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4 February 2004

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  • Barbarian Invasions takes top prize

    Denys Arcand's The Barbarian Invasions was awarded the Golden Kinnaree for best film in the International Competition at this year's Bangkok International Film Festival (Jan 22-Feb 2) while the best director prize went to Jim Sheridan for In America.The Golden Kinnaree for best actor was shared by the three leads of Li Yang's Blind Shaft - Li Yixiang, Wang Shungbao and Wang Baoqiang - and the best actress prize went to Giovanna Mezzogiorno for her performance in Fe
  • A Tale Of Two Sisters takes top prize at Gerardmer festival

    The 11th annual FantasticFilm Festival of Gerardmer drew to a close Sunday night with A Tale Of TwoSisters taking the Grand Jury Prize.The South Korean film by KimJee Woon is a psychological thriller set in a very dysfunctional family thatwas roundly considered the most terrifying of all eight competition filmsdespite its sometimes confusing storyline. The main jury, headed up by Dutchdirector Paul Verhoeven also awarded a Jury Prize to Takeshi Miike's musical TheHappiness Of
  • Aaltra

    Directors: Benoit Delepine, Gustave Kervern. Belgium. 2004. 90 mins.Tell people that a festival's hot ticket is a black-and-white Belgian road comedy, and you're liable to be greeted with scepticism, especially when the protagonists are two middle-aged men in wheelchairs. Nevertheless, Aaltra is this year's surprise delight at Rotterdam (where it played in the Tiger Awards Competition): a bad-mannered, defiantly oddball farce, high on economical storytelling and visual
  • Aaltra

    Directors: Benoit Delepine, Gustave Kervern. Belgium. 2004. 90 mins.Tell people that a festival's hot ticket is a black-and-white Belgian road comedy, and you're liable to be greeted with scepticism, especially when the protagonists are two middle-aged men in wheelchairs. Nevertheless, Aaltra is this year's surprise delight at Rotterdam (where it played in the Tiger Awards Competition): a bad-mannered, defiantly oddball farce, high on economical storytelling and visual in
  • AFM 2004 gears up with 246 market premieres

    The24th Annual American Film Market (AFM) will feature 246 marketpremieres and 379 films in 28 languages from 291 film and television companieswhen it takes place in Santa Monica from Feb 25-Mar 3.Announcingthe line-up at a press conference yesterday, AFMA president and chief executiveofficer Jean Prewitt and executive vice president and managing directorJonathan Wolf said there would be 14% increase in company attendance over lastyear, with a record 88 first-time companies and approxi
  • Akame 48 Waterfalls (Akame Shijyuyataki Shinjyumisui)

    Dir: Genjiro Arato. Japan. 2003. 159minsA veteran producer of Seijun Suzuki (Zigeunerweisen, Kageroza, Yumeji) and the director of the 1995 The Girl Of The Silence, Genjiro Arato has returned to screen after an absence of eight years with Akame 48 Waterfalls, a film with Suzuki's characteristic mix of traditional Japanese aesthetics and the surreal.It is not, however, a Suzuki homage so much as Arato's attempt to update that quintessentially Ja
  • Amenabar, Medem shepherd Spanish short film-makers

    Alejandro Amenabar and Julio Medem are two of five established Spanish directors godfathering an up-and-coming filmmaker each in new short film initiative 50 Minutes.Sponsored by Nescafe as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations, the initiative matches five established directors with five newcomers to make five ten-minute short films.The other big-name directors involved - each representing a different decade of the last 50 years - are Bigas Luna, Gonzalo Suarez and Luis Garc
  • And the reactions are...

    The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The KingProducer Barrie Osborne partnered with Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh on the entire Lord Of The Rings trilogy and has been nominated for all three episodes. As part of a select band that includes Jackson, he wears a tattoo bearing the elven legend for the number 10. "When I began working on this project five years ago nobody knew each other and now we're like family - and although we'll probably never all work toge
  • Asshak, Tales From The Sahara (Asshak, Geschichte Aus Der Sahara)

    Dir: Ulrike Koch. Switzerland/Germany/Netherlands 2004. 110mins.Effectively an ethnographic documentary reinforced with a slender strand of narrative, Asshak is a generally engrossing portrait of the customs and beliefs of the Tuareg nomads of the Sahara. Given the current favour for films with an ethnographic and environmental slant, notably The Story Of The Weeping Camel and Atanarjuat The Fast Runner, Ulrike Koch's fascinating if somewhat unfocused film shoul

    Along Came Polly held on to the top spot in its second weekend on release despite its gross dropping by over half, although admittedly the original result was for a five-day holiday weekend and the figures have now reverted to the usual four days.The UIP release did A$1,436,260 from 202 screens compared to second placed The Last Samurai with A$1,274,409 from 273 screens in its third weekend for Roadshow.The two new films which made it into the top 20 were 20th Cent
  • Awards and festival invitations galore for Attila Janisch film

    The new feature by Attila Janisch was the big winner at last night's awards' ceremony that closed the 35th edition of the Hungarian Film Week.His film, After The Day Before received the jury's main prize as well as awards for best cinematography going to Gabor Medvigy, best actor for Tibor Gaspar and best supporting actress for Kati Lazar. The film was also much appreciated by the attending foreign guests and is expected to receive several festival invitations, including one by
  • Bangkok has teething troubles but shows potential...

