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4 February 2003

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  • 007 busts records in Norway, Taiwan, Hong Kong

    Fox International's DieAnother Day scored three number oneopenings over the weekend to boost its international running total to $225m. InNorway the picture left the market shaken and stirred with a fine $1.2m bow on89 screens that was the biggest opening of all time in the territory for Fox,MGM and a James Bond picture. Opening in Taiwan, Die Another Day grossed $1.2m from 140 screens for the biggest everBond bow in the market. The Hong Kong opening yielded t
  • 255 market premieres scheduled for AFM next month

    The 23rd annualAmerican Film Market (Feb 19 to 26) will screen 402 pictures next month, whentitles such as Portman Films' comedy The Actors, starring Michael Caine and MirandaRichardson, and Overseas Film Group's fantasy Blizzard, starring Brenda Blethyn, ChristopherPlummer and Whoopi Goldberg, will be among the 255 scheduled market premieres.This year there are due to be 268 sellers of film, including 26 companiesexhibiting for the first time. The total numb
  • AFMA hires Michael Kananack to spearhead recruitment drive

    Veteran filmsales agent Michael Kananack has been brought in as manager of membershipdevelopment at AFMA to spearhead a recruitment drive for the LA-based tradeassociation, which currently represents 160 independent film and televisionproducers and distributors worldwide. He will report directly to director ofmember services Natasha Berechko.Kananack's arrival comes at an important time forAFMA, which numbers Miramax International, New Line Intern
  • All The Real Girls

    Dir: David Gordon Green. USA. 2002. 105 mins. Young writer-director David Gordon Green lives up to the poetic promise shown by his acclaimed but little-seen first feature, George Washington, with this exquisite dissection of young heartbreak that is similarly set amid the gorgeously-shot industrial decay of North Carolina. An art-house film, in the best sense, All The Real Girls confirms Green as the spiritual heir to Terrence Malick, a testament to his already
  • American Splendor

    Dir: Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini. US. 2003. 105 mins. American Splendor tells the true story of Harvey Pekar, the writer of the American Splendor comic book series which depicts the inanities of Pekar's humdrum life. A sort of celebration of ennui, or triumph of the nerd saga, the film recalls Slacker, Ghost World and other tales of directionless folk in subject matter but its ambitious structure - incorporating interviews with Pekar and the real-life
  • Ammer takes control of international marketing at Sony

    Geoffrey Ammer has beennamed president of worldwide marketing for the Columbia TriStar Motion PictureGroup with responsibility for the studio's marketing, publicity andpromotional divisions. He will continue to report to Sony Pictures Entertainment(SPE) vice chairman Jeff Blake, who made the announcement today (Jan 27). Aveteran marketing executive, Ammer joined the company in Sep 2001 as domesticmarketing president for the Columbia TriStar Marketing Group. During his tenurehe has been respon
  • Ana Claudia Talancon to lead in Ladies' Night

    Ana Claudia Talancon, lead actress of all time Mexican blockbuster El Crimen Del Padre Amaro, will star in the first Miravista production, Ladies' Night. Miravista is the pan-regional production company launched last year by The Walt Disney Company Latin America and Admira, the media arm of Spanish telco Telefonica.Talancon leads a cast that includes Ana de la Reguera (Por La Libre), Fabian Corres (La Hija Del Canibal), Sofia Alvarez (Rojo Amanece
  • Andrew Bovell signs on to adapt Edge Of Darkness for C23 and BBC Films

    Australianscreenwriter Andrew Bovell (Lantana, Head On) has signed on to write Catch 23 Entertainmentand BBC Films' feature adaptation of the award-winning BBC drama series, EdgeOf Darkness. Catch 23and BBC Films will co-develop, co-finance and co-produce the project. It will bedirected by the thriller series' original director Martin Campbell, whosefeature credits include Vertical Limit, GoldenEye and the upcoming Beyond Borders, starrin
  • Artificial Eye takes UK rights on Small Cuts

    UK distributor Artificial Eye has picked up all UK rights to Berlin International Film Festival competition title Small Cuts (Petites Coupures).Artificial Eye will release the French-language film this autumn. Directed by Pascal Bonitzer, the Rezo Films production stars Daniel Auteuil and Kristin Scott Thomas.The veteran distributor is also releasing another Berlin film, Gillies MacKinnon's Pure, in May. The portrait of the bond between a drug-addicted mother and h
  • August to attend Scandinavian Festival in Los Angeles

    Renowned Danishdirector Bille August, who won the best foreign language Oscar in 1989 for PelleThe Conqueror, willattend the Scandinavian Film Festival LA's gala reception as a guest onJan 31. August is currently in Los Angeles shooting Without Apparent Motive (working title) with Julianne Moore andRichard Gere. The reception will take place at the Writer's Guild Theatrein Beverly Hills, followed by a screening of Aki Kaurismaki's The ManWithout a Past, Finland'sforeign l
  • BAFTA/LA moves tea party to Golden Globe weekend

    BAFTA/LA, which hosted its9th Annual Tea Party on Jan 18, has positioned the influential event as ayearly fixture to take place on the Saturday before the Golden Globes.Executives at the UK film and television body's LA affiliate were buoyedby the turn-out at the recent party in Los Angeles, which attracted animpressive roster of creative and executive types. Attendees included GoldenGlobe winner Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, Sir Michael Caine, Adrien Brody,Stephen Daldry
  • Berlinale awash with Talent

    Festival directors know only too well that luck as well as judgement determines the strength or weakness of their competition programmes. The state of world cinema may vary enormously year by year - Cannes head Gilles Jacob has even admitted in the past that his programme has merely been the best he could find in a poor year'But Dieter Kosslick, whose second outing as head of the Berlinale opens on Feb 6, is entitled, if not to crow, at least to view his line-up with some pride.
  • Berlinale awash with Talent

    Festival directors know only too well that luck as well as judgement determines the strength or weakness of their competition programmes. The state of world cinema may vary enormously year by year - Cannes head Gilles Jacob has even admitted in the past that his programme has merely been the best he could find in a poor year'But Dieter Kosslick, whose second outing as head of the Berlinale opens on Feb 6, is entitled, if not to crow, at least to view his line-up with some pride.
  • Box office, admissions fall in Japan, despite increase in screens

