'Song For Marion'

aka 'Unfinished Song' (US)
15 Sep 2012 (Toronto International Film Festival)
Film
Dir. & wr. Paul Andrew Williams
Role: James (son).

USA - 21 June 2013
UK - 8 February, wide 22 February 2013
Palm Springs International Festival - 13 January 2013 (Closing Night Gala)
BAFTA preview + Q&A w/ Terence Stamp, Gemma Arterton, Ken Marshall and director Paul Andrew Williams - 19, 20 October
BFI London Film Festival - 19, 20, 21 October
Toronto International Film Festival - 15 September

DVD & Blu-ray: Region 2 - 24 Jun 2013
Amazon DVD | Blu-ray



Video:

Trailer [youtube] - Interview w/ P. A. Williams [youtube] - Red Carpet Diary: SFM at the TIFF'12 [youtube] - SFM at the LFF [with clips from the film; youtube]


  
Audio:

• Interview w/ CE by David Wriglesworth: article - audio [soundcloud]
• interviews w/ Terence Stamp at TIFF: Roundtable interview [youtube] - BBC Radio 4 The Film Programme (Sep 13; from 0:22:40)      

Reviews:  

PSIFF

• 2013 Jan 14 - Sophia Savage - Indiewire - Palm Springs 2013: Award Winners, Plus 'Unfinished Song' [...]

LFF  

• Oct 20 Nick Hasted - The Arts Desk - Song for Marion ***--  
• Oct 19 Chris Haydon - Filmoria - Song for Marion ****- ("Eccleston is great too and particularly thrives in the conflicting sequences with Arthur. Throughout it's clear that Arthur's ignorance and lack of emotional effort has left their relationship tarnished and the pair's moments on-screen together portray this with ease.") 
• Oct 19 Robbie Collin - The Telegraph - Song for Marion, review ***-- ("Eccleston, in particular, is unquestionably his screen father's son")  
• Oct 10 Robbie Collin - The Telegraph - London Film Festival 2012: an insider's guide  

TIFF 

• Sep 14 - Andrew Parker - Dork Shelf - Song For Marion  
• Henry Barnes - The Guardian - Song for Marion **--- 
• Sep 13 - Alissa Simon - Variety - Song for Marion  
• Kevin Scott - Torontoist - Song For Marion ***--  
• Sep 12 George Prentice - Boise Weekly - Near-perfect harmony in A Late Quartet and Song For Marion  
• Kevin Jagernauth - The Playlist, Indiewire - 'Song For Marion' hits a predictable, but sour note  
• Sep 11 John DeFore - The Hollywood Reporter - Song For Marion ("Christopher Eccleston, eloquently showing the emotional toll lifelong paternal disdain has taken") 
• Tim Grierson - ScreenDaily - Song For Marion ("a nicely dialled-down Christopher Eccleston")      

News:   

Jun 22 Short CE interview for Manchester Evening News.

Jun 19 Interview with Terence Stamp (metro.us) - among other topics, on Harvey Weinstein's influence (recut the film and changed the title) and CE.

Feb 7 A clip from the film on HuffingtonPost.

2013 New trail [yahoo movies] for the American release, as 'Unfinished Song'. Also articles from Indiewire, ComingSoon.  

Nov 5 British Independent Film Awards nominations: Best Screenplay - Paul Andrew Williams, Best Actor - Terence Stamp, Best Supporting Actress - Vanessa Redgrave (press release).  ETA: No wins.  

Dave Hill and Sheila Fitzimons' behind-the-scenes blog. Article about CE and James, with images:  
• Oct 19 BAFTA Guru interview with Paul Andrew Williams.   
 
• Sep 18 More sales - Italy, South Africa, South Korea, Scandinavia (Hollywood Reporter).  
 
• Sep 11 Article from The Journal on the business side. 

• Sep 7 Poster and stills at heyuguys.co.uk.    

