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20 January 2003

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  • 007 glides past $200m for Fox and MGM

    Die AnotherDay passed $200m ininternational ticket sales today (Jan 13) after another storming weekend thatyielded $8.62m and another batch of records for distributor Fox International.Opening in Holland, the picture shunted The Lord Of The Rings: The TwoTowers off top spot witha tremendous $1.45m bow that included previews ($110,000). It was the highest007 opening of all time in the territory, as well as highest bows for Fox andMGM and the fourth highest industry opening ever.
  • 70 Iranian features submitted for Fajr International Film Festival

    The 21st Fajr International Film Festival is to be held in Tehran from Feb 1-11 2003. Commemorating the 24th anniversary of Iran's Islamic Revolution, it will consist of two International Competitions - for feature-length and short narrative films respectively - and an Out-of-Competition section for films which do not meet the festival's restrictions on production dates and previous exhibitions. The selection committee comprises: Mahmoud Arbabi - director of the Farabi Cinema Foundat
  • 8 Mile has record-breaking Australian opening day

    Universal continued its impressive international roll-out of 8 Mile with a record bow in Australia today (Jan 16), where the rap drama's $975,000 (A$1.7m) one-day haul marked the biggest January opening in Australian box office history. It was also distributor UIP's biggest ever opening in the territory - beating Meet the Parents, Mission: Impossible II and Tomorrow Never Dies - and the eighth biggest industry bow of all time.The Australian result follows successfu
  • 9

    Dir: Umit Unal. Turkey. 2002. 94mins.Preceded by a quote from Franz Kafka's In The Penal Colony about the invisible workings of the system, 9 presents a grim portrait of the way in which religious bigotry and social malaise have a direct and poisonous impact on people's everyday behaviour. Chosen, surprisingly, as Turkey's Oscar candidate in preference to Zeki Demirkubuz's Fate and its sequel, Confession (both of which have cut a higher profile on
  • A Guy Thing

    Dir: Chris Koch. US. 2002. 101mins. Having got his big break as the writer of $300m worldwide hit Meet The Parents, Greg Glienna now mines a similar vein of material for A Guy Thing, a sweet-natured, though sometimes familiar-feeling romantic comedy made on a modest budget for MGM. Replicating the success of Meet The Parents is unlikely, especially since stars Julia Stiles and Jason Lee are still relatively unproven box office draws. But a mid-level US pe
  • Alan Cumming to adapt his own novel for Bar Code Productions

    Film rights to Alan Cumming's semi-autobiographical novel Tommy's Tale have been acquired by the newly-launched New York production company Bar Code Productions. The Scottish actor will produce the picture with Bar Code co-founders Aimee Shieh and Lisa Raden. Published by ReganBooks in the US in August, Tommy's Tale centres on the exploits of a hedonistic Londoner who begins to question his life as he approaches his 30th birthday."I am so excited to be working with Lisa a
  • Alliance Atlantis takes international rights to hot Sundance pic

    AllianceAtlantis has acquired international rights, excluding the English-speakingworld and Latin America, to David Gordon Green's All the Real Girls, his second feature following hisaward-winning debut George Washington. The picture, which will receive its world premiere indramatic competition at Sundance and is to screen in the International Forum ofNew Cinema at Berlin, was acquired by Charlotte Mickie, managing director ofinternational motion picture sales at Alliance Atlant
  • Amy Israel named production chief of The Orphanage

    LA post-production house The Orphanage has appointed independent producer Amy Israel as head of production. Israel, the former senior vice president of acquisitions and co-productions at Miramax, will oversee a broad range of film-maker-driven projects as the company seeks to develop its production slate. While budgets will vary, all productions will have access to The Orphanage's high-end visual effects and animation resources. Among the first projects for development is the adaptatio
  • Another Senator executive bails out

    Just four weeks after the surprise departure of Juergen Fabritius from Senator Entertainment, another executive: COO Friedrich-Carl Wachs has quit the company.Wachs (pictured) had been appointed in April 2002 as deputy to chairman Hanno Huth and Senator's fourth board member with responsibilities for corporate development, corporate communication, investor relations and personnel.At the time, Huth said that "a personality like Wachs can provide me with the necessary freedom to d
  • Berlinale's young German film-making sidebar complete

    Perspektive Deutshces Kino - the Berlinale's sidebar for young, innovative German film making - has announced the remaining five films which will complete its list of eleven titles for this year's program. The sidebar will offer a mix of full-length feature and documentary films as well as, for the first time this year, short and medium length productions from German film schools. The five films just announced are: Unternehmen Paradies - directed by Volker Satt
  • Berlin's Panorama Dokumente series announced

    The Panorama Dokumente series of the Berlin International Film Festival has announced its programme for 2003.The series will open on Feb 7 with Traces Of A Dragon: Jackie Chan And His Lost Family by Mabel Cheung and Alex Law (Hong Kong, China).The other films will be: Comandante by Oliver Stone (Spain) Local Angel - Theological Political Fragments by Udi Aloni (USA, Israel)Le Chant Du Millenaire (The Song Of The Millennium) by Mohamed
  • Bolivar, That's Me (Bolivar Soy Yo)

