‘Resistance Banker’ Director Depicts Secret Hero Behind ‘Biggest Bank Robbery in Dutch History’

As an up-and-coming filmmaker, Jarom Lürsen never wanted to make a World War II movie. A preponderance of those stories have already been told, after all. But when a monument was made for someone no one really knew about in his home country of the Netherlands, Lürsen found himself drawn to the little-known tale.

“He was a hero that was always hidden,” Lürsen told TheWrap’s Steve Pond at a Q&A on Tuesday following a screening of his film “The Resistance Banker,” the Netherlands entry in the Oscar foreign film race and this year’s winner of four Golden Calves — the equivalent of the Oscars in the Netherlands — including best film and best actor.

Also Read: ‘Roma,’ ‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’ and ‘Bird Box’ to Open in Theaters Ahead of Netflix Debuts

As the title suggests, “The Resistance Banker” tells the story of an upper-class banker who, with his brother, helps finance the resistance against Germany in the Netherlands by risking their careers and livelihoods to start a secret bank. Walraven van Hall (Barry Atsma) plays the brother, husband and father of two who first decides to help the resistance, building a team to forge bonds that will be turned in for money to help Jewish people fearful of deportation and protestors fearful of going broke. Actor Jacob Derwig plays Walraven’s brother, Gijs.

Lürsen told the audience at the Landmark Theater in Los Angeles that the van Halls didn’t help the resistance because they were Jewish. In fact, they weren’t Jewish at all and could have easily fled to England if they wanted to. But instead, the van Halls felt they were in the best position to help their fellow people.

“[Walraven] starts out resisting the resistance,” Lürsen said.  “In the end, he becomes the spider in the web of the whole resistance.”

In fact, Walraven would become so interwoven in the resistance that he ended up going by five different code names with almost no one knowing his true identity, according to Lürsen. While this is not exactly what is depicted in the final Netflix-acquired film — Walraven goes by van Tuyl to conceal his identity — Lürsen and the producers of the film made sure to reach out to the descendants of the van Halls to get the story as accurate as possible.

Initially the van Hall family was hesitant about agreeing to help the film, fearing it would turn into a “big action movie.”

“Our fathers never had guns,” Lürsen said the van Halls had told him.

Also Read: ‘A Son of Man’ Creators on Filming in the Jungle: Like ‘Trying to Shoot a Space Movie in Space’

Lürsen assured them the story would focus on two things: First, it would be a story following the emotional relationship between brothers. Second, it would try to depict the “biggest bank robbery in Dutch history” in a way that paid tribute but also stayed honest about what actually happened.

One of the ways the production stayed honest was filming scenes in locations as similar to the ones during the actual time period as possible. For example, the bank they are seen robbing in the film is the actual one they robbed 70-some years ago. The shooting schedule was rigorous in part due to their precise filming locations. Lürsen confessed the production traversed 18 different cities in 36 days across the Netherlands and Belgium, often needing to stop heavy traffic just to get one shot off.

But the work required was worth it. Now that the monument commemorating Walraven was erected across from the Dutch State Bank in 2010, there is a living memorial of his effort depicted in the film. Lürsen said the van Halls invited 300 of their family members to watch the film for a special screening when the movie opened. Afterward, Lürsen heard three words the assured him it was all worth it.

“Now, you’re family,” they told him.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Real-Life ‘American Animals’ Subject Tells Us Whether He’s Profiting From Film’s Success (Video)

What Is Stockholm Syndrome? The Answer Starts With a Bank Heist (Podcast)

As an up-and-coming filmmaker, Jarom Lürsen never wanted to make a World War II movie. A preponderance of those stories have already been told, after all. But when a monument was made for someone no one really knew about in his home country of the Netherlands, Lürsen found himself drawn to the little-known tale.

“He was a hero that was always hidden,” Lürsen told TheWrap’s Steve Pond at a Q&A on Tuesday following a screening of his film “The Resistance Banker,” the Netherlands entry in the Oscar foreign film race and this year’s winner of four Golden Calves — the equivalent of the Oscars in the Netherlands — including best film and best actor.

As the title suggests, “The Resistance Banker” tells the story of an upper-class banker who, with his brother, helps finance the resistance against Germany in the Netherlands by risking their careers and livelihoods to start a secret bank. Walraven van Hall (Barry Atsma) plays the brother, husband and father of two who first decides to help the resistance, building a team to forge bonds that will be turned in for money to help Jewish people fearful of deportation and protestors fearful of going broke. Actor Jacob Derwig plays Walraven’s brother, Gijs.

Lürsen told the audience at the Landmark Theater in Los Angeles that the van Halls didn’t help the resistance because they were Jewish. In fact, they weren’t Jewish at all and could have easily fled to England if they wanted to. But instead, the van Halls felt they were in the best position to help their fellow people.

“[Walraven] starts out resisting the resistance,” Lürsen said.  “In the end, he becomes the spider in the web of the whole resistance.”

In fact, Walraven would become so interwoven in the resistance that he ended up going by five different code names with almost no one knowing his true identity, according to Lürsen. While this is not exactly what is depicted in the final Netflix-acquired film — Walraven goes by van Tuyl to conceal his identity — Lürsen and the producers of the film made sure to reach out to the descendants of the van Halls to get the story as accurate as possible.

Initially the van Hall family was hesitant about agreeing to help the film, fearing it would turn into a “big action movie.”

“Our fathers never had guns,” Lürsen said the van Halls had told him.

Lürsen assured them the story would focus on two things: First, it would be a story following the emotional relationship between brothers. Second, it would try to depict the “biggest bank robbery in Dutch history” in a way that paid tribute but also stayed honest about what actually happened.

One of the ways the production stayed honest was filming scenes in locations as similar to the ones during the actual time period as possible. For example, the bank they are seen robbing in the film is the actual one they robbed 70-some years ago. The shooting schedule was rigorous in part due to their precise filming locations. Lürsen confessed the production traversed 18 different cities in 36 days across the Netherlands and Belgium, often needing to stop heavy traffic just to get one shot off.

But the work required was worth it. Now that the monument commemorating Walraven was erected across from the Dutch State Bank in 2010, there is a living memorial of his effort depicted in the film. Lürsen said the van Halls invited 300 of their family members to watch the film for a special screening when the movie opened. Afterward, Lürsen heard three words the assured him it was all worth it.

“Now, you’re family,” they told him.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Real-Life 'American Animals' Subject Tells Us Whether He's Profiting From Film's Success (Video)

What Is Stockholm Syndrome? The Answer Starts With a Bank Heist (Podcast)

How To Watch France Vs. Belgium In The World Cup Semifinals

France and Belgium will meet in the 2018 FIFA World Cup semifinals later today in St. Petersburg, Russia, pitting the neighboring countries (the game is being billed as “La Fête des Voisins,” or The Neighbors’ Party) against each other for …

France and Belgium will meet in the 2018 FIFA World Cup semifinals later today in St. Petersburg, Russia, pitting the neighboring countries (the game is being billed as “La Fête des Voisins,” or The Neighbors' Party) against each other for a chance to play for the title Sunday against the winner of Wednesday’s England-Croatia matchup. France is one win away from returning to the final 20 years after as the host nation it won the 1998 title, when it beat Brazil. It arrived…

How To Watch The 2018 World Cup – Monday, July 2 Mexico Vs. Brazil, Belgium Vs. Japan

Monday morning in Los Angeles will be something of an international holiday. That’s because the upstart Mexico soccer team is taking on traditional powerhouse Brazil in a match-up that will paralyze the city’s early in the day attention spa…

Monday morning in Los Angeles will be something of an international holiday. That’s because the upstart Mexico soccer team is taking on traditional powerhouse Brazil in a match-up that will paralyze the city’s early in the day attention span for two hours, starting at 7 AM Pacific. FoxS1 has the televised coverage. If that’s not enough, Belgium faces off against Japan at 11 AM Pacific, with television coverage by Fox. The final 16 teams have been scheduled into brackets…

‘Making a Murderer’: 34 Updates Since the Series’ Debut (Photos)

TheWrap takes a look back at the last eight months to see how “Making a Murderer” changed the case of Steven Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey, who were convicted for the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach.

Making a Murderer Gets Released

The documentary was released on Dec. 18, 2015. At first, it received an approval rating of 87 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Ken Kratz was Bashed on Yelp

A week after the doc aired, doc fans took to Yelp to warn potential new clients checking his law practice’s Yelp page against hiring him.

“Mr. Kratz is a seasoned sexual harasser, with deep knowledge of abuse victims which he took advantage of. He has a long experience in evidence fabrication, and has the required strategic thought skills to send innocent men to jail for forged crimes,” one man wrote in a Yelpreview posted Sunday. “When you think of garbage think of Mr. Kratz, he is the living representation of immorality and indecency that you need by your side to solve any legal issues.”

Also Read: ‘Making a Murderer’ Viewers Target Prosecutor Ken Kratz – On His Yelp Page

White House Petition

A White House Petition was started shortly after the documentary’s release, asking for the pardoning of both Avery and Dassey. It required 100,000 signatures before Jan. 19 to be eligible for an official White House review.

Also Read: ‘Making a Murderer’ White House Petition Surpasses 100,000 Signatures

Avery Can’t be Pardoned by Obama

Although there was a White House Petition to pardon Avery, President Barack Obama is constitutionally barred from pardoning Avery, because he was convicted in state court.

Also Read: ‘Making a Murderer’s’ Steven Avery Can’t Be Pardoned by Obama: Here’s Why

Protests Outside of the Courthouse

In January, people protested outside the Manitowoc County Courthouse.

Supporters traveled from as far as Texas, Florida and Oregon. The event was live streamed on Periscope drawing hundreds of people online, some from out of the country like Belgium.

