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Screen
18 September 2002

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  • $20m Edgardo Mortara bites the dust

    Edgardo Mortara, one of the most ambitious productions at the UK's FilmFour, has collapsed only weeks before it was due to start principal photography.The $20m period epic starring Anthony Hopkins and Javier Bardem appeared to have survived Channel 4's decision to close down FilmFour as a stand alone operation and return to low-budget UK filmmaking. But in a shock move FilmFour is shutting down the production, which was to start shooting next month in Italy and Romania under
  • 11' 09' 01

    Directors: various. France. 2002. 135minsTrailing controversy and accusations of a vicious anti-American sensibility, portemanteau production 11'09''01 proves to be a much more measured, wide-ranging and humanist response to the events of September 11, 2001. Commissioned to make a short film, eleven directors of international standing have created a collection of work that spans the globe and a spectrum of emotions from bitter irony to anguish and poignancy. Inevitabl
  • Alcon buys Pemberton script

    Alcon Entertainment, theWarner-based production outfit behind Insomnia and The Affair Of The Necklace, has purchased the comedy spec script The WholePemberton Thing written byfirst-time screenwriter Mike Samonek. The story deals with the volatile relationshipbetween a young executive and his Machiavellian, oddball office mate.Samonek has simultaneouslysigned a first-look deal with Alcon for upcoming TV and film projects. A formeradvertising copywriter, Samonek has
  • Alta Films takes Magdalene Sisters for Spain

    Madrid-based distributor Alta Films has picked up rights in Spain to Venice Golden Lion winner The Magdalene Sisters.Alta also said it had closed Spanish rights to 11.09.01, the compilation of short films from 11 international directors reflecting on the terrorist attacks of last year. The effort screened Wednesday in Toronto as part of the festival's commemoration of the one-year anniversary of the event.Directed by Scottish actor Peter Mullan, The Magdalene Si
  • Antwone Fisher

    Dir: Denzel Washington. US. 2002. 117minsAn assured directorial debut from double Oscar-winner Denzel Washington, Antwone Fisher is an inspirational true story of one man's struggle to overcome the legacy of an abused childhood. It may sound like the subject matter of countless TV-movies dramas but, handled with discretion and sensitivity, it justifies its status as big screen fare and features a star-making performance from Derek Luke in the title role. Solid box-offi
  • Antwone Fisher to open AFI FEST, Talk To Her to close

    Thisyear's AFI FEST in Los Angeles will open on Nov 7 with the gala screeningof the psychological drama Antwone Fisher, the long awaited directorial debut of Denzel Washington, whichpremiered at the weekend in Toronto. The festival will also screen the USpremiere of Atom Egoyan's Araratas i
  • Australia's Beyond blames losses on revaluation of film catalogue

    Beyond International managing director Mikael Borglund has played down the company's US$12m (A$22m) loss for the year ending June 30, saying it was principally due to a $10.7m revaluation of non-performing films and television programs from the catalogue. Total writedowns were actually $12.6m with the addition of online investments and foreign exchange losses.The board agreed on this "conservative approach" because of continuing poor worldwide sales, uncertain world economic condition
  • Brazil's Rio festival to showcase 400 films

    Brazil's most prominent film event, the Festival do Rio BR, will showcase up to 400 films in more than seventeen sidebars. Running from September 26 to October 10, the festival will include the latest works by internationally renowned directors led by Woody Allen, Pedro Almodovar, Arturo Ripstein, Atom Egoyan and Costa-Gavras. Among celebrity guests, directors Roman Polanski, Bertrand Tavernier, Tom Tykwer, John Madden, Neil Labute, Fernando Trueba, Pablo Trapero, Carlos Reygadas and
  • BVI's Signs flies high in UK, Germany, Mexico

    BuenaVista International (BVI) scored its biggest ever live-action opening in the UKover the weekend as it continued the international roll-out of Signs, M Night Shyamalan's domestic sci-fi hit. Thepicture grossed $5.7m from 443 screens in the UK, including previews, which wasa
  • Callas Forever

