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13 August 2000

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  • Alec Guinness dies aged 86

    Academy award winning UK actor Sir Alec Guinness has died after a 60-year career ranging from Shakespeare to Star Wars.The 86 year old actor died late on Saturday after reportedly being rushed to hospital by ambulance on Thursday. He had been suffering from ill health for several years.Guinness, who picked up an Oscar for his role in The Bridge On The River Kwai, was renowned as one of the UK's greatest and most versatile actors. He started out on the stage
  • Allen, Frears titles to get airing at Athens

    Dir: Joel Coen. US. 2001. 117 mins.With their latest foray into film noir, Joel and Ethan Coen continue to explore a recurrent motif of their work: The destructive force of unbridled individualism, or more specifically, greed as the dark side of the American Dream. Arguably their most ambitious film since Barton Fink, which exactly 10 years ago won the Cannes' Palme d'Or, The Man Who Wasn't There is a sumptuously mounted, visually striking, black-and-white perio
  • Art Films grabs Gramado winner Pantaleon

    Brazil's Art Films has beaten off several other distributors to acquire local theatrical rights to Gramado festival winner Captain Pantoja And The Special Service (Pantaleon Y Las Visitadoras), a Peruvian title directed by Francisco Lombardi.The company acquired the film jointly with local video distributor Europa Video. According to Art Films president Ugo Sorrentino, the company already has a busy line-up of Spanish-language films, including Mexican titles Amores Perros
  • AtomFilms taps Shields to head European expansion

    AtomFilms has appointed Mikael Shields to the newly created post of senior vice president of entertainment - Europe, based at the company's European headquarters in London.Shields will oversee all acquisitions and development of entertainment properties for the Seattle-based internet company, negotiating and managing co-productions and content partnerships across Europe.Shields is currently CEO of animation producer Eva Entertainment which Pearson Television acquired in February
  • Australia's Chopper tops local box office

    Australian title Chopper has grossed an impressive $0.7m (A$1.2m) from 132 screens in its opening four days in its home territory, giving Australia its third resounding local hit this year. The Palace release, which grossed an additional $176,000 (A$300,000) in previews, is also Australia's second number one domestic title this year. Writer-director Andrew Dominik's haunting, violent portrait of one of the country's best-known living criminals is not the most obvious choice of S
  • B4U plans private placement ahead of Indian launch

    B4U Multimedia International, which owns Hindi film channel Bollywood For You (B4U), is planning a private placement of equity with non-resident Indians (NRI) and overseas corporate bodies (OCBs) ahead of its proposed $120m float and Indian launch.The company, which operates movie channels in the US and UK, is aiming to raise $25m through the placement to fund expansion plans which include the launch of B4U Movies and B4U Music in India in September. The company has already acquired do
  • Baba wins Locarno's Golden Leopard

    Baba, by Chinese director Wang Shuo, picked up the Golden Leopard award at the 53rd Locarno Film Festival on Saturday night. The film, a tragicomic tale about a difficult relationship between a father and son, was the surprise entry at the festival.Hong Kong director Fruit Chan picked up a Silver Leopard for Best New Cinema for Little Cheung, about a young boy's coming-of-age on the eve of Hong Kong's passing from British to Chinese rule. The Young Cinema prize wen
  • Belgian box office basks in summer high

    Admissions in Belgium reached a record-breaking 2.25 million for the month of July, up 30% from the same month in 1999. This resulted in an unprecedented box office gross of more than $12m (BFr500m).Similar to southern European countries July and August are traditionally slow months in terms of cinema-going in Belgium. But bad weather, combined with releases such as box office toppers Gladiator (600,000 admissions after six weeks) and Mission: Impossible 2 (200,000 admiss
  • Bellucci signs to play Cleo in Asterix sequel

    Italian actress Monica Bellucci has reportedly signed to play Cleopatra opposite Christian Clavier and Gerard Depardieu in Renn Productions' Asterix And Obelix In The Service Of Cleopatra.The first Asterix film, Asterix And Obelix Vs Caesar, was France's most expensive production at $50m and topped the French box office during 1999. The sequel, which is scheduled to start shooting this autumn, is likely to carry a similar price tag. While the first Asteri
  • Brazilian veterans launch arthouse distributor

