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Category: Hugo

Ang Lee says his 3-D learning curve on 'Life of Pi' was huge

April 25, 2012 |  7:09 pm

“Life of Pi’s” Pi (played by Suraj Sharma) and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker

LAS VEGAS -- Ang Lee didn't make the decision to film "Life of Pi" in 3-D lightly. For months, he agonized over whether the technology would enhance the story or come across as a gimmick. In the end, it was the number pi that inspired him to make the leap.

Making an expensive 3-D film based on an intellectual, philosophical book required Lee to take "a leap of faith to see the circle that the pi indicates," the filmmaker said at CinemaCon, the theater owners' convention now underway in Las Vegas. On Wednesday, the Oscar-winning director joined Martin Scorsese in conversation, speaking candidly about the future of 3-D and its importance in the industry.

Despite his belief in the format, Lee was open about his struggle to adapt to the technology. While filming "Life of Pi," he said, the 3-D cameras were cumbersome, and he compared working with them to "operating a refrigerator." While directing 17-year-old actor Suraj Sharma, Lee thought he was giving appropriate instructions until he watched the footage in 3-D. "I'd have to go back to him and bring his performance down because it just enhanced it so much more. It's like a new film language," Lee said, describing his learning curve as "humongous."

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Oscar voters: When the motion picture academy is a family affair

February 23, 2012 |  5:01 pm

Jake and maggie
It's been said that couples shouldn't keep any secrets from each other. But there's one thing that motion picture academy members Francesca Loschiavo and her husband Dante Ferretti claim they never discuss: how they're planning to mark their Oscar ballots.

Maintaining their vows of silence must be tough this year: The couple were nominated for their art direction on Martin Scorsese's "Hugo," one of their numerous collaborations over the years in Hollywood and their native Italy.

They do, however, compare notes after the fact.


Oscar voters study"We are independent, not dependent," Ferretti said in an interview. "She will vote for what she likes, I will vote for what I like. Also, I don’t show her my ballots, and she doesn’t show her ballots, and then we discuss afterward, after we close the envelope.” 

Like Ivy League colleges and Appalachian hollers, the academy contains lots of kinfolk. There are extended families like the Gyllenhaals, a clan that includes director Stephen Gyllenhaal; his ex-wife,  screenwriter Naomi Foner; the couple's actor offspring, Jake and Maggie; and Maggie's husband and fellow thespian Peter Sarsgaard.

There are Significant Others and Signficant Ex-es. There are famous power couples (Brad and Angelina, Warren and Annette), and blood-relative craftspersons who are little-known among moviegoers but highly regarded by their peers, such as sibling cinematographers John and Matthew Leonetti.

Actor Lorenzo Lamas became a member of the academy at age 22 after his parents, actors Fernando Lamas and Arlene Dahl, endorsed his invitation. The organization had long been a part of the younger Lamas’ life: As a teenager he attended the Oscars and the Governors Ball with his mother, and often accompanied his father to the academy’s headquarters for official screenings.

“It was like the church of show business to me,” Lamas, 54, recalled. “You walk in and see these 10-foot tall gold Oscar statuettes and the names of these huge movie stars and directors who have made such a mark on this industry over the years. I was proud to walk in there with my dad, who was a member in good standing, and watch him shake people’s hands.”

Brother composers Richard and Robert Sherman, the team behind classic movie hits like "Chim Chim Cher-ee" and "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," were signed by Walt Disney in 1960. By 1963, they'd accumulated enough film credits to earn academy membership.

"It’s a beautiful thing, it’s wonderful, we get to meet a lot of our colleagues," said Richard Sherman, a former member of the academy composers branch's executive committee. On two occasions the brothers also wrote the show-opening song number for the Academy Awards telecast.

As far as Oscar voting, Richard said, the brothers take the approach, "You vote  your way and I'll vote my way."

"A lot of the times we agree and sometimes we don’t," he added, "because that’s what makes life interesting."

