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26 January 2001

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  • Ad chief moves to South Australian Film Corp

    David Minear, chairman of the Young & Rubicam Adelaide advertising agency, has been appointed chairman of the board of the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC), which recently announced a new strategy aimed at making the state a centre for independent film-making. Film-maker Rolf de Heer has an office at the SAFC and Paul Cox regularly posts his films there. Its recent investments include Rabbit-Proof Fence, the first film directed by Phillip Noyce in Australia for about 10
  • Australia's GUET fit-out company splits in two

    Australia's biggest cinema fit-out company, Greater Union Entertainment Technology (GUET), will begin operating as two businesses - one dealing only with film technology and the other handling the installation of sound, video and lighting systems in other markets - from February 1. The company is active abroad as well as in Australia.With the change related to the arrival of digital technology, the film technology division will become part of the Greater Union Organisation's (GUO) Atla
  • Berlin to feature sidebar of De Hadeln favourites

    Outgoing Berlin Film Festival director Moritz de Hadeln has made a selection of personal cinematic memories from his 22-year tenure that will screen in a special sidebar at this year's event under the banner "Moritz' Favourites".De Hadeln said he didn't want to put his own personality into the spotlight, but had been finally persuaded by Ulrich Eckhardt, former director of the Berliner Festspiele, to make a choice from more than 700 titles which had been invited to participate in the I
  • Berlin unveils further Panorama, Forum titles

    Bela Tarr's Werckmeister Harmoniak and Renny Bartlett's Eisenstein are among another batch of titles confirmed for the International Forum of Young Cinema sidebar at this year's Berlin Film Festival. Meanwhile titles from Jean-Jacques Beineix, Lea Pool and Gerardo Herrero have been added to the Panorama line-up.Hungarian feature Werckmeister Harmoniak has previously screened in Directors' Fortnight at last year's Cannes Film Festival and features in the upcoming Ro
  • Berlin's Kinderfilmfest unveils final line-up

    The world premiere of Andrea Katzenberger's Der Mistkerl, which is handled internationally by Studio Hamburg Produktion, will open this year's edition of Berlin's Kinderfilmfest.The line-up for the children's film festival has now been finalised by organisers Renate Zylla and Maryanne Redpath. Films confirmed to screen include:Jannik Hastrup's animation film Cirkeline - Ost & Kaerlighed (Int'l sales: Trust Filmsales).Twin brothers Andrea and Antonio Frazz
  • Butler moves to Pathe marketing post

    UK distributor Pathe Distribution has appointed Anna Butler as director of marketing, deputy managing director Ian George announced on Friday.Butler formerly spent five years as head of press and marketing at UK film and TV cultural body the British Film Institute. She will report directly to George, who was promoted from head of marketing at Pathe last year.Butler's appointment comes as Patricia Gill joins the distributor as national publicist. Gill, who previously served three
  • Cast Away hangs on to UK box office crown

    Tom Hanks, who won the Golden Globe for best actor on Sunday night, continued to reign at the UK box office over the weekend as Cast Away held first position in its second week. The UIP film took $3,527,590 (£2,402,289) from 393 sites for an impressive three-day site average of $8,976. None of this week's openers were able to overtake the desert island drama and awards success should help it to sustain strong receipts. Cast Away faces tough opposition next week however as Columb
  • Chopper

    Screening at Sundance (World Cinema). Dir: Andrew Dominik. Australia. 2000. 94mins.Writer-director Andrew Dominik spent a year working on commercials and music videos with producer Michele Bennett before the pair set to work on this, a haunting debut feature that depicts Australia's best known serial killer Mark 'Chopper' Read. A stylised macho movie soaked in choreographed fountains of blood, Chopper immediately topped the Australian box office upon release and ended up the
  • Crouching Tiger breaks UK foreign-language record

    Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon set yet another box office record Wednesday night as it became the highest-grossing foreign-language film ever released in the UK. The Mandarin-language film, which is still only in its third week on release, has taken $4,483,784 (£3,078,380) to date. The previous record of $4,423,087 (£3,036,708) was held by Oscar winner Life Is Beautiful, which opened in February 1999.The film, distributed in the UK by Columbia TriStar, lo
  • Crouching Tiger the real winner at Globes