• Sep 5 Gala premières announced for the 56th BFI London Film Festival Oct 19, 20, 21. Clare Stewart:
Paul Andrew Williams (London to Brighton) shifts dramatic tone with this highly enjoyable film about love, loss and self-discovery. Arthur (Terence Stamp) is a grouchy old man who struggles with any form of emotional expression. His terminally-ill wife Marion (Vanessa Redgrave) is embracing life to the last and is an enthusiastic member of a contemporary choir led by singing instructor Elizabeth (Gemma Arterton). Arthur fearfully opposes Marion's participation in the group and dismisses their son James (Christopher Eccleston) who is struggling to come to turns with his mother's condition. The bubbly, perceptive and endlessly determined Elizabeth detects that Arthur is suppressing more than just his feelings and gradually unlocks his true voice. Straddling the territory between the enormously successful documentary Young@Heart (the musical choices here range from Salt-n-Pepa and Stevie Wonder to Motorhead!) and the triumphant British films Brassed Off and The Full Monty, the unabashed thrust of Song for Marion's story is that the joy of life is to truly live it. This sentiment is underscored by terrific performances from the entire cast and deliciously undercut by Stamp's piercing gaze which, true to his character, simultaneously gives nothing and everything away.
• Aug 14 'Song For Marion' officially announced as the closing film of the Toronto International Film Festival. The world première will be a gala presentation. Programmer's note:
A touching and joyful story about overcoming despair by learning to live in the moment, Song for Marion gives us something to sing about. It also brings together two icons of British cinema, Vanessa Redgrave and Terence Stamp, and a new generation of talent represented by the effervescent and always impressive Gemma Arterton. Arthur (Stamp) is not an easy man to warm to. Grumpy and awkward at the best of times, he's reached a point in his life so grim there seems little reason to smile anymore: his beloved wife Marion (Redgrave) is terminally ill. The indomitable Marion, however, refuses to let her condition get her down, and she continues to take great pleasure in singing with the local seniors' choir. One rainy morning, while Arthur and Marion are still in bed, choir mistress Elizabeth (Arterton) brings the group out to serenade the couple with a rendition of Stevie Wonder's "You Are The Sunshine Of My Life." Marion is delighted, but Arthur's scowls send the singers scurrying away.
As Marion's condition worsens, Arthur does his best to please her – even to the extent of taking her place in the choir, whose songbook turns out to be considerably less conventional than Arthur expected: "True Colors" might not seem too much of a stretch, but he's rattled to hear them harmonizing on such selections as "Let’s Talk About Sex" and Motörhead's mighty speed-metal classic "Ace of Spades." As he struggles to adapt to this new social environment, Arthur will rediscover parts of himself long buried underneath his all-consuming bitterness – resources he'll need in order to get through what will be the most painful transition in his life. Music brings bliss to everyone, but all songs must come to an end.
Song for Marion closes with a dedication: "To family." And indeed, this is a film that speaks to people of all ages. Rousing and inspiring, it reminds us that every stage of life is worthy of celebration – a notion embodied here in the luminous form of two of the cinema's most legendary performers.
• Aug 4 Huffington Post interview with Terence Stamp.    

• Jul 6 Article about Gemma Arterton and 'Song For Marion':
It's also wonderful to just give yourself to a movie and slowly fall in love with it. I can tell you that this doesn't happen often. It did, though, with Song For Marion and I want to sing out loud about it. It's due to open in January, but you can be sure it will feature in the various autumn film festivals.
• May 24 Indiewire article with very early Oscars 2013 predictions (Terence Stamp for alternate Best Actor contender, Vanessa Redgrave for Best Supporting Actress, Paul Andrew Williams for alternate Best Original Screenplay).   
 
• 2012 May 20 Variety article on Cutting Edge co-producing plus sales at Cannes.   

See post-production notes at the bottom of the post.   

