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9 March 2005

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  • 14 docs receive grants from Sundance fund

    14 documentaries covering an eclectic range of subjects fromLaotian refugees to North Korean espionage are to receive the first wave of2005 grants from the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund.
  • 23 projects for Las Palmas co-prod market

    Twenty-three feature film projects from across Europe havesigned up for the third annual EuroForum co-production market, held March 9-11during Spain's Las Palmas International Film Festival (March 4-12), which kicksoff tomorrow with Paul Weitz's inaugural film In Good Company.Fatih Akin's new comedy Soul Kitchen,bullfighters-in-training tale The Sweet Life from Spanishproducer-distributor Alta Films,Australian Susan Jacobson's UK-backed drama Turning The Pages
  • Adam & Paul

    Dir:Lenny Abrahamson. Ire. 2005. 8s6mins.Imaginea full-length Laurel and Hardy film set in Dublin's junkie netherworld andscripted by the bastard son of Samuel Beckett. If you like the sound of that,then you'll love Adam & Paul, Irish commercials director LennyAbrahamson's first feature.Abrahamsondoes a grand job, but it's scriptwriter and co-star Mark O'Halloran - Ireland'sShooting Star candidate at this year's Berlinale - who emerges fr
  • Adam & Paul

    Dir:Lenny Abrahamson. Ire. 2005. 8s6mins.Imaginea full-length Laurel and Hardy film set in Dublin's junkie netherworld andscripted by the bastard son of Samuel Beckett. If you like the sound of that,then you'll love Adam & Paul, Irish commercials director LennyAbrahamson's first feature.Abrahamsondoes a grand job, but it's scriptwriter and co-star Mark O'Halloran - Ireland'sShooting Star candidate at this year's Berlinale - who emerges fr
  • Adam and Paul

    Dir:Lenny Abrahamson. Ire. 2005. 8s6mins.Imaginea full-length Laurel and Hardy film set in Dublin's junkie netherworld andscripted by the bastard son of Samuel Beckett. If you like the sound of that,then you'll love Adam & Paul, Irish commercials director LennyAbrahamson's first feature.Abrahamsondoes a grand job, but it's scriptwriter and co-star Mark O'Halloran - Ireland'sShooting Star candidate at this year's Berlinale - who emerges from thisjet-black com
  • Anger, Ballroom top and tail Bermuda Film Festival

    The Bermuda InternationalFilm Festival will open on Mar 18 with Mike Binder's family drama The UpsideOf Anger starring Joan Allen andKevin Costner, and closes on Mar 24 with Marilyn Agrelo's Slamdance hitdocumentary Mad Hot Ballroom.Michael Winterbottom is thefilmmaker in focus and festival organisers will showcase four of his pictures 9 Songs, In This World, 24 Hour Party People and Wonderland.The week-long event includesnarrative and documentar
  • Applause chief to direct $10m musical in Shanghai

    Peter Ho-sun Chan's $10mmusical Perhaps Love startsshooting in Shanghai next month with a hot pan-Asian cast and backing frombroadcasters TVB and Astro. A co-production between Chan'sApplause Pictures and the Ruddy Morgan Organisation (RMO), the film is directedby Chan and stars Takeshi Kaneshiro (House Of Flying Daggers) and leading Chinese actress Zhou Xun. Two other majorAsian stars will also join the cast.Hong Kong broadcaster TVB andleading Malaysian pay-TV pl
  • Applause enters distribution market with Baby

    Hong Kong production outfit Applause Pictures has launched alocal distribution arm and set Clint Eastwood's multiple Oscar-winning MillionDollar Baby as its first release. Applause, which plans to release the film on 18 screens onMarch 10, quietly acquired Hong Kong rights last year when it became clear thefilm would be Oscar nominated. The move marks the first time the company hasacquired a foreign movie or directly distributed a film in Hong Kong. At a press conference
  • AUSTRALIA 9 March

    Sony Pictures' Hitch opened on the weekend andshot straight to the top of the box office chart, grossing nearly three timesmore than the next most popular film. Hitch took A$3,507,820 from 370screens to clock up a screen average of A$9,481, the biggest in the chart.The rest of the top five was made up of Roadshow
  • Bacon's Loverboy to open Gen Art festival on Apr 6

