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18 September 2001

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  • European merger & acquisition activity dives

    Merger and acquisitions (m&a) activity in Europe's media sector boomed during 2000, but is set to halve in the current year, being replaced by traditional alliances and joint-ventures. A new report from the corporate finance arm of accounting giant Andersen says that consolidation between firms and convergence of old and new media are the main drivers of m&a activity in entertainment. But companies are now seeking less risky routes for growth than takeovers. "Companies [are] increasing
  • 3-way merger creates international PR powerhouse

    Three of the UK's leading film public relations companies are merging to form an international publicity powerhouse with offshoots in Los Angeles and a new reach into television. Coming together under the new banner of Premier Public Relations are the well known Corbett & Keene, Falco Ink (London) and Joy Sapieka Associates (JSA). The move was made with the backing of David Willing's Miracle Media Group, which already owns Ginger Corbett & Sara Keene's company and has controlling inter
  • 44 European films compete for top EFA award

    Bridget Jones's Diary, Intimacy, No Man's Land, Italian for Beginners and The Princess And The Warrior are among 44 European films selected for consideration by the 1,300 members of the European Film Academy (EFA) for the nominations in the category of "European Film 2001" at this year's European Film Awards, which takes place on December 1.The Berlin-based EFA received a record 300 titles proposed by institutions, specialist film magazines, trade associations, festivals,
  • Arkoff, cult movie king, dies aged 83

    Samuel Z. Arkoff, the maverick Hollywood producer responsible for than 500 low-budget cult movies, died of natural causes, aged 83 on Sunday Sept 16.Arkoff, many of whose movies were hugely profitable, tapped into the youth culture long before the major studios recognised the lucrative demographic market.Among his best-known titles were the Michael Caine starrer Dressed To Kill, The Amityville Horror and I Was a Teen-Age Werewolf.Arkoff co-founded Ame
  • BBC, BSkyB get development approval

    The Independent Television Commission has given the go-ahead for BSkyB to offer a full range of multichannel TV service over networks in Britain, on top of its existing digital satellite service. BskyB's arrival into the UK TV market will significantly increase existing competition between existing operators like ITV Digital, owned by Granada and Carlton Communications and cable groups Telewest and NTL. BSkyB, with 5.45 million subscribers, plans to deliver its services via broa
  • Berlin Academy supplies 5th newcomer award winner

    This year's $7,000 (DM 15,000) Studio Hamburg Newcomer Prize for Best Film was awarded to Hannes Stoehr's Berlin Is In Germany, making him the fifth graduate in a row from Berlin's German Film & Television Academy (dffb) to receive this top honour since the founding of the prize in 1997. Previous prize-winners from the dffb were Hendrik Handloegten (Paul is dead, 2000), Klaus Kraemer (Drei Chinesen Mit Dem Kontrabass, 1999) ,Lars Kraume (Dunckel, 1998) and
  • Beyond Films improves but still suffers loss

    Australia's Beyond International made a profit of $1.1m (A$2.25m) for the 12 months to June 30, a reversal of fortunes given the $1.6m (A$3.2m) net loss recorded for the previous financial year. Total revenues grew by 10% to $48.5m (A$96.98m), about 85% of which came from television production and international television sales. Although Beyond Films reported an 11% improvement on the previous period, the final result was a net loss after tax of $205,562 (A$411,000). The parent company
  • Blockbuster to replace video with DVD

    Blockbuster, the world's largest home video rental chain, has announced a decisive move to replace video cassettes with DVDs throughout its global network of outlets.Blockbuster chairman John Antioco said the company plans to discard 25% of its stock of video tapes to make room for the growing number of DVD releases.The move to focus on the higher margin DVD rental business comes as the format is undergoing explosive growth in market penetration."We believe this is the op
  • Bridget Jones's Diary crosses $200m worldwide

    Bridget Jones's Diary was set to cross the $200m barrier in worldwide box office this weekend as it continues to pull in audiences across the globe. With an international running total of $125.4m to add to its $71.5m North American receipts, the romantic comedy needed to make just $3.05m internationally over the three-day weekend to cross the mark, a feat Bridget should have taken in its stride.Having taken number one spots in nearly every territory where it has been rele
  • Buena Vista Spain banks on established success