    Brazilian film industry veterans Adhemar de Oliveira, owner of the Cinearte exhibition chain, and Leon Cakoff - director of non-competitive festival Mostra Internacional de Sao Paulo - have launched Sao Paulo-based arthouse distribution company Mais Filmes.The company plans to distribute foreign acquisitions and promote Brazilian titles in the state of Sao Paulo, a prosperous but underscreened area where local product is rarely released. To this end Mais Filmes will form strategic part
  • Canal Plus, Vivendi report revenue increases

    Canal Plus' film and television production and distribution division StudioCanal has reported an 11% increase in first-half revenues to Euros144m, mostly due to increased library sales and its consolidation of German film distributor Tobis.The company, which recently sold European DVD rights (excluding France) to 240 titles to Germany's Kinowelt, said catalogue sales were up by 7%.Meanwhile Canal Plus' first-half revenues rose 20% to Euros1.86bn, up from Euros1.55bn during the s
  • Chopper

    Dir: Andrew Dominik. Australia. 2000. 94 mins. Prod cos: Pariah Films. Int'l sales: Beyond Films, tel (612) 9281 1266. Exec prods: Al Clark, Martin Fabinyi. Prod: Michele Bennett. Co-prod: Michael Gudinski. DoPs: Geoffrey Hall, Kevin Hayward. Prod des: Patrick Reardon. Ed: Ken Sallows. Original music: Mick Harvey. Main cast: Eric Bana, Simon Lyndon, Kate Beahan. An opening caption insists that this riveting movie is not a biography of Mark "Chopper" Read, Australia's best
  • Constantin doubles turnover, posts profit increase

    Germany's Constantin Film has reported that turnover doubled to $57.6m (DM125.1m) and pre-tax profit increased to $4.8m (DM10.4m) in the first half of the current financial year.Constantin boasts a 34% share of the German distribution market and has also had success with its own productions during 2000 including Harte Jungs and Erkan & Stefan which racked up 3 million admissions between them. Constantin's first collaboration with producing team Jakob Clausen and Thomas Wo
  • Das Werk buys stake in new producer

    German post-production giant Das Werk has acquired a 25% stake in FutureWorks Crossmedia Production, a Munich-based events agency which plans to expand into film production and marketing.The company, which is organising the Nea World Xtreme Sports Awards in Munich, plans to draw on the experience of chairman Joseph Schoninger, a former producer for Bavaria and Bogner Film. Das Werk and its subsidiary Trixter have already collaborated with FutureWorks on the Nea Awards, helping t
  • De Niro, Paltrow films to premiere at Toronto

    Two world premieres have been added to the line-up at this year's Toronto International Film Festival - George Tillman Jr's military drama Men Of Honour, starring Robert De Niro and Cuba Gooding Jr, and Bruce Paltrow's Duets, featuring an ensemble cast including daughter Gwyneth. The festival will also present North American premieres of E. Elias Merhige's Shadow Of The Vampire, starring John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe and Patrice Leconte's La Veuve De Saint-Pie
  • EC puts Vivendi Universal probe on hold

    The European Commission has put its review of the Vivendi-Canal Plus-Seagram merger on hold until the partners provide additional data.Although the companies did not outline the issues raised, Vivendi and Canal Plus have stated that they are confident the required data could be filed by the end of August and that the European competition authorities' final decision could be expected by the end of September."This is actually good news as we seem to have a short agenda here, requi
  • Film Council appoints Holden to finance post

    UK film support body The Film Council has appointed Vincent Holden as production finance controller.Holden, who takes up the position from September 4, was previously head of finance at George Faber's UK production outfit Company Television. Part of Holden's brief is to analyse investments made through the Council's National Lottery funds for production and development to ensure they fit the body's strategy.He will also provide the fund managers with production finance support,
  • Gone In Sixty Seconds speeds to top of UK chart

