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2 March 2001

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  • 3000 soldiers join Mogador Lovers

    Italy's Poetiche Cinematografiche has started shooting The Mogador Lovers, a love and war story which is being directed by the head of Morocco's national film body, Souheil Ben-Barka.Set in the 1930s, the film tells the story of a young Frenchwoman, the daughter of a judge stationed in Morocco, who defies her parents' wishes and runs off with a rich Berber merchant who is waging a battle against the colonialists. The central events are based on the true story of Ben-Barka's pare
  • Brandt ends up at Endemol

    Former Senator Entertainment board member Borris Brandt has been appointed the new general manager of Cologne-based Endemol Productions, while his predecessor Werner Schwaderlapp has been promoted to the post of president of the German holding of the Dutch entertainment concern which consists of the 100% subsidiary Endemol Productions, a 40% stake in the infotainment producer META and 50% in the call TV producer HURRICANE.Brandt will head up a new management team including Gabriele Rus
  • Canada's indie plight draws first blood

    Montreal-based TVA is winding down its international sales operations and executive vice president of distribution, Jean Bureau has left the company.The closure comes as TVA's ultimate owner, Quebec-based publishing and communications conglomerate Quebecor seeks to cut costs following its $3.3bn acquisition of cable company Groupe Videotron, TVA's original owner, in September 2000. While TVA's Canadian distribution operation will continue to operate, industry sources suggest eve
  • Cannes 2001: Apocalypse maintenant

    Twenty seven years after Francis Ford Coppola walked away with a Palme d'Or for The Conversation and then repeated the feat five years later with Apocalypse Now, the festival is to dedicate a sidebar tribute to the filmmaker that will be crowned by an extended director's cut of Apocalypse Now.Coppola, who also headed up the festival's jury in the year that Secrets And Lies won in 1996, collected the festival's top prize in 1979 with an unfinished version of
  • Cesars celebrate French film industry

    French 'cinema d'auteur' had plenty to celebrate at the Cesars, with The Taste of Others, and Harry, He's Here To Help both scooping four awards each. The comedy hit The Taste Of Others (3.8 million admissions to date) by first timer Agnes Jaoui, recently purchased by Miramax for domestic distribution, received the Best Film award, as well as Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Screenplay. Thriller Harry (1.9 million admissions to
  • EM.TV exercises its call option for Formula One

    Hours before the deadline expired, EM.TV & Merchandising exercised its call option to purchase a further 25% stake in the Formula One holding company SLEC via its subsidiary Speed Investment Ltd. to bring its overall shareholding to 75%. Funding of $987.5m for the 25% was arranged by EM.TV with the backing of the KirchGroup as part of the EM.TV rescue package agreed by the two companies on February 15. State-owned bank, Bayerische Landesbank was revealed as the surprise backer of the r
  • Film Council shines First Light on kids' scheme

    UK film super-body the Film Council has partnered with Hi8us Projects for a new £1m scheme, which aims to give children the opportunity to make short films on digital video.Birmingham-based Hi8us Projects - a charity with a record in creating film and television projects with young people - will run and manage the UK-wide scheme, dubbed First Light.The scheme will enable children aged 8 to 18 to make films up to ten minutes long, using a range of low-cost digital technology. Chi
  • Formula 1 teams manoeuvre to thwart Kirch

    The prospect of German media baron Leo Kirch having a controlling interest over the Formula One racing event hangs in the balance as the motor teams threaten to revolt.On February 27, DaimlerChrysler (Maclaren-Mercedes), Fiat (Ferrari) and Ford (Jaguar) threatened to exit the Formula One tournament and set up their own rival event if Kirch goes ahead with the plans with EM.TV to exercise an option to buy an additional 25% in the Formula One holding company, SLEC from UK entrepreneur Be
  • Gaga Communications hires Company Man

    Gaga Communications is understood to have picked up Japanese rights to Cube director Vincenzo Natali's Company Man, one of the US projects attracting most interest from international buyers at the AFM. Sales agent Pandora was apparently aiming to secure between $1.5m and $2m for Japanese rights to the project after psychological sci-fi thriller Cube was particularly successful in the territory. Company Man, a futuristic thriller currently in pre-production,
  • Good Machine on Field's Radar

    Ted Field and Scott Kroopf, the producers behind blockbuster hits Runaway Bride, Jumanji, Three Men And A Baby and The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, are turning to the international marketplace to fund their new production outfit Radar Pictures - sealing a longterm alliance with David Linde's Good Machine International (GMI) to sell its movies. The pact kicks off with pre-strike horror thriller They. Linde has already closed several territories on They and is
  • Harvey Keitel joins Sicilian Mafia thriller

