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11 February 2001

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  • Andersson's Songs reigns at Swedish film awards

    Roy Andersson's long-awaited return to feature films, Songs From The Second Floor (Sanger Fran Andra Vaningen), swept all the major awards at the Swedish film awards, the Guldbagga, which took place in Stockholm on Monday night. The critically-acclaimed film, which took a jury prize at Cannes last year, won in all the categories it was nominated in, including best film, best direction and script for Roy Andersson and best cinematography for Istvan Borbas and Jesper Klevenas.
  • Argentine production to receive tax boost

    Argentina is poised to introduce a new law which will create tax shelters for companies investing in cinema and other cultural endeavors, along the same lines as the Brazilian model. The so-called Ley de Mecenazgo (Sponsorship Law) will be put forward in March for final deliberations by the government.Under the draft proposal, spearheaded by parliamentary deputy Silvia Vazquez, private companies will be able to invest as much as 3% of their taxes in film production. Among the fi
  • Battle Royale

    Screened at Rotterdam (main programme). Dir: Kinji Fukasaku. Japan. 2000. 113mins.With its story of teenagers killing each other in a government-sponsored murder game, Battle Royale generated an unprecedented brouhaha following its December release in Japan, with members of parliament and even the minister of education decrying its ultra-violence as a bad influence on youth. To the surprise of absolutely no one in the business, youth lined up at the box office and turned the
  • Bavaria, Moviefan swoop on Angel projects

    Two projects from Danish producer-distributor Angel Films have been picked up for worldwide sales in the market at Berlin - Laila The Pure, directed by Gabriel Axel (Babette's Feast), which has been bought by Moviefan, and Hella Joof's Shake It All About, which has gone to Bavaria Media. Laila, a French-language production narrated by France's Michel Bouquet, tells the story of two young people who meet in Morocco's Atlas Mountains. It is produced by Ulrich
  • Bench takes top honours at Danish film awards

    Per Fly's intense and realistic drama The Bench won five awards including best film, best director and best actor (Jesper Christensen) at the Danish Film Academy's Robert awards on Sunday night.The Zentropa-produced title also won awards for best costume and best make-up. After an unprecedented number of nominations, Zentropa titles bagged all but two of the 15 awards handed out by the Academy. The company's Palme d'Or-winning Dancer In The Dark, directed by Lars von Trie
  • Brotherhood is a hit but no record breaker

    The Brotherhood Of Wolves, backed by StudioCanal, has attracted a strong 1.5 million admissions in its first five days in France, but the $29m (FFr200m) title has yet to top records set by other domestic films such as Taxi 2 and Asterix Et Obelix Contre Cesar.The Christophe Gans-directed title, which stars Samuel Le Bihan, Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci, bolted out of the starting blocks on January 31, topping the French charts with 301,694 admissions on its op
  • BSkyB reports loss; breaks 5m subscribers mark

    UK satellite broadcaster BSkyB has reported first-half pre-tax losses of $163.4m (£112m), compared to $89.7m (£61.5m) the previous year, but has also smashed its own target to sign five million subscribers by the end of 2000.As of December 31, the company said it had amassed 5,051,000 direct-to-home subscribers, a tally which had grown to 5.25 million by February 6, 2001. First-half turnover was up 28% to $1.585m (£1.086bn) during the period, but operating costs also increased 2
  • Daldry, Ramsay join FilmFour's literary slate

    The UK's FilmFour is lining up several high-profile book adaptations as part of its 2001 development slate, including projects with hot UK talents Stephen Daldry, Lynne Ramsay, Jonathan Glazer and Peter Cattaneo. Cattaneo, the director of The Full Monty, who is currently in post-production for FilmFour on Lucky Break, is set to direct Pobby And Dingam, from a novel by Ben Rice. Set in a small Australian opal-mining town, the film tells the story of a young girl who
  • Danish Film Institute dips into the mainstream

    Denmark's main public funding body, the Danish Film Institute (DFI), is moving towards commercially-driven fare in its latest funding round by awarding $1.89m (DKr15m) to three mainstream, family-oriented films.Danish national broadcaster TV2 is also co-financing the projects. "We need films which can draw a lot of people to create a solid foundation for Danish film," commented the DFI's outgoing area manager for production and development, Thomas Stenderup. "It's also very positive th
  • Das Werk launches Spanish production-sales outfit

