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26 December 2007

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  • 2007 review: Hollywood looks for local heroes

    These are dynamic times for Hollywood's overseas business. The studios' international infrastructure is evolving to accommodate a trend that has been around for years and is poised to explode. By the end of 2007, local-language releases such as The Orphanage (El Orfanato) in Spain, Saawariya in India and Dororo in Japan will each figure among the biggest success stories of the past 12 months in their native territories.In each case, a major studio has
  • Argentinian cinema-going falls 2.5% in 2007

    Cinema attendance figures in Argentina dropped by an estimated 2.5% in 2007. The period saw 34.5 million admissions as opposed to 35.4 million in 2006, according to provisional figures from Nielsen EDI and Dis-Service. Hollywood blockbusters took a 82.1% share of the market (79.3% in 2006), local productions logged 9% (from last year's 11.6%), while European, Asian and other Latin American films took a 8.9% (9.4% a year ago). The fall in attendances particularly affected
  • Awards Countdown - Best director - The visionaries

    1. TIM BURTONSweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet StreetBurton has a Bafta nomination under his belt for Big Fish in 2003 and was nominated for the feature animation Oscar for Tim Burton's Corpse Bride. But bearing in mind his films have grossed several billion dollars between them, he is somewhat underappreciated. That has to change this year with his grisly film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd. It possesses the visual excitement you
  • Awards Countdown - Best Documentary - Rewriting the doc rule book

    Michael Apted knew he was in for some flak when he went to meet the documentary film-making communities of Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco late last year.But the chairman of the documentary branch executive committee of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Ampas) thought the meetings were the best way to deal with criticism of the complex and seemingly ever-changing rules governing the Academy's documentary feature and documentary short Oscar categories."I wa
  • Awards Countdown - People - Awards People

    SARAH POLLEYThe Away From Her director talks to Peter Bowen about the film's long journey from story to screen.While making films seems second nature for Sarah Polley - she started acting at age six and making short films in her teens - she took more than six years to write and direct her first feature, Away From Her. Her journey began in 1999 when, having just wrapped shooting Hal Hartley's No Such Thing with Julie Christie, she found Alice Munro's The Bear Cam
  • Baratta confirmed as Venice Biennale president

    Paolo Baratta has been confirmed as the president of the Venice Biennale arts festival.His responsibilities include the film festivaland events covering art, music, architecture, theatre and dance.Baratta'snomination wasapproved bythe Italian parliament and he will now take over the reins from outgoing president Davide Croff who tendered his resignation along with his board. Baratta will hold the position for four years (2008-2011). It is the second spell as presid
  • Botswana - Production Number One

    It is fitting that when he started filming, Anthony Minghella did not know if The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency would end up as a feature or a TV film. After all, this is a director who made his international name as an Oscar winner for such sweeping cinematic epics as The English Patient. But he got his break as a director for UK television."I vacillated and I am still vacillating," says Minghella, on the Botswana set in August (he and his team are now in post-producion i
  • Eurimages supports 15 European co-productions

    At its Dec 16-18 meeting in Paris, the Eurimages Fund board signed on to support 15 feature films for a total amount of $7m (Euros 4.925m). The projects getting funding are: Adalet - Ali Ozgenturk (Turkey, Hungary) Desert Flower - Sherry Hormann (Germany, Austria, France) Joueuse - Caroline Bottaro (France, Germany) La Chanteuse de Tango - Diego Martinez Vignatti (Belgium, Argentina, France, Netherlands) La Domination
  • Feng's Assembly enjoys strong opening in China

    Feng Xiaogang's war movie The Assembly grossed $2.03m (RMB15m) on its opening day in China yesterday, according to producer and distributor Huayi Brothers Pictures. The figure equals the record set by Zhang Yimou's 2006 hit, Curse Of The Golden Flower. The film, which opened on Thursday (Dec 20), was released on 650 film prints and 150 digital copies across the country, which is the second biggest ever print run for a Chinese-language film, behind Peter Ho-Sun Chan's The
  • France Televisions deal boosts feature films on French TV

