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Screen
9 March 2007

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  • 13 European projects to be pitched at 4th Sofia Meetings

    New second feature films by Srdjan Koljevic and Ruxandra Zenide are among 13 European film projects being pitched at the 4th Sofia Meetings from March 8-10 during this week's Sofia International Film Festival (March 1-11).Serbian writer-director Koljevic will be in Sofia with The Woman With The Broken Nose which was also presented at last month's Berlinale Co-Production Market. The project is being co-produced by Germany's Mediopolis Filmproduction and Belgrade-based Film House Ba
  • Becoming Jane

    Dir: Julian Jarrold. UK-US. 2007. 120mins Fact proves just as charming as fiction in Becoming Jane, a beautifully crafted biography of Jane Austen that will hold an irresistible appeal to global audiences who swooned over big screen adaptations of Pride & Prejudice (2005) and Sense & Sensibility (1995). Charting the early years and romantic tribulations of the author, it also traces the prototypes of characters and situations that would
  • Belgrade festival attracts record attendance

    The beleagured Serbian film industry was boosted by a strong 35th Belgrade International Film Festival.Local cinema-going has suffered recently with attendance dropping 42% year-on-year in 2006, with just 40 theatres remaining.The Belgrade event, closed by Nanni Moretti's The Caiman, by contrast attracted a record 100,000 admissions to see about 80 films.In the festival's competitive sections, Djamshed Usmonov's French-G
  • Berlin mayor to host LA presentation of German Federal Film Fund

    Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and members of regional film funding body Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg are flying in to LA to explain the new German Federal Film Fund (DFFF).The delegation will meet with LA-based film-makers to present the incentive, which offers a 20% rebate on every Euro spent, and will also discuss the advantages of filming at Studio Berlin-Babelsberg at a presentation on March 13.Babelsberg chief Carl Woebcken will outline the studio's facilities and co
  • Blockbuster season: animated animals

    After last year's glut, there are only two non-sequel animated films this summer.Sony's Surf's Up comes from Toy Story 2 co-director Ash Brannon and Tarzan director Chris Buck, with voices by Shia LaBeouf, Zooey Deschanel and others.Like Warner's Happy Feet, Surf's Up (opening June 8 in the US and aiming for school holidays internationally) has a penguin cast, though this time they surf rather than sing. The film, says Spri's Mark Zucker, 'has got
  • Blockbuster season: comedy contenders

    Raunchy or physical comedies often produce good summer results and this year's crop is a healthy one. Judd Apatow, writer-director of summer 2005 hit The 40-Year-Old Virgin, is behind the camera again for Universal's Knocked Up (June 1), about a man who finds out he has impregnated his one-night stand.Apatow, who produced last summer's comedy hit Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby for Sony, is also a producer on that studio's sexual-coming-of-age comedy
  • Blockbuster season: counter culture

    The counter-programming success of last year's The Devil Wears Prada - which opened on the same weekend as Superman Returns and went on to gross $122m domestically - will not be easy to replicate.Several distributors, though, will try their hands with female-oriented offerings that might find a niche between the male-oriented action outings.Universal's multi-generational drama/comedy Georgia Rule opens on May 11 with Lindsay Lohan playing a rebellious teen o
  • Blockbuster season: dark horses

    Every summer schedule has a few unknown quantities and among this year's is a handful of films that look intriguing on paper and may perform in the marketplace.Dark horses with mainstream label studio distribution include Disturbia, which Paramount/DreamWorks will open in the US on April 13 but which Paramount Pictures International (PPI) is opening in many international markets in May and June. 'We think it's got very, very big potential,' says PPI's Andrew Cripps.The bu
  • Blockbuster season: scary alternatives

    Recent summers have produced a handful of lower budget horror and sci-fi hits and this year there are a number of potentially scary movies, several of them from international directors.The Screen Gems label of horror expert Sony opens Vacancy, with Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale as a couple staying at an isolated motel, on April 20 in the US. SPRI, however, will roll out the film - on which Control director Nimrod Antal makes his US debut - in May, June and July internat
  • Blockbuster season: Showest

    The largest assembly of international exhibitors and distributors in the world, ShoWest (March 12-15) remains an informative and entertaining stopping-off point on the industry calendar. Yet as next week's 33rd incarnation approaches, there is a growing realisation that the Las Vegas shindig is of more use to some than others.While the smaller theatre owners typically enjoy their four days in the desert attending sneak previews and panel discussions, corporate consolidation among the l
  • Blockbuster season: The Franchise Four

    Summer 2007 has a dream line-up of franchise properties, with an average per-film domestic gross across the four biggest series of almost $350m.Director Sam Raimi and stars Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst are back for Sony's Spider-Man 3. The film's May 4 domestic opening marks a return to the early summer slot in which 2002's original grossed $403.7m domestically and $418m internationally (the second instalment was released in late-June 2004 and grossed $38m less worldwide).
  • Blockbuster season: the long hit summer'

    The stars on screen will probably do their bit as well, but it is the stars in the sky that seem to be aligned this year for a huge box-office summer in the US and around the globe.For one thing, summer 2007 offers new instalments of four of the most successful franchises in movie history - Spider-Man, Shrek, Pirates Of The Caribbean and Harry Potter - as well as the long-awaited big-screen version of The Simpsons.At the same time, the season i
  • Blockbuster season: the long-delayed sequels