    Dir: Franco Zeffirelli. It-UK-Fr-Sp-Rom. 2002. 103 mins.Whether Franco Zeffirelli's biopic of opera star Maria Callas satisfies its audience will largely depend on demographics. Like its director, this is a film of the old school that will appeal to an older generation of music lovers and occasional cinemagoers, who do not object to a slightly hammy feature: certainly, cineliterate under-50s are likely to find it over-conventional and over laboured. But ultimately this Ital
  • Chen Kaige leads Chinese delegation to Denver

    Together director Chen Kaige will be part of a Chinesedelegation attending next month's 25th Starz Denver International Film Festival(DIFF) as part of a tribute to Chinese cinema. The festival, which runs fromOctober 10-20, will present a 'Salute To Chinese Cinema' as part of i
  • Cinesite (Europe) wins Tomb Raider 2 effects deal

    London-based Cinesite(Europe) Ltd has won a contract for a portion of the visual effects for TombRaider 2 with Paramount Pictures.The company, which worked on Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, will produce some 3-D animation sequences whichconstitute a large portion of the total visual effects shots in the film whichwill again star Angelina Jolie and is being directed by Jan De Bont.Cinesite's digitaleffects team has been developing pre-visualisation and working alongside theprodu
  • Cronenberg, Sokurov take top honours at Toronto

    Local hero David Cronenberg and Russian Ark director Alexandr Sokurov won the major adjudicated prizes as the Toronto International Film Festival wrapped its 27th edition. Cronenberg's Cannes competitor Spider took the Toronto-City Award for Best Canadian Feature while Sokurov's technical masterpiece, Russian Ark, an epochal 96 minute,
  • Cronenberg, Sokurov, Caro take top honours at Toronto

    Local hero David Cronenberg and Russian Ark director Alexandr Sokurov won the major adjudicated prizes as the Toronto International Film Festival wrapped its 27th edition. Cronenberg's Cannes competitor Spider took the Toronto-City Award for Best Canadian Feature while Sokurov's technical masterpiece, an epochal 96 minute, single-take, won the inaugural Independent Film Channel Visions Award. The Visions jury gave special citations to Fernando Meirelles' City Of
  • Endemol acquires hit-making Spanish TV production outfit

    Endemol Entertainment has bought out 100% of Barcelona TV production outfit Gestmusic Endemol.Endemol, itself 100% owned by Spanish telecoms company Telefonica, originally bought into the producer in 1994 and owned 60% prior to the latest move. Gestmusic founders Tony Cruz and Jose Maria Mainat will stay on as co-executive directors for at least another four years.Gestmusic is best known for the creation of hugely successful TV programs such as reality show Operacion Triunf
  • Equinox names Yves Dion vice president of distribution

    Montreal-based distributor Equinox Entertainment has appointed industry veteran Yves Dion to the position of vice-president of distribution. Dion was formerly president of Blackwatch Releasing and prior to that was president of Malofilm Distribution for 14 years.Dion' first official deal saw Equinox pick up Canadian rights to Deborah Day's Expecting, a local comedy which debuted at the 2002 Montreal World Film Festival. The company also appointed Karene Rietschin to handl
  • European Film Academy announces 2002 shortlist

    The European Film Academy has selected 37 titles, from more than 300 submissions, as the shortlist for the European Film 2002 prize, to be presented on Saturday 7th December in RomeThe shortlist will be voted on by the 1400-strong Academy membership, which comprises directors, screenwriters, actors, producers and distributors from all over Europe. Every member can designate up to three films from the selection list for nomination of the European Film 2002 as well as up to three candid
  • Fradis & Cohen team for new film investment fund

    Anatoly Fradis of Alfa FilmEnterprises Inc and Joseph N Cohen of American Entertainment Investors Inc haveformed a new film investment outfit called Marching Band Productions. Fradisand Cohen have already closed their first deal for the company - forthree pictures with Nigel Sinclair and Guy East of Spitfire Productions kickingoff with "significant" equity funding to Spitfire's firstfeature Masked & Anonymousstarring Bob Dylan, Jeff Bridges, Penelope Cruz and Jessica Lange and directed
  • France's Haut Et Court takes two from Trust

    Denmark's Trust Film Sales rounded a busy Toronto off with further sales on their two hot titles, Susanne Bier's Open Hearts and Lukas Moodysson's Lilja 4-Ever, to France's Haut Et Court. The French company also handled Moodysson's Together with great success.Austria's Stadtkino also secured Moodysson's Russian-based drama, which like Bier's Dogme-film is enjoying success at the local box-office at the moment. Earlier in the festival Newmarket took US rights to Bie
  • France's Haut Et Court takes two from Trust

