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16 March 2003

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  • 13 Moons to open Avignon/New York festival on April 5

    AlexandreRockwell's comedy 13 Moons will kick off the 9th annual Avignon/New York Film Festival,which features 18 American and French independent pictures and runs from Apr 5to Apr 13 in New York. 13 Moons will be introduced by Rockwell and the picture's lead actorSteve Buscemi.The festival,which each year showcases US and French independent pictures, will close withJoseph Sargent's Out Of The Ashes, which will be presented by the director and t
  • Agent Cody Banks can't bring down the House

    Buena Vista's Bringing Down The House kept audiences chuckling over the weekend as it held on to top spot with an estimated $22.4m for a fine 10-day $61.6m running total. As the nation prepares for war with Iraq, movie-goers were clearly in the mood for some light relief and the picture, which stars Steve Martin and Queen Latifah, is on course for $100m. Opening in second place on $15m was the MGM comedy Agent Cody Banks. Frankie Muniz stars as an undercover teenag
  • Alliance Atlantis acquires The Station Agent

    Alliance Atlantis hasacquired international rights (excluding the English-speaking world and Italy)to The Station Agent, one of thehits of this year's Sundance Film Festival. Written and directed by TomMcCarthy, the film won the 2003 Audience Award and the Waldo Salt screenwritingprize at the festival where Miramax Films bought rights in the English-speakingworld and Italy.Charlotte Mickie, managingdirector, international motion picture sales, at Alliance Atlantis, closed thedea
  • Argentinian actors voice concern over use of non-professionals

    Argentina's actors' union is to look into limiting the number of amateur actors allowed to be cast in feature films in response to protests by local actors against the trend in the New Argentine Cinema to use non-professionals.At a heated meeting between representatives of the Asociacion Argentina de Actores and local film-makers at the Mar del Plata International Film Festival, actors lined up to complain about the practice, seen by them as film-making on the cheap.Mimi Arduh,
  • Argentinian films dominate Films in Progress event

    The Latin American Film Screenings of Toulouse, France (March 21-30) and Spain's San Sebastian International Film Festival (Sept 18-27) have unveiled the five new feature films set to participate in this year's third annual Films in Progress (Cine en Construccion) program, which aims to bring needed financiers on board unfinished Latin American films.All of the films selected to participate come from Argentina. "This was just a coincidence, they were the best" says Jose Maria Riba, dir
  • Artisan, Miramax complete Dirty Dancing 2 cast

    HavanaNights: Dirty Dancing 2co-producers and co-financers Artisan Entertainment and Miramax Films haveannounced final casting on the follow-up to the 1987 original. Set inrevolution-era Cuba in 1958, the story centres on a romance between Katey, a17-year-old American girl whose family has moved to Cuba, and Javier, a Cubanman. Principal photography is due to begin in Puerto Rico on Mar 18 with adomestic release through Artisan set for Feb 13, 2004. BVI will handlei
  • Babij Jar

    Dir. Jeff Kanew. Germany-Belarus, 2003. 108mins.Babij Jar is the kind of entry that festivals will find hard to reject, but once accepted, will tear their hair out trying to find a slot for. Devoting a fictional film to one of the most barbarous massacres of WW2 is a praiseworthy initiative but doing it this way is, to say the least, awkward. Despite the film-makers' commendable intentions, they do not a film make: and the best that Babij Jar can look forward to
  • Barrandov Studios no longer for sale

    Prague's Barrandov Studios owner Moravia Steel announced last week that after a drawn out sale process that has stretched on for nearly a half-decade, it is not selling the fabled film complex after all. A spokesperson for the steel maker told weekly Prague Business Journal that Moravia Steel has decided to pursue its own plans for developing the studio, but declined to elaborate. Meanwhile, Moravia Board supervisory board chair told leading Czech daily Mlada Fronta Dnes
  • Bringing Down The House

    Dir: Adam Shankman. US. 2003. 105mins.Built around the odd-couple pairing of Steve Martin and Queen Latifah, Bringing Down the House is a black/white culture-clash comedy with some broad - and a couple of quite sharp - laughs but an old-fashioned, at times even complacent feel. However, the formula has worked at the US box office: Martin's abiding reputation and Latifah's rising profile - thanks to her best supporting actress Oscar nomination for Chicago - attra
  • Canal Plus announces staff redundancies

    Following a meeting with union representatives, Canal Plus today released details of a long-anticipated redundancy program at the company. Out of a total 3,038 France-based employees, 305 are set to lose their jobs over the coming months. In a press release Canal explained that the layoffs are part of a restructuring plan "designed to create a more coherent, profitable organisation, mainly focused on its pay-TV operations in France."Of those 305 jobs, some 241 will be lost at th
  • Canal Plus to announce lay-offs today