    In a year when no one film has taken the lead in the race for the Academy Awards, the Golden Globe Awards on Sunday night offered no pointers. While Ridley Scott's Gladiator was named Best Picture (drama), its victory was overshadowed by the success of Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Crouching Tiger was only eligible, under the rules of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, to compete in the Best Foreign Film category which it won. But Lee himself beat both S
  • Dancer In The Dark to kick off Belgrade FEST

    Lars von Trier's Dancer In The Dark will open the 29th International Belgrade Film Festival, FEST (February 1-10), optimistically dubbed "Life Again, Fest Again" after the October changes in Serbia.Altogether the festival will feature 99 films including Jafar Panahi's The Circle, Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia, the Coen Brothers' O Brother, Where Art Thou' and Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The guest list so far includes Panahi, UK direct
  • Dancer strikes a pose in Japan

    Lars Von Trier's Dancer In the Dark not only divided the critics, with some jeering and some cheering at its Cannes premiere, but is getting a radically different reception in major world territories, bombing in some while cleaning up in others, notably Japan. Last week, its fourth on release, Dancer In The Dark was finally able to grab the number one position at the box office in the nine major Japanese cities, beating out Vertical Limit, Dinosaur and Th
  • Das Weisse Rauschen wins Max Ophuels Prize

    Austrian-born director Hans Weingartner walked away with this year's $28,700 (DM60,000) Max Ophuels Prize for his psychological drama Das Weisse Rauschen while the Prize of the Saarland Prime Minister went to Austria's Florian Flicker for Der Ueberfall.The awards were handed out during the Max Ophuels Prize Film Festival in Saarbruecken, Germany (Jan 16-21), which focuses on up-and-coming German-speaking talent.Philip Groening's Locarno Silver Leopard-winner L'A
  • EFP reveals fourth Shooting Stars line-up

    The UK's Kate Ashfield and Germany's Heike Makatsch, lead actresses from Panorama film Late Night Shopping, are among 18 young European actors and actresses selected by members of pan-European promotional organisation European Film Promotion (EFP) for the fourth "Shooting Stars" showcase at the Berlin Film Festival on February 10-11.Icelandic actor-director Baltasar Kormakur, whose credits include 101 Reykjavik, also features in the line-up along with the two French actor
  • Epsilon launches theatrical sales outfit

    Epsilon, the programming and acquisition joint venture between European broadcasters Kirch and Mediaset, has launched an international sales company, Beta Cinema, to focus on distribution of theatrical features.The new operation is in addition to the group's Beta Film sales subsidiary which has traditionally concentrated on TV. It will be headed by Beta Film's former head of theatrical sales Dirk Schuerhoff and will have its first market outing at the European Film Market in Berlin nex
  • Fox Searchlight buys the world on Super Troopers

    In the first deal of the Sundance Film Festival, Fox Searchlight Pictures has acquired worldwide rights to Supertroopers, a crazy comedy directed by Jay Chandrasekhar which screened as a midnight movie on Friday.The company is believed to have paid some $2m for the picture which was represented by John Sloss of Sloss Law Office.Chandrasekhar is the director of Broken Lizard, the film-making, television and stage group which first made Puddle Cruiser in 1997. On Super T
  • France passes loyalty card legislation

    The French Parliament has endorsed the country's controversial loyalty card scheme by passing a set of regulatory guidelines that has met the approval of the various film industry lobbies.All exhibitors will be able to issue or participate in a loyalty card scheme, providing they have secured authorisation from the French film and TV regulatory and support board, the CNC (Centre National de la Cinematographie).Exhibitors which have more than a 25% share of a specific market (8%
  • France Telecom to take control of Madrid Film

    France Telecom subsidiary TDF looks poised to take control of leading Spanish film laboratory Madrid Film with an accumulated 79% interest in the company. According to Spanish daily Cinco Dias, TDF, which already owns a 66% share in the firm, has agreed to buy out a 13% share held by Basque capital risk company Talde. The move is considered somewhat unusual for TDF, which tends to focus more on technology oriented businesses. Madrid Film, which boasts state-of-the-
  • German film fund supports South Africa's AVEA