• Nov 7 The Weinstein Company (TWC) acquired U.S. distribution rights, along with Pan Asian TV rights. ComingSoon:
[...] The acquisition was announced today by TWC Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein and VP, Acquisitions and Co-Productions, Negeen Yazdi. "'Song for Marion' is wildly amusing and is sure to charm audiences of all ages," said Weinstein. "We're thrilled to partner with Paul on his latest project and to showcase this dynamic cast. His success in this project stems from his knack for highlighting and harmonizing otherwise contradicting personality traits – in this case, funny and cantankerous – in his characters." "We jumped at the chance to partner on this film," commented Yazdi, who negotiated the deal alongside TWC COO David Glasser and Michal Podell Steinberg, SVP, Business and Legal Affairs and Acquisitions. "The story told and the parallels that can be seen in our own lives make this film one that will undoubtedly resonate with our audience." Added Williams, "I am proud to partner with The Weinstein Company on a film that means so much to me and that I hope will mean just as much to families around the world. The cast shines in this film in a bigger way than I'd ever imagined. It was as much fun behind the camera as it appears on-camera."
Song for Marion, currently in post-production, is produced in partnership with Film House Germany and Egoli Tossell as well as Aegis Film Fund and Northstar Ventures.
• Nov 6 ScreenDaily on further sales:
Song For Marion inspires string of sales for eOne
6 November, 2011 | By Jeremy Kay
eOne Films International has reported a strong response to its comedy drama Song For Marion, which the Weinsteins are poised to buy for the US. Charlotte Mickie has licensed rights to Sun Distribution for Latin America, Ascot Elite for all German rights excluding TV and all multi-lingual Swiss rights plus Austria. ARD Degeto has taken German TV rights. Lev Cinemas will release in Israel and Greenlight Films has licensed for Iceland. Vanessa Redgrave, Terence Stamp, Gemma Arterton and Christopher Eccleston star in the story of a grumpy man who learns to embrace life when he joins an unconventional choir.
• Nov 4 The Playlist feels vindicated:
The Weinstein Company Line Up Oscar Hopeful For Next Year, Close In On 'Song For Marion'
Back in July, after taking a look at the script for Britflick "Song for Marion" which, at the time, was just about to start shooting with stars Terence Stamp, Vanessa Redgrave and Gemma Arterton, we wrote "If we were Harvey Weinstein we'd be snapping up the rights immediately; undoubtedly reminiscent of films like 'Brassed Off,' 'The Full Monty' and 'Calendar Girls,' with a little Mike Leigh thrown in, it's rather lovely, and in places very funny, but Williams also brings emotion that's perhaps more raw than similar films to the table. Mark our words, given the giant success of the choir-based 'Glee,' it’s got all the makings of a major sleeper hit, and Stamp has the kind of role that stinks of Oscar."
Well, it's good to know that the big man was taking notes, as Variety reports from the American Film Market that The Weinstein Company are in final talks to take North American distribution rights to the project, which is currently in post-production. The film comes from Paul Andrew Williams – who made a storming debut with "London to Brighton" in 2006 before following it up with horrors "The Cottage" and "Cherry Tree Lane" – and it follows Arthur (Stamp), a grumpy old man in the North of England, whose wife Marion (Redgrave) is the member of a choir for pensioners, run by a young music teacher (Arterton). When Marion is stricken with cancer, Arthur finds himself becoming involved with the singing group, to the surprise of his estranged son (Christopher Ecclestone [sic]). Like we said, on the page, it's warm, moving stuff, and Harvey clearly agrees. We're sure that picking up the film is the first step of an Oscar campaign for Stamp, and indeed the project in general – it's firmly in the underdog wheelhouse that the company always does so well with at awards season.
Of course, the Weinsteins have a history of stacking the deck with Academy hopefuls. Watch how "W.E" and "Butter" have been neglected after weak reviews in favor of "The Artist" and "Sarah's Key" (which heads back onto 300 screens today). And there's already a few films that they'll be focusing on for the 2012/2013 season – Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained" and Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" will obviously both be priorities, while David O Russell's "The Silver Linings Playbook" and Andrew Dominik's "Cogan's Trade" are also in the mix.
But "Song for Marion" fits snugly into the 'little-film-that-could' category, and we've been out on a limb since the summer as predicting that Stamp will be among the nominees at the Kodak come February 2013. It's unclear exactly when we'll see the film; it's possible that Williams is rushing to get it done for Sundance, which would be a good place to bow it, but it's more likely that it won't emerge until Toronto 2012. And Harvey? Give us a ring, you can send our finder's fee via PayPal.
• Nov 3 Variety on sales:
Weinstein Co. nears U.S. deal on 'Song for Marion' 
Gemma Arterton and Vanessa Redgrave star in Britpic 
By Diana Lodderhose 
The Weinstein Company is nearing a deal for U.S. rights to Paul Andrew Williams' "Song for Marion," toplining Gemma Arterton and Vanessa Redgrave. Pic, which also stars Christopher Eccleston and Terence Stamp, is a London-set comedic drama about a grumpy elderly man who is reluctantly inspired by his wife Marion to join an unconventional local choir. Ken Marshall produces the pic through his Steel Mill Pictures banner, which he set up with Williams. Coolmore Productions, Egoli Tossell Film and Film House Germany also produce. Williams' previous credits include "London to Brighton," "The Cottage" and last year's "Cherry Tree Lane." Williams penned the script for "Song for Marion," which was included in the 2010 Brit List for best unproduced screenplays. Entertainment One have U.K. rights to the film while its Oz arm Hopscotch has Australian rights. Ascot Elite nabbed German rights for the pic in Berlin earlier this year.
• Sep 11 Durham Johnston School article on the filming in their premises (incl. image on the right).
 
