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Oscar Winner Adam Elliot ‘Strives for Imperfection’ as Sarah Snook-Voiced ‘Memoir of a Snail’ Debuts Teaser (EXCLUSIVE)

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Oscar Winner Adam Elliot ‘Strives for Imperfection’ as Sarah Snook-Voiced ‘Memoir of a Snail’ Debuts Teaser (EXCLUSIVE)

“Memoir of a Snail,” directed by Oscar winner Adam Elliot – and voiced by “Succession” star Sarah Snook – has debuted a teaser ahead of its premiere at Annecy. 

Australian theatrical release, via Madman, is set for Oct. 17.   

In the film, little Grace Puddle is separated from her twin brother Gilbert following their parents’ deaths. Things only get worse from there, she later admits to a garden snail named Sylvia – the only creature interested in her tragic story. 

“I gravitate towards the underdog. People who are perceived as different, marginalized. I am not interested in heroes. It’s probably because I am ultimately making films about myself. I really empathize and identify with my characters,” the director told Variety

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“The truth is, they are all based on real people: they just happen to be my family and friends. In [previous film] ‘Mary and Max,’ Max was based on my pen pal, who is still alive. ‘Memoir of a Snail’ has a lot of my mother. We call her a ‘reformed hoarder,’ but she still collects.”

Despite his characters’ “imperfections” and numerous hardships they go through, Elliot – who won Academy Award for 2003 short “Harvie Krumpet” – continues to root for them.   

“Someone said to me recently: ‘You really drag your characters through the mud.’ But they’ve had so much bad luck that by the end of each film, when they finally triumph, you are on their side,” he pointed out. 

Grace, hiding behind objects cluttering her house, keeps experiencing loss, rejection, sadness and solitude. And yet “Memoir of a Snail” is full of warmth. 

“I’ve always loved that quote that without darkness, light has no meaning. There is a bit of this Australian, self-deprecating humor in there as well. I want the audience to laugh, but if I can get them to shed a tear, I really feel like I’ve achieved something. My father was an acrobatic clown and he used to say: ‘Adam, you are not an ‘auteur,’ you are an entertainer. Make them laugh and make them cry’.” 

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Despite his affection for Ken Loach or Mike Leigh, Elliot is sticking to stop-motion. 

“I get asked why I don’t make live-action and it’s really simple: in stop-motion, you have creative control and you can push the boundaries of the art form. You can have a dark moment and a light moment almost simultaneously. In ‘Cousin’ [made in 1998] you find out our character’s parents were killed in a car accident while he is wearing a T-shirt that says: ‘I yodel for Jesus.’ Also, I just can’t help myself: I love peculiar deaths.” 

Or older mentors. In the film, Grace finally finds a friend other than her beloved snails: it’s an eccentric lady called Pinky, who encourages her to come out of her shell. 

“There is wisdom that can come with age. Now, there is a bigger gap between generations, so what could bring us together? Simple pleasures. Pinky teaches Grace how to be brave, because yes, she is like one of these snails. She’s constantly recoiling from all this trauma.” 

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Adam Elliot
Credit: MATT IRWIN

“Originally, it was supposed to be a ‘Memoir of a Ladybird,’ but it felt a little bit twee. I love drawing snails and I collected them as a child. When I write my screenplays, I don’t think about all the practicalities. After the 10th draft or so, I went: ‘Oh gee, now I will have to make thousands of these things.’ I never want to see another snail ever again!” 

He will continue making films he believes in, however. 

“I’ve had offers [from bigger studios] and financially, I should have said yes. But I am a megalomaniac: I prefer to write and direct my own films, and I have my niche. Still, with my next project, I want to be even more ambitious. All my budgets are very low, so there’s always compromise – in ‘Memoir,’ there is very little walking. Or talking, which is why I use voiceover.” 

Once again, his film is narrated by a starry cast, from Sarah Snook to Jacki Weaver, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Eric Bana. Previously, he has collaborated with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Geoffrey Rush or Toni Collette. 