    Buena Vista International Spain (BVIS) has picked up local distribution rights on forthcoming Spanish-language comedy Dirty Vivancos The Sequel (Vivancos El Sucio III), a "zany detective comedy" which boasts all the ingredients to repeat the success of biggest-ever domestic hit Torrente 2: Mission In Marbella (Torrente 2: Mision En Marbella). Earlier this year Torrente 2, also a zany detective comedy, broke the record set by its prequel, 1998's Tor
  • Buena Vista Spain commits to local co-productions

    Buena Vista International Spain (BVIS) has committed to co-producing two to three local feature films per year, according to BVIS general manager Javier Vasallo.The company had its first taste of the market last year with Spanish-Argentine co-production Clams And Mussels (Almejas Y Mejillones), which was among the 12 top grossing films in Spain during 2000."There is a good opportunity in the Spanish market to make Spanish product, and obviously some of these products are
  • Cartoon D'Or animated shorts nominations

    Five European animated shorts have been nominated for this year's Cartoon D'Or Award which will presented in a gala ceremony at the end of the Cartoon Forum co-production market in Garmisch-Partenkirchen on September 22.The nominated shorts are: Au Premier Dimanche D'Aout by Florence Miailhe, (France),Chicken Kiev by Thomas Stellmach (Germany), Father And Daughter by Michael Dudok de Wit (UK/Netherlands),Lovebirds by Trylle Vilstrup (Denma
  • Chadha plans English-language Bollywood film

    UK director Gurinder Chadha, whose credits include Bhaji On The Beach and the US-set What's Cooking', is to direct an English-language Bollywood-style film set in the UK.Chadha is aiming for the all-singing, all-dancing film to cross UK and Indian cultural barriers, doing for the Bollywood musical what Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon did for wire-fu action flicks. The move comes as Bollywood films are riding high at the box-office internationally, accounting
  • Christmas Carol: The Movie

    Dir: Jimmy T Murakami. UK. 2001. 81 mins.Having survived The Muppets, Bill Murray and the music of Leslie Bricusse, the timeless Dickens tale is sturdy enough to emerge intact from a fresh animated overhaul that takes a few liberties with the tried and tested storyline. Serviceable rather than inspired, the new version of an old classic should prove a solid, mid-range seasonal draw for the family market but only once the attractions of Harry Potter and
  • CJ Entertainment could be Korea's first film IPO

    South Korean film major CJ Entertainment has registered with KOSDAQ, the local technology exchange, for a review in preparation for going public. A founding shareholder of DreamWorks SKG and a key player in the local film industry, CJ Entertainment may be the first of Korea's film companies to carry out an IPO.Pending a favourable review by KOSDAQ, the company plans to issue stock by late this year or early 2002. According to CEO Lee Kang-Bok, CJE hopes to use the capital raised to e
  • Digi@ward line-up at Germany's Filmfest Hamburg

    Dom Rotheroe's My Brother Tom, Dan Ying's Home Sour Home and Christine Lahti's My First Mister are among the twelve films using digital technology in this year's Filmfest Hamburg programme, which will be competing for the newly created $47,000 (DM 100,000) Digi@ward The full competition line-up is: Electric Dragon (Sogo Ishii, Japan)Fausto 5.0 (Isidro Ortiz, Alex Olle, Carlos Padrissa/Spain)Flickering Lights (Anders Thomas Jense
  • Disney most bruised as media stocks get beaten up

    Winchester Films has picked up international rights to New Best Friend, a college-age drama produced by Frank Mancuso Jr on which Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group has acquired domestic and Latin American rights. The film was formerly known as Mary Jane's Last Dance and was originally set domestically at MGM, but became available when Chris McGurk took over at the studio from former studio boss Frank Mancuso Sr.The $8m movie features a hot ensemble cast
  • Eleven feature debuts compete for tesafilm award

