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12 December 2002

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  • Abouna (Our Father)

    Dir: Mahamat-Saleh Haroun. Chad 2002. 81mins. An engaging, low-key coming-of-age story that rings the emotional changes with confidence elegance, the second feature from Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, the director of Bye Bye Africa, is a tender, accessible piece that has better prospects for wide exposure than any African feature in a long while. Good word of mouth should give it a modest shot on the specialised distribution circuit, but its future as a warmly-received festival
  • Academy gives formal rejection to Bloody Sunday

    PaulGreengrass' acclaimed historical drama Bloody Sunday was officially rejected today (Dec 11)by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences after it fell foul ofeligibility criteria stemming from a UK television broadcast earlier this year.The multi-award winner is a vivid recreation of the infamous events of Jan 301972, when British troops shot dead civil rights protesters in Derry, NorthernIreland, and is said to have impressed British and Irish leaders involved inthe protracted
  • Academy unveils animated Oscar contenders

    The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has given the greenlight for 17 films to compete in the best animated feature film Oscar category in the 2002 Academy Awards competition.The 17 films are: Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy NightsAlibaba & the Forty ThievesEdenEl bosque animado (The Living Forest)Hey Arnold! The MovieIce AgeJonah - A VeggieTales MovieLilo & StitchMutant AliensThe Powerpuff Girls MovieThe Princess and the PeaRe
  • Alliance Atlantis rolls with Foolproof

    Ryan Reynolds and David Suchet are set to star in William Phillip's Foolproof. The film is produced by Alliance Atlantis and Atom Egoyan's Ego Film Arts. The film also stars Kristin Booth, Joris Jarsky, James Allodi and David Hewlett. It is the second feature of writer/director Phillips, whose debut Treed Murray premiered at the Toronto festival in 2001. It was nominated for five Canadian Genie Awards and won two but did little business. Peter Sussman, CEO, AAC Entertain
  • Analyze That

    Dir. Harold Ramis. US. 2002. 95mins.Analyze That reunites the cast and creative talent of the hit 1999 comedy and, as with most sequels, the result is a half-measure. But while critics are apt to consider the glass half-empty, audiences are sure to find it half-full, although its $11m opening on 2,635 screens last weekend was well below the original's $18.4m from 2,518 in 1999. The only comedy with broad appeal on the market (with the exception of Adaptation), t
  • Arsenal takes Rabbit-Proof Fence for Germany

    Germany's Arsenal Film will collaborate with Odeon Film on the local release of Philip Noyce's Rabbit-Proof Fence which was one of the big winners at the Australian Film Institute's Awards at the weekend and honoured by the US National Board of Review last week.The film's executive producer David Elfick told during the '21st Century Oz' showcase of New Australian Cinema in Berlin at the weekend that the German pre-buy to Odeon in summer 2000 had been a crucial el
  • ASC honour Norman Jewison with board of governors award

    Norman Jewison is to receivethe American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) Board of Governors Award, whichis presented annually to an individual who has made a significant and enduringimpression on the art of filmmaking. The Board of Governors Award is the onlyrecognition that the ASC bestows on individuals who are not cinematographersand will be presented on Feb 16 at the 17th Annual ASC Outstanding AchievementAwards in Los Angeles'Norman Jewison is acomplete film-
  • Australia set to attract more international productions

    Sydney is set to get another major film and TV studio, including the country's biggest single soundstage.A development application has been lodged with the local Sutherland Council for the construction of four film and two television studios within an existing industrial estate in the southern Sydney suburb of Kurnell. "This would be the biggest complex in Sydney after Fox Studios," said property developer Paul Williams about the 10,000 square metres-plus of new stage area. "We
  • BAFTA declares Oscar reject The Warrior is British

    The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) has confirmed it considers The Warrior as British, despite the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' decision that the film is ineligible as the UK entry for the foreign-language Oscars.Duncan Kenworthy, chair of BAFTA's film committee, said in a statement on Thursday that: "BAFTA's Film Committee clearly takes a different view from the American Academy about the non-British status of The Warrior." Ho
  • Blissfully Yours delights Tokyo FILMeX

    Tokyo FILMeX awarded its top prize, the Kodak Vision Award, to Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Blissfully Yours at its competition awards ceremony on December 8. A drama about an unusual love triangle that develops between Myanmarese immigrants in Thailand, the film was also winner of the Un Certain Regard section at this year's Cannes Film Festival. In presenting the Kodak Vision Award, which is accompanied by a $8,130 cash proze (Y1m), jury chairman Ang Sung-ki praised the
  • Bollywood braces itself for most expensive Indian film yet

