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25 May 2001

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  • Advertising slump hits UK's Carlton Communications

    UK media concern Carlton Communications has reported a fall in first-half profit amidst a depressed advertising market and has halved its dividend.Advertising revenues fell by 6.3%, compared to an 8% growth in the same period last year. Carlton, a major shareholder in UK commercial TV network, said it could not predict an upturn.Carlton's decision to slash its divided to 4 cents per share follows the sale late last year of film processing unit Technicolor to France's Thomson
  • American Rhapsody, Kinski open Karlovy Vary

    Eva Gardos' mother-daughter drama An American Rhapsody will open the 36th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in July. The film's star, Nastassja Kinski, is expected to accompany the picture.Czech title Angel Exit, directed by Vladimir Michalek, will screen in competition, while film-maker Emir Kusturica is expected to hit the Bohemian spa town to screen his music documentary Super 8 Stories and - possibly - stage a concert with his band No Smoking.Join
  • Angel Eyes

    Dir: Luis Mandoki. US 2001. 115 mins.A muddled blend of a supernatural thriller, romantic melodrama, and urban police-crimer, Angel Eyes, Jennifer Lopez' latest disappointing star vehicle, tries to do too much to little effect. Lifting a number of ideas and characters from Ghost and City Of Angels, this predictable, schmaltzy picture pairs the luminously beautiful Lopez with up-and-comer Jim Caviezel as two big city misfits in desperate need of each other. Obvio
  • Australia unveils $16m funding boost

    Australian film-makers and Australia-based productions have secured a funding boost worth $16.6m (A$31.6m) for the next four years from the state government of Victoria.Film production secured an extra $8.2m over the period, bringing the toal available to about three times current levels. Local film administration and support agency Film Victoria, which is to be spun off from other fellow state-backed film bodies, is now likely to lift it current cap of $132,000 per project.The
  • Bafta readies pre-Oscar slot for next year

    The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta) is to return to its pre-Oscar slot for its film awards next year, subject to some routine consultations.Bafta has scheduled next year's awards for Sunday February 24, aiming to repeat this year's success when the ceremony moved from April. The repositioning is credited with raising the awards' international profile as an international stopover on the Oscar trail."We did it on an experimental basis last year, but it was so s
  • Bidding may go sky-high for DirecTV with new buyer

    A bidding war is set to erupt over DirecTV, the largest satellite TV operator in the US with 9.5m subscribers.DirecTV's current owner, General Motors, says it is willing to entertain offers from bothcurrent suitor News Corp as well as new would-be buyer EchoStar Communications,which is second largest satellite TV provider in the US with 5.3m customers.In a filing with the with the Securities & Exchange Commission, EchoStarrevealed this week that GM is open to discussions about m
  • Danielsen to take over at Edinburgh Festival

    Shane Danielsen has been named as the next artistic director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival.A writer and critic for The Australian newspaper, Danielsen will take over from current artistic director Lizzie Francke after she has presided over this year's festival, which runs from 12-16 August. As well as being a journalist, Danielsen has worked with a number of film festivals. He served as a programme adviser for the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, a
  • Director Khudoinazarov sets up two more pictures

    Luna Papa director Bahktiar Khudoinazarov is planning to shoot a low-budget feature Faraway Gochi on location in Russia this September ahead of his $4m-$4.4m (DM 9m-DM 10m) feature Leo which is being slated to shoot in and around Vienna for 12 weeks in spring 2002.Budgeted at under $440,000 (DM 1m) Faraway Gochi has been written by Oleg Antonov from an idea of Khudoinazarov's about the lives of three 15 year-old boys and will be produced with Russian distributor-pr
  • Dogme film heads for competition at San Sebastian

    Danish Dogme title Truly Human (Et Rigtigt Menneske) has secured a competition slot at the San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain in September.Seen as somewhere in between the gritty realism of Festen and the Dogme-lite of Berlin title Italian For Beginners, the film was well-received critically and a box-office success when it opened in its home market three weeks ago. Sold internationally by Trust Film Sales, it still holds a number four spot and has chalked up 30,
  • DVD growth explodes in Germany, turnover up 190%

    Germany's DVD boom continued unabated during the first quarter this year, with turnover rocketing 190% to account for 45.8% of the overall turnover from the video sell-through sector.According to the latest figures from trade organisation Bundesverband Video, DVD turnover soared to claim $73.4m (DM162.9m) in a sector worth $160m as a whole. The DVD tally was up from $25.2m in the same period last year, when the format accounted for only 21.5% of the sell-through market.The numbe
  • EIB now ready to accelerate audiovisual funding

