Last Days in the Desert: the Sundance round-up

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Last Days in the Desert, the low-budget film that stars Ewan McGregor as both Jesus and Satan, had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival two nights ago, and the reviews so far have been pretty positive. The filmmakers were also there to discuss the film. What follows is a round-up of reviews and interviews from the festival.

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Guess who’s behind the new ABC series about King David

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The Wrap reports that ABC has ordered five new pilot episodes — basically test runs for potential full-fledged series — and one of them is biblical in nature.

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Simon “Scotty” Pegg to co-write the next Star Trek movie

startrek11-scottyOne month after Paramount announced that they would release a new Star Trek movie in July 2016, the film has a screenwriter. Two screenwriters, in fact. And one of them is Simon Pegg, the actor who currently plays Scotty.

This is interesting, in light of some of the rumours that have been flying around ever since Roberto Orci ankled the project, and in light of how these films have been developed in the past.

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Pilou replaces Pedro Pascal as Pontius Pilate in Ben-Hur

hijacking-pilouBack in October, I wrote that Gal Gadot had been cast as the female lead in Ben-Hur, while Pedro Pascal had been cast as Pontius Pilate. Well, I’ll never need to link to that post again, since Gadot quickly dropped out due to scheduling conflicts, and now The Wrap reports that Pascal has dropped out as well, and that the producers are talking to Pilou Asbæk about playing Pontius Pilate instead. Asbæk, who is Danish, played the shady boyfriend who gets Scarlett Johansson involved with the drug smugglers in Lucy. He also co-starred in the Danish film A Hijacking.

Will the new Ben-Hur flesh out the back-story of the thieves who were crucified with Jesus?

moisesariasMost of the casting announcements for the upcoming remake of Ben-Hur have dealt so far with some fairly familiar characters: Judah Ben-Hur, his sister, his mother, his nemesis Messala and a few others like Jesus and Pontius Pilate. Nothing so far has indicated how this new film might be different from previous adaptations. Nothing, that is, until now.

Deadline reports that the filmmakers have cast 20-year-old Kings of Summer co-star Moisés Arias as Gestas, “a teenage Jewish zealot” who is “desperate to fight for his people’s freedom” because his family “has been murdered by the Romans”.

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Sundance Film Festival panels to discuss the sound design of a Jesus movie, and faith-based films in general

last_days_in_the_desertThe “year of the Bible movie” may have come to an end, but the genre — and the issues it raised — aren’t going away any time soon. For evidence of that, look no further than two panels coming up at the Sundance Film Festival, which starts later this week.

Exhibit A: The Dolby Institute is hosting ‘Last Days in the Desert: The Art of Sound Design and Music’, a panel that will look at Rodrigo Garcia’s film starring Ewan McGregor as Jesus and Satan, on January 27.

Dolby has awarded the film its Dolby Family Sound Fellowship, which “provides a range of postproduction resources to allow the fellowship recipient to fulfill the creative potential of the film’s sound design.” A Dolby press release states that the filmmakers “did a great job capturing the on-site soundscape of the desert,” and that the film was chosen partly for its “complex canvas and nuanced characters.”

The panel will be moderated by Glenn Kiser, director of the Dolby Institute, and it will feature Garcia as well as the film’s composers and two of its sound mixers.

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