    Devdas producer Bharat Shah has joined forces with director Ram Gopal Varma to make a film with acting superstar Amitabh Bachchan that will be the most expensive ever made in Bollywood.The US$13m film is billed as an international political thriller that will be shot in five countries, including India and Pakistan. Shah's Devdas was previously billed as the most expensive ever Bollywood film.Shooting of the as yet unamed film will begin in January next year, with i
  • Bond returns to the top, Analyze That limps into second

    Die Another Day continued its yo-yo cycle with a $13m haul in its third week that took it back to the top for MGM, according to studio estimates released yesterday (Dec 8). The 20th James Bond instalment has now amassed $120.4m and is expected to become the biggest grossing Bond movie ever in the US within a week, passing the $127m set by 1999's The World Is Not Enough. Two weeks ago Die Another Day opened at number one, only to fall to second place behind
  • Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind

    Dir: George Clooney. US 2002. 112minsGeorge Clooney dons two hats for Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind - actor and director - but that's nothing compared to the double life that the film's real-life protagonist enjoys. If former TV game show creator Chuck Barris (The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game, The Gong Show) is to be believed, he was a TV producer by day and a CIA assassin by night, with 33 kills under his belt. Fact or fiction' Only Barris kno
  • Co-production markets offer new hope for independent film finance

    Market consolidation, the collapse of pay-TV prices and reductions in state subsidies are just three reasons why co-production markets are booming.They may have started as the poor man's film market - there being no movies to see - but the importance of co-production markets is growing as sources of production finance shrink; to the point where it is difficult for even established film-makers to find money to make their films.The model was established 20 years ago, when the Rott
  • Die rustles up another $21.3m for Fox International

    Die Another Day grossed $21.3m over the weekend - including numberone bows in the Far East and South Africa - and now boasts a superb $95.2minternational cumulative total. With the $119.2m domestic total taken intoconsideration, the twentieth James Bond instalment has so far grossed $214.4mworldwide. In Singapore it took $838,836 from 52 screens to register Fox'sthird highest bow ever in the territory. In Malaysia the picture's$478,351 from 79 screens was also the d
  • DirecTV open to new bids

    Satellite broadcaster EchoStar Communications yesterday formally gave up its $18bn attempt to buy Hughes Electronics from General Motors (GM), following regulatory objections. The collapse of the deal means that other media groups are free to re-enter the bidding for Hughes and its giant DirecTV broadcast subsidiary. The sale of the US satellite TV leader to the number three player was blocked by the Federal Communications Commission in October on anti-trust grounds. "The combination o
  • Drubigny leaves UGC International

    After a mere six months, UGC International director Alexandre Drubigny has left the company. Although sources at UGC confirm Drubigny's voluntary departure, no answers are being given as to what his future plans are.Drubigny, a former TF1 executive, was hired by Canal Plus in 2001 to head up programming during the restructuring of the channel following the Vivendi Universal merger. While the move came as a surprise, many hopes were pinned on the young executive to help boost Can
  • European Film Academy lambasts French, German broadcasters

    German and French broadcasters have come under fire from the European Film Academy (EFA) for not airing this year's European Film Awards, which takes place in Rome this Saturday (Dec 7)."It is a political and cultural scandal that the television broadcasters in France and Germany are unwilling to partner with the European Film Academy in promoting European cinema through the European Film Awards," said Humbert Balsan, French Board member, and Dieter Kosslick, German Board member of the
  • European Film Promotion 2003 gets full MEDIA Plus support

    For the first time, the pan-European marketing initiative European Film Promotion (EFP) has received confirmation of support in advance for a whole year from the European Commission's MEDIA Plus Programme rather than on a project-by-project basis. "This year-long contract will allow us the necessary lead time to develop our projects in the most thoughtful and effective way possible", EFP managing director Renate Rose commented. "It also demonstrates MEDIA Plus' confidence in and commit
  • Ex-Admira president plans new Spanish media group

    Juan Jose Nieto, former executive president of Admira (Telefonica Media), is understood to be in final negotiations to buy Das Werk's remaining interests in Barcelona-based En Efecto in a bid to create a new media group in Spain. Through his own start-up holding company Palmera Capital, Nieto is negotiating the buy-out of En Efecto post-production companies Video Efecto, Audio Clip, Mad Pix Company and Lisbon-based Bikini Pos Producao de Filmes. A deal is rumoured to be imminent
  • Film Council funds scheme to improve cinema access for sensory impaired