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Photo: Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal at the 82nd Academy Awards at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, March 7, 2010. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

 


Oscars 2012: Is this Meryl Streep's best year ever?

February 22, 2012 |  4:57 pm

Meryl Streep in "Iron Lady"

This post has been corrected. See the note below for details.

Several of Hollywood's biggest names — including Meryl Streep, Martin Scorsese, Glenn Close and Woody Allen -- have had a strong year on the 2011-12 awards circuit: But how does this season compare to some of their career high points?

With the Oscars on Sunday poised to add to their already heaping totals, we put the Heat Meter in a time machine and took a look at how this year stacks up to some of these titans' past triumphs.

Meryl Streep
The most-nominated actress in Academy Awards history has had a strong year — stronger, in fact, than 2002, when she gained heat from two films, “Adaptation” and “The Hours," and stronger than 2006, when she played an ice-queen fashion editor in "The Devil Wears Prada." And it's been a better run than her “Bridges of Madison County” year of 1995.

Streep has 127 Heat Meter points so far this season for her turn as Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady.” If she notches a best actress win Sunday, she'll top her previous hottest year -- 1982, when she won an Oscar for “Sophie's Choice.”

1982 “Sophie's Choice”: 195
1979  "The Deer Hunter": 150
2011* “The Iron Lady”: 127
2002 “Adaptation,” “The Hours": 88
2006 "The Devil Wears Prada": 80
1995 “The Bridges of Madison County”: 44

Glenn Close
With turns in movies such as “Fatal Attraction” and “Dangerous Liaisons,” Close had some very strong years in the 1980s. But her gender-bending role as “Albert Nobbs” in 2011, for which she's racked up 44 points, bests them all. Even if she walks out of the awards venue with her arms empty, Close will still have topped her bunny-boiling year of 1987, when she of course played a vengeful mistress in “Fatal Attraction.”

2011* "Albert Nobbs”: 44
1987 “Fatal Attraction”: 32
1988 “Dangerous Liaisons”: 20
1984 “The Natural”: 12

Woody Allen
Woody had one of the best years in awards history in 1977, when he was nominated for a rare Oscar trifecta of best writer, director and actor for “Annie Hall” (he won for director and writer). The whopping 375 points he gathered throughout that season are one of the all-time best for any filmmaker. Can he get close this year? Not quite. But the 138 points the Woodster has garnered so far as a writer-director on “Midnight in Paris” is still pretty strong. He can add to that with wins on Sunday.

1977 “Annie Hall”: 375
1986 “Hannah and her Sisters”: 177
2011* “Midnight in Paris”: 138
1994 "Bullets Over Broadway": 34

Martin Scorsese
If you're the much-acclaimed, often Oscar-deprived Martin Scorsese, perhaps no year will compare to 2006, when “The Departed” won you your first golden statuette. The crime auteur scored a killer 275 Heat Meter points that year. Only a Marty party — that is, best picture and best director wins -- on Sunday will allow him to top that.

But the filmmaker has still had a year to remember — according to Heat Meter, 2011 is already better for Scorsese than 1990, when “Goodfellas” came out, and his landmark year of 1976, when “Taxi Driver” was released.

2006 “The Departed”: 275
2011* “Hugo”: 146
1976 “Taxi Driver”: 136
1990 “Goodfellas”: 130

*Not counting this year's Oscars

[For the Record, 8:29 a.m., Feb. 23: An earlier version of this post stated that Woody Allen won an Oscar in 1978 for best actor. He was nominated for the award but did not win.]

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http://twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Meryl Streep in "The Iron Lady." Credit: The Weinstein Company


Oscars 2012: Sacha Baron Cohen not barred — yet

February 22, 2012 |  4:52 pm

Sacha Baron Cohen in "Hugo"

Sacha Baron Cohen, the master of buffoon antics, seems to do a good job of stirring up publicity for his upcoming film "The Dictator," using the Oscars as a peg.

Not that "The Dictator" is a likely nominee for the 2013 awards. But Cohen, who did appear in this year's best picture nominee "Hugo," had been expected to attend the show Sunday as part of that film's contingent.