    The European Investment Bank (EIB) gave a clear signal at last week's Audiovisual Roundtable in Cannes that it wants to support the European film and TV industry and build greater competitiveness in the international market.The Roundtable had been organised following the launch of the Euros500m "Audiovisual i2i" initiative and to encourage representatives from the banking and financing sectors to become acquainted with film and TV professionals. After the event, lobbyist Philip
  • Fireworks buys North America on New Zealand's Rain

    Fireworks Pictures has picked up North American rights on New Zealand Directors' Fortnight title Rain.The distributor, a subsidiary of CanWest Global Communications, picked up the film from the New Zealand Film Commission. Set over one summer, the coming-of-age story is viewed as an auspicious debut for writer-director Christine Jeffs. The picture is about a girl discovering her sexuality just as her mother feels increasingly frustrated by her marriage.The deal was annou
  • Fox launches first pay-TV channel in Europe

    Fox International Entertainment will next week launch its first stand-alone pay-TV channel in Europe, when it unveils the Fox channel in Spain.The new channel will broadcast 24 hours a day on the basic tier of digital satellite platform Canal Satelite Digital (CSD) and an array of local cable networks from June 1. It is a generalist entertainment channel targeting young adults in the 18-34 age range and will draw on 20th Century Fox film and TV libraries. Highlights include re-r
  • France, Germany, Luxembourg pact for co-production

    Germany and Luxembourg tightened their links with France were at last week's Cannes Film Festival by striking co-production treaties.Alongisde their main treaty, French and German culture ministers Catherine Tasca and Julian Nida-Ruemelin agreed to each provide Euro 1.52m a year for producing German-French films. Features benefiting from the support "must be in the interest of both states and make a contribution to the artistic quality of film co-production."The main co-producti
  • Gaumont develops Fabulous English-language titles

    Gaumont is developing three further English-language movies through its first-look deal with Fabien Liron's Fabulous Films.Liron, currently in production on $15m romantic comedy I'm With Lucy, is working on an untitled $10m UK romantic comedy. Set in London, the picture is scheduled for shooting this year.Also in the pipeline is Scotland-set adventure comedy The Last Great Ghost Tour. Liron described the $25m-plus project as "when Ghostbusters meets Ghost". Shootin
  • Germany's H5B5 invests in Nicolas Roeg's Addict

    Germany's H5B5 Media is teaming up with best-selling writer Stephen Smith to set up a joint company to co-produce a screen adaptation of Smith's autobiographical novel, Addict.Veteran UK director Nicolas Roeg is attached to direct the story of Smith's 25-year descent into drugs and drink. H5B5 also announced in Cannes that it will co-produce Anthony and Joe Russo's heist picture, Welcome To Collinwood, with Pandora and Section 8.Back in Germany, H5B5 plans to move
  • IFC satellite, cable deals ensure wider coverage

    The Independent Film Channel (IFC) has struck a rash of carriage deals that extend the number of households that can watch it.Rainbow Media Holdings, which owns IFC, said that the channel had agreed a long-term carriage agreements with satellite platform DirecTV and also with cable operators Adelphia Communications and Charter Communications. IFC also reached a long-term carriage agreement with Time Warner Cable, which will provide the network with an additional 3 million viewing subsc
  • Intermedia unveils music division for soundtracks

    UK and US-based indie Intermedia has launched a music arm under Bill Curbishley, former manager of The Who and Jimi Hendrix, and Joel Sill, former vice-president music for Warner Brothers and Paramount Pictures.The division will produce soundtracks for features and have offices in Los Angeles and London. The team is currently working on soundtracks for Intermedia titles including K19: The Widowmaker, Adaptation and Plague Season, plus Mariah Carey vehicle Wise G
  • Italy celebrates Nanni Moretti as a national hero

    Better known for nervous introspection than clambering over the audience a la Roberto Benigni, Nanni Moretti was at the centre of a media whirlwind on Monday as the Italian press celebrated Italy's first Palme d'Or in 23 years.Echoeing widesprad public sentiment over Moretti's Cannes triumph with The Son's Room (La Stanza Del Figlio), Milan's Il Corriere della Sera ran a banner headline screaming: "A victory for Nanni. A victory for Moretti. A Victory for Italy." A
  • Moretti wins Palme d'Or, Haneke wins three prizes

