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Kayley Loveridge

Cannes Film Festival

Netflix Pulls Out of Cannes Film Festival

Streaming giant Netflix pulls out of Cannes Film Festival this year after a new rule change was made banning films without a theatrical release in France from competing for the main prizes.

In an interview with Hollywood trade publication Variety, Netflix’s chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, said that the company will not be changing its release strategy to satisfy the new rule. Commenting on pulling out of the prestigious event, Sarandos said, “It was not our decision to make.” He called the new rule, which was imposed by the festival’s artistic director Thierry Frémaux, “completely contrary to the spirit of any film festival in the world.”

While Netflix will be able to screen films not in the competition, Sarandos maintains that this would be an unlikely route for the company to take. “We want our films to be on fair ground with every other filmmaker.

“There’s a risk in us going in this way and having our films and filmmakers treated disrespectfully at the festival. They’ve set the tone. I don’t think it would be good for us to be there.”

Frémaux responded to Netflix’s announcement saying, “Any film in competition should be open to distribution in theaters.”

He continued, “We made offers for two films by Netflix this year, one out of competition and one in competition. Netflix did not wish to release the [competition title] in theaters. According to the rule, this film will not be in the competition. The film could not be in the competition. Films must be open to the possibility of being distributed in cinemas. It’s too bad.”

Cannes Film Festival started life more than 70 years ago as an art house showcase. It has attracted major celebrities and commercial films over the decades, giving it its stellar reputation as one of the most important festivals in the world.

Cannes Film Festival will run from May 8 to May 19 in France.

Further reading: Stranger Things Creators Sued for Plagiarism

New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox

New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox Brawl

Wednesday’s game at Fenway Park between baseball giants New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox saw a dramatic turn of events during the seventh inning as Tyler Austin charged at Sox reliever Joe Kelly on the pitch.

The bustle occurred after Austin was hit by a pitch handed by Kelly. Austin reacted, slamming his bat on the plate and leaping towards the Boston Sox reliever, ending up in a pile up on the mound with other members of the teams. “Once I got hit, it was going to happen,” said Austin.

Yankees’ slugger Aaron Judge pulled the two men apart, gripping Kelly in a headlock in an attempt to stop the fight.

ABC News reported that Kelly had “visible red marks on his neck after the game.”

“I was ready to defend myself,” said Kelly. “Someone comes on my property and in my back yard—I’ve got two dogs and if you come on my property and I feel like I was getting attacked then I’m going to have to defend myself.”

Pedro Martinez, former Red Sox pitcher, weighed in on the fight between the New York Yankees and Red Sox players with a tweet that read: “The only thing I would had done different than Joe Kelly tonight, is I would’ve hit Tyler Austin at his previous bat. Other than that, Kelly executed perfectly.”

The fight was not a first, however, with the two teams well known for their history of violent clashes and team rivalry. In 1973, Thurman Munson confronted catcher Carlton Fisk after major league baseball player Gene Michael missed a bunt attempt.

“It’s Yankees-Red Sox. That’s what everybody wants. That’s what they got,” said Boston starter David Price.

“Two competitive teams going at it and sometimes stuff happens,” said Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. “But sometimes stuff shouldn’t happen and there was no reason for fisticuffs to have to happen based on that slide at second base.”

The MLB official Twitter account tweeted, “Benches clear, punches thrown in Yankees-Red Sox after Tyler Austin is hit by a pitch from Joe Kelly.”

The New York Yankees ended Boston Red Sox’s nine-game winning streak, leaving the pitch with an exciting 10-7 victory.

Further reading: Los Angeles Angels Player Shohei Ohtani Hits First Home Run

Sexual Assault Retrial

Bill Cosby Sexual Assault Retrial to Begin

Actor Bill Cosby’s sexual assault retrial is set to begin in Pennsylvania on Monday in front of a new jury of 10.

Cosby, now 80 years old, denies allegations of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand 14 years ago, and has pleaded not guilty.

Constand, a Canadian massage therapist, has alleged that Cosby drugged and molested her after inviting her to his home in Pennsylvania in 2004. The 44-year-old had first reported the alleged attack one year following the event, but the local district attorney declined to press charges against the renowned comic. Constand then filed a civil lawsuit against Cosby which was settled for an unknown sum in 2006.