    Harvey Keitel is continuing his love affair with European cinema and is now shooting Ginostra, a Sicilian-set Mafia thriller by French director Manuel Pradal.He is joined in the cast by Andie MacDowell, Asia Argento and Stefano Dionisi. Shooting continues until the end of March. The $11.9m (FF86m) English-language picture is likely to appear on StudioCanal's Cannes sales slate. Pradal's previous credits include Marie Baie Das Anges (aka Angel Sharks), a story of ha
  • Heimat writer finds home at UFA

    Bertelsmann's production arm UFA Film- & TV Produktion and Peter Steinbach, screenwriter of Edgar Reitz's internationally successful TV series Heimat (1984) and Margarethe von Trotta's award-winning Jahrestage (2000), have signed an exclusive agreement whereby Steinbach will work only with UFA on future projects for cinema and television.UFA producer Norbert Sauer stated that the agreement, which is initially for five years, already includes a TV two-parter for Swedish Te
  • Holiday pics lead, Traffic and Dragon strong

    Over a weekend during which just one opener broke into the Top 15; children's fare gained from the end of the half-term holiday and Gladiator took the BAFTA award for best picture, Ridley Scott's other box office behemoth, Hannibal, continued its reign at the top of the UK box office. Taking $5,180,301 (£3,574,408) from 421 sites over the three-day weekend the thriller dropped 44% from its opening weekend but brought its total takings to $19,603,893. The UIP film is alrea
  • Hungry Miramax buys Tangled from Myriad

    Miramax Films has acquired rights in the US, Australia and New Zealand to thriller Tangled from Myriad Pictures. Produced by Tapestry Films which produced She's All That for Miramax as well as Pay It Forward and The Wedding Planner, Tangled stars Rachael Leigh Cook, Shawn Hatosy, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Lorraine Bracco and Estella Warren.The film is the story of a fight between two college students who go to great lengths to win over a girl - eventually escal
  • Ignorant Fairies

    Screened at Berlin (Competition).Directed by Ferzan Ozpetek. Italy/France. 2000. 105mins.The clash between cultures has been the pivotal focus in Turkish-born - but who has lived in Rome since 1978 - director Ferzan Ozpetek's work. His first feature, Hamam - The Turkish Bath (Il Bagno Turco), about a Italian man's sexual and emotional awakening on a business trip to Istanbul, became an arthouse hit. His second, Harem Suare, was a flawed look at life in the T
  • IN-motion acquires two US TV series

    The German media company IN-motion, which was particularly active at this year's Amrican Film Market through its sales arms Myriad Pictures and J&M Entertainment, has further consolidated its position as a producer of internationally marketable TV formats by acquiring the rights to two TV series from US network CBS for an overall price tag of $ 8m.The deal with CBS includes the US rights to the first 22 episodes of the action series 18 Wheels Of Justice, which had been co-produc
  • Irons boards Callas Forever

    Jeremy Irons is set to join the cast of Callas Forever, Italian director Franco Zeffirelli's upcoming drama about the last months in the life of Greek opera diva Maria Callas.The $20 million film, written by Martin Sherman and Zeffirelli, is scheduled to begin shooting in July, with opera singer Teresa Stratas attached to the lead role. Jeremy Irons will play the part of an American impresario who accompanies Callas during her final months. The film is being produced by Rome-bas
  • Jet Li's five year-old Dragon flies to Summit

    Summit Entertainment has acquired international rights to five year-old Jet Li-starrer Red Dragon which features the spectacular flying techniques used in current smash Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Newmarket Capital Group-associated distributor Silver Nitrate Releasing will release the film domestically; it has never been available to international buyers. The project was one of three pictures starring Jet Li at AFM. Good Machine International has The Contrac
  • Kinowelt leaps 20% on Bertelsmann takeover rumour

    Kinowelt Medien's shares on Frankfurt's Neuer Markt jumped by over 20% on speculation that the Bertelsmann media empire was considering a takeover of the Munich-based concern.By 16.36 (German time) the stock had risen 19.11% on the previous day of trading to Euros15.02 after a report in Welt am Sonntag had suggested that Bertelsmann had been signalling interest in Kinowelt. One of the traders at the Frankfurt exchange told the dpa news agency that Kinowelt was "an attractive candidate
  • Lot 47 Films buys North American rights to LIE