Word started going around Tuesday, though, that Cohen would walk the red carpet disguised as General Aladeen, his character from "The Dictator."

While red-carpet reporters are always keen to ask stars about their upcoming projects, the academy frowns on the idea of promoting future movies during the Oscars; for instance, presenters of awards are never introduced as "star of the upcoming film.... "

Academy of Motion Pictures President Tom Sherak told The Times that he called Paramount Pictures, the studio distributing "The Dictator" (as well as "Hugo"), and told them "it's a bad thing to do" because it would make a mockery of the red carpet.

Paramount representatives declined to comment on the matter. But sources suggested that the studio may be claiming it is unable to control the star of its big summer release, in which Cohen plays a political strongman working to ensure that democracy never comes to his oppressed nation.

Reports circulated Wednesday afternoon that the academy had pulled Cohen's tickets for the Oscars, but an academy spokeswoman said no decision on the matter had been made and they were trying to learn more about Cohen's intentions.

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Photo: Asa Butterfield plays Hugo Cabret and Sacha Baron Cohen portrays the station inspector in the movie "Hugo."  Credit: Jaap Buitendijk / Paramount Pictures


'Hugo' wins top honors at the Cinema Audio Society Awards

February 19, 2012 | 12:32 pm

Hugo

The sound mixing team for "Hugo," Martin Scorsese's family-friendly film about early cinema, won the top prize Saturday evening at the 48th annual Cinema Audio Society Awards ceremony at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

The "Hugo" mixing team consisted of production mixer John Midgley, re-recording mixer Tom Fleischman and scoring mixer Simon Rhodes.

"Hugo" is nominated for 11 Oscars, the most of any film this year.

In television, the sound mixing team on "Too Big to Fail" won for outstanding achievement in sound mixing for a television movie or miniseries. Outstanding achievement in sound mixing for a television series went to "Boardwalk Empire." Outstanding achievement in sound mixing for television nonfiction, variety or music series or specials went to "Deadliest Catch: New Blood."

Technical achievement awards went to Zaxcom Nomad Production in the production category and Avid Pro Tools 10 for post-production.

Scott Millan received a career achievement award, and director Rob Marshall earned the CAS Filmmaker Award.

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Photo: Chloë Grace Moretz, left, and Asa Butterfield in "Hugo." Credit: Paramount Pictures


'The Artist' stars and other Oscar nominees set for Santa Barbara film fest Saturday

February 2, 2012 | 11:56 am

The Artist

Among the many events for Oscar nominees to attend as awards season heats up is the 27th Santa Barbara International Film Festival, which this weekend will feature panels with filmmakers including “The Artist” director Michel Hazanavicius and “Bridesmaids” director Paul Feig.

The festival, which kicked off Jan. 26, wraps Sunday after a weekend of multiple panels and final screenings. Among the films still screening are the Adrien Brody-starrer Detachment and the documentary Nothing Like Chocolate,” which received a standing ovation at its premiere last weekend.

Sharing the stage with Hazanavicius and Feig at the directors panel at 11 a.m. Saturday are five other directors who also helmed Oscar-nominated films, including “Rango” director Gore Verbinski and "Hotel Rwanda" director Terry George, nominated this year for his short film, "The Shore."

Los Angeles Times columnist Patrick Goldstein will moderate the Movers & Shakers panel at 2 p.m. Saturday for a Q&A with six filmmakers behind some of this year’s Oscar best picture nominees, including “The Descendants” producer Jim Burke and “Hugo” producer Graham King.

SBIFF also presented awards to Viola Davis, Christopher Plummer and Martin Scorsese. On Saturday, "The Artist" stars Bérénice Bejo and Jean Dujardin will receive the festival's Cinema Vanguard Award.

Festival tickets and schedule are available at Sbiff.org.