Also Read: ‘Making a Murderer’: Steven Avery Supporters March on Manitowoc Courthouse

The Family Launched a Fundraising Website

In January, the uncle/nephew combo found guilty in the killing of a local photographer launched a fundraising website through their family in an attempt to raise money to mount another defense effort.

Also Read: ‘Making a Murderer’ Family Launches Fundraising Site for Steven Avery, Brendan Dassey

Avery Hires a New Lawyer

Avery hired Kathleen Zellner, an Illinois-based attorney who specializes in wrongful convictions, in January.

“The Zellner Law Firm is looking forward to adding Mr. Avery to its long list of wrongful conviction exonerations,” Zellner’s statement read.

Also Read: ‘Making a Murderer’s’ Steven Avery Has a New Lawyer

Avery’s Ex-Fiancee Calls Him a “Monster,’ ‘Not Innocent’

Jodi Stachowski, the ex-fiancee of Avery, says he is a “monster” and that “he’s not innocent” in the murder of Halbach.

In a January interview with HLN’s Nancy Grace, Stachowski admitted that she “ate two boxes of rat poison just so I could go to the hospital to get away from him and ask them to get the police to help me.”

Also Read: ‘Making a Murderer’: Steven Avery’s Ex-Fiancee Calls Him a ‘Monster’

Halbach’s Family Think The Doc Is ‘Terrible’

“It’s terrible,” Teresa Halbach’s aunt, Kay Giordana, told People. “I can’t believe this came out. It is really unfortunate.”

Also Read: Teresa Halbach’s Family: ‘Making a Murderer’ Is ‘Terrible’

Bomb Threat at Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department

On Feb. 3, a bomb threat was called into the Sheriff’s Department. Authorities say that the caller claimed “there were bombs in the building” and that he was “getting justice” for Steven Avery, the man at the forefront of the series, who was convicted of the murder of Teresa Halbach after being exonerated for a rape he didn’t commit.

Also Read: ‘Making a Murderer’: Bomb Threat Targets Manitowoc Sheriff’s Department

Investigation Discovery Aired a Special About the Case

The special, aired in February, claimed that 16 people testified to his whereabouts, saying that Avery could not have been Penny Beernsten’s sexual attacker in 1985, and that all vials of blood have a puncture hole (this was a piece of key evidence that was used to suggest law enforcement had framed Avery), among other revelations.

Also Read: ‘Making a Murderer’: Investigation Discovery Says ‘Critical Details Missing’ From Netflix Series

Transcripts Suggested Avery Touched Dassey Inappropriately

In February, TheWrap obtained transcripts from a May 13, 2006 interview, in which Dassey told police that Avery sometimes tried to grab his penis “through the pants.” In a phone call later that day to his mother, Barb Tadych, Dassey said he told police that Avery “would grab me somewhere where I was uncomfortable.”

Also Read: ‘Making a Murderer’ Reporter: Evidence Ignored That Steven Avery Sexually Abused Brendan Dassey

But Dassey Denied the Sexual Abuse

After TheWrap was told that reporters and lawyers ignored the possibility that Avery molested Dassey, a 2006 mental evaluation revealed psychologist Robert H. Gordon’s conclusion that Dassey had not been molested.

“Brendan reported having no history of being physically or sexually abused,” Gordon wrote.

Also Read: ‘Making a Murderer’: Brendan Dassey Denied Sexual Abuse in Psych Evaluation

Steven Avery Jr. Doesn’t Know If His Father is Guilty

Avery’s son had “no idea” whether his father is guilty of the murder of Teresa Halbach, for which he’s currently serving life in prison.

“I have no idea,” Steven Avery Jr. told Crime Watch Daily in an interview. “I mean … only one person can answer that and that is Teresa. But she can’t answer it no more.”

Also Read: ‘Making a Murderer’ Update: Steven Avery Jr. Has ‘No Idea’ If His Dad Is Guilty (Video)

Ken Kratz, Michael Griesbach Published Tell-All Books

Both Kratz and Michael Griesbach, the latter being a prosecutor responsible for helping Avery get out of jail in his first case, wrote a tell-all book chronicling the case and its representation in “Making a Murderer.”

Also Read: ‘Making a Murderer’ Prosecutor to Write Tell-All Book

Kathleen Zellner Says There Are “a Couple” New Suspects

In an in-depth profile published in March by Newsweek, Zellner said that she has found “a couple” of suspects, both men who knew Halbach.

“We have a couple,” Zellner, who specializes in wrongful convictions, said. “I’d say there’s one, leading the pack by a lot. But I don’t want to scare him off, I don’t want him to run.”

Also Read: ‘Making a Murderer’ Update: Avery Lawyer Cites a ‘Couple’ of New Suspects in Teresa Halbach’s Death

Ken Kratz Admitted to Suicidal Thoughts

Ken Kratz told Dr. Drew that he had suicidal thoughts after “this whole thing kind of blew up,” referring to the Avery Case and an Associated Press report exposing racy texts he sent to a 25-year-old woman while Kratz was prosecuting her ex-boyfriend.

Kathleen Zellner Will Be in Sequel

In May, one of the filmmakers, Laura Ricciardi, told TimeOut London that she and Moira Demos have “been talking to Kathleen Zellner about the potential of filming with her and continuing the story.”

Prison Emails Were Released

In June, USA Today obtained more than 1,900 pages of emails after the publication requested the documents under state opens records laws on January 26. The paper asked for emails sent or received by staff that pertained to Avery, Dassey or “Making a Murderer.”

Also Read: ‘Making a Murderer’: Steven Avery, Brendan Dassey Prison Emails Released After 5 Months

“Making a Murderer” Gets New Episodes

In July, it was announced that “Making a Murderer” is set to return to Netflix with new episodes that are already in production.

The coming installments will follow up with convicted murderer Steven Avery and his co-defendant, Brendan Dassey, as their respective investigative and legal teams challenge their convictions.

Also Read: ‘Making a Murderer’ to Return to Netflix With New Episodes

Brendan Dassey’s Conviction Overturned 

In August, Dassey had his conviction overturned.

Federal magistrate judge William E. Duffin granted Dassey’s writ for a petition of habeas corpus, finding that Dassey’s imprisonment was unlawful because his confession to the murder of Teresa Halbach was involuntary.

In reaching that decision, Duffin wrote that the “misconduct” of Len Kachinsky, Dassey’s court-appointed attorney, was “indefensible.”

Also Read: ‘Making a Murderer’ Subject Brendan Dassey’s Conviction Overturned

Motion for Evidence Filed

On August 27, Zellner filed a motion demanding physical evidence from the murder of Teresa Halbach for further scientific testing that she claims didn’t exist during the trial.

In the filing, Zellner revealed that “Mr. Avery has already completed a series of tests that will conclusively establish his innocence” and that she intends to reveal the identity of an alternate suspect once she has the test results.

Also Read: ‘Making a Murderer’: Steven Avery’s Lawyer Files Motion for New DNA Tests

Zellner Teases Brendan Dassey Decision

Zellner teased the media and documentary fans on Sept. 2, tweeting a picture of a man she helped exonerate in a murder case, who held a signing saying “It is over.” A spokesperson from the Wisconsin DOJ denied all media speculation about the fate of Dassey.

State Will Appeal Dassey’s Overturned Conviction

The state of Wisconsin said they would appeal Dassey’s overturned conviction, saying that his confession “was voluntary and the investigators did not use constitutionally impermissible tactics.”

Avery is Engaged

On Sept. 24, news broke that Avery is engaged to be married. The betrothed is Lynn Hartman, identified as a legal secretary — which might come in handy — from Las Vegas. The couple has reportedly been dating for eight months but have only met in person once.

Brendan Dassey Will Be Released

On Nov. 14, a judge ordered Dassey’s supervised release, pending possible retrial.

According to court documents obtained by TheWrap, U.S. Magistrate Judge William E. Duffin granted Dassey’s motion for release conditional upon his supervision by the U.S. Probation Office. Dassey will not be allowed to obtain a passport and can only travel in the court’s Eastern District of Wisconsin. He is not allowed to possess a weapon or any controlled substances.

Wisconsin DOJ Files Emergency Motion

On Tuesday, Attorney General Brad Schimel filed an emergency motion to stay Dassey’s release.

Dassey Will Be Home for Thanksgiving

Dassey will be home for Thanksgiving after the judge in his case rejected the state’s latest motion.

According to a Wisconsin Department of Justice release obtained by TheWrap, Dassey will be discharged from prison no later than Friday at 8 p.m. Attorney General Brad Schimel plans to file an emergency motion on Wednesday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit seeking a stay of this release order.

Nope, He Won’t Be Home For Thanksgiving

On Nov. 17, the judge ordered that Dassey will remain in prison pending an appeal of his overturned conviction, Attorney General Brad Schimel said.

“Moments ago, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit granted the State of Wisconsin’s motion to stay U.S. Magistrate Judge William Duffin’s order to release Mr. Brendan Dassey. Mr. Dassey will remain in prison pending the outcome of the appeal,” Schimel’s office said in a release.

Fellow Inmate Says Avery Confessed to the Murder

Joseph Evans, who is serving a life sentence for murdering his wife, alleges in a nine-page letter published on the Rockford Advocate that Avery described raping and killing Halbach.

“He said he put the knife to Teresa’s throat as he guided her to his bedroom,” Evans wrote. “Steven said Teresa was crying and begging him not to kill her.”

Zellner Alleges Teresa Halbach May Have Been Killed by Ex-Boyfriend

In June, Zellner filed a 1,200-page notice for post conviction relief in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, in which she alleged that Teresa Halbach’s ex-boyfriend may have killed her.

In the filing, Zellner notes that Halbach was in an abusive relationship with Ryan Hillegas prior to her murder and that jealousy could have been his motive for the murder when Halbach didn’t remain romantically interested in him.