    The axe falls today. A long anticipated announcement will come from Canal Plus' Paris headquarters regarding what could turn out to be massive lay-offs. Although Canal management is keeping quiet about what the news will entail, Bertrand Meheut, the newly-installed president of Canal Plus told French daily La Tribune, "I made a decision to analyse the organisation and to define priorities. I wanted the staff reduction to be as small as possible. The number that will be revealed
  • Cecile de France lands key female role in 80 Days

    Cesar award-winner Cecile de France (L'Auberge Espagnole) and Jackass star Johnny Knoxville have joined Jackie Chan, Steve Coogan and Jim Broadbent in Walden Media's Around The World In 80 Days, which is due to begin principal photography in mid-March in Thailand and Berlin.Frank Coraci, whose credits include The Wedding Singer and The Waterboy, will direct the project, with Hal Lieberman (Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines) and Bill Badalato (
  • Chicago dominates SAG Awards; Moore, Hare win WGA prizes

    In the final stretch of the Academy Awards race over the weekend, Chicago dominated the Screen Actors Guild (SAG)Awards in Los Angeles taking the award for ensemble cast as well as bestactress for Renee Zellweger and best supporting actress for CatherineZeta-Jones.
  • Danish talent attracted to historical drama

    Danish director Jorn Faurschou and producer Henrik Moller-Sorensen have attracted three major local names to head up the cast on the $3.3m (DKR22m) historic drama Dagen Og Vejen. Kim Bodnia (Bleeder, Old Men In New Cars) will play the self-centred and powerful lead, while actor-director Erik Clausen (Fish Out Of Water) and Peter Gantzler (Italian For Beginners) will assume other central characters. The story is set in 1918 in rural Denmark and John St
  • Disney and Hyde Park champion with Bringing Down The House

    Buena Vista's comedy BringingDown The House did just that over theweekend, opening number one on a superb $31.7m that marked the third biggestMarch opening of all time behind last year's Ice Age and Blade 2.
  • Disney back in the frame for the Jim Henson Company

    Walt Disney has reportedly come back into the picture as a possible bidder for The Jim Henson Company (JHC) after a US investment group terminated its non-binding letter of intent with JHC's current owner Germany's EM.TV & Merchandising for the partial sale of 49.9%.EM.TV announced that the negotiations would continue "under a revised proposed structure" which would include the US investment group led by media entrepreneur Dean Valentine and Europlay Capital Advisors as well as "speaki
  • Film-maker appointed as South Korea's Minister of Culture

    South Korean film director Lee Chang-dong has been named Minister of Culture and Tourism in a surprise appointment by new Korean president Roh Moo-hyun. This marks the first time in Korea's history that a member of the film industry will head the ministry.As Minister, Lee will oversee governmental affairs in culture and the arts, religion, sports, tourism, youth, and media. The ministry is responsible for 1.06% of the government's total budget.Although the drafting and impleme
  • Finnish Grand Prix goes to Australian Projectionist

    At the 33rd International Short Film Festival in the Finnish inland city of Tampere, the international jury awarded Michael Bates' Australian stop-motion film The Projectionist with the Grand Prix - out of the 75 shorts and documentaries from 36 countries in the international competition. The Finnish jury, headed by the star of The Man Without A Past, Markku Peltola, singled out two documentaries, Selma Vilhunen's My Little Elephants as best film under 30 minutes a
  • Fox hits all-time bullseye with Bond's 20th film

    Fox International's Die Another Day has become the highest international grossing James Bond picture of all time with a $246.9m international cumulative score, overtaking the $242m set by GoldenEye.The 20th Bond title passed the record mark with a mighty opening in Japan over the weekend, taking $3.4m from 325 screens and setting a new opening record for a Bond title in that market.Last week Die Another Day scored the biggest opening of all time for a Bond p
  • French films see increase in foreign investment

    French film production is still up, foreign investment is high but local investment is slowing, according to latest figures from France's National Cinema Centre (CNC). Two hundred films were produced in France in 2002, 163 of which were majority French efforts. Those figures are down, but only slightly, from 2001 which saw 204 films produced (172 predominantly French).Total investment was down to Euros 861m from Euros 905m the previous year. However, foreign input was up - to Eu
  • Fries and Sneller launch US home video distribution arm

    Independent film producersJeffrey Sneller (The Adventures of Pinocchio) and Charles Fries have formed home entertainmentdistribution company Santa Barbara Home Video, a distribution subsidiary ofSanta Barbara Filmed-Entertainment that they say will give film-makers greateropportunity to participate in the marketing of their films.Santa Barbara Home Videowill distribute its own productions as well as acquisitions, with an emphasison family titles. The company
  • Gary Oldman to star in Dead Fish