    The Tenth Annual Gen ArtFilm Festival will open on Apr 6 with the New York premiere of Kevin Bacon's directorialdebut Loverboy, which receivedits world premiere at Sundance recently. Loverboy stars Kyra Sedgwick, Bacon, Matt Dillon, and MarisaTomei, among others, in the story of a woman who received little affection fromher parents and compensates by showering her own child with love. The tenth annual festivalruns from Apr 6-12 and features seve
  • Belgrade festival weathers rampant piracy

    The 33rdBelgrade International Film Festival FEST wrapped on March 5 with a screeningof Theo Angelopoulos' Trilogy 1: TheWeeping Meadow. The festivalpresented 72 films and sold 76,000 tickets, the same figure as last year.However, this was considered an impressive achievement given that rampantpiracy has caused a major slump in cinema-going in Serbia and Montenegro.The only film tosell out was the prime-time screening of Pedro Almodovar'
  • 'Big Mac' index for cinema unveiled

    Research outfit Screen Digest has launched the Cinema Index,a new piece of research which it says provides a picture of the comparative costof entertainment around the world.Itlikens the Cinema Index to the Big Mac index, which helped leading economic thinkersanalyse inflation and growth rates across the world's economies.According to the research, a trip to the cinema iscompar
  • British film scripts get Lottery cash injection

    Scripts involving AsifKapadia, Sarah Gavron and Christopher Smith, director of current UK horror hit Creep,have won funding from Government-backed support body the UK Film Council.Kapadia, who won two BAFTAawards in 2003 for his directorial debut The Warrior, is developing Bushidowith £27,500 from the council's development fund. Jeremy Bolt and Paul WSAnderson are producing the samurai story with Clabe Hartley.Smith has secured £27,750for Severance, a
  • Cannes launches project workshop for young directors

    In a new initiativeCannes is to launch the "Atelier Du Festival" a project workshop designed tohelp young film-makers get their films off the ground.The festival willthrow a large amount of resources at the Ateliers to help match the 18 projectsinitially selected with financiers and distributors.
  • Caviezel, Kinnear head ensemble in Unknown

    Jim Caviezel, Greg Kinnear and Joe Pantoliano are all infinal negotiations to join the ensemble cast of psychological thriller Unknown which will mark the feature debut of music video andcommercials director Simon Brand.GreeneStreet Films International (GFI) is handlinginternational sales on the film, and GFI's Cedric Jeanson and Ariel Venezianoare executive producers alongside Randy DeLano and Frederick Levy. GFIintroduced the project to buyers at Berlin and it was one of the E
  • Cesar-winning director attacks French cinema circuits

    GillesPorte, Cesar winning director of Quand La Mer Monte, has spoken outagainst major cinema circuits which have declined to program his film even inlight of its recent national awards. OnSunday, Quand La Mer Monte received the Cesar for best first film andbest actress for Yolande Moreau who is also the film's co-director.Ina press statement, Porte said, "Wednesday March 3, the day when programming isannounced, I notice that not one of the 1,032 screens belonging
  • Denmark's NatFilm Festival to open with 11 hour epic

    The 16th edition ofCopenhagen's NatFilm Festival (April 1-17) will kick off with a screening of Edgar Reitz's11-hour long Heimat 3 - A Chronicle of Endings and Beginnings,the latest film in the director's trilogy about Germany.Starting on the dayof the fall of the Berlin Wall and ending on the eve of the new millennium, itsees Hermann Simon, a celebrated conductor, reunited with the love of his life,singer Clarissa Lichtblau.The festival willalso screen Kim Ki-Duk'
  • Diesel's kid comedy flattens the competition with $30.2m opening

    Disney and Spyglass Entertainment's family comedy The Pacifier opened top over the weekend on anestimated $30.2m, beating MGM's caper sequel Be Cool into second place on $23.5m and defyingpredictions of a reverse-order finish.
  • Disney, Spyglass enjoy BO smash with The Pacifier

    Disney and Spyglass Entertainment's family comedy The Pacifier opened top over the weekend on anestimated $30.2m, beating MGM's caper sequel Be Cool into second place on $23.5m and defyingpredictions of a reverse-order finish.
  • Dream teams with Motley Crue on Disaster!