    The Bangkok International Film Festival (BIFF), which ended today (Feb 2), still has a long way to go to fulfil its ambitious remit, but this year's event was a spirited affair that promised greater things for future editions.Organised for the second time by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the festival offered a strong line-up of films - selected by a team headed by former Palm Springs programmer Jennifer Stark - and an expanded programme of industry-related events. These incl
  • BBC in crisis as director general Dyke quits

    BBC director general Greg Dyke has resigned in the wake of the official Hutton inquiry into the death of scientist David Kelly.Dyke's decision to step down follows BBC chairman Gavyn Davies' resignation on Wednesday, shortly after the report was published.The BBC has announced that Dyke's deputy Mark Byford will step in as acting director general.Dyke said he hoped their departures meant "a line can be drawn under this whole episode".The pair quit after a BBC news

    Algerian-born French director Alain Chabat scored another hit in Belgium last weekend with French comedy RRRrrrr!!!Released by Cineart in Belgium the film was unable to dethrone Warner Bros' Last Samurai, landing second place in the chart with $347,133 over the five-day weekend. However, RRRrrrr!!!'s take came from just 23 screens providing a massive $15,093 screen average - easily the highest of any film over the weekend - and more than double Samurai's $6,
  • Berlusconi government boosts support for Italian film

    A report has surprisingly revealed that while the Italian government upped its investment in Italian films by 34.8% last year compared to 2002, private investment in local titles dropped a worrying 5.25%,The Italian film industry invested a total of Euros 301.7m in films in 2003, up 8.68% on the previous year.But while Silvio Berlusconi's government, through the Cultural Ministry's Film Department, backed 57 films in 2003 - five more than in 2002 - and poured Euros 108.4m into t
  • Blockbuster quits Hong Kong market

    High rents and rampant piracy have forced video rental giant Blockbuster to quit the Hong Kong market and scrap plans to expand into mainland China.The company will close its 24 Hong Kong outlets as their leases expire over the next 18 months and lay off 200 staff, according to a statement issued on Friday."Hong Kong has always been one of the film capitals of Asia, but it has been a very expensive market to develop and operate, with store lease costs being among the highest we
  • Brother Bear nears $50m for BVI

    Brother Bear scored a superb $4.6m number one opening from 781 screensin France at the weekend as the animated title added $6.3m from all its marketsto raise the international running total to $48.4m.Alreadyin the throes of a highly successful international campaign, Brother Bearshould continue to build with openings for the rest of Europe as well as Japan.The Haunted Mansion stirred up strong business as well, opening top inSpain on $2.3

    Despite only playing its third weekend in Bulgaria The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King has already lost its box office crown.The 11-time Oscar nominated fantasy film dropped 63% in its third weekend in the Eastern European territory and saw its number one position go to newcomer Welcome To The Jungle. Distributor Alexandra Group will not be too concerned however as they distribute both titles. Alexandra Group handles Warner Bros, Columbia Tristar and 20th Centur
  • BVI readies independent French distribution venture

    Less than a week after it emerged that Buena VistaInternational's joint distribution venture with French studio Gaumont wasending, the distributor announced it will open an independent office in Francethis summer to handle all Walt Disney Studios films in the territory.Buena Vista International (France) will be headed up inParis by Jean-Francois Camilleri, the current general manager of Gaumont BuenaVista International.The co
  • Canadian production 'under siege', says report

    Competition from off-shore shooting destinations trying to lure US projects is causing concern amongst Canadian producers, according to the annual report issued by the Canadian Film and Television Production Association.Foreign-financed shoots spent US$1.42bn in 2001-2002, nearly 40% of the country's total production volume of US$3.7bn.Although there was an increase of 8% in foreign location shooting, the period under review does not reflect the impact of SARS in Toronto in 2003
  • Cannes is set to be long on shorts

    The Cannes Market is toextend its operations with the launch this ear of a separate section for shortfilms.In the Palais des Festivalsthe market will create a new area "Short Film Corner" devoted entirely toshorts. It will include a meeting place for short film producers, institutionsand festival programmers that is equipped with a dedicated screening room, avideo library and a video server containing digital copies of all the filmssubmitted."The Cannes festival hasalways regard
  • City Of God gets second wind after Oscar nominations

    The surprise winof four key Oscar nominations by Brazil's gangland epic City Of God has prompted both Miramax in NorthAmerica and Lumiere in Brazil to expand the theatrical release of the film intheir respective territories.Miramax has the film currently playing on four screens inNew York, Los Angeles and San Francisco where the studio plans to add two orthree more screens per city. To date, the film has grossed $4.8m in thedomestic market.In Brazil, dis
  • Crombie resigns from South Australian Film Corp

    The South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC) is without both a contracted chief executive and a chair following the resignation of chief executive Judith Crombie during Friday's board meeting, effective immediately. The State Government had earlier decided not to reappoint David Minear as chair.Some mystery surrounds Crombie's decision to leave four months short of the expiry of her second two-year contract in May: she cites "long-term differences" with Minear but will not provide any
  • CZECH REPUBLIC's latest territory chart addition, Czech Republic, enjoyed strong local input last weekend as two new home-made comedies claimed the second and third chart positions behind Return Of The King - in its second week in the territory.Both released on 25 screens, Falcon's Jak Basnici Neztraceji Nadeji played best in second place with over 42,000 Czech citizens attending over the four day weekend. Having received preview screenings at two locations the previous
  • Daiei brand to become extinct

    Kadokawa Shoten Publishing president Tsuguhiko Kadokawa has announced a reorganisation of the company's film businesses and a relaunch on April 1 under the name Kadokawa Pictures.The reshuffle, which will merge film-related subsidiaries of Kadokawa Holdings with film producer and distributor Kadokawa Daiei, will result in the extinction of the Daiei corporate name, one of the oldest in the Japanese film industry. Daiei will remain only as a brand for DVD and videos of the studio's clas
  • Davis, Ginsburg & Morris join BAFTA/LA board

    Periscopepresident J Alan Davis, Passport Entertainment president David R Ginsburg andwriter-producer Peter Morris have been elected to the board of BAFTA/LA.
  • Dembia joins Denmead as account manager

    Former Artisan Entertainmentdirector of corporate communications Dennis Dembia has joined Denmead Marketingas account manager.Dembia will work withcompany president Nikki Parker and will be based at Denmead's headquarters inHollywood, reporting directly to Parker.Besides day-to-day publicityand maketing duties, he will work closely with Parker overseeing corporateaccounts and handling international marketing and publicity for a client rosterthat includes Senator International, I

    Though no match for The Return Of The King's still massive 103 prints, the new release of Annette K. Olesen's In Your Hands (Forbrydelser) saw a solid opening on its 33 prints attracting 15,046 admissions.The drama about faith and forgiveness set in a woman's prison, which screens in the main competition at next month's Berlin Film Festival, received some of the best reviews a local film has had for some time. It would have been a very hard sell without them.In its