    German film fund MFG Medien und Filmgesellschaft Baden-Wuerttemberg has joined the list of backers of the new South Africa-based producers' training initiative "AVEA - Audiovisual Entrepreneurs of Africa" which is modelled on the MEDIA programme's EAVE scheme.Financing for the initiative, which aims to prepare film and TV producers from the southern half of the African continent for the national and international film markets, has come largely from UNESCO, the British Council, the Fren
  • Hald becomes chair of Nordic Film & TV Fund

    The Swedish Film Institute's Peter Hald has been appointed chairman of the board of the Nordic Film & TV Fund by the Nordic Council of Ministers. Other additions to the board, which includes one member from each Nordic country, include Finnish Film Foundation head of production Erkki Astala; Thorfinnur Omarsson, director of the Icelandic Film Foundation; Finn Rowold, department chief at Danmarks Radio; and project manager Kristin Helle-Valle from Norway's TV2.The Nordic Film & T
  • Haneke's Code Unknown to open Diagonale fest

    Michael Haneke's Cannes competition title Code Unknown (Code Inconnu) will open this year's Diagonale festival of Austrian cinema, which will feature several sidebars to complement the central showcase of new Austrian film. Among the special programmes are a retrospective dedicated to German filmmaker Michael Klier; an animation focus presenting work from the Fantoche and Ottawa animation film festivals along with local animation; a sidebar entitled Film/History/Politics analysi
  • Hedwig And The Angry Inch

    Screened at Sundance (Dramatic Competition). Dir: John Cameron Mitchell. US. 2001. 95 mins.A conceptually bold, visually striking production - a style often associated with the work of indie producer Christine Vachon and brilliant designer Therese DePrez - marks Hedwig And The Angry Inch an impressive screen adaptation of the long-running, critically-acclaimed Off-Broadway rock stage hit. John Cameron Mitchell, who conceived the role and embodied it in the New York production
  • Italian authority clears TMC deal with conditions

    Italy's Antitrust Authority has said that it will wave through Telecom Italia and publishing giant Seat Pagine Gialle's proposed takeover of Cecchi Gori-owned broadcaster Telemontecarlo (TMC), if a law court greenlights the deal, and providing both companies comply with four regulatory conditions.Last week, Italy's communications watchdog vetoed the takeover because of an Italian law which forbids Telecom Italia, or any company it controls, from owning a free-to-air TV network. Telecom
  • Italian box office up but local fare slides

    Italian box office takings grew 5.5% to $378m (L779.5bn) in 2000, according to figures from box office service Cinetel, but local product's share of the market slipped to 17.48% compared to 23.90% in 1999.Italian films and co-productions grossed $61.6m (L127bn) in 2000, down 18% from $75m (L154.6bn) in 1999, as US fare continued to dominate the local box office.The overall performance of domestic product is disappointing considering the runaway success of homegrown comedy Ask
  • Japan's box office slumps despite 'plex growth

    Japan had more films to watch and more screens to watch them on in 2000, but the country that pays the world's highest ticket prices for the privilege declined. According to the Motion Picture Association of Japan (Eiren), box office fell by 6.5% last year to $1.47bn (Y171bn).Despite this, the box office share of Japanese films held steady at 31.8%, compared to 31.9% in 1999. The number of Japanese titles released rose by 12 to 282, compared to 362 foreign films, up 64 over the previou
  • Jupiter consortium to launch CS movie channel

    A consortium of Japanese companies, including Jupiter Satellite Broadcasting, Jupiter Programming, Sony Broadcast Media, Nihon Keizai Shimbun and TV Tokyo, has launched Interactive, a broadcaster that plans to operate six specialty channels, including a movie channel, on the N-SAT-110 communications satellite from March 2002. Jupiter Satellite Broadcasting will own 30% of the start-up while Sony Broadcast Media will hold 15%, Jupiter Programming 12.5% and TV Tokyo and Nihon Keizai Shim
  • Kirch acquires TM3 and sells it to H.O.T.