    Gary Oldman, one of the UK's most bankable stars, is confirmed to star in Dead Fish, an $11m thriller about a locksmith and a contract killer who accidentally switch mobile phones. Dead Fish is being directed by Charley Stadler, a top Munich-based commercials director making his feature debut. The script is written by Adam Kreutner and Dave Mitchell from a story by Stadler and Thomas Geiger. It was previously set up at Peter Hoffman's Seven Arts Entertainment, but
  • German Film Board hands out record amount of cash

    A record Euros 22.6m in retroactive "reference" funding is to be distributed to around 100 German producers and distributors by the German Federal Film Board (FFA) for successful theatrical releases of German films in 2002. Last year, the FFA had handed out Euros 21.6m. The Oscar-nominated Nowhere In Africa and co-productions The Pianist and Winged Migration as well as the local teen comedies Knallharte Jungs and Erkan & Stefan - Gegen Die Maechte der Fin
  • German fund gathers around 80 Days

    Frank Coraci's Around The World In 80 Days starring Jackie Chan is one of 30 projects awarded a total of Euros 4.5m by the Central German film fund Mitteldeutsche Medienfoerderung (MDM). US-based Walden Media's production partner Studio Babelsberg Motion Pictures received Euros 500,000 production support for the action comedy which will travel to the East German town of Goerlitz on the German-Polish border to shoot the scenes set in Paris. According to MDM funding committ
  • Golden Network Asia arrives at AFM with expansive slate

    Golden Network Asia, one of only two specialist film sales companies from Hong Kong, has arrived at AFM with a busy slate and promise of further expansion following financial restructuringCompany principal Carrie Wong is currently finalising a raft of new finance that will allow the company to expand its activities into financing and co-production. Wong, who currently has backing from a local cable TV concern, is keeping quiet about the identity of the new investor. But she expects to
  • Guirgis heads acquisitions job at Wellspring after Katsoolis exit

    Marie ThereseGuirgis has been named head of acquisitions at US independent distributorWellspring, where she will be responsible for acquiring films and programmingfor US theatrical and home video release and sourcing finished films forWellspring's worldwide sales unit, which will handle co-production projectsseparately.Guirgis willreport directly to Wellspring president and CEO Al Cattabiani, who made theannouncement today (Mar 10). "We want to be sure that we can feed ourdistribution
  • Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum to feature 24 new projects

    Top name directors including Taiwan's Tsai Ming Liang and Chang Tso Chi, Australia's Clara Law, Hong Kong's Mabel Cheung, Korea's Jang Sun Woo and Thailand's Nonzee Nimibutr are among the 24 artists unveiling their next projects at the Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) next month (April 7-9).HAF, which is closely modelled on Rotterdam's CineMart, aims to match Asian films in development or early pre-production with finance coming from distributors, sales houses, co-producers an
  • Indian cinema goes digital

    Indian film processing giant, Adlabs has partnered with Singapore's GDC Technology to install digital projectors in 400 Indian cinemas by April 2004, with a target of creating 1,500 e-cinemas in India by 2007.GDC Technology is part of the Global Digital Creations Holdings Group. It was set up in 2000 by Nanyang Technological University professor Man-Nang Chong, now based in Hong Kong.The company will retrofit 400 cinemas across India with GDC's DSR Servers and DLP digital projec
  • Industry prepares for 2004 pre-Oscar calendar crush

    With much of the film industry focused on the Oscars later this month, it's hard to believe that anybody could be thinking about next year's Academy Awards ceremony.Yet that's what many senior figures in charge of film festivals and awards ceremonies worldwide are doing right now - thanks to the decision last year by the Academy to bring forward its 2004 ceremony by one month to February 29. The move has created a host of anxious diary date shifts as rival awards ceremonies stru
  • International specialist Heller promoted at Paramount Home Ent

    Amy Heller has been promotedto vice president of planning and business development at Paramount HomeEntertainment (PHE), senior vice president of planning JC Galiana announcedtoday (Mar 12). Heller, who has been with PHE since 1998, previously held theposition of executive director of planning and business development and isresponsible for executing the division's international quarterly and longrange strategic planning activities and international business development.'Amy is one of o
  • Internationalmedia posts mixed 2002 results

    Internationalmedia, the corporate parent of Los Angeles-basedIntermedia and IEG, today (Mar 14) announced a Euros 29m operating loss for2002 that swelled to Euros 99m including a write-down of goodwill assets,according to preliminary fourth quarter and year end 2002 figures.
  • Iron Ladies 2 enjoys huge opening in Thailand

    Iron Ladies 2, the sequel cum prequel to the 2000 Thai smash,opened in Thailand with a blockbusting 37m Baht ($0.88m) in its first threedays over the weekend, a 78% increase on the original's opening total of20.8m Baht ($0.49m). Produced and distributed in Thailand by VisutePoolvoralaks' Tai Entertainment Co, the film is being handledinternationally by Fortissimo Film Sales which also handled the first film. Iron Ladies was the true story of the Thai m
  • Italy's RAI appoints another new president