    UK support body the Film Council has unveiled a£500,000 National Lottery package to boost the accessibility of films for people with sensory disabilities.A pilot project will install selected cinemas with captioning and audio description equipment. With matching funding from cinema owners, the cash is to allow up to 75 cinemas to take part in the pilot scheme. Grants will also be available to distributors for captioning and audio describing films. Other allocations include inves
  • Film industry worries over Spanish pay-TV merger

    The government approval last week of the merger between Spain's rival pay TV platforms - Canal Satelite Digital (CSD) and Via Digital - has produced as many questions as it has answers for the film industry.The government released a surprisingly long list of 34 conditions on the merger (, Nov 29), yet none deals specifically with how the platform should treat local film productions or independent film pick-ups from Spanish distributors."We would have liked there t
  • Fledgling Italian distribution outfits swoop on raft of titles

    Undeterred by the current tough economic conditions for Italian distributors, some of the newest kids on the Roman block have unveiled a series of hot international acquisitions.Domenico Procacci's fledgling distributor Fandango has picked up Matt Dillon directorial debut, City of Ghosts. Co-written by Dillon and Wild At Heart novelist Barry Gifford, the picture stars Dillon as a con man on the run from the law who travels to Cambodia to collect his share in an insurance
  • Former Canal Plus exec Godfroid joins Air

    Former Canal Plus executive Bibiane Godfroid has joined Air Productions, one of France's most successful television production houses.Godfroid, who had been with Canal since 1996, was executive managing director of the Canal Plus Group at the time of her departure earlier this year. She left Canal amid the restructuring that came following the ouster of Pierre Lescure.At Air Productions, Godfroid has been named vice-president and will oversee the diversification of programs, na
  • Four new Nordic children's films head for Berlin

    Scandinavian children's films have always been well represented at Berlin International Film Festival's Kinderfilmfest, and next year's first edition under it's new headmaster, Thomas Hailer, will be no exception The 2003 edition will see the international premieres of four new children's films -all of which are feature debuts. Henrik Ruben Genz' Danish Someone Like Hodder (En som Hodder), Pia Bovin's Danish Wallah Be (Kald mig bare Aksel), Klaus Härö's Swedish
  • Fox takes Hero for a host of Asian territories

    Zhang Yimou's $31m martial arts epic Hero is set for a wide release across Asia via Twentieth Century Fox which has acquired a slew of Asian rights to the film outside China and Hong Kong.Territories snapped up by Fox include India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Taiwan. The studio will first release the film in Singapore on January 16 and roll it out across most other Far Eastern territories from mid-January to the beginning of February, to coinci
  • French investigators raid Vivendi offices

    French legal investigators have raided Vivendi Universal's headquarters as part of a probe into records during the era of former chairman Jean-Marie Messier."We can confirm there is a search going on and the company is co-operating completely with the law," a Vivendi spokesperson told Reuters.Reuters also reported that police had raided the homes of Messier as part of their search for documents.The authorities are looking into allegations that the company published false
  • Gaga takes over veteran Japanese film magazine

    Gaga Crossmedia Marketing, a wholly owned subsidiary of Gaga Communications, has purchased a majority stake in Kinema Jumpo, Japan's oldest and most highly regarded film magazine. Founded in 1919, Kinema Jumpo has long played a leading role in promoting film culture in Japan. Though best known for its Kinema Jumpo Best Ten list, which it compiles annually in co-operation with a panel of film experts, the magazine also publishes an extensive line of film books and o
  • Gangs Of New York

    Dir: Martin Scorsese. US. 2002. 165 mins.In terms of old-fashioned spectacle, few films today come anywhere near Martin Scorsese's Gangs Of New York. Already a part of movie folklore, the shooting of Gangs on mammoth sets at Rome's Cinecitta Studios is probably the last of its kind. A gargantuan undertaking, with a budget in excess of $100m, the film is genuinely awe-inspiring to behold. When the Uruk armies march in The Lord Of The Rings, audiences marve
  • Genie nominations honour Ararat but not Egoyan

    Atom Egoyan's epic-scale Ararat has garnered nine Canadian Genie Award nominations, including one for Best Motion Picture, but the man himself was bypassed for a Best Direction nomination as candidates for Canada's major film prize were announced. English-Canada's other prominent filmmaker, David Cronenberg, did however get nominated. His Cannes competitor Spider received six nods in all, albeit not for Best Picture and none for its widely-acclaimed cast of Ralph Fiennes,
  • Girl From Paris goes to US through Philos