    Germany's Kirch Media has acquired News Corp's shares in commercial free-TV channel TM3, and transferred them to EUVIA Media, a 100% subsidiary of the home shopping management and holding company H.O.T. Networks. News Corp has taken a 2.48% stake in Kirch Media as part of the deal.H.O.T. Networks' chairman Georg Kofler, who is also supervisory board chairman of EUVIA Media, said the company "will now go with creativity and energy to position TM3 successfully in the German television ma
  • Lions Gate buys US rights to Double Whammy

    In the second deal of the Sundance Film Festival, Lions Gate Films has bought North American distribution rights to Tom DiCillo's latest film Double Whammy, which screened in the Premiere section, for an estimated $1m. The deal was negotiated between Lions Gate Films co-presidents Tom Ortenberg and Mark Urman with David Kronemyer of the film's production company Gold Circle Films and agents Cassian Elwes of WMA Independent and Howard Cohen of UTA who were co-representing the film.
  • Loews Cineplex to close 675 screens

    North America's second-largest exhibitor Loews Cineplex plans to shutter 675 of its nearly 3,000 screens in North America as it reported a third quarter loss of $185m. The closures represent 23% of its screens in the US and Canada. The company also suggested it will file for bankruptcy protection in the coming days, a decision analysts have been predicting for the past two months.New York-based Loews recently opened its books to investment bank GE Capital so that it can prepare a so-ca
  • Lot 47 signs three year US deal with Blow-Up

    Blow-Up Pictures, the digital film-making production outfit behind Series 7 - Contenders and Chuck And Buck, has signed a three year, multi-picture distribution agreement with US independent distributor Lot 47 Films whereby Lot 47 will provide domestic distribution for at least 50% of Blow-Up's film productions to Jan 2004.Films under the agreement will be budgeted at up to $1m and will include a minimum of eight digital feature films. The deal does not cover films produc
  • Lounguine's Wedding wins top prize at Tromso

    Pavel Lounguine's The Wedding (La Noce) picked up top honours, the Aurora award, at this year's Tromso International Film Festival (January 16-21). One third of the $10,000 award, founded by the Norwegian Film Institute, goes to the film's director, while the rest of the money is earmarked for its Norwegian distributor.The FIPRESCI main award went to Clara Law's The Goddess Of 1967, although a special mention went to local director Knut Erik Jensen's documentary
  • Media Park cancels IPO; unveils studio plans

    Barcelona-based content producer and packager, Media Park, has postponed its proposed stock flotation, but at the same time has revealed that it will open a 6,500 square metre production facility in Madrid next month.Commenting on the cancelled IPO, company sources said: "Financially, we don't need to do it," and pointed to freshly posted year-end earnings of upwards of $61m (PTS11,000m), a 250% gain over last year's more than $22m (PTS4,000m). Last June, the company raised $60m (PTS10
  • Memento

    Screening at Sundance (Dramatic Competition). Dir: Christopher Nolan. US. 2000. 113mins.Not content with the challenges raised by making a film about a memory-deficient character who has to work out where he is every time he wakes up, Nolan has complicated life further by telling the story of Memento backwards, cut up into narrative chunks that last as long as the character's memory - with extensive, but not obtrusive, use of first-person voice over.It all sounds l
  • Moscow court freezes sale of NTV shares

    CNN founder Ted Turner has hit a major obstacle in his attempts to buy into Russian broadcaster NTV, owned by the beleaguered Media Most group, as a Moscow court has blocked the sale of 19% of the company, pending a court hearing in mid-February. Russia's state-controlled gas giant, Gazprom Media, claims it is entitled to the 19% stake because it is held as collateral against a $261m loan that Media Most has now defaulted on. If the court hands over the shares, Gazprom would own 65% of
  • Noreen Ward named senior vp at Good Machine

    Noreen Ward has been promoted to the position of senior vice president of operations at Good Machine Inc, overseeing all business administration for both Good Machine and its sister company Good Machine International.The promotion comes in the company's tenth - and most profitable - year to date and was announced partners Ted Hope, David Linde and James Schamus.In addition to her operations role, Ward has overseen the company's move into film financing on pictures such as Cro
  • Norwegian Film Workers bid for Norsk library