    Annette K. Olesen's In Your Hands (Forbrydelser) retained its second spot after The Return Of The King, falling just 12% after its first week in release and has so far had 37,989 admissions.However, this week's best admission screen average belonged to Lost In Translation on just nine prints in fifth - with three times that of the other new entry Welcome To The Jungle, which opened at third because of its 29 prints. Anders Gustafsson's youth film Scratch
  • Distant Lights wins German critics prize

    Hans-Christian Schmid's Berlinale 2003 competition entry Distant Lights (Lichter) was the big winner at this year's German Film Critics Awards, winning the prizes in the categories of Best Feature Film, Best Actor and Best Editing.The Awards were presented during a gala ceremony at the Max Ophuels Prize Film Festival in Saarbruecken on 29 January (Thursday).The complete lineup of prize-winners are:Best Feature Film - Distant Lights by Hans-Christian Schmi
  • Don Bird joins DTS as vice president of marketing

    Don Bird has joined digitaltechnology company DTS as vice president of marketing, where he will overseemarketing and branding activities for all areas of the company's entertainment,technological and corporate business.Bird brings with him morethan 20 years of experience in the development and marketing of technicalproducts for the entertainment industry.Prior to DTS, he served insimilar posts in the electronic music, broadcast, theatrical and film postproduction arenas. Most re
  • En Route (Unterwegs)

    Dir: Jan Kruger. Germany 2004. 80mins.A psychological road movie in which an outsider opens up tensions within a holidaying family, Jan Kruger's low-key but absorbing drama won one of the three Tiger Awards at this year's Rotterdam Film Festival. It should bring further plaudits to the young German director, whose second feature this is, following 2001's The Whiz Kids (Freunde). An involving narrative spiked with teasing enigmas will give En Route appeal
  • Evil pays off at Sweden's Guldbagga awards

    Mikael Haafstroem's crowd-pleaser Evil has had a rather good week. Not only has it picked up a best foreign language Oscar nomination, but it was also awarded the best film prize at the Guldbaggas, Sweden's national film awards.The award was picked up by producers Hans Loennerheden and Ingemar Leijonborg. Peter Mokrosinski was named best cinematographer and veteran Anna Asp best set designer for the same film, which is closing in on 900.000 admissions locally.Daybreak
  • Ex-Deutsche Columbia chief joins Falcom Media

    Producer Andrea Willson has been recruited by the Swiss rights trader/distributor Falcom Media Group to manage the company's expansion into German language production as a "second strategic business unit" alongside the core business of rights trading.Berlin-based Willson, who ceased being the managing director of Deutsche Columbia Pictures Filmproduktion (DCPF) when it was wound up last year, will concentrate on the development and production of one or two films a year for the German
  • Film law, new studio to feed Hungary's international ambitions

    Following the boost given to the local industry with a new film law passed in December, this September will see the opening of Hungary's most advanced film studio - which will boast Central Europe's largest sound stage.As founder and managing director Robert Szabados told Screen International the Stern Film Studio is compatible with all the relevant international criteria thus perfectly fitting to host international super-productions.The Stern Film Studio located on the outskirt

    Close to nothing changed at the Finnish box-office chart this weekend, as Minna Virtanen's erotic drama Addiction (aka Restless 3) stayed on top in front of The Return Of The King, which it toppled last week.Though it dropped 31%, it retained the best screen average on its 43 prints. Though the film has nothing in common with the other popular films in Solar Films' Restless-series but its title, that has no doubt been helped sell the film to Finnish audiences, who
  • Fly creates buzz at Danish Oscars - again

    Per Fly's critics and audience darling The Inheritance swept the Danish Film Academy's Robert ceremony on Sunday night taking six awards including best film, best director and best actor for Ulrich Thomsen. It also won best supporting actress and actor for veterans Ghita Noerby and Peter Steen, best music for Halfdan E as well as the audience award.This marks the second time Per Fly has dominated the Robert awards, as his feature debut The Bench took the five major awards

    The combination of Julia Roberts and La Joconde weren't enough this week to unseat Tom Cruise's The Last Samurai now in its second week at number one.Mona Lisa Smile opened at number two with a respectable 337,134 admissions on a relatively low 394 screens for a film starring the world's most famous actress.21 Grams took fourth position with a healthy screen average of $8,416 - unseating Lost In Translation and The Lord Of The Rings which has b
  • France's CNC outlines Soficas spending for 2004

    France's national cinema centre, the CNC, has announced figures for Sofica funds to be pumped into production in 2004.There are currently nine such tax shelters which collected Euros 40.99m in 2003. Under their obligation to invest 90% of annually raised funds, the Soficas will invest Euros 36.89m.In 2002 Euros 35.14m was raised and put into 2003's production crop.Soficas are tax-based financing initiatives often guaranteed by big groups like Gaumont and others.The
  • Galaxy signs up stars for April blast off

    The cast for The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy - which is set to shoot at Elstree Studios in the UK from April - is rounding out.Hip-hop star and actor Mos Def, Zooey Deschanel and The Office star Martin Freeman have all been confirmed for the Spyglass Entertainment/Walt Disney Co. project, a $50-$60m of adaptation of the sci-fi comedy epic by Douglas Adams.It is being directed by Garth Jennings - one half of music video team Hammer & Tongs along with producer N
  • Gaumont realigns with Columbia TriStar for French distribution alliance

    Columbia TriStar Films France and French studio Gaumont haveformed Gaumont Columbia TriStar Films in a deal that will see the new entitydistribute in France all films produced and acquired for France by SonyPictures Entertainment, Columbia TriStar and Gaumont.
  • German media funds raise Euros 1.7bn

    German media funds raised Euros 1.76 bn equity from private individuals in 2003, according to a survey of 40 initiators by fund specialist Stefan Loipfinger.Michael Oehme, board member of the media funds' interest group Verband Deutscher Medienfonds (VDM), told that these figures showed that the media funds had stabilised and even reported an increase on 2002's Euros 1.6bn.He pointed out that the good result was not only due to the so-called "grandfather funds" w