    US independent Lot 47 Films has acquired North American rights to Michael Cuesta's L.I.E. which received acclaim on its recent world premiere in dramatic competition at the Sundance Film Festival.An Alter Ego/Belladonna production, L.I.E. is a drama about a 15 year-old boy who loses just about everything and everyone he has in the space of a week, and the middle-aged marine who helps him find himself. Produced by Rene Bastian, Linda Moran and Cuesta, it stars newcomers P
  • MallBoy

    Dir: Vincent Giarrusso. Australia. 2000. 85 mins.The overlit candy-coloured shopping mall where 14 year old Shaun and his aimless school-skipping friends spend a large part of their days is so shockingly familiar it might be anywhere in the developed or semi-developed world, which gives this small-scale Australian movie a genuinely international resonance, earning it a deserved spot in last year's Cannes Directors' Fortnight.In fact, Shaun's local mall is in flat s

    SULLIVAN UNVEILS THREE PROJECTS FOR NEW FEATURE ARMToronto-based Sullivan Entertainment Group has put forward three projects,including an animated version of its Anne Of Green Gables franchise, for production through its newly-launched feature film division. The first project, the $8m Anne: The Animated Movie set for completion in September, is slated for a Christmas release this year or in 2002. Next up is Famous Last Words, based on the novel by Canadian author Timo
  • New tax relief heralds Indian multiplex boom

    The Indian exhibition industry is on the brink of a multiplex revolution following finance minister Yashwant Sinha's reduction of customs duty on cinematography equipment from 25 to 15 percent on 28 Febuary.India's exorbitant entertainment tax structure has always been the major obstacle to Western exhibition companies investing in the territory. In addition, escalating real estate costs and innumerable building laws have seen most international cinema operators reluctant to develop lo
  • Nos Miran adds Hera Film

    Italy's Hera Film has boarded the Spanish thriller Nos Miran, which is currently shooting in Madrid under the direction of Norberto Lopez Amado.The thriller, budgeted at Euros2.6m is being produced by Spain's BocaBoca Producciones. The story follows a police inspector's investigations into the cases of missing persons, tracking his subsequent discovery that they are actually leading ghost-like existences as they hover between life and death.Written by Jorge Guerricaechev
  • Odeon Film closes

    Odeon Film's entertainment website was closed down today after negotiations with various investors for a takeover or merger came to nothing The site had been operating since 1999 and had been relaunched last autumn as a subsidiary of Odeon's new Internet holding company OdeonNew Vision providing a mix of film and TV news, a star magazine and online videos. However, the portal's days were numbered when Odeon Film announced at the beginning of Februar
  • Pathe, FilmFour team for bigger budget films

    The UK's FilmFour and Pathe have formed an initial two-year alliance to jointly acquire and distribute large-budget films in the UK. Under the terms of the collaboration, the companies aim to pick up at least two titles over the next twelve months, and will split profits equally. The companies will also share acquisition and distribution costs, as well as marketing and distribution strategy decisions.Marking the start of the alliance is the acquisition of K-Pax, a fantasy
  • Princesa

    Dir: Henrique Goldman. Italy/Germany/Brazil. 2000. 96 mins. Along with acclaimed documentary Southern Comfort and musical Hedwig And The Angry Inch, Henrique Goldman's absorbing Princesa blazed a trail at this year's Sundance Film Festival for movies with transgender heroes or heroines. Centred around a Brasilian transvestite working as a prostitute in Milan and dreaming of a sex-change operation, Princesa lacks the emotionality of the former and a
  • ProSiebenSat.1 Media to raise up to Euros400m

    ProSiebenSat.1 Media, which originated from the merger last year between ProSieben Media and SAT.1, is planning a Eurobond issue of fixed-rate notes with an intermediate maturity of up to Euros400m. Lehman Brothers and Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein have been appointed joint bookrunners ofthe offering whose roadshow will be launched throughout Europe on March 7th.According to Urs Rohner, ProSiebenSat.1 Media's chairman of the executive board, the Eurobond issue will offer "domestic and
  • Rai Trade deals with Brazil and Australia

    Italy's Rai Trade has struck two multi-picture distribution deals with Brazil and Australia and has closed a score of sales on its new titles, including cult director Maurizio Nichetti's latest comedy Honolulu Baby. Under the output deal, the Rome-based sales agent sold eight films to Brazil's Top Tape and 10 films to Australia's Palace, two territories which it sees as "ideal to develop a real market for Italian films." The package includes titles such as the Isabella Rossellin
  • Rios for Global Crossing