    Dir: Jorge Ali Triana. Colombia/France. 2002. 93 mins. Since taking the top prize at Mar del Plata last year, Bolivar, That's Me, an offbeat satire about an actor who starts to over-identity with the character he is playing, has been a regular guest on the international festival circuit, playing at the Havana Festival of New Latin American Cinema just before Christmas. However, broader commercial prospects, especially outside Latin America, will depend on the extent to
  • Breillat starts phase two of Anatomie d'Enfer shoot

    Controversial director Catherine Breillat (pictured) heads out to Portugal this weekend to begin shooting phase two of her latest film, Anatomie d'Enfer. The film is based on her book Pornocratie and will once again examine the depths of sexual compulsion.Working with porn star Rocco Siffredi for the second time since her international breakout film Romance, Breillat says the script and the sense of the project have taken on different proportions since she s
  • Canada's Keith Behrman to get Genie Award for best debut film

    Canadian filmmaker Keith Behrman will receive the award for best debut feature at the 23rd annual Genie Awards on Feb 13. His film, Flower & Garnet, which debuted in Toronto last year, won Behrman the Vancouver film festival's prize for best emerging western Canadian filmmaker while its screenwriter Nicholas Racz was named the best Western Canadian screenwriter. The film was produced by Trish Dolman of Vancouver-based Screen Siren Pictures and distributed by Alliance Atlantis' O
  • Capitol Films takes world sales rights on I'm Not Scared

    Capitol Films has acquired world sales rights on Academy Award-winning director Gabriele Salvatores' I'm Not Scared (Io No Ha Paura), which will screen in competition at next month's Berlin International Film Festival.Medusa will release the film in Italy in March, followed by 20th Century Fox in Spain. Jane Barclay, joint head of UK-based Capitol, will attend Berlin.Based on Niccolo Ammaniti's best selling novel, the film is set in southern Italy in the 1970's, when a bo
  • Cavu buys worldwide rights to second film The Holy Land

    Cavu Pictures,the New York-based independent production and distribution outfit founded byfilm-makers Michael Sergio and Isil Bagdadi, has acquired worldwide rights toits second feature, Eitan Gorlin's award-winning debut The Holy Land. The picture won the Grand Jury Prize forbest Feature Film at the 2002 Slamdance Film Festival and is a coming-of-agetale about a young rabbinical student who travels to Jerusalem during a periodof rising turmoil in the Middle East an
  • Chicago, The Hours strike Gold at the Globes

    Miramax Films' Chicago was the big winner at the 60th annual Golden Globe, picking up three statuettes at last night's ceremony that was held amid tight security and wildly divergent Oscar predictions at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles. The musical, which grossed a stunning $8m over the weekend, won the best picture (musical/comedy) category as well as two acting awards for Renee Zellweger and Richard Gere as best actress and best actor in a musical/comedy. Zellweger, wh
  • Constantin Film retreats from TV to focus on features

    Leading German producer-distributor Constantin Film plans to concentrate its energies even more on the feature film sector in future.Speaking to the German daily newspaper Die Welt, Thomas Friedl, Constantin's board member for distribution and marketiing, said that his company was "assuming that the TV market will remain weak in 2003. We therefore will continue to put our money on cinema where we are also profitable."While Constantin's revenues from feature films represented 40
  • Doc-maker Alexandra Pelosi signs output deal with HBO

    HBO has signed JourneysWith George directorAlexandra Pelosi and her company Purple Monkey Productions to an exclusivetwo-year output deal, it was announced today (Jan 13). Pelosi will produce anddirect documentary specials for HBO that will focus on the American politicalprocess following her acclaimed production Journeys with George, which debuted on the network onElection Day 2002. The documentary was praised by critics for itsfly-on-the-wall coverage of Ge
  • Entera appoints int'l production & acquisitions team

    New international production-distribution company Entera has appointed three executives to form its cross-Atlantic production and acquisitions team. Los Angeles-based Keith Resnick will act as head of production for the US; Christopher Brough, head of production in Canada; and Madrid-based Margaret Nicoll, director of international production. Entera was formed by US media entrepreneur Jeff Simmons and former top Columbia TriStar distribution executives Tony Manne, Ricardo Avila
  • Ermanno Olmi wraps $9.5m pirate epic

    Veteran Italian director Ermanno Olmi (Profession Of Arms) has wrapped shooting on his new Euros 9m epic, Cantando Dietro I Paraventi.The film is the first production to have been shot in part at Roma Studios, the recently renovated studios built by producer Dino De Laurentiis in the 1960s.Based on a true story once adapted into a tale by Jose Luis Borges, Cantando Dietro I Paraventi is set at the end of the 17th century along the coast of China. The film te
  • European Commission investigates sales of TV rights

    European Commission anti-trust regulators are investigating a number of Hollywood studios and European pay-TV companies over the sale of TV rights to movies.The Commission said today that it was examining a clause in Hollywood film contracts with European television networks that may be anti-competitive - and that may prevent rival companies entering the pay-TV market and force consumers to pay inflated prices.Commission spokeswoman Amelia Torres said a preliminary inquiry was u
  • Exception adds co-production to sales activities

    Exception, the company minted out of former StudioCanal boutique Wild Bunch, has announced it is adding co-production to its activities. The outfit, started by former Wild Bunch and StudioCanal executives Vincent Maraval, Alain de la Mata, Vincent Grimond and Brahim Chioua will now provide an international co-producing service alongside its principal business of international sales.Former Canal Plus foreign acquisitions director Juliette Renaud will head up the division with an
  • Expat Indians plan to raise funds for Bollywood productions