    German facilities giant Das Werk has launched a new production and sales company in Spain under the name 42nd Street Productions.Headed by CEO Thomas Spieker, the new company will invest some $200m in film and television production through 2005 with five-year plans encompassing nearly a dozen feature films developed in-house, close to 50 Spanish co-productions and as many as 23 international co-productions. A variety of TV movies, sitcoms, drama series and entertainment programs are al
  • DCPF joins Media Programme in German Equinoxe

    Columbia TriStar's German production arm, Deutsche Columbia Pictures Filmproduktion (DCPF), is setting up a German outpost of the French scriptwriting workshop Equinoxe which has supported 150 screenplays since its inception in 1993.Equinoxe Germany is being established by DCPF executive Ellen Winn Wendl, producer Huelya Sancar and lawyer Martin Heller. Sancar will serve as its manager."The aim of Equinoxe Germany is to bring independent German authors, directors and producers t
  • E-M-S, Sunfilm strike video distribution pact

    German video and DVD company E-M-S New Media has forged a distribution partnership with Munich-based video distributor Sunfilm.Under the terms of the agreement, Sunfilm will handle distribution of E-M-S video and DVD titles in the rental market, while E-M-S will do the same for Sunfilm titles in the sell-through sector. "The rental business is a very personal one and Sunfilm has exactly the right contacts for this," explained E-M-S distribution chief Peter Riedel.
  • Euro quartet team up for feature-length docs

    Tapping into the growing demand for feature-length documentaries, four European producers have launched a joint venture to produce a slate of creative docs.The quartet is made up of Fabienne Servan-Schreiber of France's Cineteve, Domenico Procacci of Italy's Fandango, Karl "Baumi" Baumgartner of Germany's Pandora and Rosa Bosch of UK-Mexican production and sales outfit Tequila Gang."The idea is to treat documentaries as seriously as feature films and to get them into theatrical
  • Feilberg takes post at Danish Film Institute

    The board of the Danish Film Institute has appointed Lars Feilberg as area manager for production and development, replacing Thomas Stenderup, effective from April. Feilberg has previously held positions as managing director of Domino Film & TV Produktion, MTV Produktion and Endemol Entertainment. He was also a project manager and consultant for Metronome Film & Television in Stockholm.
  • Film Council's Premiere Fund to park with Altman

    UK film superbody the Film Council is close to investing in iconic US indie film-maker Robert Altman's UK-set satire Gosford Park which will be distributed domestically by USA Films and internationally by Capitol Films.The body is negotiating to board the 1930s-set satire, for which Altman aims to secure an ensemble cast of leading local talent including Jude Law, Kristin Scott Thomas and Emily Watson. The move would make the high-profile UK-US collaboration one of the first gr
  • FilmFour to lie within Channel 4 commercial arm

    UK features operation FilmFour is to be spun off from parent broadcaster Channel 4 into a new company, 4 Ventures Limited.Channel 4 confirmed in a statement on Monday that the new holding company would include the film production, distribution and sales subsidiary alongside the channel's commercial ventures such as pay-TV services FilmFour and E4. The company encompasses Channel 4's new media activities and will have its own managing director.The restructuring, to kick in this y
  • Fukasaku to flesh out Battle Royale

    Japanese director Kinji Fukasaku is preparing a director's cut of his controversial gore fest, Battle Royale, which should enable its target audience of under 16-year-olds to see the film for the first time in Japan.The dark, futuristic thriller, about a group of 15-year-olds on a desert island who are picked off one by one, has not only been lambasted by members of the Japanese Parliament and the minister of education for its ultra-violence, but slapped with an R-15 rating by t
  • Germany's Box! unwraps trio of deals

    Berlin-based production outfit Box! Filmproduktion has struck output deals with theatrical distributor Tobis StudioCanal and Bavaria Media, and is to become a production partner of media venture capital company Producers' AG. The deal with Tobis StudioCanal(TSC), which co-produced and distributed Box!'s first feature Edward Berger's Female2 Seeks Happyend, initially spans two years to co-develop German-language projects for co-production and distribution. In addition, TSC has t
  • Gladiator DVD hit by documentary gaffe

