filming a Live Exorcism

What happens when the director of “The Exorcist” shoots an actual exorcism? Let’s find out.

“The Exorcist” director William Friedkin terrified the Venice Film Festival last year with his new documentary, “The Devil and Father Amorth,” and now everyone can see why in the official trailer. The non-fiction feature profiles the late Father Gabriele Amortha as he performs his ninth exorcism on an Italian woman. Friedkin was in the room for the exorcism, and it shook him to his core.

“It was terrifying,” Friedkin told Variety at the Venice Film Festival about recording the footage. “I went from being afraid of what could happen to feeling a great deal of empathy with this woman’s pain and suffering, which is obvious in the film.”

“The Devil and Father Amorth” opens in select theaters via The Orchard on April 20. Watch the trailer below.

Film News Roundup: Maggie Gyllenhaal’s ‘Kindergarten Teacher’ Sells to Netflix

In today’s film news roundup, Netflix buys Maggie Gyllenhaal’s drama “The Kindergarten Teacher” and production starts on Mads Mikkelsen’s “Polar” and the horror film “irl.” ACQUISITION Netflix has bought North America rights to Maggie Gyllenhaal’s drama “The Kindergarten Teacher” a month after its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. Sara Colangelo won Sundance’s directing award […]

In today’s film news roundup, Netflix buys Maggie Gyllenhaal’s drama “The Kindergarten Teacher” and production starts on Mads Mikkelsen’s “Polar” and the horror film “irl.” ACQUISITION Netflix has bought North America rights to Maggie Gyllenhaal’s drama “The Kindergarten Teacher” a month after its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. Sara Colangelo won Sundance’s directing award […]

William Friedkin’s Exorcism Documentary ‘The Devil and Father Amorth’ Acquired by Orchard

The Orchard has acquired worldwide rights to William Friedkin’s exorcism documentary “The Devil and Father Amorth” from LD Entertainment. The documentary explores an exorcism performed in 2016 by the Vatican’s Father Gabriele Amorth as he fights to expel Satan from an Italian woman. Produced by Mickey Liddell and Pete Shilaimon, the Orchard plans a theatrical […]

The Orchard has acquired worldwide rights to William Friedkin’s exorcism documentary “The Devil and Father Amorth” from LD Entertainment. The documentary explores an exorcism performed in 2016 by the Vatican’s Father Gabriele Amorth as he fights to expel Satan from an Italian woman. Produced by Mickey Liddell and Pete Shilaimon, the Orchard plans a theatrical […]

William Friedkin’s Real-Life Exorcist Doc ‘The Devil & Father Amorth’ Lands at The Orchard

The Orchard has acquired worldwide rights to director William Friedkin’s real-life exorcism documentary “The Devil & Father Amorth,” the company announced Wednesday.

The company plans an April 20 theatrical release for the doc, which records an actual exorcism performed by the Vatican’s Father Gabriele Amorth as he fights to expel Satan from an Italian woman.

The film, produced by LD Entertainment’s Mickey Liddell and Pete Shilaimon, arrives 45 years after Friedkin directed the blockbuster, “The Exorcist.” Friedkin had received permission to travel to Rome and meet with 91-year-old Father Gabriele Amorth, the “Vatican Exorcist,” to film a real-life exorcism.

Also Read: ‘It’ Passes ‘The Exorcist’ to Become Highest Grossing Horror Movie Ever

“The world’s fascination with William Friedkin’s ‘The Exorcist’ as a piece of art and a debate about religion and spirituality has never waned,” Paul Davidson, The Orchard’s EVP Film and Television, said in a statement.  “We share his fascination with the topic and the evolution of the discussion that is front and center in ‘The Devil & Father Amorth’ and are honored to be partnering with him to bring the film to audiences.”

“In the early 1970s when I directed ‘The Exorcist’ I had not witnessed an exorcism but I wondered how close I had come to portraying reality,” said Friedkin. “I had been curious to meet Father Amorth for many years and when he granted permission to meet and film him in Rome last May, it was the opportunity to complete the circle and see how close that film came to reality.”

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The Orchard has acquired worldwide rights to director William Friedkin’s real-life exorcism documentary “The Devil & Father Amorth,” the company announced Wednesday.

The company plans an April 20 theatrical release for the doc, which records an actual exorcism performed by the Vatican’s Father Gabriele Amorth as he fights to expel Satan from an Italian woman.

The film, produced by LD Entertainment’s Mickey Liddell and Pete Shilaimon, arrives 45 years after Friedkin directed the blockbuster, “The Exorcist.” Friedkin had received permission to travel to Rome and meet with 91-year-old Father Gabriele Amorth, the “Vatican Exorcist,” to film a real-life exorcism.

“The world’s fascination with William Friedkin’s ‘The Exorcist’ as a piece of art and a debate about religion and spirituality has never waned,” Paul Davidson, The Orchard’s EVP Film and Television, said in a statement.  “We share his fascination with the topic and the evolution of the discussion that is front and center in ‘The Devil & Father Amorth’ and are honored to be partnering with him to bring the film to audiences.”