    Three sequels are attempting to re-ignite audience enthusiasm this summer after long lay-offs or major cast changes.Universal's comedy Evan Almighty arrives in the US on June 22 with Tom Shadyac back as director but Steve Carell starring in place of Bruce Almighty lead Jim Carrey.Carell had a hit in summer 2005 with The 40-Year-Old Virgin ($109.4m domestic, $67.9m international) and has since become better known through the hit US version of UK TV sitcom The
  • Blockbuster season: the next tier of sequels

    Three franchises whose previous installments each enjoyed $200m-$500m global box-office are also pitching into the sequel-heavy summer.Warner's Ocean's Thirteen will be the first entry in its crime-caper series to open in the summer (Ocean's Eleven and Ocean's Twelve, both pre-Christmas domestic releases, grossed $450.7m and $362.7m worldwide respectively) and Warner executives believe the film has the right story and cast for summer success.'It brings the f
  • Blockbuster season: the original spin-offs

    Two of this summer season's tentpoles are not sequels but based on successful pre-existing properties.Paramount's Transformers is a live-action film from director Michael Bay, based on the robot action toys first introduced in the 1980s but relaunched several times since and brought to both the small screen and big screen in animated form.Bay's last summer action offering, 2005's The Island, grossed only $35.8m domestically but partially made up for that with a $12
  • Buena Vista, Apollo top the UK 's Cinema Business Awards

    Apollo Cinemas won the 2007 Oscar Deutsch Award for Exhibitor Of The Year and Buena Vista International (BVI) has won the 2007 Bromhead Award for Distributor Of The Year, in an awards ceremony attached to monthly industry magazine Cinema Business. At a reception held at BAFTA on Thursday March 1, Robert Mitchell and his team at BVI were recognised for the support they provide the independent exhibition sector by winning Distributor Of The Year. The company found great success in 2
  • Castro documentary lands US TV and DVD deals

    The Sundance Channel has taken US TV rights to documentary 638 Ways To Kill Castro, which was also sold to BCI for US DVD rights. FremantleMedia sold the documentary, from Daisy Goodwin's Silver River Productions, about Fidel Castro and Cuba 's relationship with the US. Dollan Cannell directed and Peter Moore executive produced. The Sundance deal was brokered with Lisa Honig, VP of program distribution, North America. The BCI deal was signed with Sam Toles, VP of developmen
  • Celebration

    Dir: Olivier Meyrou. Fr. 2007. 74mins. A fashion-world documentary resolutely stripped of frills, Olivier Meyrou's Celebration is a portrait of haute couture legend Yves Saint-Laurent unplugged, as it were - some might even say, unstitched. Perhaps too distant from its subject to qualify exactly as a warts-and-all portrait, Meyrou's film nevertheless demystifies its subject, portraying saint-Laurent as a fragile monarch tenuously reigning over a tradition-bound king
  • Change of direction for UK French Film Festival

    The 2007 edition of the UK's annual French Film Festival is to focus exclusively on titles that have not secured a British distribution deal. The move is seen as a response to the revitalised Rendez-vous with French Cinema (29 March -April 1) in London which boasts a succession of star-studded previews in support of French films heading into UK theatrical release over the next six months. The London event opens with Olivier Dahan's Edith Piaf biopic
  • Curtis Brown Agency starts below-the-line division

    The Curtis Brown Agency has launched a department to handle below-the-line film and TV artists and technicians. Agent Natasha Blake is heading the division. She previously worked with below-the-line talent at The Skouras Agency in Santa Monica and at PFD in London. London-based Curtis Brown is now representing clients including production designers Ida Random (Rainman) and Lilly Kilvert (The Last Samurai), special effects makeup artist and prosthetics technician Kris
  • Data protection

    This week, the Motion Picture Association of America (Mpaa) sent out a press release under the triumphal headline: '2006 box office rebounds'.The cause of this elation, according to the Mpaa, was the fact theatrical revenues in the US for the year - spearheaded by Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest's $423m take - had increased by 5.5% to $9.49bn, and that global box-office climbed 11% to an unprecedented $25.8bn.Additionally, admissions rose, again, per their rese
  • Del Toro adds Portuguese prize to list of honours

    Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth walked away the top winner of the 27th annual edition of Portugal's Oporto Film Festival, better known as Fantasporto.Oscar-winning Labyrinth (El Laberinto Del Fauno) picked up theFantasporto official selection's Grand Prix for best fantasy film - anhonour the Mexican director previously took home in 1994 for hisdebu
  • Dr Plonk

    Dir/scr: Rolf De Heer. Aust. 2007. 84mins Rolf De Heer, perhaps relaxing from the extreme directorial hardships of last year's Ten Canoes and the grim themes of The Tracker (2002) and Alexandra's Project (2003), has with Dr Plonk produced a featherweight comic curiosity. The result is a silent, monochromatic, fixed-camera homage to early slapstick film-making that transmits its maker's respect and glee.It will be much sought afte
  • Editorial - Down but not out

    This week's tax clampdown in the UK has come as a shock to the local industry. From the highs of the awards season in which the Brits were again out in force, the territory's industry is now back down in the dumps (see In Focus, p6).What happened was familiar to many territories in recent years. There was a rush to exploit a tax loophole that was then abruptly closed off when politicians began to calculate the sums involved in nurses' pay rises and winnable votes.There is no que
  • Emperor, Kadokawa board Chu Yen-ping's Slam Dunk