    France's public television holding company, France Televisions, has signed an agreement with local film producers which increases the number of feature films airing on its channels as well as guaranteeing higher investment in film production. France Televisions is comprised of channels France 2, France 3, France 4, France 5 and France O. The agreement between France Television and producers groups ARP (representing writers, directors and producers), BLIC (representing independent produ
  • German box office fails to match 2006boom

    After Germany's exhibitors' fortunes revived in 2006 following a catastrophic 2005, box-office takings and admissions have fallen back again this year by 8-9%, according to figures collated by Nielsen EDI. Box-office revenues amounted to $ 983.5m (Euros 684.13m), compared to $ 1.06 bn (Euros 740.09 m) in 2006 although still above 2005's $967.6m (Euros 673.15 m), while total admissions ahead of the Christmas releases was 111.74 million, below 2006's 123.06 million and 2005's 113.72 mill
  • High stakes at box office in awards corridor

    Handling a prestige film in North America has always called for a combination of art and science and, faced with today's increasingly crowded market place, it is more important than ever distributors get the balance right. This season alone finds a multitude of films in the mix: from critical darlings such as Atonement, No Country For Old Men, There Will Be Blood and Juno to trickier releases including The Kite Runner and Lust, Caution. Each on
  • Hollywood Film Festival launches six Mobile Awards

    Top brass at the Hollywood Film Festival and the Hollywood Awards have launched the Hollywood Mobile Awards to recognise innovative content and sites dedicated to mobile devices. Six awards - best mobile short, best mobile video game, best mobile music video, best mobile commercial, best mobile advertising and best mobile content website - will be honoured at the 12th Annual Hollywood Awards in October 2008. The deadline for entries is June 30, 2008 and nominees will be ann
  • Hollywood hope turns to Middle East petro-dollars

    In their unending quest to spend other people's money, Western film producers and studios have spent the last couple of years becoming conversant in the languages of Wall Street and the hedge-fund world. Now, just as those wells become exposed to the sub-prime mortgage morass, these same producers are learning an entirely new lexicon: Arabic.
  • Hungarian Film Week to feature world premiere of Delta

    Eighteen films, including nine world premieres, will compete at the 39th Hungarian Film Week in Budapest Jan 29-Feb. Among the most anticipated titles in the competition is the world premiere of Kornel Mundruczo's new film, Delta . The director's 2002 film, Pleasant Days, won a Silver Leopard at Locarno for Best First or Second Feature Film. Film critics at the 37th Hungarian Film Week gave him the Best Director award for his film Johanna . Four other
  • International - UPI builds up a global village

    David Kosse is now celebrating a full year as president of Universal Pictures International (UPI), and he will tell you it has been a challenging ride.While he is no stranger to the company - Kosse has been head of UPI's London operation since 2003 - this is the company's first year as a standalone entity following the United International Pictures (UIP) split at the close of 2006."It's been a great year," says London-based Kosse. "We've had some terrific and significant movies
  • International - Warlords on the rise

    Chinese heavy-hitter The Warlords was this weekend's highest non-US entry to the international chart, helping boost the top 40 revenue by 17.3% week-on-week.The period epic, directed by Peter Ho-sun Chan (Perhaps Love, Three), opened at number five at the weekend with a $12.5m take, for a $14.4m total including previews. The film, starring Jet Li, Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro, played across 1,269 screens in five territories for a $9,820 screen average. It opened
  • Into The Wild leads Screen Actors Guild nominations

    Sean Penn's Into The Wild leads the The Screen Actors Guild Award nominations, with nominations in four categories: Emile Hirsch for leading actor, Hal Holbrook for supporting actor, Catherine Keener for supporting actress, and best cast.Other films with multiple nominations are Michael Clayton and No Country For Old Men with three and American Gangster with two.Actors with nominations for multiple films include Cate Blanchett for lead in
  • Juthamas resigns from PPP following bribery accusations

    Former governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Juthamas Siriwan, yesterday (Dec 20) tendered her resignation as deputy head of Thailand's Puea Padin Party following the revelation of a bribery scandal over the Bangkok International Film Festival (BKKIFF). The corruption link to Juthamas has been making top headlines all over the Thai and international media since the arrest of Gerald and Patricia Green of Film Festival Management (FFM) in the US on Dec 18. Juthamas is
  • Khoo wraps Tamil-language drama You And Me