    Fledgling US distributorFilms Philos has acquired Christian Carion's directorial debut TheGirl From Paris (Une Hirondelle AFait Le Printemps) for NorthAmerican release in spring 2003. The story centres on a young woman'sefforts to start over as a farmer in the French Alps and is told from theperspective of the girl and the aging farmer who sells her the farm. TheGirl From Paris stars MathildeSeigner, whose credits include Alias Betty and With
  • Goteborg film festival unveils first glimpse of 2003 event

    With less than two months to go to the 26th edition of the Goteborg Film Festival (Jan 24-Feb 3), new festival director Jannike Ahlund has revealed parts of the program at a press conference in Stockholm.The festival will open with the world premiere of Josef Fares's Kops, the much awaited follow-up to his 2000 hit Jalla! Jalla!. The film, an action comedy about a small police station threatened by discontinuation due to the low crime rate, is produced by Memfis Film in c
  • Harry conjures up magical $60.5m over the weekend

    Harry Potter And TheChamber Of Secrets conjured up$60.5m in the international markets over the weekend, according to latestestimates from Warner Bros. The family sequel registered more than 10.9 millionadmissions from 9,850 screens in 41 countries and now has a remarkable $289minternational running total with just over $500m worldwide.In the latest round ofrecord-breaking bows, Chamber Of Secrets grossed $13.5m (Euros 13.6m) from France, with 2.4 million admissionsfrom 1,
  • Harryhausen, Linklater, Lurie shorts among Sundance selection

    Short films from RichardLinklater, actress Illeana Douglas and Lord Of The Rings star Sean Astin are among the 90 shorts programmedat next year's Sundance Film Festival, which kicks off Jan 16 in ParkCity, Utah.Culled from a record 3,345submissions, the narrative and documentary titles will screen before featuresand as part of a six-part Short Film Program and the Frontier Section, NativeForum and a new addition, Animation Spotlight. Short films under 30 minuteswill compete for
  • Harryhausen, Linklater, Lurie shorts among the Sundance selection

  • Holly Hunter to receive Sundance Independent Vision Award

    Holly Hunter will receivewith the Sundance Institute Tribute to Independent Vision Award at the 2003Sundance Film Festival, which runs from Jan 16-26, 2003. The honour will bepresented in a tribute show at the Egyptian Theatre in Park City on Jan 21 thatfeatures retrospective clips, an onstage interview and party. Hunter, who stars in EdSolomon's festival opener Levity and Catherine Hardwicke's Thirteeen in the dramatic competition, won the best actres
  • Hong Kong approves local film guarantee fund

    The Hong Kong government has approved a $6.4m (HK$50m) Film Guarantee Fund which is designed to help local companies obtain bank loans for film production. Only two changes have been made to initial proposals for the fund. The government issued a consultation paper in October recommending that the fund only underwrite loans to productions that cost no more than $960,000 (HK$7.5m). The paper also proposed that, in order to qualify for the scheme, applicants should have produced at least
  • Irish Film Board gets reduced government funds

    In line with its published spending estimates for 2003 (Screendaily, November 15) the Irish Government has reduced the Irish Film Board's allocation in its pared-back Budget for 2003. The Film Board's funding has been cut by an aggregate 12.5%, leaving it with Euros 1.6m to spend on administration and Euros 9.2m to spend on training and capital loans to assist film production. What was not expected in the Minister for Finance's budget speech was his curtailment of several tax re
  • Israeli Censorship Board bans Jenin camp documentary

    After 15 years of inactivity, Israel's Censorship Board is back in action, and courting controversy with its ban on Wednesday of the documentary Jenin, Jenin.The board's decision to ban the public screening of the documentary shot by Israeli-Arab actor-director Mukhammad Bakkri in the Jenin refugee camp after the military incursion of the Israeli Army there, has caused an outcry among the country's liberal circles. They feel this is one more blow to democracy dealt by the right-
  • Italian film wins German distribution after audience vote

    Ribelli Per Caso, a film from young Italian director Vincenzo Terracciano, has secured distribution in Germany after winning a ground-breaking arthouse competition Organised by Italian promotional association Made In Italy and German cinema owner network, AG Kino, the Cinema! Italia! tour took seven recent Italian pictures to 14 German towns between September and December 2002. After each screening, the German public was asked to give every film a vote.The winning film
  • Italian government set to change state funding criteria