    Hong Kong's Emperor Motion Pictures (EMP) has acquired rights for Hong Kong and Macau to Chu Yen-ping's $10m kung-fu basketball movie Slam Dunk. Kadokawa Herald Pictures had previously stepped up for Japanese rights last November. In addition, Emperor Entertainment Group star Charlene Choi has joined the cast of the high-profile production alongside Jay Chou, Berlin Chen and newcomer Baron Chen. Co-produced by Taiwan 's Chang-Hong Channel Film and Video Co and the Shanghai
  • Equinoxe saves Everything's Gone Green from THINKFilm limbo

    Montreal-based Equinoxe Films has picked up Canadian distribution rights to Paul Fox's Everything's Gone Green, one of the Canadian titles left in limbo by the sale of its previously contracted Canadian distributor THINKFilm. THINKFilm was acquired in October by LA-based entrepreneur David Bergstein, effectively ending the company's status as a Canadian distributor under the terms of federal and provincial tax credits used to finance the affec
  • Eros sells film package to Indian TV network Sony Entertainment

    Eros International has signed an exclusive deal for a package of its films to be broadcast on India's Sony Entertainment Television.The slate includes recent releases such as Salaam-E-Ishq and Lage Raho Munna Bhai as well as forthcoming projects including Namastey London.Sony will get global satellite broadcating rights for five years. 'We have a strong relationship with all the leading Indian television networks and are delighted that Eros' content will now be showcased on
  • FACT works with eBay on pirate DVD education campaign

    The UK 's Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) has launched a consumer education campaign about legal DVDS on eBay.co.uk. eBay and FACT are reminding eBay sellers that listing pirated DVDs is illegal and working to ensure that buyers are bidding on legitimate products from reputable sellers. A FACT-written guide about avoiding pirate DVDs is now available at eBay.co.uk. 'Warning our customers of the dangers and penalties associated with the illegal trade of counterfeit
  • Fight continues on UK tax clampdown

    The UK tax authorities say they will make no exception for sale-and-leaseback funding arrangements under new tax rules announced last week.But the industry is continuing to fight with many believing that the decision will be overturned by the government.On Friday, a Treasury briefing effectively closed the door on so-called GAAP finance schemes, which some estimates suggested could have raised up to $3.5bn this tax year.
  • Film Movement takes domestic rights to Finnish Mother

    Film Movement has acquired domestic distribution rights to Klaus Haro's 2006 Finnish foreign language Oscar submission Mother Of Mine from Nordisk Film Sales.The film recounts little-known events of the second world war, when more than 70,000 children were evacuated to Sweden, Denmark and Norway.Topi Majaniemi, Maria Lundqvist, Marjaana Maijala, Michael Nyqvist, and Esko Salminen star. Jimmy Karlsson and Kirsi Vikman co-wrote the sc
  • Film-making looks less risky in 2007,with 37 countries safer

    Film-making became slightly less risky across the globe, according to the 2007 Risks in Global Filmmaking Map from risk broker and insurance company Aon/Albert G Ruben. Of the 207 countries measured, overall risk for film-makers in 37 countries decreased slightly from 2006 to 2007. The annual map measures the threats of crime and corruption, terrorism, kidnap and ransom, disease and substandard medical care in locations where film-makers might be shooting abroad. Each territory is
  • First Look Studios still reeling after sudden departure of Winterstern

    An air of uncertainty hovers over First Look Studios following the abrupt departure of co-chairman of the board and chief executive officer Henry Winterstern.Friday's move came as a surprise to many observers and throws into question Winterstern's ambitions to acquire Millennium/Nu Image.This morning a spokesperson said it was 'business as usual' at the Los Angeles-based company. A successor is expected to be named within the next few weeks.Winterstern will re
  • Fortissimo teams with Entertainment Farm for Sonata

    International sales and production company Fortissimo Films is partnering with Japan's Entertainment Farm to co-produce the tentatively titled Tokyo Sonata, to be directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Fortissimo will also handle international sales on the film. The project is one of 25 that have been selected for this year's edition of the Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF, March 20-22). Set in contemporary Tokyo, the story revolves around what appears to be a normal family,
  • France - Rose-tinted history

    Tackling the story of one of France's most beloved personalities is a daunting task, especially in a country which does not revere the biopic. But a few years ago, as Olivier Dahan rummaged through some photos in a book store, he was bitten by the Edith Piaf bug."I came across a photo of her at a young age and realised I didn't know a lot about her. That photo was really the inspiration," says the director. He called his producer and "in half an hour the project was done".Perhap
  • Fribourg artistic director to step down, Arab Focus in Augsburg

    Less than two weeks before this year's Fribourg International Film Festival (FIFF) (March 18-25), the artistic director Martial Knaebel has announced that he will step down in June from the post he has held for the past 15 years. Unveiling the festival programme this week, Knaebel said he had made his decision in order 'to allow new ideas and renewed ideas to carry on developing the Fribourg International Film Festival.' In response, the FIFF's president Jean-Francois Giovannini praised Knaeb
  • Genghis Khan conquers Japanese box office