Federal Appeals Court Upholds Ruling That Dassey’s Confession Was Coerced

In June of this year, a federal appeals court has upheld the ruling that Dassey’s conviction was coerced and he should be released from prison.

The majority of the three-judge panel agreed with Judge William Duffin’s August ruling that Dassey’s confession of the murder of Teresa Halbach was involuntary and that investigators violated Dassey’s rights.

State Requests Rehearing in Dassey’s Case

In July, the Wisconsin Department of Justice requested a rehearing by the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit after the federal appeals court said his conviction was coerced.

Avery Denied New Trial

In October, Avery was denied a new trial by a Wisconsin judge.

Judge Angela Sutkiewicz ruled that Avery had failed “to establish any grounds that would trigger the right to a new trial in the interests of justice.”

Zellner then told TheWrap that she would be filing a motion to vacate the judge’s order and that she plans to conduct further testing and amend his petition with new witness affidavits.

Judge Rejects Avery’s Bid For New Trial, Again

In November, Avery’s request for a new trial was rejected by Judge Sutkiewicz again.

According to the Post-Crescent, the ruling comes after Zellner appealed her filings to a higher court.

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘Making a Murderer’ Steven Avery Dumps New Fiancee: ‘She Is a Golddigger’

‘Making a Murderer’ Subject Steven Avery’s Dr Phil Interview Set to Air Next Week

‘Making a Murderer’: Steven Avery Legal Team Gets Shake-Up

TheWrap takes a look back at the last eight months to see how “Making a Murderer” changed the case of Steven Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey, who were convicted for the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach.

Making a Murderer Gets Released

The documentary was released on Dec. 18, 2015. At first, it received an approval rating of 87 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Ken Kratz was Bashed on Yelp

A week after the doc aired, doc fans took to Yelp to warn potential new clients checking his law practice’s Yelp page against hiring him.

“Mr. Kratz is a seasoned sexual harasser, with deep knowledge of abuse victims which he took advantage of. He has a long experience in evidence fabrication, and has the required strategic thought skills to send innocent men to jail for forged crimes,” one man wrote in a Yelpreview posted Sunday. “When you think of garbage think of Mr. Kratz, he is the living representation of immorality and indecency that you need by your side to solve any legal issues.”

White House Petition

A White House Petition was started shortly after the documentary’s release, asking for the pardoning of both Avery and Dassey. It required 100,000 signatures before Jan. 19 to be eligible for an official White House review.

Avery Can’t be Pardoned by Obama

Although there was a White House Petition to pardon Avery, President Barack Obama is constitutionally barred from pardoning Avery, because he was convicted in state court.

Protests Outside of the Courthouse

In January, people protested outside the Manitowoc County Courthouse.

Supporters traveled from as far as Texas, Florida and Oregon. The event was live streamed on Periscope drawing hundreds of people online, some from out of the country like Belgium.

The Family Launched a Fundraising Website

In January, the uncle/nephew combo found guilty in the killing of a local photographer launched a fundraising website through their family in an attempt to raise money to mount another defense effort.

Avery Hires a New Lawyer

Avery hired Kathleen Zellner, an Illinois-based attorney who specializes in wrongful convictions, in January.

“The Zellner Law Firm is looking forward to adding Mr. Avery to its long list of wrongful conviction exonerations,” Zellner’s statement read.

Avery’s Ex-Fiancee Calls Him a “Monster,’ ‘Not Innocent’

Jodi Stachowski, the ex-fiancee of Avery, says he is a “monster” and that “he’s not innocent” in the murder of Halbach.

In a January interview with HLN’s Nancy Grace, Stachowski admitted that she “ate two boxes of rat poison just so I could go to the hospital to get away from him and ask them to get the police to help me.”

Halbach’s Family Think The Doc Is ‘Terrible’

“It’s terrible,” Teresa Halbach’s aunt, Kay Giordana, told People. “I can’t believe this came out. It is really unfortunate.”

Bomb Threat at Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department

On Feb. 3, a bomb threat was called into the Sheriff’s Department. Authorities say that the caller claimed “there were bombs in the building” and that he was “getting justice” for Steven Avery, the man at the forefront of the series, who was convicted of the murder of Teresa Halbach after being exonerated for a rape he didn’t commit.

Investigation Discovery Aired a Special About the Case

The special, aired in February, claimed that 16 people testified to his whereabouts, saying that Avery could not have been Penny Beernsten’s sexual attacker in 1985, and that all vials of blood have a puncture hole (this was a piece of key evidence that was used to suggest law enforcement had framed Avery), among other revelations.

Transcripts Suggested Avery Touched Dassey Inappropriately

In February, TheWrap obtained transcripts from a May 13, 2006 interview, in which Dassey told police that Avery sometimes tried to grab his penis “through the pants.” In a phone call later that day to his mother, Barb Tadych, Dassey said he told police that Avery “would grab me somewhere where I was uncomfortable.”

But Dassey Denied the Sexual Abuse

After TheWrap was told that reporters and lawyers ignored the possibility that Avery molested Dassey, a 2006 mental evaluation revealed psychologist Robert H. Gordon’s conclusion that Dassey had not been molested.

“Brendan reported having no history of being physically or sexually abused,” Gordon wrote.

Steven Avery Jr. Doesn’t Know If His Father is Guilty

Avery’s son had “no idea” whether his father is guilty of the murder of Teresa Halbach, for which he’s currently serving life in prison.

“I have no idea,” Steven Avery Jr. told Crime Watch Daily in an interview. “I mean … only one person can answer that and that is Teresa. But she can’t answer it no more.”

Ken Kratz, Michael Griesbach Published Tell-All Books

Both Kratz and Michael Griesbach, the latter being a prosecutor responsible for helping Avery get out of jail in his first case, wrote a tell-all book chronicling the case and its representation in “Making a Murderer.”

Kathleen Zellner Says There Are “a Couple” New Suspects

In an in-depth profile published in March by Newsweek, Zellner said that she has found “a couple” of suspects, both men who knew Halbach.

“We have a couple,” Zellner, who specializes in wrongful convictions, said. “I’d say there’s one, leading the pack by a lot. But I don’t want to scare him off, I don’t want him to run.”

Ken Kratz Admitted to Suicidal Thoughts

Ken Kratz told Dr. Drew that he had suicidal thoughts after “this whole thing kind of blew up,” referring to the Avery Case and an Associated Press report exposing racy texts he sent to a 25-year-old woman while Kratz was prosecuting her ex-boyfriend.

Kathleen Zellner Will Be in Sequel

In May, one of the filmmakers, Laura Ricciardi, told TimeOut London that she and Moira Demos have “been talking to Kathleen Zellner about the potential of filming with her and continuing the story.”

Prison Emails Were Released

In June, USA Today obtained more than 1,900 pages of emails after the publication requested the documents under state opens records laws on January 26. The paper asked for emails sent or received by staff that pertained to Avery, Dassey or “Making a Murderer.”

“Making a Murderer” Gets New Episodes

In July, it was announced that “Making a Murderer” is set to return to Netflix with new episodes that are already in production.

The coming installments will follow up with convicted murderer Steven Avery and his co-defendant, Brendan Dassey, as their respective investigative and legal teams challenge their convictions.

Brendan Dassey’s Conviction Overturned 

In August, Dassey had his conviction overturned.

Federal magistrate judge William E. Duffin granted Dassey’s writ for a petition of habeas corpus, finding that Dassey’s imprisonment was unlawful because his confession to the murder of Teresa Halbach was involuntary.

In reaching that decision, Duffin wrote that the “misconduct” of Len Kachinsky, Dassey’s court-appointed attorney, was “indefensible.”

Motion for Evidence Filed

On August 27, Zellner filed a motion demanding physical evidence from the murder of Teresa Halbach for further scientific testing that she claims didn’t exist during the trial.

In the filing, Zellner revealed that “Mr. Avery has already completed a series of tests that will conclusively establish his innocence” and that she intends to reveal the identity of an alternate suspect once she has the test results.

Zellner Teases Brendan Dassey Decision

Zellner teased the media and documentary fans on Sept. 2, tweeting a picture of a man she helped exonerate in a murder case, who held a signing saying “It is over.” A spokesperson from the Wisconsin DOJ denied all media speculation about the fate of Dassey.

State Will Appeal Dassey’s Overturned Conviction

The state of Wisconsin said they would appeal Dassey’s overturned conviction, saying that his confession “was voluntary and the investigators did not use constitutionally impermissible tactics.”

Avery is Engaged

On Sept. 24, news broke that Avery is engaged to be married. The betrothed is Lynn Hartman, identified as a legal secretary — which might come in handy — from Las Vegas. The couple has reportedly been dating for eight months but have only met in person once.

Brendan Dassey Will Be Released

On Nov. 14, a judge ordered Dassey’s supervised release, pending possible retrial.

According to court documents obtained by TheWrap, U.S. Magistrate Judge William E. Duffin granted Dassey’s motion for release conditional upon his supervision by the U.S. Probation Office. Dassey will not be allowed to obtain a passport and can only travel in the court’s Eastern District of Wisconsin. He is not allowed to possess a weapon or any controlled substances.

Wisconsin DOJ Files Emergency Motion

On Tuesday, Attorney General Brad Schimel filed an emergency motion to stay Dassey’s release.

Dassey Will Be Home for Thanksgiving

Dassey will be home for Thanksgiving after the judge in his case rejected the state’s latest motion.

According to a Wisconsin Department of Justice release obtained by TheWrap, Dassey will be discharged from prison no later than Friday at 8 p.m. Attorney General Brad Schimel plans to file an emergency motion on Wednesday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit seeking a stay of this release order.