    Japanese admissions and box office fell slightly in 2002, despite a rise in the number of screens, according to figures compiled by the Motion Pictures Producers Association of Japan. Without a mega-hit like Spirited Away -- which broke all Japanese box office records in 2001, admissions dipped 1.5% year-on-year to 160.8 mand box office revenues fell 1.7% to $1.67bn (Y196.8bn). Foreign films accounted for 73% of total revenues or $1.2bn (Y143.5bn), while local films took 27% or
  • Brown extends tenure at SPAA

    Geoff Brown has been signed to a long-term contact as executive director of the Screen Producers Association of Australia (SPAA). He took on the job about 10 months ago when predecessor Joanne Yates departed after less than six months, but he has been associated with the organisation for much longer through his previous role as commercial affairs manager. In a statement released today Brown said the organisation has been restructured, systems and controls overhauled, new staff r
  • Canal Plus bosses removed in latest executive cull

    Following speculation last week, Canal Plus Group president Xavier Couture has reportedly been replaced at the head of the company by Bertrand Meheut. According to the reputable Le Monde newspaper, Couture was fired on Friday afternoon by Vivendi Universal chairman Jean-Rene Fourtou. His successor, Meheut, was previously managing director of Canal Plus in charge of the finances at the channel.Canal Plus could not be reached for comment over the weekend but it had been pre
  • Catch Me flies into the UK

    UK audiences flocked to safe reliability and flirted with controversy amongst this week's openers as Catch Me If You Can landed the top spot and Irreversible played a solid limited launch.Steven Spielberg's latest, which received positive reviews in the territory and stars box office favourites Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks, took $6.1m (£3.7m) - including $736,331 of previews - for first place Gaspar Noe's Irreversible has filled a lot of column inches aft
  • Catch Me starts running in Europe

    Steven Spielberg's latest film Catch Me If You Can received a strong positive reception in Spain this week, where it started its European roll out ahead of a mass launch next weekend.The UIP release claimed $2.2m (Euros 2m) from 286 screens in the territory to take the top spot away from UIP stablemate The Ring.The comedic drama, based on the true exploits of US con artist Frank Abagnale Jr, stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Abagnale, Tom Hanks as pursuing FBI agent Frank
  • Chicago leads the pack in SAG Award nominations

    Miramax's Chicago led the pack with five SAG Awardsnominations today (Jan 28), including lead actor and actress nods for GoldenGlobe winners Richard Gere and Renee Zellweger and an ensemble cast nomination.Gere's first SAG Awards nomination pits him against fellow Golden Globewinner Jack Nicholson for About Schmidt, Adrien Brody for The Pianist, Daniel Day-Lewis for Gangs Of NewYork and Nicolas Cagefor Adaptation. While this yearalso marks a first nom
  • Chris Sievernich launches his Armada

    Chris Sievernich, the former Kinowelt USA CEO and founder ofPacifica Entertainment, today (Feb 3) announced the launch of Armada Pictures,his new independent financing, production and distribution company that willfocus on pictures of varying budgets.Matt Milich, Sievernich's vice presidentof deve
  • Columbia TriStar ends nine-year old Nordisk deal

    Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has ended its nine-year pact with Scandinavian media giant Egmont's subsidiary Nordisk Film.Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has made a new deal to distribute home entertainment in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden with Universal Pictures Japan which also includes a number of other territories, including the Nordic market. According to the deal, Universal Pictures will distribute Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment from April 1 this year.
  • Columbia, McG to make movie based on Mattel toy cars Hot Wheels

    Columbia Pictures hasoptioned exclusive rights to develop and produce Hot Wheels, an action-romance based on Mattel's populartoy cars range with McG of Charlie's Angels fame lined up to direct. While story details aresketchy McG gave some clues in a statement released today (Jan 30). 'Wewant to create a timeless story that will work for everyone - a charismaticyoung hero, great stakes and jeopardy, and a fantastic love story,' hesaid.The live-action pi
  • Competition heats up at Hungarian Film Week

    22 titles will compete for the main feature film prize at the Hungarian Film Week in Budapest which starts today.The event, which runs between January 28 and February 4, will open with Miklos Jancso's latest film, Wake Up Mate, Don't You Sleep, land closes with a film from yet another Hungarian filmmaking legend, Karoly Makk's A Long Weekend In Pest And Buda. The feature film competition will see the screening of 22 productions, including Peter Gothar's latest,
  • Danish Hitman takes aim at Hollywood

    The Danish computer game Hitman looks to be the next hit game to get the Hollywood treatment. The game's international distributor EIDOS is currently negotiating with unnamed Hollywood studios - although it has an existing relationship with Paramount for the Tomb Raider franchise. The Danish developers at IO Interactive have so far produced two games based on the Hitman character, and both have been international hits.Hitman - Codename 47 and
  • Dark Water triumphs at Gerardmer

    Hideo Nakata's Dark Water won the Grand Prize at the Gerardmer fantastic film festival on Sunday. The Ring director also took home the Youth Jury Prize - given by a group of 12 film students from the region - and the International Critics' Prize.Nakata is the recognised master currently working in Asian horror films and his influence could be felt among the other Asian entries. Dark Water does not yet have American distribution and seems a less likely candidate for
  • Dutch A-Film snaps up two Tigers

    A-Film Distribution, the independent distributor which last year enjoyed a market share of over 15% in The Netherlands, grabbed Dutch rights to two films showing in the Tiger competition section of the Rotterdam Festival. It bought rights to Bodysong and Principles Of Lust, respectively by Simon Pummel and Penny Woolcock, both first-time British directors. Bodysong is a experimental montage of found footage assembled as an ode to life - and human biology. Woolcock
  • Eminem movie continues international rampage for UIP

    Universal/UIP's8 Mile continued itspowerful international run with a $6.6m weekend haul from 1,974 screens in 22territories. With 18 markets still to open the drama has already run up a$57.8m international cumulative total and is scheduled to roll out in Spain onFeb 7, Korea on Feb 21, France on Feb 26, Italy and Brazil on Mar 14 and Japanon May 17. 8 Mile hasgrossed $17.3m after three weeks in the UK, $7.5m after the same period of timein Australia and $15.4
  • Fear X