    The Italian government could soon overhaul the much-criticised way films are currently selected for state funding, and base its selection process on a picture's potential exportability rather than just its "national cultural interest."At a conference held in Rome on the sidelines of the EFA film awards, Gianni Profita, the newly-appointed head of Italy's State Film Department, said that a "proposal had been made to the state's film commission for a film's international sales prospects
  • Italian producers seek their fortunes in the stars

    If many upcoming Italian films share one thing in common, it's that a surprising number of them are fronted by international stars.Gianni Amelio's reputation as one of Italy's top directors - he was nominated for an Oscar for Open Doors - may have helped attract the attention of much sought-after actress Charlotte Rampling, who recently joined the cast of his The Keys To The House. Meanwhile, Joe Mantegna stars as a 15th century Florentine artist Pontormo in a film
  • Italy's Mediaset mulls majority stake in Spain's Telecinco

    More changes to Spain's television landscape are in order if Italy's Mediaset follows through on plans to up its 40% stake in Spanish broadcaster Telecinco to a majority 51% share.Speaking at a conference in Cordoba, Telecinco president Alejandro Echevarria confirmed the move to reporters. The broadcaster's remaining shareholders include Grupo Correo Prensa Espanola (25%), Kirch (Dresdner Bank) (25%), and ICE Finance BV (10%).The Spanish government announced changes to televisio
  • Lescure's Canal Plus severance package could top Euros 3m

    Former Vivendi Universal chairman Jean-Marie Messier fired Pierre Lescure from the helm of Canal Plus in April in what many consided an underhanded manner. Now, however, it seems that Lescure has come out ahead of the erstwhile mogul - at least in terms of his pay-offIn an interview with French financial daily La Tribune on Monday, Lescure said he has so far been paid Euros 2.9m as part of his severance package from Canal. Since being ousted from Vivendi Universal in June, Messier has
  • Lovely & Amazing, Far From Heaven top Spirit Award nominations

    Lions Gate's comedy Lovely& Amazing led the field with six2003 IFP Independent Spirit Awards nominations today (Dec 11) while FocusFeatures' 1950s drama Far From Heaven weighed in with five including best female lead andsupporting male nods for Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid. Both picturesgarnered best director nominations for Nicole Holofcener and Todd Haynesrespectively and will contest the best feature category with Lions Gate'sSecretary, FoxSearchlight's The Good
  • Magic Lamp Releasing to produce Afghan doc

    US distributionand services company Magic Lamp Releasing announced today (Dec 11) it is movinginto production with the documentary Life After War - The Sarah Chayes Story, based on American efforts to rebuildAfghanistan. Inspired by an idea from Marla Lewin Halperin, who has handled publicityand promotions on Magic Lamp's five releases, the production focuses onformer war correspondent Sarah Hayes and her involvement in an Afghanrestoration project.'It'simpor
  • Menemsha takes Marooned, Taraneh

    Neil Friedman's LA-based sales and distribution outfit Menemsha Entertainment, which enjoyed success in 2000 with Majid Majidi's Iranian hit The Color Of Paradise, has acquired two new Iranian films for worldwide representation - Bahman Ghobadi's Marooned In Iraq and Rasoul Sadrameli's I'm Taraneh, 15 which is Iran's submission for this year's Academy Awards.Friedman said that the two new acquisitons are representative of the potential for Iranian cinema wit
  • Miguel Pereira begins selection for 2003 Mar del Plata film fest

    The Mar del Plata International Film Festival - the oldest film festival in the Americas, will take place next year between March 6 and 15. Originally established in 1954, the 2003 edition will be the sixth since its re-launch.The Argentine INCAA (Instituto Nacional de Cine y Artes Audiovisuales) has appointed writer/director Miguel Pereira as artistic co-ordinator, and he is in the process of putting together a line-up of films from around the world. Pereira's credits include La De
  • Minority Report opens in Japan to $6.3m for Fox

    Fox International enjoyed its fourth highest opening ofall time in Japan over the weekend with a $6.3m bow for Minority Report on 458 screens. The picture reached number twonationwide but topped the charts in nine key cities, studio executives saidtoday (Dec 9). The sci-fi thriller received a pre-release boost when directorSteven Spielberg and star Tom Cruise attended the Tokyo Film Festival in Octoberand looks set for continued success as the terr
  • Miramax Italia increases its involvement in local production