    The UK's Dom Rotheroe, Brazil's Lais Bodanzky, Denmark's Anders Thomas Jensen and the USA's Michael Cuesta are among eleven first-time filmmakers invited by the Filmfest Hamburg to show their feature debuts in its tesafilm Festival sidebar and compete for the $13,975 (DM 30,000) "Golden tesafilm Reel".Established in 1999 with financial support from the Beiersdorf corporation, the tesafilm Festival provides a forum of international up-and-coming directors to spend a week in Hamburg meet
  • Entertainment takes Gosford Park for the UK

    Leading UK independent distributor Entertainment Film Distributors has picked up Robert Altman's Gosford Park. Entertainment is expected to release the 1930s murder-mystery film in the first quarter of next year. USA Films, which took the film as a negative pick-up, is to open it in December in the US in the hunt for Academy Awards. The film, sold and financed by the UK's Capitol Films, is the biggest-budget title to receive UK National Lottery funding from Government-bac
  • Film By The Sea honours The Weight Of Water

    At the third edition of Film by the Sea (10-16 Sept) in the Dutch seaside town of Flushing, Katherine Bigelow's The Weight Of The Water picked up the Silver Mermaid award worth Euros 10,000. The festival's main competition has a theme of literary adaptations, and The Weight Of The Water is based of Anita Shreve's eponymous novel about a murder on the Shoal islands in 1873. Solas picked up DFL 10,000 from Catholic pubcaster KRO for expressing 'hope as
  • France's TF1 expects 2001 to see ad sales dive

    TF1 is expecting its full year advertising sales to drop by up to 5% in 2001, with its net profits sliding up to 10% compared to last year. During the first half of 2001, TF1's advertising sales were relatively stable (a 0.2% rise, to Euros 834m) compared to the same period last year, while other revenues, including cable and satellite channels, enjoyed a 28.5% increase. However, the group's net profit dropped 4.3%, to Euros 403m.A shrinking French advertising market, which drop
  • French box office heads for vintage year

    2001 is looking likely to become a vintage year for the French cinema sector. Since January 1, admissions in the territory have reached 122 million, a 9.9% increase on the same period last year.According to estimates by the CNC (Centre National de la Cinematographie) French films have enjoyed a 42.5% share of the market during the first eight months of 2001, as opposed to 31.2% in 2000 and almost on a par with US titles (currently a 48.9% marketshare, against 60.8% for the same period
  • French TV sales get boost from feature films

    Foreign sales of French television programmes leapt by 13.4% last year to reach $117.2m (Ffr848m), according to a survey commissioned by French exporters' association TV France International. Including the sales of foreign television programming $25.6m (Ffr185m) and of TV rights to French and foreign feature films $86.8m (Ffr628m) handled by TVFI members, French exports have swelled by 25%, reaching $221.2m (Ffr1.6bn).Because of the difficulty in assessing TV sales of feature fi
  • From Hell

    Dir Allan and Albert Hughes. US 2001. 120 mins.Neither chillingly hair-raising as a horror film, nor convincing as an intense psychological spin, Albert and Allan Hughes's From Hell is a rather conventional gothic yarn about Jack The Ripper, history's first, still most notorious serial killer, who terrorised the streets of London in 1888. Although cinematographer Peter Deming's visuals are intriguing, the film further suffers from an eccentric but uncompelling performa
  • German Mediability fund extends portfolio

    Munich-based private media fund Mediability has added Hahn Film's Wildlife 2 to its portfolio of animation projects.The Euro 56m fund will put up 50% of the Euro 6.65m budget for the animation series with Hahn Film contributing the remaining 50%.Wildlife 2 picks up on the successful first Wildlife series which Hahn Film produced with German public broadcaster ZDF and has already sold to more than 30 countries. The other projects in Mediability's portf
  • Germany's NRW supports 14 new features

    New features by Lars von Trier (Dogville), Ken Loach (Sweet Sixteen) and Alexander Sokurov (Vater Und Sohn) are among 14 film projects backed with over $3.8m (DM 8m) by the regional German public fund Filmstiftung NRW in its latest round of production funding.Among the other projects supported are Icelandic filmmaker Dagur Kari's Noi Albinoi, Dutch director Robert Westdijk's Die Austern Von Nam Kee, Oscar-nominated Marc-Andreas Bochert'
  • Germany's VCL restructures subsidiary Scanbox