    Indian IT Millionaires settled in Silicon Valley are looking to raise hundreds of millions of dollars to invest in Bollywood. Over 600 venture capitalists, angel investors and bankers including Kanwal Rekhi, Shailesh J Mehta, Rahul Bhasin, Raj Dugar and Brajesh Mehra participated in a Media and Entertainment conference in Delhi this week. The IndUS Entrepreneurs (TiE), a group of successful Indians settled overseas hosted the event and are planning to attract funds to the tune
  • Family films take top honours at Bavarian film awards

    The makers of the family films Bibi Blocksberg and Das Fliegende Klassenzimmer shared top honours at this year's Bavarian Film Awards Presenting the Euro 250,000 award to producers Uschi Reich, Karl Blatz and Peter Zenk, Bavaria's prime-minister Edmund Stoiber said "the success of both of these productions confirms the welcome development in the production of high-quality children's and family films in Germany."Bibi Blocksberg was the most successful local f
  • First Forum titles confirmed for Berlin

    Piotr Tzaskalski's Edi, the Polish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, Lynn Hershmann Leeson's clone thriller Teknolust, starring Tilda Swinton in four roles along with Jeremy Davies and Karen Black, and Ulrike Ottinger's six hour-plus documentary travelling through south east Europe, Sudostpassage. Eine Reise Zu Den Neuen Weissen Flecken Auf Der Landkarte Europas, are among the first raft of titles confirmed for the programme of the 33rd International Forum o
  • First Run takes US rights to Garrone's The Embalmer

    US independent First RunFeatures has acquired US theatrical, TV and home video rights to MatteoGarrone's The Embalmer (L'Imbalsamatore) which world premiered in Directors Fortnight atCannes last year.The film was produced byDomenico Procacci's Fandango and is based on a tabloid case in Rome inthe 1990s about a provocative love triangle between a middle-aged dwarf, hishandsome young protégé and his girlfriend.The deal was brokered byAnd
  • Five gay features win completion funding from Frameline/Horizons

    Frameline, which each year presents the San FranciscoInternational Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, and philanthropic body Horizonshave named five feature projects as recipients of the 2002 Horizons/FramelineCompletion Fund. The fund was set up 10 years ago to help gay, lesbian,bisexual a
  • France's EuroPalaces maintains market dominance

    EuroPalaces held on to its status as top French exhibitor last year. The company, a marriage between Pathe and Gaumont's cinema circuits, attracted 40.6 million visitors in its multiplexes across France for the year - out of total national ticket sales of 185 million.The strong showing helped EuroPalaces' balance sheet as well, with a 4.3% rise in revenues from 2001 to Euros 290m.While the company boasts 640 screens at 67 theatres across the country and its Pathe Belle E
  • Gangs Of New York storms the UK

    Entertainment Film Distributors enjoyed a mighty double-headed victory at the UK box office this week with The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers and new release Gangs Of New York in the top two positions.Martin Scorsese's long awaited and much anticipated period epic Gangs Of New York, launched on Friday (Jan 10) following a West-End premiere on Tuesday which saw stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis and Jim Broadbent, as well as the legendary director himself,
  • Gangs opens big in UK, France, continues big in Japan

    Gangs Of New York opened in five international markets over theweekend, including a strong three-day $4.2m bow on 385 screens in the UKthrough Entertainment Film Distributors (£2.6m in local currency), rankingsecond nationwide and first in London's West End and in Ireland. MartinScorsese's three
  • Gerardmer horror fest unveils competition line-up

    The Gerardmer Fantastic Film Festival has announced its jury and film line-up for this year's event which runs from January 29 to February 2. Presiding over the horror film festival jury is Exorcist director William Friedkin (pictured). Other jury members: Cube director Vincenzo Natali, Crimson Rivers writer Jean-Christophe Grange, actresses Jacqueline Bisset, Catherine Jacob (God Is Great, I'm Not) and Nadia Fares (Crimson Rivers) and French actors S
  • Gold Circle launches domestic distribution arm

    Paul Brooks, theLondon-born producer and president of financing, production and internationalsales outfit Gold Circle Films, which co-funded 2001's smash hit MyBig Fat Greek Wedding,announced today (Jan 14) the launch of domestic theatrical distributor GoldCircle Releasing. While independent distribution is a notoriously treacherousbusiness, Brooks, who founded UK distributor Metrodome in the mid-1990s,believes the market is showing promise as audiences increasingly
  • Grill Point wins top German critics prize

    Andreas Dresen's Silver Bear winner Grill Point (Halbe Treppe) (pictured) has won the German film critics' Best Feature Film prize.In addition, Hans Weingartner's much lauded White Noise (Das Weisse Rauschen) was named Best Feature Debut, with Best Actor honours going to the film's lead Daniel Bruehl (who was also recognised for his performance in Zoltan Spirandelli's Vaya Con Dios). .The other prize-winners for German productions of 2002 were:Best Ac
  • Hart Sharp launches US video distribution arm