    Latin American industry veteran Jose Antonio Rios has been named president for Latin America and the Caribbean of Global Crossing Ltd, a US firm dedicated to integrated telecommunications solutions.Rios has also been named senior vice president of the firm and will serve as a member of the company's management committee. He will be based in Miami and report directly to Global Crossing CEO Tom Casey.Rios was formerly president and CEO of Telefonica Media, a position he left last
  • Sogecable posts net operating profits

    Spanish multimedia conglom Sogecable posted net operating profits of Euros3.3m (pts 548m) for 2000, a rise over the previous year's losses of Euros22.6m (pts3,768m). The group's net consolidated losses were down 18.2% from 1999 to Euros11.4m (pts1,900m). The company has grappled with debt since the expensive 1997 launch of digital satellite TV platform Canal Satelite Digital (CSD). Upkeep of CSD requires steep costs for content, particularly rights to cinema and football.As of F
  • Spain's private TV nets post blockbuster results

    Spain's thriving television sector, set to grow exponentially in the next year, is proving its potential with recently published, landmark year-end financial results, which place private networks Telecinco and Antena 3 among Europe's most profitable.Calling itself "the most profitable commercial broadcaster in Europe" for the second year in a row, Telecinco posted profits of Euros154.7m in 2000, a 40% rise over 1999 and an amazing112.6% over 1998.Competitor Antena 3, which strug
  • Stand By wins Cyril Collard prize

    Roch Stephanik has been awarded the Cyril Collard prize for his first feature film, Stand By, which also recently won a Best actress Cesar award for its lead, Dominique Blanc.Stand By -- produced by Salome (Maurice Bernart) and Diaphana (Claude Saint-Jean) on a shoestring budget -- had been given a limited release last summer, attracting only 26,305 admissions.Diaphana has now re-released the title - a dramatic comedy about a woman left behind by her husband at Orl
  • Stolen Summer wins Damon and Affleck's Greenlight

    Dino De Laurentiis will be the chairman and keynote speaker at the Montreal World Film Festival's annual industry forum, the Film Market Conference.The producer of films ranging from Serpico and Barbarella to the ongoing Hannibal Lecter franchise is seen an apt speaker for the French-Canadian event due to his experience within the studio system and as a film-maker in Italy. Held August 27 and 28 while the festival runs August 23 to September 3, the conference aims to addr
  • Sweden supports local hits, but The Emperor rules

    Local productions dominated the Swedish box office over the last week (ending February 22) with indigenous titles filling four of the top five positions in the territory, although the chart was topped by BVI's The Emperor's New Groove.Opener Festival, a coming-of-age drama about a girl visiting her first pop festival, grossed $407,674 (SKR 4,072,663) on 53 screens, landing the second place behind the Disney offering. Meanwhile drama Hans Och Hennes (literal transla
  • Telefonica reveals 2000 profit up by nearly 40%

    Spanish telecoms and multimedia giant Telefonica confirmed its place among Europe's top operators with a 38.8% rise in net profits for the year 2000 to Euros2.5bn. Earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 9.5% to Euros11.9bn.Multimedia filial Telefonica Media didn't fare so well, posting net losses of Euros627.1m, compared with Euros103m in 1999. The subsidiary completed a string of acquisitions last year, including the full incorporation of Dutch
  • Terra Lycos appoints Killeen

    Internet company Terra Lycos, a subsidiary of Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica, has appointed Stephen J. Killeen president of operations in the United States.In the newly-created position Killeen will fill a hole left by the departure earlier this month of Lycos founder and CEO Bob Davis, who continues on as non-executive vice president to the board.Terra CEO Abel Linares also stepped down last week, sending the company's shares on a downward spike. Shares rose a reported 5.34%
  • TF1 broadcasts stunning figures

    TF1, France largest free-TV broadcaster, has announced a 58% jump in net earnings for 2000 and remains optimistic for 2001, in spite of a predicted downturn in advertising expenditures this year.The broadcaster - which grabbed a 53.8% (up from 51.1% in 1999) of the French TV advertising pie last year, saw its net income boosted to Euros231m (from Euros158m in 1999) last year, mostly due to a 16% rise in ad sales, but also to a stronger contribution from its non-broadcasting activities,
  • The Finder

    Dir: Frank Shields. Australia. 2000. 90 mins.Long-time producer Phil Avalon's considerable achievement in raising enough private finance to make this Australian crime thriller from his own script would have been infinitely greater if the finished movie, launched during the American Film Market in LA, wasn't so lazily derivative.The concept is great -- 'ex-cop surfer, down on his luck, sets up office as a private eye on a Sydney surf club balcony with a mobile phone
  • Tracking service Film Finders is independent again