    LosAngeles-based Dream Entertainment has scored a promotional tie-in deal withlegendary rock band Motley Crue on its upcoming satirical claymation picture Disaster!Each show on the recentlyreformed Crue's upcoming Red White & Crue world tour will begin with aspecially made claymation short featuring band members saving the world fromimminent destruction.Highlights fromRoy Wood's tongue-in-cheek feature, in which the band has a cameo rolealongside vulca
  • Drum

    Dir: Zola Maseko. S Afr.2005. 112mins.A little-known butimportant period in South African history is brought to vibrant life in Drum,the fact-based story of Henry Nxumalo, a black journalist who was targeted bythe Nationalist government after he wrote a series of articles exposinghorrifying prison and work farm conditions.Still awaiting a USdistribution deal, the film - which played at both Sundance and Toronto amongothers - both benefits
  • Dunne, Leiner films get world premieres at Tribeca

    More than 250 features from44 countries including 60 world premieres are set to play at the fourth annualTribeca Film festival, which runs in New York from Apr 19-May 1. As previously reported here,the festival kicks off on Apr 19 with the North American premiere of SydneyPollack's political thriller The Interpreter, and Pollack will take part in an on-stage interviewas part of a festival-long series of conversations with filmmakers. Scheduled world premieresinclude Griff
  • Eurimages injects Euros3.4m into Euro co-prods

    New features by Portugal's Teresa Villaverde (Transe),Germany's Maria Speth (Madonnen) and Bulgaria's Georgi Stoev-Djaky (FlyBy Rossinant) are among ten projects which have been awarded a total ofEuros 3.4m by the Council of Europe's Eurimages co-production fund in itslatest funding session.The line-up of supported films also includes Dutch theatreand film actress Tamar Van den Dop's feature debut Blind - which waspitched at the Netherlands Production Platfo
  • Film releases put on hold in India as cricket fever bites

    A string of major film releases have been postponed inIndia's film capital Mumbai because of the start of the cricket test matchseries today (March 8) between Pakistan and India.Distributors fear that the test matches, which are hugelypopular in India, will adversely affect the takings of their films in cinemas.The series, which includes three test matches and six one-day matches, lastsuntil April 17. It is the first visit to India by the Pakistani team in sixyears.Director Vidh
  • First Independent takes US rights to Edmond

    Gary Rubin's FirstIndependent Pictures (FIP) has acquired all US and Canadian rights to Edmond, the all-star screen adaptation of David Mamet's picaresquetale of self-discovery.Wild Bunch has international rights on the project, which recently wrapped and is directed byStuart Gordon. In Berlin the film was sold to Tartan Films for the UK and Eire, Falcom for Germany, SPI for Poland, Umut Sanat for Turkey, and Pan-Europeene for France.Starring William H Macy,Julia Stiles,
  • Focus starts romantic comedy with Lathan, Baker

    Production has begun onFocus Features' untitled romantic comedy starring Sanaa Lathan and Simon Bakerand directed by Sanaa Hamri, the music video director who makes her featuredirectorial debut.Focus holds worldwide rightsto the project, which is being produced by Stephanie Allain through hercompany, Homegrown Pictures.Lathan stars as a Type Awoman who has to learn to discard her checklist and anally retentive ways whenshe is swept off her feet by the kind of man she didn't prep
  • Foreign films spent $267m in Ontario last year, says OMDC

    Foreign-producedfeature films spent $267m (C$331m) in Ontario in 2004, a nearly 140% increaseover the previous year's $112m, according to numbers released Wednesday by theOntario Media Development Corporation (OMDC), the provincial agency thatadministers tax credits and local services. The increase isless a harbinger of things to come than an indication of just how bad thingswere in 2003 - when the threat of a SARS epidemic stifled production throughoutthe country. That said, local fea
  • GERMANY 9 March