    For all that this year's Cannes festival had been billed as the year of Asian cinema, the winners turned out to be largely European.Italy's Nanni Moretti won the Palme d'Or for his heart rending tale of loss, The Son's Room (La Stanza Del Figlio). While the competition was wide-open - at least ten films appeared to have a serious chance of some recompense - The Son's Room appeared on most critics' short-lists. One commentator, however, noted that the film's support
  • Munich festival secures world premieres

    Alfonso Arau's TV version of The Magnificent Ambersons and Oskar Roehler's Suck My Dick, the director's first film after Die Unberuhrbare, will make their world premieres at the Munich FilmFest, the event has announced.Jean-Pierre Jeunet's French box-office hit Amelie will open the event's 19th edition, which runs from June 30 to July 7. The festival is mounting tributes to Jeunet and UK director Terence Davies and will present an honorary award to actress J
  • Official selection prize list

    Cannes 2001 Official selection prizesFeature Films:Palme d'OrThe Son's Room (La Stanza Del Figlio) Dir: Nanni MorettiGrand PrixThe Piano Teacher Dir: Michael HanekeBest ActressIsabelle Huppert, The Piano TeacherBest ActorBenoit Magimel, The Piano TeacherBest Direction (joint)Joel Coen, The Man Who Wasn't ThereDavid Lynch, Mulholland Drive
  • Oz industry reacts bitterly to tight Govt budget

    "We are fighting for survival," said Catriona Hughes, chief executive of Australia's Film Finance Corporation (FFC), in reaction to the very small increases for film announced in this week's budget.Other commentators noted that the proposed A$50m budget for the FFC, the Australian industry's biggest film investor, is only half that of Australia's most visible film of the moment, Moulin Rouge. They said that this is not enough to capitalise on Australia's obvious production talents.
  • Parallel section and other prizes

    Cannes 2001 parallel section and other prizesCinefondationFirst Prize Portrait Dir: Sergei LuchishinSecond Prize Reparation Dir: Jens JonssonThird Prize (shared) Run Away Dir: Yang Chao and Crow Stone Dir: Alicia DuffyFIPRESCI AwardsCompetion film The Son's Room (La Stanza Del Figlio) Dir: Nanni MorettiUn Certain Regard
  • Patagonic adds weight to 12-picture slate

    Cecilia Roth, Norma Leandro, Leticia Bredice, Ricardo Darin and BetoBrandoni are the first five actors announced by Argentina heavyweightPatagonik Film Group as attached to its ambitious new TV movie project.Patagonik is readying 12 made-for-TV movies in co-production with Spain's Tornasol Films. According to Patagonik COO Dario Perticone, the films are set to shart shooting next December on budgets of approximately $350,000 each for monthly TV premieres beginning next sp
  • Regent, Scottish Screen head for Great Wilderness

    The US' Regent Entertainment and UK funding body Scottish Screen have partnered on The Last Great Wilderness from up and coming British director David Mackenzie.Regent will handle US distribution and international sales on the Scottish road movie, which is now in post. Feature Film Co, the UK distributor bought by Winchester this week, is covering local distribution.The picture is the first in a series of films on which Regent and Scottish Screen aim to collaborate. Produ
  • Sharada snags two Cannes titles for Italy

    Confirming the rise in Italy of a new generation of ambitious distributionoutfits, Sharada, a new Rome-based company, has snapped up Italiandistribution rights to two Cannes titles, including Catherine Corsini'scompetition film La Repetition.Sharada's Andrea De Liberato, who also heads Italian production outfitPoetiche Cinematografiche, and his business partner Antonio Fusco, have alsoacquired writer-director Bertrand Bonello's controversial Cr
  • Sony Classics has a crush on FilmFour's Crush

    Sony Pictures Classics (SPC) has reportedly capped a late flurry of Cannes acquisitions by taking all North American rights to FilmFour's Crush, one of the market's most talked about UK titles. The $6.5m picture, which stars Andie MacDowell, follows the relationship between three middle-aged single women and a younger man. Cannes buyers saw Crush as an auspicious debut from commercially-oriented director-producer team John McKay and Lee Thomas, but some were disappointed
  • Sony pays theatre chains to show film trailer