• Aug 22 The film was featured on Look North, BBC One North East. Set visit included interviews with the director and Gemma Arterton. BBC News article w/ video fragment.    

• Aug 11 Screen Daily feature:
Song For Marion
11 August, 2011 | By Sarah Cooper
London To Brighton and Cherry Tree Lane director Paul Andrew Williams talks about shooting his surprisingly upbeat fourth film which features pensioners body popping and singing about sex.
Synopsis: A comedic drama about a grumpy pensioner who is persuaded to join an unconventional local choir run by a young music teacher.
Director/writer: Paul Andrew Williams
Producer: Ken Marshall
Production company: Steel Mill Pictures (Paul Andrew Williams’ and Ken Marshall’s production company)
Co-producers/financiers: Coolmore Productions in partnership with Egoli Tossell Film and Film House Germany.
Cast: Terence Stamp plays the grumpy pensioner, Vanessa Redgrave plays his wife, Christopher Eccleston is his son and Gemma Arterton plays the music teacher who runs the local choir.
Financing: Northern Film and Media (£150,000) via its Creative Content Fund in partnership with Northstar Ventures.
Countries of Production: UK
Shoot locations: North East of England
Shoot dates: July 18 for five weeks
International sales: eOne
Distribution: UK and Canada (eOne), Germany and Switzerland (Ascot Elite), Australia (Hopscotch), France (Haut et Court)
Release date: 2012
On the strong British cast:
Paul Andrew Williams: It's a fantastically good cast. Working with such great actors makes my job so much easier. They are very easy to direct because they know so much anyway. When you write it you have no idea what you are going to end up with. The fact that we have got all these people is perfect.
On the challenges of the shoot:
The weather has been pretty bad which has been a bit of a challenge. Also, the last few films I've worked on the most people I've had to direct in one setting is seven people and on this we have hundreds of extras [the film also features local choirs from the North East of England]. But it's generally been very positive and we've had a lot of fun. The crew is a mix of people I've worked with before and local crew, and it's a great team.
On moving away from the grittiness of London To Brighton and Cherry Tree Lane to a more upbeat comedic tone:
The content is more upbeat, but there is still an element of urbanness. We are filming around estates, community centres, popularised areas, the city. On the one hand it is a brighter and upbeat story with so much smiling and joking and laughing and good feeling in the performances, but it's about people who live normal lives in normal places and the family issues that come with that.
On where the idea came from:
It came from the nicer bit of my head. It came from certain personal experiences with family and being inspired by the fact that old people have a life and that there is a generation that is still there. This film has got old people body popping, dancing, singing about sex, wearing heavy metal gear. We've got an old woman called Denise who is playing the drums, with a big heavy metal wig on. It's about people having fun.
• Jul 18 Comedy drama started filming in the North East (Newcastle and Durham), finishes end of August (6 week shoot) - ETA: Finished on the 27th.      

