It looks like rich pickings for international buyers at this year's European Film Market, with new projects from leading film-makers including Peter Weir, Julian Schnabel, Robert Redford, Pen-ek Ratanaruang and Bruce Robinson.
Dir/scr: Stephen Poliakoff
BBC Films' $6m thriller marks the return of writer-director Poliakoff (Close My Eyes) to film-making after a decade in TV. 1939 stars a feast of UK actors including Romola Garai, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, David Tennant and Julie Christie in the story of a family trying to uphold their traditional English way of life on the eve of the Second World War. Produced by Barney Reisz and Martin Pope, the film is now in post-production.
Int'l sales: The Works, (44) 20 7612 1080
Who Is Doris Payne' (UK)
Halle Berry is set to star in this $25m biopic of the eponymous international jewel thief whose career spanned five decades. A director is not yet attached to the project which is being produced by Ann Carli (Me And Orson Welles) and Jason Felts (Romance & Cigarettes). Production will take place in the first half of this year.
Int'l sales: Intandem, (44) 20 7851 3800
Berlin 1936 (Ger)
Dir: Kaspar Heidelbach
A drama based on the true story of leading German track and field athlete Gretel Bergmann who was forced off the German high jump team a month before the 1936 games as she was Jewish. Produced by The Silence Of Lorna co-producer Gerhard Schmidt, Berlin 1936 stars The Reader actress Karoline Herfurth as Bergmann and Pingpong's Sebastian Urzendowsky as a male athlete who dresses up as a woman sent by the Nazis to sabotage Bergmann's Olympic chances.
Int'l sales: Beta Cinema, (49) 89 67 34 69 80
The Rum Diary (US)
Dir: Bruce Robinson
Johnny Depp will star in this long-gestating adaptation of the adventure drama by Hunter S Thompson which finally begins principal photography in Puerto Rico on March 29. Withnail And I's Robinson adapted the screenplay and will direct the late maverick journalist's novel about a reporter in the Caribbean who tries to improve his life while all around him seem hell-bent on self-destruction.
Int'l sales: GK Films, (1) 310 315 1722
Dir: Julian Schnabel
Schnabel's follow-up to the award-wining The Diving Bell And The Butterfly is based on the Italian book La Strada Dei Fiori Di Miral by Palestine-born Rula Jebreal, who works as a broadcast journalist in Italy. The film traces the creation of Palestine through the stories of three women. Pathe, which produced The Diving Bell And The Butterfly, is also producing Miral. The cast is yet to be announced.
Int'l sales: Pathe, (33) 1 71 72 30 00
The Way Back (US)
Dir: Peter Weir
Spitfire Pictures is producing The Way Back, Weir's his first film since Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World. Principal photography is scheduled to begin next month on the story inspired by Slavomir Rawicz's acclaimed novel The Long Walk: The True Story Of A Trek To Freedom. A small group of prisoners escapes from a Siberian gulag in 1940 and treks 8,000 miles through five hostile countries.
Int'l sales: Exclusive Film Distribution, (44) 20 3002 9510
End Of Town (Aus)
Dir/scr: Julius Avery
There is a real buzz around this debut feature from writer-director Avery. He won the jury prize at Cannes last year for his short, Jerrycan, which is also screening at Berlin. Themes of love, family, small-town masculinity and racism punctuate the feature about a smart kid, his heart-throb and an influential older cousin. Matt Hearn (Wolf Creek) is producing, with Aurelia Grossmann and Philippe Gompel of Bac Films' production arm, Manny Films, executive producing. Avery is represented by United Talent Agency, which is selling US sales rights.
Int'l sales: Bac Films, (33) 1 53 53 52 56
Tobruk (Czech Rep)
Dir: Vaclav Marhoul
This adaptation of Stephen Crane's classic American Civil War novel The Red Badge Of Courage transfers the action to North Africa during the Second World War. Like Enzo Monteleone's El Alamein, Tobruk should attract arthouse and specialty buyers with its uncompromising view of life as a solider. The ensemble cast includes Petr Vanek (Last Holiday, Shut Up And Shoot Me). The film was released in September in the Czech Republic, where it has earned a solid $560,000.