    DreamWorks and Universal have been forced to re-work future DVDs of Ridley Scott's Gladiator following complaints in the UK that an additional documentary on the disc carried an image of the Hillsborough football tragedy.Controversy erupted after the Roman epic was nominated for 15 film awards - the most for any one film - from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta). The academy received complaints that an image of the 1989 soccer disaster, where 96 supporters w
  • GMI to sell Ed Burns' next film Ash Wednesday

    Good Machine International (GMI) has acquired international rights to Ash Wednesday, the fifth film to be directed by Edward Burns. Burns has written, will direct and star in and co-produce the film with Margot Bridger, producer on his last film Sidewalks Of New York.Set in 1983 New York, Ash Wednesday is a thriller about two brothers trying to escape from their past. Burns plays Francis Sullivan, who after faking the death of his younger brother to save him from
  • Hannibal cannibalises US box office with $58m

    It was a sensational weekend for Hannibal Lecter at the North American box office. The long-awaited sequel to 1991 classic The Silence Of The Lambs mesmerised the country with an estimated $58m opening weekend gross, giving director Ridley Scott another megahit after last year's Gladiator and MGM, which has domestic rights, its biggest opening ever and its first blockbuster since The World Is Not Enough in Nov 1999.It's the third biggest opening in film history af
  • Head Over Heels

    Dir: Mark Waters. US. 2000. 110 mins. There's more than a little of There's Something About Mary (and a self-conscious touch of Alfred Hitchcock) in Head Over Heels, a bouncy but messy romantic comedy/thriller that pools the off-screen talents of Adam Sandler's regular producer Robert Simmonds, House Of Yes director Mark Waters and - though they only get story and executive producer credits here - Mary co-screenwriters Ed Decter and John Strauss. Besides
  • India's Toonz lines up Taj Mahal animation

    India's Toonz Animation is producing a 70-minute animated feature, aimed at international audiences, based on the tragic love story between Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal. The Shah built the Taj Mahal when Mumtaz died.Canada-based animator Ishu Patel will oversee the project, which according to Toonz president and CEO Bill Dennis "could reach a worldwide audience in two to three years".Toonz, run by a group of former Disney and Turner executives, is also working on project
  • Italy's Buskin Film acquires Mother Viper

    Rome-based sales outfit Buskin Film has picked up worldwide rights to Mother Viper, an English-language World War II drama which is written and composed by the award-winning Life Is Beautiful team.Directed by Italy's Sergio Citti, Mother Viper is about a woman's betrayal of her young daughter and her husband, played by Harvey Keitel. Veteran Italian actor Giancarlo Giannini, Larissa Volpentesta and Elide Melli also star. The film's above-the-line credits inc
  • Jane Startz signs first-look deal with Miramax

    Producer Jane Startz has signed a first-look production deal with Miramax Films which will allow her to bring projects to the company to produce as well as serving as a consultant on various family entertainment projects.Startz, who previously produced The Mighty for Miramax, is currently producing Ella Enchanted, a film of Gail Carson Levine's novel for the studio. She has also optioned Carson Levine's novel The Two Princesses Of Bamarre and Scott Russell Sander'
  • John Burnham moves to ICM from William Morris

    John Burnham, one of the most senior talent agents in Hollywood, has left the William Morris Agency (WMA) to become head of the motion picture department at International Creative Management (ICM).He is known to have clashed with WMA's new chairman Jim Wiatt, who himself defected from ICM last year. Burnham began his industry career at ICM in 1981, so his new position marks a return to the agency. The announcement was made by Ed Limato and Nancy Josephson, co-presidents of ICM.
  • KC Medien boards StudioCanal's Ginostra

    Germany's KC Medien will co-finance French director Manuel Pradal's Ginostra, currently shooting in Italy with Harvey Keitel and Andie McDowell in the leads, as part of its informal producing partnership with France's StudioCanal.The film, produced by Jean-Francois Fonlupt's Emotion Pictures and also backed by France 2 Cinema, is an English-language drama about a couple attempting to protect a teenager from the Mafia. Fonlupt is executive producing. Francesca Neri and Asia Argen
  • Kevin Bacon joins Canton/Senator's 24 Hours