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“Everyone says: ‘Adam, why do you always go for these Academy Award-winning actors?’ Because they are good! Sarah, in many ways, directed me. I am not necessarily striving to have globally recognizable names – I am striving for authenticity. I told Sarah: ‘I just want you to be yourself.’ The investors love stars, but I don’t mention them at the beginning of my films, for example. I don’t want the audience to think about the actors until the end credits.” 

Instead, he wants them to look into his characters’ eyes. Literally. 

“Even though these are blobs of clay, they break the fourth wall and look straight at you. They are asymmetrical and deformed-looking, but they also have this endearing quality.” 

Born with a physiological tremor, Elliot has incorporated it into his work. 

“When I draw, my lines are wobbly, so my 3D characters are versions of my 2D drawings. A lot of stop-motion has become very slick, but my characters’ psyches are fractured. I always tell my collaborators: ‘Put in the fingerprint, put in the lump. Pretend you’ve had a glass of wine and you are a little bit tipsy.’ It’s all about striving for imperfection.” 

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An Arenamedia production, “Memoir of a Snail” was produced by Elliot and Liz Kearney, and executive produced by Robert Connolly and Robert Patterson. Anton & Charades handle international sales; the film is distributed by IFC for North America and Wild Bunch for France.

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Canadian national pleads guilty to stealing Tesla trade secrets

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Canadian national pleads guilty to stealing Tesla trade secrets
A Canadian resident of China pleaded guilty in New York federal court on Thursday to stealing Tesla electric-vehicle battery manufacturing trade secrets and conspiring to sell them to undercover government agents, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
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Ship hit twice in apparent Houthi cruise missile attack off Yemeni coast

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Ship hit twice in apparent Houthi cruise missile attack off Yemeni coast
  • A commercial ship was reportedly struck twice Thursday by Houthi-fired cruise missiles in the Gulf of Aden.
  • The Palauan-flagged M/V Verbena was still on fire at the time of U.S. Central Command’s report, and the mariner was flown via helicopter to another vessel for medical treatment.
  • “The M/V Verbena reported damage and subsequent fires on board. The crew continues to fight the fire,” a statement by Central Command said.

The U.S. said Thursday that the Iranian-backed Houthis launched two anti-ship cruise missiles and struck a commercial ship in the Gulf of Aden off Yemen, setting it on fire and severely injuring one civilian mariner.

U.S. Central Command said the M/V Verbena was still ablaze and the mariner was flown by a U.S. helicopter based on the USS Philippine Sea to another nearby ship for medical treatment.

In a statement, Central Command said the Verbena is a Palauan-flagged, Ukrainian-owned and Polish-operated bulk cargo carrier that had docked in Malaysia and was on its way to Italy carrying wood. “The M/V Verbena reported damage and subsequent fires on board. The crew continues to fight the fire,” the statement said.

HOUTHIS CLAIM ‘AMERICAN-ISRAELI SPY NETWORK’ MEMBERS ARRESTED

The attack is the latest such assault in the Houthis’ campaign over the Israel-Hamas war.

Earlier Thursday, the British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations center said a vessel had been attacked and had caught fire. And the private security firm Ambrey said a merchant vessel made a radio distress call saying it had been struck by a missile.

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A fighter jet parks on the deck of the USS aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower, also known as IKE, in the Red Sea, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

The Houthis did not immediately acknowledge Thursday’s attacks, but it typically takes the rebels hours or even days to claim them. The attack follows the Houthis launching a boat-borne bomb attack against a commercial ship in the Red Sea on Wednesday.

The Houthis, who seized Yemen’s capital nearly a decade ago and have been fighting a Saudi-led coalition since shortly after, have been targeting shipping throughout the Red Sea corridor.

They say the attacks are aimed at stopping the war and supporting the Palestinians, though the attacks often target vessels that have nothing to do with the conflict.

The war in Gaza has killed more than 36,000 Palestinians there, according to Gaza health officials, while hundreds of others have been killed in Israeli operations in the West Bank. It began after Hamas-led militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking around 250 hostage.

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The Houthis have launched more than 50 attacks on shipping, killed three sailors, seized one vessel and sunk another since November, according to the U.S. Maritime Administration. A U.S.-led airstrike campaign has targeted the Houthis since January, with a series of strikes May 30 killing at least 16 people and wounding 42 others, the rebels say.

