What's next for Oscar-winning couple Guy Nattiv and Jaime Ray Newman?
Their Academy Award-winning short 'Skin' was actually the basis for their next project.
Israeli director Guy Nattiv and his wife, American actress Jaime Ray Newman, barely slept last night as they celebrated winning their first Academy Award. They received the Oscar for their short film "Skin," a 20-minute elegy about racism in America.
The irony is they made the short film on a lark. They had acquired the rights to tell the true-life story of Bryon Widner, a former tattooed skinhead who later renounced his racist ways and got each of his tattoos removed. Their initial idea was to make a feature-length movie about Widner's life. (MSNBC had aired a documentary about him called "Erasing Hate" in 2011.)
But despite the fact that the 45-year-old Nattiv was well-known in his native Israel, he was still relatively new to the Hollywood scene. Getting such a movie made proved more difficult than Nattiv and Newman thought. So the couple – who together run the New Native Pictures production company – decided to make a shorter version first, which they could then show to film studios in the hopes of getting a deal for the longer version. "In order to make the feature happen, I first needed a proof of concept," Nattiv told From The Grapevine.
Little did they realize just how successful that short film was going to be, giving the charismatic couple not just cinematic capital, but an Oscar win as well. Work on the feature-length version of the film, also called "Skin," took place in New York in 2018. Actors Jamie Bell, Vera Farmiga and Danielle Macdonald from the hit Netflix movie "Dumplin" jumped aboard the project. (Macdonald appears in both the Oscar-winning short and the feature-length version.) Bell packed on 20 pounds for the role and sat through an hour-and-a-half of makeup each day. The 32-year-old British actor, who first delighted audiences in 2000's "Billy Elliot," is virtually unrecognizable.
He talks about the transformation in the video below:
Israeli producer Oren Moverman along with Trudie Styler, Sting's wife, signed on as producers of the movie. "Basically, my producers are really heroes because they have the balls to take on such a hard subject," Nattiv told us. "They championed me and the film."
The feature-length version of "Skin" premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2018, where it won the prestigious Fipresci Prize, an award given by the International Federation of Film Critics. The Hollywood Reporter called Bell's performance "moving" and "powerful." Earlier this month, it screened at the Berlin Film Festival, a premiere that Nattiv and Newman attended amidst the simultaneous hoopla leading up to the Oscars. Film studio A24, which produced last year's Best Picture Oscar winner "Moonlight," picked up distribution rights to the film. The feature-length version of "Skin" is scheduled to arrive in theaters nationwide on July 26, 2019.
"We have a baby 'Skin' and we have a feature 'Skin,'" Nattiv joked.
But Hollywood's new power couple isn't done yet. Later this year, Nattiv hopes to begin production on yet another movie based on a true story. This one will be about the life of his grandmother, a World War II survivor, who ended up as part of a cult in Virginia. "It's about the pursuit of happiness at all costs," he said.
The couple sees a common thread in all their projects. "What you teach your children is going to perpetuate to the next generation," Newman said. "We have a 5-month-old, so we see she's a sponge and everything we do she inherits. The beauty of Guy as a filmmaker is he doesn't pound anything over your head. He's subtle. He says these are the questions – I don't have answers, but these are the questions."
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Related Topics: Movies