    Sony Pictures Releasing's (SPR) Hitchentered the charts at the top of the pile with an impressive $11,145 screenaverage from its 796 screens and became the first release so far this year tohave attracted more than 1m cinema-goers in its first weekend. SPR also proudlyreported that the Will Smith comedy garnered a market share of 45% of all theattendances during that four-day period.
  • Gordon leaves Stratus to focus on sole producing career

    Mark Gordon is leavingStratus Film, the company he and Bob Yari co-founded in 2003, to focusexclusively on his producing career. Under the terms of theamicable split, Gordon and Yari will remain jointly involved in existingStratus projects that are in various stages of development and pre-production. These include The PaintedVeil starring Edward Norton andNaomi Watts, which Warner Independent Pictures will distribute domestically;and Killing Pablo for Paramountand
  • Hart/Lunsford finishes debut feature with Langhella

    Newly formed production company Hart/Lunsford Pictures hasannounced completion of its debut feature, How You Look To Me, starring Frank Langhella and LauraAllen.
  • here! picks up gay horror pic HellBent

    here! Films haspicked up worldwide rights from Sneak Preview Entertainment to Paul Etheredge-Ouzts'horror picture HellBent,which is scheduled to open in North America in June in association with RegentReleasing.HellBent is billed as one of the firsthorror/slasher projects to feature lead gay characters, who must fight forsurvival amid the backdrop of a series of killings during West Hollywood'sannual carnival.Etheredge-Ouztswrote the screenplay and makes his featur
  • here! picks up worldwide rights to April's Shower

    here! Films has picked upworldwide distribution rights to Trish Doolan's romantic comedy April'sShower (pictured), which is scheduled forrelease in the US in May.Written, produced anddirected by Doolan, April's Showerscentres on two best friends whose secret affair from years ago comes to thefore when Alex throws April a bridal shower.Doolan stars along withHoney Labrador, Maria Cina, Frank Grillo, and Randall! Bought the picturefrom producers
  • Hitch gets hooked up around Europe

    Hitch gets a major push through Sony Pictures ReleasingInternational (SPRI) this weekend, with a raft of major debuts that includesAustralia, Germany and Russia on Mar 3, and the UK and Spain on Mar 4.The romantic comedy hasgrossed $6.1m and should receive a timely boost this weekend. Will Smith hasinternational appeal and the picture should open well in the major markets.The comedy Spanglish was due to open in France on Mar 2 and Brazil on Mar4; its gross currentl
  • Hostage

    Dir: Florent Siri. US. 2005. 115mins.Hostage, the new vehicle for Bruce Willis,survives an occasionally overcomplicated plot to provide consistently solid, ifnot particularly novel, entertainment. While there is very little that is newhere, the familiar characters, story, situation and iconography of theSWAT-team genre are crisply and engagingly delivered by French director FlorentSiri, best known previously for his action-thril
  • Hostage

    Dir: Florent Siri. US. 2005. 115mins.Hostage, the new vehicle for Bruce Willis,survives an occasionally overcomplicated plot to provide consistently solid, ifnot particularly novel, entertainment. While there is very little that is newhere, the familiar characters, story, situation and iconography of theSWAT-team genre are crisply and engagingly delivered by French director FlorentSiri, best known previously for his action-thril
  • Hrebejk's Up And Down dominates Czech Oscars

    Jan Hrebejk's tragicomedy Up And Down won the top awards at theCzech Lions awards on March 5, taking prizes for best picture, best directorand best screenplay.The annual award of the Czech Film and Television Academy, the Lions arethe Czech equivalent of the Oscars. Of 21 Czech films released to cinemas lastyear, nine were nominated for awards. "I'm almost as happy as I was at the premiere," Hrebejk said,accepting his award.King of Thieves, a European co-pro
  • IMAX to install screens in Guatemala, Costa Rica

    IMAX Corporation has signedagreements to install giant-screen cinema systems in Guatemala City, Guatemalaand San Jose, Costa Rica, the first IMAX facilities in both countries. The deals are with CircuitoAlba and Repretel, leading media and entertainment companies with operations inGuatemala and Costa Rica, respectively. Both facilities will accommodate IMAXtraditional large-format fare as well as its DMR digitally remastered versionsof Hollywood blockbusters. The company says th