    War correspondent and former RAI television news director Lucia Annunziata has been named president of state broadcaster RAI less than 24 hours after Paolo Mieli's tumultuous resignation.The decision has been met with approval by Italy's majority politicians and skepticism by the opposition who complain that they had nothing to do with her nomination. The dual position of president and board member was meant to be filled by an opposition nominee, to offset the other four board m
  • J Lo to teach dance moves to Gere in Miramax remake

    Jennifer Lopezis in negotiations to star with Richard Gere in Miramax Films' remake of1996 Japanese megahit Shall We Dance' which Peter Chelsom will direct. The film would markLopez's third film with Miramax after Jersey Girl which is scheduled to open in Nov in theUS and An Unfinished Life which starts shooting in April.Gere, who ofcourse won a Golden Globe dancing up a storm in Miramax's musicalblockbuster Chicago,will once again take to the dancefloor in
  • J Lo's Maid makes her an international movie star

    Jennifer Lopez confirmed her status as an international star overthe weekend as Columbia TriStar Film Distributors International (CTFDI) scoreda powerful $11.5m weekend gross for Revolution Studios' Maid In Manhattan.
  • Jade Warrior finds finance after Screen International Summit

    Jade Warrior, a film pitched at the Screen International European Film Finance Summit in Berlin, has now been financed and will shoot at the end of this year. San Fu Maltha's Dutch production house Fu Works has boarded the film which is being produced by Tero Kaukomaa of Finland's Blind Spot Pictures. Kaukoma drily pitched the film as "the first ever Finnish martial arts movie," before adding that the director AJ Annila is "an unknown, even in Finland".But the tale of a m
  • Ken Loach's Sweet Sixteen wins top jury prize at Santa Barbara

    Ken Loach's Sweet Sixteen won the grand jury prize in the internationalcompetition section at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival whichclosed last night with a screening of Thaddeus O'Sullivan's The Heart Of Me.A special jury prize in thissection was awarded to director Pan Nalin for Samsara and special mention was made to actress Lena Andrefor her performance in Music For Weddings And Funerals.Samsara also won the
  • Kosslick wades into German media fund debate

    Berlin Film Festival director Dieter Kosslick has added his voice to the growing chorus of industry figures calling for the private media funds to invest more in German production rather than concentrating on US productions.In an interview with the production company newsletter ndF:news, Kosslick said that he supported the idea that "the funds are of benefit to more German productions. At the same time, the people who sell these funds must really be checked for their seriousness. Drivi
  • Kusturica joins Chereau as Cannes jury president

    Emir Kusturica has been appointed president of the short film and Cinefondation jury for the forthcoming Cannes festival (Festival de Cannes). A Cannes regular, Kusturica is one of only a handful of directors who have twice won the festival's Palme d'Or - in 1985 for When Father Was Away On Business and in 1995 for Underground.A graduate of the Prague film school, FAMU, Yugoslavian-born Kusturica will be responsible for awarding the Cinefondation prizes to films pr
  • Lilo & Stitch has top 2-D animated opening for US film in Japan

    Buena Vista International (BVI)'s Lilo & Stitch grossed an impressive $2.8m on 481 screens in its pre-holiday Japanese opening over the weekend, raising the animated feature's international running total to $103m. The Japanese bow was the biggest ever traditional US-produced animated opening and the fourth biggest ever opening for a US animated feature.The Jungle Book 2 raised its international cumulative score to $28.7m after a $3.1m weekend haul. Highlights so far are a
  • Lopez has it Maid in the UK

    Columbia TriStar's Maid In Manhattan made good in the UK last weekend, with the Jennifer Lopez vehicle claiming the top spot and a three-day gross of $3.9m from 422 sites.Despite poor reviews, that's a sterling site average of over $9,000 for the rags-to-riches romantic comedy, in which J-Lo plays a hotel maid who falls in love with Ralph Fiennes' charismatic politician. Last month, J-Lo made a high profile visit to London for the film's premiere.After two weeks on the to
  • Major Russian movie retrospective unveiled for LA

    The first majorretrospective of Russian cinema is set to take place in Los Angeles from Apr17-24, featuring 100 years of film-making and more than 30 titles from theRussian archives comprising features, shorts, documentaries and animated films.The event willbe presented by the Russian Federation's Ministry of Culture and is beingcoordinated by the Russian International Film Festival (RIFF), the Stas NaminCultural Centre, the American Film Institute (AFI) and Peter H
  • Meirelles begins preparations for Intolerance

    Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles has unveiled further details of the follow up to his worldwide box office and festival sensation City Of God, following the film's premiere in Argentina as the opening film of the Mar del Plata International Film Festival. His new project, Intolerance - which he jokingly describes as a sequel to the DW Griffith classic - is a drama-comedy about globalisation and the relationship between the northern and southern hemispheres. It
  • Mic Kramer gets senior vp stripes at Warner Bros