    John Hart andJeff Sharp's New York-based Hart Sharp Entertainment, the productioncompany behind Boys Don't Cry and You Can Count On Me, has launched a stand-alone US home entertainment companyHart Sharp Video (HSV) to be run by the key staff of former USA Films divisionUSA Home Entertainment (USA HE).Joe Amodei,former president of USA Home Entertainment, is president of HSV and willoversee all aspects of the company including its strategic expansion into newmarkets. He is
  • Hill promoted to head all Icon UK operations, Mayson joins as COO

    Mel Gibson andBruce Davey's Icon Entertainment is reorganizing its UK operation, namingNick Hill, former CEO of Icon Film Distribution Ltd (IFDL), as CEO of the UKIcon Group which includes both IFDL and the company's international salesand distribution arm Icon Entertainment International.UK distributionveteran Hill joined Icon in 1999 from his position as managing director of PatheDistribution; he previously ran Pathe's video arm when it was Guild Home Video.Meanwhile AndyMayso
  • Hot German director announces next two projects

    German filmmaker Oskar Roehler, whose Angst (Der Alte Affe Angst) is a competition entry at year's Berlinale, is developing his next two film projects with X-Filme Creative Pool and Constantin Film.Roehler (pictured), who will have Angst distributed this spring by X-Filme's distribution arm X Verleih, told screendaily that the project with the Berlin-based production house is entitled Agnes And His Brothers (Agnes Und Seine Brueder) and will go into production thi
  • Inward investment in UK production sees slender rise

    UK production levels from inward investment and local films limped to $696.6m (£433.1m) last year, only slightly up on 2001's disastrous tally of $660.4m, according to figures from support body the Film Council.Inward investment from overseas films and TV productions shooting in the UK such as Lara Croft And The Cradle Of Life rose only 16% to $430.8m (£267.8m), despite having fallen 57% the year before. Local films fell from $289.7m (£180.1m) in 2001 to $265.8m (£165.3m) in 200
  • Istituto Luce names Andrea Piersanti as new president

    Andrea Piersanti has been named the new president of Istituto Luce, the Rome-based state distributor which is also involved in production and exhibition.Piersanti, 44, is currently the president of the catholic entertainment organisation, Ente dello Spettacolo. He replaces Antonio More, who was temporarily appointed after industry veteran Angelo Guglielmi stepped down from the position at the end of 2001.Meanwhile, Cinecitta Holding, the state holding company that owns Istituto
  • Italy mulls new film censorship law to protect children

    Italy plans to establish a new film censorship law, ensuring that no film can be banned from release, and imposing tighter restrictions for children.Currently, a local censorship commission can ban a film from being released altogether at the cinema, and can also restrict viewing to audiences over the age of 18 or 14.However, restrictions for minors are rarely applied and the current system has been criticised for allowing young children to see violent films such as Hannibal
  • Italy to introduce tougher anti-piracy laws

    The Italian Parliament has approved a new anti-piracy law that will put behind bars those who use counterfeit smart cards to access pay-TV channels.While anti-piracy legislation already exists in Italy, prison terms had until now been excluded. But now, as legislators attempt to curb the rampant piracy which has caused millions of euros in losses to Italy's two pay-TV platforms, smart card counterfeiters and users could face up to three years in jail and fines of up to Euros 15,000.
  • John McMahon promoted to senior evp at Sony TV Europe

    John McMahon has beenpromoted to senior executive vice president, managing director for SonyPictures Television International's (SPTI) European operations, it wasannounced today (Jan 13). McMahon will be chiefly responsible for developingand overseeing a growing confluence between SPTI and other Sony'sinternational divisions like Sony Electronics and Sony Playstation. Prior tohis promotion, McMahon, a 12-year veteran at the company, was executive vicepresident and managing
  • Kangaroo Jack

    Dir: David McNally. US. 2002. 86 mins. Jerry Bruckheimer's first stab at younger-skewing family fare is a mishmash of an action comedy with buddy bonding, chase sequences and eye candy for the adults and fart gags and a computer enhanced 'roo for the kids. Arriving in US cinemas this week after a wave of serious-minded award contenders, Kangaroo Jack might do decent domestic business, especially with rising young black actor Anthony Anderson (from surprise hit Barbe
  • Kangaroo Jack hops to the top for Disney and Bruckheimer

    With so many class acts in contention for the Golden Globes today(Jan 19) it was little surprise that audiences craved some throatier laughsover the weekend, propelling Warner Bros' Kangaroo Jack and Columbia's National Security into first and second places on$17.7m and
  • Kangaroo Jack hops to the top for Warner, Bruckheimer

    With so many class acts in contention for the Golden Globes today(Jan 19) it was little surprise that audiences craved some throatier laughsover the weekend, propelling Warner Bros' Kangaroo Jack and Columbia's National Security into first and second places on $17.7mand $15.7m respectively.
  • Kangaroo Jack hops to the top for Warner, Bruckheimer

  • Krohmer debut to open Berlinale's German sidebar

    Stefan Krohmer's feature debut Sie Haben Knut will open the Berlinale's German cinema sidebar Perspektive Deutsches Kino which promises a film mix that "will once again be colourful, exciting and varied in content", according to the sidebar organisers.The realistic and satirical ensemble film, which was made early last year on location in the Austrian Tyrol for Peter Rommel Productions, will be handled internationally by Bavaria Film International.The other five films con
  • Levity

