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27 March 2002

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  • AFMA throws open doors to foreign language sellers

    AFMA - which is thenew moniker for the American Film Marketing Association - has thrown itsmembership open to non-English-language film distributors after years of beingrestricted to licensors and distributors with at least some English-languagefilm or TV product.The decision, reached by theAFMA board of directors, strikes the "English-speaking" clause forboth levels of membership, opening the way for international distributors ofexclusively non-English-language product to apply.
  • Black actors Berry, Washington triumph at Oscars

    A Beautiful Mind, the hit drama which tells the life story of mathematics genius John Forbes Nash Jr, was named best picture and its director Ron Howard best director at last night's 74th annual Academy Awards, held for the first time at its new home the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. But Russell Crowe, who played Nash, was beaten to the best actor prize by Denzel Washington for Training Day and the historic night belonged to him and Halle Berry who won the best actress Osca
  • Buena Vista rides with UK's Four Horsemen

    Buena Vista has signed a three-year European distribution pact with Four Horsemen Films, the newly-launched youth and genre label of UK producer-financier Random Harvest.The US studio will have a first-look option for theatrical distribution and exclusive rights for video and television on 12 feature-length films from the UK outfit. The partnership covers Europe, the Middle East and Africa."The agreement with Buena Vista is an important step in the overall development of our com
  • Cannes, Positif to honour Alain Resnais

    The Cannes festival (May 15-25) is to honour one of its all time favourites and right a slight that dates back 34 years.To mark the 50th anniversary of the critical magazine Positif the festival is to hold a special evening dedicated to nouvelle vague director Alain Resnais. The celebrations will take place on Saturday May 18., when a newly struck print of Je T'Aime, Je T'Aime will be screened. The film was originally to have been shown in 1968, but the festival and the s
  • Festival chief Bergdahl exits Gothenburg

    Gunnar Bergdahl is steeping down as head of Sweden's Gothenburg Film Festival, the most important meeting place for the Nordic film industry.Bergdahl has been involved with the festival since 1987 and has been responsible for its diverse programme since 1994. The festival, which celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, will now appoint a replacement as festival director and artistic leader. Bergdahl, who directed the documentaries The Voice Of Bergman and The Voice Of Ljudm
  • Film clean-out begins at Vivendi Universal

    The corporate cleansing hasbegun at Vivendi Universal's film operations in the wake of strategic re-evaluation meetings that have taken place in the French town of Deauville. Three months after mergingwith Barry Diller's USA Networks, the French-owned studio has shut downits specialist division Universal Focus and also severed StudioCanal's co-production venture with Michael Ovitz's ArtistsManagement Group (AMG) before even a single film was made under the three-year agreement.T
  • France asks CNC's Kessler to define reality

    French minister of culture Catherine Tasca has asked David Kessler, who heads TV and film support body CNC, to lead discussions aimed at determining what constitutes an "audiovisual work."The move follows a controversy sparked by a decision made by French broadcast watchdog Conseil Superieur de l'Audiovisuel (CSA), to grant the 'audiovisual creation' label to reality show Popstars, which was broadcast on private channel M6.Although this may seem a rather futile subject ma
  • Frida controversy brews with Mexican critics

    Members of the Mexican press who have been privy to test screenings of Julie Taymor's $12m biopic Frida are apparently appalled at the liberties taken in portraying the anguished Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. Co-produced by Mexican actress Salma Hayek who plays the painter, the film allegedly shows Frida Kahlo as a kind of superwoman, a far cry from the real artist who was a cripple. "She walks without limping, climbs the Pyramid of the Moon with agility, dances a kind of tango w

    FULL LIST OF 74TH ACADEMY AWARD WINNERSBEST PICTUREA Beautiful Mind (Universal/DreamWorks) Brian Grazer & Ron Howard, producersBEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILMNo Man's Land (United Artists/The Works) Danis Tanovic, directorBEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILMShrek (DreamWorks SKG) Aron Warner, producerBEST DIRECTORRon Howard A Beautiful MindBEST ACTORDenzel Washington Training DayBEST ACTRESS
  • Hurt to star in Lea Pool's Blue Butterfly