    Denmark's Trust Film Sales rounded a busy Toronto off with further sales on their two hot titles, Susanne Bier's Open Hearts and Lukas Moodysson's Lilja 4-Ever, to France's Haut Et Court. The French company also handled Moodysson's Together with great success.Austria's Stadtkino also secured Moodysson's Russian-based drama, which like Bier's Dogme-film is enjoying success at the local box-office at the moment. Earlier in the festival Newmarket took US rights to Bie
  • German exhibitor launches theatrical distribution operation

    German exhibitor Kinostar Theater GmbH has expanded its operations to embrace in-house theatrical distribution in the field of arthouse cinema in addition to its exhibition and production activities.The first release will Philip Groening's drama L'Amour, L'Argent, L'Amour (pictured) which won a Best Actress Silver Leopard at the 2000 Locarno International Film Festival.Booking and billing for Kinostar's distribution arm will be handled by Munich-based a
  • Global Rule One relaxed in Australia for the first time

    After months of negotiation, an agreement has been reached that relaxes the effect of Global Rule One on Australian productions, particularly where budgets are low, and where the cast on these productions are Australian, New Zealand or other non-US members of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). With the number of high-profile Australian actors now regularly employed on Hollywood films at an all-time high, the concern was that Global Rule One could have priced them out of their own local fil
  • Hometown films fall under London festival spotlight

  • Hometown films fall under London festival spotlight

    Two British films will book-end the forthcoming edition of the Regus London Film Festival (RLFF) (Nov 6-21). Stephen Frears' provocative Dirty Pretty Things, which appeared in competition at Venice, is set as the festival's opening night film, while Thaddeus O'Sullivan's Helena Bonham-Carter starring The Heart Of Me will get its European premiere on the closing night."We're thrilled to be opening and closing the festival with films which offer two radically different vis
  • Hong Kong's film industry appeals for government assistance

    Hong Kong's leading film organisations plan to appeal to the government for help following a sharp downturn in both production levels and box office for domestic films in the first eight months of the year.The Federation of Hong Kong Film Workers, an alliance of nine industry associations, is holding a conference next Wednesday (September 18) to discuss ways to revive the declining market. The alliance will then lobby both the Hong Kong and mainland China governments to introduce polic
  • In America (Working Title)

    Director: Jim Sheridan. Ire-UK. 2002. 103 minsA heart-warming portrait of an Irish family's life and death struggles, In America marks another uplifting human drama from writer-director Jim Sheridan. Beautifully acted by the entire cast, its sure-footed mixture of laughter and tears is on the sentimental side but should win over even the hardest of hearts. Broad-based in its appeal, it will require the tender loving care of a committed distributor to maximise its poten
  • Independent peppermint gets in with The Guys

    peppermint, the worldwide distribution company that has recently undergone a management buy-out from Helkon Media AG, has acquired international distribution rights to The Guys, the film of Anne Nelson's hit play which deals with the aftermath of 9/11. The film, which world premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival yesterday, stars Sigourney Weaver and Anthony LaPaglia and is one of the hot titles at the festival without domestic distribution yet attached.The Guys
  • Indian industrial giant Tata Group moves into film production

    Indian industrial giant Tata Group has entered the Bollywood film production sector, signing up Indian superstar Amitabh Bachchan to star in its first film, Aitbaar.Tata is the latest in line of new entrants into the Indian film industry: in July 20th Century Fox announced plans to produce its first Bollywood film, which is expected to be ready for release in January 2003.Aitbaar will be produced under the banner of Cutting Edge Entertainment, a new division set
  • Italy's cinema department chief to be ousted

    Rossana Rummo, the popular head of the Italian government's cinema department is to be replaced on October 1st by Gianni Profita, a political ally of Silvio Berlusconi.Profita is known to be close to Carmelo Rocca, currently the general secretary of the cultural ministry. He is a media professor at Rome's Luiss School of Political Science.News of Rummo's (pictured) departure emerged at the 19th European Film Festival (Sept 14th -21st) in the coastal town of Via
  • Japan bucks Evil box-office trend