    Mic Kramer has been promoted to senior vice president of international publicity at Warner Bros Pictures, it was announced today (Mar 10) by Sue Kroll, the company's president of international marketing. Based in Burbank, Kramer will continue to report to Kroll and be responsible for creating and overseeing publicity campaigns for the studio's international releases. In addition he will now be responsible for overseeing international theatrical trade publicity, media promotions and loc
  • Mieli named new president of Italian state broadcaster

    Paolo Mieli, a former editor of national Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, has been appointed president of state broadcaster RAI. The Italian parliament and senate's appointment of Mieli, a widely-respected journalist, historian and political commentator, followed the resignation of president Antonio Baldassarre and remaining board member Ettore Alberoni. Last week, the speakers of the two houses of the Italian Parliament announced that the network's next president w
  • Minor Injuries (Petites Coupures)

    Dir. Pascal Bonitzer. France/UK. 2002. 95mins.The old cliche of the French intellectual in crisis, talking himself silly as he rambles from one encounter or affair to the next, receives another lease of life in the third directorial effort from Pascal Bonitzer, the first of his films to be accepted in competition for a major festival. An old acolyte of Jacques Rivette and a member of the Cahiers du Cinema editorial team throughout the 1970s, Bonitzer has found, with his first
  • Minor Injuries (Petites Coupures)

  • Mirovision sells Sword abroad

    Mirovision has achieved record prices in several territories for its martial arts period piece Sword Piece to Nobelo & Partners in Scandinavia, Metro Tartan in the UK and A-Film in The Netherlands. The same three buyers all grabbed horror title Phone, which also went to Rapi Films for Indonesia. Older title Tell Me Something was also sold to Nobel and Bizarre Love Triangle went to ST Entertainment for Thailand.
  • Monsieur N

    Dir: Antoine de Caunes. Fr-UK-South Africa. 2003. 129mins.French TV presenter and sometime journalist Antoine de Caunes takes on Napoleon, with decidedly mixed results for the historical thriller Monsieur N. The made-for-co-production story straddles two cultures, but despite this, Monsieur N will not easily sell to the English-speaking territories it hopes to court. Nor will British amour-propre be flattered by the dire French accents of the Anglo contingent: o
  • Mortadelo & Filemon: The Big Adventure (La Gran Aventura De Mortadelo Y Filemon)

    Dir: Javier Fesser. Spain. 2003. 105mins.Mortadelo & Filemon: The Big Adventure (La Gran Aventura De Mortadelo Y Filemon) broke local records on its opening weekend in Spain and, fuelled by a hefty promotion effort, shot into the number three ranking of all-time top grossers after just three weekends, behind Alejandro Amenabar's The Others and Santiago Segura's Torrente 2: Mission In Marbella. Still playing on 326 screens, it has taken $21.2m (Euro
  • Mortadelo & Filemon: The Big Adventure (La Gran Aventura De Mortadelo Y Filemon)

  • MovieSystem launches Monaco VoD service

    In partnership with Monaco Telecom and Alcatel, MovieSystem has launched a Video-on-Demand service for television via DSL, Sesame TV. At a press conference in Monaco last week, the project was unveiled and followed by an impressive demonstration of DVD quality resolution. Sesame TV will offer Monaco residents the opportunity to subscribe and receive films on their television sets via DSL lines for roughly Euros5 per film. 40% of Monaco homes currently have DSL access and Monaco Tel
  • New co-production market to be launched at Las Palmas film fest

    The fourth edition of the Las Palmas International Film Festival (March 28-April 5), is to introduce a new co-production market: EuroForum (April 3-5).The event follows a growing and successful new trend in festivals whereby film projects in their early stages are presented to potential co-producers, financiers and distributors. Organisers say some 80 companies are anticipated at the EuroForum, 43 of which have been invited to present a feature film, documentary or TV movie proj
  • New head of production appointed at Nordisk Film

    Norwegian producer Aage Aaberge has been named head of feature film production at Nordisk Film & TV in Norway to boost the company's production volume. This also means that the Nordisk-controlled Northern Lights is merged into Nordisk Film & TV. Former Lights chief Axel Helgeland, who produced I Am Dina, will continue as producer in NFTV. The Norwegian box-office is currently seeing just the kind of thing Nordisk is aiming for, with two family films, Arne Lindtner
  • New president of RAI quits after six days

    Paolo Mieli has stepped down as president of RAI just six days after being appointed to the position and without once having stepped into the Italian state broadcaster's headquarters.Mieli, the former editor of the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, cited 'political and technical difficulties' behind his resignation, and that he was given 'no guarantees' regarding the three conditions he required to be met before he accepted the position. These conditions were the rei
  • New Spain-Argentina production company wraps first films