“In the early 1970s when I directed ‘The Exorcist’ I had not witnessed an exorcism but I wondered how close I had come to portraying reality,” said Friedkin. “I had been curious to meet Father Amorth for many years and when he granted permission to meet and film him in Rome last May, it was the opportunity to complete the circle and see how close that film came to reality.”

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William Friedkin’s Exorcism Documentary ‘The Devil & Father Amorth’ Acquired By The Orchard For Theatrical Release

William Friedkin‘s feature documentary The Devil & Father Amorth has been acquired by The Orchard for theatrical release this Spring. The doc that follows an exorcism of an Italian woman by by the Vatican’s Father Gabriele Amorth, was produced by LD Entertainment, specifically by Mickey Liddell and Pete Shilaimon. A worldwide digital release will follow an April 20 theatrical bow.
Friedkin is the filmmaker who brought William Peter Blatty’s bestselling book The Exorcist

William Friedkin's feature documentary The Devil & Father Amorth has been acquired by The Orchard for theatrical release this Spring. The doc that follows an exorcism of an Italian woman by by the Vatican's Father Gabriele Amorth, was produced by LD Entertainment, specifically by Mickey Liddell and Pete Shilaimon. A worldwide digital release will follow an April 20 theatrical bow. Friedkin is the filmmaker who brought William Peter Blatty’s bestselling book The Exorcist

Jerry Greenberg Dies: Oscar-Winning ‘The French Connection’ Editor Was 81

The film editor behind one of the most famous car chases in movie history has died. Jerry Greenberg, whose work on The French Connection won him an Academy Award for film editing, died Friday after a long illness. He was 81.
The French Connection car chase featured Detective Jimmy Doyle (played by Gene Hackman) chasing a criminal who has commandeered an elevated subway train. It was shot on busy city streets in New York with no traffic control or proper permits, although…

The film editor behind one of the most famous car chases in movie history has died. Jerry Greenberg, whose work on The French Connection won him an Academy Award for film editing, died Friday after a long illness. He was 81. The French Connection car chase featured Detective Jimmy Doyle (played by Gene Hackman) chasing a criminal who has commandeered an elevated subway train. It was shot on busy city streets in New York with no traffic control or proper permits, although…

‘The Exorcist’ Director William Friedkin Has Never Seen the Sequels or Series, But He Loved ‘It’ — Q&A

The legendary Hollywood director also explained his disdain for studio filmmaking today and addressed diversity challenges for the film industry.

On the 28th edition of the annual Halloween-themed “Treehouse of Horror” episode of “The Simpsons,” baby Maggie is possessed by a demon, and the voices of those tasked with exorcising it sound familiar to diehard horror fans: One of them is Ben Daniels, star of the FOX show “The Exorcist,” and the other is William Friedkin, who directed the 1973 movie.

Friedkin’s legacy extends far beyond that movie; two years earlier, he swept the Oscars with “The French Connection,” and later delivered “Sorcerer” and “To Live and Die in L.A.” The past decade found Friedkin continuing to produce edgy work, including two Tracy Letts plays (“Bug” and “Killer Joe”), numerous operas, and now a documentary, “The Devil and Father Amorth,” which premiered this fall at the Venice International Film Festival and explores the real-life context that inspired “The Exorcist.”

While visiting Lyon to deliver a masterclass at the Lumiere Festival, the 82-year-old filmmaker sat down with IndieWire to talk about his relationship to the horror genre, struggles with the studio system, and the battle to bring diversity to Hollywood.

How did your voiceover work on “The Simpsons” come about?

I just have a couple of lines. I don’t know what the character that they’ve drawn to illustrate me looks like. It’s a doctor who examines Homer for some kind of extraordinary symptoms. The writers turned out to be fans of mine. And they asked me if I wanted to come down to a cast reading. I was having lunch with the archbishop of Los Angeles, who is a “Simpsons” fan, and I brought him to this “Simpsons” reading. He loved it, he was in heaven. I enjoyed it very much as well, because it was funny around the table. Then they asked me if I could do a character. I went in and did it in like two takes.

The very decision to call you up for that episode speaks to your reputation as a horror director, although technically you only made one horror movie.

I’m not interested in the genre, per se. To me, there are good films and bad films. I don’t think in terms of genre. I don’t like a lot of westerns, but I love “Shane” and “High Noon” and the “Wild Bunch.” There are several films that are part of the horror genre that I love: “Psycho,” “Onibaba,” “Les Diaboliques” — but is that a horror film or a psychological thriller about murder? It doesn’t matter. To me, characterizing the picture is of no use whatsoever. I don’t know how you characterize “Citizen Kane,” the films of Alain Resnais or Fellini, but I like them.

What did you make of all those stories surrounding “It” breaking box office records? Some reports said it replaced “The Exorcist” as the highest-grossing horror movie of all time.