Nope, He Won’t Be Home For Thanksgiving

On Nov. 17, the judge ordered that Dassey will remain in prison pending an appeal of his overturned conviction, Attorney General Brad Schimel said.

“Moments ago, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit granted the State of Wisconsin’s motion to stay U.S. Magistrate Judge William Duffin’s order to release Mr. Brendan Dassey. Mr. Dassey will remain in prison pending the outcome of the appeal,” Schimel’s office said in a release.

Fellow Inmate Says Avery Confessed to the Murder

Joseph Evans, who is serving a life sentence for murdering his wife, alleges in a nine-page letter published on the Rockford Advocate that Avery described raping and killing Halbach.

“He said he put the knife to Teresa’s throat as he guided her to his bedroom,” Evans wrote. “Steven said Teresa was crying and begging him not to kill her.”

Zellner Alleges Teresa Halbach May Have Been Killed by Ex-Boyfriend

In June, Zellner filed a 1,200-page notice for post conviction relief in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, in which she alleged that Teresa Halbach’s ex-boyfriend may have killed her.

In the filing, Zellner notes that Halbach was in an abusive relationship with Ryan Hillegas prior to her murder and that jealousy could have been his motive for the murder when Halbach didn’t remain romantically interested in him.

Federal Appeals Court Upholds Ruling That Dassey’s Confession Was Coerced

In June of this year, a federal appeals court has upheld the ruling that Dassey’s conviction was coerced and he should be released from prison.

The majority of the three-judge panel agreed with Judge William Duffin’s August ruling that Dassey’s confession of the murder of Teresa Halbach was involuntary and that investigators violated Dassey’s rights.

State Requests Rehearing in Dassey’s Case

In July, the Wisconsin Department of Justice requested a rehearing by the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit after the federal appeals court said his conviction was coerced.

Avery Denied New Trial

In October, Avery was denied a new trial by a Wisconsin judge.

Judge Angela Sutkiewicz ruled that Avery had failed “to establish any grounds that would trigger the right to a new trial in the interests of justice.”

Zellner then told TheWrap that she would be filing a motion to vacate the judge’s order and that she plans to conduct further testing and amend his petition with new witness affidavits.

Judge Rejects Avery’s Bid For New Trial, Again

In November, Avery’s request for a new trial was rejected by Judge Sutkiewicz again.

According to the Post-Crescent, the ruling comes after Zellner appealed her filings to a higher court.

Related stories from TheWrap:

'Making a Murderer' Steven Avery Dumps New Fiancee: 'She Is a Golddigger'

'Making a Murderer' Subject Steven Avery's Dr Phil Interview Set to Air Next Week

'Making a Murderer': Steven Avery Legal Team Gets Shake-Up

Liege Becomes Burgeoning Hub for Belgian Cinema

Four times smaller than Brussels and with a population of around 700,000, the Francophone city of Liège has emerged as a major hub in the Belgian filmmaking industry. Bordering Germany and the Netherlands, Belgium’s easternmost city has been steadily growing its production and post-production infrastructure over the past several years, playing host to more than… Read more »

Four times smaller than Brussels and with a population of around 700,000, the Francophone city of Liège has emerged as a major hub in the Belgian filmmaking industry. Bordering Germany and the Netherlands, Belgium’s easternmost city has been steadily growing its production and post-production infrastructure over the past several years, playing host to more than... Read more »

Government Mandated Tax Shelter Boosts Belgian Film Biz

Belgium’s 2003 tax shelter had an immediate, galvanizing effect on the local industry. Though the country became one of Europe’s most popular shooting destinations and co-production partners, many in the local industry did not find the program equal for all. “Where before investors could raise a lot of money, in the end not all of… Read more »

Belgium’s 2003 tax shelter had an immediate, galvanizing effect on the local industry. Though the country became one of Europe’s most popular shooting destinations and co-production partners, many in the local industry did not find the program equal for all. “Where before investors could raise a lot of money, in the end not all of... Read more »

Sony Pictures Classics Acquires North and Latin American Rights to Russian Film ‘Loveless’

Sony Pictures Classics has acquired all North and Latin American rights to Andrey Zvyagintsev’s “Loveless,” SPC announced Wednesday.

The Russian language film is set to premiere In Competition at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival on Thursday.

SPC and Zvyagintsev previously worked together on “Leviathan,” which was the winner of Best Screenplay at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, Best Foreign Language Film at the 2015 Golden Globes and was Oscar nominated for Best Foreign Language Film. “Loveless” also marks the third partnership between Zvyagintsev and producer Alexander Rodnyansky.

Also Read: Streaming Giants Netflix and Amazon Return to Cannes Primed to Disrupt the Market

“Loveless” follows Zhenya and Boris who are going through a vicious divorce. Both are already starting new lives with new partners and are so impatient to start over again that they are threatening to abandon their 12-year-old son Alyosha. But when Alyosha witnesses one of their fights, he disappears.

Co-written by Zvyagintsev and Oleg Negin, the film is produced by Non-Stop Production (Russia), Fetisoff Illusion (Russia), Why Not Production (France), Les Films du Fleuve (Belgium) Senator Film Production (Germany) with support from Eurimages, Arte, Canal+, WDR and Cine+.

Also Read: Cannes 2017 Preview: A Critic Looks Forward to Double Dose of Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell

“I am very pleased to be working with the excellent team at Sony Pictures Classics again; they were sensitive and inspired in their tremendous efforts on ‘Leviathan,’ and I look forward to our new collaboration,” Zvyagintsev said in a statement.

Sony Pictures Classics added, “There is no more timely film than ‘Loveless.’ Andrey is one of the world’s finest directors in peak form here. It is just great to be in business again with him and Alexander following our success together with ‘Leviathan’ a few years ago.”

The deal was negotiated between Wild Bunch and SPC.

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘Ismael’s Ghosts’ Cannes Review: Festival Opens With an Agreeable Valentine to Film

Cannes 2017: 14 Directors to Watch, From Bong Joon Ho to Todd Haynes (Exclusive Photos)

‘Okja’ Star Tilda Swinton CannesWrap Exclusive Portraits (Photos)

Sony Pictures Classics has acquired all North and Latin American rights to Andrey Zvyagintsev’s “Loveless,” SPC announced Wednesday.

The Russian language film is set to premiere In Competition at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival on Thursday.

SPC and Zvyagintsev previously worked together on “Leviathan,” which was the winner of Best Screenplay at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, Best Foreign Language Film at the 2015 Golden Globes and was Oscar nominated for Best Foreign Language Film. “Loveless” also marks the third partnership between Zvyagintsev and producer Alexander Rodnyansky.

“Loveless” follows Zhenya and Boris who are going through a vicious divorce. Both are already starting new lives with new partners and are so impatient to start over again that they are threatening to abandon their 12-year-old son Alyosha. But when Alyosha witnesses one of their fights, he disappears.

Co-written by Zvyagintsev and Oleg Negin, the film is produced by Non-Stop Production (Russia), Fetisoff Illusion (Russia), Why Not Production (France), Les Films du Fleuve (Belgium) Senator Film Production (Germany) with support from Eurimages, Arte, Canal+, WDR and Cine+.

“I am very pleased to be working with the excellent team at Sony Pictures Classics again; they were sensitive and inspired in their tremendous efforts on ‘Leviathan,’ and I look forward to our new collaboration,” Zvyagintsev said in a statement.

Sony Pictures Classics added, “There is no more timely film than ‘Loveless.’ Andrey is one of the world’s finest directors in peak form here. It is just great to be in business again with him and Alexander following our success together with ‘Leviathan’ a few years ago.”

The deal was negotiated between Wild Bunch and SPC.

Related stories from TheWrap:

'Ismael's Ghosts' Cannes Review: Festival Opens With an Agreeable Valentine to Film

Cannes 2017: 14 Directors to Watch, From Bong Joon Ho to Todd Haynes (Exclusive Photos)

'Okja' Star Tilda Swinton CannesWrap Exclusive Portraits (Photos)

Christina Hendricks, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau to Star in Brian De Palma’s ‘Domino’

Christina Hendricks and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau are teaming up as Danish cops out for revenge in a new thriller from Brian De Palma.

“Domino” will star the “Mad Men” beauty as a police officer who helps a co-worker (Coster-Waldau) on a mission to find his partner’s murderer. Unbeknownst to them, their suspect is an American CIA agent tracking an ISIS terror cell.

The project is headed to this year’s Cannes market looking for a buyer. Michel Schønnemann is producer for his Schønne Film in Denmark,. Antonio Perez of Spain’s Maestranza Films and Jaqueline de Gooeij for Zilvermeer in Belgium are co-producing. Backup is wrapping the financing the film.

Also Read: Cannes Film Festival Adds Roman Polanski Film to Lineup

The deal was negotiated by IM Global’s SVP Acquisitions and Co-Productions John Zois on behalf of IM Global, who will handle international sales. ICM is handling domestic rights.

De Palma is best known for classics like “Scarface,” “The Untouchables” and the franchise-launcher “Mission: Impossible.”

More to come…

Christina Hendricks and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau are teaming up as Danish cops out for revenge in a new thriller from Brian De Palma.

“Domino” will star the “Mad Men” beauty as a police officer who helps a co-worker (Coster-Waldau) on a mission to find his partner’s murderer. Unbeknownst to them, their suspect is an American CIA agent tracking an ISIS terror cell.

The project is headed to this year’s Cannes market looking for a buyer. Michel Schønnemann is producer for his Schønne Film in Denmark,. Antonio Perez of Spain’s Maestranza Films and Jaqueline de Gooeij for Zilvermeer in Belgium are co-producing. Backup is wrapping the financing the film.

The deal was negotiated by IM Global’s SVP Acquisitions and Co-Productions John Zois on behalf of IM Global, who will handle international sales. ICM is handling domestic rights.