    Shochiku's Genghis Khan - To The Ends Of The Earth And Sea secured the top position at the Japanese box office on its opening weekend, earning $1.6m (Y195.8m). It knocked last week's number one, Dreamgirls, out of pole position, while newcomer Ghost Rider rode into the number four slot. The latest installment in Toei's One Piece animated franchise opened in second place. Shochiku launched Genghis Khan on 440 screens, the widest ever release for a
  • Ghost Rider revs up for third week

    Ghost Rider holds top spot on the international chart for the third consecutive week, motoring past the $60m mark after it expanded into the UK, Brazil, Japan and Denmark. The Pursuit Of Happyness took $6.7m, with predictions from Sony Pictures Releasing International chiefs that it could end up in the $140m range. Night At The Museum pulled its overseas tally beyond $275m, taking in an additional $6.3m from 22 territories. Re-entries came for Borat, which grossed $3.5m thanks t
  • Ghost Rider stays top in international markets with $16.3m take

    Ghost Rider continued to blaze a trail across the international arena as it dominated the market for the third consecutive weekend.The comic book adventure grossed an estimated $16.3m through Sony Pictures Releasing International (SPRI) from approximately 4,000 prints in 56 territories and now stands at $60.7m with $100m well within its sights.Weekend business was fired up by a $1.8m number one release in Brazil on 278 screens, and
  • Gone (aka Middle Of Nowhere)

    Dir: Ringan Ledwidge. UK-Aust. 2006. 88mins Young British travellers should steer well clear of the Australian Outback. Having suffered at the hands of a deranged and sadistic bushman in Greg McLean's ferociously unpleasant Wolf Creek, the Brits Down Under are again put through the wringer in Gone. Like Wolf Creek, it has overlaps with the real-life story of the British backpacker Peter Falconio who was murdered in 2001 while travelling round
  • Hall named svp, legal, at NBC Universal International

    Andrew Hall has been appointed senior vice president, legal, at NBC Universal International and will head legal strategic corporate initiatives for the company.Hall will also work in the newly created role to coordinate legal support for transactions by company president Peter Smith and provide support for international growth strategy.'Andrew Hall is an incredibly talented legal executive who has served Universal with distinction over the last six years,' Smith said. 'Hi
  • HanWay strikes deals on Strummer; Vertigo sets UK release for May

    HanWay Films has closed a number of new international deals for Julien Temple 's Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten after its screenings in competition in Sundance and at the European Film Market in Berlin. The documentary about the late Clash frontman has now sold to more than 35 territories. That includes deals with Surreal Films (France), Neue Visionen (Germany/Austria), Avalon (Spain), Sandrew (Scandinavia), Tohokushinsha (Japan), Dendy (Australia/New Zealand), A-Film (Bene
  • Happy New Life (Boldog Uj Elet)

    Dir/scr: Arpad Bogdan. Hung. 2007. 81mins There is nothing happy, little new and almost no life in Arpad Bogdan's debut feature Happy New Life. A moody piece shot mostly in saturated colours, with sporadic flashbacks in lighter tones, it showcases a distinct visual talent, a strong tendency for use of metaphors and little narrative sense. Bogdan's main character (Lajos Orsos) is obsessed with discovering his origins: whatever he does find proves irrelevant
  • HBO/BBC's Five Days goes to Metrodome for UK DVD release

    The multi-stranded crime thriller, with a cast including Hugh Bonneville, David Oyelowo, Sarah Smart, Penelope Wilton and Edward Woodward, follows the aftermath of a young mother's abduction. The five-part series aired to strong ratings on BBC One in January. Metrodome plans an early summer release on DVD. The deal was brokered by Louise Matthews, commercial executive DVD at the BBC's Commercial Agency and Tom Stewart, general manager for home entertainment at Metrodome. 'W
  • Huayi Brothers to co-produce Relativity's King Of Kung-fu

    Beijing-based Huayi Brothers has boarded the $70m action drama, previously known as the untitled J&J Project due to the dual casting of Jackie Chan and Jet Li, as local investor and co-producer. Huayi Brothers has sent the project, under the tentative title King Of Kung-fu, to the Film Bureau of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) for approval. Shooting of the Sino-US co-production is scheduled to start this May in China 's Hengdian World S
  • I Think I Love My Wife

    Dir: Chris Rock. US. 2007. 94mins. It sounds like a joke: comedian Chris Rock and Louis CK, with who he collaborated on his edgy 1990s HBO TV series, working together again on an adaptation of Eric Rohmer's Chloe In The Afternoon. The laughs sound even more pronounced given that they previously worked on a movie called Pootie Tang. But the pair seem to have been seriously piqued by the concept of 'updating' a talky French art film, although no
  • In Focus - UK tax - Chronicle of a death foretold

    There is a sense of deja vu about the sudden tax changes in the UK last week. The government ostensibly clamped down on so-called sideways loss relief, whereby a wealthy individual could offset tax against accounting losses recorded by a partnership. It was a loophole that spawned what became known as Gaap (Generally Accepted Accountancy Principles) schemes and was used by many industries to attract wealthy investors.For film, it looked like a nice source of new revenue. Martin Churchi
  • Industry moves

    Dunn joins Fox AustraliaTwentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment (Tcfhe) has appointed Chris Dunn as managing director in Australia. He takes over from Steven Leighton, who moved to a similar role at Tcfhe UK.Focus features promotion for BowlesAdriene Bowles has been promoted to president of worldwide publicity and executive vice-president of marketing at Focus Features. She has been with the company since its launch in 2002.Ciccone leaves Paramount for 42West
  • Internet content platform Babelgum plans to launch later in 2007