    With a paltry 12% loss week-on-week Japanese animated smash Howl'sMoving Castle passed the $200m mark at the international box office overthe weekend. Over $170m of this has come from Japan with strong support fromSouth Korea and France.After seven weeks in France 1.2 million people have seen thefilm providing an $9m gross. With the rest of Europe, all of South and CentralAmerica and other key Asian territories including Hong Kong to come Howl'shas a g
  • Investors tune into Premiere's German flotation

    Shares in Premiere the German pay-TV operator startedtrading today on the Frankfurt stock exchange at a healthy premium to the offerprice.The strength of investor demand suggests that analystssee the business continuing to grow, a prospect which could rub off on thelocal film industry.The company yesterday announced that it would sell theshares at Euros 28 each having seen its offer twelve times subscribed at theEuros 24-Euros 28 range. In early trading this morning the shares r
  • Italy joins the digital cinema revolution

    Italy is finally getting on the digital bandwagon. Nationalexhibitors association ANEC has announced that 50 Italian cinemas will investin digital projectors by the beginning of 2006.There are currently 11 digital projectors in Italy.Digitally-equipped cinemas include the avant-garde Arcadia multiplex nearMilan, which has two digital projectors, and Rome's Casa del Cinema, a newcultural complex partly sponsored by film laboratory Deluxe and Kodak.Angelo D'Alessio, international
  • King's Game leads Danish Bodil awards

    Nikolaj Arcel's King's Game, which scooped a host ofawards in January at the Danish filmacademy awards, took the top prize at the Bodils, the Danish Association ofFilm Critics' awards, on Sunday 27 February 2005The Bodil awardsBest Danish Film: King'sGame (Nikolaj Arcel)Best Actor: Mads Mikkelsen ( Pusher II - With Blood On My Hands )Best Actress: Connie Nielsen ( Brothers )Best Supporting Actor: Søren Pilmark ( King's Game )
  • Kinowelt acquires KirchMedia's 5,500-title library

    Germany's Kinowelt has become the operator of the one ofEurope's largest film libraries with its acquisition of all of the theatricaland DVD rights to KirchMedia's 5,500-title back catalogue for the period untiland including 2012. The deal for the KirchMedia library, which includes 150previously acquired Kirch titles, boosts Kinowelt's film holdings to over 8,500titles.Ranging from German classics as the 1944 Heinz Ruehmanncomedy Die Feuerzangenbowle and the 1950s Romy Sc
  • Les Choristes controversy erupts over soundtrack singers

    The father of one of thesingers appearing on the soundtrack of France's biggest box office hit of 2004,Les Choristes, raised questionsTuesday as to the remuneration received by the film's young stars. A lawyer for FrancisHartmann, whose daughter's voice can be heard on the award winning soundtrack,told Agence France Presse that the original contract between the film'sproducer Galatee Films and the Saint Marc de Lyon chorus had been "badly drawnup by the production company and e
  • Malaga festival unveils market initiatives

    The Spanish Film Festival of Malaga (April 22-30) will hostfour industry-oriented markets this year, adding two new three-day events toits calendar of activities.On top of the now established feature film Market Screeningsfor international buyers (April 24-26) and documentary market Mercadoc (April24-26), the festival has unveiled a new TV Market (April 28-30) andmultimedia/new technologies ART-TV (April 27-29).The markets should help consolidate the festival, now in itseighth e
  • Man Of The House

    Dir: Stephen Herek. US.2005. 100mins.A dispiriting tale abouta group of cheerleaders who observe a murder and then must be protected, ManOf The House is a colourless concept comedy without much else going for itoutside of concept; an artificial crowd-pleaser that throws a few feeblecharacter types at the screen and then shifts into cruise control, yawning andrubbing its eyes all the way to the bank. If movies had vanity license plates,this one's wou
  • Media Luna announces EFM sales

