Following a quiet Cannes, the UK had a particularly strong Toronto with 22 features in the programme. The AFM will be the first official market for many of the Toronto premieres. They include the documentary Sounds Like Teen Spirit: A Popumentary for Intandem, The Secret Of Moonacre for Velvet Octopus, and The Other Man and Easy Virtue for Ealing Studios International.
Pathe's new productions include Jon Wright's Tormented, a horror project in post-production which stars Alex Pettyfer as a bullied teenager who commits suicide but returns from the dead. Pathe also has the new drama from Downfall director Oliver Hirschbiegel, Five Minutes In Heaven, also in post. Liam Neeson, James Nesbitt and Anamaria Marinca star in the story of two men who struggle to come to terms with their experiences of past conflict in Northern Ireland.
Icon Entertainment International has the bird-watching love story Pelican Blood in pre-production, with Karl Golden to direct and Harry Treadaway and Emma Booth to star. Also in pre-production for Icon is Julie Taymor's adaptation of The Tempest, set to star Helen Mirren, Jeremy Irons, Ben Whishaw, Russell Brand, Alfred Molina, Felicity Jones and Djimon Hounsou.
HanWay's new titles include the revenge thriller Harry Brown, starring Michael Caine and Emily Mortimer, which is produced by Matthew Vaughn's Marv Films, and is set to start shooting in January 2009. Also cranking up is Ecosse Films' John Lennon coming-of-age project Nowhere Boy which Sam Taylor-Wood is directing from a script by Control's Matt Greenhalgh. HanWay notes the film will be ready for release in 2010, timed for the Beatles' 50th anniversary and the 30th anniversary of Lennon's death. Also, HanWay is showing new edits of Sundance 2008 premiere Sunshine Cleaning and Wim Wenders' Cannes competitor Palermo Shooting.
Nascent sales outfit Protagonist Pictures has bolstered its slate with cult favourite Nick Love's The Firm, set in the violent world of 1980s football supporters' clubs which is now in production. Protagonist is also handling Samantha Morton's directorial debut The Unloved, a coming-of-age drama backed by FilmFour; Debbie Isitt's improvised comedy Nativity; low-budget drug-dealer drama Shifty; and Simon Ellis' unusual UK comedy Dogging: A Love Story.
Velvet Octopus has taken on Annabel Jankel's UK drama Skellig, adapted from David Almond's bestseller, which is set to star Tim Roth, Kelly Macdonald and Bill Milner. HandMade has added The True Confessions Of Charlotte Doyle, written and directed by Danny DeVito, to its slate; the cast includes Pierce Brosnan, Morgan Freeman and Atonement's Saoirse Ronan.
Amsterdam and Hong Kong-based Fortissimo is handling worldwide sales on UK actor Nick Moran's directorial debut Telstar, about legendary indie-rock producer Jo Meek. Con O'Neill, Kevin Spacey, Pam Ferris and James Corden star.
Bankside Films will be showcasing Colm McCarthy's directorial debut Outcast, a supernatural thriller which is set to start shooting in February, to which Vertigo has pre-bought UK rights. The cast includes James Nesbitt and Kate Dickie. Bankside also has Brazilian musical drama The Ballroom, from director Lais Bodanzky and producers Fabiano Gullane and Luiz Bolognesi (The Year My Parents Went On Vacation).
The Works International boasts a geographically diverse slate. Its hot AFM titles include the first screening of Erik Van Looy's Belgian thriller Loft, as well as the market premiere of another Belgian title, Fien Troch's Toronto premiere Unspoken starring Emmanuelle Devos. From Australia, The Works has Sarah Watt's much-anticipated follow-up to Look Both Ways, My Year Without Sex which is in post-production; and Rachel Griffiths and Bryan Brown star in Rachel Ward's directorial debut Beautiful Kate, a family drama also in post.
ContentFilm International's latest acquisitions include Mike Judge's comedy Extract, now in post, which stars Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis and Ben Affleck.
AV Pictures has two new US titles at the AFM: the 1930s-set love-triangle drama Dark Streets (already sold to Samuel Goldwyn to the US) starring Bijou Phillips and Gabriel Mann; and Franc. Reyes' The Ministers, an action thriller starring Harvey Keitel and John Leguizamo.
Goalpost Films will be introducing buyers to Henrique Goldman's Jean Charles, a drama in post-production about the innocent Brazilian man killed by London police after the July 7 bombings. Goalpost is also starting sales for Matt Lipsey's comedy The Climb, which is in pre-production with Damian Lewis attached.
Odyssey Entertainment has taken on Jonathan Lynn's hitman romance Wild Target, shooting now with Bill Nighy, Emily Blunt, Rupert Grint and Rupert Everett. Entertainment has UK rights already and Cinetic is selling for North America.
Among the other major UK sales players, neither Capitol Films (which continues to lose key staff with former managing director Peter Naish now at Hammer Films) nor sister sales company ThinkFilm International has announced any new pick-ups since Cannes - a continued sign of trouble since David Bergstein's group acquired Capitol in 2006.
Low-budget production initiatives and genre projects are still booming in the UK, and High Point Films has taken on Steven Sheil's low-budget horror Mum & Dad. Altadena has Steve Kelly's black comedy City Rats, starring Danny Dyer and Susan Lynch. Moviehouse's slate include Sacha Bennett's 1980s-set heist thriller Tuesday reuniting Life On Mars stars John Simm and Philip Glenister; Giles Borg's indie rock feature 1234; and Billy Boyd-starring con-artist comedy Save Angel Hope.