    Kevin Bacon has signed star alongside Charlize Theron and Courtney Love in Luis Mandoki's latest picture 24 Hours which is being produced by The Canton Company, Mandolin Entertainment and Propaganda Films.A thriller about a family in jeopardy, the film is produced by Mimi Polk Gitlin and Mandoki and executive produced by Mark Canton, Hanno Huth, Glen Ballard and Rick Hess. Ballard will also produce and create the film's soundtrack.Nathan Kahane will oversee the project
  • Leading German producers form lobby group

    Constantin Film's Bernd Eichinger, Kinowelt's Rainer Koelmel and Road Movies' Uli Felsberg are among 16 leading German film and TV producers banding together to form a producers lobby group.Dubbed FILM 20, the group will focus on representing the film and TV production sector when dealing with broadcasters, public funding bodies, politicians and legislators. It also aims to support young producers.The move is to be unveiled on Sunday at the Berlin International Film Festival. In
  • Lions Gate buys US theatrical rights to Liam

    Lions Gate Releasing has acquired US theatrical distribution rights to Stephen Frears' drama Liam, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival last year. Starring Ian Hart, Claire Hackett, Anne Reid and introducing Anthony Burrows, the film is set in the Irish Catholic quarter of Liverpool in the 1930s and examines the fall into poverty of a family through the eyes of the seven year-old son Liam.The deal was struck between Lions Gate Releasing co-president Tom Ortenberg and Ali
  • Liv Ullmann to replace Jodie Foster at Cannes

    Norwegian actress and director Liv Ullmann will head the jury of the 2001 Cannes film festival, replacing Jodie Foster who pulled out to take the lead role in David Fincher's The Panic Room."I am both honoured and deeply appreciative that I am now given the pleasure of being the president of the jury of the Cannes Film Festival and to work with what I enjoy the most: watching movies," Ullmann said in a statement issued by festival president Gilles Jacob. "For me, movies can be t
  • London's Electric Cinema set to reopen

    The Electric Cinema, one of London's most celebrated theatres, is to reopen on February 21 after a seven-year hiatus with a charity gala screening of Stephen Frears' Liam.The cinema's initial programme also includes screenings of Marc Singer's acclaimed documentary Dark Days, a re-release of The Beatles' A Hard Day's Night, and a screening of Japanese shocker Audition with director Takashi Miike present.The Grade 2-listed cinema was built in 1910 as a
  • Malaga fest to launch documentary market

    The Spanish Film Festival of Malaga plans to inaugurate a sales office and documentary film market at this year's fourth edition (June 1-9).The sales office will be open free of charge to films participating in any of the sections of the festival, which include the official competition, a short film sidebar, a tribute and a retrospective.The market, dubbed MercaDOC, also invites participation from producers, distributors and potential buyers of documentaries produced in Spain or
  • Manager John Carrabino joins Catch 23

    Catch 23 Entertainment, the newly formed LA production outfit formed by financier and philanthropist Robert B Sturm, has hired talent manager John Carrabino as executive vice president of Catch 23's as yet unnamed talent management division.In his new position, he will help build and oversee the division which plans to hire additional literary and talent managers as well as to acquire or to ally itself with established management companies in the US and UK. The announcement was made b
  • Media Park to co-produce Risi's Three Wives

    Spanish content broker and producer Media Park has boarded its third feature film, Three Wives (Tres Esposas) from Italian director Marco Risi.Wives follows Media Park's first two forays into feature films: Mi Dulce, a co-production with Tusitala starring Aitana Sanchez-Gijon and now in post-production; and Universal Pictures Spain's Km. O, to which Media Park took pay-TV rights as associate producer.Wives stars popular actresses Silke (Eart
  • Miramax boards Le Gout Des Autres at last minute

    With insiders saying that is a shoo-in for an Oscar nomination, Miramax Films has partnered on the domestic release of Agnes Jaoui's critically acclaimed Le Gout Des Autres (The Taste Of Others) with Offline Releasing. The announcement comes on the eve of the movie's release this Friday (Feb 9); the Oscar nominations are announced next Tuesday (Feb 13).As well as being France's foreign language film Academy submission, the film is winner of nine Cesar nominations, the wi
  • Miramax snaps up Italian For Beginners