    Julia Roberts' lasting appeal in Germany was underscored by its No. 1 position on the opening weekend for Columbia TriStar's Mona Lisa Smile with Euros 2.8m from 600 screens, while the Eddie Murphy-starrer The Haunted Mansion topped the Euros 2m mark at No. 3.Lost In Translation may have slipped down the charts, but its screen average of $4,770 was still higher than that for any one of the new entries in the top 10. But that was nothing compared to the remarkable $

    The Julia Roberts-starrer Mona Lisa Smile held on to the top spot for a second week grossing over $6m by Feb 1, but there was considerable shuffling of positions in the Top 10 with no less than four new entries.Concorde started off the year well coming straight in at No. 4 with the horror film Underworld and Tobis Film's release of Samba In Mettmann (at No. 7 with a screen average of $2,492) showed that German cinema audiences were prepared to forgive TV comedian
  • Giannini tipped for Venice figurehead role

    Oneof the favourite betting games at the Rotterdam festival this week has beenspeculation about who will front the next Venice festival, with the smart moneynow riding on a split role between a figurehead chief and a chief selectoror artistic head.Sources close to the Venice festival organisation say that an announcement is imminentand that veteran Italian actor Giancarlo Giannini will be anointed ashead of the festival, in what could be a largely symbolic role.Asuave leading ma
  • Greidinger named ShoWest 2004 International Exhibitor of the Year

    Moshe (Mooky) Greidinger,the chief executive officer of I T International Theatres, has been namedShoWest 2004 International Exhibitor of the Year.'Mooky Greidinger hastaken his prowess for building and operating state-of-the art theatre complexesin Israel and expanded to central Europe with great success,' ShoWest2004 co-managing director Mitch Neuhauser said in a statement.'Moviegoersin Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Bulgaria are watching movies ingrand style thanks t
  • Hiding emerges as Gothenburg winner

    The overall theme of Sweden's major film event, the Gothenburg Film Festival, was the blues, but after its 27th edition, there was nothing to be blue about but the weather.Early estimates indicate an increase in the already impressive admission numbers, and so did the number of attendees for the festival's market section, the Nordic Event.However, the main competition jury picked out a surprise winner for the Nordic Film Award, when they gave $27,000 (SEK200,000) and the festiva
  • Hopscotch pounces on documentaries

    Hopscotch has picked up all Australian and New Zealand rights to 2004 Academy Award documentary nominee My Architect from the Film Sales Company, hoping that again loading the slate with non-fiction will prolong last year's winning streak.The film is already showing in the US and is directed by Nathaniel Kahn, the illegitimate son of the film's subject, the late architect Louis I Kahn, who died bankrupt and alone in New York 30 years ago.Hopscotch co-owner Troy Lum says t
  • Hungarians target foreign producers during Film Week

    Twenty-three new Hungarian features will be presented at the annual Hungarian Film Week (Jan 27-Feb 3) to local audiences and the approximately 120 foreign guests invited to the country's most important film event.Sixteen of the new films screen in the festival's competition programme, including Benedek Fliegauf's Dealer which will also be play in the Berlinale's Forum section next month, Nimrod Antal's audience favourite, Control, and Andras Salamon's Getno.

    Following the previous week's release of eight titles, last week only two movies tried to challenge, without much success, the rule of The Return Of The King. But it was only the latest Ben Stiller comedy, Duplex that was able to make the box office top ten list - and that with the weakish performance of just over 12,000 admissions. John Malkovich's directorial debut, The Dancer Upstairs, last week's other new release, couldn't even manage 1,000 admissions.The ecl

    Nimrod Antal's Control and Tamas Sas' Dad Goes Nuts (Apam Beajulna) got another push at the Hungarian box office with the extra attention both received at the annual Hungarian Film Week running between January 27 and February 3.The only new release making the top ten list was The Rock and Sean William Scott's action comedy, Welcome To The Jungle - The Rundown in third with nearly 14,000 admissions. Both In America and Hong Kong's Infernal Affairs fail
  • Indian filmmakers boycott film festival

    MIFF 2004, the Mumbai International Film Festival for Documentaries, Shorts and Animation, which runs from February 3-9, has run into trouble with 12 Indian filmmakers withdrawing their films from the festival in protest against censorship and the selection process.In addition, playwright and filmmaker Girish Karnad resigned as chairman of the Jury at the because "the entire atmosphere, as indeed the very purpose of the festival, has become vitiated, making it difficult for me to be as
  • Intermedia's epic to be named Alexander

    Intermedia'sAlexander The Great project currently coming to the end of its epic shoot underdirector Oliver Stone will be titled Alexander, a title which has been cleared and approved by theMPAA.

    Pupi Avati's Italian comedy sequel La Rivincita Di Natale, opened at number six at the box office, grossing $550,673 for Medusa Film seventeen years after the original film's release.Rivincita Di Natale, which features the same cast as Avati's 1980 comedy Regalo Di Natale including Diego Abantatuono, was released on a wide 207 screens, but earned an unspectacular $2,660 screen average.Meanwhile, Mikado's Lost In Translation's grosses jumped a massive
  • Italy confesses to highest level of piracy in western world

    Italy has the highest level of piracy in the western world, according to the latest data released by national anti-piracy watchdog FAPAV.While legal DVD and video sales netted Euros 417m in Italy last year, the black market was estimated at more than Euros 250m - around 30% of the total market - and that's without counting the emerging trend of internet piracy which has started to take off in Italy too.Police carried out 145 raids in Italy last year and seized 334,875 illegal DV
  • Jackie Chan's son joins Twins Effect II cast

    Jackie Chan's son, Jaycee Chan, is making his feature acting debut alongside his father in Emperor Multimedia Group's The Twins Effect II (working title) - the sequel to last year's blockbuster action comedy - which is scheduled to start shooting next week.The US$10m martial arts action adventure reteams Hong Kong pop stars Charlene Choi and Gillian Chung - collectively known as Twins - with several talents from the original film including Chan and Hong Kong idol Edison Chen, wh