    American actor Breckin Meyer will be the voice of Pinocchio in the US version of Roberto Benigni's Italian blockbuster, to be released in North America on December 25th. Meyer - whose credits include Clueless, Rat Race and The Insider - joins Glenn Close, who will dub the Blue Fairy - played in the original by Benigni's wife, Nicoletta Braschi. Both Benigni and Braschi were originally set to dub their own voices into English, but backed out after saying they didn't
  • Mondays In The Sun shines in Goya nominations

    Fresh from his sweep of the European Film Awards last weekend, Pedro Almodovar now faces stiff competition at home for Spain's Oscar-equivalent Goya Awards, the nominations to which were revealed today in Madrid prior to their February 1 ceremony.Almodovar's internationally acclaimed Talk To Her (Hable Con Ella) earned seven nominations, one less than Fernando Leon's San Sebastian Golden Shell winner Mondays In The Sun (Los Lunes Al Sol), which also beat out Talk f
  • New chairman named for Roma Studios

    Tarak Ben Ammar, head of the rights-trading venture Quinta Communications, has been named chairman of Roma Studios, the newly renovated and re-opened studios which were built by producer Dino De Laurentiis in 1964.The first international picture expected to roll at the studios is Brian De Palma's upcoming movie, The Toyer. The Femme Fatale director is currently checking out the facilities in Rome for his new film. Exteriors will be shot in February in Venice during the to
  • New Line, Alliance Atlantis renew vows till 2005

    Alliance Atlantis and NewLine Cinema have renewed their long-running subdistribution deal that sees theUS company's output released through the Canadian company'sreleasing arm. The deal, first signed in 1989, covers all New Line and FineLine motion pictures in all media in Canada and runs until Dec. 31, 2005.Powered by such New Lineproduct as The Lord Of The Rings:The Fellowship Of The Ring andthe three Austin Powers films,the arrangement has proved particularly lu
  • Nine world premieres in Max Ophuels competition

    Over half of the 17-film line-up at this year's Max Ophuels Prize Film Festival feature film competition will be world premieres. The complete line-up of 11 German, four Austrian and two Swiss newcomer features screening in Saarbruecken from January 13-19, 2003 includes:011 Beograd by Michael Pfeifenberger, Austria (World premiere)Baby by Phillipp Stoelzl, GermanyErnstfall In Havanna by Sabine Boss, Switzerland (German premiere)Erste Ehe b
  • Norwegian Film Fund backs Play, Bum's Rush

    The Norwegian Film Fund has invested in two new feature films, the Norwegian Play and Scottish/Norwegian The Bum's Rush, with $276,000 (NKR2m) and $317,000 (NKR2.3m) respectively. John Sullivan wrote and directed the $468,000 Play for Dinamo Story and producers Tomas Backstrom, Tom Remlov and Gard A. Andreassen. It tells the story of a group of actor graduates, who spend a weekend at a remote farm outside Oslo one last time before splitting up. The shoot went on th
  • Palm Springs throws spotlight on Bollywood

    The Palm SpringsInternational Film Festival will focus its Spotlight strand on Bollywood nextmonth, featuring a series of North American premieres that kicks off on Jan 12,2003 with the Indian foreign language Oscar entry, Devdas. The epic tale of star-crossed lovers is due to beattended by director Sanjay Leela Bhansali and star Aishwarya Rai. TheBollywood/Hollywood banner features new releases and work by some of thecountryís leading film-makers and stars.
  • Publisher Bauer close to signing ProSiebenSat.1 deal

    The consortium of German publishing empire Heinrich Bauer and HypoVereinsbank is expected to sign a Euros 700m deal for a majority 52.5% stake in the ProSiebenSat.1 broadcasting family in the next two weeks.Speaking to the Reuters news agency after a meeting of the insolvent KirchMedia's creditor committee on Monday December 9, managing director Heinz-Joachim Ziems stated that "the first big contract, ProSiebenSat.1 is virtually ready to sign, that will happen before Christmas".
  • Rabbit-Proof Fence triumphs at last Down Under

    Rabbit-Proof Fence has at last been voted best film in its country of origin. The producers - expatriate director Phillip Noyce, writer Christine Olsen and John Winter - earned the top accolade on Saturday at the AFI (Australian Film Institute) Awards, the longest-running local awards event.Ivan Sen was voted best director for Beneath Clouds, which also earned Alan Collins best cinematography, and was awarded the A$10,000 AFI Harper's BAZAAR Screenwriter's Prize on
  • Saturday, The Magdalene Sisters win Ljubljana prizes