    Gone In Sixty Seconds sped to the top of the UK box office over the weekend with an opening three-day gross of $2.4m (£1.6m) from 394 sites, excluding previews of $230,000. This gave the Jerry Bruckheimer-Touchstone Pictures co-production a site average of $6,600 (£4,353), a stable opening considering the mixed review coverage and warm weekend weather.The Perfect Storm dropped 41% to second place in the chart with a three-day gross of $1.7m (£1.1m), while family films
  • Hanway taps Lynch-Staunton for marketing role

    HanWay Films, the international sales arm of Jeremy Thomas' UK production outfit Recorded Picture Co, has appointed Jonathan Lynch-Staunton as manager, publicity and marketing.Lynch-Staunton was previously vice president of publicity and marketing at UK-based sales operation J&M Entertainment. Reporting to Thomas and HanWay managing director Thierry Wase-Bailey, he is to bring more of HanWay's marketing and PR in-house as well as co-ordinate publicity.Amongst the first films Lyn
  • Imax owners plan assault on Oslo cinema market

    Investment company Norway Cinema Group (NCG) - which operates Oslo's Imax theatre - is challenging the local authorities' dominance of the Oslo exhibition market with plans for a 10-screen multiplex scheduled to open in 2003.The complex, which represents an investment of $10m-$12m, will be built in Oslo's affluent seaside neighbourhood Aker Brygge, adjacent to the Imax theatre.The project is spearheaded by Imax Oslo managing director Terje Kristansen, who said he intends to crea

    The following article appeared in Screen International, the weekly, on August 4.The news that Jere Hausfater is leaving the Walt Disney Co to join Intermedia, is a neat mirror of the way that Hollywood business itself is changing, writes Mike Goodridge.Hausfater, a popular face on the international circuit, has spent years as a powerful representative of the corporate studio world in the messy, opportunistic independent scene. By shifting his allegiance into
  • La Comunidad to open San Sebastian

    Spanish director Alex de la Iglesia's fifth film, La Comunidad, will open this year's San Sebastian International Film Festival (September 21-30), outgoing festival director Diego Galan has confirmed.The choice is unusual as San Sebastian does not traditionally open with a Spanish title, particularly a genre title such as La Comunidad. The film, which is produced by Andres Vicente Gomez's Lolafilms and stars Carmen Maura, Emilio Gutierrez Caba and Sancho Gracia, is
  • Little Cheung (Xilu Xiang)

    Dir: Fruit Chan. Hong Kong. 2000. 105 mins.Prod cos: Nicetop Independent Ltd, Japan Broadcasting Corporation. Worldwide distribution: Wild Bunch (Le Studio Canal Plus), tel: (33) 1 4443 9800. Exec prods: Doris Yang, Makoto Ueda. Scr: Fruit Chan. DoP: Wah-Chuen Lam. Ed: Sam-Fat Tin. Mus: Wah-Chuen Lam, Hing-Cheung Chu. Main cast: Yuet-Ming Yiu, Wai-Fan Mak, Yuet-Man Mak, Gary Lai, Robby Cheung.The comic and the tragic are smoothly interwoven in Fruit Chan's realist, docume
  • Locarno director Mueller calls it quits

    Locarno Film Festival director Marco Mueller announced on the final night of this year's edition (August 12) that he is stepping down, making him one of several European festival chiefs to quit their posts this year.Mueller, who has held the post for nine years, said he will become a full-time producer at Benetton-owned Italian production company Fabrica Cinema.Locarno's administration was rocked on the eve of the festival when president Giuseppe Buffi died suddenly of a heart a
  • Marks quits Video Networks programming role

    Video Networks head of programming Dan Marks has left the video-on-demand (VOD) company, Video Networks confirmed on Friday (August 11).Video Networks said Marks would be replaced. The move follows the appointment of Etienne de Villiers, former president and managing director of Walt Disney International for Europe, Africa and the Middle East, as a non-executive director.The VoD operation plans a London roll-out this year and a national roll-out in 2001 after raising more than $
  • Mendes confirmed to direct Hanks in gangster pic