De Palma is best known for classics like “Scarface,” “The Untouchables” and the franchise-launcher “Mission: Impossible.”

More to come…

President Trump’s Twitter-Bashing of Judges Used to Be Against the Law

President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday to bash yet another judge who ruled against him.

But Trump should be glad that judges have expanded First Amendment rights over the past century, because back in the good old days of the early 1900s, criticizing a judge meant a jail term in some states, according to esteemed First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams.

“He’s certainly supported in that speech. Presidents have first amendment rights too,” Abrams told TheWrap. “But it is amazing to even contemplate that at the beginning of the 20th century that he could have been severely punished … for saying just what he said.”

Also Read: Caitlyn Jenner to Seth Meyers: ‘My Loyalty Is Not With Donald Trump’ (Video)

In a series of tweets Wednesday, Trump blasted judges in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for blocking his immigration ban that has been dubbed a “Muslim ban” and blocking his bid to withdraw federal funding from sanctuary cities.

“First the Ninth Circuit rules against the ban & now it hits again on sanctuary cities — both ridiculous rulings. See you in the Supreme Court!” Trump wrote.

Trump has criticized several judges for ruling against him, calling them “so-called judges,” “biased,” among other jabs.

But thanks to the free speech protections created by more modern Supreme Court rulings, Trump can continue his controversial practice of tweeting out criticisms of court decisions he doesn’t like without fear of going to jail. “He should be grateful indeed that he lives in a country with our level of protection,” Abrams said.

First the Ninth Circuit rules against the ban & now it hits again on sanctuary cities-both ridiculous rulings. See you in the Supreme Court!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 26, 2017

 

Also Read: State Department Cuts Blog Post That Touts Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Resort

In his new book, “The Soul of the First Amendment,” Abrams recounts how a managing editor and reporter for the Chicago American were sentenced to jail in 1901 for criticizing a court decision. The sentencing judge said “if the matter published were to go unnoticed by the court it paved the way for other attacks, and that the judiciary, if not held, in respect, would fall, with all democratic government,” Abrams reported.

While Trump has broad free speech rights, the one thing he cannot do under the First Amendment is use the courts to block media reports about leaked documents, Abrams told TheWrap.

Abrams gives the example of Trump’s tax income returns, which were leaked to the New York Times last year.

“With Trump’s taxes . . . because it is so hard to get a prior restraint,” Abrams said, reporters are free to call Trump and ask him to comment about leaked documents without any fear that he could run to court and win an order blocking publication.”

Also Read: ACLU Backs Trump on First Amendment Right to Shout ‘Get ‘Em Out of Here!’ at Rally (Video)

Abrams should know: He helped win the 1971 Supreme Court decision allowing the New York Times and the Washington Post to publish the Pentagon Papers.

In that case, the Court unanimously denied the Nixon administration’s demand for a court order blocking publication of 7,000 pages of classified government documents that revealed four administrations had lied to the American public and Congress about the Vietnam War, and that Nixon had secretly expanded bombing to neighboring countries.

But Abrams has gone from First Amendment hero in the Pentagon Papers case to somewhat of a First Amendment pariah for his work in the notorious 2010 Citizens United case. The Supreme Court reaffirmed its ruling that money is speech, and that corporations and unions have a First Amendment right to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns through independent advocacy campaigns.

“[Keith] Olbermann compared me to a Nazi” for helping win the Citizens United case, Abrams said, referring to the then-MSNBC commentator. “He said I was the Quisling of the First Amendment, and I thought, wow, that’s not just . . . over the top, but it was strange, the very the brutality of the comment, the degree to which that case seemed to so many people to be not just wrong, but illegitimate.”

Also Read: State Department Cuts Blog Post That Touts Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Resort

Abrams is quick to point out that he did not represent the plaintiff, nonprofit corporation Citizens United, but he did represent Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell in a friend-of-the-court brief that advocated on behalf of  Citizens United. Abrams participated in oral arguments, urging the court to issue an expansive ruling.

Abrams does not regret working for the side of the corporations in Citizens United. “It’s a learning process, to be in a First Amendment case . . . on the less popular side,” he said. “I’m not sorry.”

The New York-based attorney, who is 80 and still carries a full case load, said he wrote his 137-page book to teach non-lawyers about the history of the First Amendment and how its expansive protection for ordinary citizens and reporters has created a more open society than in Europe.

Related stories from TheWrap:

State Department Cuts Blog Post That Touts Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Resort

ACLU Backs Trump on First Amendment Right to Shout ‘Get ‘Em Out of Here!’ at Rally (Video)

Ivanka Trump Booed at Women’s Panel in Germany After Praising Her Dad

Trevor Noah Rips Trump’s First 100 Days: ‘You Don’t Get to Disregard the Number’ (Video)

Trump Jokes About Firing Nikki Haley – in Front of Nikki Haley (Video)

Obama Skips the Trump Jabs in Return to Public Eye

President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday to bash yet another judge who ruled against him.

But Trump should be glad that judges have expanded First Amendment rights over the past century, because back in the good old days of the early 1900s, criticizing a judge meant a jail term in some states, according to esteemed First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams.

“He’s certainly supported in that speech. Presidents have first amendment rights too,” Abrams told TheWrap. “But it is amazing to even contemplate that at the beginning of the 20th century that he could have been severely punished … for saying just what he said.”

In a series of tweets Wednesday, Trump blasted judges in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for blocking his immigration ban that has been dubbed a “Muslim ban” and blocking his bid to withdraw federal funding from sanctuary cities.

“First the Ninth Circuit rules against the ban & now it hits again on sanctuary cities — both ridiculous rulings. See you in the Supreme Court!” Trump wrote.

Trump has criticized several judges for ruling against him, calling them “so-called judges,” “biased,” among other jabs.

But thanks to the free speech protections created by more modern Supreme Court rulings, Trump can continue his controversial practice of tweeting out criticisms of court decisions he doesn’t like without fear of going to jail. “He should be grateful indeed that he lives in a country with our level of protection,” Abrams said.

 

In his new book, “The Soul of the First Amendment,” Abrams recounts how a managing editor and reporter for the Chicago American were sentenced to jail in 1901 for criticizing a court decision. The sentencing judge said “if the matter published were to go unnoticed by the court it paved the way for other attacks, and that the judiciary, if not held, in respect, would fall, with all democratic government,” Abrams reported.

While Trump has broad free speech rights, the one thing he cannot do under the First Amendment is use the courts to block media reports about leaked documents, Abrams told TheWrap.

Abrams gives the example of Trump’s tax income returns, which were leaked to the New York Times last year.

“With Trump’s taxes . . . because it is so hard to get a prior restraint,” Abrams said, reporters are free to call Trump and ask him to comment about leaked documents without any fear that he could run to court and win an order blocking publication.”

Abrams should know: He helped win the 1971 Supreme Court decision allowing the New York Times and the Washington Post to publish the Pentagon Papers.

In that case, the Court unanimously denied the Nixon administration’s demand for a court order blocking publication of 7,000 pages of classified government documents that revealed four administrations had lied to the American public and Congress about the Vietnam War, and that Nixon had secretly expanded bombing to neighboring countries.

But Abrams has gone from First Amendment hero in the Pentagon Papers case to somewhat of a First Amendment pariah for his work in the notorious 2010 Citizens United case. The Supreme Court reaffirmed its ruling that money is speech, and that corporations and unions have a First Amendment right to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns through independent advocacy campaigns.

“[Keith] Olbermann compared me to a Nazi” for helping win the Citizens United case, Abrams said, referring to the then-MSNBC commentator. “He said I was the Quisling of the First Amendment, and I thought, wow, that’s not just . . . over the top, but it was strange, the very the brutality of the comment, the degree to which that case seemed to so many people to be not just wrong, but illegitimate.”

Abrams is quick to point out that he did not represent the plaintiff, nonprofit corporation Citizens United, but he did represent Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell in a friend-of-the-court brief that advocated on behalf of  Citizens United. Abrams participated in oral arguments, urging the court to issue an expansive ruling.

Abrams does not regret working for the side of the corporations in Citizens United. “It’s a learning process, to be in a First Amendment case . . . on the less popular side,” he said. “I’m not sorry.”

The New York-based attorney, who is 80 and still carries a full case load, said he wrote his 137-page book to teach non-lawyers about the history of the First Amendment and how its expansive protection for ordinary citizens and reporters has created a more open society than in Europe.

Related stories from TheWrap:

State Department Cuts Blog Post That Touts Trump's Mar-a-Lago Resort

ACLU Backs Trump on First Amendment Right to Shout 'Get 'Em Out of Here!' at Rally (Video)

Ivanka Trump Booed at Women's Panel in Germany After Praising Her Dad

Trevor Noah Rips Trump's First 100 Days: 'You Don't Get to Disregard the Number' (Video)

Trump Jokes About Firing Nikki Haley – in Front of Nikki Haley (Video)

Obama Skips the Trump Jabs in Return to Public Eye

Designer Who Dressed Melania Trump for White House Portrait Tells Critics to ‘Go to Hell’

The White House released Melania Trump’s first official portrait on Monday, and Italian designer Stefano Gabbana is cool with the fact that she is rocking a Dolce & Gabbana blazer — on top of the fact that she wore a massive diamond ring reportedly worth $3 million. The designer defended FLOTUS and told Instagram trolls who chided him for working with her to “go to hell.”

Gabbana took to his personal Instagram account to post Trump’s portrait, taken by Belgian-born photographer Régine Mahaux, with the caption, “#DGWoman BEAUTIFUL #melaniatrump Thank you #madeinitaly,” and a mix of heart emojis and the American and Italian flag emojis.

However, Gabbana got trolled hard by some of his followers.