    Despite opening on more screens and trailing more Academy Award nominations, Seabiscuit failed to dislodge The Last Samurai from its number one slot on the Japanese nine-major-cities chart, which it has occupied for eight straight weeks.Its $43,122 screen average was not only about half that of the Tom Cruise starrer, but less than that of the number three film, Half A Confession, in its third week on release.Hollywood Homicide opened weakly at number
  • Japanese 2003 box office lifted by Shakedown effect

    Bayside Shakedown 2, Katsuyuki Motohiro's comic thriller about feuding cops in Tokyo's trendy bayside district, topped the Japanese box office in 2003, according to figures from the Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan (Eiren).BS2 grossed $163.7m (Y17.35bn) following its July 2003 release -- a record for a Japanese live-action film.The top-earning foreign film on the Eiren chart was Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, with $160.4m. Warner ope
  • Kinowelt expands local production slate

    Kinowelt Filmproduktion has added another three local titles - Playa Del Futuro, Antikoerper and Max & Moritz - to its production line-up.The company has previously made commitments to co-produce an adaptation of Wladimir Kaminer's Russendisko with Christoph Meyer-Wiel's CMW Films and Joachim von Vietinghoff's Von Viettinghoff Filmproduktion (see, October 2003).Speaking exclusively to at this week's CineMart in
  • Korean industry stunned as top production houses merge

    A major re-alignment is set to sweep the South Korean production sector, as leading production houses KangJegyu Films and Myung Films have been acquired by local manufacturing company Seshin Buffalo.The companies will be re-launched as a merged entity called MK Buffalo in April.MK Buffalo will become the first film-related company to be listed on the Korean Stock Exchange, and will have total assets valued at $97m. It has yet to be announced who will head the merged company.
  • Love In Thoughts

    Dir. Achim von Borries. Germany. 2004. 90 mins.The latest film from Stefan Ardnt's and Tom Tykwer's X Filme creative pool, Love In Thoughts (Was Nuetzt Die Liebe In Gedanken) made its world debut in the Sundance Film Festival's Premiere section. Like a dark fairytale, the film paints an achingly beautiful portrait of youthful impetuosity run to extremes. Based on a true story of a suicide pact that scandalised 1927 Berlin, it tells of five friends, three male, t
  • Luppi begins shooting directorial debut

    Federico Luppi, Argentina's most internationally renowned actor, began shooting his directorial debut in Spain last week.Written by Luppi's wife Susana Abascal, the drama titled Pasos is co-produced by San Sebastian-based Igeldo Communicaciones. Igeldo also co produced Chilean drama B Happy, set to have its European premiere in the Berlinale's Forum sidebar.Luppi is shooting Pasos in Rioja, the birthplace of Abascal, and in San Sebastian where he won his bes
  • Master And Commander sails to $93m at international box office

    Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World raised its internationalrunning total to $93m through all distributors following a $970,000 weekendhaul from 641 screens in Fox International markets.Thethriller Runaway Jury added $1.6m from 419 screens at the weekend toraise its international running total to $11.4m.Itopened in third place in Italy on $1m from 180 screens and ranked second inSouth Korea after opening there on $284,000 from 55.
  • Mean Creek

    Dir: Jacob Estes. US. 2004. 87mins.One of the hidden treasures at the Sundance Film Festival this year, Mean Creek is a haunting teenage take on Deliverance in which a prank turns to tragedy. Sombre, gripping and often painfully true in its evocation of teenage concerns, it marks a stunning directorial debut from Jacob Estes, the kind of provocative young voice which Sundance is renowned for introducing to the world.What's so memorable about Mean C
  • Mexico's Imcine is granted $14m budget, the highest total in six years

    Not only has Mexican film institute Imcine survived plans to axeit but it has also won the biggest budget allotment from the government in sixyears, according to Imcine director Alfredo Joskowicz.
  • Monster launch for new German theatrical player

    Leading German DVD distributor e-m-s new media is to launch its own in-house theatrical distribution arm 3L Filmverleih to release the Oscar-nominated Monster for which it holds the German language rights.The new outfit is expected to handle between five and eight releases each year, with Monster being the first 3L film to go into the cinemas followed by such films as Korea's Muse - The Warrior by Kim Sung-Su and Michel Schonneman's action-comedy Old Men In New
  • Muxmauschenstill wins Max Ophuls Prize

    Marcus Mittermeier's feature debut Muxmauschenstill, which will be screening in the Berlinale's Perspektive Deutsches Kino, was the big winner at this year's 25th jubilee edition of the Max Ophuls Prize Film Festival (26 January - 1 February, 2004) for newcomer German-language cinema in Saarbrücken.The black comedy by Berlin-based Schiwago Filmproduktion received the Max Ophüls Prize - with Euros 18,000 for best director and Euros 18,000 for the film's German distribut

    The massive opening of social comedy Shouf Shouf Habibi! in the Netherlands even surprised distributor Independent Films "This is beyond our expectations," Niels Swinkels, head of marketing told "We were aiming for 100,000 admissions, but in the first weekend we already reached 50,000, much better than we were hoping for."The success of Shouf Shouf Habibi! was partly based on the large amount of free publicity. The film - a black satire on the relationshi
  • New German media fund backs its first feature

    US director Aaron Allred's thriller/love story Not A Lovestory is the first feature film project to be backed by the Babelsberg-based MPF Beteiligungs GmbH & Co Zweite KG (MPF) media fund.The production by Wanowski Brothers Filmproduktion and Doris Kirch's Blue Angel Entertainment Film Productions in co-production with EuroArts Medien and MPF began shooting at locations in Berlin on 29 January and is set to wrap in mid-March.Starring Joachim Deutschland, Hannelore Elsner,

    The Return Of The King continues to reign supreme at the New Zealand box office. In its seventh weekend it took NZ$384,449 from 86 screens, which was just 6% down on the previous week. As was the case last week, The Last Samurai is in second position with NZ$301,379 from 62 screens, a fall of 21.5% in its third weekend. Roadshow is the distributor of both films.The third film in the chart, BVI/Miramax's Cold Mountain, is showing a very healthy screen average. Its e
  • Newcomer Heughan to star as Alexander in Salkind's rival epic

    21-year-old newcomer Sam Heughan has signed to play the title rolein Jalal Merhi's Macedonia's Alexander The Great, the first of a trilogy that isscheduled to start filming in Greece and Egypt on Feb 7 for release in October.
  • Newmark/Echelon acquires A Tale Of Two Pizzas

    Production, financing,international sales and distribution house Echelon Entertainment has acquired Vincent Sassone's romantic comedy A Tale Of Two Pizzas.