    Dir: Nicolas Winding Refn. Denmark-UK. 2002. 91mins.Abandoning the mean streets of the Copenhagen underworld to make his first American-set feature film, Nicolas Winding Refn has crafted an intensely eerie psycho-drama that plays unnerving mind-games with the audience right through to its ambiguous and rather abrupt end. Evoking at times David Lynch's own disorientating dreamscapes, Fear X's cryptic storytelling approach will limit its theatrical appeal to specialised
  • Films Distribution enjoys its inheritance

    French sales house Films Distribution is doing good business with an unlikely clutch of films that it inherited from the now collapsed Mercure Distribution.In Rotterdam it closed a UK sale of Lucas Belvaux' trilogy of films An Amazing Couple (Un Couple Epatant), On The Run (Cavale) and After Life (Apres La Vie) to Metro Tartan, which prevailed over interest from rival Artificial Eye.Films Distribution, which now operates a sub-distribution label Mercure Inte
  • For better or worse - Canal Satelite Digital & Via Digital merge

    Spain's two mammoth digital satellite pay-TV platforms are merging, an event which will drastically transform the Spanish media landscape - for better or worse.Partners Sogecable and Telefonica met the government's January 29 deadline for the merger of their platforms Canal Satelite Digital (CSD) and Via Digital. The merger of the two loss-making businesses will launch with 2.5m subscribers and combined revenues worth Euros 1.3bn in 2002. As part of the deal, Via Digital
  • Fox opens Hero at top spot in Thailand, Malaysia

    Zhang Yimou'sChinese epic Herocontinued its powerful run in the Asian markets over the weekend, openingnumber one for Fox International in Thailand and Malaysia. In Thailand thepicture grossed $479,000 from 107 screens, while Malaysia yielded $192,000 from48. The 10-day cumulative score for the two markets plus Taiwan and Singaporenow stands at $4.8m. Opening top of the table in Taiwan on Jan 18, the picturegrossed $1.7m from 115 screens, making it the fifth highest
  • Gangs takes top spot for Columbia TriStar in Mexico and Colombia

    Columbia TriStar Film Distributors International (CTFDI) scored atable topping double whammy over the weekend with number one bows for GangsOf New York inMexico and Colombia. In Mexico the picture grossed an estimated $1.1m from 350prints - more than double the number two picture - while the small
  • German media fund backs Oscar-winner's feature debut

    Private media fund CP Medien has boarded Oscar-winning German director Florian Gallenberger's feature debut Schatten Der Zeit which begins shooting in India on February 4. The tragic love story between two childhood sweethearts who first meet working in a carpet factory and then cross paths again many years later in Calcutta is being co-produced by director-producer Helmut Dietl's Diana Film with Norbert Preuss' Fanes Film, Gallenberger's own company Mondragon Film and CP Medien
  • German media funds raise over Euros 2bn in 2002

    In spite of the German stock exchange crisis and the Federal Government dragging its feet on the future structure of its tax legislation, German investors channelled over Euros 2bn of equity into private media funds for national and international production in 2002.According to German fund specialist Vendura, the funds' overall turnover amounted to over Euros 2.098bn last year, which was only slightly below the Euros 2.1bn total posted in 2000 and 2001.Duesseldorf-based Ideenkap
  • HanWay promotes Ayesta to manager, int'l sales

    HanWay, Jeremy Thomas and Thierry Wase-Bailey's sales company, has promoted Ana Ayesta to the newly-created position of manager, international sales.Ayesta will handle sales to Scandinavia, Switzerland and South Africa and have overall responsibility for South East Asia excluding to Korea. Reporting to Wase-Bailey, she already handles Spain, Latin America, Portugal, Greece, Israel, Turkey, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. The UK-based company's current slate includes The S
  • Harry Potter 2 is number three of all time

    With anestimated international gross of $568.2m, Harry Potter And The Chamber OfSecrets has overtaken JurassicPark as the thirdhighest grossing international release of all time. The family sequel took$7.1m over the weekend and just over one million admissions from 4,000 screensin 53 territories, according to studio estimates. The new total puts it behindsecond-placed Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone on $649.59m and Titanic, which leads the all-time internatio
  • Harry Potter flies on with $4.8m over the weekend

    Warner BrosInternational's Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets grossed an estimated $4.8m in 52territories over the weekend for a $576.5m international running total. Thefamily sequel recorded 755,000 admissions on more than 3,000 screens. Figuresfrom the Asian markets - particularly China in its second week - wereundeclared pending the end of the New Year holidays on Feb 9.Elsewhere, GhostShip added another $2.6mto the coffers from more than 1,000
  • Hoffman, Grant, Hayek among Goldene Kamera recipients

    Dustin Hoffmann, Hugh Grant, Salma Hayek and Sir Elton John are among the recipients of this year's Goldene Kamera awards which will be presented by the HoerZu magazine in Berlin's Konzerthaus on the eve of the Berlinale on February 4. Hoffmann, who will also be in Berlin to present Moonlight Mile later in the Berlinale's Panorama section, will receive the Goldene Kamera's Lifetime Achievement Film award, while UK actor Hugh Grant has been named as this year's winner in the cate
  • Hoffman, Grant, Hayek among Goldene Kamera recipients

    Dustin Hoffmann, Hugh Grant, Salma Hayek and Sir Elton John are among the recipients of this year's Goldene Kamera awards which will be presented by the HoerZu magazine in Berlin's Konzerthaus on the eve of the Berlinale on February 4. Hoffmann, who will also be in Berlin to present Moonlight Mile later in the Berlinale's Panorama section, will receive the Goldene Kamera's Lifetime Achievement Film award, while UK actor Hugh Grant has been named as this year's winner in the cate
  • Holocaust producer receives death threats

    Veteran producer Artur 'Atze' Brauner has received death threats ahead of the special screening of his Holocaust drama Babij Yar at this year's Berlinale.84-year-old Brauner revealed that he had received anonymous telephone calls and letters in the past few weeks threatening that he would not live to see the film's European premiere at the Berlin film festival on February 11 when he is due to receive a Berlinale Kamera award in recognition of his life's work. 'These hosti
  • IFP unveils US indie slate for Berlin