    Miramax has acquired Lone Scherfig's dogme title Italian For Beginners, one of the hottest titles in the main competition at the Berlin Film Festival since its screening on Friday, for release in the US, Mexico and English-speaking Canada. Miramax is understood to have paid $600,000 for the romantic comedy, beating off several other buyers including USA Films. The Berlin festival has proved a fertile platform for dogme titles in previous years. In 1999, the third dogme film,
  • Moonstone backs new Mike Figgis four-frame pic

    Mike Figgis has started shooting The Hotel, his second digital video production which will feature four frames of simultaneous onscreen action, with financing from Etchie Stroh's Moonstone Entertainment.Shooting started on Monday in Venice of the movie, a dark comedy which looks at the goings-on in a Venetian hotel and follows interweaving stories of political intrigue, assassination, prostitution, the maid service and a visiting film production.The Hotel follows Tim
  • Mortal Transfer

    Screened at Berlin (Panorama). Dir: Jean-Jacques Beineix. France-Germany. 2000. 122mins.Marking Jean-Jacques Beineix's return to theatrical features after an eight-year absence, Mortal Transfer is a disappointingly minor excursion into black comedy-cum-psycho-thriller territory. Taken at its most undemanding level of entertainment, the film's macabre farce and its cast of eccentrics are mildly amusing, but Beineix is unable to fuse the story's psychoanalytical trappings and t
  • Murath, Brunckhorst share German Script Prize

    Two scripts - Clemens Murath's Schatten Des Jaguar and Natja Brunckhorst's Wie Feuer Und Flamme - were awarded this year's German Script Prize, worth a total $47,000 (DM100,000), by Germany's state minister for culture Julian Nida-Ruemelin.Murath's thriller is to be made as a European co-production, with Filmline's Arno Ortmair producing and the UK's Jon Blair directing, at the end of 2001. Actress-writer Brunckhorst's project, an East-West love story set in Berlin in t
  • Murdoch 'close' to $70bn merger with DirecTV

    Rupert Murdoch could soon emerge as chairman and largest single shareholder of the world's first truly global satellite TV empire under the terms of a tentative $70bn merger that would reportedly knit together his existing necklace of international satellite operations with those of US-based DirecTV.According to reports in both this morning's Financial Times and Wall Street Journal, talks have now intensified on a complex merger proposal that would also bring in two media
  • My First Mister

    Screened at Sundance (Opening night premiere). Dir: Christine Lahti. US. 2001. 109mins.My First Mister, actress Christine Lahti's feature directorial debut, is a decent, mildly-engaging melodrama about the unlikely bond that develops between a rebellious high-school graduate and a sensitive, dying older man. Strong acting by both the up-and-coming Leelee Sobieski and veteran Albert Brooks, and some comic and emotional touches, make this sappy film more enjoyable than it has a
  • Norway lifts ban on Oshima classic

    Norway's recently established Board of Film Classification Appeals, Filmklagenemnda, has lifted the ban on local commercial exhibition of Japanese director Nagisa Oshima's erotic classic In The Realm Of The Senses.The board granted the 1976 film a commercial exhibition permit, citing its artistic qualities as the reason for lifting the ban. Oshima's film has previously screened only in non-commercial, membership-only film societies or theatres in Norway. Distributor Artha
  • Phoenix joins Danes in Vinterberg's Love

    As expected, Gladiator star Joaquin Phoenix has signed to play the male lead in It's All About Love, a fantasy romance by white-hot Danish director Thomas Vinterberg (Festen). He joins Claire Danes who signed last month (ScreenDaily, Jan 3). The film, which is Vinterberg's English-language debut, begins production on April 23 in studios in Sweden and locations in Denmark and New York. Ben van Os, whose credits include The Cook, The Thief, His Wife
  • Pinewood, Shepperton complete merger

    Pinewood Studios and Shepperton Studios, the UK's two leading film production facilities, have finalised a merger that will create a European super studio.Pinewood will take control of Shepperton, which is co-owned by directors Ridley and Tony Scott. Pinewood chief Michael Grade will become executive chairman of the new group, while the Scotts become co-chairmen.The deal reportedly has backing to the tune of $50m (£35m) from venture capital group 3i, which takes a 60% shareholdi
  • Pons to make English-lang debut for 42nd Street