    Germany's VCL Film + Medien has begun a finance restructuring of its subsidiary Scanbox Entertainment after talks with Danish banks to increase credit facilities ended without results. As a consequence, VCL and Scanbox's board agreed to transfer all operational assets of Scanbox into a new 100% subsidiary. An ad-hoc release by VCL announced that, "with the consent of the principal creditors, a court-appointed supervisor will secure the interests of the creditors and supervise the activ
  • Global media industry reacts to terror attack

    Terrorist attacks in the US on Tuesday threw into sharp relief the relevance of the entertainment industry. As the tragedy unfolded, US studios, cinemas and TV networks shut down for the day. The Emmy TV awards were postponed and the Latin Grammy awards cancelled. Even Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland were closed. At the Toronto International Film Festival, the normally busy industry and press offices were scenes of confusion and concern as people from across the spectrum of
  • Hardball

    Dir: Brian Robbins. US. 2001. 106 mins. Set around a scruffy baseball diamond in a tough black neighbourhood of Chicago, Hardball is essentially a re-casting of seventies hit The Bad News Bears with less comedy and considerably more urban grit. As a family-oriented drama, it efficiently delivers its uplifting message and climactic emotional punch. But selling those elements won't be easy: while parents will certainly welcome the life-affirming moral, teens may find the
  • Hollywood, Hong Kong

    Dir: Fruit Chan. Hong Kong, Japan, UK, France. 2001. 108 mins.Director Fruit Chan is living proof that there is more to Hong Kong cinema than Kung Fu actioners. Hollywood, Hong Kong is the second of a planned trilogy of films dealing with prostitutes from mainland China; the first was Durian, Durian, which made a small splash at last year's Venice festival. Chan's latest effort, in Venice once again, is a tender black comedy - if such a thing is possible - set i
  • Italy's Telepiu and Stream merger threatened

    Italy's antitrust watchdog has cast a deep shadow over the planned merger of Italian cable TV giants, Telepiu and Stream. Despite widespread industry confidence that the merger would receive swift regulatory approval, the antitrust authority has opened an investigation into the deal which had been agreed by the pay-TV groups' parent companies, News Corp and Vivendi Universal in July. Vivendi and News Corp had reached an agreement for the merger of their respective pay TV operations in
  • Korean Film Commission awards production support

    The Korean Film Commission (KOFIC) has announced the recipients of its second annual production support program for art and experimental films worth a total $1.6m. The program, which dispenses $320,000 each to three art films and $160,000 each to four experimental films, was inaugurated last year in an effort to promote diversity in local filmmaking and the international recognition of Korean cinema. Chwi-hwa-seon (pictured), the latest film in production by veteran dir
  • Latest updated Venice film festival deals

    Hundstage, the debut film by Austrian director Ulrich Seidl which sharply divided critics at the Venice film festival, has proved a hot seller for producer and sales agent The Co-Production Office.The picture was sold to Mikado for Italy, Les Films Seville for Canada, Film Museum for The Netherlands, Filmladen for Austria and Inter Cine Agency for Russia. Co-Production boss Philippe Bober expects to close deals for the UK, France and Germany soon. He said he also had strong inte
  • Ledger may be in Our Sunshine

    Heath Ledger is in negotiations to star in Our Sunshine, based on Robert Drew's 1991 book about the infamous Australian bush ranger Ned Kelly. Working Title is attached to the project, which is being produced by LA-based Australian Nelson Woss. Other projects on Kelly that are in the pipeline include an adaptation of Peter Carey's 2000 novel True History Of The Kelly Gang, which has Irish director Neil Jordan attached. A Southern Star production of Fanatic Heart w
  • Leipzig fest premieres Syrian documentaries

    Leipzig's Festival for Documentary and Animation Film (October 16-21)is to host the first ever international showcase of documentaries from Syria.Since Syrian filmmakers have to battle with restrictions and censorship, many of the films being screened in this regional focus from past and present works will also be world premieres.Meanwhile, retrospectives are being staged for the Chinese ethnographical documentary from 1956-2001 and for four decades of the Leipzig festival with
  • Life As A House