    The IFP/New York hasunveiled a slate of eight films split evenly between documentaries andnarrative features - that it will screen at the upcoming European Film Marketin Berlin as part of the organization's seventh annual showcase of new work. The selections, announcedthis week by IFP/New York executive director Michelle Byrd, were culled fromrecent IFP Market entrants and were selected by IFP Market organizers PatriciaFinneran and Colin Stanfield.
  • IFP unveils US indie slate for Berlin

    The IFP/New York hasunveiled a slate of eight films split evenly between documentaries andnarrative features - that it will screen at the upcoming European Film Marketin Berlin as part of the organization's seventh annual showcase of new work. The selections, announcedthis week by IFP/New York executive director Michelle Byrd, were culled fromrecent IFP Market entrants and were selected by IFP Market organizers PatriciaFinneran and Colin Stanfield.
  • Ingenious taps Perry for co-productions

    Simon Perry, the former head of semi-private finance house British Screen Finance, has been appointed director of co-productions at major UK tax financier Ingenious Media.Perry told Screen International: "My role will not just be about feeding the sale and leaseback operations, but more involve bringing and managing projects that can be assisted with Ingenious' equity financing capacity. Though the details of my role will have to be established with my new colleagues." Perry tak
  • Italy reaps multiplex benefits

    With multiplexes mushrooming around the country, Italy recorded a healthy 7.8% rise in earnings at the box office in 2002 as total revenue increased to Euros 525m, according to annual data released by Cinetel. Last year, box office revenue stood at Euros 475.6m.Admissions were up 6% to 89.1m compared to 84.1m in 2001, while 15 new multiplexes opened, bringing the total number of cinemas with more than eight screens to 51. Proof that more multiplexes mean more business was highli
  • Italy's Piero Tosi gets inaugural Costume Designers award

    The veteran costume designerPiero Tosi, who has been nominated five times for an Oscar, will receive theinaugural President's Award at the fifth annual Costume Designers Guild(CDG) Awards in Los Angeles on Mar 16. Tosi started out at the age of 22 onLuchino Visconti's Bellissimaand his creations have graced such classic pictures as Death In Venice, The Leopard and La Cage Aux Folles.Making the announcement today(Jan 27), CDG president Deb
  • Koltai sets start date for Fateless adaptation

    Hungarian cinematographer Lajos Koltai is aiming for a Sept 30 start date for his directorial debut, an adaptation of Fateless - the Holocaust-themed novel by Nobel prize winner Imre Kertesz.Koltai has been trying for some years to find the necessary funds for the Euros 8m film.. Now the Hungarian government has taken responsibility for half of the budget, with private investors from the Netherlands, Germany and Italy covering the rest. The Hungarian-language produ
  • Local market share slips (again) for Australian films

    Australian films took only 4.9% or $24.7m (A$41.8m) of the total $498.9m (A$844.8) gross box office for 2002, compared to 7.8% in 2001 and 8% in 2000.However, according to the Australian Film Commission, the good news is that in only one other year on record did more films gross $590,000 (A$1m) or more. In 1982 there were 11 that crossed the A$1m mark and in both 1998 and last year there were 10.The AFC also found another way to put a positive spin on the figures released today
  • Lock, Stock financier launches AV Pictures

    Angad Paul, one of the businessmen that financed Guy Ritchie's Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, has launched his own film business.The 31-year old executive has bought UK sales outfit Victor Film Co and formed AV Pictures with Victor chief, Vic Bateman. AV is a subsidiary of Caparo Group, the business run by the Paul family that has interests spanning steel processing, engineering and hotels.The new company, which will be managed by Paul and Bateman,
  • Luca Bentivoglio named executive director at Latino Public Broadcasting

    Former Warner Bros International executive Luca Bentivoglio has taken on the post of executive director at non-profit organisation Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB). In 1996, Bentivoglio launched the new Warner Bros. channel in Latin America and directed the programming, marketing and distribution efforts that propelled WB to become the leading family channel in Latin America and Brazil. "Luca brings to the position his expertise and knowledge of twenty years in television progra
  • Market leader prepares to sell Norwegian cinema circuit

    Oslo City Council has started negotiations with both foreign and local bidders interested in acquiring 66% of its stake in the municipally-owned Oslo Cinemas. After 77 years as a public service, the sale of Norway's largest exhibitor Oslo Cinemas, which controls 25% of the country's cinema market, is being closely followed by both politicians and the public. Oslo Cinemas operates 11 sites with 31 screens and attracted 3 million admissions last year. Several Scandinavian exhibiti
  • Maxine Leonard gets evp marketing job at Myriad

    Publicityveteran Maxine Leonard has joined Myriad Pictures to head up its marketing andPR operations in Los Angeles. As executive vice president, marketing andpublicity, Leonard will oversee the company's communication strategy in allareas as well as handle the international marketing and publicity campaigns forthe company's production and acquisitions. She reports to company presidentKirk D'Amico.Leonardjoins Myriad after seven years at Denmead Marketing, the LA-based internationalpub
  • Mexican Sex blockbuster gets Brazilian treatment

    Principal photography of the Brazilian version of Mexican blockbuster Sex, Shame And Tears (Sexo, Pudor Y Lagrimas) kicks off February 1st in Rio de Janeiro The movie boasts a stellar cast led by Murilo Benicio whose credits include Sandra Werneck's Possible Loves and Fina Torres' Woman On Top opposite Penelope Cruz. Other cast members include Malu Mader (The Trespasser), Fabio Assuncao (Bellini And The Sphynx), Alessandra Negrini (Four Day
  • Miele, Dudley-Smith promoted at Warner Bros Int'l TV

    In a raft ofpromotions at Warner Bros International Television Distribution (WBITD), RonaldW Miele has become executive vice president of business affairs, operations andgeneral counsel and Malcolm Dudley-Smith moves up to executive vice presidentof sales and business development. In addition, Renee I Wolf becomes seniorvice president of business affairs and deputy general counsel, Warner BrosInternational Television president Jeffrey R Schlesinger announced today (Jan27).
  • Mini-studio planned for Barcelona