    William Hurt is set to star in the $7.8m Canada-UK co-production BlueButterfly, opposite young US actor Marc Donato and Canadian actress PascaleBussieres under the direction of Swiss-Canadian director Lea Pool. Based on a true story with a script by Pete McCormack, the film tells of a terminally ill boy whose dying wish is to catch the most beautiful butterfly on earth. Hurt plays the misanthropic entomologist who finally agrees to help him.The project was
  • Ice Age hits hot $28.8m int'l gross in ten days

    20th CenturyFox's Ice Age has racked upan international gross of $28.3m after just ten days in the marketplace. TheCGI-animated US smash opened day-and-date with the domestic release on March 15in Mexico, Singapore and Indonesia, but this weekend it went out throughoutEurope, Latin America and Asia bringing its regional totals to $14.4m inEurope, $11.7m in Latin America and $2.6m in Asia-Pacific.The film opened over theweekend in Germany on 794 screens and took $7.623m, the high
  • IFP Market to zero in on filmmakers-in-progress

    Downtown Manhattan's IFP Markethas undergone a radical face-lift that will see the week-long US indie filmbazaar transformed from years of being a large and somewhat haphazardclearing-house for completed features into a much more selective showcase whosenarrative focus will fall exclusively on works-in-development and scripts fromemerging filmmakers. With the demise of SanFrancisco's IFFCON international co-financing conference, New York's IFP Market now becomes the only event on North
  • Killing Me Softly

    Dir: Chen Kaige. US. 2002. 99mins.The real mystery about this unconvincing MGM film noir is what Chen Kaige is doing directing it. Perhaps the lukewarm reception afforded to his most recent Chinese outing, The Emperor And The Assassin, persuaded the director to try his luck with a thoroughly Western film. But in doing so, Chen has forfeited the intensely personal poetics of films like Farewell My Concubine or Life On A String, and become a jobbing Hollywood dire
  • Labadie, Chiche establish Wild Side video label

    French film group Bac Films has launched its first two home video titles - Scary Movie 2 and Spy Kids - on the rental market through its recently created home video company, Wild Side Video. Wild Side Video -- a 100% subsidiary of Jean Labadie's Bac Films launched in February 2002 and chaired by Labadie himself -- is headed by former StudioCanal executive Manuel Chiche. Labadie and Chiche have also created Wild Side Films, an outfit meant to acquire all rights to feature
  • Leo Kirch ready to face the inevitable handover

    A change of the guard is only hours or days away at the Kirch group, the media colossus that for so many years bestrode the German and European film and TV arenas.The 75 year old Leo Kirch is now negotiating an exit that saves face for himself and saves his group from complete break-up. Having held the reins of power for 47 years, Kirch is now expected to give up his majority shareholding in return for a financial injection of Euros600m-800m.Quite how the transfer takes place an
  • Little big guy Dudley Moore dies aged 66

    Dudley Moore, the multi-talented comedian and musician who starred In Beyond The Fringe before becoming an unlikely Hollywood film star, died on Wednesday (Mar 27) after a long battle against illness. Sixty six year old Moore died of pneumonia as a complication of supranuclear palsy.A diminutive man, Moore was renowned for his affinity for tall women - usually blond - and was married and divorced five times.The son of a working class railway electrician from Dagenh
  • Lolafilms gets Euros18m lifeline from shareholders

    The once mighty Spanish production and distribution concern Lolafilms is to get a Euros18m cash injection. The lifeline was approved on Friday (Mar 22) by shareholders, which include 70% owner Admira, part of the giant Telefonica group.The amount is slightly lower than the Euros21.6m anticipated, but will give Spain's second leading production outfit a much-needed boost following estimated Euros11m of losses last year. Shareholders, led by Admira and Lola CEO and founder Andres
  • Lord Of The Rings passes $500m international mark

    New Line International's The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring crossed the $500m gross barrier in international territories over the weekend, bringing its worldwide total to nearly $800m and making it the fifth biggest international hit of all time.Fellowship now trails Titanic ($1.2bn), Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone ($630m), Jurassic Park ($563m) and Independence Day ($505m). In worldwide gross terms, it is the sixth bigges
  • Losses pile up at fallen stars of Neuer Markt