    British wunderkind director Sam Mendes will return to DreamWorks SKG for his second film after his Oscar winning debut American Beauty. He will direct megastar Tom Hanks in The Road To Perdition, a film adaptation of a 1930s gangster comic strip novel by Max Allan Collins and Richard Piers Rayners. Mendes and Hanks' US agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA) confirmed that the film will be the next project for both.The film, which has been scripted by David Self, is the sto
  • Montreal lines up Sade for competition

    Benoit Jacquot's Sade, starring Daniel Auteuil, Claude Chabrol's Nightcap and Pupi Avati's Midsummer Night Dance are among the competition titles at the 24th Montreal World Film Festival (August 25-September 4). In addition, David Mamet's State And Main will make its world premiere at the event out of competition.Also featuring in competition are French box office hit Le Gout Des Autres, directed by Agnes Jaoui, Paul Cox's Australian-Belgian title
  • My Mother Frank wins audience vote at Brisbane

    Australian writer-director Mark Lamprell's debut film My Mother Frank was voted best film by audiences at the 9th Brisbane International Film Festival (July 26-August 6).Other favourite features at the event were Nabbie's Love (Japan) in second place followed by Under The Sun (Sweden), Better Than Sex (Australia), Gigantic (Germany), Titus (US), Innocence (Australia), Tumbleweeds (US), Monday (Japan) and Shower (Chin
  • Napier exits Soho Images for Digital Film Lab

    Gary Napier has quit as managing director of post-production house Soho Images to take up the post of chief executive officer at the start-up London arm of Danish post company Digital Film Lab.Napier announced his departure after 18 months at Soho Images. He was previously senior vice president of news agency Worldwide Television News.Soho Images and Copenhagen-based Digital Film Lab previously worked on features together through a UK partnership.Digital Film Lab's Kris K
  • News Corp set to acquire Chris-Craft

    Rupert Murdoch's News Corp has outbid Viacom to acquire US TV station owner Chris-Craft Industries and its subsidiaries for $5.35bn. News Corp will pay about $85 a share for Chris-Craft, which owns 10 television stations, and its BHC Communications and United Television subsidiaries. However the deal faces major regulatory hurdles as it would push News Corp's Fox network over current limits on station ownership.The deal follows Viacom's announcement on Friday (August 11) that it
  • NTL, MSDW buy France Telecom's Noos stake

    UK cable operator NTL is partnering with Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Private Equity (MSDW) to acquire France Telecom's 49.9% stake in Suez Lyonnaise-controlled French cable operation Noos, for a reported Euros1.35bn.The deal - which will see NTL and MSDW owning 27% and 22.9% of the cable operator respectively - values Noos, France's largest cable operation with a 22% market share, at Euros2.7bn. NTL - in which Microsoft and France Telecom own 5% and 18% respectively - operates ma
  • Pavlovic's last film to be completed for Venice

    Serbian director Dinko Tucakovic has finished editing The State of the Dead, directed by his countryman Zivojin Pavlovic, who died before the film could be completed.The final cut of the film will be ready for the upcoming Venice International Film Festival, where it will be shown as a homage to the late Pavlovic, one of the leaders, along with Dusan Makavejev and Aleksandar Petrovic, of Serbia's "black wave" movement which was banned by Yugoslavia's communist government in the
  • Peru's Pantaleon triumphs at Gramado

    Peruvian film Captain Pantoja And The Special Service (Pantaleon Y Las Visitadoras), directed by Francisco Lombardi, was the clear winner at the 28th Film Festival of Gramado in Brazil, picking up awards for best film, director, actor and screenplay.The film was also awarded best editor and won the critics' award and audience vote for best Latin film. Written by Giovana Polarolo and Henrique Moncloa from Mario Vargas Llosa's novel Pantaleon, the film is about a dutiful army capt
  • Redbus, Warner strike video pact

    UK distributor Redbus Film Distribution has struck a video and DVD deal with Warner Home Video, which gives the company sole rights to distribute and market up to 25 titles a year until 2003. The deal kicks off with Academy Award-winning documentary One Day In September.Other films to go through the arrangement include Ben Elton's Maybe Baby, starring Hugh Laurie and Joely Richardson; Under Suspicion, with Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman; and The Big Kahu
  • Revolution Films seals first look deal with UA