• Jul 16 Journal Live on location and choirs:
A FILM which could do for choirs what Brassed Off did for brass bands begins shooting in the North East next week with a glittering cast led by Vanessa Redgrave and Terence Stamp. Gemma Arterton and Christopher Eccleston also star in the film, Song for Marion, and North East extras are being sought to appear as audience members during a six-week shoot. Locations in County Durham and Newcastle will be used in the film which highlight the increasing popularity of choral singing. The story, written and directed by Paul Andrew White, is not set specifically in the North East but some of the accents might give the game away. A choir of talented singers from the region, coached by Richard Scott who directs the Heaton Voices community choir in Newcastle, will feature in the film. [...]
Newcastle-based agency Northern Film & Media invited the film-makers to the North East for reconnaissance trips earlier in the year. Gayle Woodruffe, production service manager at Northern Film & Media, said: "I think filming in the North East will give them the sense of community they are looking for. The film could be set anywhere but it needs to be a place with a real sense of community." Gayle said the film involves a choir competition and there was a big choir competition going on in the region when the film-makers came to visit. She added: "When I first read the script I thought it was a lovely story, very uplifting. I think it will appeal to a lot of people." Producer Ken Marshall, of Steel Mill Pictures, said their first North East visit coincided with the heats of Let's Get Lyrical, a choir competition organised to raise money for St Oswald's Hospice in Gosforth. "We were up scouting locations and it was pure coincidence that we came up at the same time as the heats for the competition," he said. "We got to sit in on them and it was brilliant. "Through that we met our choir director, Richard Scott, who heads up Heaton Voices." Mr Marshall agreed that Song for Marion was comparable with Brassed Off, a feel-good film highlighting a genre of music not often featured on the big screen. He said: "I think this has quite a commercial bent to it because of how big choirs are in this country. "Their popularity has gone through the roof with the coverage of choir competitions on TV and with things like Glee (the American musical comedy series broadcast on Channel 4)." He added: "With Song for Marion we have the chance to make a hilarious, joyous yet poignant film that will hopefully move audiences to both laughter and tears. "We took our time with this project as we knew we had to get the casting right to do it justice. We are thrilled with the cast we have secured and are looking forward to the start of the shoot." [...]
Anyone wanting to audition to be an extra in Song for Marion should go to www.songformarion.com
The Playlist reminds that 'Song For Marion' script made last year's Brit List (best unproduced screenplays from the UK) and comments:
We've had a look at a draft of the script, and considering that and the top-notch cast, if we were Harvey Weinstein we'd be snapping up the rights immediately; undoubtedly reminiscent of films like "Brassed Off," "The Full Monty" and "Calendar Girls," with a little Mike Leigh thrown in, it's rather lovely, and in places very funny, but Williams also brings emotion that's perhaps more raw than similar films to the table. Mark our words, given the giant success of the choir-based "Glee," it's got all the makings of a major sleeper hit, and Stamp has the kind of role that stinks of Oscar. Filming starts on July 18th in northeast England, so we'll likely see this in the fall of 2012.
From Steel Mill Pictures synopsis (spoilers there):
Arthur is a grumpy 78 year old that is stuck in his ways. His world revolves around caring for his ill but happy-go-lucky wife Marion, while his relationship with his 42 year old son James has deteriorated badly. Only Marion and granddaughter Jennifer's charms manage to keep the family together.
Press release via Collider:
Vanessa Redgrave, Terence Stamp, Gemma Arterton and Christopher Eccleston to star in Song For Marion Principal photography to commence on 18th July 2011 London, 2011 – Steel Mill Pictures and Coolmore Productions are delighted to announce principal photography on feature film Song for Marion. Shooting in the North East of England, primarily in County Durham, Song for Marion is written and to be directed by Paul Andrew Williams (London to Brighton, The Cottage, Cherry Tree Lane).
The superb British cast is made up of Academy Award Winner Vanessa Redgrave (Julia, Atonement, Howard's End), cinema legend Terence Stamp (Billy Budd, The Limey, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert), Gemma Arterton (Quantum of Solace, Prince of Persia, Tamara Drewe) and Christopher Eccleston (Shallow Grave, Elizabeth, Doctor Who).
Song for Marion is a London-set comedic drama, about grumpy pensioner Arthur (Terence Stamp) who is reluctantly inspired by his beloved wife Marion (Vanessa Redgrave) to join a highly unconventional local choir. At odds with his son James (Christopher Eccleston) it is left to choir director Elizabeth (Gemma Arterton) to try and persuade Arthur that he can learn to embrace life. Arthur must confront the undercurrents of his own grumbling persona as he embarks on a hilarious, life-affirming journey of musical self discovery.
Director Paul Andrew Williams comments "Song for Marion is a story which is not only incredibly personal to me, but to many families and generations around the world. To see it brought to life by such an incredible and dynamic cast is not only massively exciting but also totally nerve racking!"
Producer Ken Marshall added "With Song for Marion we have the chance to make a hilarious, joyous, yet poignant film that will hopefully move audiences to both laughter and tears. We took our time with this project as we knew we had to get the casting right to do it justice, we are thrilled with the cast we have secured and are looking forward to the start of the shoot."
Song for Marion is also being produced in partnership with Egoli Tossell Film and Film House Germany.
Other reports - Screen Daily calls it "[a] departure from Williams' previous gritty dramas London To Brighton and Cherry Tree Lane". The Daily Mail:
Vanessa Redgrave, Terence Stamp and Gemma Arterton are to get down and rock in a new movie. Song For Marion, which also stars Christopher Eccleston and Anne Reid, looks at the rock-choir phenomenon that has soared in all parts of the country, and abroad.
Producer Ken Marshall, from Steel Mill Pictures, said: 'Choirs have always been a massive part of the British social fabric,' adding that the TV show Glee had made them even more popular. Song For Marion will be directed by Paul Andrew Williams, whose first film, London To Brighton, was so well made – and shocking – that it forced audiences and studio chiefs to sit up and pay attention.
In the film Redgrave, who plays Marion, and Stamp, as her husband Arthur, are retired and living in the North-East of England. Marion's a member of a progressive choir run by Ms Arterton and both women want Arthur to join them. Eccleston plays the son who has a difficult relationship with his father. Marshall said the songs featured include numbers by Motorhead, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder and Cyndi Lauper. 'Both Vanessa and Terence can sing, and each has a big solo spot number,' said Marshall, who added that Vanessa's number is a classic ballad 'that will have you crying into your shirt'. The six-week shoot starts on July 18 on locations in and around County Durham. [...]
• Jul 8 2011 Eccleston cast to play James, main character's estranged son.     

