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25 July 2002

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  • Aki Kaurismaki to get Douglas Sirk award at Filmfest Hamburg

    Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki is to receive the Douglas Sirk Award at this year's Filmfest Hamburg (September 23-29) during the German premiere of his Cannes prize-winner The Man Without A Past.The Award, which honours an individual 'for his or her distinguished contribution to film culture, to cinematic art and cinematic creativity', was launched in 1995, and past recipients have included Clint Eastwood, Stephen Frears, Jodie Foster, Jim Jarmusch, Wong Kar-wai, and - last yea
  • At The Tips Of Her Fingers (Sur Le Bout Des Doigts)

    Dir: Yves Angelo. France. 2002. 83mins.The latest feature from Yves Angelo is a small but compelling story that hinges on an unbalanced mother's jealousy of her talented piano-playing daughter. Although some audiences will feel that At The Tips Of Her Fingers leaves a little too much left unsaid, its careful weave of hints and nuances is in fact one of the film's strong points. The others are the robust performance of Marina Hands as the mother and Anne-Sophie L
  • Austin Powers In Goldmember

    Dir: Jay Roach. US. 2002. 94minsDirector Jay Roach and his multi-talented star and co-writer/co-producer Mike Myers have little new to add to the two previous Austin Powers film with the third instalment in the franchise. An intermittently funny confection which wears the joke dangerously thin, Austin Powers In Goldmember will, nonetheless, be a powerhouse performer among summer box office titles at least in English-speaking territories Its 1999 predecessor, The Spy
  • Austin's a Power-house at US box office

    Chart-topping Austin Powers in Goldmember recorded a career-high $71.5m opening for its star Mike Myers over the weekend, becoming the biggest ever comedy and July opening, the fifth highest opening of all time and best ever opening for studio New Line, according to estimates released today. Despite this impressive figure the $133m overall box office for the top 12 pictures dropped around 7% from the same period last year. It was the second consecutive weekend drop although the year-to
  • Belgium ratifies new film tax shelter scheme

    Belgium is to become the latest European country attempting to use tax as a way of boosting film production, following the government ratification of a new tax shelter over the weekend.The new measures will allow film investors to set off Euros 750,000 of corporation tax, provided that their total tax liability exceeds Euros 1.5m. The tax relief is available at 150% of initial investments, meaning that a Euros 500,000 investment would trigger the maximum tax relief.Two ke
  • Bertelsmann chairman steps down

    Thomas Middelhoff, Chairman and CEO of the Bertelsmann media empire since 1998, has exited his post due to "differences of opinion" with the Supervisory Board "about the future strategy of Bertelsmann AG and the cooperation between the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board".Middelhoff's duties will be assumed by Guenter Thielen, who has been a member of the concern's Executive Board since 1985 and CEO of the corporate division Arvato. Bertelsmann's CFO Siegfried Luther will serve a
  • Blockbuster slaps ban on Warner titles

    Video chain Blockbuster has slapped a ban on stocking selected movie releases from AOL Time Warner, after the troubled US media giant said it would ignore the traditional six month 'rental window' and put its video and DVD titles on sale early. In response to AOL Time Warner's decision Blockbuster said it would veto many of the media giant's titles, including heavily promoted recent release Training Day. "Blockbuster will not be stocking selected movies released by AOL Time Warn
  • Bollywood/Hollywood tops list of world premieres for Toronto's Perspective Canada

    Indo-Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta's Bollywood/Hollywood will make its world premiere as the opening night film for the Toronto International Film Festival's Perspective Canada programme. Among the other 16 world premieres announced were Long Life, Happiness And Prosperity by Mina Shum and two Canada/UK co-productions, The Wild Dogs by Thom Fitzgerald and Canadian actor Daniel McIvor's feature debut, Past Perfect. Set in Toronto, Mehta's romantic co
  • Cinema Service set to join Korean exhibition giants

    Korean major Cinema Service is poised to become the country's fourth exhibition giant when it unveils detailed plans next week to build a country-wide multiplex circuit (see April 14).Structured as a joint venture, the circuit will concentrate on developments in under-serviced regional areas. The company envisages having 10 venues and 100 screens in place and operational by the end of 2004.Cinema Service president and CEO Michael Kim and Park Byungmoo, pre
  • Denmark's Nimbus picks up rights to classic French novel