    German companies' stars have waned with stunning speed in the last 12-18 months, making the Neuer Markt an ominous label today, when previously it was a badge that suggested dynamism and wealth. The end of year results that emerged from Germany's quoted media firms at the end of last week show exactly why investors lost confidence. For a range of reasons the companies reported lower profits or outright losses. In other cases this week they have sought to delay publishing their figures,
  • Memento, Bedroom dominate Indie Spirit Awards

    Christopher Nolan's independent smash Memento dominated the IFP/West Independent Spirit Awards, which were presented in a tent on a beach in Santa Monica on Saturday. The awards which honour films and film-makers who embody independence and challenge the status quo traditionally take place the day before the Academy Awards. This year the event drew a large crowd of celebrities including Nicole Kidman, Cristina Ricci, Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, Heather Graham, Benjamin Bratt, Gill
  • MGM launches channels in Portugal, Russia, S Korea

    Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer'sMGM Networks is launching MGM-branded channels in Russia, Portugal, Malta andSouth Korea. The move follows the launch in the middle east earlier this yearand doubles the number of countries in which MGM has established a channel presenceto date.The MGM Movie Channel isscheduled to launch in May in Portugal on cable systems owned by Cabovisao SAand will be provided by MGM Networks Latin America.The MGM Movie Channel waslaunched in Malta on Feb 1 on Melita Cab
  • Middle East's Showtime buys package for PPV

    Middle Eastern pay-TV network Showtime has acquired a large package of Arabic films for broadcast on its new pay-per-view (PPV) channels.The films come from Egyptian group Al Arabia For Cinema Production & Distribution. Pictures Rehlat Hob starring Mohammed Fouad, Ga'ana Al Bayan Al Tali featuring Mohamed Heneidi and Amir Al Zalam starring Adel Emam. Precise details of the number of films and the value of the transaction were not disclosed.Peter Einstein, pr
  • Monsieur Batignole

    Dir: Gerard Jugnot. 2002. France. 100mins.Only months after the commercial failure of Laissez Passer, Bertrand Tavernier's ambitious saga about the French film industry under the German Occupation, comes this blandly conventional feelgood comedy-drama. Gerard Jugnot's tale about an ordinary Parisian's moral resistance to wartime anti-Semitism is currently doing brisk business at French theatres, taking $4.27m from 525 screens after two weeks, and second only to
  • Moulin Rouge, Amelie win alternative awards bash

    In a not entirely serious ceremony in Vilnius, Lithuania, Moulin Rouge came tops in the inaugural Golden Earring (Auskaras 2001) awards. In total it won four prizes: best director (Baz Luhrman), best actress (Nicole Kidman), best drama/ melodrama and best music. But it was beaten to the best film Auskaras by the ever popular Amelie, which was nominated in ten categories and won three: best movie, best non-Hollywood movie and best screenplay.Shrek was named a
  • New Line's Blade II axes down the competition

    New Line Cinema continued its extraordinary run of success with another number one hit. Blade II sliced to the top of the North American box office over the weekend with a gross of $33.1m which almost doubles the opening gross of the original film in 1998. Blade II is now the second biggest March opening ever after last week's number one opener Ice Age which slipped 33% to number two with $31m to bring its total to $88.3m.New Line is edging up to the $300m d
  • Nick Nolte, Josh Lucas, Sam Elliott join The Hulk

    Nick Nolte, Sam Elliott andJosh Lucas have joined the cast of Ang Lee's big screen version of TheHulk which started principalphotography this week.The film, which is scriptedby James Schamus and produced by Gale Anne Hurd, Avi Arad, Schamus and LarryFranco, stars Eric Bana as Bruce Banner whose inner demons transform him intoThe Hulk after a catastrophic experiment, and Jennifer Connelly as Betty Rosswhose scientific genius helps unleash The Hulk.Ellio
  • Nine Japanese firms nurture young film-makers

