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4 January 2007

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  • 4 Elements

    Dir/scr: Jiska Rickels. Neth. 2006. 89mins.Jiska Rickels' makes an impressive debut with feature-documentary 4 Elements, a self-consciously poetic film essay that has limited narration and little in the way of dialogue. Consisting of four self-contained segments, each representing one of the four ele
  • Artificial Eye founder Andi Engel dies

    Andi Engel, founder of UK distribution company Artificial Eye, died in Lubeck, Germany on Dec 26.Engel was born in Berlin in 1942. He and wife Pam Engel set up Artificial Eye in London in the mid-1970s and the company became the UK's leading distributor of arthouse and foreign-language films. Act Entertainment Group and Knatchbull Communications Group recently acquired Artificial Eye - including its 200-title library and two London cinemas.
  • Autism documentary gets late Sundance slot

    Lauren Thierry's documentary Autism Every Day has joined the Sundance Film festival line-up as a special screening.The world premiere will screen out of competition on Jan 21 and will be followed by an autism awareness panel featuring the filmmakers and parents who appear with their children in the documentary.Autism Every Day charts the round-the-clock challenges faced by families affected by autism. Thierry produced with Eric Solomon o
  • Autism documentary lands late Sundance slot

    Lauren Thierry’s documentary Autism Every Day has joined the Sundance Film festival line-up as a special screening.The world premiere will screen out of competition on Jan 21 and will be followed by an autism awareness panel featuring the filmmakers and parents who appear with their children in the documentary.
  • Berlin competitors include Soderbergh and De Niro

    The 2007 Berlinale has announced the first six films selected for this year's competition. They include Christian Petzold's Yella from Germany, marking the director's return to Berlin competition after Ghosts (Gespenster) in 2005. The new film, a world premiere, follows a young woman who tries to escape a bad marriage and her old lif
  • Bond and The Queen head BAFTA longlist

  • Bond and The Queen head BAFTA longlist

    Casino Royale and The Queen top the Orange British Academy Film Awards longlist with 14.
  • Bond and The Queen head BAFTA longlist

  • Bridging the gap: cinema enters the digital age

    'This a time of huge opportunity but also of great fear,' Stephen Moore, head of features and COO of Aardman told Screen International Digital Rights conference.It may not sound like a big shift from the vague predictions over the last few years that a digital future represented threats and opportunities.But Moore's fear, shared by many at the conference in London, is not about an uncertain future but about what's happening now in
  • Canadian performers set strike deadline

    Canadian performers guild ACTRA has set a strike deadline of 12:01am on Jan 8 if ongoing 'last-ditch' talks break down.In a statement, ACTRA national executive director and chief negotiator Stephen Waddell said: 'ACTRA wants to avoid a strike. We're going to try hard this week to negotiate a new agreement. But the producers' associations must not underestimate our determination to ensu
  • Cecchi Gori vows to carry on producing

    Sitting in his 16th century Borghese Palace residence in Rome, where statues line hallways leading to frescoed rooms, Italian film producer and former Senator Vittorio Cecchi Gori shows no sign that he is suffering from the latest and perhaps most severe setback in his attempts to revive his family’s film-making empire.When a Rome court declared Cecchi Gori’s Finmavi holding group bankrupt in October, many saw the decision as the final nail in the coffin of the business started by
  • Chan launches China talent search, production outfit

    Hong Kong star Jackie Chan is planning to unearth the nextgeneration of action stars through a TV talent contest, and is establishing a Beijing-basedproduction company to produce vehicles in which they can perform. The star spoke of his planswhile visiting China recently during a break in the filming of Rush Hour 3. Denying rumou
  • Chinese exhibition: What future for international investment'

    When the Chinese government barred foreign companies from holding majority ownership of exhibition companies it led to the withdrawal of Warner Bros International Cinemas.Although it didn't come as a huge surprise, the recent decision by Warner Bros International Cinemas (WBIC) to pull out of China has taken some of the sheen off one of the world's fastest growing cinema markets. Multiplex development has been rapid in China over the past five years with WBIC, local playe
  • Chinese fine Sohu and Shanghai store for copyright infringement

    Chinese courts madetwo separate judgements against copyright infringers over the Christmasholidays, reflecting the increasing pressure that the country is under tocombat its high levels of piracy. On December 27, aBeijing court ruled that Beijing Sohu Internet Information Service Co, asubsidiary of NASDAQ-listed web portal, was guilty of copyrightinfringement when it posted digital files of movies on
  • CJ Entertainment appoints Shin as head of international