    Danish production group Nimbus has bought the film rights to French classic novel Maldonne. A romantic thriller, Maldonne is the story of a down on his luck businessman who poses as a richer man in order to secure an inheritance and win over a beautiful woman. It was written in 1962 by the legendary duo of Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac, whose literary output has been adapted more than 15 times for the big screen. The rights were obtained after 18 months of neg
  • Disney enters branded consumer electronics market

    The Walt Disney Company is entering the consumer-electronics market in a licensing deal with Motorola to develop a line of themed Disney products beginning with cordless telephones and walkie-talkies.Further down the line, Disney plans to enter additional licensing agreements to offer its own branded TV sets, DVD and CD players as well as other electrical goods.The first products from Motorola are expected to become available in the US, Mexico, the U.K., France and Germany towa
  • Emmy winner from last year to direct first feature

    As bets start being placed on which of the finalists will win Emmy Awards this year, one of last year's winners, the acclaimed theatre director Gale Edwards, has signed up to direct her first feature, The Dressmaker. Set in the in 1950s, The Dressmaker is about a woman who has to deal with the hypocrisy of a small country town after she returns to Australia after 20 years of working as a haute couture designer in Paris. Producer Emma Cooper optioned the book of the same n
  • Filmfest Hamburg chief heads for exit

    Filmfest Hamburg director Josef Wutz has announced that this year's festival will be his last in charge of the event. According to German press reports, Wutz, who had served as festival director for the Filmfest since 1995, plans to "take up new challenges" after his current contract runs out on December 31, 2002. In addition to his duties for Filmfest Hamburg, Wutz has also acted as managing director for the North German producers association Verband der Audiovisuellen Medien i
  • First Spanish titles announced for San Sebastian

    At least four Spanish films are to compete in the official section of the 50th Donostia-San Sebastian International Film Festival, which runs from 19-28 September.Two further Spanish titles have been selected for the Zabaltegi section - dedicated to the most contemporary works available, whether from other festivals or elsewhere.The initial selection of Spanish films in competition includes, Fernando Leon de Aranoa's Los Lunes Al Sol. Winner of the Silver Shell for Best
  • Fox 2000 takes remake rights to Denmark's Catch That Girl

    Denmark's Nimbus Film has sold English-language remake rights on its children's film Catch That Girl (Klatretosen) to Fox 2000.The Hans Fabian Wullenveber-directed film, which appeared in the Kinderfest arm of this year's Berlin Festival, is the story of a 13 year-old girl who robs a bank in order to save her father's life. "The characters are beautifully drawn, not only the three protagonist children, but Ida's family as well," said Fox 2000 president El
  • Game of Dog and Mouse at UK box office

    With school holidays now officially underway the UK box office saw a battle for the key children's market at the weekend as Columbia TriStar launched Stuart Little 2 into direct competition against Warner Bros chart-topping holdover Scooby-Doo.However Scooby-Doo eased to victory with a mighty second weekend take of $3.96m (£2.5m), dropping off just 23% from its opening three-day gross. Playing at 474 sites Warner's CGI-canine recorded an impressive average of
  • Gong Li heads for Venice

    Chinese superstar Gong Li will head the jury of the upcoming 59th Venice International Film Festival, the festival's organisers have announced. The festival said Li had been chosen after artistic director Moritz de Hadeln suggested the actress should be considered as "her career successes have often been linked to the Venice Film Festival."Li won Venice's Coppa Volpi award for best actress in the 1992 film The Story of Qiu Ju, as a pregnant peasant who manages to get just
  • Gong Li heads Venice jury

    Chinese superstar Gong Li will head the jury of the upcoming 59th Venice International Film Festival, the festival's organisers have announced. The festival said Li had been chosen after artistic director Moritz de Hadeln suggested the actress should be considered as "her career successes have often been linked to the Venice Film Festival."Li won Venice's Coppa Volpi award for best actress in the 1992 film The Story of Qiu Ju, as a pregnant peasant who manages to get just
  • Hong Kong pay-TV service iTV to close