    Spanish director Ventura Pons is preparing his English-language debut, Food Of Love, which he will co-produce with start-up production and sales outfit 42nd Street Productions, backed by German facilities giant Das Werk (ScreenDaily, February 5). 42nd Street CEO Thomas Spieker said he is seeking international partners for the project, a drama about the relationship between a young piano student and his musician mentor, based on David Leavitt's acclaimed novel The Page Tur
  • Senator, Odeon exit internet activities

    Germany's Senator Entertainment and Odeon Film are planning to pull the plug on their respective internet businesses. In unrelated announcements, both blamed the difficult internet market.Last autumn, Odeon gathered its internet activities into Odeon New Vision, but plans to sell some activities and close down the division within two months. The decision came after holding talks with leading internet players and partners from the technology and content fields about possible collaborati
  • Sheffield to replace Gooder at REP

    Veteran distribution executive Richard Sheffield is to return to Australia's Becker Entertainment to take charge of its mainstream distribution operation, until recently called REP, replacing Mark Gooder who has resigned to move to another as-yet-unnamed distributor.Sheffield only accepted the job on the understanding that he will also be able to pursue his own interests, which include several deals with US producers, various New Zealand connections and the development of his own featu
  • Showtime, Zone Vision launch Showtime Turkey

    US cable giant Showtime Networks has entered into a joint venture with Zone Vision, a UK-based broadcaster and distributor of thematic channels throughout Europe, to launch Showtime Turkey. Launched on Jan 15, 2001, the channel is available on the new direct-to-home platform DigiTurk, which is currently available in Turkey.The announcement was made by Glenn Oakley, senior vice president of corporate strategy and international for Showtime Networks Inc and Chris Wronski, president and
  • Some Body

    Screened at Sundance (Dramatic Competition). Dir: Henry Barrial. US. 2001. 80mins.Henry Barrial's Some Body is an admirable example of how a low-budget production, shot on digital video, can also be a dramatically satisfying movie. Much of the credit for that should go to Stephanie Bennett, the lead actress who also co-wrote and co-produced the film; her fully rounded portrayal of a young schoolteacher looking for love in Los Angeles is affectingly convincing and adds a dimen
  • Spielberg, Schwartzman join BAFTA LA board

    The British Academy Of Film & Television Arts Los Angeles (BAFTA LA) has elected Steven Spielberg and retiring chairman Arnold Schwartzman to the Board of Governors. They joing current governors Peter Beale, Barbara Broccoli, Michael Caine, Anthony Hopkins, Su Lesser, Ronald Neame, Michael Oliver, Marion Rosenberg, Martin Scorsese and Peter Ustinov. In addition, BAFTA LA elected as officers to its board of directors Gary Dartnall (chairman), Katy Haber (managing director), Hilary Mack
  • Sundance Channel buys US TV on The Woman Chaser

    The Sundance Channel has acquired US TV rights to The Woman Chaser, Robinson Devor's debut feature which screened at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival in the American Spectrum section. It was released theatrically in 14 US markets last summer by Bob Berney's Inwood Films.The deal was negotiated by Larry Greenberg, manager of acquisitions for the Sundance Channel and Showtime Networks and David Garber of Lantern Lane Entertainment on behalf of the production company Tarmac Films a
  • Sundance-Toscano script lab projects named

    The Sundance Institute International Program has selected ten projects for its annual Sundance-Toscano Screenwriters Lab which is set to take place Feb 14-18 in Oaxaca, Mexico. The lab will allow the participating screenwriters to collaborate in story meetings with a group of creative advisors to develop their works. Those advisors include Zachary Sklar (screenwriter, JFK), Ulu Grosbard (director/screenwriter, True Confessions, Georgia), Kit Carson (director/screenwriter, Paris Texas), Laura
  • Telefonica appoints Juarez to strengthen US links