    United Artists Films (UAF), the specialised film division of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), has entered into a two year, first-look deal with Revolution Films, the UK-based independent production company headed by director Michael Winterbottom and his producing partner Andrew Eaton.The deal, which had been anticipated at Cannes this year (Screendaily, May 14, 2000), comes as UAF prepares to release Revolution's The Claim (formerly known as Kingdom Come) towards the end of th
  • Rotterdam ups den Hamer to co-director post

    Sandra den Hamer has been promoted to the position of co-director of the International Film Festival Rotterdam, alongside current director Simon Field.Den Hamer, who was formerly deputy director at the festival, is expected to focus on the administrative side of the operation as well as its Hubert Bals Fund for third-world film-makers.The move is designed to free up Field to spend more time on strengthening the event's programming.In addition, Ido Abram, co-ordinator of t
  • Salsa to open London's Latin American fest

    Salsa, featuring Cuban band Sierra Maestra, opens September's Latin American Film Festival, the London-based event has announced.Directed by Joyce Sherman Bunuel, the film follows a young composer's obsession with salsa. This year's festival runs September 1-14 in London and then around the UK.Other highlights include a focus on Brazilian films, which will include Claudio MacDowell's magic-realistic parable The Call Of The Oboe (O Toque do Oboe). Argentine f
  • San Sebastian adds Spanish titles to line-up

    Diego Galan, director of the San Sebastian Film Festival, has confirmed that two further Spanish titles will screen in Official Selection at this year's event - Imanol Uribe's Plenilunio and Salvador Garcia Ruiz's El Otro Barrio.The two titles join Alex de la Iglesia's La Comunidad which opens the event. Plenilunio will screen out of competition. Its director Uribe has twice won San Sebastian's first award, the Golden Seashell, with Dias Contados and
  • Senator, Mark Canton seal five-year joint venture

    Yet another German company is putting its public money behind a Hollywood producer. Hanno Huth's Senator Entertainment has entered into a five-year joint venture agreement with Mark Canton's The Canton Company to develop and fully fund an average of four to six major movies a year.Canton will continue to be based at Warner Bros Pictures where he and The Canton Company have been based for the past three years; under terms of a new agreement Warner will co-finance and distribute a selec
  • Shochiku unveils Korean co-production

    Japanese major Shochiku and Korea's Cinema Service are teaming up to produce $1.8m (Y200m) drama Pure Love Melody (Sunebo), billed as one of the most equal co-productions between the two countries since Korea lifted its 35-year-old cultural embargo against Japan. At a Tokyo press conference yesterday, representatives from the two companies said that Cinema Design will provide 60% of the film's budget, and handle international sales, with Shochiku supplying the remaining 40%. Sh
  • Shunji, Zhang join line-up at third Pusan market

    Several established Asian directors, including Japan's Iwai Shunji, Korea's Jang Sun-Woo and China's Zhang Yuan, will present projects at the third Pusan Promotion Plan (PPP), which runs alongside this year's Pusan International Film Festival in South Korea.A total of 22 projects from 11 countries will be attempting to raise finance at PPP. International companies that have confirmed their attendance include Miramax Films, 20th Century Fox, France's Celluloid Dreams and MK2 and Japanes
  • Sutherland joins MGM in senior international role

    Ian Sutherland, who was previously senior vice president, international marketing, at United International Pictures (UIP) in London, has joined MGM Distribution Co as senior vice president - international theatrical distribution and marketing to be based in Los Angeles.Sutherland, who worked with MGM when it was a partner in UIP, will report jointly to Larry Gleason, president, worldwide distribution, and Gerry Rich, president - worldwide theatrical marketing. He will oversee inte
  • Taxi 2 finds willing riders in Taiwan