    Hong Kong's Pacific Century CyberWorks (PCCW) plans to shut down its ailing pay-TV service, iTV, in September and hand its video-on-demand (VoD) licence back to the Broadcasting Authority.ITV offers interactive services such as VoD, home shopping and broadband internet access and was billed as the world's first VoD platform when it was launched four years ago. However it failed to provide much competition for dominant player, i-Cable Communications, which has held a virtual monopoly in
  • Italy's Mikado adds three titles to its slate

    Italian arthouse distributor Mikado has added three new titles to its line-up, including Manoel de Oliveira's Cannes contender The Uncertainty Principle.An entangled family drama adapted from the novel by Agustina Bessa-Luis, The Uncertainty Principle tells the story of the wealthy Antonio, played by Ivo Canelas, and Jose Luciano (Ricardo Trepa), the disreputable son of domestic servant Celsa (Isabel Ruth).Meanwhile, Mikado has also scooped Tony Gatlif's (Gadjo
  • Italy's President speaks out in favour of new media law

    Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi has spoken out for the first time about the controversial issue of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's control over the nation's media, urging Parliament to draft a new media law that will guarantee impartial news coverage.Ciampi also asked the prime minister himself to sign his official letter, in a move that is seen by many as a direct challenge to Berlusconi, the prime minister whose government controls RAI and who also owns the state broadcaste
  • Italy's summer release strategy wilts in the heat

    Despite this year's groundbreaking summer programming of Hollywood blockbusters in cinemas across Italy, it looks like local distributors and exhibitors will always find it tough to compete against the lure of the sun and the beach. According to data released by Italian body Cinetel, box office takings across the country collapsed by 48% from July 19-21 compared to the previous weekend, as temperatures in Italy hit the 90s. Takings were slashed from Euros 3,071,529 to just Euro
  • Japan's Kadokawa acquires Daiei film studio

    Kadokawa Shoten Publishing, a publishing house with extensive media interests, has reached an agreement to acquire the Daiei studio from Tokuma Publishing.Once a major studio, Daiei went bankrupt in 1971 and later became the wholly owned subsidiary of Tokuma. Over the last 10 years it has staged a corporate revival, producing Shall We Dance' and several films by Takashi Miike, including the Dead Or Alive series. According to the agreement, Kadokawa will purchase n
  • Jean-Luc Godard to lecture at Montreal World Film Festival

    Iconic filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard will attend the Montreal World Film Festival (Aug 22 - Sept 2) to give a lecture on filmmaking and his place in it. The lecture, entitled Le regard de Jean-Luc Godard sur le cinema d'aujourd'hui et de demain (Jean-Luc Godard and the Cinema of the Present and the Future), is inspired by the Lecons de cinema presented by the Cannes festival - the 2002 edition featured a lecture by Nanni Moretti.It will be Godard's first visit to the festival in seven year
  • Luther biopic follows El Crimen Del Padre Amaro in wide release pattern

    Following the news that Mexico's El Crimen Del Padre Amaro, about a priest's affair with a young woman, is to get the country's biggest ever national release; now a $20m German/US co-production plans to get the story of Martin Luther and his relationship with a former nun on to 1,200 US screens.A biopic of sixteenth century religious reformer Martin Luther may not immediately spring to mind as obvious multiplex fare. Yet Eric Till's latest film, Luther is aiming high. It
  • Media Asia Films takes four films from start-up Base Production

    Hong Kong's Media Asia Films has signed a four-picture deal with start-up production outfit Base Production, headed by Hong Kong director Andrew Lau.The first picture under the two-year deal will be $5.1m (HK$40m) thriller, I Want To Be You, set to star four previous winners of the Best Actor award at the Hong Kong Film Awards - Andy Lau (no relation to the director), Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Eric Tsang and Anthony Wong.The film is about the conflict between two men - one a c
  • MGM to launch branded channel in Greece with NOVA