The actor, once affectionately known as “America’s Dad”, has been charged with aggravated indecent assault—a second degree felony—by the Pennsylvania prosecutor. If found guilty, Cosby could face up to 10 years in jail.

The sexual assault retrial comes after the jury in the first hearing in June 2017 failed to reach a conclusive verdict.

The Emmy award-winning actor, most famous for starring in the 80s comedy TV series The Cosby Show (1984), has been the center of a major scandal in which more than 60 women have come forward with allegations of sexual assault. Cosby has denied all of the allegations.

The sexual assault retrial will put Cosby before the same judge—Steven O’Neill–and district attorney as the first in 2017. The BBC reports that the judge will allow other accusers to come forward with evidence during the trial. The Guardian reports that O’Neill will allow for five women to speak during the sexual assault retrial.

Further reading: #MeToo Campaign Raises Awareness About Sexual Assault

Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures TV Series in Development

Fans of Academy Award-nominated Hidden Figures (2017) rejoice; entertainment news site Variety has reported that a TV series inspired by the film is currently in development.

According to Variety, the TV series, which is currently in the early stages of development, is to appear exclusively on the National Geographic channel in a bid to produce more scripted fare. Producing alongside the major channel will be Peter Chernin and Jenno Topping from Chernin Entertainment. Chernin and Topping were the original executive producers of Hidden Figures.

The film was based on a book by the same name written by author Margot Lee Shetterly. Hidden Figures tells the true story of the black female mathematicians who were crucial to the success of the NASA American space program in its early years—despite the challenges they faced because of the color of their skin.

The slate for the film boasted an all-star cast including Tarahi P.Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe as the film’s protagonists.

Hidden Figures was nominated for three Oscars this year including Best Film, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress.

Further reading: ‘Black Panther’ to Break Saudi Arabia’s 35-year Cinema Ban

Black Panther

‘Black Panther’ to Break Saudi Arabia’s 35-year Cinema Ban

 Marvel’s Black Panther (2017) is to break Saudi Arabia’s cinema ban by opening the first cinema in the country for 35 years later this month.

The news comes after a deal was made with the world’s biggest cinema chain, AMC, who have planned to roll over 40 movie theaters throughout the Kingdom throughout the next five years.

Saudi Arabia had cinemas back in the 70s, but its powerful conservative clerics had them shut down for religious reasons.

The move looks to contribute to the Vision 2030 initiative—unveiled by the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman—to bring entertainment to Saudi Arabia. Vision 2030 aims to help expand the Saudi economy by reducing its current reliance on oil, providing more jobs and encouraging Saudis to spend their money in their native country rather than abroad.

Black Panther will have its own gala premier on April 18 in Riyadh, the country’s capital and will show for five days following the event. The 620-seater cinema theater is a converted symphony hall located in the King Abdullah Financial District.

AMC’s chief executive Adam Aron said of the theater venue: “We think it’s going to be the prettiest movie theater in the world. It’s a dramatic building.”

An inside source told Reuters that the cinemas would also not be segregated by gender as is usual protocol in the nation’s public places. This move demonstrates an exciting time for the country as more liberal policies are being unrolled.

Saudi’s culture minister Awwad Alawwad said, “The restoration of cinemas will… help boost the local economy by increasing household spending on entertainment while supporting job creation.”

Baltimore Ravens

Robert Griffin Joins Baltimore Ravens

NFL team the Baltimore Ravens announced on Wednesday 4 that they have agreed to a one-year contract with quarterback Robert Griffin III. The contract will place Griffin in a back-up position to starter Joe Flacco.

The 28-year-old veteran player sat out the entire 2017 campaign, after being cut from Cleveland Browns’ slate in March 2017.

General manager of the Baltimore Ravens, Ozzie Newsome, said of the deal, “He came in last week, worked out. Had a real good workout and we were able to come to an agreement late yesterday. He will probably be here early next week to sign the deal.”

Ian Rapoport, an NFL Network Insider, has reported that Griffin’s base salary will sit at $1 million plus a small bonus upon signing of the contract.

Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh said, “He’s a very talented quarterback who’s had a lot of success in this league early on.

“So we’re excited about it. We felt like we needed a No. 2 quarterback. You look at the veteran quarterbacks out there… I mean, where we’re at right now, I’m pretty excited about this player. I’m really feeling like we got a steal.”

In 2017, Griffin had rejected contract offers from both the Baltimore Ravens and the Arizona Cardinals during his search for a new team. He reportedly felt that both teams were not the right fit, but has seemingly changed his mind.