    Nine Japanese film-related companies, led by Tokyo Theatres and Gaga Communications, will launch a film series showcasing the work of young scriptwriters, directors and other new talent this April. Called Garinpeiro, which means "prospector" in Spanish, the series will start with Hogi-Lala, a dark fable about a shipwrecked youth on a South Seas island starring the Japanese pop duo Doggy Bag and directed by Toshiro Saiga. Gaga is producing and distributing, with release set for A
  • Panic Room

    Dir: David Fincher. US. 2002. 113minsDavid Fincher is such a technically inventive and brilliant director that, even when he tackles a genre film, like his new suspense feature The Panic Room, he elevates it with his signature flourishes way above its damsel-in-distress origins. Recalling noir films about women trapped in a confined space, David Koepp's functional script centres on a single mother and her sickly daughter whose new house is invaded by a bunch of greedy
  • Producer, executive Rene Silvera dies at 76

    Producer and executive Rene Silvera has died in Paris after several months of illness at the age of 76. He died on March 19.Silvera was associated for many years with French comic genius Jacques Tati and was co-producer of Playtime. In the 1960s, he became the European representative for Cinerama and later formed Panoceanic Films, serving as the ABC representative in Paris for France and more recently for NBC until his retirement.He is survived by his wife Rina and a sist
  • PVR opens first multiplex outside Delhi

    Delhi based Priya Village Roadshow (PVR) will next year launch first multiplex outside Delhi when it opens the doors of an 11 screen complex in suburban Mumbai (Bombay). The company is planning to expand from 12 screens to over 80 screens by 2005 and invest up to $30m. PVR director, Ajjay Bijili told Screen International, "The Mumbai project will cost around $500,000 per screen". Besides Delhi and Mumbai the company has plans to develop multiplexes in Bangalore, Pune, Jaipur an
  • Regent teams with NZ company Daybreak on two films

    LA-based Regent Entertainmenthas struck a co-production deal with New Zealand's Daybreak Pacific Ltdto produce two features Cupid's Prey and Heaven's Pond inNew Zealand. The deals were brokered by Jeffrey Schenck, COO of Regent, GeneGeorge, president of Regent Worldwide, and Grant Bradley, a partner inDaybreak.Cupid's Prey is a thriller starring Katrina Brown as a woman whobecomes entangled in a love triangle with a father and his son and JoannaPacula as the wife a
  • Richard Saperstein leaves New Line for Artisan

    High-ranking Hollywoodproduction executive Richard Saperstein, who spent the last nine years at NewLine Cinema, has joined Artisan Pictures as president of development andproduction. Reporting directly toArtisan Pictures CEO Bob Cooper, Saperstein is charged with overseeing thecompany's daily theatrical film development and production activities.Saperstein will work closely with Cooper to assemble a slate of films.Saperstein spent the pastnine years at New Li
  • Sasani CEO Sandra Gordon steps aside

    South Africa's facilities giant Sasani Limited has announced that Sandra Gordon, who joined the group as chief executive officer three years ago, has not renewed her contract and will be leaving on 31 March 2002. In an unrelated move, Ralf Degni is to replace Peter Slater, who resigned earlier this year, as financial director of the group and acting CEO in the interim. Rummours about Gordon's departure have circulated for over a month with local business pape
  • Schamus wins screenwriting honour at Nantucket

    James Schamus, the Oscar-nominatedscreenwriter of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and The Ice Storm, will be honoured with NBC's screenwritertribute at this year's Nantucket Film Festival which will take place June20-23, 2002.The festival, which isdedicated exclusively to screenwriting and the concept that the writer'scontribution is at the core of all good film-making, was established in 1996 onthe island of Nantucket. 30 features and shorts are screen
  • Schloendorff project faces up to rival Pope Joan

    Volker Schloendorff's upcoming production of Pope Joan is heading for a clash with a rival TV project, it emerged last week.Schloendorff is adapting US novelist Donna Woolfolk Cross' book about a woman who disguised herself as a man and sat on the papal throne for two years in the 9th century. But at a wide-ranging discussion in Berlin about Schloendorff's project it was revealed that Munich-based Tandem Communications is also working on the same idea as a TV mini-series.
  • Shaw to press on with Movie City studio project