    Dir Irwin Winkler. US 2001. 123 mins.Although New Line is releasing Life As A House in late October, in its theme and message it's the perfect Christmas film, a sort of a contemporary It's A Wonderful Life, and not solely due to the fact that, like the Jimmy Stewart's hero in Frank Capra's 1946 classic, the protagonist's name is George. Rendering a masterful performance, Kevin Kline plays an architect, burdened by a messy, disorganised life, who, upon being dia
  • Light Of My Eyes (Luce Dei Miei Occhi)

    Dir: Giuseppe Piccioni. Italy. 2001. 108mins.In the run-up to Venice there were hopes that Giuseppe Piccioni might pull off the big one-two for Italian cinema, after Nanni Moretti's Cannes success. But the optimism soon evaporated. Not that Light Of My Eyes is a bad film; it's just that it fails resoundingly to fulfil the promise of the director's previous outing, Not Of This World (Fuori Dal Mondo), a finely-judged human drama which raised Piccioni from the her
  • Lions Gate buys domestic on Lovely & Amazing

    Lions Gate Films has bought North American theatrical distribution rights to Nicole Holofcener's Lovely & Amazing which screened yesterday at the Toronto International Film Festival - although its scheduled premiere screening on Tuesday was cancelled due to the terrorist attacks in the US. The film was first seen at the Telluride Film Festival last month.Lions Gate bought the film from Blow Up Pictures, Good Machine and Roadside Attractions. Shot on digital video, Lovely & Am
  • London Film Festival secures major premieres

    Robert Altman's Gosford Park will world premiere as opening night film at November's London Film Festival, while Iain Softley's K-PAX will close proceedings as an international premiere.Marking something of a coup for the festival, Gosford Park is the biggest budget film supported by Governement-backed UK support body the Film Council. The body is also parent of the festival.The 1930s murder mystery, to be released in the UK by Entertainment Film Distributo
  • Lovely And Amazing

    Dir: Nicole Holofcener. US. 2001. 90 minutesNicole Holofcener's Lovely And Amazing, her second picture, goes for the same art-house audience that supported her impressive 1996 debut Walking And Talking, and will probably reach the same modest level of success. It's a clever and witty movie, about such contemporary issues as family dysfunction and women's body image concerns, driven by a good, lively script, generally fine acting, and supported by adequate
  • Mediaset posts first half profit dip of 3.3%

    Mediaset, the leading private Italian broadcaster founded by Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi, has posted first half losses in gross profits of 3.3% to Euros 450.3m. The company's consolidated balance, however, was up 6% to Euros 500.3m, with total turnover rising 6.5% to Euros 1.37 billion.Meanwhile, the broadcaster posted record audience results, with its three channels - flagship Canale 5, Rete 4 and Italia 1 - grabbing a 44.4% share in the first half of the year - up 1.2% on last
  • Mueller prepares international production slate

    Marco Mueller, producer of Babak Payami's Venice prize winner Secret Ballot and executive producer of Sarajevo winner and Cannes favourite No Man's Land, says he will soon start producing Italian feature films in addition to lining up South American and African titles for the production slate that will launch his new, as yet unnamed, production outfit. In the meantime, Mueller - who left his position as the artistic director of the Locarno Film Festival last year to join
  • Neue Sentimental acquires Compass Films

    Frankfurt-based German production group Neue Sentimental Film (NSF) has acquired the remaining 49% interest in New York's Compass Films to add to the initial 51% stake it had obtained in February as part of a restructuring of its US-based business. Compass, which like NSF concentrates on producing for the corporate communications and advertising sectors, recorded sales of around $9.6m during 2000 with commercials for such clients as Canon, Lexus and A.T. Kearney. This latest tra
  • No Shame (Sin Verguenza)

    Dir: Joaquin Oristrell. Spain. 2001. 116mins.Writer-director Joaquin Oristrell is not the first person to make a movie spoofing the world of movie-making, but he has succeeded in creating a fresh, fun and unpretentious film which - were it not for its Spanish language and lack of international stars - could have great mainstream potential abroad. The combination of these factors, plus much local humour and the film's lengthy running time, will probably spell more TV than thea
  • Novocaine