    Leading Koreaninvestor/distributor CJ Entertainment (CJE) has appointed David Shin asexecutive vice president and head of international business, replacing MarkShaw, who recently left for a job in the US financial sector. Most recently senior vice presidentin charge of commercial development at ESPN Star Sports in Singapore
  • Curse continues to be blessed in Asian rollout

    Zhang Yimou's $45m Curse Of The Golden Flower topped the box office in China, Hong Kong and Malaysia over the Christmas holidays.Following its record-breaking opening in China over the weekend of Dec 14-17, the lavish costume drama had grossed $25
  • Danielle Arbid starts shoot for A Lost Man

    France's MK2 has announced the start of production on Danielle Arbid's second feature A Lost Man. The UK's Alexander Siddig and France's Melvil Poupaud star in the road movie set in the Middle East.F
  • DiCaprio double nominated for SAG awards

    The Screen Actors Guild hasannounced nominees for its 13th awards, with Leonardo DiCaprio nominated inboth the leading actor and supporting actor categories for Blood Diamond and TheDeparted, respectively.Babel, Dreamgirls and Little Miss Sunshine eachearned nominations in three categories, with Notes On A Scandal, The Departed, Blood Diamondand Little Children each taking two mentions.
  • Factory Girl

    Dir: George Hickenlooper. US. 2006. 90mins.Sienna Miller does more than effectively capture doomed but beautiful 1960s pop art icon Edie Sedgwick with Factory Girl, George Hickenlooper's portrait of the Andy Warhol-anointed superstar that also conveys the elegant grunginess of the era.In
  • Finnish box-office admissions rise 12% in 2006

    Anunprecedented 69% increase of admissions for domestic fare in Finland boosted2006 cinema attendance to 6.8m, up 12% from 6.lm the year before, according topreliminary statistics from the Finnish Film Foundation.SixteenFinnish premieres sold 1.6m tickets (compared with 15 films selling 940,000 ticketsin 2005), controlling 23% of the market (up from 15%). Three local titlesqualify
  • Focus duo leave company to form production outfit

    Daniel Yu, chiefoperating officer of Andy Lau's Hong Kong-based Focus Films, and marketing anddistribution chief Lorna Tee, have left the company to form their ownproduction outfit. From Jan 1, 2007their roles are being filled by Simon Li, a director of Focus Films Limited,and marketing executive Sharon Cheng. Details of Yu andTee's new company will be announced later but the duo said they would continueto work
  • Freedom Writers

    Dir/scr: Richard LaGravenese. US. 2006. 122 minutes.Set against a backdrop of interracial, mutually destructive gang warfare, Freedom Writers is a passionately pitched if decidedly formulaic story of idealistic uplift, inspired by a true story in which Long Beach teenagers put their angst to paper in the charged years following the 1992 Los Angeles riots.Films with hopeful mentors butting heads with cynical and otherwise hardened
  • Gruppo DeAgostini takes over Mikado

    Italian publishing giantGruppo DeAgostini has taken over local arthouse distributor Mikado from itsfounding partners Luigi Musini and Roberto Cicutto. The pair has operated thecompany for 25 years and will step aside as managers to handle the productionarm of the company.Mikado has distributedinternational films such as Zhang Yimou's Raise The Red Lantern and local hits like Ferzan Ozpetek's 2003 Facing Windows
  • Happily N'Ever After

    Dir: Paul J. Bolger. US-Ger. 2006. 87mins.The animated subversion of fairytale conventions kick-started by Shrek continues in Happily N'Ever After, a thinly imagined, satirical retelling of the classic story of Cinderella that runs aground on the shoals of cheekiness courtesy mainly of an awkwardly forced irreverence.A wide release and some colorful marketing muscle will benefit th
  • Happy Feet breaks Aussie opening record for local film

    Most cinemagoers probablydon't know Happy Feet is Australian,but the animated musical set in Antarctica hasbroken the record for the biggest opening week by an Australian film.Distributor Roadshowreported that the film has entered the history books with a gross of $9.66m(A$12.128m) between and including Boxing Day (Dec 26) and New Year's Day. Incoming weeks it will start challenging some of the films that are the
  • Hong Kong box office remains flat in 2006

    Hong Kong's box officeremained flat in 2006 with overall takings of $116.5m (HK$907m), a marginalincrease of 0.22% compared to the $116.3m (HK$905m) taken the previous year. At the same time, localproduction continued its steady decline although the decreases in box officeand production volumes were not as great as some in the industry had predicted.Combined box office of localproductions was down by a tiny 0.7%
  • International rescue: UIP's history and new reorganisation