    Singapore director Eric Khoo today wrapped his latest film You And Me after a 12-day shoot. The picture features a Tamil cast and the dialogues are in the Tamil language, making it the first Indian Tamil film made in Singapore. Amateur actor Francis Bosco plays a drunkard father who redeems himself through his motherless 10-year-old son when he comes to live with him. The father works as a cleaner before a nightclub boss discovers his ability to perform painful magic.
  • Kim to replace Shin as CJ international chief

    Leading Korean investor/distributor CJ Entertainment has announced that head of International Business, David Shin, has stepped down. Former head of Domestic Marketing and Distribution, Kathy Kim, will take his place with an expanded role as head of International Business and Worldwide Distribution. Kim will continue to oversee distribution of foreign and domestic films in Korea, including the Paramount titles that CJ exclusively distributes in the territory, while overseeing the
  • Loins of Punjab Presents

    Dir: Manish Acharya India/USA 2007. 88mins.A mostly hilarious screwball comedy set around a New York talent contest for expat Indians - or 'desis' - Loins of Punjab Presents has an infectious energy that makes up for the occasional lapse into self-indulgent cliche. With its wacky ensemble cast and its affectionately satirical mood it feels a little like an Indian version of a Christopher Guest mockumentary. Though chiefly aimed at the same NRI (non-
  • Luhrmann's Australia helps double Oz production to $232m

    On first glance, figures released today indicate that more money is being poured into Australian features, which are traditionally made for very low budgets, but the improvement is illusionary. The numbers in the Australian Film Commission's (AFC) annual production survey only look healthier than the previous year because they have been bumped up by Baz Luhrmann's big-budget period romance Australia, just as they were by Happy Feet two years earlier. Twenty-seven Aus
  • Metrodome hands backUK rights to Haditha to HanWay

    UK distributor Metrodome has agreed to hand back UK rights for Nick Broomfield's Battle For Haditha to sales company HanWay Films. Each company has released the other's obligation with immediate effect. The Channel 4-backed drama recreates a fight between US soldiers and Iraqi civilians in November 2005. Broomfield 's drama played in Toronto and London festivals and won him the best director prize in San Sebastian. Broomfield said: 'This is an amicable decision a
  • National Treasure: Book Of Secrets

    Dir: Jon Turteltaub. US. 2007. 124mins.The first National Treasure reaped sizable international box-office fortunes with a loopy gee-whiz amalgam of Indiana Jones derring-do and Mission: Impossible-style set pieces. Three years later, the inevitable sequel, dubbed Book Of Secrets, is as derivative of its sources as it is of the first film, resulting in a family-friendly action movie that, like it or not, should enjoy comparable success over the holida
  • National Treasure: Book Of Secrets strikes box-office gold in US

    Buena Vista's National Treasure: Book Of Secrets proved too strong for the competition in a crowded weekend and launched at number one withan estimated $45.5m. Nicolas Cage reprises his role as a treasure hunter who this time investigates the truth behind President Abraham Lincoln's assassination. Helen Mirren, Jon Voight and Diane Kruger round out the cast. By way of comparison National Treasure opened on $35.1m on November 19 2004 and went on to gross $173m.
  • New German fund to back Dunaway in Master Class

    A new German private media fund Shalimah German Film Management is to be launched to attract investment for participation in a slate of Stateside projects and an in-house family production for the international market. The Shalimah fund will participate in Glenn M. Stewart's investment and financing company Sherezade Film Development which has produced eight films since its launch in 2005. The films produced by Sherezade to date have included Scott Mann's high concept action thr
  • Noah Cowanmoves sidewaystoTIFF's Bell Lightbox

    Toronto International Film Festival co-director Noah Cowan is giving up his position to assume responsibility for year-round programming at the Toronto International Film Festival Group's (TIFFG) new headquarters, Bell Lightbox, with the title of artistic director. Cowan, who joined TIFFG CEO Piers Handling as co-director four years ago, will be replaced as co-director by long-time festival programmer Cameron Bailey. The changes are effective January 1, 2008 The switch-up was triggered
  • NonStop to sell sequel to Gnomes And Trolls