    In a surprise move, The Norwegian Film Workers' Association has expressed interest in acquiring Norsk Film's back catalogue of around 170 films, that are to be sold together with the government's 77.5% stake in the state-owned company.Earlier this week, the Norwegian culture ministry decided to consider the sale of Norsk Film's catalogue as an integral part of a broader cultural policy, implying that it can only be sold on certain conditions. In a letter to Norsk Film, the culture mini
  • Save The Last Dance leads, Snatch opens strongly

    Paramount and MTV Films' teen drama Save The Last Dance continued to lead the North American box office over the weekend, taking an estimated $16m for a ten day total of $46.9m. It is the first hit of the year and looks set to head for the $80m mark.Meanwhile 20th Century Fox's Cast Away inched closer to the $200m barrier, taking $11.3m in its fifth week for a total of $182.1m. The multi-award winning Traffic, meanwhile, held on at number three with a strong $8.2m
  • SearchParty embarks on global film rights hunt

    SearchParty Films, the new "distribution services" outfit looking to hoover up films that have been ignored by conventional buyers, has picked up its first eight US-made indie acquisitions and is now training its ambitious sights on international features of all languages.SearchParty, jointly spearheaded by co-chairman Larry Estes and Scott Rosenfelt, used this week's Sundance Film Festival to unveil its first tranche of acquisitions. Several more pick-ups are under negotiation includi
  • Skarsgard joins von Trier's Dogville

    Sweden's Stellan Skarsgard has joined the cast of Lars von Trier's new feature film Dogville which will be shot in English with mostly US and UK actors.Von Trier recently completed a $313,000 (DKr2.5m) test for the project in Zentropa's studios in Filmbyen outside Copenhagen, which according to producer Vibeke Windeloev was designed to prove if the director's innovative ideas are possible. "The script is amazing," Windeloev said, "but we have to have it translated before
  • Sony Classics buys Polish Brothers' Jackpot

    Sony Pictures Classics has acquired rights in North America, Australia and New Zealand to Jackpot, the second movie from Mark and Michael Polish whose first film Twin Falls Idaho was also picked up by SPC at Sundance 1999. Currently in post-production, Jackpot was written by both Polishes but directed by Michael Polish. It stars Daryl Hannah, Jon Gries, Anthony Edwards, Garrett Morris, Mac Davis, Peggy Lipton and Adam Baldwin.Shot on the Sony 24P digital cam
  • Spain's ICEX taps Campoy as advisor

    Eduardo Campoy, president of the Spanish Producers' Federation (FAPAE), has been named advisor to Spain's Foreign Commerce Institute (ICEX).This marks the first time that the ICEX has appointed an advisor from the media sector. Campoy will advise on how Spanish audiovisual product can better sell abroad.Campoy - a film director and president of the Pantalla Digital and Cartel production houses - was named president of FAPAE in January of 2000, when he replaced outgoing president
  • Sundance Channel buys three sports films for US TV

    The Sundance Channel has picked up US TV rights to three independent films - P David Ebersole's feature Straight Right which premiered at last year's Los Angeles Independent Film Festival, Katya Bankowski's documentary Shadow Boxers which was in the Toronto Film Festival 1999 and Greg Stiever's documentary Poles Apart. All three films will play in February as part of This Sporting Life, a celebration of sports films.Straight Right stars Brent Smith as
  • Sundance hots up after initial cold feet

    After a decidedly slow start, this year's Sundance Film Festival finally caught fire on Wednesday with Miramax Films grabbing actor Todd Fields' debut feature In The Bedroom and IFC Films snapping up both Jump Tomorrow and the documentary Go Tigers! for US distribution. At the same time Arrow Entertainment was closing in on the Canadian feature Maelstrom.The purchase of In The Bedroom, which had been pursued by other studio-run specialist distr
  • Switzerland's Fribourg fest unveils first titles

    South Korean director Im Kwon-Taek's Chunhyang and Yi Yi directed by Taiwan's Edward Yang are among the first batch of films confirmed for the official competition at the 15th Fribourg International Film Festival in Switzerland (March 11-18).The competition line-up also includes Chang Wai-hung's Among The Stars (Hong Kong), Vivian Chang's Hidden Whispers (Taiwan) and Argentine director Eliseo Subiela's God's Adventures.The festival, which is de
  • TEAM profit warning sends shares on 25% slide