Joining the Baltimore Ravens presents Griffin with a shining opportunity to resurrect a once massive career in the game—one that has been almost-lost since 2014.

The player took to Twitter shortly after the offer, tweeting a rather celebratory “#PlayLikeARaven”.

Stranger Things

Stranger Things Creators Sued for Plagiarism

The creators of the hit Netflix TV series Stranger Things (2016) and Stranger Things 2 (2017), Matt and Ross Duffer (known in Hollywood as the “Duffer Brothers”), are being sued by producer Charlie Kessler for plagiarising his short film Montauk (2012). Kessler has said that he originally pitched his short film and a feature script (titled The Montauk Project) to the Duffer Brothers back in 2014.

Stranger Things, which first aired on Netflix in 2016, was originally sold to the major streaming service under the same title, Montauk. As with Kessler’s short film, the show had initially been set in Montauk, Long Island. The show was later named Stranger Things and the location shifted to Indiana.

The original logline of the series after it received the greenlight from Netflix’s executives reads: “Described as a love letter to the 80s classics that captivated a generation, the series is set in 1980 Montauk, Long Island, where a young boy vanishes into thin air. As friends, family and local police search for answers, they are drawn into an extraordinary mystery involving top-secret government experiments, terrifying supernatural forces and one very strange little girl.”   

Similarly, Kessler’s narrative involves a young boy that goes missing, a nearby military base conducting experiments on children and a supernatural monster from another dimension.

A spokesperson for Kessler has said of the case: “After the massive success of Stranger Things that is based on the Plaintiff’s concepts that the Plaintiff discussed with the Defendants, Defendants have made huge sums of money by producing the series based on Plaintiff’s concepts without compensating or crediting Plaintiff for his concepts.”

Kessler is suing the Duffer Brothers for breach of implied contract and seeks monetary damages at trial.

The Duffer Brothers have since denied these claims. Alex Kohner, the directors’ lawyer, said in a statement to the Press Association, “Mr Kessler’s claim is completely meritless. He had no connection to the creation or development of Stranger Things. 

“The Duffer Brothers have neither seen Mr Kessler’s short film nor discussed any project with him.”

Kohner added: “This is just an attempt to profit from other people’s creativity and hard work.”

Stranger Things is one of the most popular television shows on Netflix. Netflix experienced its most popular streaming day of the year when the first episode of the second season aired in October 2017.

Further reading: Matt Damon and Ben Affleck to Support Inclusion Rider

Los Angeles Angels

Los Angeles Angels Player Shohei Ohtani Hits First Home Run

Los Angeles Angels baseball player Shohei Ohtani hit his first major league three-run home run on a 2-2 pitch by Cleveland Indians starter, Josh Tomlin, on his debut appearance at the Angel Stadium.

When Ohtani returned to the team dugout after the smashing performance, he was received in mock silence before teammates mobbed the player in celebration.

Through an interpreter, Japan-born Ohtani said, “After getting my first hit out of the way, I felt more comfortable and relaxed.

“And everyone around me was doing a good job too, making it tough for the pitcher. That was a factor.”

The Los Angeles Angels beat the Cleveland Indians by 13-2. Mike Scioscia, Angels’ manager, said, “Shohei put on a display of the type of talent he has tonight.

“He showed the power. He showed the ability to just square up a baseball, and he had a great night for us.”

Infielder for the Angels, Ian Kinsler, said, “It’s a lot of fun to see something like that from a guy that has a huge spotlight on his and obviously doesn’t let it bother him, comes out and plays extremely well the first week of the season.”

The 23-year-old’s achievement is no ordinary feat, either. According to STATS LLC, the baseball player is remarkably the first to win a starting pitcher, then start and homer as a non-pitcher in his next game in the same season since baseball titan Babe Ruth in 1921.

FOX Sports West tweeted: “Not sure what’s better… Ohtani’s FIRST CAREER HOME RUN or the celebration! One word: Amazing.”

The Los Angeles Angels baseball player, who is reportedly attempting to become baseball’s first regular two-way player in almost a century, is due to make his next pitching start Sunday 8 at Angel Stadium.

Further reading: Allen Robinson Set to Join Chicago Bears

YouTube Shooting

YouTube Shooting Leaves Three Injured

On April 3, a woman shot and wounded three people before fatally turning the gun on herself outside YouTube’s headquarters in San Bruno, California, say police.