    NonStop sales will handle international sales for Gnomes and Trolls II, after selling the original film this year.The 3D animated fairy tale is from White Shark AB with executive producers Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow (Toy Story, Garfield).The first Gnomes and Trolls is in production and will be finished in early 2008. The sequel Gnomes and Trolls II is at script stage now and is expected to be released for Christmas 2008. The story will
  • Peace Arch signs letter of intent for $35m ContentFilm deal

    Peace Arch Entertainment Group has entered into a letter of intent to acquire ContentFilm.The letter of intent is non-binding and subject to various conditions and due diligence. The deal is worth 19,500,000 Peace Arch shares plus cash of $35m. The total deal value based on a pure cash offer, is $50m (£34.8m) for the shares already in issue and $91.1m (£45.8m) on a fully diluted basis. Peace Arch, based in Toronto, Los Angeles, New York and Vancouver, has three operating
  • Profile: Liz Mackiewicz of Arclight Films

    When she officially joined Arclight Films just before last November's American Film Market, Liz Mackiewicz brought a wealth of experience to the Los Angeles-based international sales and finance company.While Arclight may have established itself as a significant international sales player in its first five years of operation, its new executive vice-president of worldwide distribution has a track record that goes back much further.Mackiewicz started in the UK TV commercials busin
  • Pursuit Of Happyness cleared for China release

    Amid rumors of a prolonged black-out period on US blockbusters, Sony's Will Smith-starrer The Pursuit Of Happyness is now scheduled for release in China on Jan 17. Chinese film import officials confirmed the release date. The film will be released on a revenue-sharing basis but will be shown only in the country's 350 to 380 digital screens. The release of the film is seen as a way to break rumours of an alleged ban on Hollywood movies during the first three months of 2008.
  • Recycle (Ee'adat Khalk)

    Dir/Scr: Mahmoud al-Massad. Jordan/Netherlands/USA/Germany 2007. 80mins.Recycle, a portrait of a disillusioned former mujahideen fighter who makes a living collecting scrap cardboard in Zarqa, his Jordanian hometown, is one of those subtle, taciturn, underplayed documentaries that forces its audience to work at teasing out meanings. It's Errol Morris, in other words, rather than Michael Moore. Unpredictable and open-minded, Mahmoud al-Mass
  • Romania, Israel and Lebanon: the emerging territories of 2007

    The emergence of a body of critically acclaimed work from Romania, Israel and Lebanon, has been among the more surprising developments of 2007.Cannes was a watershed for the three nations. The Palme d'Or awarded to 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days, Cristian Mungiu's harrowing drama about an illegal abortion in Ceausescu-era Bucharest, marked the peak of a recent wave of well-regarded Romanian films, notably Cristi Puiu's The Death Of Mr Lazarescu (2005), Corneliu Porumbo
  • Screenwriters' festival launches pitching event

    Next year's International Screenwriters' Festival has launched its 2008 pitching event in association with 4Talent at Channel 4.Pitch In Time will give hopeful writers a chance to appeal to an industry panel in front of a live audience at the event in Cheltenham (July 1-3).Previous panels have included Oscar winner Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park) andMichael Goldenberg (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix). Part of the prize for shortlisted writers is
  • Search for business models undermines digital progress

    The term 'business model' has been haunting the film industry all year. It has been a given in any conference presentation and a must at market and festival discussions.The reason for this ubiquity is easy to understand. However great the raw data appears for this year's box office or however extraordinary the sums generated from private equity in Hollywood, there is an inescapable feeling the film business is changing.That is not to write off recent progress as fool's gold.
  • Seven films announcedforBerlin Perspektive Deutsches Kino sidebar

    The Berlinale's Perspektive Deutsches Kino sidebar has announced half of the section's programme for the seventh edition.The opening film on Feb 8will be1st of May - All Belongs To You (1. Mai - Das Ende Vom Lied), an episodic feature directed by Jakob Ziemnicki, Sven Taddicken and the directorial duo Carsten Ludwig and Jan-Christoph Glaser. The other six films confirmed so far are: Football Under Cover by David Assmann and Ayat Na
  • Seven number one openings for I Am Legend