    'If there is any growth in this business globally it's in international,' says Tim Bevan of the UK's Working Title Films. One company that has consistently underlined the truth in Bevan's remark over the last 25 years is United International Pictures (UIP).In late 1981, when UIP was formed in London, the Hollywood studios were still making the vast majority of their revenues at home. As UIP's president and chief operating officer Andrew Cripps recalls: 'Certainly in 1986, when I join
  • Korean cinemagoers to face new ticket tax in July

    Korean theaters willface a 3% tax levied on tickets starting July 1. The funds from the tax will beused to finance half of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism's '$4.3m-size' FilmIndustry Mid-to-long-term Development Plan, announced in October. South Korea's National Assembly passed the Bill forthe Partial Amendment for the Promotion of Film and Video in late December,stating a tax
  • LA PR agency MPRM reorganises structure, makes new appointments

    Los Angeles-based mPRm Public Relations has reorganised itsoperational structure and named several key appointments.The company will now operate under the following broad practiceareas: General Entertainment, housing DVD and television; Digital Media andTechnology (DMT), which encompasses emerging and converging media; and Film& Events.mPRm has hired Anthony Sprauve as senior vice president
  • Leading Asian filmmakers selected for HAF

    Leading Asian directorsincluding South Korea'sKim Jee-woon, China's Lou Ye and Japan's Kore-eda Hirokazu are among the 25 filmmakers whohave had projects selected for this year's edition of the Hong Kong Asia FilmFinancing Forum (HAF). Kim, whose credits
  • London counterfeit DVD factory discovered

    The UK's Federation AgainstCopyright Theft has announced that four men have been arrested in Thamesmead,southeast London, after a counterfeit DVD factory was raided. Two Bexley Police officerstracked two men after noticing suspicious behaviour on Redbourne
  • Metrodome's aims for Days Of Glory

    Metrodome's new CEO Peter Urie helps the distributor gain independence, more funding and bigger films like Away From Her. Metrodome has been the sort of dependable arthouse distributor that has gone about its work quietly without much fanfare. That's changing as the company has been increasingly in the headlines recently with positive announcements like the raising of $3.8m (£2m) in funding and acquiring higher-profile films such a
  • Michael Apted: master of adaptability

    Michael Apted is something of a chameleon of the film world: the 65-year-old director changes colours with remarkable facility. On the one hand, he is a member of the Hollywood establishment - a Brit who has blossomed in the studio system and currently serves as president of the Director's Guild. Alongside Stephen Frears and Mike Newell, he is also one of that generation of workaholic Brit directors who went to Oxbridge, trained at the BBC or Granada, and can seemingly turn the
  • Moretti steps down as Turin artistic director after two days

    Italian film-maker Nanni Moretti has renounced his appointment asartistic director of the Turin Film Festival just two days after hisnomination was made public.Moretti's nomination to top the Turin fest - which is dedicated tocutting edge fare and young directors - was hailed as a positivereaction to pressures created by the splash of the Rome Film Festivalon the autumn festival calendar.But Moretti's nomination - according to the director himself- sparkedtoo many problems. 'I t
  • Moretti steps down as Turin artistic director after two days

    Italian film-maker Nanni Moretti has renounced his appointment asartistic director of the Turin Film Festival just two days after hisnomination was made public.Moretti's nomination to top the Turin event- which is dedicated tocutting-edge fare and young directors - was hailed as a positivereaction to pressures created by the splash of the Rome Film Festivalon the autumn festival calendar.But Moretti's nomination, according to the director himself, sparkedtoo many problems. 'I th
  • Museum rules the waves with superb $47.3m haul

    The family film Night At The Museum kicks off 2007 as the international champion after a formidable $47.3m three-day estimated haul raised the overseas tally to $58.1m after two weekends.The Fox International release has grossed close to $51m in a week following last weekend's limited launch in Asia and is on course to cross $100m within a week or so.It opened top in most of its markets. Led by a mighty $14.2m from 486 screens in the UK, $7.3m
  • Museum stays top in North America to cross $100m

    Ben Stiller's cast iron holiday season credentials held firm as Fox's family film Night At The Museum stayed top and crossed $100m in its second weekend.The film added an estimated $46.7m for $125.8m and dominates the world stage following this weekend's superb $47.3m overseas haul.Sony's The Pursuit Of Happyness stayed in second place and also crossed $100m,
  • Museum, Eragon continue rich run for Fox

    After barely two weeks on release Fox International's Night AtThe Museum will belooking to cross $100m this weekend.The family film has amassed more than $75m so far and opens in anadditional 10, albeit minor, markets this weekend.Meanwhile the fantasy adventure Eragon, which opens in three Latin Americanmarkets including Argentina on Jan 4, now stands at $113.1m.The
  • Orange extends cinema ticket programme and strikes Disney content deal