Also Read: Melania Trump’s Ginormous Bling in White House Portrait Sparks Twitter Smackdown

One follower @_boyafraid_ wrote, “So you have lost a follower, and worst, an admirer,” only to have Gabbana respond, “i dont care!! Really.”

Gabbana responded in Italian: “vai a cagare,” which translates to “go to hell.”

Regardless, Gabbana’s post still managed to garner more than 10,000 likes.

#DGWoman BEAUTIFUL ❤❤❤❤❤ #melaniatrump Thank you ????????❤❤❤ #madeinitaly????????

A post shared by stefanogabbana (@stefanogabbana) on Apr 4, 2017 at 2:40am PDT

Also Read: Sex Columnist Dan Savage Calls Melania Trump ‘Ugly on the Inside’

Although other designers have balked and outright refused to dress Trump, including Tom Ford, Zac Posen and Christian Siriano, Gabbana seems to have no problem putting the first lady in D&G designs.

The first lady, a former fashion model, is shown from the waist up wearing a black ensemble. Looking directly into the camera, FLOTUS is sporting what appears to be a smile, though we can’t say for sure.

What is becoming crystal clear is that people are less than amused by what’s on her finger: A diamond so massive it might be visible from space along with the Great Wall of China.

Melania’s 25-carat ring, reportedly worth a whopping $3 million, was given to her by Trump as a gift on their 10th wedding anniversary to replace the a much more modest 12-carat ring she had before.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Melania Trump’s Ginormous Bling in White House Portrait Sparks Twitter Smackdown

Sex Columnist Dan Savage Calls Melania Trump ‘Ugly on the Inside’

Emily Ratajkowski Calls Out ‘Slut Shaming’ of Melania Trump by New York Times Reporter

The White House released Melania Trump’s first official portrait on Monday, and Italian designer Stefano Gabbana is cool with the fact that she is rocking a Dolce & Gabbana blazer — on top of the fact that she wore a massive diamond ring reportedly worth $3 million. The designer defended FLOTUS and told Instagram trolls who chided him for working with her to “go to hell.”

Gabbana took to his personal Instagram account to post Trump’s portrait, taken by Belgian-born photographer Régine Mahaux, with the caption, “#DGWoman BEAUTIFUL #melaniatrump Thank you #madeinitaly,” and a mix of heart emojis and the American and Italian flag emojis.

However, Gabbana got trolled hard by some of his followers.

One follower @_boyafraid_ wrote, “So you have lost a follower, and worst, an admirer,” only to have Gabbana respond, “i dont care!! Really.”

Gabbana responded in Italian: “vai a cagare,” which translates to “go to hell.”

Regardless, Gabbana’s post still managed to garner more than 10,000 likes.

#DGWoman BEAUTIFUL ❤❤❤❤❤ #melaniatrump Thank you ????????❤❤❤ #madeinitaly????????

A post shared by stefanogabbana (@stefanogabbana) on

Although other designers have balked and outright refused to dress Trump, including Tom Ford, Zac Posen and Christian Siriano, Gabbana seems to have no problem putting the first lady in D&G designs.

The first lady, a former fashion model, is shown from the waist up wearing a black ensemble. Looking directly into the camera, FLOTUS is sporting what appears to be a smile, though we can’t say for sure.

What is becoming crystal clear is that people are less than amused by what’s on her finger: A diamond so massive it might be visible from space along with the Great Wall of China.

Melania’s 25-carat ring, reportedly worth a whopping $3 million, was given to her by Trump as a gift on their 10th wedding anniversary to replace the a much more modest 12-carat ring she had before.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Melania Trump's Ginormous Bling in White House Portrait Sparks Twitter Smackdown

Sex Columnist Dan Savage Calls Melania Trump 'Ugly on the Inside'

Emily Ratajkowski Calls Out 'Slut Shaming' of Melania Trump by New York Times Reporter

Belgium Heads To The Underground Crime World With Its Oscar Entry ‘The Ardennes’

No, not the Dardennes, but The Ardennes is Belgium’s Oscar entry this year.
The feature directorial by Robin Pront about punk criminal brothers who teeter on the edge of a not-so legit life earned the country’s thumbs up this year as its Academy Awards contender beating out The Unknown Girl, the latest movie by the country’s perennial go-tos Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardennes.  Many thought Unknown Girl was a given as Belgium’s entry since it premiered at Cannes.
Despite the…

No, not the Dardennes, but The Ardennes is Belgium’s Oscar entry this year. The feature directorial by Robin Pront about punk criminal brothers who teeter on the edge of a not-so legit life earned the country’s thumbs up this year as its Academy Awards contender beating out The Unknown Girl, the latest movie by the country’s perennial go-tos Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardennes.  Many thought Unknown Girl was a given as Belgium’s entry since it premiered at Cannes. Despite the…

‘Making a Murderer’: 26 Updates Since the Series’ Debut (Photos)

TheWrap takes a look back at the last eight months to see how “Making a Murderer” changed the case of Steven Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey, who were convicted for the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach.

Making a Murderer Gets Released

The documentary was released on Dec. 18, 2015. At first, it received an approval rating of 87 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Ken Kratz was Bashed on Yelp

A week after the doc aired, doc fans took to Yelp to warn potential new clients checking his law practice’s Yelp page against hiring him.

“Mr. Kratz is a seasoned sexual harasser, with deep knowledge of abuse victims which he took advantage of. He has a long experience in evidence fabrication, and has the required strategic thought skills to send innocent men to jail for forged crimes,” one man wrote in a Yelpreview posted Sunday. “When you think of garbage think of Mr. Kratz, he is the living representation of immorality and indecency that you need by your side to solve any legal issues.”

Also Read: ‘Making a Murderer’ Viewers Target Prosecutor Ken Kratz – On His Yelp Page

White House Petition

A White House Petition was started shortly after the documentary’s release, asking for the pardoning of both Avery and Dassey. It required 100,000 signatures before Jan. 19 to be eligible for an official White House review.

Also Read: ‘Making a Murderer’ White House Petition Surpasses 100,000 Signatures

Avery Can’t be Pardoned by Obama

Although there was a White House Petition to pardon Avery, President Barack Obama is constitutionally barred from pardoning Avery, because he was convicted in state court.

Also Read: ‘Making a Murderer’s’ Steven Avery Can’t Be Pardoned by Obama: Here’s Why

Protests Outside of the Courthouse

In January, people protested outside the Manitowoc County Courthouse.

Supporters traveled from as far as Texas, Florida and Oregon. The event was live streamed on Periscope drawing hundreds of people online, some from out of the country like Belgium.

Also Read: ‘Making a Murderer’: Steven Avery Supporters March on Manitowoc Courthouse

The Family Launched a Fundraising Website

In January, the uncle/nephew combo found guilty in the killing of a local photographer launched a fundraising website through their family in an attempt to raise money to mount another defense effort.

Also Read: ‘Making a Murderer’ Family Launches Fundraising Site for Steven Avery, Brendan Dassey

Avery Hires a New Lawyer

Avery hired Kathleen Zellner, an Illinois-based attorney who specializes in wrongful convictions, in January.

“The Zellner Law Firm is looking forward to adding Mr. Avery to its long list of wrongful conviction exonerations,” Zellner’s statement read.

Also Read: ‘Making a Murderer’s’ Steven Avery Has a New Lawyer

Avery’s Ex-Fiancee Calls Him a “Monster,’ ‘Not Innocent’

Jodi Stachowski, the ex-fiancee of Avery, says he is a “monster” and that “he’s not innocent” in the murder of Halbach.

In a January interview with HLN’s Nancy Grace, Stachowski admitted that she “ate two boxes of rat poison just so I could go to the hospital to get away from him and ask them to get the police to help me.”

Also Read: ‘Making a Murderer’: Steven Avery’s Ex-Fiancee Calls Him a ‘Monster’

Halbach’s Family Think The Doc Is ‘Terrible’

“It’s terrible,” Teresa Halbach’s aunt, Kay Giordana, told People. “I can’t believe this came out. It is really unfortunate.”

Also Read: Teresa Halbach’s Family: ‘Making a Murderer’ Is ‘Terrible’

Bomb Threat at Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department

On Feb. 3, a bomb threat was called into the Sheriff’s Department. Authorities say that the caller claimed “there were bombs in the building” and that he was “getting justice” for Steven Avery, the man at the forefront of the series, who was convicted of the murder of Teresa Halbach after being exonerated for a rape he didn’t commit.

Also Read: ‘Making a Murderer’: Bomb Threat Targets Manitowoc Sheriff’s Department

Investigation Discovery Aired a Special About the Case

The special, aired in February, claimed that 16 people testified to his whereabouts, saying that Avery could not have been Penny Beernsten’s sexual attacker in 1985, and that all vials of blood have a puncture hole (this was a piece of key evidence that was used to suggest law enforcement had framed Avery), among other revelations.

Also Read: ‘Making a Murderer’: Investigation Discovery Says ‘Critical Details Missing’ From Netflix Series

Transcripts Suggested Avery Touched Dassey Inappropriately

In February, TheWrap obtained transcripts from a May 13, 2006 interview, in which Dassey told police that Avery sometimes tried to grab his penis “through the pants.” In a phone call later that day to his mother, Barb Tadych, Dassey said he told police that Avery “would grab me somewhere where I was uncomfortable.”

Also Read: ‘Making a Murderer’ Reporter: Evidence Ignored That Steven Avery Sexually Abused Brendan Dassey

But Dassey Denied the Sexual Abuse

After TheWrap was told that reporters and lawyers ignored the possibility that Avery molested Dassey, a 2006 mental evaluation revealed psychologist Robert H. Gordon’s conclusion that Dassey had not been molested.

“Brendan reported having no history of being physically or sexually abused,” Gordon wrote.