    Dir: Ed Solomon. US. 2003. 100mins.From its portentous title to its lofty themes, Levity reeks of a self-importance which is rarely justified. The ambitious directorial debut of Ed Solomon, the screenwriter of Men In Black and the two Bill And Ted films, was the opening night film of the Sundance Film Festival last week and was even received in that forgiving context with the scepticism it warrants. Its star-studded cast will guarantee notice, but its the
  • MAC Releasing gets P&A financing from Nazarian's Samy Boy Films

    Samy Boy Filmsis to provide prints and advertising co-financing for independent USdistributor MAC Releasing's next 10 theatrical releases, under a newfinancing deal announced by the fledgling companies today (Jan 13).'I amhappy to be partnered with MAC. My strategy for Samy Boy Films is to team withstrong niche players, and MAC's management has great industry experienceand a solid business plan,' Samy Boy Films founder Sam Nazarian, the realestate financier and hote
  • Miracle debut wins Max Ophuels Prize

    Writer-director Anne Wild's feature debut My First Miracle (Mein Erstes Wunder) (pictured) has won this year's $38,500 (Euros 36,000) Max Ophuels Prize The prize, for up-and-coming German language cinema, was awarded at the Max Ophuels Prize Film Festival (January 13-19) in Saarbruecken, Germany.The story about a friendship between an eleven year old girl and a man in his forties during a seaside holiday on the Baltic Coast is being handled internationally by MDC Internat
  • Neil Jordan plans Odysseus' Return

    Neil Jordan's Borgia may have failed to start shooting, but the Irish director appears to have found another European epic, Odysseus' Return.Michael Kuhn's London-based production company is understood to be finalising a deal to board the production, which is set up with producer Uberto Pasolini, best known for The Full Monty. Kuhn has been scouring the UK and the rest of Europe for large-scale projects to feed his production and distribution deal with 20th
  • No Good Deed

    Dir: Bob Rafelson. USA. 2002. 104mins.Based on a Dashiell Hammett story, Bob Rafelson's latest noir thriller is neither particularly dark nor especially thrilling. Samuel L Jackson makes a fair stab at the first black diabetic cello-playing cop in cinema history, but his bitter intensity is not enough to paper over the film's problems of pace and dialogue. And while the Jackson-Jovovich pairing looks intriguing on paper, it runs out of erotic fuel on screen. A modest Italy-fi
  • Panorama Dokumente series announced

    The Panorama Dokumente series of the Berlin International Film Festival has announced its programme for 2003.The series will open on Feb 7 with Traces Of A Dragon: Jackie Chan And His Lost Family by Mabel Cheung and Alex Law (Hong Kong, China).The other films will be: Comandante by Oliver Stone (Spain) Local Angel - Theological Political Fragments by Udi Aloni (USA, Israel)Le Chant Du Millenaire (The Song Of The Millennium) by Mohamed
  • Pathe takes world sales on Broken Wings

    Pathe International has picked up worldwide sales rights on Broken Wings, Israel's foreign-language Academy Award entry.The feature debut of Nir Bergman will make its European premiere in the Panorama section at the Berlin International Film Festival before a market premiere at the AFM. 'This is a very beautiful and moving, up-lifting film with superb performances from an excellent cast," said Pathe International's Alison Thompson.The story of a family in turmoil a
  • Pauly Shore's directorial debut opens Slamdunk Film Festival

    Actor-comedian Pauly Shore's feature directorial debut, You'llNever Wiez In This Town Again, leads an eclectic line-up of seven features and 27 shorts forthe 2003 Slamdunk Film Festival. Billed as a semi-autobiographical slapstickstory, Shore plays a man who loses everything he
  • PGA omits Hours, Pianist, Schmidt

    Adaptation, Chicago, Gangs Of New York, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Road To Perdition and The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers will chase the main theatrical honour at the 14th Producers Guild of America Annual Awards on Mar 2. The six pictures were nominated today (Jan 16) for the Darryl F Zanuck Producer of the Year Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures category. The producers of each title will be announced in approximately two weeks once the PGA has completed its producer accre
  • Production designer Mel Bourne dies aged 79

    Mel Bourne, theproduction designer and longtime Woody Allen collaborator who received threeOscar nominations during his career, has died in New York. He was 79. He was born inChicago on Nov 22, 1923, and after serving in the Second World War became anassistant to the legendary theatrical designer Robert Edmond Jones beforemoving into television, where he designed such shows as Howdy Doody, TheHallmark Hall of Fameand The Goldbergs. After a spate
  • Rendez-Vous heralds vintage year for French Cinema

    With French film riding high across the globe, 2003 looks primed for a good start at the Rendez-Vous of French Cinema which begins today. Approximately 340 foreign buyers will descend on Paris to screen films, meet with sales agents and cut deals at the five-year old event which many consider an integral part of their business year.The five day market and screening forum is organised by Unifrance, the body charged with promoting French film around the world. By providing buyers
  • Richard Crudo named president of ASC

    Richard Crudo,whose credits include American Pie and Down To Earth, has been elected president of the American Society ofCinematographers (ASC). Crudo is among the vanguard of a younger generation ofcinematographers and said his election was 'humbling', adding thathe was committed to the ASC's mission to 'inspire and recogniseinnovation and artistic excellence'. He added that in the coming weeksthe body will unveil initiatives for outreach programmes to other
  • Rotterdam festival to revive 'Film Parliament'

