Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana Break Their Silence on James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy Firing. It's been three days since director James Gunn was fired from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and now the film's stars appear to be sharing their reaction to the news. After Gunn's controversial tweets resurfaced on social media last week, Disney made the decision to part ways with the director. "The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James' Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio's values, and we have severed our business relationship with him," Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn said in a statement to E! News on Friday. After the firing, Gunn also shared a statement with E! News. "My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative. I have regretted them for many years since -- not just because they were stupid, not at all funny, wildly insensitive, and certainly not provocative like I had hoped, but also because they don't reflect the person I am today or have been for some time," the statement read. "Regardless of how much time has passed, I understand and accept the business decisions taken today," the statement continued. "Even these many years later, I take full responsibility for the way I conducted myself then. All I can do now, beyond offering my sincere and heartfelt regret, is to be the best human being I can be: accepting, understanding, committed to equality, and far more thoughtful about my public statements and my obligations to our public discourse. To everyone inside my industry and beyond, I again offer my deepest apologies. Love to all." Over the weekend, Saldana took to Twitter to share a message about her Guardians family with her fans. "It's been a challenging weekend I'm not gonna lie," she wrote. "I'm pausing myself to take everything in before I speak out of term. I just want everyone to know I love ALL members of my GOTG family. Always will." Pratt also took to Twitter over the weekend, not commenting on the firing directly, but sharing this particular Bible verse: "'Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters. Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.' JAMES 1:19," Pratt tweeted. GOTG star Dave Bautista reacted to the news on Friday, tweeting, "I will have more to say but for right now all I will say is this..@JamesGunn is one of the most loving,caring,good natured people I have ever met. He's gentle and kind and cares deeply for people and animals. He's made mistakes. We all have. Im NOT ok with what's happening to him." After Gunn's firing, a petition was started to get him re-hired on the film. The petition has since been signed over 160,000 times, almost reaching its goal of 200,000. (Eonline)

Taormina Film Fest Awards: Polish Drama, Refugee Doc Among Winners. Matthew Modine was honored with the festival's lifetime achievement award. The 64th Taormina Film Festival concluded in Sicily's famous 2,300-year-old open air theater on Saturday, with Polish drama Once upon a Time taking home the top prize for best film. The festival's first-ever all-female jury doled out the honors, led by producer Martha de Laurentiis. Once Upon a Time in November, directed by Andrzej Jakimowski, tells the story of a mother and son being evicted from their home and roaming the streets in search of a home. It Will be Chaos by Filippo Piscopo and Lorena Luciana won the award for best directors. The HBO documentary tells the personal stories behind the global refugee crisis. Other American films also won big, including Leave No Trace by Debra Granik for best screenplay, and Leven Rambin in Tatterdemalion by Ramaa Mosley for best actress. And a special mention was given to Italian filmmaker Nino Monteleone for Be Kind. The festival also gave out honorary awards to its celebrity guests as is customary. Matthew Modine took home the festival's lifetime achievement award. Rupert Everett was honored for his new Oscar Wilde biopic The Happy Prince. And Richard Dreyfuss was given the Tauro d'Oro (Golden Taurus) Award for excellence. The 65th edition of Taormina Film Fest is planned for June 2019. (Hollywood Reporter)

Bucheon: A Glimpse Into North Korea Through Cinema. The South Korean film festival saw the country's first ever public screening of a film from the North, the Pyongyang Film Festival award winner 'The Story of Our Home.' On July 15, over 1,000 people gathered on the lawn of Bucheon City Hall, Gyeonggi Province, for South Korea's first ever public screening of a North Korean film. Since the Korean War ended in 1953, cross-border civilian contact has been banned unless authorized by the governments of the two Koreas. Firewalls prevent South Koreans from visiting North Korean websites while written requests must be approved for accessing Northern films -- which are classified as "special material" -- at the state-backed Korean Film Archive in Seoul. The outdoor screening of The Story of Our Home, a family drama directed by Ri Yun-ho that won Best Film at the 15th Pyongyang Film Festival in 2016. It is among nine titles including three features and six shorts that were shown during the 21st Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival. Organizers of Asia's largest genre film event announced that South Korean authorities approved the North Korean film showcase on July 10, which was just two days before it kicked off on July 12. The film screening took place amid what observers view as increasingly friendly inter-Korean diplomatic ties. During February's PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games in South Korea, athletes from the two countries marched together bearing a unified flag while the women ice hockey players competed in a united team. In April and May, the heads of state met at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the Koreas. "It seemed necessary to introduce North Korean movies to film industryites. I also thought North Korean films could serve as a good medium to help the general public better understand North Korea," said Choi Yong-bae, director of the Bucheon Film Festival. The Story of Our Home is based on the true story of a young woman who brought up seven orphans. Ri Jong-a tries to take care of three recently orphaned siblings, but the eldest refuses the help. "With some propagandistic settings and scenes in the latter stages, The Story of Our Home has been criticized for evading the subject of human rights in North Korea. [This is in spite of the issue having drawn the attention of the global community and] the film being based on a true story," festival programmer Mo Eunyoung said. There have been some voices of opposition against the showing North Korean propaganda films. On Friday, two protestors appeared at the screening venue of Comrade Kim Goes Flying, a 2012 Belgian-North Korean romantic comedy. The situation was quickly resolved and fest organizers maintained that festival-goers were "mature enough" to handle such content. "It's difficult for us to completely endorse and understand the propaganda messages, but I think our audiences will be mature enough to watch differing views," said Choi. A culture researcher shared the same opinion. "North Korean films are almost always related to political propaganda, even in a small way, so it isn't easy for [South Koreans] to accept such messages as they are," said Park Young-jeong, head of the state-backed Korea Culture and Tourism Institute's arts policy research team. "I believe [South Korean audiences] have the capacity to tolerate diverse cultures and points of views." Meanwhile, the Bucheon Film Festival wrapped on Sunday having shown 299 films from 54 countries. The closing ceremony took place on Friday. This year's closing film was Secret Superstar, an Indian film starring Aamir Khan. (Hollywood Reporter)

Selma Blair is supporting fired "Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3" director James Gunn -- and urging Disney/Marvel to hire him back. She's asked fans to sign a petition backing Gunn, who was canned after his offensive Twitter posts joking about rape and pedophilia were unearthed. Blair tweeted, "Marvel: RE-HIRE JAMES GUNN ... Because if people are punished despite changing, then what does that teach people about owning mistakes and evolving? This man is one of the good ones." She also tweeted to Gunn, "I thank you for your talent, your decency and your evolution as a man." The petition was also promoted by director Joe Carnahan, and Gunn has received support from actor Dave Bautista. (Page Six)


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