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Photo: "The Artist" director Michel Hazanavicius (left) will participate on SBIFF's directors panel Saturday. The film's stars, Bérénice Bejo (center) and Jean Dujardin (right), will receive the festival's Cinema Vanguard Award that evening. Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times.


Exclusive: 'Hugo' hound headed to Golden Collar Awards

January 30, 2012 |  4:58 pm

Blackie the Doberman

In a move sure to send shockwaves through Hollywood and cause many to reevaluate their awards-season predictions, Alan Siskind, head of the Golden Collar Awards, told The Times today that Blackie, the canine star of Martin Scorsese's "Hugo," will be granted a late-breaking nomination for best dog in a theatrical film after a massive write-in campaign.

The groundswell of support was sparked by Scorsese's recent op-ed in The Times, in which the director of such iconic films as "Raging Bull" and "Goodfellas" admitted to feeling "severely slighted" when Blackie was not initially nominated. Calling the sleek, imposing Doberman an antihero, Scorsese wrote, "I'm proud of Blackie, who laid it on the line and dared to risk the sympathy of her audience. Let's just say that on the set, she had a fitting nickname: Citizen Canine."

Scorsese's call to action prompted Dog News Daily, the organizer of the awards, to promise Blackie a spot as a sixth nominee if the pooch garnered 500 write-ins on Facebook, a milestone achieved Monday morning.

"Due to the outpouring of love and support from around the world from fans of Mr. Scorsese, his film 'Hugo,' and its canine star Blackie, the write-in campaign … for Blackie has been successful," Siskind said in a prepared statement.

Blackie's nomination pits her squarely against Uggie, the winsome Jack Russell terrier nominated for roles both in "The Artist" and "Water for Elephants" and widely considered the frontrunner. The other nominees are Cosmo from "Beginners," Denver from "50/50" and Hummer from "Young Adult." The winners will be announced Feb. 13.

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Photo: Sacha Baron Cohen and Blackie the Doberman in "Hugo." Credit: Jaap Buitendijk / Paramount Pictures.


DGA names 'The Artist's' Michel Hazanavicius best director

January 28, 2012 | 11:17 pm

Scorsese payne hazanavicius fincher dga

This post has been corrected. See the note below for details.

The Directors Guild of America on Saturday evening named Michel Hazanavicius best film director of 2011 for “The Artist,” the nostalgic black-and-white, nearly silent movie that hearkens back to the time of transition in Hollywood from silents to talkies. It is the first guild win for the 44-year-old French filmmaker.

"It's maybe the highest recognition I could hope. I really love directors, I over-respect directors. This is very moving and touching to me," he said, receiving a standing ovation. "Best director -- I really don't know what that means. All movies are different, so it's a strange thing to try to compare them and say which is best, but I'm very happy to get this. Thank you."

The other nominees were Martin Scorsese ("Hugo"), Woody Allen ("Midnight in Paris"), David Fincher ("The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo") and Alexander Payne ("The Descendants").

PHOTOS: Directors Guild of America Awards

The DGA feature film awards are considered one of the most dependable bellwethers for the Academy Awards for best director. Over the past 63 years, the DGA and academy have disagreed on their choices only six times. The last time was nine years ago when Rob Marshall won the DGA award for “Chicago” and Roman Polanski was named best director by the academy for “The Pianist.”

Hazanavicius had already been named best director by the New York Film Critics Circle and the Critics Choice Movie Awards. He was in contention for a Golden Globe and is nominated for a BAFTA and Independent Spirit Award for best director.

Last week, “The Artist” won the Producers Guild of America award, which is one of the indicators for the best film Oscar. On Tuesday, “The Artist” earned 10 Oscar nominations, one less than the top nominee “Hugo.” Hazanavicius is up for three of those Oscars for director, screenplay and editing.

The 64th annual DGA Awards were held at the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood and Highland. Recent Golden Globe winner Kelsey Grammer was the host of the evening, succeeding Carl Reiner, who had become an institution at the event, hosting 24 times. Reiner agreed to host for a final time at the 2011 ceremony.