    I Am Legend consolidated on last weekend's promising launch in Asia with seven new number one debuts through Warner Bros Pictures International (WBPI) that contributed to an estimated $25.3m weekend haul from 15 markets.The sci-fi horror adaptation currently stands at $54.3m and is well poised to build throughout the holiday season. Weekend business was led by $7.6m including previews in France on 607 prints, a sterling effort that claimed 44% market share of the top five.
  • St Trinian's

    Dirs: Oliver Parker & Barnaby Thompson UK. 2007. 101 minsA modern make-over may have worked wonders for James Bond but it fails to rejuvenate another great British institution in the lacklustre return of Ronald Searle's unruly schoolgirls. The St Trinian's films were a commercially viable franchise for twenty-five years until the series fizzled out with Wildcats Of St Trinian's in 1980. The revival cheapens and diminishes the anarchic spirit of the original, elimin
  • Telefilm backs 13 features including films by Mehta, McGowan

    New films from Deepa Mehta and Michael McGowan are among 13 English-language features backed by Telefilm Canada in its latest funding round, the Canadian investment agency announced today. Several projects have already started production, including Vincenzo Natali's Splice, starring Adrian Brody and Sarah Polley, which received $2.5m (C$2.5m) in Telefilm financing. Mehta returns as writer-director on Heaven On Earth, the story of an Indian bride who comes to Canada for an
  • Thai interim parliament approves controversial film act

    Thailand approved the controversial new Film and Video Act yesterday during the last days of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), the interim parliament installed by the military junta until Sunday's general election. The new law will see the launch of a film rating system for the first time, which in itself is a milestone for the country's film history. The complex ratings include P for films with educational value, G for all age groups, 13 for people aged 13 or above, 15, 18 and 20
  • The International view - The wheel: re-invented

    From the beginning, the film industry has revelled in reheating its past and serving it up again and again and again. Great film-makers from John Ford to Kon Ichikawa have remade their own films and sometimes that exercise has expanded or embellished on an original.There are literal remakes and sequels, franchises such as James Bond and Tora-san and countless instances where someone has tweaked a box-office success to produce, in all likelihood, a pale imitation.The box-o
  • The Writer's Strike:Cloudy forecasts

    The film and television industries represent collectively a $500bn global enterprise that attracts some of the keenest minds in business. And yet, judging by the high emotions evident at so many industry get-togethers these past six weeks, when talk turned invariably to the writers' strike, this is also a sector seriously devoid of financial analysis.Absent from the rancorous negotiations so far between screenwriters and their employers is any factual basis for determining who is being
  • Turkey - Road movies

    For the last 13 years Basak Emre and Ahmet Boyacioglu have been bringing world cinema to the farthest corners of Turkey. Their European Film Festival on Wheels, running since 1995, starts in late autumn in Ankara, then, for the following month, stages repeat performances of the programme in at least three other locations.Emre, a management graduate, and Boyacioglu, a former physician and previously Turkey's Eurimages delegate, met while working for the Ankara Film Festival. "We realise
  • United States - Water Works

    Director Jay Russell has already brought two well-loved books to the big screen, in his 2000 family film My Dog Skip and in his 2002 fantasy Tuck Everlasting. But it took a leap forward in special-effects technology for him to pull off The Water Horse: Legend Of The Deep, based on the novel by Babe creator Dick King-Smith."This project came to me almost seven years ago," says Russell of Sony's big Christmas Day US release. "One of the reasons it wasn't made
  • US films' box office in China up by 37% in 2007

    The box office revenues of US blockbusters continued to grow in mainland China in 2007. The combined grosses of the 20 revenue-sharing foreign films reached $158.87m (RMB1.17bn), an increase of 37.6% on 2006. Based on statistics which combine the Chinese Film Bureau's weekly box office figures and Screen International's own research, Paramount 's Transformers takes the lead among the 20 revenue-sharing films, raking in $37.61m (RMB277m). It is also the second highest