    After a mediocre performance in North America and most international territories, Resident Evil is taking Japan by storm with a first week gross of $10m.Released on an initial 190 screens nationwide, distributor Amuse Pictures expects the action-horror title, based on the popular video game series, to end up grossing at least $25m from 1.5 million admissions in the territory. Resident Evil's Japanese success is all the more surprising given the film's brief theatri
  • Jeff Wadlow wins the Chrysler Film Festival $1m prize

    Emerging film-maker JeffWadlow has been awarded a $1m production deal with online independent Hypnoticand Universal Studios as winner of the 2002 Chrysler Million Dollar FilmFestival. The year-long festival produced five finalists and culminated in aceremony at the Toronto International Film Festival on Saturday. Wadlow, agraduate of USC School of Cinema-Television, impressed the judges with hisfeature film, Living The Lie, andaccompanying script, storyboards and mo
  • Ken Burns to receive IDA career achievement award

    Ken Burns will receive theInternational Documentary Association (IDA) 2002 Career Achievement Award atthe 18th annual IDA awards gala benefit at the Directors Guild OfAmerica Theatre on Dec 13. Burns has produced 19 documentaries including theOscar nominated Brooklyn Bridgeand the epic miniseries Jazz and TheCivil War.'Ken Burns is in arelatively early stage of his career to receive this acknowledgement from hispeers,' said IDA President Michael
  • Laura Ivey joins Infinty in legal & business affairs dept

    Laura Ivey has beenappointed vice president of business and legal affairs at the LA-based filmproduction and financing company, Infinity International Entertainment. Iveywill be responsible for negotiating and structuring licensing and productionsdeals with domestic and international parties for all Infinity productions andall productions by Cinerenta, Germany's largest film fund, which are supervisedby Infinity. Other duties include negotiating contracts with talent and o
  • Lions Gate International gets into Bed with Spanish comedy

    Lions Gate FilmsInternational has acquired international rights to Spanish romantic comedymusical The Other Side Of The Bed(El Otro Lado Del La Cama)directed by Emilio Martinez Lazaro. The film, which screened at the TorontoInternational Film Festival as a gala premiere, marks the second collaborationbetween Lions Gate Films International and production outfit EstudiosPicasso
  • Look Now signs output deal with Swiss Dschoint Ventschr

    Zurich-based production outfit Dschoint Ventschr has signed an output deal with local theatrical distributor Look Now for the release of its films in Switzerland The first two titles to fall under this output deal are Dschoint Ventschr co-owner Samir's documentary Forget Bagdad - Jews and Arabs - The Iraqi Connection and Stephen Beckner and Michael Huber's English language feature film Birdseye. They both received their world premieres at last month's Locarno Inter
  • Melbourne film studio gets government go-ahead

    A major new film studio complex in the Australian state of Victoria got the greenlight this week, after the state's government agreed to commit US$22m (A$40m) of public funding to the US$60m ($A110m) project.To be built in the state capital of Melbourne, Central City Studios (CCS) will have five new production studios totalling nearly 7,000 square metres by early 2004. A sixth studio and a cluster development of related businesses will follow on the six hectare site.The constr
  • MGM celebrates with Barbershop's $21m opening

    After a string of flops MGM had some long overdue good news this weekend as Barbershop cut through the competition to open top of the charts on $21m, according to studio estimates released on Sunday. The situational comedy stars Ice Cube as the patron of the eponymous salon and received enthusiastic reviews, averaging a snippy $13,084 from 1,605 theatres. It was directed by first-timer Tim Story. MGM''s specialised division United Artists also enjoyed a successful limited opening for t
  • Michael Thornhill wins Australia's Cecil Homes Award

    Filmmaker Michael Thornhill has won this year's Cecil Homes Award in a unanimous vote by the board of the Australian Screen Directors Association.The award is for a filmmaker who has promoted the art of directing and advocated the role of the director and he has done that tirelessly -- often in the form of interruptions from the floor during conferences."The way funding bodies automatically put producers at the top of the food chain is wrong," he told Screendaily.com. He particu
  • More French films attract fewer audiences