    MGM Networks, the TV channel arm of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), has entered into an agreement with NOVA, the first digital-satellite platform in Greece, to launch a round-the-clock branded channel in the country. The channel - dubbed The MGM Movie Channel - will be customised for the market to include Greek subtitles and follows similar launches earlier this year in Portugal, Russia and Malta. The company now has network interests in over 40 countries on which to exploit its 4,000-title
  • Michelle Yeoh's Touch passed untouched

    Peter Pau's The Touch, starring and produced by Michelle Yeoh, has been passed uncut by the China's national censor the Film Bureau. The move means that the film has cleared the last hurdle in its bid to secure a day-and-date release in mainland China and other parts of Asia. The $18.6m English-language circus fantasy was set up as a co-production between Yeoh's Mythical Films, Hong Kong company Han Entertainment and China's Tianjan Studios, allowing it to fully qualify a
  • Naficy, Algazi join staff of studios' IP VOD co Movielink

    Movielink, the IP-based video-on-demand distribution service formed as a joint venture by five major studios, has hired Mariam Naficy as vice president of marketing and Jessica Algazi as vice president of content.Algazi's appointment has significance for the international community in that she will be responsible for acquiring product from third party suppliers as well as managing the day-to-day relationships with Movielink's studio partners which are MGM, Paramount, Sony, Universal an
  • Neue Kinowelt to be back in business for this autumn's film markets

    Jerry Payne and Marcus Schoefer of the Kinowelt management buyout (MBO) team anticipate their takeover plans will be a done deal by the middle of next week and are looking to be back in the rights acquisition business in time for this autumn's film markets.Payne told that he and Schoefer now felt "far enough down the line" to tell more about their plans for the proposed holding company Neue Kinowelt Medien GmbH which will have a third, as yet unnamed, managing di
  • Newmarket sets up US distribution co, Berney leaves IFC to run it

    Bob Berney is to leave his post as senior vice president, marketing and distribution, at IFC Films and join Newmarket Capital Group as a partner in and president of its formal start-up theatrical distribution company which will be based in New York. Newmarket has dipped its toe into US distribution before, self-releasing its own production Memento to great success last year under Berney's aegis and then teaming with Berney and IFC to distribute Donnie Darko.Meanwhile Jona
  • Only one Italian film selected for Venice's Critics Week competition

    Sipro Scipione and Francesco Sframeli's Two Friends (Due Amici), a tale adapted from the theatre about two Sicilians who live on the outskirts of a large Northern Italian city, is the only Italian film selected for the Critics Week competition at this year's Venice Film Festival.The competition line-up, selected by a panel of five Italian critics from the National Critics Union, will have "words" as its main theme and will feature both films that are centred around dialogue as w
  • Ormieres to shine for Moonstone

    Noted French producer Jean-Luc Ormieres has been appointed artistic director of Moonstone International, the Edinburgh-based training programme. Ormieres, whose credits include Chantal Akerman's A Couch In New York, Stijn Coninx's Daens and Ferzan Ozpetek's Ignorant Fairies (Le Fate Ignoranti), succeeds John McGrath, who died suddenly in January.Moonstone currently runs two residential workshops per year for scriptwriters and a further one for film-makers. O
  • Sarajevo film festival to open with The Sum Of All Fears

    An open-air screening of Phil Alden Robinson's thriller The Sum Of All Fears will open this year's Sarajevo Film Festival on August 16.Among the other "big movies" being shown in the nightly Open Air programme are Men In Black II, Bad Company, About A Boy, as well as Lilo & Stitch as part of a "family day" and a screening of the 1993 film Naked within the year's Tribute to UK director Mike Leigh who will attend to take part in workshops and discussions.
  • Seijun Suzuki's comeback film is honoured in Brisbane

    Pistol Opera, (pictured) the first film in eight years directed by Japanese master Seijun Suzuki, has won the first FIPRESCI (Federation Internationale de la Presse Cinematographique) Award to be presented at the Brisbane International Film Festival (BIFF), which ended yesterday. Chair of the FIPRESCI jury, Chicago Reader critic Jonathan Rosenbaum, described Pistol Opera as a "highly personal blend of traditional and experimental cinema". Australian director Tony Ayres' d
  • South Korean film banned from screening in home territory