    Luc Besson's record-breaking French film Taxi 2 is enjoying considerable success from its release in Taiwan. Directed by Gerard Krawczyk and distributed in Taiwan by Spring Cinema, the French-language film saw off new entries The Patriot and Titan AE to take the top spot in the chart after its July 21 release. After 17 days it has scooped $1.5m, but dropped to number two after Gone In Sixty Seconds' four-day opening of $1m.The original Taxi was distri
  • Technicolor invests in Southern Star Duplitek

    US-based video, CD, DVD and film print manufacturer Technicolor is investing $19m (A$33m) in Australia's Southern Star Duplitek, which will use $16m (A$28m) of the cash to acquire rival optical disc manufacturer Pacific Mirror Image (PMI). Both companies will then assume responsibility for new capital expenditures at PMI totalling about $6.4m (A$11m).Technicolor is a wholly owned subsidiary of the UK's Carlton Communications, while SS Duplitek is part of the Southern Star Group
  • Telefonica to buy GMG stake in UK outfit

    Spanish telecommunications group Telefonica is close to taking over London-based TV production operation GMG Endemol by buying a 50% stake from the UK's Guardian Media Group, according to reports.The sale would come after Telefonica last month completed the £3bn acquisition of Dutch-based Endemol, securing Endemol's 50% stake in the UK operation in the process.The anticipated deal is expected to value GMG Endemol at almost £60m. The UK operation makes programmes including Channe
  • The Romanovs - The Imperial Family

    Dir: Gleb Panfilov. Russia. 2000. 150 mins.Prod co: Vera Film Studio. Int'l sales: Vera Film Studio, tel: (7) 095 229 0744. Prod: Vladimir Bychkov. Scr: Gleb Panfilov. DoP: Mikhail Agranovich. Ed: Enzo Meniconi. Music: Vadim Bibergan. Art dirs: Anatoly Panfilov, Alexander Boim. Costume des: Svetlana Titova. Main cast: Alexander Galibin, Lynda Bellingham, Vladimir Grachev, Yulia Novikova, Olga Vasilyeva, Xenia Kachalina, Andrei Kharitonov.At a cost of $18m, The Romanovs
  • Tribeca lines up Oscar nominee for debut feature

    JJ Keith, nominated for an Oscar in 1999 for his short film Holiday Romance, is attached to direct the first feature from UK production outfit Tribeca Films.Tony Curtis Kissed Me, produced by Matthew Hobbs, is a gritty contemporary drama about a dysfunctional family. It will shoot on location in Preston and Blackpool at the end of this year.Scripted by James Aden, the project was originally commissioned by Channel Four, and was further developed by FilmFour Lab. Tr
  • UIP crowned king at Oz box office awards

    UIP's Australian release of Gladiator took the top prize at the Australian Box Office Achievement Awards due to it's hefty A$30m gross. UIP and rival distributor Buena Vista International (BVI) each released seven of the 22 films that reached the all-important A$10m mark during the 12 months to June 30.UIP chair and chief executive Paul Oneil told the 730 delegates on the third night of the Australian International Movie Convention that the film has now grossed more than $235m w
  • United to offload remaining television assets

    United News & Media is focusing on its core market information business as it disposes of its TV interests, chief executive Lord Hollick has announced.Hollick aims to eliminate the group's debt after an agreement last month to sell its ITV assets to rival Granada Media for £1.75bn. The move will give the company £500m in cash and £1.25bn in new Granada shares, which it will distribute to its own shareholders.United is also expected to off-load its stake in Channel 5 to RTL, the
  • Wheels (Tockovi)

    Dir: Djordje Milosavljivic. 2000. Serbia. 93 mins.Pro co: Cinema Design. Int'l sales: Cinema Design, tel +381 11 488 23 77. Prod: Ljubisa Samardtzic. Scr: Milosavljivic. DoP: Dusan Ivanovic. Prod des: Vladislav Lasic. Ed: Branka Ceperac. Music: Lajko Felix. Main cast: Dragan Micnovic, Nikula Kojo, Anica Dobra. If further proof is needed that talented film-makers can flourish under oppressive regimes Djorde Milosavljevic's Wheels is certainly it. By turns a black co