"Welcome to what will be a glorious night....for some of you. Last year we celebrated the DGA awards of biblical length -- it was so long, the Mayans could not predict an end," he said. "The director's cut was two hours shorter. Even James Cameron said, 'it was too long.'"

Before being named the night's big winner, Hazanavicius was presented with his nominee medallion by his two stars, Berenice Bejo and Jean Dujardin. Upon taking it, he said: "It's a thrill to be here and to be among these wonderful directors. I'm honored," he said in accepting the medallion. "Maybe you haven't noticed but I'm French. I have an accent and I have a name that is very difficult to pronounce. I'm not American and I'm not French, actually. I'm a filmmaker. And I made a film about my love for Hollywood. We create stories that tell people they are not alone. We separate life from shadows. Hollywood helped me grow up. I believed in values like courage, perseverance and integrity."

"I made this film as a love letter to Hollywood. I feel like I am being accepted by you -- not you as Americans but as filmmakers. So thank you." And he added:  "For my wife Berenice, I'm so glad we shared this together and I love you."

The guild gave James Marsh the award for feature documentary for "Project Nim."

The DGA award for best directing in a TV comedy series went to Robert B. Weide, "Curb Your Enthusiasm" ("Palestinian Chicken").

In accepting, Weide said: "I have very mixed feelings about this because this means that I just lost a $300 bet to my wife, Linda. Why do they call this a medallion? It's a plate. I understand when you go to Don Mischer's house for dinner, you actually eat off of these."

Other awards handed out Saturday night:

Movies for Television and Mini-series: Jon Cassar, "The Kennedys"

Dramatic TV series: Patty Jenkins, for the pilot of "The Killing"

Musical variety TV: Glenn Weiss, for the 65th annual Tony Awards 

Reality TV programs: Neil P. Degroot, for "Biggest Loser"

Daytime TV serials: William Ludell, for "General Hospital" ("Intervention")

Children’s programs: Amy Schatz, for "A Child's Garden of Poetry" 

Commercials: Noam Murro

Three special awards were also presented. Ed Sherin was named an Honorary Life Member; Katy Garretson received the Frank Capra Achievement Award; and Dennis Mazzocco recieved the Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award.

[For the record, 5:30 p.m. Jan. 29: A previous version of this post misspelled the last name of "Project Nim" director James Marsh as March.]

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Photo: Directors Martin Scorsese, Alexander Payne, Michel Hazanavicius and David Fincher attend the 64th Annual Directors Guild Of America Awards Meet the Nominees Breakfast held at the DGA on Saturday.Credit: Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for DGA 

  


Oscars 2012: 'Hugo' editor Thelma Schoonmaker on kids, dogs and 3-D

January 24, 2012 |  1:17 pm

Click for photos of reactions from the top nominees

This post has been corrected. See the note below for details.

Martin Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker's professional relationship dates back to at least 1970, and the veteran editor has racked up plenty of acclaim over those decades of working with the venerable filmmaker, among many other directors. On Tuesday, she picked up her fourth Oscar nomination in 10 years and her seventh Academy Award nomination overall for film editing for Scorsese's 3-D family film "Hugo," which led the field with 11 nods. 

"It’s so wonderful," Schoonmaker said. "I was hearing it on the radio that 'Hugo' won 11 nominations. I was in bed … it was like 7:30 a.m., and I heard about the 11. I think the love for this film is very intense. It’s the most [nominations] we've ever gotten, Scorsese and the whole crew. We’re going to have a great celebration."

Presenting the 1930s-set tale in an additional dimension presented some additional challenges for the crew, Schoonmaker, 72, said, though those hurdles didn't necessarily carry over into the edit bay. "Overall, it was a big challenge: the 3-D, the children, dogs. But it was a particularly joyous film to work on .... It was very complicated, technically, but the editing was surprisingly not difficult. We didn’t encounter the problems you hear about with 3-D -– I think it was very well thought out on set by Martin."