Int'l sales: Intramovies, (39) 06 807 72 52
Henry Of Navarre (Ger-Fr-Austria-Sp)
Dir: Jo Baier
After a long absence from cinema work (his last feature was the 1991 drama Wildfire), German director Baier returns with a lavish $25m adaptation of Heinrich Mann's two-volume historical novel on the life of the legendary French King Henri IV. An international cast is led by French newcomer Julien Boisselier as Henri, with Roger Casamajor (Pan's Labyrinth), Chloe Stefani, Karl Markovics (The Counterfeiters) and Joachim Krol (Adam Resurrected). Baier is best known for his prestigious TV drama work.
Int'l sales: Bavaria Film International, (49) 89 64 99 26 86
All's Faire In Love (US)
Dir: Scott Marshall
Screwball romantic comedy All's Faire In Love boasts the charms of Christina Ricci, Ann-Margret and Cedric The Entertainer, as well as Owen Benjamin and Matthew Lillard. Scott Marshall, whose credits include Blonde Ambition and Keeping Up With The Steins, is directing the film about a troupe of actors competing to be the best of all the group's performers. Now in post-production.
Int'l sales: Kimmel International, (1) 212 431 5550
Dir: Yoichi Sai
Now in production, the $18m action-drama Kamui is based on Sanpei Shirato's classic manga and stars Japan's hottest talent Kenichi Matsuyama as a rogue ninja warrior who fights for survival and revenge. Matsuyama also starred in the international cult hit Death Note films, which screened across the US, and the heavy metal comedy Detroit Metal City which world premiered at last year's Toronto film festival. Kamui co-stars The Last Samurai's Koyuki.
Int'l sales: Shochiku, (81) 3 5550 1623
Love, Art & Ethics (Fr)
Dir: Pierre Thoretton
This documentary will chronicle the auction of late French couturier Yves Saint Laurent's art collection in what is being billed as the 'sale of the century'. The auction of more than 700 lots is being handled by Christie's and Saint Laurent's longtime partner and companion, Pierre Berge. It will be held at Paris' Grand Palais beginning on February 23. The HD documentary, which is also Thoretton's debut feature, will be the only time the collection, including works from Picasso, Matisse and Goya will be filmed.
Int'l sales: Films Distribution, (33) 1 53 10 33 99
New Moon (US)
Dir: Chris Weitz
Twilight has grossed close to $300m worldwide since it launched last November, which makes Summit International's sequel, New Moon, something of a hot prospect. Weitz replaces Catherine Hardwicke in the director's chair while the stars remain the same: Kristen Stewart, her blood-sucking squeeze Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner as the werewolf rival for her affections. New Moon will be released in North America on November 20.
Int'l sales: Summit Entertainment, (1) 310 309 8400
Profiles by Martin Blaney, Chris Evans, Sheri Jennings, Sandy George, Jason Gray, Jeremy Kay, Jean Noh, Liz Shackleton, Theodore Schwinke, Nancy Tartaglione-Vialatte and Audrey Ward
Napoli, Napoli, Napoli (It)
Dir: Abel Ferrara
Buyers on the lookout for the latest hard-hitting expose of the underbelly of Italian society following last year's Gomorrah, need look no further than Ferrara's Naples-set docu-drama about three female inmates at the Pozzuoli State Prison. Ferrara conceived the project with a former petty thief called Gaetano Di Vaio who now runs the anti-crime group Figli del Bronx. Now in post, Ferrara has used a non-professional cast to alternate between interviews with the real-life women and dramatised scenes from their past. The film is produced by Minerva Pictures and PFA Films.
Contact: Minerva Pictures Group, (39) 685 358 648
More Than Blue (S Kor)
A $2m project which drew buzz when leading Korean actors Kwon Sang-woo (My Tutor Friend), Lee Beom-soo (Death Bell) and Lee Bo-young (Once Upon A Time) announced they would appear for profit shares, foregoing other payment, on the strength of the script. A love-triangle melodrama, More Than Blue is well-known South Korean poet Won Tae-yeon's screenwriting/directorial debut (under the name WON). Award-winning cinematographer Lee Mo-gae (The Good, The Bad, The Weird) is directing the film, which will be released in Korea in March.
Int'l sales: Showbox Mediaplex, (82) 2 3218 5649
The Dancer And The Thief(Sp)
Dir: Fernando Trueba
This much-anticipated film from renowned Spanish director Trueba is a romantic drama about a notorious thief who falls in love with an angel. Written by Antonio Skarmeta and Trueba, The Dancer And The Thief stars Argentinian superstar Ricardo Darin and is now shooting in Chile.