    Industry veteran Ele Juarez will leave his post as president and CEO of HBO Latin America Group and HBO Brazil to take over the newly created position of managing director of strategic alliances, international sales and music for Spain's Telefonica Media. In a company statement, the multimedia subsidiary of telecoms giant Telefonica highlighted Juarez's "extensive relations with the major film production companies of Hollywood," with an eye toward "eventual strategic and product allian
  • The Deep End

    Screened at Sundance (Dramatic Competition). Dirs: Scott McGehee, David Siegel. US. 2001. 99mins.Without the brilliant Tilda Swinton, The Deep End, Scott McGehee and David Siegel's neo-noir, would have been just another technically accomplished thriller. With her, however, the film assumes a strong dramatic center and emotional resonance that elevates it way beyond a loose remake of Max Ophuls' 1949 classic, The Reckless Moment. This impressive, long-in-the-works soph
  • UK DVD sales quadruple to 16 million

    UK retail sales of DVDs last year were more than four times higher than in 1999, according to the British Video Association.The BVA figures show that some 16.6 million DVD Videos were sold last year compared with 4.05 million in 1999. The December total alone, at 4.71 million, was higher than the whole of the previous year. Best seller was Gladiator with more than 500,000 copies, followed by The Matrix and The Sixth Sense with more than 300,000. The BVA says
  • UK's Hit Entertainment acquires Lyrick

    UK licensing and merchandising company Hit Entertainment has acquired US rival Lyrick in a $275m reverse takeover that unites the companies behind popular children's characters Bob The Builder and Barney The Dinosaur.Hit is to help fund the deal by placing new shares to raise $106m, most of the cash payment for Lyrick. The London-listed company has a portfolio of pre-school characters including Kipper The Dog and dancing mouse Angelina Ballerina. The
  • US strike rules pave way for international bonanza

    International acting talent and non-US movie companies are set for a boom time later this year as The Screen Actors Guild guidelines to shooting outside the US should an actors strike take place in June became clear yesterday.The Screen Actors Guild Board of Directors issued the following position on work that may be performed by SAG members in the event of a SAG strike:Members must provide that:1) He or she is a foreign national2) The film production is shot e
  • Valentine

    Dir: Jamie Blanks. US. 2000. 96mins. Compared to most of today's amped up teen slasher flicks, Valentine stands out in its restraint and subtlety. The approach takes a while to pay off and may, together with the relative dearth of sex'n'gore, test the patience of some members of the target audience. When things do finally gel, however, the result is genuinely suspenseful and even dramatically interesting.Valentine's moderate opening weekend in the US (an est
  • Verhoeven shorts to heat up Tampere fest

    The leading Nordic short film event, Finland's Tampere International Short Film Festival (March 7-11), has unveiled the programme of its 31st edition which includes cult favourites chosen by Aki Kaurismaki as well as early shorts from Paul Verhoeven.Both international and Finnish competition films will be judged by an international jury and compete for the $4000 Grand Prix and other prizes. Local entries will also compete in animation, documentary and fiction categories. A sideb
  • Verite opening is second biggest in French history

    Warner Bros' French outpost has scored its best opening day ever with a local film, La Verite Si Je Mens 2: La Grande Distribution, which has also become the second biggest opener in French box office history, with 503,582 tickets sold on February 7.The sequel to the 1997 hit comedy, released on 827 prints, is on its way to becoming Warner Bros France's biggest ever film, ahead of Dead Poets Society, which racked up 5.5 million admissions, and The Matrix, with 5 mi
  • Villalonga joins Univision board

    Juan Villalonga, the former chairman and CEO of Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica, has been appointed to the board of directors of US-based broadcaster Univision Communications Inc.Villalonga was forced to resign his post at Telefonica last July amid accusations that he benefited from insider information when he bought and sold stock options on Telefonica during merger talks with MCI and WorldCom in 1998. The outspoken acquisitions mogul had also run up against the Spanish government,
  • Women gives Gibson his biggest UK opening

    Icon Film Distribution's What Women Want clocked up $4,956,132 (£3,375,126) over the weekend, giving star Mel Gibson his biggest ever opening in the UK, beating all four of his Lethal Weapon action films and BVI's 1997 thriller Ransom (see chart below).The romantic comedy had the biggest opening gross of the weekend and the highest site average - $12,268 - for the year so far, above strong performers such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Cast Away a