Sunday, December 02, 2007

"4 Months..." picks up main European Film Award

The hard-hitting Romanian drama "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" was chosen European Film of the Year at the 20th European Film Awards in Berlin on December 1. Christian Mungiu's tale has had a highly successful career since picking up the Palme d'Or in Cannes this year. The young Romanian also picked up the European Director award, despite the presence of heavyweights such as Stephen Frears.

The awards are traditionally heavily biased towards art-house movies, and Fatih Akin picked up the script award for "The Edge of Heaven". In a moment of comic relief, Jean-Luc Godard received a Lifetime Achievement Award but chose not to pick it up. "When someone says I have created a life's work, I have to accept this," he told Die Ziet. "But it is my way of criticism not to go there. I don't have the impression that I have made a career. In French, the word also means quarry and in this sense I can accept it." Eh? Methinks something got lost in the translation. In the same interview, he also admitted to stealing money to help finance his early films.


4 LUNI, 3 SAPTAMINI SI 2 ZILE (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days), Romania
directed by Cristian Mungiu
produced by Mobra Film SRL

Cristian Mungiu for 4 LUNI, 3 SAPTAMINI SI 2 ZILE

Helen Mirren in THE QUEEN

Sasson Gabai in BIKUR HATIZMORET (The Band’s Visit)

Fatih Akin for AUF DER ANDEREN SEITE (The Edge of Heaven)

Frank Griebe for DAS PARFUM – DIE GESCHICHTE EINES MÖRDERS (Perfume: The Story of a Murderer)

Alexandre Desplat for THE QUEEN

BIKUR HATIZMORET (The Band’s Visit) by Eran Kolirin, Israel


COEURS by Alain Resnais

ALUMBRAMIENTO by Eduardo Chapero-Jackson, Spain

PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD 2007 for Best European Film
LA SCONOSCIUTA by Giuseppe Tornatore

Jean-Luc Godard

Michael Ballhaus

(Paper cannot Wrap up Embers)
by Rithy Panh, France

Margaret Ménégoz and Dr. Veit Heiduschka
presented by the European Film Academy on the occasion of the 20th European Film Awards
Manoel de Oliveira

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

French scriptwriters march to support the WGA

Although the legal, artistic and business environments are very different in the US and Europe, most international writers' guilds have given their support to the WGA strike. The French writers' union UGS is going one step further and organising a demo opposite the Tour Eiffel (the Espalanade du Trocadéro) in Paris on Wednesday November 28 at 4pm. They will notably organise a family photo of "creators" that includes writers, actors, producers and directors (looks to me like a pretty good networking opportunity!).

The specifics of the debate between producers and writers in the US are not the same as those in Europe, but one area is very similar: the proportion of revenue generated by online sales. There is already a massive migration towards online viewing. This will only increase over the coming few years. So it is important that the writers of the films and shows be entitled to a fair share of this important new revenue stream.

As a reminder, Screenplay Europe is not promoting any online movie or TV show downloading until this issue is clarified.

Visit the UGS.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Ronald Harwood to talk about adaptations in London

Oscar-winning scriptwriter Ronald Harwood ("The Pianist", "Oliver Twist" and "The Dresser") will be talking at a special event organised by The Script Factory and BFI on December 6 in London. A very large proportion of major films are adaptations, and Harwood's speciality is specifically the adaptation of novels and plays to the screen. His upcoming releases include "Love in the Time of Cholera" and "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly".

Harwood has written a fascinating book on the subject already. If you're interested in the discussion, I strongly recommend you see at least "The Pianist" and "Oliver Twist" as he will most likely talk about elements from both tales.

Ronald Harwood on Adaptation
Thursday 6 Dec at 6.20pm
NFT3, BFI Southbank

Tickets are on sale now costing £8.60 (full) £6.25 (concs) from bfi.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

European writers create manifesto

While the American writers' kettle has come to the boil in the form of the WGA strike, European writers are continuing their own struggle for broader acceptance and understanding of their work. The Federation of Scriptwriters in Europe (FSE) has created an online manifesto that contains the most important of their demands. They range from the very basic - that writers be more fully recognised as the author of the work and that festivals and institutions actually name the writers in their programs - to the touchy issue of "possessory credit" (producers or directors taking undue shares of the writing credits) and "fair payment for every form of exploitation". The latter refers notably to the growing online download services.

The FSE represents the writing guilds of the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and other countries. Find out more about it on the FSE website.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Random thoughts about scripts

The Belgian writers' group ASA held a round table recently to try and define what a movie script is, with a view to being better able to present the writers' case in discussions with other bodies. To cut to the chase, the definition was never agreed on but the discussion itself turned out to be fascinating.