Post-production Notes:        
March 28/29 Test screenings in the US and the UK. Some reactions: "It went down very well amongst all age groups. I think it was a life-affirming film about overcoming fear & barriers to happiness & learning to love life." "It went down really well with I'd would say all the audience. I really enjoyed it and was moved by it as we have just gone through a situation like the one in the film, and showed how complex the human is."        
March Additional editing and ADR.     
2012 Jan 30 Edit to be reopened (permission granted), work on score and music.
 

5 comments:

mktackabery said...

Wow, EXCITED! But now I am completely confused. Does Eccleston have a time turner? Isn't he doing something else too?

Alex said...

Orig. post July 11. Edited to correct dates.

Well yes, on paper it looks like he's doing three projects at the same time - on three different continents, no less. However: He finished work on 'The Borrowers' July 15. With this film, 'Song For Marion', it's a question of filming days, not weeks. Haven't seen any updates on 'The Darkness', but there's still time for that in August.

Connor said...

they filmed a song for marion in my village,and i got christopher eccleston's autograph... The part he is in is where theres a car and they go into a bungalow...and the bungalow they were near is the same one that is in my autograph. Earlier on to that they recorded a scene with rain with the fake rain sprinklers.

Alex said...

Thanks, Connor. It must have been exciting.

choirmember said...

I was lucky enough to be chosen to be in the choir in the film. We had a wonderful time singing, laughing and doing all kinds of zany things. Watching the actors and film crew was fascinating, Christopher was especially friendly spending time talking to the OAPZ (the choir). We are all longing to see the film and wish it every success.