    Six Catalan media firms have merged to create a single holding company with plans to forge a new mini-studio in Barcelona.The partners are further understood to be negotiating an agreement with a major European group which could facilitate international distribution of the as-yet unnamed holding's content.Distribution is the least-developed business area across the six companies, which include the Institut del Cinema Catalan (ICC), La Truka, In Vitro Films, Centre Promotor de la
  • Mondays In The Sun basks in Goya Awards

    There was one clear victor in the battle for the top prizes at Spain's 17th annual Goya Awards ceremony held Saturday night in Madrid: Fernando Leon's Mondays In The Sun. Mondays (Los Lunes Al Sol) triumphed with five top awards including best film and director, new actor for Jose Angel Egido, supporting actor for Luis Tosar and - eliciting one of the most enthusiastic receptions of the night - best actor for Javier Bardem. Meanwhile, Pedro Almodovar's Talk To H
  • New Christopher Guest 'mockumentary' to play South By Southwest

    ChristopherGuest's folk music 'mockumentary' A Mighty Wind and the Adrien Brody comedy-drama TheDummy are among theline-up for the upcoming 10th Annual South By Southwest Film Conference AndFestival in Austin, Texas. Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer, whofamously played clueless rockers in 1984's This Is Spinal Tap, play 1960s folk stars who reunite for amemorial concert in honour of a recently deceased band manager. The picture wasdirected by Gu
  • New movie giant emerges in Asia

    South Korean major CJ Entertainment signed a memorandum of understanding today to acquire a stake of up to 35.4% in Plenus Entertainment, the parent company of rival studio Cinema Service. The linking up of the two firms, which are by far the biggest film companies in Korea, is scheduled to take place mid-March after due diligence is carried out.CJ Entertainment reportedly intends to acquire a 28.3% stake of 3,837,336 shares which are currently owned by local holding company L
  • Nicole Mackey joins Capitol Films

    Nicole Mackey has joined Capitol Films as head of international sales, replacing Josh Kramer who is relocating back to Los Angeles.Industry veteran Mackey most recently held the position of president, international sales at Stewart Till’s now defunct Signpost Films.Before joining Signpost in 2002, Mackey was president of international sales at Lolafilms UK, she also spent a year at J&M Entertainment and 15 years at Rank where she was head of sales and a director of the board
  • Nine Matrix short films kick off with Osiris

    The Final Flight Of The Osiris, Warner Bros and Village RoadshowPictures' first in a series of nine short films envisioned by The Matrix directors Larry and Andy Wachowski, willaccompany the worldwide theatrical release of Warner Bros' supernatural thrillerDreamcatcher on Mar21. Like
  • Noi Albinoi strikes first sales deals

    Franco-German production and sales outfit The Co-Production Office snatched an early sale on Noi Albinoi, which is in the main Tiger Awards competition at the International Film Festival Rotterdam.The film was sold to Switzerland's Xenix in the hours immediately following its Rotterdam premiere and other deals are expected to follow later this week at Rotterdam and at next week's European Film Market in Berlin.The story of an boy who dreams of escaping from his snowy, whi
  • Noi The Albino (Noi Albinoi)

    Dir: Dagur Kari. Ice-Ger-UK-Den. 2003. 95mins.Noi The Albino, the debut feature of young Icelandic director Dagur Kari, is one of those films that seem absolutely of their own place and yet curiously cosmopolitan. With its characteristically Nordic comic melancholia and strikingly photographed scenery, it could not have been made anywhere but in Iceland, yet its theme of small-town teenage frustration chimes with any number of independent films from the US or indeed an
  • Noi The Albino sweeps Goteborg

    Icelandic newcomer Dagur Kari's Noi The Albino dominated the awards at the Göteborg film festival in Sweden.The closing ceremony for Sweden's 26th film festival in Göteborg was Icelandic newcomer Dagur Kari's night, when his feature debut Noi The Albino (Noi Albinoi) took top honours including the Nordic Film Award, the FIPRESCI award and the Church of Sweden Film Award. "You get a bad conscience when you receive an award from the church, I promise to at
  • NonStop takes international sales on The Slaughter Rule

    Film sales agent NonStop Sales has acquired the rights to handle international sales for highly acclaimed The Slaughter Rule, which also marks the first non-Nordic film NonStop Sales will distribute. With international market launch at the European Film Market 2003 in Berlin, The Slaughter Rule, directed by twin brothers Alex and Andrew Smith, will be distributed by film sales agent NonStop Sales in all territories except North America.The Slaughter Rule (a
  • Norway funds two new features from Maipo

    The Norwegian Film Fund has greenlighted two new projects from Maipo Film, the outfit behind the local box office phenomenon Elling.Bent, Frank & Susie is based on The Jealous Hairdresser a short story by Norway's number one best-selling author Lars Saabye Christensen. Annette Sjursen's directing debut tells the story of a man whose life is turned upside-down when he goes to a different hairdresser than usual. The $1.5 comedy was granted $1m from the Fund. Universa
  • Odeon Cinemas looks likely as Cinven cashes in

    Odeon Cinemas, the UK's largest exhibition group, could soon change hands again, with private investment group, Cinven said to be readying a sale.According to reports in Sunday newspaper Business, Cinven is seeking $720m (£450m) for the operation. Odeon operates over 1,000 screens in some 160 sites and lost $11m (£7m) in 2001. But it is expected to have turned a profit last year. Odeon has been boosted by the soaring theatrical admissions, which now make the UK the world'
  • Ontario passes Breillat's Fat Girl uncut

    Catherine Breillat'scontroversial Fat Girl will bereleased uncut in Ontario, more than a year after its initial rejection by theCanadian province's censors. The film, which has screened uncut in severalother provinces, was waylaid in November 2001 by the Ontario Film Review Board (OFRB),which objected to the depiction of sexual activity by minors and sought anumber of cuts. Distributors Cowboy Pictures and Lions Gate Films appealed theOFRB's decision to the Ontario Superior Court of Ju
  • Open Hearts, Facing The Truth win Danish Academy Awards

    At the Danish Film Academy's 20th ROBERT award ceremony on Sunday night in Copenhagen, Susanne Bier's Dogme-hit Open Hearts and veteran Nils Malmros' Facing The Truth fought it out for the top awards, while Ole Bornedal's I Am Dina dominated the technical prizes. The ceremony was attended by 650 industry people, filmmakers and talents, who saw Cultural Minister Brian Mikkelsen hand out the best film award to Susanne Bier's Open Hearts. The film also took the
  • Owning Mahowny

