Joaquin Phoenix’s ‘Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot’ Casting Slammed as Offensive by Ruderman Disability Foundation

Joaquin Phoenix’s latest role in Gus Van Sant’s “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot” finds him stepping into the real-life shoes of paraplegic cartoonist John Callahan, but not everyone is happy the director cast an able-bodied actor to play a disabled character. The Ruderman Family Foundation, a national leader in disability inclusion, has criticized the movie for the casting decision, saying it is “offensive to the disability community” and “overlooks the opportunity to cast actors with disabilities to play characters with disabilities.”

“It was a mistake for director Gus Van Sant to cast Joaquin Phoenix in his upcoming biopic about disabled cartoonist John Callahan,” Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation, said in an official statement. “The time has come for the entertainment industry to audition and cast actors with disabilities to play leading roles portraying disability.”

“As we enter 2018, American society no longer finds it acceptable for white actors to play black, Asian or Hispanic characters,” he continued. “It is equally unacceptable and offensive for able-bodied actors to be cast inauthentically in the roles of characters with disabilities.”

“Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot” is based on Callahan’s memoir of the same name. The story follows Callahan after a car accident laves him paralyzed at age 21. He goes on to use drawing as a form of therapy, creating taboo cartoon strips that lead to controversy in his hometown of Portland, Oregon. Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara, and Jack Black co-star.

In denouncing the Phoenix’s casting, the Ruderman Family Foundation makes note that approximately 20% of America’s population is disabled, “making people with disabilities the largest minority in the country.” The group says actors with disabilities represent less than 2% of the roles seen on screen.

The movie is set to debut at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival this weekend. Amazon Studios will release “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot” in theaters May 11.

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Jane Fonda: Activism Made This Year’s Golden Globes ‘The Best Ever,’ and Hollywood Has Hit a ‘Historic Turning Point’

Jane Fonda is still in awe of what happened last week at the Golden Globe Awards, as Hollywood focused on something more than just handing out kudos.

“I thought it was the best Golden Globes ever,” Fonda said of the focus on the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements. “It was glorious. One of the great things is all of the actresses involved have been conscious to the fact that we’ve got to reach out our arms to women in other sectors. Restaurant workers, hotel workers, farm workers. It’s really moving.”

Fonda spoke to Variety’s Cynthia Littleton on Wednesday at the NATPE convention about “Grace and Frankie,” aging in Hollywood and her busy schedule as an activist. The actress is no stranger to the issue of women’s equality and pay inequality — having even dealt with the issue as recent as 2015 with “Grace and Frankie,” when she and Lily Tomlin were initially paid the same as the show’s male supporting actors.

“These are deeply ingrained problems and they take a long time to address,” she said. “We have arrived at a moment that really is a historic turning point. I don’t think things will be the same after this.”

Fonda pointed out that she still remembers when she started working in Hollywood in the late 1950s, there were no women in any position of power. “It’s hard when there’s no one who looks like you to lean on their shoulder. It’s different now, very diverse.” (On “Grace and Frankie,” executive producer Marta Kauffman, half of the writing staff and more than half of the directors are women.)

Fonda lauded the women who helped found Time’s Up, the movement borne out of Hollywood’s recent sexual harassment and assault scandals: “These aren’t just stars, these women, they’re fierce warriors. They’re so much more advanced than I was at their age.”

She added that “every single good friend I have was abused as a child… people don’t realize this is an epidemic.”

Fonda also pointed out that although the movement received mainstream attention after famous white women spoke up, they stood on the shoulders of the “brave women of color” who did it before them, including Anita Hill.

The actress’ activism is currently focused on fair wages for tip workers, who often earn below minimum wage. She pointed out that 70 percent of the 13 million people who work in the restaurant industry are women. So far seven states have done away with a two-tier system for tip workers, with more states putting it on the ballot. Fonda and Tomlin recently campaigned in Michigan in support of one bill.

“When women achieve pay equity they don’t put up with [harassment],” she said.

Fonda credited her “Grace and Frankie” workload with giving her the time to focus on issues that she cares about.

“It’s 13 episodes, so I have six months with nothing to do except being an activist,”  she said. “It’s a lot easier being an activist with a hit TV series.” Fonda doesn’t campaign for candidates, however. “It doesn’t matter what party we belong to, we have to save the planet and save our democracy.”