    A record 26 French titles were released on French screens during this summer's holiday season (July-August). However, and despite the fact that overall attendance has been on a par with last year's healthy figures, French domestic cinema, which was on a roll last year, has seen its performance slump by 6.4 million admissions in 2002 during this period.Once considered a 'graveyard' season, the summer months have seen attendance in French cinemas steadily creeping up over the past
  • Morvern Callar leads British Independent Film Awards nominations

    The British Independent Film Awards (BIFA) announced the nominations for its fifth annual awards on Wednesday.Over 100 films were viewed by the pre-selection committee, with the front-runners emerging as Morvern Callar with seven nominations, Bloody Sunday (five nominations) and The Lawless Heart (five nominations). All three were nominated in the Best British Independent Film category, as were Bend It Like Beckham and Sweet Sixteen.BIFA head
  • MPAA moves to tackle rampant Serbian film piracy

    The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is planning to fund an anti-piracy programme in Serbia and Montenegro, where it is estimated that 90-95% of films on television and on video are pirated.If funding from the Hollywood studios is forthcoming, the MPAA is also weighing up plans to open an agency in Serbia which, in partnership with local distributors, would help enforce a proposed new local anti-piracy law.The move follows the July launch of an MPAA campaign to cra
  • Newmarket, Lions Gate seal two more Toronto acquisitions

    Two more films screening at the Toronto International Film Festival secured domestic distribution deals over the weekend. Newmarket Films took US rights to Lukas Moodysson's Lilya 4-ever from Trust Film Sales, while Lions Gate Films beat out competitors including Miramax and New Line to buy North American rights to horror picture Cabin Fever from production companies DownHome Entertainment, Tonic Films, Black Sky Entertainment and Deer Path Films.For Newmarket's president
  • Newmarket, Lions Gate seal two more Toronto acquisitions

    Two more films screening at the Toronto International Film Festival secured domestic distribution deals over the weekend. Newmarket Films took US rights to Lukas Moodysson's Lilja 4-ever from Trust Film Sales, while Lions Gate Films beat out competitors including Miramax and New Line to buy North American rights to horror picture Cabin Fever
  • Northbeach launches into Australian distribution market

    Yet another player has joined the growing band of small Australian distributors specialising in independent and foreign films. Northbeach Film Distributors, owned by journalist and publisher David Pearce, is planning a limited release of Spanish director Ventura Pons' first English language film Food Of Love, a comedy drama starring five British actors including Juliet Stevenson and Paul Rhys."I had always thought about starting a distribution company because of going to market
  • Norway to allow cinema privatisation for the first time since 1913

    Norway's largest exhibitor, the municipally-owned Oslo Cinemas, will be privatised before the end of this year, with the Oslo City Council which owns the company, planning to sell between 66 % and 100 % of its shares.Oslo Cinemas operates with 11 cinemas and 31 screens and attracted 3 million admissions last year. It controls more than 25 % of Norway's cinema market.The terms of the sale have not yet been unveiled. However, it is already clear that cinema properties worth $27m a
  • On the road to success' - Perdition launches in Europe

    Sam Mendes' Road To Perdition debuted in several European territories this week, following its Venice festival screening, giving solid - though hardly overwhelming results.The 20th Century Fox internationally distributed drama, which is based on the graphic novel by Max Allan Collins, took the top spot in Germany over the four-day weekend Sept 5-8. However, while its $1.49m (Euros 1.52m) from 519 screens provided a chart best, it still only delivered a so-so screen average of $2
  • Palm scores new funding from Colombian media giant

    Chris Blackwell's PalmPictures has secured a new round of funding anchored by a"significant" investment from Latin America's Grupo SantoDomingo and also including additional funding from long-time Palm Picturesinvestor Avalon Capital Group. Grupo Santo Domingo is adiversified Latin American company with assets in broadcast television, radioand print media; Avalon is the equity investment vehicle for Ted Waitt,founder, chairman and CEO of Gateway Inc.The new capital will be usedt
  • Phone Booth

    Director: Joel Schumacher. US. 2002. 80minsA slick, Twilight Zone-style premise is stretched to the limit of narrative credibility in Phone Booth, a trim, trashy little thriller that reunites the Tigerland team of director Joel Schumacher and star Colin Farrell. A compelling central performance and energetic direction serve to distract from the insubstantial nature of the enterprise, but they aren't enough to render it a first choice, must-see theatrical
  • Rudolph's Dentists go to Manhattan