    New broadband Internet TV network Babelgum has announced its consumer launch later this year with beta testing ongoing. The platform is now accepting content submissions from content creators and distributors. Digital and analog material of any length will be acepted. Content owners will soon be able to directly upload and manage their video material. Babelgum says that it will combine the strengths of traditional TV with the interactivity, unlimited capacity and global reach of t
  • Ira & Abbey, Ice Cream, I Scream are top winners at USCAF

    Robert Cary's romantic comedy Ira & Abby won the 13th US Comedy Arts Festival's (USCAF) best feature and Yuksel Aksu's Turkish comedy Ice Cream, I Scream was named best foreign feature.Other winners at USCAF, which ran in Apsen, Colorado, from Feb 28-Mar 4, were Tom DeCillo for best director for Delirious, Taika Waititi for best screenplay for
  • Irish partners launch catalystproject for low budget production

    A new production and training opportunity for screenwriters, producers and film directors to produce low-budget feature films has been launched in Ireland. Following from a mentoring programme, three successful teams will be awarded funding of $328,600 (Euros 250,000) to realise feature film projects. The projects will be selected on the basis of 'talent, conviction, originality and quality of vision'. Director Liz Gill (Goldfish Memories), a seasoned campaigner for low-bud
  • Iska's Journey (Iszka Utazasa)

    Dir/scr: Csaba Bollok. Hung. 2007. 94mins.Built around the innocently luminous face of Maria Varga, Csaba Bollok's drama Iska's Journey often has the weight of a painful, heartbreaking documentary. While some of the last act scripting tends to mar the earlier authenticity, it is still powerful enough to justify its Berlin selection in the new Generations section. Shot in Romania's lower Carpats, a mining region, the story follows Iska (Var
  • Italian publisher Feltrinelli starts producing first feature film

    Leading Italian book publisher Feltrinelli has started production on its first feature film, We Believed (Noi Credevamo), the story of political violence sparked by Italy's battle for unification in the 19th century. The film will be released in 2008. Popular writer Giancarlo De Cataldo (Crime Novel) and director Mario Martone (L'odore del Sangue) are a reliable team for the bookseller's debut $6.5m (Euros 5m) feature. Sicilian actor Luigi Lo Cascio is also on
  • Lantos faces lawsuit over In Praise Of Older Women

    Canadian producer Robert Lantos is facing a lawsuit over potential profit-sharing from his 1978 production In Praise Of Older Women. The suit has been brought by the author of the book on which the film was based, Stephen Vizinczey. According to a report in the Toronto Star newspaper, Vizinczey sold the rights to his 1965 novel to Lantos' original production company RSL Productions for C$42,500. The contract, written by Vizinczey, stipulated h
  • Laroque, Modine star in romantic comedy The Neighbour

    Production has begun in Los Angeles on Eddie O'Flaherty's romantic comedy The Neighbor starring Michele Laroque and Matthew Modine.Karen S Shapiro and Michel Rampal are producing the story of two individuals with complicated private lives who find love after they become neighbours.Ed Quinn, Ann Cusack, Gina Mantegna, Meredith Scott Lynn, David Youse, Patrick Breen, and Richard Kind round out the cast.'[
  • Mar Del Plata introduces Latin American competition, fund plans

    The 22nd Mar del Plata Film Festival will kick off Thursday with plans to show more than 300 features and shorts. The major addition to this year's edition is a Latin American competition reserved for 16 first and second features and documentaries, most making their world premieres. They will compete for the Ernesto 'Che' Guevara cash award of $50,000. In his fifth and final year as Argentina's main festival director, renowned film-maker Miguel Pereira told ScreenDaily.com
  • Market focus - Don't write off the DVD

    Saturation ownership levels of DVD machines in the US and Western Europe have led to a steady slowing in the rise of DVD sales in recent years. But to talk of DVD as yesterday's technology is to take a narrow perspective.DVD slowdown is not a global phenomenon. In a number of emerging markets, the penetration of players in households is recreating those early boom years in the West. Nowhere is that more clear than in China.A Screen Digest report has suggested the scale of
  • Marketing - Moving pictures

    Movie posters have always generated anticipation in audiences, and have retained their effectiveness by adapting to the marketplace.In the 1970s, a gradual shift from matte to clay-coated glossy paper encouraged new designs. Star Wars and Star Trek posters increased in popularity and were responsible for making movie poster collectors out of fans.Designers in the 1980s and 1990s played with a more versatile mini-sheet, consisting of smaller posters released in adva
  • Marketing - Poster technology - Sheets ahead

    The poster is one of the oldest advertising media, and in an age of targeted internet campaigns and interactive pop-ups it would be understandable if film distributors had started to lose interest in paper and ink.But this is not happening. Not only does the film poster remain an important release tool, but a new breed of posters is taking the form into the 21st century, incorporating visual and digital technology for that added wow factor.One such development is the lenticular
  • Media Asia, Stellar to co-produce Lu's Nanking! Nanking!