Also Thursday, the Washington-based National Democratic Institute said three of its staff were detained by the Houthis earlier this month. Their detention comes as staff of United Nations agencies and those working for aid groups also have been detained in a widening crackdown by the rebels.

“This arbitrary and inhumane treatment of Yemeni citizens involved in humanitarian assistance, diplomacy, democracy and human rights, peacemaking and civil society development is entirely without foundation and must be ended immediately,” the institute said. It called for the “swift release by the Houthi regime of our staff, and of all individuals who have been unjustly detained.”

The institute is a democracy promotion organization that has worked in Yemen since 1993. It receives funding from the U.S. government and others.

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Russia says US journalist Evan Gershkovich to face trial for ‘CIA work’

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Russia says US journalist Evan Gershkovich to face trial for ‘CIA work’

Wall Street Journal rejects ‘false and baseless’ charge against 32-year-old reporter who has been in custody since March 2023.

Russian prosecutors have said US journalist Evan Gershkovich will face trial in the Ural city of Yekaterinburg, where he was detained more than a year ago after he was accused of working for the CIA.

Gershkovich, 32, is accused of “gathering secret information” on orders from the CIA about Uralvagonzavod, a facility that produces and repairs military equipment, the prosecutor general’s office said in a statement, revealing for the first time the details of the accusations against him. The statement gave no date for the trial.

Gershkovich, a journalist with the Wall Street Journal, has been in jail since he was arrested in Yekaterinburg, about 1,400 kilometres (870 miles) east of Moscow, on March 29, 2023, and was accused of spying. He denies any wrongdoing.

Following the Russian announcement, the Journal said that Gershkovich was facing “a false and baseless charge”. A joint statement from Almar Latour, the newspaper’s publisher, and its editor-in-chief, Emma Tucker, demanded Gershkovich’s immediate release.

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“Russia’s latest move toward a sham trial is, while expected, deeply disappointing and still no less outrageous,” the statement said.

“Evan has spent 441 days wrongfully detained in a Russian prison for simply doing his job. Evan is a journalist. The Russian regime’s smearing of Evan is repugnant, disgusting and based on calculated and transparent lies.”

Gershkovich at his appearance in a Moscow court on April 23 [Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP Photo]

The United States designated Gershkovich “wrongfully detained” in April 2023, and President Joe Biden has called his detention “totally illegal”.

Latour and Tucker said they now expected the US government to step up efforts to secure his release.

US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Washington would continue to work to bring Gershkovich home.

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“Evan has done nothing wrong. He should never have been arrested in the first place. Journalism is not a crime,” Miller said. “The charges against him are false. And the Russian government knows that they’re false. He should be released immediately.”

Potential prisoner swap

Gershkovich was the first US journalist to be arrested on spying charges in Russia since the Cold War, as Moscow enacted increasingly repressive laws on freedom of speech after sending troops into Ukraine. Washington has sought to negotiate his release, but Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Moscow would consider a prisoner swap only after a verdict in his trial.

Asked last week by The Associated Press news agency about Gershkovich, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the US was “taking energetic steps” to secure the journalist’s release. He told international news agencies in a rare news conference that any such releases “aren’t decided via mass media” but through a “discreet, calm and professional approach”.

“And they certainly should be decided only on the basis of reciprocity,” he added, alluding to a potential prisoner swap.

Gershkovich faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

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The Uralvagonzavod factory, about 100km (60 miles) north of Yekaterinburg, has been sanctioned by Western countries. Based in the city of Nizhny Tagil in the Sverdlovsk region, it plays a crucial role in supplying tanks for Moscow’s war in Ukraine, according to the Russian Ministry of Defence.

The factory, which is run by a state conglomerate controlled by one of Putin’s allies, has publicly spoken of producing T-90M battle tanks and modernising T-72B3M tanks.

The number of tanks which Russia has lost in battle in Ukraine is a military secret in Russia, which says it has ramped up tank production.

The London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies think tank said in February that Russia had lost more than 3,000 tanks – the equivalent of its entire pre-war active inventory – but had enough lower-quality armoured vehicles in storage for years of replacements.

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