    Manhattan PicturesInternational, the New York-based US independent which bought domestic rightsto Michael Apted's Enigmaand Jean-Luc Godard's In Praise Of Love, has resurfaced, taking all North American rights toAlan Rudolph's Toronto festival hit The Secret Lives Of Dentists. The deal was closed by ShaunRedick of ICM and attorney Andrew P Hurwitz of Epstein, Levinsohn, Bodine,Hurwitz & Weinstein on behalf of producer George Van Buskirk of HolediggerFilms and Paul
  • San Sebastian to present three lifetime achievement awards

    To celebrate its 50th anniversary edition, the San Sebastian International Film Festival (Sept 19-28) will present three, rather than the usual two, lifetime achievement Donostia Awards this year to Jessica Lange, Dennis Hopper and Bob Hoskins.The six-time Academy Award-nominated actress Lange is recognised for her work in classic films like King Kong, All That Jazz, and Tootsie, as well as more recent works such as Prozac Nation and Masked & Anonymous.
  • Signs points to strong UK gross for Gibson

    Mel Gibson enjoyed his biggest opening to date in the UK at the weekend when M Night Shyamalan's Signs claimed a massive $5.9m (£3.8m) from 443 sites - including $481,566 of previews at 375 locations.Giving distributor Buena Vista International (BVI) its second biggest opening of the year, overtaking the $1.8m (£1.16m) taken by Christopher Nolan's thriller Insomnia two weeks earlier, Signs achieved a massive site average of $12,181 for the three-day weeke
  • Slap Her...She's French

    Dir: Melanie Mayron. Germany-US. 2002. 90mins.As high-school satires go - and more than a few of them have come and gone over the past few years - German-backed US comedy Slap Her' She's French takes an amusing enough poke at the mores of modern teens but doesn't come close to the kind of sharp wit evinced by such straight A examples of the genre as Clueless and Election. With little in the way of star power to rely on, new US distributor Premiere, which
  • Sogepaq restructures distribution team

    Spanish distribution house Sogepaq has restructured its executive staff following the July departure of former head of international sales Eva Diederix, now with UGC in France.Simon de Santiago has been appointed deputy director of distribution for Sogepaq and sister production company Sogecine. Previously head of Canal Plus Guiones, a script development program also housed in Sogepaq umbrella body Sogecable, de Santiago will report to director of distribution Jacques Roldan.S
  • Son Of The Bride sweeps Argentina's Oscars

    Son Of The Bride (El Hijo De La Novia) swept the board at Argentina's Oscar equivalent, the Premios Condor this week. Click here for the reviewA Best Foreign Oscar nominee this year, Juan Jose Campanella's romantic comedy won eight out of its 12 nominations, including top awards for Best Picture, director (Campanella), actor (Ricardo Darin), new actress (Claudia Fontan), supporting actress (Norma Aleand
  • Sony rebrands its TV units, dropping Columbia TriStar

    Sony Pictures Entertainment(SPE) has renamed its domestic and international television concerns, removingthe Columbia TriStar moniker and rebramding them with the Sony name. ColumbiaTriStar Domestic Television and Columbia TriStar International Television willnow operate as Sony Pictures Television (SPT) and Sony Pictures TelevisionInternational (SPTI).The move is calculated tocapitalise on the strength of the Sony brand during a banner year for SPE'sfilm divisions,
  • Spanish pay-TV merger will get greenlight says media titan

    Jesus de Polanco, president of Spanish media group Sogecable, said on Tuesday that he is "convinced" the digital merger between Sogecable's pay TV platform Canal Satelite Digital (CSD) and rival Via Digital will be approved.News reports on Monday suggested the government would give the merger the green light by year-end. Various top-level goverment representatives were present Tuesday for Polanco's statements, made at a presentation of Sogecable's new suburban Madrid headquarters.
  • Spanish, Italian publishing giants unveil film production and distribution push

    Spanish publishing giant Grupo Planeta and Italian partner De Agostini have finally unveiled full details of their joint multi-media venture, DeA Planeta, including the creation of a new production division to be headed by former Esicma chief Pau Calpe.Calpe will oversee the as yet unnamed production division, which plans to co-produce miniseries and an annual 4-5 feature films, beginning with Esicma co-production Voices In The Night (Las Voces En La Noche) from Mensaka directo
  • Springtime In A Small Town (Xiao Cheng Zhi Chun)