    Start-up Spanish-Argentinean production company Altair Cinema has wrapped its first two feature films in Buenos Aires and is now preparing a similar second-year slate.Alejandro Chomski's drama Today And Tomorrow (Hoy Y Manana), a co-production with Cinema Digital starring Manuel Navarro (Alas Rotas) and Antonella Costa (Garage Olimpo), starts post-production in March. The story is about a wannabe actress who turns to prostitution to make ends meet.Juan Bauti
  • New Zealand film industry calls for tax breaks

    Key members of the New Zealand film industry have called on the country's government to introduce tax incentives to encourage private investment in the local industry. The recommendation, which forms part of the findings of a specially appointed Screen Production Industry Taskforce, says that tax incentives should be available to both local and foreign producers. Foreign producers who want to access the incentives would have to attach themselves to a local company to help build
  • NuVision strikes deal with US Hispanic specialist Venevision

    In what may signal the end of its plans to start up a US distribution company, Mexico-city based regional distributor NuVision has sold a package of titles produced by its sister company Altavista to Venevision International, a Spanish language distributor based in Miami. For the moment, Venevision has limited its acquisitions to past titles but may acquire additional films in the future. The other Altavista titles are Por La Libre, Sin Dejar Huella, Atletico San Pancho, La Ley De H
  • Oscar-winning German producer dies

    Oscar-winning producer Manfred Durniok (Mephisto) died at the age of 68 at the weekend of a heart attack. Durniok, who had more than 600 cinema and television productions to his credit since 1957, produced Istvan Szabo's 1981 film Mephisto - which won the Foreign Language Film Academy Award, a BAFTA and German Film Awards. He also produced Szabo's Colonel Redl, Peter Lilienthal's Malatesta, Frank Beyer's Das Letzte U-Boot and Masahiro Shinoda's Die
  • Paris film festival unveils line-up, new jury president

    The Paris Film Festival, which runs from March 24 to April 1 has announced its line up and international jury. In a last minute change, Rupert Everett has stepped down as jury president and will be replaced by Malcolm McDowell.Alongside McDowell are French producer Jean-Louis Livi, French director Claire Denis, French film critic Elisabeth Quinn, director of the cinema department of El Djazzair Abdou B, French designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac and French actresses Elisabeth D
  • Paulo Valente named MD of Universal Pictures Brazil

    Universal Pictures International has named Paulo Valente as managing director of Universal Pictures Brazil. Based in Sao Paulo, Valente will report to Wayne Borg, vice president, Universal Pictures, Latin America and Asia Pacific. The appointment is effective 24th March 2003.Valente succeeds the present MD, Marc Caux, who successfully transitioned the business from a CIC Video company to an established and thriving Universal Pictures operating company. Caux will now pursue oth
  • PTU

    Dir. Johnny To. Hong Kong 2003. 85 min.Premiered in the Forum sidebar at Berlin before going back home to open the Hong Kong Film Festival in April (where Mei Ah releases it on April 10), Johnny To's new cops thriller is bound to please his admirers. However, its failure to include a major name in the cast means that PTU plays like an ensemble piece without a distinct hero, which may harm its prospects with genre audiences, both at home and overseas. To, a prolific fi
  • Rance joins Spain's City of Light studio complex

    Spanish studio complex City of Light (Ciudad de la Luz) has contracted former Pinewood Studios executive David Rance as its operations manager.Rance worked for nine years at Pinewood, where he also oversaw operations. In his new position he will co-ordinate the new complex's services to the requirements of each production.Still under construction, the City of Light complex, which began construction in southern Alicante in early 2000, will incorporate production and post-producti
  • Roissy to sell Bleating Of The Sheep

    Roissy Films will handle international sales on Gjergj Xhuvani's second feature The Bleating Of The Sheep which began shooting on location in Albania on March 3.The wartime story based on the real-life experiences of the director's grandfather will be distributed in France by Les Films de Tournelles and has been picked up by Pegasos for Germany.Budgeted at under Euros 1m, the film is produced by Pascal Judelewicz of Les Films de Cinema with Dirk Beinhold's Berlin-based ou
  • Saban, TF1 venture left as sole bidder for KirchMedia

    In a surprise development, German publisher Heinrich Bauer has withdrawn from the bidding for the KirchMedia empire, leaving the way open for US media mogul Haim Saban and partner TF1.However, Bauer spokesman Andreas Fritzenkoetter stressed that his company's "interest in a commitment in ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG and the rights trading remains unchanged", but they would "not participate in a kind of auction where the various bidders mutually push up the prices."Fritzenkoetter argu
  • Sir Alan joins board of governors at BAFTA/LA

    Sir Alan Parker is to jointhe board of governors of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts/LosAngeles (BAFTA/LA), it was announced today (Mar 14) by Gary Dartnall, thechairman of the board of directors of BAFTA/LA. Parker will take his place amonga who's who of film-makers and performers that includes Michael Caine,Anthony Hopkins, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg and Barbara Broccoli.'BAFTA/LA is pleasedand honored that Alan Parker will be joining our boa
  • Skolimowski to return to film-making after 10-year absence.

