A round-up of the latest news taken from the Screen International Berlinale dailies - the official festival magazine.
For previous stories and a full listing of the films in the main sections of the festival - type: Berlinale into the search bar at the top of the screendaily homepage.
Kevin Spacey plans to take time out from acting: "I need to stop," he says. "I need some quiet." Since winning the Best Actor Oscar in 2000 for American Beauty, Spacey has racked up a prolific list of credits including K-Pax, Pay It Forward and Berlin competition film The Shipping News. Now he plans to take eight months off from acting, focusing on producing through Trigger Street, the production company he runs with Bernie Morris. "I think refuel is the word," he says
Spacey dismisses the suggestion that the actor known for dark manipulative roles in films such as Se7en and The Usual Suspects has gone soft - "some people want you to stay the way you were when they discovered you, they don't want you to change." But reviews have been mixed since the Oscar-winning heights of American Beauty. "I don't want to work," he says. "And if I don't want to work, then I shouldn't.
Trigger Street may renew his appetite, though. Certainly, it will keep him busy. He aims for the company, which has a first-look deal with Neuer Markt-listed Intermedia, to get at least five films into production this year. Uncle Frank , a quirky portrait of old people in America, Trigger Street's first documentary, has a special screening in Berlin. Spacey himself has a cameo in Trigger Street's current production, the United States Of Leland. "For me the whole purpose of producing is to try to give opportunities," he says. "When you believe in a something, and on first day of filming you see the director's face and the actors talk about his confidence, that is really satisfying."
ZentAmerica - the US wing of Danish production outfit Zentropa - is to present its first project in Berlin.
Thomas Mai, Kyle Gates and RD Robb have already secured the services of Icelandic-born director Marteinn Thorsson and some funding from Icelandic Film Fund for One-point-o (1.0), a psychological thriller about an experimental airborn-computer virus.The producers plan to shoot the $1.4m film with cinematographer Christopher Soos (BMWfilm) later this year.
Germany's Prokino Filmverleih has picked up German and Austrian rights from Adriana Chiesa Enterprises for Silvio Soldini's Brucio Nel Vento (Burning In The Wind) which screened in competition on Friday (Feb 9). Prokino plans to release the emotional drama on August 29.
Rotterdam-Berlinale Express has barely gotten underway, but the business links between the two festivals are clear. At the International Film Festival German sales agent, Media Luna Entertainment acquired world rights to Kurdish-American filmmaker Jano Rosebiani's Jiyan (Life). Media Luna's Ida Martins first saw the film, based on the real, lethal gassing of an entire Kurdistan village by Iraqi planes, when it competed in Rotterdam's VPRO Tiger competition.
Celluloid Dreams used its visit to Rotterdam to acquire world sales rights to UK video director Billie Eltringham's Tiger competition film This Is Not A Love Song. And, from Shochiku, distributor Metro Tartan bought UK rights to Miike Takashi's opera-horror The Happiness Of The Katakuris, which screened in Rotterdam.
A semi-official linking of the two festivals under the "Rotterdam-Berlin Express" label was announced last week in Rotterdam. It involves six projects from Rotterdam's Cinemart co-production market which transfer to Berlin.
The projects are presented to financiers, potential co-producers and buyers. Rotterdam co-chiefs Sandra Den Hamer and Simon Field and Berlin boss Dieter Kosslick are known to want to extend the co-operation in future years.
First Look Pictures has picked up all North American and Canadian rights to the Norwegian comedy Elling from Trust Film Sales. Petter Naess' film, which was a local box-office sensation last year, is Norway's Oscar submission and has picked up a number of awards and recognition on the festival circuit.
In a bid to have Europe's public broadcasters play a greater role in the support of their local cinema industry, a group of exhibitors, distributors and film sellers this weekend (Feb 9-10) held a meeting with Ruth Hieronymi.
Hierronymi is president of the European Parliament's cinema intergroup and integral to the ongoing revision of the Television Without Frontiers directive. Headed by Europa Cinema's Claude-Eric Poiroux, the group argues that the state-sector broadcasters are not fulfilling their role in acquiring European films, nor are they playing their part in film education. Other delegates included Mikado's Robert Cicutto, Prokino's Stefan Hutter, Cineart's Elaine Du Bois, Mercure Distribution's Jacques Le Glou and Euro Cinema's Ivan Thiec.
London-based Portman Film closed deals on hot competition film Bloody Sunday with France's Haut et Court and Belgium's CineArt/CineLibre. The docudrama sold to Italy's Mikado and Greece's Rosebud straight after its Berlinale screening.
UK screenwriter Michael Hirst - whose credits include Elizabeth and Meeting Venus - is to write the screenplay for Volker Schlöndorff's next project, an English-language adaptation of Donna Cross' best-selling novel Pope Joan.
Set in the 9th century about the only female pope in the Catholic Church, the production by UFA Film Produktion is slated to go into production before the end of this year.
In addition to developing an adaptation of Christoph Hein's novel Willenbrock with Halbe Treppe (Grill Point) director Andreas Dresen and writer Laila Stieler, UFA Film Produktion has announced that it will make a film about the sinking of the German refugee ship Wilhelm Gustloff, when 9,000 lives were lost in the Baltic Sea in January 1945.
The screenplay for the project, which does not yet have a director attached, will written by Rainer Berg who recently had success on German television with the SAT.1 TV two-parter Der Tanz Mit Dem Teufel. Shooting will start at original locations at the beginning of 2003.
Bob Last's SellOutPictures and 72 Film, producer of Christopher Roth's Official Competition film Baader, have agreed to collaborate on the production of a number of international feature projects to be directed by Roth. The first two features in the joint venture are a transatlantic comedy entitled Broken English - described as "90 minutes of bad English" - to be co-written by Roth and Martin Rauhaus; and an as yet untitled political-historical drama. Roth's much anticipated feature on the terr