    Dir. Richard Kwietniowski. Can-UK. 2003. 107mins.A low-key character study of an extraordinary man, Owning Mahowny tells the true story of a nebbish Canadian bank employee who embezzled millions from his employers to feed his addiction to gambling. Directed with austerity by Richard Kwietniowski and played by the riveting Philip Seymour Hoffman, the film finds an almost unbearable tension in a man who seems barely alive. But that same austerity will limit its appeal an
  • Palisades pledges $1m to release of Pauly Shore directorial debut

    Palisades PicturesEntertainment Group has pledged a $1m print and advertising commitment to PaulyShore's directorial debut, Pauly Shore Is Dead: You'll NeverWiez In This Town Again. Thepicture, which opened the Slamdunk Film Festival in Park City last week, is asemi-autobiographical account of the ups and downs of comedian Shore'scareer and features a huge call sheet of cameos that includes Tom Sizemore,Vince Vaughn and Chris Rock.Announcing the deal,Palisade
  • Pathe plays Hopscotch with the Australians

    Australian distributor Hopscotch has teamed up with London-based production, distribution and sales outfit Pathe to co-develop Australian films. Those that get made are likely to be distributed by Hopscotch in Australia, and by Pathe in the UK and France. Pathe will also handle international sales."Everyone sits around and talks about what is wrong with the Australian film industry and what struck me was that it could be easily solved," says Hopscotch co-owner Troy Lum. "The gap
  • Paxton cast as Thunderbirds patriarch

    Continuing its strategy of non A-list casting on Thunderbirds, Working Title Films has cast Bill Paxton as Jeff Tracy, head of the International Rescue.Joining him on Tracy Island are his sons: Philip Winchester (The Patriot) as Scott and Lex Shrapnel (K-19: The Widowmaker) is John. Virgil will be played by Dominic Colenso (BBC TV series: The Lost Prince), while Ben Torgeson is Gordon. Sophia Myles will play Lady Penelope and Ron Cook will play her bu
  • Perrine Teze to step down as head of TFM

    Perrine Teze, managing director of Miramax-TF1 joint French distribution venture, TFM Distrbution, is planning to leave her post and head back to the TF1 Group. According to widespread industry rumours, Teze, who is pregnant, has apparently decided to slow down her pace and will stay within the cinema arm of TF1 albeit away from the hectic schedule of the start-up distributor. The move is said to be entirely amicable.Frontrunner to replace Teze is believed to be Jean-Paul Rougie
  • Peter O'Toole gets honorary Oscar

    Peter O'Toole will receive an honorary Oscar at the75th Academy Awards on Mar 23. The veteran actor, who has been nominated seventimes for a statuette, was chosen by the board of governors of the Academy OfMotion Picture Arts And Sciences in recognition of his 'exceptionaldistinction in the making of motion pictures'.'O'Toole's performances have ignited the screen for more thanfour decades,' Academy president Frank Pierson said in a statement.'He has appe
  • Pieces Of April

    Dir: Peter Hedges. US. 2003. 80 mins. Sweet, neat and oh-so-slight, Pieces Of April marks another triumph for InDigEnt, the digital film-making initiative behind Personal Velocity, Tadpole, Tape and Chelsea Walls. Budgeted at some $150,000, the film looks good and hits all the same buttons you would expect from a studio-produced family comedy. That's why United Artists shelled out some $3.5m for domestic rights to the picture - and a generous slice of the
  • Promark debuts three new Clubhouse Detectives films at AFM

    Promark Entertainment Group,Jon Kramer's 15-year-old US and UK-based production and sales outfit, today(Jan 29) announced plans for three further instalments in its ClubhouseDetectives franchise that will beavailable for pre-sales at next month's AFM. Following on from the success of themost recent Clubhouse Detectivespictures, the company plans to begin production on the next film in March.Although the project is untitled it is understood it will retain the
  • Radley leaves Lucasfilm, Lucas reorganises

    In a bid to promotethe long-term growth of his business interests, George Lucas announced today(Jan 28) that he will consolidate Lucasfilm, Lucas Digital, LucasArtsEntertainment and Lucas Licensing into one company. 'We have a uniquearray of talent in the areas of special effects, sound design, interactivegames, licensing, distribution and marketing. This new structure will make iteasier for our diverse talents to work as a team,' Lucas said in astatement. He added that fo
  • Record year for German home entertainment market

    2002 looks to have been a record year for the German video and DVD market, according to the video industry trade body.According to statistics prepared by the GfK market research institute, turnover for the sector increased by over 22% to Euros 1.15bn in the first eleven months of 2002 compared to the previous year.The GfK's latest figures for January-November 2002 reported that two thirds of the sell-through sector's turnover of Euros 830m - Euros 554m - was generated by the sal
  • Refn and Danstrup form alliance with Nordisk Film

    Following the successful world premiere of Fear X in Sundance, the Danish director-producer duo, Nicolas Winding Refn and Henrik Danstrup have announced that they will establish a joint company with Danish major Nordisk Film for their next two films. The company, which will retain the producers' NWR label, will most likely move to Nordisk Film's historic studio in Valby in Copenhagen, where the Egmont-owned media major is establishing a new power hub for Danish film. Unde
  • Russia spawns rival awards events

    Russia's new Academy of Film Art founded by director Nikita Mikhalkov has rolled out the first ever edition of its new awards for cinema excellence the Golden Eagles. But the awards which are being touted as Russia's answer to the Oscars have sparked a major controversy as they are competing head on with the 15 year-old NIKA awards, held in April, which also claims to be Russia's premier film event.The Golden Eagle is also the name of the Polish Oscars although there is no connection b
  • Russian Ark breaks Los Angeles theatre foreign language record

    US specialist distributorWellspring has reported that Alexander Sokurov's Russian Ark has broken a house record at one of thecountry's most prestigious arthouse cinemas. The film has become thebiggest grossing foreign picture ever to screen at Landmark's NuartTheatre in Los Angeles with a $53,967 haul from one week (Jan 3-9).After opening on Dec 13 inNew York the picture has already grossed $407,482 from four prints in twocities and is set to expand on Jan 31 and Feb 14. It has
  • Saint Monica wins Sarasota Film Festival