    Juan Villegas's Saturday and Peter Mullan's The Magdalene Sisters garnered top honours at the 13th annual Ljubljana International Film Festival, held in the Slovenian capital.Villegas, an Argentine, won the festival's top award, the Kingfisher Award, worth Euros5,000. The award is given to the most promising first- or second- time director. Actress Mariana Anghileri, who stars in the comedy, was on hand to collect the award. Saturday is Villegas's feature debut.
  • Slamdance unveils 16-feature lineup

    Nine world premieres will be among 16 features competing for honours at the Slamdance 2003 Film Festival after organisers sifted through a record 2,800 submissions. Announcing the line-up last night (Dec 9), Slamdance director Gianna Chachere and president and co-founder Peter Baxter said the titles reflected 'youthful voices and the discovery of new talent' in keeping with the competition's mandate to uncover emerging film-makers with limited funds who have no US distribution deal. Twelve sh
  • Sonny

    Dir: Nicolas Cage. US. 2002. 110mins.Nicolas Cage's first film as a director is a moody, atmospheric Southern drama starring up-and-comer James Franco in a sexily tragic role that Cage reportedly considered taking on himself earlier in his career. While it could eventually lead to bigger jobs behind the camera for Cage, the Gold Circle Films production probably has limited box office potential. In the US, where it is set for a Dec 27 launch in New York and LA and a national r
  • Spanish producer duo prepare two new features

    Pedro Costa and Enrique Cerezo, the co-producers behind Eduard Cortes' Nobody's Life (La Vida De Nadie) and last year's Spanish nomination to the foreign language Oscar, Mad Love (Juana La Loca), are prepping two new feature films, including Cortes' next project.Cortes and Nobody's Life co-scripter Piti Espanol are currently writing the provisionally titled Alicia, based on the true story of a schoolteacher who fell in love with and had two children with her
  • Spice Factory buys into Arclight

    Sydney-based sales agent Arclight Films has confirmed that the UK-based production company Spice Factory has taken an equity stake in the six-month-old company which, until now, has been owned by Gary Hamilton and Victor Syrmis. This expands on the first-look deal Arclight already had for all Spice Factory's output."I am very excited to be in partnership with one of the world's most ambitious upcoming film companies run by Michael Cowan and Jason Piette," said Hamilton, who held a dinn
  • Spyglass finds a new home at DreamWorks

    Spyglass Entertainment and DreamWorks Pictures announced today (Dec 9) that they have signed an exclusive first-look, non-exclusive production deal. The two parties are already in production on Seabiscuit starring Jeff Bridges and Tobey Maguire, which chronicles the life of the legendary racehorse. Gary Ross is directing the currently-shooting picture which has been slated for domestic release in summer 2003 through Universal. Spyglass will handle most of the international distributon
  • Studio Hamburg World Wide Pictures lines up two new projects

    The Studio Hamburg's WorldWide Pictures (WWP) fund has lined up another two potential projects - Colour Me Kubrick and Dudes - to back after its first production, John Irvin's The Great Ceili War, wrapped on the Isle of Man last week on December 4.WWP has optioned the $7m satirical comedy Colour Me Kubrick, about the true story of a London man who pretended to be the legendary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick, thereby financing a lavish lifestyle. John Malkovich is
  • sundance list

    PREMIERESLEVITYDir: Ed SolomonAfter serving 19 years for killing a teenager in an attempted robbery, a man (Billy Bob Thornton) encounters a mysterious minister (Morgan Freeman) and two needy women (Dunst and Hunter) in his search for redemption. Sony Pictures Classics will release this Sundance Opening Night film stateside, with StudioCanal handling international sales.GARAGE DAYSDir: Alex ProyasA young garage band in Sydney, Australia, trie
  • Talk To Her triumphs at European Film Awards

    The 15th European Film Awards were a huge triumph for Spanish maestro Pedro Almodovar and something of a let down for Europe's cherished diversity in a year that saw a wide array of international films score with both critics and audiences. For his touching coma drama Talk To Her (Hable Con Ella), which was crowned as European film of the year, Almodovar also personally scooped awards for best screenwriter, the reinstated prize for best director and its equivalent in the People
  • Tallinn Black Nights film fest attracts record admissions