    The Rotterdam festival is reviving the idea of the "Rotterdam Film Parliament", a forum which adopts the confrontational style of a legislative chamber to discuss the future prospects for visionary cinema. Under the banner "What is to be done'" it aims to deliver a clash of ideas and the development of concrete proposals."Is there a crisis for the kind of cinema that Rotterdam represents," asks Simon Field, co-director of the festival. "By launching the Parliament, Rotterdam will be ta
  • Schlessel named Columbia president in SPE restructure

    In a raft ofpromotions rewarding key players in last year's record-breakingperformance by Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE), Peter Schlessel has beennamed president of Columbia Pictures and Doug Belgrad and Matt Tolmach havebeen named co-presidents of production at the studio. SPE earned more than$1.57bn at the domestic box office last year, an all-time industry high thatwas chiefly driven by Columbia Pictures. "These promotions recognise thepivotal role that each of these executives made to
  • Scorsese gets US DGA Lifetime Achievement Award

    The Directors Guild of America (DGA) will bestow its highest honour on Martin Scorsese when it presents the veteran film-maker with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 55th Annual DGA Awards on Mar 1. Announcing the decision today (Jan 16), DGA president Martha Coolidge said this would be only the 30th time that the discretionary honour had been handed out in the guild's 67-year history. "Because of his remarkable, groundbreaking films, his nurturing of young film-makers, and his ever-vigil
  • Soft Money - Australia

    AustraliaAustralia's new 12.5% tax offset is designed to encourage footloose productions to spend more of their budgets in Australia. Sandy George reportsIt was an e-mail that was never meant to be made public. It described a Los Angeles telephone call, now 18 months ago, from angry Warner Bros executive Bob Fisher to Australia's film commissioner David Pratt, complaining that Australian investors were not being allowed the tax deductions they had claimed from the Australian Tax
  • Soft Money - Luxembourg

    LuxembourgShooting in this tiny country can shave 15% from budgets as tax relief is available on everything spent there. Patrick Frater reportsIt may have interesting locations, two studio complexes and a pool of government cash, but it is Luxembourg's tax breaks that are making it such a magnet for foreign productions right now. This small country (technically a 'duchy'), nestling between Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, is well-known in financial circles as a low-tax have
  • Soft Money - Nordic Region

    Nordic regionProducers in the heavily-taxed Nordic region rely heavily on public subsidies, without which many would be unable to operate. Osman Kibar, Pia Lundberg and Jacob Neiiendam report.The Nordic region has some of the highest rates of taxation in the world. But its film producers are major beneficiaries of the system and are heavily reliant on state subsidies. Quite simply, most of the Nordic industries would collapse without them. Norway and Sweden both have a tax on cinema ti
  • Sony Pictures signs up Garnett to production deal

    Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) has entered into a first-look production deal in the UK with Tony Garnett and John Heyman's London-based World Productions, a further move in its expansion into non-US film production. Garnett and Heyman co-founded World in 1990 and have focused principally on TV series with a string of UK hits such as Between The Lines, Ballykissangel, Cardiac Arrest, This Life, The Cops, Attachments and Ultraviolet. This deal is for feature films.
  • Sony TV int'l promotes McMahon

    Sony Pictures Television International (SPTI) has announced the promotion of John McMahon to senior executive vice president, managing director for its European operations. A 12-year veteran of SPTI - a Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) company - McMahon took charge of its European activities in 1998. Since then he has expanded the company's core businesses - distribution, sales and networks operations - in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Among other achievements he has overseen
  • South Korean exhibitors enjoy robust health

    South Korea's top three cinema circuits enjoyed strong growth in 2002 on the back of a building boom and an overall 20% rise in admissions. Taken together, CGV, Megabox Cineplex and Lotte Cinema now account for 45m admissions, a 42% share of the nation's total 107m admissions.Market leader CGV, operated and 50% owned by local major CJ Entertainment, surged past the 20m admissions mark in 2002, up from 14m last year. Total revenues amounted to $117m, a 47% rise from 2001. CGV,
  • Spanish Film Academy predicts 'The Crisis to Come'

    Titling its annual report on the state of the national film industry 'The Crisis to Come,' the Spanish Film Academy has warned that '2003 will be a critical year' for Spanish cinema.The report, which analyses statistical data on the industry (official year-end figures have not yet been released by the Ministry of Culture) and quotes producers, distributors, exhibitors and government officials, says that "fewer shoots, a strangling of costs, lowered TV investment and fewer international
  • Start-up UK distributor launches with Balzac

    New London-based distribution outfit Soda Pictures is to launch with Dai Sijie's Golden Globe-nominated Balzac And The Little Chinese Seamstress, which it has picked up for release in the UK and Eire in early May.The film, based on the novel of the same name written by the director, follows two boys through their experience in a re-education camp in China's Sichuan Province and their love affair with books, music and the local tailor's grand-daughter - the little Chinese seamstr
  • Starz renews US pay TV output deal with Warren Miller

    US pay TV channeloperator Starz Encore Group has extended its exclusive output deal with WarrenMiller Entertainment, the film and TV production company that specialises inskiing and snowboarding documentaries, to include two recently releasedtheatrical pictures and two projects still in production. The released titlesare: Cold Fusion (2001)which came out last year and features footage from Iran and Alaska; and Storm (2002), which opened in Oct 2001 andfeature
  • StudioCanal faces crippling staff losses