    Cannes Critics' Week selection Too Young To Die by South Korean director Park Jin-pyo has been effectively banned in its home country, following a decision by the local Media Ratings Board to give the film a 'restricted' rating. The rating prohibits advertising of any kind and obliges the film to be shown in specially-designated adults-only cinemas. However, with the legal basis of such venues still in question, none currently exist in which to screen the film.Too Youn
  • Stuart appears littler than his predecessor

    Although it has performed respectably Columbia TriStar's Stuart Little 2 was not the runaway success that studio might have hoped given the success of its predecessor and Columbia's strong summer 2002 run to date with Spider-Man and Men In Black II.After the North American launch lost out on the top spot to Sam Mendes' Road To Perdition taking $15.1m - just $96,929 ahead of 1999's December release of the original Stuart Little - similar disappointment
  • Supplement

    Dan Fainaru in JerusalemDir. Krzystof Zanussi. Poland 2002. 101mins.Polish moralist Krzystof Zanussi, whose ethical codes permeate every one of his movies, is at it again. Going back to the plot of his 2000 award-winning feature Life As A Fatal Sexually Transmitted Disease, but looking at it from a different angle, he now focuses on issues such as religion, the search for perfection and reconciling oneself with death. It's hardly the kind of stuff that'll enjoy
  • Supplement

  • Ticket To Jerusalem

    Dir: Rashid Masharawi. Palestine-Netherlands. 2002. 84 mins.Hyped as the scoop at this year's Taormina Film Festival, Ticket To Jerusalem turns out to be a worthy but rather flat and one-sided fable about a Palestinian projectionist trying to show a film in occupied Jerusalem. With its made-in-Palestine tag and its film-on-film theme, it seems tailor-made for the international festival circuit, but it relies heavily on the sympathy vote for its appeal and is unlikely t
  • US box office to hit $10bn by 2006

    The value of the US box office is predicted to top $10bn in 2006, according to a new report from global cinema analysts Dodona Research. Since 1990, the US' gross box office has been growing at an average of 5% per year, with last year's value hitting $7.9bn, according to Dodona's Moviegoing USA report.The prospect will be welcomed by the beleaguered US exhibition sector. It has been hit by a spate of bankruptcies over the last few years as a result of over-expansion. According
  • Venice's Critics Week line up

    Critics' Week (Settimana Internazionale della Critica)Two Friends (Due Amici) Dirs: Sipro Scipione and Francesco, Italy An Honest Shopkeeper (Un Honnete Commercant) Dir: Philippe Blasband, BelThe Exam (Emtehan) Dir: Nassere Refaie, IranRodger Dodger Dir: Dylan Kidd, US Kite (Zmej) Dir: Aleksej Muradov, Russia Woman Of Water (Mizu No Onna) Dir: Hidenori Sugimori, JapanSomewhere Over The Dre
  • Venice's Critics Week line up

    Sipro Scipione and Francesco Sframeli's Two Friends (Due Amici), a tale adapted from the theatre about two Sicilians who live on the outskirts of a large Northern Italian city, is the only Italian film selected for the Critics Week competition at this year's Venice Film Festival.The competition line-up, selected by a panel of five Italian critics from the National Critics Union, will have "words" as its main theme and will feature both films that are centred around dialogue as w
  • Vivendi Universal spins off streamlined Canal Plus

    Vivendi Universal is to re-structure its 100% subsidiary Groupe Canal Plus around the division's most valuable assets: its French broadcasting activities; its film production and rights holding division StudioCanal as well as its stake in Spanish broadcasting operation Sogecable. All will be folded back into Canal Plus SA, which is currently 49% owned by VU. "The plan aims to strengthen the future and growth of Canal+ by giving the company the means to finance its growth and foster cre
  • Walden Media secures Peacock to pen first Lewis outing

    Emmy Award winning writer Ann Peacock has signed on to pen Walden Media's forthcoming adaptation of C S Lewis' The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Peacock, who won an Emmy for her adaptation of Ernest J. Gaines' A Lesson Before Dying for HBO, will write the screenplay for the live action feature which is expected to go into production next year.Walden Media chief executive Cary Granat said in a statement that Peacock was a writer of 'lyrical sensibility and emoti