    Opening on $3.3m in unlucky 13th place was Warner Bros' crime caper The Big Bounce. It was a deeply disappointing bow for George Armitage's Elmore Leonard adaptation, which stars Owen Wilson and Morgan Freeman, and this was matched by a slew of poor write-ups.It averaged $1,448 from 2,304 and the skinny 48% approval rating from exit polls suggests it will virtually have disappeared off the face of the Earth by next week. It was one of the lowest ever openings for a big screen ad
  • Northern Ireland Film Production Fund launched

    The Northern Ireland Film & Television Commission (NIFTC) is inviting applications to its new Northern Ireland Film Production Fund.The NIFTC will invest between £150,000 and £600,000 up to a ceiling of 25% of the overall project costs in a live action or animated feature film or a live action or animated television drama single, series or serial where the production can be clearly demonstrated to have a strong cultural relevance, as defined in the guidelines, to Northern Ireland.

    Despite a number of new releases, the top five spots of the Norwegian chart remained unchanged with The Last Samurai in front of Petter Naess' Just Bea.However, the latter dropped only 5% and performed almost as well, despite the limiting 15 label it received from local censors. Julia Roberts' considerable charm wasn't quite enough to ensure Mona Lisa Smile a good opening on its 23 prints, which only amounted to a seventh spot, but it did better than Jim Sheridan's
  • Odyssey to sell One Perfect Day

    UK sales company Odyssey Entertainment has taken on worldwide rights excluding Australia and New Zealand to One Perfect Day.A portrait of dance party culture, the film is directed by first time director Paul Currie and produced by Australia's Lightstream Films.One Perfect Day tells the story of Tommy Matisse, a gifted 22 year old musician who breaks out of the sheltered confines of the Royal Academy of Music in London and returns to Australia where he gets involved
  • Oscar nominees set to capitalise on recognition led by King

    New Line International's The Lord Of The Rings: The Return OfThe King shouldcapitalise on its 11 Academy Award nominations in all its markets and nowherewill this be felt more acutely than in Italy, where the film scored a record$12.2m opening last weekend.
  • Peep 'TV' Show

    Dir: Yutaka Tsuchiya. Japan 2004. 98mins.A portrait of alienated cyber-youth, Peep 'TV' Show is so much of the moment - so hyperbolically trendy, even - that it risks becoming dated overnight. But as a fiction with a quasi-documentary flavour, Yukata Tsuchiya's panorama of a voyeuristic technological culture makes for revealing and intermittently urgent viewing. Its essayistic thrust and defiantly lo-fi DV execution will make it extremely tough to distribute, but it sh
  • Picture This! teams with Forbidden City on Latter Days sales

    In an unprecedentedalignment of gay niche companies, Doug Witkins' Picture This! Entertainmentwill handle international sales on Funny Boy Films' Latter Days in association with Forbidden City International.Beverly Hills-basedForbidden City co-produced writer-director C Jay Cox's film with Funny BoyFilms and acquired foreign rights prior to production. It will begin acting asthe film's foreign sales when the film screens at the upcoming Berlinale.@;Watching Latter
  • Pixar files for divorce from Disney, relationship to end in 2006

    Pixar and Disney broke off talks to extend their existingfive-film deal yesterday (29), leaving the animation cash-cow free to enterdiscussions with other studios competing to distribute its titles beginning in2006.
  • Polly stays top in Australia, Grams is hot in Spain for Universal

    Universal's Along CamePolly stayed top in Australia as itgrossed an estimated $1.1m and fell 44% in its second weekend for a $3.9mrunning total.The romantic comedy is dueto roll out in the other major markets over the next two months and its nextbow will be Portugal on Feb 6.21 Grams had an excellent opening in Spain on $1.1m from 146sites for third place.By comparison this is 125%bigger than Traffic, which took$484,000 from 101 sites.The drama
  • Quinta takes control of French SFX house

    Majority control of Parisian special effects house Duran Duboi has officially shifted to Tarak Ben Ammar's Quinta Communication.As previously reported ( September 19, 2003), Ben Ammar stepped in to rescue Duran which had been on the brink of bankruptcy due to a downturn in the market.Good news came last week when the deal was ratified and Duran's share price jumped up to a 52 week high of Euros 3.880 on January 30. According to financial documents, Ben Ammar pumpe
  • Restaurant owner named chairman of UK's Channel 4

    Luke Johnson, owner of London's famous Ivy restaurant, has been appointed as the new chairman of broadcaster Channel 4 - parent company of FilmFour.Media regulator Ofcom appointed Johnson as Channel 4's new chairman. He replaces Vanni Treves.Johnson, 42, whose Ivy restaurant is a favourite among celebrities, will work alongside Channel 4 chief executive Mark Thompson, who oversees day-to-day operations.Johnson has a long track-record as an entrepreneur. His business ventu
  • Return Of The King closes in on $600m international

    NewLine International's The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The Kinggrossed $20.7m from 6,353 screens in 58 territories at the weekend to raise itsinternational cumulative total to $572.8m.Thekey driver was Italy, where in its second weekend the film added $7.2m anddropped only 30% from last weekend's record-breaking opening. The territorytotal now stands at $23.7m.Itheld well in its second weekend in Russia, adding $2.4m and dropping only 31%for $8.4
  • Romania's Silver Bullet launches London office

    Romanian production company Silver Bullet Film has opened a London office as part of a move to lure UK productions to shoot in the country.Silver Bullet Film was founded by cinematographer Viorel Sergovici who has shot more than thirty film features and over 150 commercials. His recent credits include the feature films Taboo, starring Nick Stahl, and Straight Into Darkness starring David Warner.Silver Bullet aims to make it easier for UK producers to take advantage
  • Russia's exhibition sector set for rapid growth