I thought it was a little bit over the top, but “It” was really good. The clown was pretty scary stuff. I really like it. But here’s the thing. It will never have as many admissions as “The Exorcist” in terms of people who came to see it. The price of a ticket when “The Exorcist” came out was probably on average less than two dollars; I think today it’s closer to nine. Neither “The Exorcist” nor any of the other films that made a lot of money will ever have as many viewers as “Gone with the Wind” or “Birth of a Nation.” I think it cost 15 cents or a quarter to see. So you can’t talk about how many people saw this more than something else because of the difference in the value of money.

The Exorcist

“The Exorcist”

But it’s kind of unusual for Warner Bros. to get behind a story like that because “The Exorcist” has been such an important film to them. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Still, I liked “It.” I thought it was terrific.

How do you feel about “The Exorcist” franchise as a whole?

I never saw any of the Exorcist films, not even Bill’s [William Blatty, author of “The Exorcist” novel]. I saw a few minutes of “Exorcist II,” but that was only because I was in the Technicolor lab timing a film that I had directed — I forget which one — and one of the color timers at Technicolor said, hey, we just made a print of “Exorcist II,” would you like to have a look at it? I said OK. I went in, and after five minutes, it just blasted me. I couldn’t take it. I thought it was just ridiculous and stupid. But that was only five minutes, so I can’t make an ultimate judgement about it. It just seemed to me to have nothing to do with “The Exorcist.”

Paul Schrader’s film had some potential.

Which one was that?

“Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist.”

I have no idea about that. I know Bill [Blatty] did one, which was not meant to be called “Exorcist III.” It was from another novel he’d written called “Legion.” I had no interest. I loved Bill Blatty. I dedicated my documentary to him and we remained close friends to his death. But I know that he had to make a lot of compromises — he had to put an exorcism scene in there, which he never intended, so that the producers could call it “Exorcist III.”

And what are your thoughts on the TV show?

I haven’t seen it, either. They bought the title from Blatty, and I don’t disrespect that. I know this: Before he died, he had never seen an episode of it. He died during the first season of it and he called me. The last call he made to me, shortly before he died, was, “Billy, have you seen it?” And I said, “No, Bill.” He said, “Neither have I.” And that was the extent of our conversation about it.

William Friedkin Is Developing ‘Killer Joe’ TV Series With ‘Million Dollar Baby’ Producer — Exclusive

The 81-year-old filmmaker has come up with a new setting for the show, which will not star original “Killer Joe” Matthew McConaughey.

Opinions differ about the the turning point of Matthew McConaughey’s career, when he moved away from skippable romcoms into more challenging territory, but “Killer Joe” is a good place to start. William Friedkin’s pitch black comedy — his second feature based on a Tracy Letts play, after “Bug” — found McConaughey transforming his nice guy grin into the veneer of a deranged hired killer. Now, that killer might be coming to television, but it will need a new face.

Friedkin is currently developing a series based on his movie, but intends to have another actor play the lead role, he said in an interview over the weekend at the Lumiere Festival in Lyon, France. The filmmaker said he is working with producer Bobby Maresco (“Million Dollar Baby,” “Crash”) on developing a new take on the “Killer Joe” premise, moving the story from East Text trailer parks to upper class Houston. While the Joe of the original story exclusively worked as a killer for hire, the series finds him working as the chief of detectives. “It’s set among the millionaires and billionaires, who have their wives or business competitors killed,” Friedkin said. “Joe is a hired killer who frames bad guys for the murders who can’t get arrested for something else, or he makes them look like suicides…He becomes a kind of avenging angel in the series because he doesn’t just kill anybody for hire. He has to feel that guy in some way deserves to go.”

Friedkin last spoke about the idea of “Killer Joe” as a series in 2014, when he was also pitching an episodic version of “To Live and Die in L.A.” This time, however, the “Killer Joe” project seems to be picking up momentum: EOne is in talks to produce the show, though casting hasn’t been finalized. Friedkin said he planned to work on the bible for the show with Maresco in the coming weeks.

The 81-year-old filmmaker, who just premiered his real-life exorcism documentary “The Devil and Father Amorth,” said he’s prone to watching shows and documentaries on Netflix more than going to movie theaters these days. “I don’t go to a lot of films because I’m not the audience for most of them, with rare exceptions,” he said. “The theaters in America are dedicated to blockbusters, which means sequel after sequel after sequel of a superhero movie. Occasionally, somewhere, there will be a serious film.”

William Friedkin on the Power of Film, Capital Punishment and his Recklessness on ‘The French Connection’

LYON  — Director William Friedkin, maker of “The French Connection” and “The Exorcist,” in Lyon for a showcase of his work, proved his storytelling prowess at a master class on Thursday as he captivated the audience with anecdotes of his illustrious career. Particularly moving was the account of his first work, the 1962 documentary “The […]

LYON  — Director William Friedkin, maker of “The French Connection” and “The Exorcist,” in Lyon for a showcase of his work, proved his storytelling prowess at a master class on Thursday as he captivated the audience with anecdotes of his illustrious career. Particularly moving was the account of his first work, the 1962 documentary “The […]