Also Read: ‘Making a Murderer’: Brendan Dassey Denied Sexual Abuse in Psych Evaluation

Steven Avery Jr. Doesn’t Know If His Father is Guilty

Avery’s son had “no idea” whether his father is guilty of the murder of Teresa Halbach, for which he’s currently serving life in prison.

“I have no idea,” Steven Avery Jr. told Crime Watch Daily in an interview. “I mean … only one person can answer that and that is Teresa. But she can’t answer it no more.”

Also Read: ‘Making a Murderer’ Update: Steven Avery Jr. Has ‘No Idea’ If His Dad Is Guilty (Video)

Ken Kratz, Michael Griesbach Published Tell-All Books

Both Kratz and Michael Griesbach, the latter being a prosecutor responsible for helping Avery get out of jail in his first case, wrote a tell-all book chronicling the case and its representation in “Making a Murderer.”

Also Read: ‘Making a Murderer’ Prosecutor to Write Tell-All Book

Kathleen Zellner Says There Are “a Couple” New Suspects

In an in-depth profile published in March by Newsweek, Zellner said that she has found “a couple” of suspects, both men who knew Halbach.

“We have a couple,” Zellner, who specializes in wrongful convictions, said. “I’d say there’s one, leading the pack by a lot. But I don’t want to scare him off, I don’t want him to run.”

Also Read: ‘Making a Murderer’ Update: Avery Lawyer Cites a ‘Couple’ of New Suspects in Teresa Halbach’s Death

Ken Kratz Admitted to Suicidal Thoughts

Ken Kratz told Dr. Drew that he had suicidal thoughts after “this whole thing kind of blew up,” referring to the Avery Case and an Associated Press report exposing racy texts he sent to a 25-year-old woman while Kratz was prosecuting her ex-boyfriend.

Kathleen Zellner Will Be in Sequel

In May, one of the filmmakers, Laura Ricciardi, told TimeOut London that she and Moira Demos have “been talking to Kathleen Zellner about the potential of filming with her and continuing the story.”

Prison Emails Were Released

In June, USA Today obtained more than 1,900 pages of emails after the publication requested the documents under state opens records laws on January 26. The paper asked for emails sent or received by staff that pertained to Avery, Dassey or “Making a Murderer.”

Also Read: ‘Making a Murderer’: Steven Avery, Brendan Dassey Prison Emails Released After 5 Months

“Making a Murderer” Gets New Episodes

In July, it was announced that “Making a Murderer” is set to return to Netflix with new episodes that are already in production.

The coming installments will follow up with convicted murderer Steven Avery and his co-defendant, Brendan Dassey, as their respective investigative and legal teams challenge their convictions.

Also Read: ‘Making a Murderer’ to Return to Netflix With New Episodes

Brendan Dassey’s Conviction Overturned 

In August, Dassey had his conviction overturned.

Federal magistrate judge William E. Duffin granted Dassey’s writ for a petition of habeas corpus, finding that Dassey’s imprisonment was unlawful because his confession to the murder of Teresa Halbach was involuntary.

In reaching that decision, Duffin wrote that the “misconduct” of Len Kachinsky, Dassey’s court-appointed attorney, was “indefensible.”

Also Read: ‘Making a Murderer’ Subject Brendan Dassey’s Conviction Overturned

Motion for Evidence Filed

On August 27, Zellner filed a motion demanding physical evidence from the murder of Teresa Halbach for further scientific testing that she claims didn’t exist during the trial.

In the filing, Zellner revealed that “Mr. Avery has already completed a series of tests that will conclusively establish his innocence” and that she intends to reveal the identity of an alternate suspect once she has the test results.

Also Read: ‘Making a Murderer’: Steven Avery’s Lawyer Files Motion for New DNA Tests

Zellner Teases Brendan Dassey Decision

Zellner teased the media and documentary fans on Sept. 2, tweeting a picture of a man she helped exonerate in a murder case, who held a signing saying “It is over.” A spokesperson from the Wisconsin DOJ denied all media speculation about the fate of Dassey.

State Will Appeal Dassey’s Overturned Conviction

The state of Wisconsin said they would appeal Dassey’s overturned conviction, saying that his confession “was voluntary and the investigators did not use constitutionally impermissible tactics.”

Avery is Engaged

On Sept. 24, news broke that Avery is engaged to be married. The betrothed is Lynn Hartman, identified as a legal secretary — which might come in handy — from Las Vegas. The couple has reportedly been dating for eight months but have only met in person once.

Brendan Dassey Will Be Released

On Nov. 14, a judge ordered Dassey’s supervised release, pending possible retrial.

According to court documents obtained by TheWrap, U.S. Magistrate Judge William E. Duffin granted Dassey’s motion for release conditional upon his supervision by the U.S. Probation Office. Dassey will not be allowed to obtain a passport and can only travel in the court’s Eastern District of Wisconsin. He is not allowed to possess a weapon or any controlled substances.

Wisconsin DOJ Files Emergency Motion

On Tuesday, Attorney General Brad Schimel filed an emergency motion to stay Dassey’s release.

Dassey Will Be Home for Thanksgiving

Dassey will be home for Thanksgiving after the judge in his case rejected the state’s latest motion.

According to a Wisconsin Department of Justice release obtained by TheWrap, Dassey will be discharged from prison no later than Friday at 8 p.m. Attorney General Brad Schimel plans to file an emergency motion on Wednesday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit seeking a stay of this release order.

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘Making a Murderer’ Steven Avery Dumps New Fiancee: ‘She Is a Golddigger’

‘Making a Murderer’ Subject Steven Avery’s Dr Phil Interview Set to Air Next Week

‘Making a Murderer’: Steven Avery Legal Team Gets Shake-Up

TheWrap takes a look back at the last eight months to see how “Making a Murderer” changed the case of Steven Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey, who were convicted for the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach.

Making a Murderer Gets Released

The documentary was released on Dec. 18, 2015. At first, it received an approval rating of 87 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Ken Kratz was Bashed on Yelp

A week after the doc aired, doc fans took to Yelp to warn potential new clients checking his law practice’s Yelp page against hiring him.

“Mr. Kratz is a seasoned sexual harasser, with deep knowledge of abuse victims which he took advantage of. He has a long experience in evidence fabrication, and has the required strategic thought skills to send innocent men to jail for forged crimes,” one man wrote in a Yelpreview posted Sunday. “When you think of garbage think of Mr. Kratz, he is the living representation of immorality and indecency that you need by your side to solve any legal issues.”

White House Petition

A White House Petition was started shortly after the documentary’s release, asking for the pardoning of both Avery and Dassey. It required 100,000 signatures before Jan. 19 to be eligible for an official White House review.

Avery Can’t be Pardoned by Obama

Although there was a White House Petition to pardon Avery, President Barack Obama is constitutionally barred from pardoning Avery, because he was convicted in state court.

Protests Outside of the Courthouse

In January, people protested outside the Manitowoc County Courthouse.

Supporters traveled from as far as Texas, Florida and Oregon. The event was live streamed on Periscope drawing hundreds of people online, some from out of the country like Belgium.

The Family Launched a Fundraising Website

In January, the uncle/nephew combo found guilty in the killing of a local photographer launched a fundraising website through their family in an attempt to raise money to mount another defense effort.

Avery Hires a New Lawyer

Avery hired Kathleen Zellner, an Illinois-based attorney who specializes in wrongful convictions, in January.

“The Zellner Law Firm is looking forward to adding Mr. Avery to its long list of wrongful conviction exonerations,” Zellner’s statement read.

Avery’s Ex-Fiancee Calls Him a “Monster,’ ‘Not Innocent’

Jodi Stachowski, the ex-fiancee of Avery, says he is a “monster” and that “he’s not innocent” in the murder of Halbach.

In a January interview with HLN’s Nancy Grace, Stachowski admitted that she “ate two boxes of rat poison just so I could go to the hospital to get away from him and ask them to get the police to help me.”

Halbach’s Family Think The Doc Is ‘Terrible’

“It’s terrible,” Teresa Halbach’s aunt, Kay Giordana, told People. “I can’t believe this came out. It is really unfortunate.”

Bomb Threat at Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department

On Feb. 3, a bomb threat was called into the Sheriff’s Department. Authorities say that the caller claimed “there were bombs in the building” and that he was “getting justice” for Steven Avery, the man at the forefront of the series, who was convicted of the murder of Teresa Halbach after being exonerated for a rape he didn’t commit.

Investigation Discovery Aired a Special About the Case

The special, aired in February, claimed that 16 people testified to his whereabouts, saying that Avery could not have been Penny Beernsten’s sexual attacker in 1985, and that all vials of blood have a puncture hole (this was a piece of key evidence that was used to suggest law enforcement had framed Avery), among other revelations.

Transcripts Suggested Avery Touched Dassey Inappropriately

In February, TheWrap obtained transcripts from a May 13, 2006 interview, in which Dassey told police that Avery sometimes tried to grab his penis “through the pants.” In a phone call later that day to his mother, Barb Tadych, Dassey said he told police that Avery “would grab me somewhere where I was uncomfortable.”

But Dassey Denied the Sexual Abuse

After TheWrap was told that reporters and lawyers ignored the possibility that Avery molested Dassey, a 2006 mental evaluation revealed psychologist Robert H. Gordon’s conclusion that Dassey had not been molested.

“Brendan reported having no history of being physically or sexually abused,” Gordon wrote.

Steven Avery Jr. Doesn’t Know If His Father is Guilty

Avery’s son had “no idea” whether his father is guilty of the murder of Teresa Halbach, for which he’s currently serving life in prison.

“I have no idea,” Steven Avery Jr. told Crime Watch Daily in an interview. “I mean … only one person can answer that and that is Teresa. But she can’t answer it no more.”