    Hong Kong's Media Asia is set to co-produce Chinese director Lu Chuan's upcoming period war drama Nanking! Nanking! with Beijing-based Stellar Megamedia and the China Film Group. The film is one of three high-profile projects on Media Asia's upcoming production slate. This year the company plans to invest $64m (HK$500m) in ten productions. As announced last year, Media Asia is also co-financing Peter Ho-sun Chan's $40m The Warlords, with Morgan C
  • Men In The Nude (Ferfiakt)

    Dir/scr: Karoly Esztergalyos. Hung. 2006. 94mins. A gay affair between an aging writer and a streetwise hustler who exploits him, Men In The Nude is a midlife crisis drama that seems tailored for the gay market but is not quite certain how comfortably it will fit in this niche. Old-fashioned storytelling, a plot which, had the seducer been female instead of male, would have rated it a hopeless potboiler, and misguided performances all make this a let
  • MPAA's overall 2006 grosses highlight global, international records

    MPAA chairman and chief executive officer Dan Glickman hailed a 'bullish' 2006 box office that generated a record $25.84bn in worldwide ticket sales and an above-par $9.49bn domestic haul, and predicted bigger things to come in 2007.Speaking to reporters during a conference call ahead of next week's annual ShoWest industry convention in Las Vegas, Glickman revealed global box office climbed 11% from 2005's $23.27bn tally.International box office climbed 14.4% from $14.28b
  • New projects backed by Austrian Film Institute for $3.15m

    New feature films by Michael Glawogger, Benjamin Heisenberg, Simon Aeby and Goetz Spielmann are among a raft of projects backed with over $3.15m (Euros 2.4m) by the Austrian Film Institute (OFI).However, due to the funding body's current budgetary situation there was only around $1.3m (Euros 1m) available at this session for selective production funding, which was decided by a committee including German producer Jakob Claussen, sales agent Michael Weber and OFI managing director Roland T
  • New York publicity co Falco Ink promotes three account executives

    Falco Ink partners Janice Roland and Shannon Treusch have promoted three account executives at the US publicity firm.Steve Beeman becomes senior vice president, Erin Bruce is named vice president, and Betsy Rudnick becomes senior account executive.'It's rare to find a team that has worked together as long as ours has - over 10 years with Steve Beeman and Erin Bruce, and over five with Betsy Rudnick,' Treusch said.'Their hard work and dedication to their projec
  • Nigerian drama Ezra takes Fespaco best film prize

    Newton Aduaka's Ezra won the best picture Golden Stallion of Yenneng at this year's Fespaco film fesitival in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso.The Nigerian director's film tells the story of a child soldier trying to find a life after the civil war in Sierra LeoneCameroon's Jean Pierre Bekolo Les Saignantes (The Bleeding) was runner-up, with Mahamat Saleh Haroun, from Chad third for
  • Norbit looks big for PPI in 15 territory launches

    Sony Pictures Releasing International (SPRI) will be looking to dominate the overseas arena with Ghost Rider for the fourth consecutive weekend.However with no new releases planned for major territories and a concerted push for the Eddie Murphy comedy Norbit through Paramount/PPI, Ghost Rider will struggle to hold on to its crown.The Marvel Comics ada
  • Oscar nominee Cobeaga ready for first feature

    Spain's recently Oscar-nominated short film director Borja Cobeaga will shoot his first feature for producers Telespan 2000 and Estudios Picasso in October.The film, titled Flash, El Amigo De Las Chicas (literally, Flash, Friend Of The Girls), is based on the novel Flash by Massimo Bruni.The boy-meets-girl comedy is set against the world of haute cuisi
  • Oscar winners among those backed by Bavarian fund

    New feature films by Oscar-winning filmmakers Florian Gallenberger and Caroline Link are among 29 projects awarded a total of $11 million (Euros 8.4m) by the Munich-based regional public fund FFF Bayern in its first sitting of 2007. The largest amount - $2.5m (Euros 1.9m, including Euros 500,000 from the Bavarian Bank Fund) - was allocated to Gallenberger's World War II China-based drama John Rabe, which will be produced from September with Hofmann & Voges Entertainment, EOS Enter
  • Pathe restructures under joint team of Ivernel and Lacan

    Pathe has restructured its UK and French divisions so that its arms of Pathe Renn Production, Pathe Distribution and Pathe's UK units will be led by a management team comprised of Francois Ivernel and Marc Lacan. Pathe's production and distribution operations will be jointly managed by Ivernel, who will head films, and Lacan, who will oversee general management. Both will serve as executive vice presidents of Pathe, reporting directly to chairman Jerome Seydoux. Ivernel, who had s
  • Picture This! takes Taiwan's Eternal Summer to North America

    Picture This! Entertainment has picked up North American rights from Taiwan's Three Dots Entertainment to Leste Chen's gay-themed drama Eternal Summer (Sheng Xia Guang Nian).The distributor plans to play Eternal Summer in US and Canadian festivals before taking it on general release later in the year.Eternal Summer
  • Prime racks up pre-sales on Kwak's Mighty Princess

    My Sassy Girl director Kwak Jae Yong's My Mighty Princess has been notching up pan-Asian sales and is due for a simultaneous pan-Asian release outside Korea. Since premiering the project at last year's Asian Film Market, sales agent and Korean distributor Prime Entertainment has been busy closing deals during the American Film Market and recent European Film Market in Berlin. Prime announced today (March 5) that Amuse Entertainment has pre-bought rights to the film f
  • Rotten Tomatoes expands with UK website