    Cologne-based Media Luna Entertainment has announced anotherraft of deals signed at the recent European Film Market in Berlin.Theatrical and video/DVD rights were picked up by Salzgeber& Co. for Claes Lilja's documentary Beyond Vanilla, while WVT Overseasbought Christopher Munch's drama The Sleepy Time Gal for Bulgaria,Romania and Moldova, and the UK's TLA Releasing acquired four titles - Harry& Max, Cowboys And Angels, You I Love and Bear Cub - for the UKan
  • Mongolian Ping Pong (Lu Caodi)

    Dir: Ning Hao. China.2005. 102mins.A worthwhile addition tothe yurt-flick genre that has included the likes of Urga, MongolianPing Pong is one of those ethnic features that allows audiences to getinside an alien landscape and culture from the comfort of their own cinemaseat. Beautifully-shot, the film is a paean to the endless Mongolian steppesand the nomadic way of life they foster.But Mongolian Ping Pongis also infused by
  • MPAA hires new corporate communications vp

    Kori Bernards has been appointed vice president ofcorporate communications at the Motion Picture Association of America and willbe based in the company's Encino offices.Bernards mostrecently served as senior advisor to Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and alsoworked as communications director for the Democratic Congressional CampaignCommittee.A publicrelations veteran of more than 12 years, her previous assignments includeworking on the Clinton-Gore campaign in
  • NEW ZEALAND 9 March

    Roadshow's opening film Constantine was sent inon the weekend to challenge the box office supremacy of UIP's Meet TheFockers, which is only on its second weekend on release. But it failed: Fockergrossed NZ$500,991 from 60 screens compared to the NZ$421,541 taken by Constantinefrom 65 screensThe onlyother opening film, Closer, came third, clearing NZ$137,834 from
  • Oscar titles do box-office battle in Taiwan

    All five Academy Best Picture nominees went head-to-head atthe Taiwan box office in February to benefit from media buzz during the awardseason. Clint Eastwood may have taken the Oscar home, but Taiwanaudiences are only interested in Martin Scorsese's The Aviator. The Howard Hughes biopic is approaching $1min the capital after just three weeks on release as the other nominees struggleto break $200,000 in combined box office.The success of Million Dollar Baby and Ray
  • Pathe pre-sells Pluto, Henderson to Spain

    In a sign of recovery in theSpanish market, Pathe Pictures International has pre-sold Neil Jordan's BreakfastOn Pluto and Stephen Frears' Mrs Henderson Presents to localdistributor Vertigo.Pathe also sold the twotitles to Lusomundo for Portugal, along with closing a host of deals on KayPollak's Academy Award-nominated As It Is In Heaven. In Spain, Lolafilmstook As It Is In Heaven, while Prokino picked up Germany. ElephantPictures came in for Japan, with Blue
  • Rea joins Portman, Purefoy on Berlin shoot of V For Vendetta

    Stephen Rea has joinedNatalie Portman and James Purefoy in the cast of sci-fi epic V For Vendetta, which has started shooting in Berlin for WarnerBros Pictures.The film is produced byLarry and Andy Wachowski and Joel Silver, the team behind the Matrix trilogy, and is the directorial debut of JamesMcTeigue, assistant director on the Matrix films. The Wachowskis wrote the screenplay based on the graphic novelby Alan Moore set in a futuristic total
  • Robots

    Dir: Chris Wedge, CarlosSaldanha. US. 2005. 85mins.In the modern cinematic age, animation has become abehemoth sub-genre of its own and - if done right - a virtual licence to printmoney, as Disney's lucrative, if waning, partnership with Pixar and DreamWorks'successful joint ventures with PDI have helped prove.Of course, given the stakes,a regular commercial failure takes on even greater import: note how Titan AE(2000), put a nail in 20th Centur
  • Ruby Dee takes lead in New Zealand's Number 2

    Filming began yesterday (Thursday March 3) on New Zealandcomedy/drama Number 2 after last month's false start due to the death ofOssie Davis, husband of the film's lead Ruby Dee. The acting pair (pictured), have been passionate advocatesof social and racial justice. They were key players in the 1963 March onWashington and Davis spoke at the funerals of Dr Martin Luther King Jr andMalcolm X, and also did the voiceover for Spike Lee's Malcolm X. Theyboth also
  • ShoWest Awards watch: Drew Barrymore