    The exhibition sector in Russia is set to grow once again this year driven by a box office that has been increasing by 80% a year over the past two or three years according to figures released by the Russian Ministry of Culture.While most of the action has been in Moscow and St Petersburg exhibitors are now also looking at the regions where competition is less fierce than in Moscow. The government backed Roskinoprokat (The Russian Cinema Exhibition) has announced plans to establ
  • Samurai is still first with $22.4m weekend in 45 markets

    The Last Samurai has passed $350m in worldwide ticket sales accordingto Warner Bros Pictures Int'l following an estimated $22.4m weekendinternational gross from 5,907 screens in 45 markets.With mostly smaller bowsincluding Finland and four in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, the actionadventure raised its international cumulative total to a mighty $242.8m.It is fast approaching $100min the key market of Japan, climbing 6% in its ninth weekend there for astaggering $98.
  • Sarasota jury launches emerging Florida film-makers' fund

    In an unusual move the juryat this year's sixth Annual Sarasota Film Festival elected not to handout prizes for best narrative and documentary and instead ploughed the moneyback into the creation of an emerging Florida film-makers' fund.'After much discussion,we felt that the best contribution we could make was not to awardtraditional prizes to individual films or film-makers,' a statementon behalf of the jury panel read.'Rather, we feel thatthe most dynamic use of the prize mon
  • Sellers find Shangri-La at Bangkok Film Market

    The first Bangkok Film Market (BFM) - organised as part of the 2004 Bangkok International Film Festival - kicked off in the Thai capital on Tuesday (Jan 27) with more than 60 companies taking rooms at the Shangri-La Hotel.In total, about 120 companies from 23 countries have registered to take part in the three-day event. The sellers include a broad mix of international sales agents such as Australia's Arclight Films, the UK's BBC Films, Spain's KWA and Hong Kong and Netherlands-based F
  • Senator takes on worldwide rights to 3D CGI Moebius movie

    SenatorInternational has picked up worldwide sales rights from digital contentproducer GDC Holdings to celebrated French artist Jean "Moebius" Giraud'ssci-fi fantasy adventure Thru The Moebius Strip.

    As expected, The Return Of The King dominated the Serbian-Montenegrin chart for the fifth weekend in a row - attracting 5,451 tickets (down 50%) to add to its massive cumulative gross of $622,213 for Tuck.Tuck also opened The Rundown with 4,472 tickets and $12,485 - giving the company the top three positions with Mona Lisa Smile which attracted 3,159 admissions and now has a total of $73,097.Continental's Texas Chainsaw Massacre took over the fourth p
  • Shochiku ramps up slate as it goes for growth

    After six straight quarters of improving sales and profits, boosted by such hits as The Twilight Samurai and the Lord of the Rings films, Shochiku is ramping up its slate of domestic and foreign titles.At a January 23 presentation to 400 exhibitors, investors, analysts and reporters, Shochiku officials, led by president Nobuyoshi Otani, announced they were moving the company from a restructuring to a growth stage with aggressive management policies.The target is th
  • Solanas doc set to open Fribourg festival

    Veteran Argentine filmmaker Fernando Solanas, who will receive an Honorary Golden Bear at next month's Berlinale, will be presenting his new documentary La Memoria Del Saqueo as the opening film for this year's Fribourg International Film Festival (March 21-28).According to the festival organisers, Solanas' film will be complemented by a selection of independent Argentine documentaries which also explore the reasons for the crisis in Argentina in December 2001.This year
  • South Africa to host shoot for UA/Lions Gate picture Hotel Rwanda

    Production is set to begin in Johannesburg this month on TerryGeorge's true-life rescue story Hotel Rwanda, which stars Don Cheadle, Nick Nolte andSophie Okonedo.
  • Spain's Star Line unveils 2004 slate

    Spanish producer Star Line, producer of Berlin Panorama entry Bear Cub (Cachorro), is looking to repeat its two-fold production success of 2003 with its new slate for 2004.Following on the coattails of Bear Cub and the company's big-budgeted international production Carmen, Spain's third top-grossing local film last year, Star Line is preparing one new genre project and another ambitious "femme fatale period piece" for 2004.The first, The Absent (A

    The Ketchup Effect (Hip Hip Hora!), the feature debut from newcomer Terese Fabik, didn't manage to dent the strong run of either The Return Of The King or The Last Samurai, but on its 61 prints the Sandrew Metronome release still served a much better screen average than either of them.The film is a coming-of-age drama about 9th grader Sofie, who unfairly gets a reputation for being a whore after she passes out at a party. It screened at last week's Gothenburg Film

    The Return Of The King fought off more resistance this weekend at the Swedish box-office where it withstood the new releases of The Last Samurai and the new installment in the seemingly never-ending family series Lilla Jonssonligan.Though both films had impressive screen averages, The King's massive 150 prints kept it in front, while the local action thriller The Robbers landed on fourth.The shuffle at the top also pushed Peter Dalle's Skenb
  • Take My Eyes takes Spanish prize

    Director Iciar Bollain's domestic abuse drama Take My Eyes fulfilled expectations as the big winner at Spain's 18th annual Goya Awards this weekend, taking home seven of nine nominations including best film, director, original script, actor, actress, supporting actress and sound.The uncompromising film was an appropriate mascot for a ceremony peppered with political messages for a second year running, following last year's resounding "No to War" discourse.This year's best
  • Thai studio readies Ong Bak sequel for March shoot

    Thai studio Sahamongkol Film International has unveiled details of the second film from Ong-Bak star Tony Jaa and director Prachya Pinkaew, in which the Australian underworld gets a taste of Thai-style kickboxing.Called Tom Yum Goong, after the spicy Thai soup, the US$4m action comedy is scheduled to start shooting in Australia in March. Jaa plays the hero, Kham, who rushes off from Thailand to Australia to rescue his sister - who is supposed to be studying under a fellow
  • The Return graced with Golden Eagles

    Despite being snubbed by the Oscars, director Andrei Zvyagintsev's The Return swept to victory at the second edition of the Golden Eagles, one of Russia's two top film awards.At a ceremony held Saturday night at the Mosfilm Studios the country's National Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded the top prize to The Return as well as the prize for best cinematography, which went to camera operator Mikhail Krichman.The film which won two Golden Lions in V
  • The Wooden Camera