    Rotten Tomatoes, the website that aggregates film reviews, is launching in the UK today at http://uk.rottentomatoes.com. The site draws on reviews from a variety of sources worldwide. Joe Utichi will serve as editor of Rotten Tomatoes UK. Senh Duong launched Rotten Tomatoes launched it US site in 1998. The company is now a unit of Fox Interactive Media, a division of News Corp.
  • Rusnak's It's Alive remake starts shooting in Bulgaria

    Filming has begun in Sofia, Bulgaria, on the remake of Larry Cohen's 1974 horror classic It's Alive.Robert A Katz and Avi Lerner are producing with Moshe Diamant serving as executive producer. Mark Damon's Foresight Unlimited is handling international sales.Josef Rusnak is directing Bijou Phillips, James Murray and Raphael Coleman in the tale of a monstrous baby that kills when it becomes scared, which unfortunately for the victims
  • Sale-and-leaseback funding caught in UK tax clampdown

    The UK government will make no exception for sale-and-leaseback funding arrangements under new tax rules, it was confirmed today.On Friday, a Treasury briefing effectively closed the door on so-called GAAP finance schemes, which some estimates suggested could have raised up to $3.5bn this tax year. Click here to see Revenue statement.Those arrangements depended on what is called 'sideways loss relief', through which wealt
  • Slan reunites with Dart, Garlock at PR agency 42West

    Heidi Slan has joined 42West following a 10-year stint at PMK-HBH, and will serve as the company's West Coast senior talent executive based in Century City.'We are delighted to have Heidi join the family here,' 42West partners Leslee Dart and Robert Garlock, who run the company's talent division, said. 'With her wealth of experience, intelligence and strong client relationships, her addition is an integral aspect of the company's growth in Los Angeles.'Slan spent the last
  • Sogepaq closes US deals on Sanchez-Arevalo, Lazaro features

    Spain's Sogepaq has closed all-rights deals for distribution in the United States on Daniel Sanchez-Arevalo's DarkBlueAlmostBlack to Strand Releasing and on Emilio Martinez Lazaro's The 2 Sides Of The Bed to Here! Films. Mongrel Media took Canadian rights to both films in deals that were all closed at the European Film Market in Berlin. Sogepaq head of international Simon de Santiago notes both US deals were long in the making. 'It is hard these days to close theatri
  • Spain - The rain in Spain

    It is easy to assume Summer Rain (El Camino De Los Ingleses) carries some autobiographical resonance for Antonio Banderas. The actor's second film as a director after Crazy In Alabama (1999) is set in his hometown of Malaga in the 1970s and relates the experiences of a group of friends during their last summer of innocence.The story was adapted from a novel by Banderas' childhood friend Antonio Soler and some characters in the novel are named after real people, suc
  • Spanish short Oscar nominee sets feature debut Flash

    Spain's recently Oscar-nominated short film director Borja Cobeaga will shoot his first feature for producers Telespan 2000 and Estudios Picasso in October.The film, titled Flash, El Amigo De Las Chicas (literally, Flash, Friend Of The Girls), is based on the novel Flash by Massimo Bruni.The boy-meets-girl comedy is set against the world of haute cuisine, where boy tries to seduce girl by pr
  • Still Life takes first Adelaide best film award

    Still Life, by Chinese director Jia Zhang Ke, has won $25,000 for best film at the Adelaide Film Festival's inaugural competition. The film is a meditation on the transformation of China, using the dams being built on the Yangtze River as its setting. Last year it won the Golden Lion at Venice. The jury also gave a special mention to Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Syndromes And A Century,
  • Summer Box Office - Summer Movies Release Schedule

    Summer Movies Release ScheduleTITLEUSUKFRGERSPITJAPKORAUSMEXBRAAtonementAug 31Sept 14TBCSept 27Sept 21Oct 26Oct 6TBCOct 31Sept 28Nov 2The Bourne UltimatumAug 3
  • Swedish partners launch fund for five low-budget features per year

    In collaboration with Swedish public broadcaster SVT, Swedish regional film centres Film i Vast and Filmpool Nord, the Swedish Film Institute has launched the Rookie film fund, which will finance five low-budget, (primarily) first features annually. Nordisk Film will handle both domestic release and international sales of the titles. Headquartered at Film i Vast in Trollhattan, where Swedish director Andrea Ostlund has been signed as project manager, Rookie is intended to invigorate Swed
  • The Lark Farm (La Masseria Delle Allodole)

    Dirs: Paolo Taviani, Vittorio Taviani. It-Bul-Sp-Fr. 2007. 117mins. It's a shame that the first straight historical feature to deal with the Armenian genocide of 1915 is such a poor film. The theme (already dealt with in several documentaries and Atom Egoyan's tricksy Ararat) deserves a better platform than this melodrama with its stilted dialogue and rambling script. The Lark Farm feels like a condensation of one of those multi- part historic
  • The US: the new hot location'

    In recent years, Europe, Canada and New Zealand have been the hot locations for international film production. Now, though, those regions are seeing competition from the US - and the competitive inducements are not just keeping US producers at home but also beginning to lure non-US producers across the Atlantic.With world film economics in their current state, 'the US is the place to make movies again', says Simon Horsman, CEO of Future Films USA (and a participant in this week's Sc
  • THINKFilm acquires Guttentag and Sturman's Nanking doc