    Dir: David Atkins. US. 2001. 100minsA deeply conventional thriller that generates some unconventional laughs, Novocaine is an unpersuasive homage to film noir archetypes of gullible men and the wicked women who drive them to the edge of destruction. A classy cast and some bright comic notions are the virtues in a film fatally flawed by predictable plotting, mundane dialogue and an inconsistency of tone. Often just a notch or two above an average TV-movie production, it
  • One Man Up (L'Uomo In Piu)

    Dir: Paolo Sorrentino. Italy. 2001. 100mins.Paolo Sorrentino's first full-length feature, which screened in the Cinema del Presente competition at Venice, shows promise. Its tight budget is betrayed by the flat, TV-style camerawork and one or two amateurish moments; and it is quite a conventional work to come out of Naples, which has long been the experimental seedbed of Italian cinema. But One Man Up is saved by its good structure. Though Sorrentino's script could do
  • Post-tragedy schedules completely revised for TV

    The tragedy that befell America last week has prompted TV and theatre owners around the world to pull potentially offensive or sensitive material from their schedules. A good example of the extent to which schedules have had to be altered out of sensitivity to events is found at the UK's Sky Television. Its film division - Sky Movies - has pulled over 30 movies due to air in the next week because they contained images which may have offended in light of the attacks on the World Trade C
  • Secret Ballot

    Dir: Babak Payami. Italy-Iran-Canada-Switzerland. 2001. 105mins.If it weren't for the fact that another Iranian film (Jafar Panahi's The Circle) had scooped the Golden Lion last year, Secret Ballot would have been in with more than a shout for the top prize at this year's Venice shindig. As it was, Babak Payami had to make do with the best director award. Former Locarno festival boss Marco Muller - now a producer with Benetton creative arm Fabrica - specialises
  • Sex And Lucia (Lucia Y El Sexo)

    Dir: Julio Medem. Spain. 2001. 127mins.Although Sex And Lucia (Lucia Y El Sexo) lives up to its name and won't disappoint audiences looking for erotic material, it is first and foremost a romantic film, weaving a captivating tale which ends on a pleasingly optimistic note after dropping to some pretty dark depths. Writer-director Julio Medem may have to tone down some of his most explicit scenes, however, if he hopes for a mainstream theatrical release in certain terri
  • South Korea begins construction of film studio

    The South Korean port city of Busan (formerly known as Pusan) has begun construction of an indoor film studio in a bid to attract local and overseas film crews to shoot in the city. Set to be unveiled during the 2001 Pusan International Film Festival in November, the studio will complement the "one-stop-shop service" provided to film crews by the Busan Film Commission.Located in a renovated building inside the Busan Yachting Center, home to the Pusan Film Festival's outdoor screenings
  • Spain's Ensueno reveals grand co-production plans

    Ensueno Films, the fledgling film division of Spanish free-to-air broadcaster Antena 3 Television, has confirmed plans to co-produce as many as ten feature films per year.So far this year, the company, which launched in November 2000, says it has invested more than $27.6m (pts 5,100m) in the co-production or acquisition of broadcast rights to 21 Spanish feature films. Spain's new Cinema Law requires all broadcasters to reinvest 3% of their annual earnings into Spanish audiovisual produ
  • Spain's Sitges film festival reveals final line-up

    The International Film Festival of Catalonia, better known as Sitges, has unveiled the final program for its forthcoming edition (Oct 4-13).More than 20 films will compete for 11 top awards, including the newly created make-up and production design prizes, in the event's longest-standing Fantastic section. Parallel section Gran Angular will feature 12 films competing for the public choice best film award, including Woody Allen's The Curse Of The Jade Scorpion, Sean Penn's
  • Stars cancel San Sebastian appearances

    Julie Andrews, who was scheduled to receive the Donostia Award at this year' s San Sebastian International Film Festival, has cancelled her trip to Spain "in light of the recent events" in New York and Washington. The festival, which begins next Thursday and runs through September 29, issued a statement announcing the cancellation of Andrews as well as of other anticipated guests including Barbara Hershey and Anthony Lapaglia, stars of competition film Lantana, and Mira Sorvino,
  • The Fast And The Furious races into the UK