    Film Finders, the 13 year-old production tracking service run by Sydney Levine and Peter Belsito, has reclaimed its independence after striking an exclusive partnership last year with IFILM, the online movie site specialising in data and short film exhibition.The two have restructured their relationship so that, while they will continue to promote and co-market their services, each business will now operate independently. IFILM will continue to market Film Finders to its audience and
  • UK cinema chain exploits uncertain climate

    Amid cinema consolidation in the US and a nine per-cent downturn in the UK television advertising market in the first seven weeks of 2001, UK exhibition giant Warner Village Cinemas has secured a proven vehicle for increasing brand awareness. The company has signed a $1,455,400 (£1m) deal to sponsor the London Weekend Television (LWT) regional weather slot for a 12 month campaign. The deal, which kicks off on 2 March, heralds a new development in UK cinema advertising strategies which
  • UK welcomes yet another short film prize

    The UK's FilmFour has partnered with mobile communications giant Orange to launch a major short film prize, which carries £10,000 and the opportunity to develop a feature with FilmFour Lab, the low budget arm of FilmFour.Aiming to find the UK film-makers of the future, the award - which supersedes Orange's previous screenwriting prize - is open to writer and director individuals and teams, who have until 2 July 2001 to submit a five-minute fictional film script.Industry judges w
  • United Artists & Helkon to finance Igby Goes Down

    MGM specialised label United Artists and Helkon International Pictures (HIP) have teamed up to co-finance and distribute Igby Goes Down, a comedy being produced by Atlantic Streamline and Apollo Media which started principal photography on Wednesday. It stars Susan Sarandon, Claire Danes, Ryan Philippe, Amanda Peet, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pulllman, Jared Harris and Kieran Culkin.Written and directed by Burr Steers, the film is produced by Atlantic Streamline's Marco Weber and Lisa
  • Veo announces CEO

    In the first major announcement to come out of one of the two powerful consortia awarded Spain's new free-to-air digital terrestrial television licenses, Veo TV has named Andres Tejero as CEO.Tejero was previously director of corporate resources at Telefonica under former chairman and CEO Juan Villalonga.The appointment was followed by a report in financial newspaper Expansion, owned by Veo-backer Recoletos, which suggested that Recoletos looks to extend its collaborations with
  • Village Cinemas Int'l appeals against ruling

    Cinema operator Village Cinemas International (VCI) is facing a possible multi-million dollar payout to Charles Wesoky, former consultant for the company in Europe for breach of contract, according to the Australian Associated Press.After a ruling in the Australian Federal Court which found that VCI had breached its contract with Wesoky following the company's reorganisation of its cinema interests in Europe, the former consultant is seeking damages for having been deprived the opportu
  • Warner Bros hires Benzakein in new Euro initiative

    Warner Bros Pictures has cemented its local language production and acquisition plans in Europe with the appointment this week of well-known French industry figure Simona Benzakein to the position of vice president, European production.She will report to Richard Fox, executive vice president, international, at Warner Bros and Lorenzo di Bonaventura, president of worldwide production at Warner Bros Pictures.Benzakein, who will work out of the Warner Bros Pictures Paris office,
  • Warner Bros. creates new position in marketing

    Diane Nelson has been promoted to senior vice president of family entertainment for Warner Bros. corporate marketing and planning. In her newly created position, she will report to Sandy Reisenbach, executive vice president of marketing and planning.Nelson will be responsible for development and management of Warner Bros.' children's and family brands, with a special focus on the Harry Potter property, for which she will serve as the global brand manager across all Warner Bros.
  • Zelezny's French chateaux besieged by CME

    Central European Media Enterprises (CME) has been awarded damages of $27.1m by a Czech court in its long running dispute with businessman Vladimir Zelezny. Zelezny is the former chief of CNTS, CME's Czech TV services company, and who took disputed control of the Nova TV company. The Czech order allows CME to freeze Zelezny's bank accounts, seize art works and as well as shares in CET, the Nova TV license holder in the Czech Republic. CET is also prevented from buying the shares
  • Zucker upped to senior exec VP at Columbia TriStar

    Mark Zucker has been promoted to senior executive vice president of distribution for Columbia TriStar Film Distributors Intl.The promotion was announced by Jeff Blake, worldwide president of marketing and distribution, to whom Zucker will report.Zucker, ,who has been with the studio for 11 years, will be responsible for all aspects of international theatrical distribution of movies at Columbia. He joined the company in 1984 as vice president, marketing and distribution administr