PHOTOS: Oscar nominees react

She said Scorsese's long-held passion for 3-D films served the production. “Marty has always loved 3-D, movies like 'Dial M for Murder' and 'House of Wax.' We were worried about editing in 3-D, frankly, but all the caveats -- like you can’t cut from a wide shot to a close shot because people will get sick -- didn’t happen. And we were able to put our glasses on and edit in 3-D (because of a new technology). Most people can’t do that -- they have to edit in 2D.”

Schoonmaker said she has been thrilled by the reception the movie has received from critics and audiences: "When we first started showing the movie, we thought kids would be throwing popcorn and texting each other, but they’ve been riveted."

She is unhappy, however, that none of the actors from the film -- the cast includes Asa Butterfield, Chloe Moretz and Ben Kingsley as a toy seller who turns out to be cinema pioneer Georges Melies,  among others -- were nominated. "I’m a little disappointed because I thought they were wonderful," Schoonmaker said. "The emotion between Melies and a little boy is so wonderful. I’m a little sad, but you can’t have everything."

"The film is a distillation of all the work Scorsese has done over the years, to bring other artists the world has forgotten back to the world," Schoonmaker said. "And that’s what we’d like to get across. How important the history of film is to see and enjoy."

The following video is from the Envelope Directors Roundtable. Here, filmmakers Stephen Daldry ("Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"), Martin Scorsese ("Hugo"), Alexander Payne ("The Descendants"), Michel Hazanavicius ("The Artist") and George Clooney ("The Ides of March") spoke to The Times' John Horn about some of the unique challenges of working with kids and dogs.

 

For the record, 1:47 p.m. Jan. 24: The headline on an earlier version of this post misspelled Thelma Schoonmaker's last name as Schoomaker.

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Photo: Martin Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker on the set of "Hugo" Credit: Paramount Pictures


Oscars 2012: 'Hugo' composer Howard Shore on Scorsese collaboration

January 24, 2012 | 12:43 pm

Howard Shore

Some things never get old. Just ask composer Howard Shore, who woke to a phone call very early Tuesday  morning in Hawaii and learned he had earned his fourth Academy Award nomination. "It's always thrilling," Howard said of being nominated, this time for his original score for Martin Scorsese's "Hugo."

The film, about an orphan living in a train station in 1930s Paris, leads the Oscar pack with 11 nominations, and it marks Shore's sixth film with Scorsese. "It's a wonderful collaboration," Howard said of working with the director. "I think [Scorsese] works with music the way he works with all his other collaborators: I think he casts well, and then he shapes and guides and inspires."

In writing the music for "Hugo," Shore drew inspiration from the film's time and setting, 1930s Paris. "It's a very rich period of music," Shore said. "It's the exuberance and the thrill of making movies in this early period with this new technology. … It's a very rich world to write in and compose in, and it's very inspiring to me."

PHOTOS: Oscar nominees react

For Shore, the Academy Awards themselves also represent an opportunity to celebrate the history of filmmaking. "I love the show when it's elegant and shows what's great about films, and [when it] sets our work into the historical period of filmmaking," Shore said. "I think once a year it's good to look back at the history of Oscar and to embrace the great work that everybody's done this year and set it in place to the great work that's gone on before us."

After his layover in Hawaii, Shore is headed to New Zealand, where he is working on "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" with director Peter Jackson. The duo certainly has had a good run at Oscar together. Shore's won the Academy Award all three previous times he's been nominated -- for his original score for Jackson's 2001 film "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring," the original score for Jackson's 2003 feature "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" and for "Into the West," an original song he wrote with Fran Walsh and Annie Lennox for that film.

The following video is from the Envelope Directors Roundtable. Here, filmmakers Alexander Payne ("The Descendants"), Stephen Daldry ("Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"), Martin Scorsese ("Hugo"), George Clooney ("The Ides of March") and Michel Hazanavicius ("The Artist") shared some of their setbacks and off days with Times film reporter John Horn.

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— Oliver Gettell

Photo: Composer Howard Shore in 2001. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times


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