    France's StudioCanal, which once boasted ambitions of being Europe's biggest film production outfit, looks to be heading towards total meltdown.It had recently been rumoured that hefty job cuts lay ahead at the company as parent Vivendi Universal sought cost cutting measures - and reported figures placed that number at around 250 - out of its total staff of some 350. One StudioCanal insider told Screendaily, however, that the figure could be closer to 275. Although it is not ce
  • Sundance Channel launches US theatrical initiative

    TheSundance brand will make its theatrical debut in the US, as The SundanceChannel announced yesterday that it will launch a film series that will seefour features released in at least ten major US markets from August throughNovember 2003. Similar in spirit to the film series launched by now-defunct TheS
  • Sundance NHK Filmmakers Award winners named

    Yesim Ustaoglu,Juan Pablo Rebella and Pablo Stoll, Michael Kang and Mai Tominaga have beennamed as the winners of the 2003 Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Awards,the annual honour launched in 1996 to recognise emerging internationaldirectors. The four, who were each chosen from a separate global region, willreceive a $10,000 cash award to support their next project and a guarantee fromNHK, Japan's largest broadcaster, to purchase the Japanese televisionbroadcast righ
  • Sundance teen drama Thirteen baits Fox Searchlight

    Fox Searchlight Pictures isin final negotiations to take all worldwide distribution rights outside the UKto Thirteen, one of only a smallhandful of dramatic competition films to have excited buyers during the firstfew days of this year's Sundance Film Festival.Although no distributiondeals had been formally announced by the end of the first weekend, it is alsobelieved that Lions Gate Films were closing in on The Cooler, while Paramount Classics had its eye on TheUnited
  • Sundance teen drama Thirteen baits Fox Searchlight

    Fox Searchlight Pictures isin final negotiations to take all worldwide distribution rights outside the UKto Thirteen, one of only a smallhandful of dramatic competition films to have excited buyers during the firstfew days of this year's Sundance Film Festival.Although no distributiondeals had been formally announced by the end of the first weekend, it is alsobelieved that Lions Gate Films were closing in on The Cooler, while Paramount Classics had its
  • Sundance: a foreign affair'

    For foreign buyers, the Sundance Film Festival has never been easy to navigate, let's face it. Intrepid acquisitions executives not only have an epic trip trekking to its home in the ski resort of Park City. Once there they are also faced with a raft of unknown films, struggle to get the attention of US-centric producers' reps, and are often cut out of the equation altogether when a multi-territory studio deal is done. So why brave the altitude, sluggish shuttle service and long queues
  • Sundance: Women Make Movies acquires domestic rights to Love & Diane

    30 year-old film non-profitorganization Women Make Movies (WMM) has acquired North American distributionrights to the documentary Love & Diane which world premiered at the Locarno Film Festival last year, winningthe Golden Leopard, and played at the New York Film Festival before itsAmerican Spectrum screenings at this week's Sundance Film Festival.Directed by JenniferDworkin, Love & Diane is theepic story of an ex-addict's struggle to reunite her family. The filmis aprese
  • Taiwan's Golden Horse festival under threat

    The future of Taiwan's Golden Horse Film Festival and awards ceremony is again looking uncertain as a group of legislators are seeking to axe the event's entire budget. Taiwan's parliament has passed the second reading of a motion, brought by 13 legislators of the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), to cut the $434,000 (NT$15m) budget for the festival which is usually held in November or December. The third and final reading of the motion is expected to be passed soon. The TSU is ang
  • Til Schweiger to star in Star Trek spoof

    Til Schweiger is to take one of the leads in (T)Raumschiff Surprise - Periode 1, Michael "Bully" Herbig's follow-up to his surprise 2001 hit Manitou's Shoe Schweiger, who appeared in last year's Was Tun, Wenn's Brennt and Drive, will play opposite the Manitou acting trio of Herbig, Rick Kavanian and Christian Tramitz in the sendup of the Star Trek series and films. The female lead is Anja Kling whose credits include Von Hoelle Zu Hoelle and the
  • Turner Laing named BSkyB's head of film and acquisitions

    BSkyB has appointed Sophie Turner Laing, the BBC's controller of acquisitions, to head the UK satellite broadcaster's film and acquisitions activities. Turner Laing, who secured Band Of Brothers and 24 for the BBC, effectively replaces Paul Taylor as director of film channels and acquisitions. Taylor is leaving the company after five years.The move marks one of the first key appointments of Sky Networks managing director Dawn Airey, to whom Turner Laing will report
  • Twilight Samurai (Tasogare Seibei)

    Dir: Yoji Yamada. Japan. 2002. 129mins.The winner of a slew of film awards at home and a competition selection at Berlin next month, The Twilight Samurai (Tasogare Seibei) may finally propel director Yoji Yamada into the international spotlight, after a long and highly successful career. Ironically, the film is in a genre, period drama, that Yamada never attempted before, preferring instead to concentrate on warm-hearted melodramas and comedies, including his 48-episo
  • UK bucks downward trend of European cinema admissions