    The sixth annual edition (23 November to 8 December) of the Black Nights Tallinn Film Festival joined forces for the first time this year with the Estonian Film Foundation to present two days of new films from the Baltic states during the festival.The Baltic screenings presented the six feature films produced over the past year from Estonia, Latvia and Lituania as well as a 55 minute version of the hit Estonian TV show Welcome To Estonia - a ruthless satire of local politics.
  • The Housekeeper (Une Femme De Menage)

    Dir: Claude Berri. France. 88 min.Wistful, wry and touching, The Housekeeper is a small but finely observed tale about a middle-aged man who takes on a young girl as a cleaning woman and gets more than he bargained for. Claude Berri closes out a fabulously successful year as France's leading high roller producer - with Costa Gavras' Amen and Alain Chabat's Asterix & Obelisk: Mission Cleopatra - with a return to form as writer-director. The Housekeeper
  • The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers

    Dir: Peter Jackson. New Zealand-US. 2002. 179mins.The second film in Peter Jackson's trilogy of JRR Tolkien's The Lord Of The Rings is one of the year's best. Having introduced the elaborate story and its myriad characters in the much-garlanded first film The Fellowship Of The Ring, Jackson is now free to accelerate the pace of the saga and sink his teeth into real adventure. The result is a thrilling, muscular entertainment which powers along intensely towards the cli
  • The Santa Clause 2 spreads its reach

    The top three chart positions remained unchanged this week in the UK as The Santa Clause 2 took advantage of Harry Potter's 42% drop off, Pathe launched Brit-horror Deathwatch into fourth and Bond was neither shaken nor stirred from its hold on pole position.Die Another Day, distributed by 20th Century Fox, led in its third week with $5.4m (£3.4m) from 443 sites after a 36% drop-off from the previous week. The film has grossed $37.3m (£23.7m) and w
  • Transit Film picks up Fassbinder In Hollywood

    Transit Film has picked up international sales on Robert Fischer's documentary Fassbinder In Hollywood which was produced to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the legendary German director's untimely death in June 1982.The production by Fischer's Fiction FACTory and Ulli Lommel's Los Angeles-based company Lavida looks at Fassbinder's relationship to Hollywood and charts the subsequent Stateside careers of former Fassbinder collaborators such as actor-director Lommel, cinemat
  • UK power-directors Daldry, Winterbottom team with Rudin

    Top UK directors Stephen Daldry and Michael Winterbottom have boarded pictures for Scott Rudin, the New York-based producer who is one of Paramount Pictures' chief suppliers as well as a force in US theatre.Daldry, who directed this season's highly touted awards contender The Hours for Rudin, has taken over from Sydney Pollack at the helm of Rudin's long-cherished film of Michael Chabon's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier & Clay, while Winter
  • UK's Midnight Transfer brings post-production investment to Prague

    Prague Studios has received financing from the UK's Midnight Transfer to expand the Czech studios to include a post-production facility.According to Prague Studios head Tomas Krejci Midnight Transfer, a post-production house with facilities in London's Soho and Twickenham Film Studios, plans to build editing facilities at the former aircraft assembly plant, which investors have converted into Prague Studios. The operation is set to launch in early 2004."Basically, Midnight Tran
  • USA Interactive accuses Vivendi Universal of tax avoidance

    While Jean-Rene Fourtou and Barry Diller attempt to unravel some of the complexities in their relationship, Diller's USA Interactive has stepped into the melee accusing Vivendi Universal of trying to avoid tax payments of over $600m in conjunction with last December's sale of USA Networks to Vivendi Universal.In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), USA Interactive said Friday that Vivendi has stated it is not obliged to make such payments. Responding Sunday nigh
  • Van Warmerdam begins Grimm shoot

    Dutch filmmaker Alex van Warmerdam has begun filming Grimm, a fairytale-inspired tale of a young couple who travel to Spain for a fresh start in life. The picture shoots for ten weeks in Spain, Germany and The Netherlands. World sales are by Fortissimo Film Sales.Grimm, which was also written by van Warmerdam, stars Jacob Derwig, Halina Reijn and Carmelo Gomez. The producer is Marc van Warmerdam. Production and financing credits go to Grimm De Film, in association with Fo
  • Yasujiro Ozu to be honoured with Berlinale retrospective

    The forthcoming Berlinale (February 6-16) will devote a retrospective to the Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu to celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth on December 12, 2003.His most famous work Tokyo Monogatari (Tokyo Story) will be screened at the Berlinale Palast, while other works by and about Ozu will be featured in the festival's various programme sections.Ozu is widely regarded as one of the leading figures in Japanese cinema history, having influenced filmmaker