    The venerable Shaw Brothers group is to press on with plans to build Movie City, a $109m (HK$850m) studio complex in Hong Kong's Tseung Kwan O district.The scope of the development, which has been mooted for many years, was expanded last year, but looked close to collapse last month when three key backers pulled out (Screendaily Feb 5).Shaw yesterday (Mar 26) reconfirmed its intention to hold a 35% stake. ""We think it's good for the industry as a whole because there will be mor
  • Sorority Boys

    Dir: Wally Wolodarsky. US. 2002. 93 mins.Combining elements of Animal House and Tootsie - considerably more of the former than the latter - Sorority Boys is a college comedy that optimistically attempts to blend social commentary with bawdy campus humour. Predictably enough, it fails to fully deliver in either department. Surprisingly though, the result is still fairly watchable and occasionally quite funny. With two teen TV stars heading its cast, the film shou
  • Telecinco profits hit by competition, ad recession

    Calling itself the "most profitable broadcaster in Europe" for a third consecutive year, Spain's free-to-air private network Telecinco posted net profits for 2001 of Euros112m. But the total was a 28% decline compared with the previous year's Euros155m.The company attributed the slide to the advertising recession. But Spain's commercial channels also faced stiff competition last year from top-rated reality programme Operacion Triunfo, which aired on public broadcas
  • The Rookie

    Dir John Lee Hancock US 2002 127minsThe Rookie is an earnest and uplifting baseball saga structured along the lines of the equally fact-based and inspirational Remember The Titans, also produced by Disney. Rendering one of his most accomplished performances yet, Dennis Quaid plays ageing Texan baseball player Jim Morris, who gets a second chance to fulfil his lifelong dream. Although soft in its narrative and old-fashioned in its style, the film benefits from its two-g
  • THINKFilm makes first worldwide rights acquisition

    Recently formed NorthAmerican distributor THINKFilm has made its first acquisition of worldwiderights to a film - Thom Fitzgerald's ensemble drama The Event.Currently in production, the picture marks a returnto theatrical film for the acclaimed director of The Hanging Garden and Beefcake after his USA Networks TV movie Wolf Girl. Starring in the film, which is shooting in New York, are Parker Posey, Olympia Dukakis, Don McKellar, Sarah Polley, Jane Leevesand
  • UK producers condemn SAG's Global Rule One

    Plans that effectively forcenon-US productions to employ local talent under US union rules have triggeredprotests from UK producers body PACT.The body warned thatmounting pressure from US actors union SAG to use its so-called Global Rule One- whereby SAG members working overseas must use SAG contracts even if they hailfrom the UK - would undermine local unions and could harm local production.The move comes only weeksafter PACT agreed a fresh contract with UK actors Equity, endin
  • UK's ITV Digital calls in administrators

    ITV Digital, the biggest pay-TV rival to UK satellite broadcaster BSkyB, has sought protection from its creditors by applying for administrators to run the business.The move comes after the cash-strapped broadcaster failed to renegotiate its payments for rights to broadcast matches from the English Football League. The service is co-owned by commercial broadcasters Granada Media and Carlton Communications, which have suffered heavy losses from the operation."Our objective he
  • UK's Mill launches New York effects operation

    UK-based effects house The Mill is launching a New York arm, the company announced on Monday.The operation will focus on commercials work, although its UK parent has moved into features such as Gladiator, whose director Ridley Scott is a minority investor in the group. The venture is to be fully open by May.Robin Shenfield, chief executive, said that The Mill in London has traditionally derived around 20% of its advertising revenue via the US."We have been contempl
  • Warner Bros boards first Italian film with Verdone

    Warner Bros Pictures hasboarded its first ever Italian-language film production Ma Che Colpa AbbiamoNoi (It Can't Be All OurFault) directed by Carlo Verdone.The studio is partnering on the comic drama with Virginia Films, the productionoutfit run by Verdone and Marco Scaffardi.Production has already begun(March 15) on the film which is the story of a group of therapy patients leftto their own devices after their therapist dies in the middle of one of theirown sessions. A