    Drew Barrymore will receive the ShoWest Distinguished Decade of Achievement in Film award at the closing night ceremony in Las Vegas on Mar 17."Barrymore is a successful actress who, since her feature film debut at the age of three, has been captivating movie audiences for more then two decades," Mitch Neuhauser, co-managing director of the event, said in a statement.Barrymore next appears in the romantic comedy Fever Pitch, and the actor-producer's previous credits inclu
  • Shugrue's Envoy starts mission in Vietnam

    Industry veteranJ Edward Shugrue has set his sights on developing the exhibition anddistribution circuit in Vietnam after announcing a new venture, Envoy MediaPartners, which aims to develop the entertainment business in underservedinternational markets.Shugrue, the former president of Loews Cineplex International and longtimepresident of Columbia TriStar Film Distributors International, is partnered in Envoywith Mekong Leisure and Asian Capital Partners in an attempt to breathe lifein
  • Singapore festival throws spotlight on Asian anime

    Asian anime is akey theme for this year's Singapore International Film Festival (SIFF) (Apr14-30) which will be book-ended by two Japanese animations. Katsuhiro Otomo's Steamboy opens the festival while MamoruOshii's Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence isthe closing film. The 18thedition of SIFF will screen over 300 films from 40 countries, including sixworld premieres and 25 Asian premieres. Eleven Asian fi
  • Sony names foreign chief to lead it out of slump

    Sony has named Howard Stringer as its new chairman andchief executive, handing the reins of the struggling conglomerate to aforeigner for the first time. Sony's board agreed to appoint Stringer - the Welsh-bornhead of its U.S. operations and entertainment division - at an extraordinarymeeting in Tokyo on Monday morning. Current CEO Nobuyuki Idei, 67, will stepdown to take responsibility for slumping earnings after five years at the helm.Stringer, a former TV journalist, will fac
  • Sony's Hitch explodes into 25 markets with $21m weekend

    Hitchwas the number one international release of the weekend with an estimated $21mhaul on 2,955 screens in 25 markets through Sony Pictures ReleasingInternational (SPRI), while DreamWorks International's Meet The Fockers passed $200m following another strongweekend.
  • South African Drum takes top African fest prize

    South African director Zola Maseko's Drum has wonthe top prize at Africa's leading film festival, Fespaco, in Burkina Faso'scapital Ouagadougou. Drum, a film about apartheid set amid the jazzclubs of 1950s Johannesburg, was awarded the Golden Stallion of Yennenga and acash prize of $20,000 at the closing ceremony on Saturday night. Moroccan director Souheil Benbarka, head of the jury,hailed "the exceptional diversity and quality of the films" atFespaco.The f
  • SPAIN 3 March

    Distributor Filmax is looking to benefit from the multipleOscar wins of Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby. The film has alreadybeen seen by more than 1 million spectators in Spain, where it had earned Euros6.5m pre-Oscars after its fourth weekend, making it the highest-grossing ofEastwood's recent films to premiere in Spain. It was also earning one of thehighest per-screen averages, Euros 6,113, of all films currently on release. Filmax announced it would
  • Strauss named president of Skoll's Participant

    Production and marketingveteran Ricky Strauss has been named president of Participant Productions, thecompany founded by eBay pioneer and philanthropist Jeff Skoll.Reporting directly to Skoll,Strauss will be responsible for overseeing production, marketing and businessdevelopment, and working closely with studio and production partners on titlesthat further Participant's mandate of making pictures that effect socialchange.He will also overseedevelopment and e
  • The Ballad Of Jack And Rose

    Dir/scr: Rebecca Miller. US. 2005. 111mins.An extremely emaciated Daniel Day-Lewis sets the tonefor Rebecca Miller's eerie family drama The Ballad Of Jack And Rose as aman who rails against the inhumane consumerist world while encroaching cancerforces him to push his teenage daughter into modern society.He's seething with anger and has nothing to lose, soall rules of decorum fly out of the window, just as they do with thestorytelling.
  • The Interpreter will open Tribeca Film Festival

    Sydney Pollack's United Nations-set political thriller TheInterpreter starringNicole Kidman and Sean Penn will receive its North American premiere when itopens the fourth annual Tribeca Film Festival on Apr 19.
  • The Pacifier