    While cinema admissions fell last year in France, Germany, Spain and Italy, the UK was the only major European market to see growth in ticket sales - and by a hefty 10%-plus.Although official figures are yet to be released for the territory, the UK is likely to register at least 176m ticket sales for 2002 - a steep increase on 2001's 156m admissions.The UK became the second biggest market in Europe in terms of admissions half way through last year, when the country saw a leap o
  • UK distributor issues writ against Larry Clark

    UK distributor Hamish McAlpine is refusing to let his fight with Larry Clark die down and has issued proceedings against the US director.McAlpine is claiming damages for libel from statements and actions which Clark alleged McAlpine made after the two were involved in a restaurant brawl in London last November, when Clark was supporting Ken Park at the London Film Festival. During dinner, the conversation heated up over the subject of violence in the Middle East - which l
  • UK leads host of strong openings for 8 Mile

    A stunning $7.2m launch for 8 Mile in the UK and Ireland is the latest box office triumph for US rapper Eminem's acting debut.The UIP-released film, which is directed by Curtis Hanson, claimed a powerful $7.2m (£4.4m) over the weekend in the UK - including $771,995 (£477,093) of previews. The launch saw 8 Mile replace four-week leader The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers at the top of the chart.Playing at 423 sites the film scored a mighty average of $16,98
  • Val Kilmer joins the cast of Anselmo's Stateside

    Val Kilmer has joined the cast of writer-director RevergeAnselmo's romantic drama Stateside,a joint venture between Anselmo's Seven Hills Pictures and First LookMedia. Already on board are Joe Mantegna, Rachel Leigh Cook, who starred in JosieAnd The Pussycats, Jonathan Tucker, whowill be seen in the upcoming remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Agnes Bruckner, whose credits include MurderBy Numbers and the upcoming BlueCar. Carrie Fis
  • Vanity Fair faces production setback

    Monsoon Wedding director Mira Nair's upcoming production of Vanity Fair faces uncertainty after it emerged that US star Reese Witherspoon may have to delay shooting.Producer Janette Day said that the adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray's novel might only be delayed for a few weeks if a compromise can be reached, but that the project could be pushed back to August. Nair was to start shooting in the UK during the first quarter this year."This only happened this
  • Verdone comedy hits gold for Warner Bros in Italy

    Warner Bros' driveinto international production and acquisitions got a seal of approval at thebox office over the weekend when the studio's first Italian-languageco-production, Ma Che Colpa Abbiamo Noi (It Can't Be All Our Fault), opened number one in Italy on $1.7m (Euros 1.6m). The comedy-dramadrew 277,744 admissions from 245 screens and is the result of a production pactbetween Warner Bros Pictures and Virginia Films, the company run by the picture'sacclai
  • War (Vojna)

    Dir. Aleksei Balabanov. Russia 2002. 120mins. The takeover of a Moscow theatre by Chechen rebels last year, and that incident's bloody outcome, can only emphasise the impact of Alekesi Balabanov's War. The gang wars of Balabanov's previous action-packed hits Brat and Brat 2 are replaced here by real conflict, between Russia and Chechnya, but his jaundiced, acerbic approach to human nature remains the same. Politically incorrect to a fault, his attitude wi
  • Warner Bros Italia's first local co-production scores at home

    Warner Bros. Italia's first local co-production, It Can't Be All Our Fault (Ma Che Colpa Abbiamo Noi), has shot into the number one slot at the Italian box office.Italian director Carlo Verdone's new comedy, Ma Che Colpa Abbiamo Noi (It Can't Be All Our Fault) (pictured) powered into the number one slot at the local box office on its opening weekend, proving that the Roman comic is back in favour with Italian audiences following a three-year hiatus after
  • World premieres and directing debuts topline Berlin's Kinderfilmfest

    Berlin's 26th Kinderfilmfest has announced that its 2003 edition will boast 14 feature films and 16 shorts, including six directing debuts and a large number of world premieres.The Kindfilmfest opens on Feb 7 with the Danish film, Someone Like Hodder (En Som Hodder) (pictured). Directed by Henrik Ruben Genz and starring Frederik Christian Johansen and Anders Lunden Kjeldsen, who will all be at the screening, the film is based on Bjarne Reuter's novel of the same name whi
  • World premieres and directing debuts topline Kinderfilmfest

    Berlin's 26th Kinderfilmfest has announced that its 2003 edition will boast 14 feature films and 16 shorts, including six directing debuts and a large number of world premieres.The Kindfilmfest opens on Feb 7 with the Danish film, Someone Like Hodder (En Som Hodder) (pictured). Directed by Henrik Ruben Genz and starring Frederik Christian Johansen and Anders Lunden Kjeldsen, who will all be at the screening, the film is based on Bjarne Reuter's novel of the same name whi
  • Yoji Ikushima is ShoWest International Exhibitor of the Year.

    Yoji Ikushima,managing director of leading Japanese exhibitor Warner Mycal Corporation, hasbeen named ShoWest 2003's International Exhibitor of the Year, it wasannounced today (Jan 14) by Robert Sunshine, chairman of ShoWest operatorSunshine Group Worldwide. Ikushima will receive his award at the InternationalDay Luncheon on Mar 3, the opening day of ShoWest 2003, which runs until Mar 6at the Paris and Bally's Hotels in Las Vegas."Under MrIkushima's dedication and insight, the roll-out