Nasim Aghdam, 39, has been named the prime suspect of attack, dubbed the ‘YouTube Shooting’. It has been reported that the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital had received all three patients. One 36-year-old-man was in critical condition, one 32-year-old woman was in serious condition and one 27-year-old woman is said to be in ‘fair’ condition.

Law enforcement officials told news channel CNN that Aghdam is believed to have known at least one of the victims.

Some YouTube employees tweeted about the attack as it happened. Todd Sherman said “We were sitting in a meeting and then we heard people running because it was rumpling the floor. First thought was earthquake.” Another employee, Vadim Lavrusik said “Active shooter at YouTube HQ. Heard shots and saw people running while at my desk. Now barricaded inside a room with coworkers.” Not long after the tweet was published, Lavrusik wrote: “Safe. Got evacuated. Outside now.”

Another YouTube employee recounted the shooting, saying she was on a conference call at the time of the attack with a colleague who was close by. “We were all suddenly aware of a lot of noises, of sounds, people running outside of the room where she was.”

A witness who was inside a café near where the YouTube shooting to place said to CNN affiliate KPIX, “I heard some pops, I obviously thought it was balloons, but then I thought that doesn’t make sense, not today. Then I heard more shots and that’s when everyone started scrambling for the door.”

President Donald Trump has tweeted his sympathies for the victims of the YouTube shooting, saying, “Was just briefed on the shooting at YouTube’s HQ in San Bruno, California. Our thoughts and prayers are with everybody involved. Thank you to our phenomenal Law Enforcement Officers and First Responders that are currently on the scene.”

YouTube, founded back in 2005, has experienced exponential growth throughout its history, and is the most well-known video site online. Google purchased YouTube in 2006 for $1.65 billion in stock. More than a 1,000 people are currently employed by the company, making it one of the largest employers in the area.

Further reading: Texas Bomber Kills Himself in Austin Suburb

Sexual Assault on Campus

Ending Sexual Assault on Campus

In 2016, student Brock Turner was infamously tried and convicted for raping a woman outside a fraternity party. His sentence was a mere slap on the wrist at just three months, and would demonstrate how common this type of attack is on campus and—even more shockingly—how often perpetrators get away with it. According to the government’s Department of Justice, 25 percent of female college students will experience sexual assault before they reach graduation. Sexual violence on campus is more likely to affect minority groups, too. In 2016, UC San Diego School of Medicine Center on Gender Equity and Health reported that one in three transgender students had been raped or sexually assaulted. Perhaps more chilling is that an estimated 95 percent of incidents of rape on campus go unreported, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

These dire statistics solidify the fact that more protection, preventative measures and support systems need to be implemented into colleges nationwide to tackle this widespread problem. Many schools are working to lower disturbing cases of sexual violence on campus by increasing the number of security officers and bystander intervention programs and educating students on the meaning of consent.

How can we protect ourselves?

The blame for any type of assault always, always, lies with the perpetrator and victims are not at fault. In the current climate, however, there are some precautions students can take to minimize their risk of an attack.

Stay in groups. Whether at night or not, walk, travel or attend gatherings with a group of trusted friends. Keep an eye on each other and hold each other accountable to ensure safety. If you do go somewhere by yourself, let people know where you are going and what time to expect you home.

Be self-aware. Excessive alcohol consumption can make students more vulnerable to dangerous situations. Know your limits when it comes to alcohol and keep drinks covered and with you at all times.

Trust your instincts. If you find yourself in a situation you feel unsafe in or around people that you have a bad feeling about, then leave immediately.

Attend a self-defence class. Some colleges, including Ivy League university Cornell, hold self-defence courses for students to better prepare them for such an eventuality.

11.2%

of all students in the US experience sexual assault

Source: rainn.org

After sexual assault

Experiencing sexual assault can lead to significant mental health issues and deeply impact college life from academia to forming relationships. Take these steps if you have suffered sexual assault on campus:

  • Call 911 and report the incident as soon as you can.
  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible to treat injuries and collect vital evidence.
  • Speak with someone. Use your college counseling service or contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline on 1-800-656-4673.
  • Work with your tutors and instructors to arrange time off from academic responsibilities so that you can heal, both mentally and physically.

Visit rainn.org for more information and advice on sexual assault on campus.

Further reading: Protecting Yourself on Campus