    TEAM Communications, the German-US film and TV licensing group, saw its shares plunge 25% to Euros2.7 on Frankfurt's disaster strewn Neuer Markt after it put out a profit warning.The company said: "revenue and earnings for the financial year ended December 31, 2000 will be below the company's prior expectations." It pointed to two reasons: the change in US accounting rules which accelerate amortisation on film assets and, second, its cancellation of some long-term film sales con
  • Telefonica doubles stake in Portugal Telecom

    Spain's Telefonica has more than doubled its stake in Portuguese counterpart Portugal Telecom (PT) from 4.75% to 10% as part of a deal that sees the two companies create South America's largest mobile phone operator via a joint venture in Brazil.The Spanish conglomerate may also take an option to invest in PT's mobile holding company PT Moveis. PT, in turn, may increase its holding in Telefonica to 1.5%.The 50:50 joint venture, valued at $10bn, will combine all of the two partne
  • TF1 racks up sales on Ruiz, Chatilliez titles

    French sales outfit TF1 International has sold Raoul Ruiz's Venice title La Comedie De L'Innocence, starring Isabelle Huppert and Charles Berling, to the UK's Artificial Eye, and pre-sold Etienne Chatilliez's latest comedy Tanguy to Germany's Prokino.The Ruiz title has already been sold to some 20 territories, most recently Spain which was taken by Vertigo, and a sale to the US is pending. Tanguy - the first title stemming from an output deal with French producer T
  • The Caveman's Valentine

    BEST PICTURE:Chocolat (Prods: David Brown, Kit Golden, Leslie Holleran)Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Prods: Bill Kong, Hsu Li Kong, Ang Lee)Erin Brockovich (Prods: Danny DeVito, Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher)Gladiator (Prods: Douglas Wick, David Franzoni, Branko Lustig)Traffic (Prods: Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz, Laura Bickford)DIRECTING:Stephen Daldry - Billy ElliotAng Lee - Crouching Tiger,
  • UK cinema admissions the highest for 26 years

    As expected, UK cinema attendance hit a 26-year high in 2000, despite November admissions dropping 30% over the same period in 1999. According to year-end figures from the Cinema Advertising Association (CAA) more than 142.5 million tickets were sold, compared with 139 million in 1999.Strong box office performances towards the end of the year from Meet The Parents and The Grinch helped shore up the year's box office after November's slump.These admissions tr
  • UK production up but facing strike threat

    Underlining the potential impact of the threatened Hollywood production hiatus, the volume of overseas-financed production in the UK rose 33% last year, according to the British Film Commission's annual report.Overseas-backed feature and high-end TV production hit $788m, eclipsing last year's $591m with such high-profile studio-backed fare as Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone, Band Of Brothers, The Mummy Returns and Tomb Raider. UK-produced films proved
  • UK's Target merges with New Media Industries

    Target Media, a leading advertising space buying company for the UK film industry, has merged with internet outfit New Media Industries (NMI).Target, which boasts clients including FilmFour, Icon, Metrodome, Redbus and Winchester, and its parent DPA Soho are forming a new operation titled Target NMI as a result of the merger. The new operation is expected to increase it focus on new media advertising and promotion.John Duncombe, chairman of Target/DPA, said: "From the first conv
  • Village Roadshow to cut debt via Austereo float

    Australian entertainment conglomerate Village Roadshow Ltd (VRL) is expected to raise more than $222.5m (A$400m) from the partial float of its Austereo radio division, part of which will be used to reduce its $406m (A$730m) on and off balance sheet debt. VRL will retain a controlling interest of at least 55% of the network, which has more than half all Australia's under-40 listeners and commands about half the total metropolitan advertising spend. A maximum of 191.4 million shar
  • Yugoslavia opens airwaves to outsiders

    The new Yugoslav government's telecommunications minister Boris Tadic has announced that the country's airwaves will be opened up to foreign entities. A group of experts has been assembled to draw up new broadcasting legislation in line with EU countries.Tadic also announced that he will annul all licences in Yugoslavia (which comprises Serbia and Montenegro) on June 1, forcing existing broadcasters to make new bids. There are currently about 300 TV and 700 radio broadcasters in