    Sony PicturesEntertainment has set a new precedent by becoming the first Hollywood studio toactually pay theatre chains to carry one its promotional trailers.According to a news report in Thursday's Los Angeles Times, Sony paid two US exhibition chains -- General Cinema Theatres and AMC Entertainment -- as much as $100,000 to guarantee that a 60-second trailer for its Rob Schneider comedy The Animal would be previewed ahead of Universal's The Mummy Returns over a t
  • Splendid, Warner partner for rental distribution

    Germany's Splendid Medien has signed a distribution agreement with Warner Home Video for a package of 19 films.Warner will handle rental releases on video and DVD in Germany, Austria and German-speaking Switzerland on the titles, which include Traffic, Gangs Of New York and Dr T And The Women. The two partners expect turnover of more than $6.7m from the package, which includes a number of video premieres.Sell-through releases will continue to go through Spl
  • Streather to head LFCA's European operations

    Large Format Cinema Association (LFCA) has appointed Phil Streather as vice president - Europe, Africa and Middle East.Streather, who is currently co-chairman and head of large format at Principal Media Group and current LFCA board member, is briefed with raising the association's global profile and helping to grow the large format industry throughout European, African and Middle Eastern markets. Streather will report to Christopher Reyna, the LFCA's president.The territories co
  • Swaraj promotes booming Indian film sector

    The Indian Minister for Information and Broadcasting Sushma Swaraj announced this week that the government is in discussions with The British Film Institute with a view to setting up a Museum of Moving Images in New Delhi. Discussions advanced during a meeting at last week's Cannes Film Festival.The minister said that there were several co-production offers from companies based in UK, US, France and Germany.Returned from a fact finding mission to Europe, which also took in visit
  • The Warrior production outfit launches fresh slate

    Sidus, the Korean production house behind Musa The Warrior, has unveiled a five-picture slate, including Musa director Kim Sung-soo's new project.Kim is readying an untitled sci-fi action picture, which could go into production later this year. Sidus, which aims to invest $15m-$17m a year in eight films, is looking for European co-production partners on the pictures and is seeking participation from a 3-D animation house. The film is likely to have a budget of $5m-plus.
  • UK BO enjoys best April for quarter of a century

    After an uncertain start to the year, things are finally looking up for the UK's exhibition sector. According to the Cinema Advertising Association (CAA) admissions in April were the highest for 26 years, averaging 3.26m ticket sales a week. This, says the CAA, could translate into 148m admissions by the end of the year in the UK, up from 142.5m in 2000. Prospects for the rest of the year are helped by the good volume of high profile releases scheduled for the rest of the year.
  • Valladolid sets up retrospective six pack

    The International Film Week of Valladolid, Spain (Oct 26-Nov 3) is preparingsix retrospectives for its 46th edition this autumn.The first of these, "Todo Visconti", will feature restored copies of the famed Italian neo-realist director Luchino Visconti's oeuvre, including Death In Venice, Rocco And His Brothers, The Leopard, The Wanton Countess and The Earth Will Tremble. Restoration of the films was carried out by the Rome-based Fondazione Sculoa Nazionale di Cine
  • Warner plans Spanish, Italian local prod ventures

    Warner Bros International is readying its first Spanish-language pictures in the next phase of its drive into local-language production in Europe.According to Simona Benzakein, Warner's newly appointed vice president of European production, the multinational is studying the possibility of opening a Spain-based production office, much like it has done in France under the leadership of Francis Boespflug, and in Germany under Willi Geike.According to Benzakein, Warner is currently
  • Winchester sells slate, Heartbreakers goes east

    UK-based Winchester Films has closed a host of deals to the Far East on its MGM comedy Heartbreakers.The story of mother and daughter con artists went to Hong Kong (Delon), India (RDB), Indonesia (PT Multiplex), Philippines (AIX), Singapore (Shaw) and Taiwan (Long Shong).The feature arm of listed media concern Winchester Entertainment sold US action thriller Soul Assassin to Japan (Mi-Pic), India (RDB), Indonesia (Amero Mitra) and Portugal (Lusomundo). Directed by
  • Zee seeks partner for int'l expansion drive

    Zee Telefilms Ltd (ZTL) is looking to partner with a multi-national media group in order to catapult itself into Asian and international markets.The executive committee of ZTL, which is managed by The Essel Group, has invited proposals from leading international investment and merchant bankers to put together the proposed strategic partnership. The framework of the management structure, including valuations and other related issues, will be discussed in consultation with the chosen ban