    Dir: Tian Zhuangzhuang. China-Hong Kong. 2002. 116minsSpringtime In A Small Town is a glossy period piece, which coolly depicts the pressure-cooker atmosphere created in a small family following the arrival of an unexpected house guest. Director Tian Zhuangzhuang, who has not made a feature since his celebrated The Blue Kite in 1992, has lost none of his craft. The tension is carefully ratcheted up as the film adds thin layers of detail about the relationships o
  • Struggling Vivendi Universal 'committed' to Babelsberg studios

    Struggling media group Vivendi Universal remains committed to its ownership of Babelsberg Film Studios, according to Thierry Potok, chief executive of Vivendi Deutschland and caretaker manager of Studio Babelsberg Motion Pictures (SBMP).The sudden departure last week of SBMP CEO Gabriela Bacher, plus Vivendi Universal's ongoing attempts to raise cash by selling off key assets, had caused many industry observers to speculate about the French group's commitment to the German film studio
  • Suddenly (Tan De Repente)

    Dir: Diego Lerman. Argentina. 2002. 94 mins. Further proof of the astonishing range and vigour of the current Argentine cinema is offered by Suddenly (Tan De Repente), a captivating, simple yet subtle road movie about a lonely shop girl whose world is transformed when she is abducted by two punk lesbians. This bittersweet, femme-oriented comedy has immediate appeal to younger indie and gay audiences as well as to aficionados of Latin American film, but it also t
  • Sundance opens its doors to international docs

    The SundanceFilm Festival is opening its doors to international documentaries, launching asection of approximately eight films from around the world beginning at nextyear's event which will take place Jan 16-26, 2003 in Park City, Utah.The international documentary section will co-exist with the World Cinemaprogramme which features some 32 international dramatic features.The festival hasset a deadline of Oct 11 for completed documentaries to be submitted for thenew section, with submis
  • The Big Blue finally surfaces in Italy after fourteen years

    Fourteen years after it became a cult movie across the world, Luc Besson's The Big Blue is at long last set to open in Italy following the resolution of a lengthy court battle. Italian audiences will be able to enjoy the diving movie's premiere at the close of the European Film Festival in Viareggio on September 21st. Italian distribution rights are owned by Aurelio De Laurentiis's Rome outfit Filmauro, who expects to open the cult movie nationwide on September 27 on around 70
  • The Crime Of Father Amaro (El Crimen Del Padre Amaro)

    Dir: Carlos Carrera Mex-Sp-Arg-Fr 2002 118mins.Already breaking records at home in Mexico, Carlos Carrera's fifth feature is a compelling, multi-textured social drama that fires some hard questions at the role of the Catholic Church amid the extremes of wealth and poverty. Rising star Gael Garcia Bernal (Amores Perros, Y Tu Mama Tambien, Motorcycle Diaries) leads an excellent cast o
  • The Pornographer forced into double UK video release

    The UK's Tartan Video is to release Bertrand Bonello's The Pornographer on video in two different versions due to the restrictions of the British Video Recordings Act 1984. One version with an 18 certificate will be available for 18 year olds to purchase in normal high-street retail outlets with an 11 seconds cut demanded by the BBFC. The other version of the film, which will carry an R18 certificate will be made available to the same 18 year-old buyers, but only through lic
  • TVA takes local rights to Rhombus Media's current slate

    TVA Films has picked up Canadian rights to new films from three major Canadian filmmakers, Francois Girard, Don McKellar and Guy Maddin, representing the entire production slate of Toronto-based Rhombus Media.Rhombus produced Girard's films The Red Violin and 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould as well as McKellar's debut feature Last Night. All of the films will be produced by Rhombus principals Niv Fichman and Danny IronAt $6.3m (C$10m), the Girard project,
  • Two more domestic deals at Toronto

    Two more films sealed domestic distribution deals at the Toronto International Film Festival yesterday. IFC Films made its first acquisition since the departure of former chief Bob Berney, taking US rights to Jean-Pierre Limousin's Novo, while Lions Gate Films Releasing followed up its purchase of Gaspar Noe's Irreversible by buying all North American rights to Steve James' documentary Stevie.IFC Films' Jonathan Sehring and Sarah Lash negotiated the Novo deal with
  • Two more domestic deals at Toronto