    Mobile phone network Orange has announced plans to continue its cinema ticketpromotion Orange Wednesdays into 2008.The programme offers 2-for-1cinema tickets on Wednesdays across the UK to Orange customers. Now Orange
  • Paramount launches mobile phone portal

    Paramount Pictures has launched a mobile phone portal totransmit content to mobile devices and promote theatrical and DVD releases.Visitors to the mobile film sites can buy tickets, take part inpromotions and opt in to receive studio alerts.'Paramount Pictures will now have a direct-to-consumerrelationship to deliver revenue-generating content, innovative mobilecampaigns, tailored promoti
  • PGA announces annual awards nominees

    The Producers Guild of America (PGA) has announced the film nominees and eligible producers for the 18th Annual PGA Awards to take place on Jan 20 in Los Angeles.The nominees for the Darryl F Zanuck Producer of the Year Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures are:Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Steve Golin, Jon Kilik (Babel)Graham King (The Departed)Laurence Mark (Dreamgirls)Marc Turtletaub, David T Friendly, Peter Saraf, Albert Berger & Ron Yerxa (Little Miss
  • PGA announces annual awards nominees

    The Producers Guild of America (PGA) has announced the film nominees and eligible producers for the 18th Annual PGA Awards to take place on Jan 20 in Los Angeles.The nominees for the Darryl F Zanuck Producer of the Year Award in Theatrical Motion Picturesare:BabelAlejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Steve Golin, Jon KilikThe DepartedGraham KingDreamgirlsLaurence Mark
  • Production subsidies under scrutiny

    After a long delay, Europe finally approved the UK's tax system with considerable modifications. The UK should now join Germany with new tax offerings from January 1 but the process raises questions about subsidies.The system of tax subsidies for film has always had an identity crisis.It's been justified as supporting cinema as an art form; it's been about helping local movies find a place in a market dominated by the Hollywood machine.And of course it's been rather
  • Rotterdam Cinemart confident despite growing competition

    CineMart, heading into its 24th year Jan 28-Feb 1, isn't the lone co-production market it used to be. Competition is now tough to line-up projects, as almost every festival worth its weight features some project market element.Tougher for CineMart, as it likes to be the first to bring a feature to buyers, financiers, and sales agents.But co-heads Marit van den Elshout and Bianca Taal have responded with a strikingly strong line-up for 2007; 48 projects from a record 520 s
  • Rotterdam to open with Sapir's La Antena

    The 36th International Film Festival Rotterdam opens on January 24th with the world premiere of Argentine feature The Aerial (La Antena) by director Esteban Sapir. Festival director Sandra den Hamer calls the black-and-white feature 'one of the most original productions of the year. It is a cinematic statement again the influence of the mass media.'The film is also one of the nominees in the Tiger Award Competition. The list of 14 interna
  • Sara Keene changes roles at Premier PR

    Sara Keene has stepped down as one of the chief executives of Premier Public Relations to take on a role as non-executive director. She will act as a consultant to the board and will continue to run Premier's Personal Department, which handles publicity for individual celebrities including Daniel Craig, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Sam Mendes and Kenneth Branagh.Joint chief executives Ch
  • SBIFF lines up world premiere of The Number 23

    Joel Schumacher's psychological thriller The Number 23 starring Jim Carrey gets its world premiere at the 2007 Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF), which runs from Jan 25-Feb 4.The festival will open with George Hickenlooper's Edie Sedgwick biopic Factory Girl starring Sienna Miller and Guy Pearce and closes with Sue Kramer's gay screwball comedy Grey Matters starring Heather Graham and Bridget Moynah
  • Scott Frank's The Lookout to open SXSW

    The South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Conference & Festival will open with the world premiere of The Lookout, written and directed by Scott Frank, who was Oscar nominated for his Out Of Sight screenplay.Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Isla Fisher, Matthew Goode and Jeff Daniels star in the story of a man with a physical debilitation who becomes involved in a bank heist.After its March 9 premie
  • Screen Actors Guild nominates DiCaprio for two films

    The Screen Actors Guild has announced nominees for its 13th awards, with Leonardo DiCaprio nominated in both the leading actor and supporting actor categories for Blood Diamond and The Departed, respectively. Babel, Dreamgirls and Little Miss Sunshine each earned nominations in three categories, with Notes On A Scandal, The Departed, Blood Diamond and Little Children each taking two mentions. Most of the nominees were expected names being
  • Sohu and Shanghai store fined for copyright infringement