    Rob Cohen's action drama The Fast And The Furious roared into the UK at the weekend taking a three-day gross of $2.6m (£1.76m). However the film, which centres on the Los Angeles street-racing scene, was not able to dethrone last weekend's opener Moulin Rouge from its number one spot. Furious played at 414 sites for an impressive average of $6,253. It stars Pitch Black's Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, last seen in Cohen previous effort The Skulls.20th Ce
  • The Hole attracts Italian audiences

    UK production The Hole is turning heads at the Italian box office where it continues to perform well despite strong competition from Hollywood fare including Jurassic Park III, Heartbreakers and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. After opening on August 31 for a debut weekend gross of $440,000 (L 944.7m), the thriller, which stars American Beauty's Thora Birch and British upcoming talent Keira Knightley, went on to show legs in its second weekend recording a furthe
  • Tosca

    Dir: Benoit Jacquot. France-Italy-Germany-UK. 2001. 120mins.The latest director to accept the challenge of filming opera - a notoriously difficult genre - is French director Benoit Jacquot (Sade, Pas de Scandale). Jacquot has taken on Puccini's Tosca - a smart choice, as it is not only a crowd-pleaser, but also one of the shortest of the classic operas, running at around two hours. The director also has at his service the two most bankable singers currently available,
  • Two Spanish festivals announce programmes

    The Gijon International Film Festival (Nov 23-30) and the Valencia Mediterranean Film Showcase (Oct 18-25) have both unveiled the first details of their forthcoming editions.Continuing its focus on international independent cinema, Gijon is planning retrospectives of Spanish director Jose Luis Guerin, New York filmmaker Richard Kern and Japanese director Seijun Suzuki.In addition, the festival has announced a new section titled "New Cinemas" (Nuevos Cines) dedicated to the scree
  • UK actors' union opts for strike - with exceptions

    In a move that threatens to bring UK production to a virtual standstill, powerful local performers' union Equity has told its members not to agree to any contracts for feature films that would mean working on or after December 1.The call marks a serious turn in Equity's talks with UK producers' body PACT to secure profit participation for its members similar to the residuals US actors enjoy through SAG contracts. Equity said on Tuesday that it had told its members to say no to any cont
  • Valladolid unveils local contenders for 46th event

    Following tradition, Spain's International Film Week of Valladolid (Oct 26-Nov 3) gave a sneak preview of its forthcoming 46th edition by revealing the Spanish films and co-productions participating in the festival. Three Spanish feature films will compete in the official section, including Toni Salgot's Dama De Porto Pim, Manane Rodriguez's Los Pasos Perdidos and Javier Balaguer's Solo Mia. Ken Loach's The Navigators and Argentine director Jua
  • Viennale unveils first titles in 130-film line up

    Nanni Moretti's The Son's Room, Sean Penn's The Pledge, the Coen brothers' The Man Who Wasn't There, Manoel de Oliviera's I'm Going Home and Jean-Luc Godard's In Praise Of Love are among the titles making their local premieres in Viennale's main programme. The 130-title line-up, which includes many films not picked up for Austrian distribution, also boasts Jacques Rivette's Who Knows', Richard Linklater's Waking Life and Tsai Ming-liang'
  • Working Title eyes Daldry for Backpacker film

    Working Title Films is believed to be courting Billy Elliot director Stephen Daldry for a drama about a group of young backpackers travelling abroad.Under the working title The Backpacker Movie, the picture would be the first to emerge from a three-year deal which Daldry signed with Working Title in November last year after they collaborated on his hit debut. The project, currently in development, would also re-unite Daldry with Billy Elliot producer Jon Finn, who
  • Y Tu Mama Tambien (And Your Mother Too)

    Dir: Alfonso Cuaron. Mexico. 2001. 105 mins. After working successfully for a decade in the US, Alfonso Cuaron returns briefly to his homeland, abandoning the highly crafted look of his two Hollywood studio features, A Little Princess and Great Expectations, to make a vibrant, gritty road movie which is also a subtle portrait of modern Mexico. Following a bitter fight with the local censorship board over the copious sex scenes, which earned it the equival