    THINKFilm has acquired North American rights to Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman's documentary Nanking, which premiered at Sundance in January.The distributor plans a late 2007 release on the account of the bloody Japanese invasion of Nanking, China, in the early stages of the second world war. AOL vice chairman Ted Leonsis produced along with the directors.'Nanking is an exceedingly well-craf
  • Tokyo to host world premiere of Spider-Man 3

    Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group has announced that the world premiere of Spider-Man 3 will be held in Tokyo. The multi-million dollar event will be held on April 16 at Tokyo 's upscale shopping and entertainment complex Roppongi Hills, with the film's six main cast members scheduled to attend. Additionally, Spider-Man 3 will open theatrically in Japan on May 1, three days before the US (May 4) and earlier than any other territory. Originally scheduled to open i
  • Turning tide in Hong Kong Affairs

    When William Monahan accepted his Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar this week for The Departed, he thanked Felix Chong and Alan Mak, the writers of its source material, Hong Kong movie Infernal Affairs. But he could have also paid homage to Media Asia's chairman Peter Lam who greenlit the high-concept thriller.Affairs single-handedly revitalised local cinema in 2002, raising audience expectations and making the territory's films cool once again with its vision of a com
  • UK Treasury U-turn on sale-and-leaseback clampdown

    The UK government has exempted sale-and-leaseback schemes from a crackdown on tax avoidance. Click here for announcementThe UK tax authorities had previously said they wouldn't make exceptions for sale-and-leaseback funding arrangements under the new tax rules announced last week.Such a move would have serious consequences for individual producers, some of whom could have been technically insolvent. It would also ha
  • United Kingdom - A Royal welcome

    Producer Christine Langan may have left the Oscars without the best-picture statuette for The Queen, but she can bank on something just as important: she is producing the next film from the team behind that hit.Langan, who was one of the producers of The Queen in her role at Granada, joined BBC Films as a producer/executive producer in September 2006 and will work with Stephen Frears, writer Peter Morgan and star Michael Sheen on another project delving into English cultu
  • United Kingdom - Pirate Duty

    Film piracy cost the UK industry $1.6bn (£800m) in 2005 and, with new platforms for distributing films illegally arising every year, the need to tackle organised crime has never been more urgent.This is where the Federation Against Copyright Theft (Fact) steps in, led by its new director general Kieron Sharp, a former police chief superintendent.Sharp joined Fact in late 2006 to take a hard-nosed approach to film piracy and sniff out the ring leaders."We are now focused m
  • United states - Mapping culture in cyberspace

    In between producing films such as David Fincher's new drama M, serving on the non-partisan Council on Foreign Relations, and spending time with the family, Mike Medavoy is occupying himself by writing a book. The veteran agent, studio executive and producer is co-authoring a tome with writer and editor Nathan Gardels that examines the US's evolving role against the backdrop of global culture and mass communication."The world has shrunk," Medavoy says, in the Culver City offices of his
  • United States - Outside in

    International film-makers are optimistic about the prospects for foreign-language films in the US - but they see pitfalls in working in Hollywood themselves. Those were two of the messages coming from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' symposium (February 24) with directors of the nominees for the foreign-language film Oscar.This year's standing-room-only pre-Oscar event at the Academy's Beverly Hills headquarters featured directors Susanne Bier (Denmark's After The We
  • US animator Laika plans Oregon animation campus

    Animation studio Laika Inc has selected Portland-based TVA Architects to design a state-of-the-art feature animation campus to house Laika's burgeoning entertainment division.TVA Architects has begun work on a multi-phase master plan beginning with four buildings scheduled to open in late 2009. The Laika campus will be located on 30 acres of land in Tualatin, Oregon, some 12 miles south of Portland.Phase One of the campus will comprise 245,000 square feet and accommodate
  • Vicki Cherkas joins Picturehouse as evp of operations

    Vicki Cherkas has left GreeneStreet Films after six years and joined Picturehouse as senior executive vice president of operations.Cherkas will report directly to Picturehouse president Bob Berney and assumes responsibility for company operations, which encompasses overseeing productions and acquisitions deals, running daily business operations, and liaising with New Line and HBO and maximising opportunities for Picturehouse within those companies.'Vicki is the perfect fi
  • Wild Hogs director Becker sells comedy pitch to Dimension

    Comedy director Walt Becker has followed up the success of Wild Hogs, which opened at number one in the US last weekend, by selling a comedy pitch to Dimension Films.The company will develop and produce Runt, based on a story idea by Becker and David Gallagher about twin brothers who are complete opposites.Becker will direct from a screenplay he will co-write with Gallagher. He will also ser
  • Wild Hogs is a smash for Disney with $38m opening

    The Walt Disney Company scored its biggest March opening as the ensemble comedy Wild Hogs stormed to the top on an estimated $38m.John Travolta - enjoying a career best first weekend - stars with William H Macy, Martin Lawrence and Tim Allen as suburban bikers who go in search of adventure on the open road.Opening second place on $13.1m was Paramount's real-life serial killer thriller Zodiac.
  • Woody Allen may work with Johansson again on Spanish project

    Woody Allen has unveiled new details about the film he will shoot in Spain this summer, including his desire to include recent muse Scarlett Johansson in the cast alongside Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem. Allen described the story as 'romantic but serious' in quotes published by Spanish press this week following a meeting in New York between the director and Barcelona 's mayor, Jordi Hereu. A script has been completed and Allen is currently auditioning English-speaking actors. In additi

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