    2003 Dir: Ntsuaveeni Wa Lurili. UK-Fr-South Africa. 90mins.Brazil has enjoyed five Oscar nominations thanks to City Of God, a tale of a camera-toting good guy caught in the crossfire of gang-warfare in Rio's favelas. The Wooden Camera, the story of a video-toting South African boy with choices to make, has similar appeal stemming from its humanity and its fresh eye. The Berlinale and the forthcoming Cannes festival may include stronger pictures that bear witness
  • The Wooden Camera

    2003 Dir: Ntsuaveeni Wa Lurili. UK-Fr-South Africa. 90mins.Brazil has enjoyed five Oscar nominations thanks to City Of God, a tale of a camera-toting good guy caught in the crossfire of gang-warfare in Rio's favelas. The Wooden Camera, the story of a video-toting South African boy with choices to make, has similar appeal stemming from its humanity and its fresh eye. The Berlinale and the forthcoming Cannes festival may include stronger pictures that bear witness
  • Timbuktu premiere to open Dublin festival

    The Dublin International Film Festival is marrying strong local and international fare for its second edition with 97 features and numerous shorts being shown over ten days at three city centre cinemas.The festival opens on February 12 with the world premiere of Alan Gilsenan's Timbuktu with Eva Birthistle and closes on February 22 with the world premiere of Lance Daly's The Halo Effect starring Stephen Rea. Both titles are funded under the Irish Film Board's funding init
  • Trauma

    Dir: Marc Evans. UK. 2003. 93minsActor Colin Firth goes some way to rescuing his screen persona from being forever enslaved to his romantic alter ego Darcy with his morose presence in Trauma, in which he plays the spooked survivor of a car crash. Dishevelled, disorientated and anything but dashing, Firth's mental meltdown continues to hold the attention even when the fragmented plotline veers into some murky cul-de-sacs. An ambitious exercise in cinematic atmospherics,
  • Trio win Rotterdam Tiger Awards

    International Film Festival of Rotterdam (IFFR) has awarded its three Tiger Awards to films from Taiwan, Germany and Bosnia-Herzegovina.Directors Lee Kang-sheng (The Missing), Sredjan Vuletic (Summer in the Golden Valley) and Jan Krüger (En Route) received the awards worth Euros 10.000 at the Friday night (Jan 30) at the closing ceremony.After the presentation of the awards outgoing IFFR-director Simon Field was the subject of a tribute from several dir
  • Twin Sisters (De Tweeling)

    Dir: Ben Sombogaart. Netherlands. 2002. 135minsProving that Miramax doesn't have a monopoly on well-crafted, Oscar-friendly literary adaptations, Twin Sisters is a sweeping version of the European best-seller by Tessa de Loo. A straightforward account of twin sisters separated by family circumstances and the bitter divisions in wartime Europe, it should appeal to the same middlebrow arthouse audience that embraced Istvan Szabo's family saga Sunshine and last yea
  • Upswing tops Finnish Jussi awards

    At this year's Finnish film awards, the Jussi, held in Helsinki on Sunday night, Johanna Vuoksenmaa's popular comedy drama Upswing (Nousukausi) took top honours including best film as well as best script for Mika Ripatti and best music for Kerkko Koskinen.However, the Lasse Saarinen production didn't take more awards than the other top nominated films as the prizes were spread quite evenly this year.Thus Jarmo Lampela was named best director for Eila, which also wo
  • US and UK outfits partner for British DVD label

    A new independent home video and DVD label is being launched in the UK by 3DD Entertainment, Lorber Media and Red Productions.Called inD, its initial releases are scheduled for Spring 2004. It aims to release new and classic films, TV drama, documentaries and music specials.The first releases will include the American Film Theatre collection featuring 14 films by directors such as John Frankenheimer, Tony Richardson, Joseph Losey, Harold Pinter, Arthur Hiller and Lindsay
  • USA Video Interactive Corp named official AFM digital watermarking company

    Connecticut-based internet systems specialist USA VideoInteractive Corp (USVO) has been named the official digital watermarkingcompany of the 2004 AFM, which runs in Santa Monica from Feb 25-Mar 3.The company will unveil its digital watermarking technologyMediaSentinel at a press conference on Feb 27. The software package is based onUSVO's proprietary content protection technology and embeds ownershipdetails and other informatio
  • War (Vojna)

    Dir: Jake Mahaffy. USA 2004. 84 mins.Virtually a one-man labour of love, Jake Mahaffy's War is one of those works that French critics sometimes term a 'UFO' - a film that comes out of nowhere, or comes direct and unmediated from its director's unconscious. Working over four years without no crew and no sound, Mahaffy shot the film himself on a hand-cranked camera - accounting for some evocative flickers and variations of light and speed - then added a dense soundtrack
  • Warner Bros wins trio of distributor awards in Japan

    Warner BrosPictures Japan (WBPJ) has been awarded three top honours from Japan's MotionPicture Exhibitors Association, capping its position as the territory'sdominant foreign distributor of the last three years.Thecompany picked up the Grand Prix Award for Best Foreign Film Distributor of theYear as well as awards for Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets and TheMatrix Reloaded, the number one and number two biggest grossing importe
  • WHV reshuffles senior global personnel

    Warner Home Video (WHV) hasshuffled several key personnel in a bid to reallocate its global resources tomeet the changing demands of the marketplace.Mark Horak becomes executivevice president and general manager for Canada, Latin America and Australia,Jeffrey M Brown becomes senior vice president of worldwide marketing, PhilippeCardon is named senior vice president and general manager of WHV's Europe,Middle East and African operations and Marc Gareton will head up the new GlobalBusines
  • Wils named chief of De Niro's Tribeca Film Institute

    Madelyn Wils, chairperson of Community Board 1, has been namedpresident and chief executive officer of the Tribeca Film Institute and will assumeher new post in February.
  • You Got Served races ahead over Superbowl weekend

    Screen Gems' hip-hop drama You Got Served took advantage of the quiet Superbowlweekend, opening top on an estimated $16m.