    Chinese courts have made two separate judgements against copyright infringers over the holiday period, reflecting the increasing pressure that the country is under to combat its high levels of piracy. On December 27, a Beijing court ruled that Beijing Sohu Internet Information Service Co, a subsidiary of NASDAQ-listed web portal, was guilty of copyright infringement when it posted digital files of movies on for downloading
  • South Bank Awards nominees include The Queen, Red Road and United 93

    TheSouth Bank Show Awards has announced the nominees for its 11th annual honours,to be presented on January 23 at the Savoy in London.Thenominess are spread across arts categories, with the best film nominees beingStephen Frears' The Queen, Paul Greengrass' United 93 and Andrea Arnold's Red Road. LarryCharles' Bo
  • THINKFilm picks up worldwide rights to War/Dance

    THINKFilm has acquired worldwide rights to War/Dance, which will receive its world premiere in the Independent Film Competition: Documentary section at Sundance later this month.Directed by the husband and wife team of Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine, the film centres on three child refugees from the Ugandan civil war who travel to a national music and dance festival.Albie Hecht and his wife Susan MacLaury produced thr
  • Universal Pictures International appoints Irish team

    Universal Pictures International (UPI) UK & Eire has appointed an Irish team responsible for the sales, marketing and publicity of the company's products in Ireland.The move follows the ending of Universal and Paramount's joint distribution operation, UIP, in the territory.The Dublin UPI office, led by general manager David Burke, will be operational from January 2007. Burke previously worked with leading independent Irish distributor Eclipse Pictures for four years and pr
  • US domestic box-office recovery: a thing of booty

    Much of the doom and gloom that hung over the domestic box office at the start of 2006 evaporated following a resurgent year at the box office. According to estimates the total box office in 2006 climbed 3% against 2005 to $9.132bn compared to $8.833m. It wasn't enough to beat the all-time 2004 mark, but it served timely notice that cinema going is alive and well in North America. Sony ended the year as champion on $1.697bn, an extra
  • Vivendi and Canal Plus launch new pay-TV venture

    Vivendi and Canal Plus Group have announced the creation of Canal Plus France following their take over of rival platform TPS. The deal, which had previously been announced, was made official on Friday and sees the combining of two rival groups who have led a bloody battle over film and sports rights along with subscribers over the past several years. The new entity boasts more than 8 million subscribers and is exclusively controlled by Vivendi via Canal Plus Group. Forme
  • Wild Bunch reveals French Film Rendez-Vous slate

    Wild Bunch is heading into the annual French Film Rendez-Vous with a host of new films as well as screeningfour premieres for international buyers. And, in a bid to energiseforeign distributors to open Luc Jacquet's The FoxAnd The Child as a day-and-date release nextDecember, Wild Bunch will show 45 minutes of the film to distributors. Alreadysold pretty much throughout the world, Jacquet's MarchOf The Penguins follow-up will be
  • Will 2007 boast the biggest summer box office in history'

    Every summer has tentpole releases but there are five titles next summer for which the term is an understatement. In any other year each could the highest-grossing film. Their strength is their brand.Four of the films are sequels - all third instalments in established franchises (see below).But the fifth, the only one to be unproven in cinemas, features arguably the most recognisable brand of all and may be 2007's best bet for a $1bn worldwide grosser:
  • Will Harry Potter be up for an Italian summer in 2007'

    While many territories see colossal returns on films released in summertime, Italian box office returns in July and August often mirror the arid weather. A long held disagreement between local exhibitors and Hollywood distributors has depleted the summer months of primo titles while cinemas squeeze major films into the remaining three quarters of the year.This 'pile up' is responsible for myriad problems plaguing the Italian box office. Excessive competition between titles, shortened
  • Wolfhound (Volkodav)

    Dir/scr: Nikolai Lebedev. Russ. 2006. 136mins.Russia's first proper foray into Tolkien-style fantasy film-making, Nikolai Lebedev's Wolfhound proves to be something of a mixed bag. On the one hand this holiday release feels formulaic, derivative and uneven in terms of acting and pacing; on the other it has enough novelty in its distinctly Slavic demeanour, subtext and production design to pique interest from audien
  • Writers Guild of America, West to honour Larry Gelbart

    Tootsie screenwriter Larry Gelbart will receive the Writers Guild of America, West's (WGAW) Valentine Davies Award at the 2007 Writers Guild Awards on Feb 11 in Los Angeles.'The Valentine Davies Award recognises service to the entertainment industry and to the community at large,' WGAW president Patric M Verrone said.'We are presenting this award to Larry Gelbart not only for being a leader in both regards for decades, but because we know that he will give an ac