    Dir:Adam Shankman. US. 2005. 97mins.Itworked for Arnold Schwarzenegger, so it's not surprising that Vin Diesel tooshould now take a career diversion from action into family comedy. ThePacifier, from Spyglass, Disney and Bringing Down The House directorAdam Shankman, puts the XXX muscle man together with some unruly kidsand a supporting cast of TV names in an adventure-comedy that's too contrivedto produce many real laughs but good-natu
  • Tiger Beer launches Asian film award

    A new award for Asian cinemain the UK has been launched.The contest, created byTiger Beer, is open to films produced with Asian funding, filmed in Asia orusing predominantly Asian talent. Winners will be announced in April and willinclude films released in the UK between February 2004 and February 2005 - TheChinese Lunar Year. "Film of Asian origin isenjoying an unprecedented growth in popularity in the UK, seeing cinemaadmissions grow dramatically," said Lau
  • Toronto's new headquarters gets $20m cash injection

    The Toronto InternationalFilm Festival Group's proposed Festival Centre headquarters received a majorboost Friday when the Government of Ontario announced it would donate $20m(C$25m) to the cause. The plan for the newheadquarters, announced with much fanfare in 2003, has suffered from a lack ofinvestment momentum. TIFFG has set a target of $160m, a sum intended to covercapital funds, an endowment fund as well as ongoing operating funds. TheOntario infusion boosts to $56.5m the overall
  • Twisted, Lions Gate follow Saw with Catacombs

    Following onfrom the hugely successful 2004 horror hit Saw, Twisted Pictures and Lions Gate Filmsannounced yesterday (Mar 1) that the first project in their nine-picture dealwill be called Catacombs.Principal photography is set to start in Bucharest,Romania, on Mar 7 on the project, which stars Shannyn Sossamon and Alecia Moore- aka Pink - and is co-written and co-directed by David Elliot and Tomm Coker.TwistedPictures' Mark Burg, Oren Koules, and Gregg Hoffman are
  • Two-year film funding hiatus comes to an end in Italy

    After a near two-year freeze on state funding, which threwthe local industry into turmoil, Silvio Berlusconi's government hasgreenlighted nine Italian films and co-productions, including John Boorman'sEuros 26m Memoirs Of Hadrian.The crisis which has crippled the Italian film sector forthe last two years is so bad that local film production is expected to plummetby 70% in 2005, with Italy producing only 28 films, down from 96 films in 2004and 98 pictures that were made in 2003.
  • UK Government urges BBC to support local films.

    The UK Film Council haswelcomed the Government's Green Paper on the review of the BBC's Royal Charter,which urges the BBC to show British films to wider audiences.The paper, an outline of pointsfor consultation before a more concrete set of proposals is published in aWhite Paper later this year, calls for the public broadcaster to establish afilm investment strategy. Last year's all-party select committee review of theBBC, which fed into this week's paper, also called for the BBC to bo
  • Universal launches family home entertainment label

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    WillSmith comedy Hitch ended Meet The Fockers' five week run at thetop of the international chart thanks to 19 territory launches includingGermany, Spain and Australia (see link below for full chart).Mostcountries awarded Hitch with number one positions except for Spain, where rivalopener Hide And Seek slipped in ahead with a
  • Wellspring takes US on Audiard's Berlin hit

    Wellspring haspicked up rights to Jacques Audiard's noir drama The Beat That My HeartSkipped, which won theSilver Bear for best music at the recent Berlin International Film festival.The distributorplans a summer US release for the picture, a remake of James Toback's 1970'snoir Fingers thatstars Romain Duris and is produced by Pascal Caucheteaux of Why NotProductions, Sedif and France 3 Cinema.Set in Paris,the action centres on an aggressive property developer whos
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    French sales and financing outfitWild Bunch has announced the launch of a new project starring and written inpart by Sean Lennon, son of the late Beatle John Lennon, and produced by DonMurphy.Wild Bunch will finance andhandle international sales on Coin Locker Babies, adapted from theJapanese best seller by Ryu Murakami and directed by advert and video directorMichele Civetta