    Two more films sealed domestic distribution deals at the Toronto International Film Festival yesterday. IFC Films made its first acquisition since the departure of former chief Bob Berney, taking US rights to Jean-Pierre Limousin's Novo, while Lions Gate Films Releasing followed up its purchase of Gaspar Noe's Irreversible by buying all North American rights to Steve James' documentary Stevie.IFC Films' Jonathan Sehring and Sarah Lash negotiated the Novo deal with
  • UA wins rights to Chen Kaige's Together

    United Artists (UA), the specialised film division of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), has made its first acquisition at the Toronto International Film Festival, taking North American rights to Chen Kaige's heartwarmer Together. Ironically it was MGM which was scheduled to distribute Kaige's last film Killing Me Softly, his first English language effort which has been roundly panned by critics outside the US, and which still awaits a domestic release date almost a year after it was fi
  • UA wins rights to Chen Kaige's Together

    United Artists (UA), the specialised film division of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), has made its first acquisition at the Toronto International Film Festival, taking North American rights to Chen Kaige's heartwarmer Together. Ironically it was MGM which was scheduled to distribute Kaige's last film Killing Me Softly, his first English language effort which has been roundly panned by critics outside the US, and which still awaits a domestic release date almost a year after it was fi
  • UK takes the lead in European DVD penetration

    The UK overtook France in 2001 to become the European country with the highest penetration of DVD players. This followed a generic campaign funded jointly by hardware and software companies to promote DVD over VHS.New figures from industry research company Screen Digest show that the overall European market for rental and sell-through video software grew by 20%, despite VHS sales dropping by 11% in value. The shift from tape to disc has been less marked in unit terms - VH
  • Valladolid festival unveils latest competition titles

    Ken Loach's Sweet Sixteen, Walter Doehner's The Blue Room (La Habitacion Azul), Diego Arsuaga's The Last Train (El Ultimo Tren) and Eduard Cortes's Nobody's Life (La Vida De Nadie) are among the titles set to compete in Spain's forthcoming Valladolid International Film Week (Oct 25-Nov 2).The festival traditionally announces the participation of Spanish productions and - as in the case of all of the competition titles unveiled except Cortes's Life - co-prod
  • Village Roadshow buoyed by exhibition turnaround

    Village Roadshow has achieved a remarkable turnaround in its exhibition division, with the ongoing policy of selling off certain territories clearly paying off and a string of popular films and new screens adding to the bottom line. Village Roadshow's exhibition arm posted a profit of A$28.6m for the 12 months to June 30, before tax and significant items. It follows last year's A$15.3m loss."As predicted, exhibition has rebounded strongly and has returned to its position as a
  • Vivendi Universal buys time with loan lifeline

    Financial pressure on Vivendi Universal, the group that controls Universal Pictures, Canal Plus and StudioCanal, is set to ease following a new agreement with banks and progress on asset sales.The group has brokered a new Euros3bn medium term credit line from a consortium including ABN Amro, BNP Paribas, CDC Ixis, Citigroup, Credit Agricole Indosuez, Credit Lyonnais, Credit Suisse First Boston, Natexis Banques Populaires, Royal Bank of Scotland, Societe Generale and Sumitomo Mitsui Ba
  • Winchester stock rises after Helkon buys into company

    Winchester Entertainment's stock rose a hefty 44% yesterday after Simon Franks and Zygi Kamasa's UK distributor Helkon SK bought 3.67% of the media company.Winchester chief executive and founder Gary Smith played down speculation that Helkon might bid for the company, saying that the share purchase had acted as a catalyst for the market to realise that Winchester was undervalued."I personally own about four times as much as they do," Smith said. "I can't see them making a bid
  • XXX opens at number one in Australia

    Columbia TriStar Film Distributors International (CTFDI) secured the number one spot in Australia with the release of XXX, grossing a terrific $1.7m from 300 prints. The movie is expected to enjoy a strong run in the territory as school holidays begin next week. XXX also opened in South Africa, Turkey and Iceland, scoring top 20 industry openings in those three territories and Australia to give the action picture a weekend total of $3.4m and a $9.5m international cumulative scor

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