The HBO documentary “Jane Fonda in Five Acts” premieres at this year’s Sundance, and Fonda is proud of it — although she said watching moments from her past was “intense.” But she also said she feels like she’s in her prime at age 80.

She took a “leap of faith” in doing TV, but adds, “that’s how I stay fit, taking leaps of faith.”

Fonda also credited former husband Ted Turner for “giving me back my humor and my confidence,” and shaking her of an unhappiness that kept her out of Hollywood for 15 years.

As for the future of “Grace and Frankie,” Fonda said she’ll keep doing it “until I can’t talk anymore. Which is a very long time… Women come up to us all the time and say ‘you’ve given me hope.’ Young people realize it’s OK to get older. And they’re surprised to learn that their grandmothers use vibrators.”

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Jean-Marc Barr and Mateo Gil Join Miami Film Festival 2018 Marquee Lineup

Miami Dade College’s (MDC) Miami Film Festival (MFF) is importing film artists Jean-Marc Barr and Mateo Gil to accompany two Marquee events at the international festival’s upcoming 35th anniversary edition (March 9 – 18). The Miami Film Festival, under director Jaie Laplante, showcases Ibero-American cinema — and rising talent –and provides a North American launch pad for new international and documentary films.

In the last five years, the Festival has screened films from more than 60 countries, including 300 World, International, North American, U.S. and East Coast Premieres, and attracted more than 60,000 attendees, including 400 filmmakers and industry professionals.

The Festival’s Marquee series features screenings along with in-depth conversations with contemporary film personalities. Spanish filmmaker Mateo Gil will present the World premiere of his latest film, “The Laws of Thermodynamics” (“Las leyes de la termodinámica”), a romantic comedy starring Vito Sanz (“Maria (and the Others)”) as a Sciences graduate student who blames his disastrous love life and recently departed girlfriend (Berta Vázquez) on the mysterious laws of cosmic thermodynamics. Gil will participate in an extended conversation about co-writing the Oscar-winning film “The Sea Inside,” “Open Your Eyes” (remade as “Vanilla Sky” with Tom Cruise) and his other Goya Award-winning films.

Co-produced by Spain’s Zeta Cinema and Atresmedia), the film will compete in the Knight Competition and HBO Ibero-American Feature Film Competition.

French-American actor and filmmaker Jean-Marc Barr will attend the North American premiere of Lefteris Charitos’ new documentary “Dolphin Man,” about the life and legacy of the French free diving legend Jacques Mayol, whom Barr played in Luc Besson’s 1988 international smash “The Big Blue.” Barr is featured prominently in “Dolphin Man,” which covers the beginning of Mayol’s career working with dolphins at Miami Seaquarium in the 1950s. Barr will give a Q & A covering his work with Lars von Trier (“Europa,” “Breaking the Waves.” “Dancer in the Dark” and “Dogville”) as well his most recent film “Grain,” winner of the 2017 Grand Prize at Tokyo Film Festival, and his work as a director, screenwriter and producer in collaboration with Pascal Arnold (“Lovers,” “American Translation”).

Presented by Telefilm Canada as a Canadian co-production, “Dolphin Man” will compete for the audience-voted Knight Documentary Achievement Award.

The Festival is also bringing two more high-profile new Spanish films to premiere for US audiences: Daniel Calparsoro’s “The Warning” (“El aviso”), a high-octane thriller from Chris Sparling (the American screenwriter of Ryan Reynolds’ “Buried”) and Alex de la Iglesia’s frequent screenwriter Jorge Guerricaechevarría, starring Raúl Arévalo and Aura Garrido. The supernatural thriller, which is being compared to Terry Gilliam’s “12 Monkeys,” will debut in two of the Festival’s competition sections, Knight Competition and HBO Ibero-American Feature Film Competition.

First-time feature writer-director Samu Fuentes’ “The Skin of the Wolf” (“Bajo la piel de lobo”), a dramatic thriller starring Spanish mega-star Mario Casas, Ruth Díaz, and Irene Escolar, boasts complexly designed wide-screen photography set in Spain’s spectacular Asturias-Huescas region, will debut in the Festival’s Jordan Ressler Screenwriting Competition, as well as the HBO Ibero-American Feature Film Competition.


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