    Polish film-maker Jerzy Skolimowski, who won awards at both Cannes and Berlin, is set to return to film-making after a 10-year absence. Working with producer Jeremy Thomas, Skolimowski is developing Las Vegas-set project: The System on a budget likely to be around $12m, with the director aiming for an autumn shoot in Nevada. Thomas' sales outfit, HanWay has been in talks with a number of international buyers since last month's AFM, including a leading North American distr
  • Sony closes German film production arm

    Sony Pictures Entertainment's (SPE) German production arm Deutsche Columbia Pictures Filmproduktion (DCPF) is to be closed down due to "the difficulties of the media market and the downward box-office trends in Germany", according to SPE chairman and CEO John Calley. "It just makes more sense for us to refocus our resources into other regions", said Calley, who announced that SPE would now enter into a long-term producer deal with DCPF's managing director Andrea Willson (pictured).
  • Spain cordinates European Film workshops

    Spanish authors' rights body SGAE is coordinating three workshops on "European Films Crossing Borders" to be held just prior to the next Cannes, San Sebastian and Berlin film festivals.The workshops are co-organised by French authors' rights counterpart SACD and Spanish multimedia promotion body Fundacion Autor, and have support from the Media Plus Programme. The first edition kicks off May 11-12 in Cannes.Each workshop will allow a maximum of 25 participants made up of new Euro
  • Spare Parts (Rezervni Deli)

    Dir: Damjan Kozole. Slovenia. 2003. 87 mins.Three films in competition at this year's Berlin dealt with the trade in illegal immigrants towards the European Union: Michael Winterbottom's Golden Bear winner In This World; FIPRESCI prize winner Distant Lights (Lichter), by German director Hans-Christian Schmid; and this small but well-crafted Slovenian film. While in its structure, photography and character development, Spare Parts is the most conven
  • Sweden's Nonstop takes Infernal Affairs

    Sweden's Nonstop Entertainment has acquired Hong Kong hit Infernal Affairs by young director Alan Mak. The rights cover Scandinavia, Iceland and the Baltic countries, and the release date is set for late 2003. Infernal Affairs, an action thriller about an undercover cop in the triads starring Tony Leung and Andy Lau, is the most successful Hong Kong film for many years. A major buzz title at Berlin and the AFM, the film won the awards for best film and best actor a
  • Swedish talent to shine in Three Suns

    Richard Hobert, director of last year's Everyone Loves Alice, has assembled some of Sweden's top actors to star in his new film, Three Suns (Tre Solar). Actors such as Lena Endre (Faithless, Everyone Loves Alice), Maria Bonnevie (I Am Dina), Mikael Persbrandt (Everyone Loves Alice) and 11-year-old Natalie Minnevik (Berlin Kinderfilmfest winner Elina) are all set to take part in the film.Following the critically acclaimed Everyone Lov
  • Tears Of The Sun

    Dir: Antoine Fuqua. US. 2003. 118mins Will they or won't they' Sony Pictures is denying a report in the Los Angeles Times that, due to the unusually high level of anti-American sentiment around the world, the studio plans to delay the international release of its new military-themed action/drama, Tears Of The Sun, in which Bruce Willis leads a small band of Navy SEALs on a rescue mission inside war-torn Nigeria. A fictional tale of heroism, set against an all-to
  • Tears Of The Sun

  • The Grudge

    Dir: Takashi Shimizu. Japan. 2003. 92mins.The Grudge (Juon), the scare-a-minute hit by newcomer Takashi Shimizu, is the latest Japanese horror film to join the Tokyo-to-Hollywood parade, with Sam Raimi's Ghost House Pictures picking up the remake rights and hiring Shimizu to direct the US version. It is hardly surprising, given the current vogue for English-language remakes of Oriental horror (especially after the success of the English-language The Ring,
  • The Hours to receive German Film Award

    Stephen Daldry's drama The Hours has been named as this year's winner of the German Film Award's golden Lola statuette for best foreign film.The film, which has been nominated for nine Academy Awards, will be released in Germany by Constantin Film for Highlight Film on March 27 and receive the Lola at the German Film Awards ceremony in Berlin on June 6.The nominations for the German Film Award's other prize categories will be announced during a 'nomination event' in Berli
  • Twilight Samurai in the limelight

    The Twilight Samurai, Yoji Yamada's drama about the home and love life of a poor-but-honest samurai, walked away with 12 of the 13 Japan Academy Awards.The film, which is still ranked in the Japanese box office top ten in its 18th week on release, took the Best Picture prize, while Yamada was named Best Director and the two leads, Hiroyuki Sanada and Rie Miyazawa, Best Actor and Actress, respectively. Butoh dancer Min Tanaka won the Best Supporting Actor prize for his scr
  • Two Greek films share Thessaloniki documentary prize