Ken Kratz, Michael Griesbach Published Tell-All Books

Both Kratz and Michael Griesbach, the latter being a prosecutor responsible for helping Avery get out of jail in his first case, wrote a tell-all book chronicling the case and its representation in “Making a Murderer.”

Kathleen Zellner Says There Are “a Couple” New Suspects

In an in-depth profile published in March by Newsweek, Zellner said that she has found “a couple” of suspects, both men who knew Halbach.

“We have a couple,” Zellner, who specializes in wrongful convictions, said. “I’d say there’s one, leading the pack by a lot. But I don’t want to scare him off, I don’t want him to run.”

Ken Kratz Admitted to Suicidal Thoughts

Ken Kratz told Dr. Drew that he had suicidal thoughts after “this whole thing kind of blew up,” referring to the Avery Case and an Associated Press report exposing racy texts he sent to a 25-year-old woman while Kratz was prosecuting her ex-boyfriend.

Kathleen Zellner Will Be in Sequel

In May, one of the filmmakers, Laura Ricciardi, told TimeOut London that she and Moira Demos have “been talking to Kathleen Zellner about the potential of filming with her and continuing the story.”

Prison Emails Were Released

In June, USA Today obtained more than 1,900 pages of emails after the publication requested the documents under state opens records laws on January 26. The paper asked for emails sent or received by staff that pertained to Avery, Dassey or “Making a Murderer.”

“Making a Murderer” Gets New Episodes

In July, it was announced that “Making a Murderer” is set to return to Netflix with new episodes that are already in production.

The coming installments will follow up with convicted murderer Steven Avery and his co-defendant, Brendan Dassey, as their respective investigative and legal teams challenge their convictions.

Brendan Dassey’s Conviction Overturned 

In August, Dassey had his conviction overturned.

Federal magistrate judge William E. Duffin granted Dassey’s writ for a petition of habeas corpus, finding that Dassey’s imprisonment was unlawful because his confession to the murder of Teresa Halbach was involuntary.

In reaching that decision, Duffin wrote that the “misconduct” of Len Kachinsky, Dassey’s court-appointed attorney, was “indefensible.”

Motion for Evidence Filed

On August 27, Zellner filed a motion demanding physical evidence from the murder of Teresa Halbach for further scientific testing that she claims didn’t exist during the trial.

In the filing, Zellner revealed that “Mr. Avery has already completed a series of tests that will conclusively establish his innocence” and that she intends to reveal the identity of an alternate suspect once she has the test results.

Zellner Teases Brendan Dassey Decision

Zellner teased the media and documentary fans on Sept. 2, tweeting a picture of a man she helped exonerate in a murder case, who held a signing saying “It is over.” A spokesperson from the Wisconsin DOJ denied all media speculation about the fate of Dassey.

State Will Appeal Dassey’s Overturned Conviction

The state of Wisconsin said they would appeal Dassey’s overturned conviction, saying that his confession “was voluntary and the investigators did not use constitutionally impermissible tactics.”

Avery is Engaged

On Sept. 24, news broke that Avery is engaged to be married. The betrothed is Lynn Hartman, identified as a legal secretary — which might come in handy — from Las Vegas. The couple has reportedly been dating for eight months but have only met in person once.

Brendan Dassey Will Be Released

On Nov. 14, a judge ordered Dassey’s supervised release, pending possible retrial.

According to court documents obtained by TheWrap, U.S. Magistrate Judge William E. Duffin granted Dassey’s motion for release conditional upon his supervision by the U.S. Probation Office. Dassey will not be allowed to obtain a passport and can only travel in the court’s Eastern District of Wisconsin. He is not allowed to possess a weapon or any controlled substances.

Wisconsin DOJ Files Emergency Motion

On Tuesday, Attorney General Brad Schimel filed an emergency motion to stay Dassey’s release.

Dassey Will Be Home for Thanksgiving

Dassey will be home for Thanksgiving after the judge in his case rejected the state’s latest motion.

According to a Wisconsin Department of Justice release obtained by TheWrap, Dassey will be discharged from prison no later than Friday at 8 p.m. Attorney General Brad Schimel plans to file an emergency motion on Wednesday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit seeking a stay of this release order.

Related stories from TheWrap:

'Making a Murderer' Steven Avery Dumps New Fiancee: 'She Is a Golddigger'

'Making a Murderer' Subject Steven Avery's Dr Phil Interview Set to Air Next Week

'Making a Murderer': Steven Avery Legal Team Gets Shake-Up

‘The Ardennes’ Director Talks ‘Underbelly Characters,’ Wrangling Ostriches

Robin Pront may look like the fresh-faced recent film school student he is, but he’s drawn to dark and gritty characters like Kenny, a just-out-of-jail petty criminal who is the protagonist of Pront’s “The Ardennes,” a gritty drama that’s Belgium’s official entry for this year’s Academy Awards.

“These underbelly characters are something I relate to very much,” the 29-year-old director said in a discussion following a Los Angeles showing Wednesday night, part of TheWrap Screening Series. “I like characters with a different moral compass from me. I have fun playing God in my own universe with these people.”

“The Ardennes” begins when brothers Kenny (Kevin Janssens) and Dave (Jeroen Perceval) are reunited after Kenny is released from prison following a failed home invasion both were part of. Dave has since dropped the drinking and drug-fueled lifestyle — and has started a covert serious relationship with Kenny’s ex-girlfriend, Sylvie, who’s also living clean. But as Kenny’s return to his old ways start to pull Dave back in, the brothers’ relationship gets even more complicated.

Also Read: ‘The Eagle Huntress’ Is an ‘Antidote’ to Trump Locker Room Talk, Director Says (Video)

Janssens said he grew up outside the Belgian city of Antwerp around guys like Kenny, which made him more relatable.

“When I first read the script I was blown away by it, because of the characters and the story and the dialogue,” Pront told TheWrap editor in chief Sharon Waxman. “It was really fun for me to give that character a kind of soul like the people I grew up with.”

And as far as developing the relationship between the brothers, Pront had a leg up. Janssens and Perceval, who wrote the play the film is based on and co-wrote the screenplay with Pront, also played siblings in a play when they attended drama school together.

Also Read: Pedro Almodovar Apologizes to Meryl Streep for Shooting ‘Julieta’ in Spanish (Exclusive Video)

One thing Pront would not do again — work with a certain flightless bird that featured in one of the film’s action sequences.

“If I could give you one tip my dear Hollywood friends, never work with ostriches,” he said.

Pront shared tips on how to scare an ostrich into submission — wave your hand above your head so they think you’re taller than you really are — but said he has absolutely no desire to use that technique in the future.

Also Read: TheWrap Launches 2016 Awards and Foreign Screening Series With Pedro Almodovar’s ‘Julieta’

“I’m scared of them,” he said. “They have ostrich farms in the Ardennes and I thought it would be funny. They are big birds but they have the smallest brains ever.”

“The Ardennes” opens in New York on Jan. 6, Los Angeles on Jan. 13, and will roll out to other major markets after that. It will be distributed in the U.S. by Film Movement.

Related stories from TheWrap:

TheWrap Launches 2016 Awards and Foreign Screening Series With Pedro Almodovar’s ‘Julieta’

Pedro Almodovar Apologizes to Meryl Streep for Shooting ‘Julieta’ in Spanish (Exclusive Video)

‘The Eagle Huntress’ Is an ‘Antidote’ to Trump Locker Room Talk, Director Says (Video)

Robin Pront may look like the fresh-faced recent film school student he is, but he’s drawn to dark and gritty characters like Kenny, a just-out-of-jail petty criminal who is the protagonist of Pront’s “The Ardennes,” a gritty drama that’s Belgium’s official entry for this year’s Academy Awards.

“These underbelly characters are something I relate to very much,” the 29-year-old director said in a discussion following a Los Angeles showing Wednesday night, part of TheWrap Screening Series. “I like characters with a different moral compass from me. I have fun playing God in my own universe with these people.”

“The Ardennes” begins when brothers Kenny (Kevin Janssens) and Dave (Jeroen Perceval) are reunited after Kenny is released from prison following a failed home invasion both were part of. Dave has since dropped the drinking and drug-fueled lifestyle — and has started a covert serious relationship with Kenny’s ex-girlfriend, Sylvie, who’s also living clean. But as Kenny’s return to his old ways start to pull Dave back in, the brothers’ relationship gets even more complicated.

Janssens said he grew up outside the Belgian city of Antwerp around guys like Kenny, which made him more relatable.

“When I first read the script I was blown away by it, because of the characters and the story and the dialogue,” Pront told TheWrap editor in chief Sharon Waxman. “It was really fun for me to give that character a kind of soul like the people I grew up with.”

And as far as developing the relationship between the brothers, Pront had a leg up. Janssens and Perceval, who wrote the play the film is based on and co-wrote the screenplay with Pront, also played siblings in a play when they attended drama school together.

One thing Pront would not do again — work with a certain flightless bird that featured in one of the film’s action sequences.

“If I could give you one tip my dear Hollywood friends, never work with ostriches,” he said.

Pront shared tips on how to scare an ostrich into submission — wave your hand above your head so they think you’re taller than you really are — but said he has absolutely no desire to use that technique in the future.

“I’m scared of them,” he said. “They have ostrich farms in the Ardennes and I thought it would be funny. They are big birds but they have the smallest brains ever.”

“The Ardennes” opens in New York on Jan. 6, Los Angeles on Jan. 13, and will roll out to other major markets after that. It will be distributed in the U.S. by Film Movement.

Related stories from TheWrap:

TheWrap Launches 2016 Awards and Foreign Screening Series With Pedro Almodovar's 'Julieta'

Pedro Almodovar Apologizes to Meryl Streep for Shooting 'Julieta' in Spanish (Exclusive Video)

'The Eagle Huntress' Is an 'Antidote' to Trump Locker Room Talk, Director Says (Video)