    The 10-day 5thAnnual Sarasota Film Festival closed on Feb 1, with the Cultural ExpressionsNarrative Film Award going to Terrance Odette's Saint Monica, produced by Sharon McGowen. TheCultural Impressions Documentary Film Award went to Deconstructing The MythOf AIDS, directed andproduced by Gary Null. Special honourable mention in the narrative strand wentto Manfast, directedby Tara Judelle and produced by Vesco Razpopov, and to Gigantic (A Tale OfTw
  • Samuel Goldwyn, Fireworks to release Dan Ireland's Passionada

    Samuel Goldwyn Films andFireworks Pictures announced today (Jan 30) they will distribute DanIreland's Passionada, aMassachusetts-based romance centred on a Portugese-American family, in NorthAmerica. The picture stars Sofia Milos, who has starred in numerous film andtelevision productions including The Sopranos, Jason Isaacs, who played Lucius Malfoy in HarryPotter And The Chamber Of Secrets,Emmy Rossum, who appears in Clint Eastwood's upcoming Myst
  • Santa Barbara Film Fest unveils 2003 lineup under Fitzgerald

    Ten world premieres areamong the line-up of more than 100 pictures for the 18th Santa BarbaraInternational Film Festival (SBIFF), which also features three new competitivesections - American Independent, Documentary and International. Announcing theprogramme today (Jan 29), SBIFF's new executive director Jon Fitzgerald saidthe event would also screen 11 US premieres and eight foreign-language Oscarsubmissions and feature three new sidebars - Journey To Italy, Showcase PlanetEarth and Surf Ses
  • Schmidt points to flying start for Entertainment

    Having narrowly missed out on being the top performing UK distributor of 2002 to 20th Century Fox, Entertainment Film Distributors is off to a flying start in 2003.The company still holds two top five positions with The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers - placed third this week with $2.7m (£1.6m) - and Gangs Of New York ($1.8m for fourth), and this week saw a strong opening for its comedy drama About Schmidt.About Schmidt was just one of multiple open
  • Showtime gets US rights to Arquette's Debra Winger doc

    ShowtimeNetworks has picked up US rights to Searching For Debra Winger, Rosanna Arquette's documentaryabout the competing demands of motherhood and being a professional actress. Thepicture had a special screening at Cannes last year and was inspired by thestory of Winger, the acclaimed star of Terms Of Endearment and An Officer And A Gentleman, among others, who stunned Hollywoodwhen she retired at the age of 40 to spend more time with her family. S
  • Sichler steps into StudioCanal as Lenormand finally goes...

    Frederic Sichler will take over as CEO of StudioCanal, European the film production and distribution division of Vivendi Universal, it was announced on Friday. He starts on Monday (Feb 3).The announcement follows weeks of speculation about a replacement for exiting president Richard Lenormand. Since late December, Lenormand has been rumoured to be stepping down but there had been no official word until now and in recent weeks appeared to be holding on for better exit terms.Sichl
  • Simon Field to quit Rotterdam film festival

    Simon Field is to resign as the director of the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR). The next edition in 2004 will be his last. His co-director, Sandra den Hamer, will remain in her position.In a statement Field said: "In 2004 I will have been with the festival for eight years, helping to build an important national and international event. I would like to explore new possibilities and have the chance to return more permanently to my home base in London. I also believe that in
  • Spanish digital merger goes ahead

    Today marks the deadline for Spain's Sogecable and Telefonica to accept or decline the 34 conditions placed by the Spanish government on the merger of their pay TV platforms Canal Satelite Digital and Via Digital.While there were rumours that the partners might delay their decision by a week, all other indicators yesterday pointed to their likely fulfilment of the Jan 29 deadline for submitting a business plan to structure the new platform and carry out the conditions.Spain's Sc
  • StudioCanal sales chief Weisbein flies to Senator International

    Pierre Weisbein, the formerhead of sales at StudioCanal, has quit the diminishing French film operationand joined LA-based Senator International as executive vice president,international sales and distribution. Weisbein starts with Senator today.The Frenchman, who is basedin LA, will play a key role in evaluating projects for Senator's production andacquisition slate while supervising international sales. He reports to companypresident Joe Drake."Pierre is a salespowerhouse who
  • Stuparich De La Barra promoted at MDP Worldwide

    Tamara Stuparich De La Barra has been promoted to directorof acquisitions at MDP Worldwide Entertainment, the company's chairmanand CEO Mark Damon announced today (Jan 30). Stuparich De La Barra's newresponsibilities will include the evaluation and coordination of all featurefilm submissions as well as overseeing the acquisition of completed films. Shewill also be actively involved in the development of all MDP projects includingthe recently acquired thri
  • Swedish Film Institute greenlights new projects

    The Swedish Film Institute has awarded funding to three new feature films and a number of documentaries.After 17 years abscence, critics' favourite Kay Pollack is set to make a highly-anticipated comeback. The director, best-known for his coming-of-age drama Children's Island (Barnens O), which was nominated for the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 1981, has not made a film since Love Me! (Alska mig) in 1986. His new film, Sa Som I Himmelen, is a contempo
  • Swedish Oscars acclaim Lilja 4-Ever

    Lukas Moodysson's Lilja 4-Ever was the clear winner at Sweden's 38th Guldbagge awards ceremony held last night in Stockholm - winning in five of its six nominated categories.The dark, Russian-language drama about human trafficking triumphed with five awards, including best film, best director and best script. The film's cinematographer Ulf Brantas won the award for best photography, while Russian Oksana Akinsjina was awarded best leading actress. It was not the first time
  • Talancon takes lead role in Miravista's Ladies' Night

    Ana Claudia Talancon, thelead actress of all time Mexican blockbuster El Crimen Del Padre Amaro, will star in Ladies' Night,the first production from Miravista, the pan regional production companylaunched last year by The Walt Disney Company Latin America and Admira, themedia arm of Spanish telco Telefonica.El Crimen received a Golden Globe Best Foreign picturenomination and represents Mexicoin the foreign Oscar race this year.Talancon
  • Ted Turner steps down as AOL Time Warner posts $100bn loss

