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Academy Award winner, Denzel Washington stars as Whip Whitaker, a seasoned airline pilot, who miraculously crash lands his plane after a mid-air catastrophe, saving nearly every soul on board. After the crash, Whip is hailed as a hero, but as more is learned, more questions than answers arise as to who or what was really at fault and what really happened on that plane? 

Also stars: Nadine Velazquez, Don Cheadle, Kelly Reilly, John Goodman, Bruce Greenwood, Melissa Leo, Carter Cabassa, Tamara Tunie. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, screenplay by John Gatins.

“Denzel Washington's performance will be talked about for years." - Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

In 1999, screenwriter John Gatins served as a technical advisor on a "military-themed epic" where he spent much of his time with other technical advisors, mostly naval pilots. They shared "the most insane stories" about what they had to do to land these planes on ships in the roiling seas. For the writer, who harbours a fascination and a fear of flying, these vivid stories set his imagination in motion. The pressure, the exhilaration of accomplishing these mid-air acrobatics – what kind of mindset would they have and how would they find release back in the company of mortals on earth?

"a character study about a guy really struggling with his own demons"

So began a twelve-year odyssey that ultimately brought "Flight" to the screen. The main dramatic conflict explored in "Flight" is Capt. Whip Whitaker's inability to be truthful to himself. He is an expert in denial, even as his personal downward spiral increases exponentially. As Gatins describes it, "'Flight' is a character study about a guy really struggling with his own demons. And what should have been a typical day of work for him becomes a series of unfortunate events that leads to a disastrous occurrence on his plane. From there a larger story unfolds both personally and professionally for him. As that world continues to unfold, we watch the man in the center unravel.

"Part of my own personal life found its way into the fabric of the screenplay. For me it was an exercise examining my own kind of issues and demons that I've had throughout my life and how they relate to this character who has a big event that happens in his life," Gatins says. 

Gatins explains that part of Whip's addiction includes the lies he tells himself and the ones that other people ask him to maintain. His real crucible comes when "…the weight of those lies come to a breaking point where he's going to have to make a decision," Gatins says.

"What really appealed to me,” says director Robert Zemeckis (Real Steel), “was how complex all the characters were – they are all sort of shaded grey. They aren't the typical ‘good guys, bad guys.' Everyone in the film is, to some degree, damaged and that becomes the dramatic engine for the piece," Zemeckis notes.

"the suspense in the movie comes from the uncertainty"

"What's also interesting about it is that the suspense in the movie comes from the uncertainty of what the characters are going to do, how they are going to respond. It's not like there's a ticking bomb or a meteor that is coming to destroy the earth. The anticipation comes from not knowing what the characters are going to do from scene to scene. It's so rare to find a screenplay that has that kind of depth and complexity. That's what compelled me. I wanted to see how this was going to resolve, what would happen to Whip's character."

Contrary to most production schedules, Zemeckis shot the film sequentially so that performances could grow organically, allowing the actors and filmmakers to learn from and expand upon their characters as the film evolved. To help achieve that he invited screenwriter John Gatins to be on set daily throughout the film to consult and enhance the screenplay as changes or revelations occurred.

Founder’s Award – Robert Zemeckis; Chicago International Film Festival
Spotlight Award – Kelly Reilly; Hollywood Film Festival
Spotlight Award – John Goodman; National Board of Review USA
Director of the Year Award – Robert Zemeckis; Palm Springs International Film Festival

Best Actor – Denzel Washington: 2013 Screen Actors Guild
Best Actor – Denzel Washington; 2013 Golden Globes
Best Actor – Denzel Washington; 2013 Broadcast Film Critics Assoc
Best Original Screenplay – John Gatins; 2013 Broadcast Film Critics Assoc
Best Actor – Denzel Washington: 2013 Academy Awards;
Best Original Screenplay – John Gatins; 2013 Academy Awards;

Published January 17, 2013

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Official site: http://www.paramount.com/flight/

In cinemas around Australia from January 31, 2013

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