    Two Greek documentaries, Men At Sea by Katerina Patroni and Are There Any Lions In Greece by Irina Boiko shared the top prize in the first competitive event for Greek films at the fifth Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival (Feb 28-March 9).In the festival's international section, Dutch production Ford Transit, directed by Hany Abu Asad, won the FIPRESCI award, while in the Greek section the FIPRESCI prize went to Kyriakos Katzourakis' The Way To The West.
  • UK actor Harold Ayer dies in LA aged 86

    The screen,stage and television actor Harold Ayer, whose film credits included TheSting, The Third Man andTrip To Bountiful,has died from a stroke at the Motion Picture & Television Fund Hospital inWoodland Hills, California. He was 86.Born on August15, 1916 in London, Ayer was no stranger to the performing arts. His father NatD Ayer famously composed the songs Oh You Beautiful Doll and If You Were The Only Girl In TheWorld and from an ea
  • UK Film Council funds seven company slates

    The UK Film Council has invested US$1,878,401 (£1,171,000) in seven company slate deals with British film production outfits.The money is the second part of a proposed three year business investment scheme set up by the Film Council's Development Fund, originally announced in July and November 2001, following a review of their first year.The following companies have received backing to develop film projects: Autonomous (£216,000); Company Films - (£130,000); Ecosse Films (£250,0
  • UK's Odeon cinema chain sold for $690m

    The UK's Odeon cinema chain has been bought by a syndicate led by German investment bank WestLB for $690m (£431m).In addition to a 25% equity stake, WestLB will take on £330m of debt, which it will refinance and securitise against future cinema ticket sales. The other members of the consortium are the UK's Entertainment Film Distributors and the private property group Rotch, owned by brothers Robert and Vincent Tchenguiz.Cinven bought the Odeon circuit from Rank three yea
  • Video rental windows face extinction

    Video rental windows around the world could soon be a thing of the past, home entertainment experts predicted this week after an eight-month stand-off in the UK between video giant Blockbuster and Warner Bros came to an abrupt end.An agreement between the studio and the world's biggest home entertainment player means that Warner videos and DVDs will be now be released for retail and rental business at the same time - effectively destroying what has been an eight week rental window. In
  • Vivendi offloads Babelsberg tour and theme park

    Vivendi Deutschland has offloaded its 100% interest in Babelsberg studio tour and theme park to Schatz Entertainment GmbH und Co. Filmpark Babelsberg KG in line with the French media empire's concentration on core activities at the film and television production centre.Commenting on the takeover by former studio tour manager Friedhelm Schatz, Thierry Potok, head of Vivendi Deutschland and managing director of Studio Babelsberg Motion Pictures, admitted that the theme park and tour had
  • Warner Bros exits Australian exhibition joint venture

    Village Roadshow and Greater Union today announced plans to acquire Warner Bros.' one-third stake in their Australian multiplex joint venture for approximately $61m (A$100m).The original joint venture between the three companies opened its first multiplex cinema in Australia in 1988 and now operates 319 screens in 29 multiplexes across mainland Australia. The acquisition will result in Village and GUO each moving from 33.3% to 50% ownership of the joint venture.At the same time,
  • Warner celebrates fourth weekend atop German box office with Lenin

    Local language comedy Good Bye,Lenin! kept up the pace in Germany inits fourth weekend, holding on to top spot with a powerful $3.7m (Euros 3.4m)from 570 prints and dropping a mere 14.5% from last week. It finished ahead ofopener Maid In Manhattan by 44.6%and has an $18.4m (Euros 17.2m) running score. Good Bye, Lenin! is an X-Verleih presentation of an X-Film CreativePool Production, distributed by Warner Bros.Meanwhile other weekendinternational business for Warne
  • Warner Village Cinemas in talks to sell UK circuit

    Less than a week after the UK's largest exhibitor Odeon Cinemas was sold for $694m, it has emerged that Warner Bros International Theatres (WBIT) and Village Roadshow are also in discussions for the sale of their UK joint venture Warner Village Cinemas. A WBIT spokesperson confirmed that negotiations were taking place with SBC International Cinemas, an independent UK exhibitor, but declined to give further details. SBC International Cinemas - previously known as Spean Bridge - i
  • You Can't Stop The Murders

    Dir: Anthony Mir. Australia. 2003. 97mins.Miramax Australia's first local distribution purchase since upgrading its Sydney office is, bravely, a gentle humanistic comedy from a director making his "first film ever of any kind". Anthony Mir is a local stand-up comedian, and his feature debut, You Can't Stop The Murders is, like Crackerjack (Australia's biggest home box-office success of last year) packed with other local stand-up comedians. But the acting/writing