    AOL Time Warnertoday (Jan 29) posted a net loss of nearly $100bn for 2002 - the biggest annualloss in corporate history - after announcing a fourth quarter writedown of$45.5bn that followed a $54bn writedown in the first quarter to cover thecompany's plummeting value. In a separate announcement that adds to theembattled media conglomerate's woes, vice chairman Ted Turner said hewould be stepping down in May to pursue philanthropic interests.AOL declared afourth quar
  • The Recruit tops box office with $16.5m haul

    Three new releases claimed the top three spots over the weekendwith Buena Vista/Spyglass' spy thriller The Recruit leading the pack with a $16.5mnumber one bow. In second was New Line's horror sequel Final Destination 2 on $16.2m while the bronze medal wentto DreamWorks'
  • The Station Agent

    Dir: Tom McCarthy. 2002. US. 90minsAs often at Sundance, the real winners are to be found among the recipients of the audience award and not the Grand Jury Prize. This year was no exception as newcomer Tom McCarthy's crowd-pleaser, The Station Agent, proved the talk of Park City all week, as well as Miramax signing up for all English-language and Italian rights. Yet despite its clever script and audience appealing qualities, the film will require equally clever distrib
  • The War Is Over triumphs at FIPA

    Italy's RAI TV series The War Is Over (La Guerra E Finita) won five golden awards and one special mention, to wind up as the main victor at this year's FIPA (Festival International de Productions Audiovisuelles) in Biarritz, France. Other winners includde German drama Mein Vater by Andreas Kleinert, Israeli documentary Purity by Anath Tzuria, Dutch art documentary Four Kings And A Nightingale directed by Wilbert Bank and Aparte by Uruguay's Mario Hand
  • Three films share Tiger Awards at Rotterdam

    Three films shared Tiger Awards at the 32nd International Film Festival Rotterdam in the Netherlands on Friday.Winning the three equal VPRO Tiger Awards were Santiago Loza's Extrano from Argentina, Park Chan-Ok's Jealousy Is My Middle Name (Jiltoo-Neun Na-E Him) from South Korea and Larisa Sadilova's With Love. Lilya (S Ljubov' Ju) from Russia.Each Tiger Award, presented to a first or second-time filmmaker, carries a Euros 10,000 award as well as a broadcast
  • Toshiba to buy Japan's Amuse Pictures

    Toshiba Corp. has announced the purchase of Amuse Pictures, the film and video distribution subsidiary of Amuse Inc. Toshiba will acquire 67% of Amuse Pictures shares on April 1 and the remainder by October. Also, Amuse Pictures will transfer its 73.5% stake in Amuse Soft Sales, a video and DVD sales division, to Amuse. Launched in 1990 by Amuse Inc., a media company who core business is talent management, Amuse Pictures has since distributed hundreds of titles on video, includi
  • Trust takes international sales on Home

    Trust Film Sales has picked up international sales on Theo van Gogh's new feature project Home Is Where The Heart Is which was presented at the Cinemart co-production market at the Rotterdam International Film Festival this week.Budgeted at Euros 2.2m, the digitally shot psychogical thriller will be produced by Els Vandevorst's Isabella Films and has Zentropa Productions already attached as production partner.Isabella Films was a co-producer on Thomas Vinterburg's It's
  • Two Towers opens top in Poland just shy of Fellowship

    New Line International's The Lord Of The Rings:The Two Towers edged closer to $450m overthe weekend with a $1.8m Polish bow on 135 screens. Despite being 5% off theopening recorded by The Fellowship Of The Ring the picture recorded a $13,494 per-screen average. Inits second weekend in Russia, The Two Towers dropped 31% for $1.5m from 132 screens, averaging$11,610 per screen. With a cumulative score of $5.5m after two weeks, TheTwo
  • US Editors Award nominations include Hours, Chicago

    This season's awardsfavourites Chicago, The Hours and Gangs Of New York have all been nominated in the 2003 American CinemaEditors (ACE) Eddie Awards, the third oldest Hollywood awards after the Oscarsand the Golden Globes. The winners will beannounced at ACE's 53rd annual gala in Beverly Hills on Feb 23. All 450ACE members vote, including active, affiliate and honorary members. This yearKathleen Kennedy will receive the ACE Golden Eagle Eddie
  • Walken gets supporting actor prize at ShoWest 2003

    Christopher Walken has beennamed ShoWest 2003's Supporting Actor of the Year. Walken will collecthis honour at the 29th ShoWest's annual gala awards banquet at Bally'sand Paris Hotel in Las Vegas on Mar 6Walken began acting at theage of 10. After training as a dancer and winning several awards for his workin theatre, including an Obie Award for his role in The Seagull, he started making films. In 1978 he won a BestSupporting Oscar for The Deer Hunte
  • Warner Bros puts classics division on the fast track

    Warner Bros hasconfirmed that it has put its plans for a specialized film unit back on thefast track and is now actively searching for an executive to run it. Warner hasbeen the only major studio without a classics division for some time and hasbeen toying with the idea for about two years now.But in The LosAngeles Times yesterday, Warner Bros president and chief operating officer AlanHorn said that he is looking to correct the perception of the studio was as a producer of franchise an
  • Whale Rider riding high in Rotterdam

    Two thirds of the way through the Rotterdam festival, Niki Caro's Whale Rider was streets ahead in the polls for the Canal Plus public prize. The film, which was previously an audience favourite in Toronto, appears in Rotterdam's main programme and received nearly three time as many votes as The Magdalene Sisters, currently lying in second and Cristina Comencini's The Best Day Of My Life (Il Piu Bella Giorno Della Mia Vita). Among the slightly more auteur of
  • Women's Prison wins Amnesty Int'l award at Rotterdam

    Women's Prison (Zendan-e Zanan) by Iranian director Manijeh Hekmat has won the first Amnesty International - DOEN Award of the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR). The Jury gave a Special Mention to Bus 174 (Onibus 174) by Brazilian filmmaker Jose Padilha.Ten films were nominated for the award. The jury consisted of ex-minister Jan Pronk, filmmakers Marco Bechis, Nathalie Alonso Casale and Ulrike Ottinger and producer/editor Mike Downey.The ten nomi