Int'l sales: 6 Sales, Mar Abadin, email@example.com
Untitled Robert Redford Film (US)
Dir: Robert Redford
Redford stars in and directs this thriller which has echoes of Three Days Of The Condor. The as-yet-untitled tale of a former political activist whose cover is threatened prompting him to go on the run to save his young daughter's life is being produced by Voltage and Greg Shapiro - partners on Iraq War thriller The Hurt Locker - along with Redford's Wildwood label.
Int'l sales: Voltage Pictures, (1) 323 464 8351
The Crazies (US)
Dir: Breck Eisner
Production on Overture Films and Participant Productions' reinvention of the 1973 George A Romero thriller The Crazies is set to begin in March. It is the story of a small town that is quarantined after a toxic outbreak. As the situation escalates, the inhabitants wonder if the government is trying to save them or if they are part of a larger conspiracy. Radha Mitchell stars alongside Timothy Olyphant.
Int'l sales: Paramount Vantage International,
(1) 323 956 2000
Dir: Neil Marshall
Michael Fassbender and Dominic West head the cast of this new film from The Descent director Neil Marshall. Centurion is a thriller set during the Roman invasion of Britain in 87ad about a legion of Roman soldiers who were trapped and went missing behind enemy lines in Scotland. Slumdog Millionaire producer Christian Colson of Celador Films is producing.
Int'l sales: Pathe, (44) 20 7462 5151
The Murder Farm (Ger-Switz)
Dir: Bettina Oberli
This thriller from Swiss film-maker Oberli is about the murder of an entire family in a rural community in post-war Germany. The film stars Julia Jentsch (who won the best actress Silver Bear in Berlin in 2005 for Sophie Scholl: The Final Days) and Moritz Bleibtreu and is based on best-selling German novel Tannod by Andrea Maria Schenkel. Producers are Wuste Film West and Constantin Film with Zurich-based Hugofilm Productions. Oberli came to attention in 2007 with her comedy Late Bloomers.
Int'l sales: The Match Factory, (49) 221 539 70 90
Dir: Pen-ek Ratanaruang
Thai director Pen-ek, who has previously directed arthouse hits such as Invisible Waves and Last Life In The Universe, is making his first foray into the realm of the supernatural with this thriller, currently in production outside Bangkok. The story follows a city-based photographer who takes his wife on an assignment into the jungle, only to disappear in mysterious circumstances. Pen-ek's regular producing partner, Five Star, is co-producing with Fortissimo Films.
Int'l sales: Fortissimo Films, (852) 2311 8081
Dirs: Alan Mak, Felix Chong
Currently in production, this thriller about three cops conducting surveillance on a listed company brings together some of the Hong Kong film industry's leading talent including co-directors Mak and Chong who worked on the Infernal Affairs trilogy. The producer is Derek Yee, whose credits as director include gritty thrillers such as Protege and One Nite In Mongkok, and the cast is headed by Lau Ching-wan, Louis Koo and Daniel Wu.
Int'l sales: Distribution Workshop, (852) 2768 8678
Dir: Gavin O'Connor
Pride And Glory director Gavin O'Connor is at the helm of this action drama now in pre-production. The story revolves around two estranged brothers competing for the respect of their father, the respect of their peers, the survival of their families and the redemption of their pasts against the background of a mixed martial-arts tournament.
Int'l sales: Mandate International, (1) 310 255 3700
Area 51 (US)
Dir: Oren Peli
Area 51, is Peli's follow-up to shocker film Paranormal Activity, one of the hits of last November's AFM and now in pre-production. Peli and The Grudge screenwriter Stephen Susco combined talents on the script, and the producers are being as secretive about the storyline as the US military is tight-lipped about the mysterious testing ground in Nevada that lends its name to the project. The producers have hinted this will be in the vein of Cloverfield and The Blair Witch Project.
Int'l sales: IM Global, (1) 310 777 3590
Dir: Rob Zombie
The Weinstein Company brings back the character of Michael Myers, when it goes into production in March on Dimension Films' H2, Rob Zombie's sequel to his hit Halloween reboot. H2 will pick up where the first film left off and follows the aftermath of Myers' murderous rampage through the eyes of heroine Laurie Strode.
Int'l sales: The Weinstein Company, (1) 646 862 3400.