Script doctor and writer Luc Janssens set the ball rolling by suggesting that the script is a "technical document used to make a film". But others found that belittled the craft and artistry of storytelling. Inevitably, the question of structure came up. And just as inevitably, the claim that structure is somehow an American idea was made (something I have always thought was strange - like David Lean or Hitchcock didn't use structure). Director Harry Kümel ("Malpertuis", "Eline Vere" and opera) rightly jumped in to point out that a lot of the early analysis of drama was done by a Frenchman. Janssens added a long list of writers stretching back to Shakespeare that used the 3-act structure.

Kümel was critical of the current reliance of the European movie sector on public support. "It's not with subsidies and commissions that that we'll create new European cinema. I dream of a European cinema that complements America's."

But how do you judge a film and its performance? Kümel: "A film must be seen by the number of people it is intended for." That's actually a neat definition if you think about it. An art-house drama could never compete with the tent-pole summer movies. But that does not mean that it is operating in a vacuum. There are still yardsticks for analysing its performance.

" becoming a doctor..."

On to writing itself: "It takes years, that's the problem," according to Janssens. "Scriptwriting is like becoming a doctor - it takes about the same amount of time to become a good one. It's not because you learn the rules that you are a writer... We looked at the number of schools and courses that are available in Europe for the moment and found over 300. But in my opinion, only a very few of them - including London and Rome - are worth anything." The problem is one of commitment, with many film-making courses not devoting enough time to the script.

Another question that cropped up was: "Who exactly is the author of the script?" Some writers complained about being considered as luxury typists by directors. The habit of directors and even producers demanding shares of the authors' rights was also discussed. "I don't accept that," said Janssens. "When I finish a script, I've done 80% of the directors job."

More about Luc Janssens

Friday, November 02, 2007

Song lyrics for Belgian hit movie "Vermist"

This summer, I got a call from composer Steve Willaert who was writing music for the Belgian thriller “Vermist/Missing” directed by Jan Verheyen. He was preparing a track for the end of the film and could I help with the lyrics? After a little coming and going, the result was “Waiting” breathlessly sung by Chantal Kashala. What I didn’t know at the time is that the film stars two of Flanders’ biggest new actors, Koen De Bouw and Kevin Janssens. So when I went to see it on the second night, I was surprised to find a capacity audience in one of the largest theatres (it opened in 29 cinemas in Flanders). “Waiting” plays over the final credits. I’ve had music used in movies before, but this is the first time I’ve written something from scratch for one. There are plans to turn “Vermist” into a TV series. Check Vermist here. Scriptwriters are Bas Adriaensen, Philippe De Schepper and Matt Witten.

Download the track from A-Lyric.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Rome festival: learning from documentaries

Big, glamorous and busy: I just got back from the Rome festival, where I didn't manage to see half the films I wanted. But two documentaries gave me some food for thought. The first was "The Gates", by Antonio Ferrera. This fly-on-the-wall documentary follows artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude's two attempts to line Central Park with saffron-coloured patches. The film-makers followed them to the various production and administration meetings. So the film was not written or even planned in terms of a final structure. "600 hours of rushes, 2 years of editing into 98 minutes," as Ferrera explained in the bar. So the challenge was to make a coherent story out of a vast amount of material afterwards. "You never stop writing your film," he said. "When you pitch it, you're writing. Editing is re-writing. When you dub it or do subtitles, you're still writing. Basically, you only really stop writing when you start the next one."

The other revelation was "Natural Born Star", a brilliant documentary about the former Norwegian heartthrob Fred Robsahm (photo), who basically fell into superstardom in Italian B movies in the seventies by accident. I won't go into the details of his amazing yet tragic life, but it's one of the most moving stories I've seen in ages. What was interesting was the way the director Even G. Benestad and scriptwriter August B. Hanssen used the mountain of vintage material to tell the story, which itself has the feel of a B movie throughout the parts that deal with the seventies (including a great period soundtrack by Kaada - pronounced "coda"). Inevitably, when the reality kicks in, the effect is all the more moving. For a work of non-fiction, it is also remarkably true to the three-act structure. I strongly recommend this one. The film has its own site called Natural Born, but you'll find more info on the Rome Film fest page here.

Check the soundtrack on
Kaada - Natural Born Star (Music from the Motion Picture)

Incidentally, the Rome festival doesn't have a script award. So the only reference to a screenplay came from director Jason Reitman, who insisted on bringing the scriptwriter Diablo Cody on stage with him to pick up an award for "Juno" as "it is her story". Spoken like a gentleman!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Rome festival kicks off

The 2nd edition of the Rome Festival kicked off yesterday, with 167 films on show, including 14 in competition. "Rome will be the biggest cinema in the world," claims Mayor Walter Veltroni. The festival aims at being one of the top international events, and has lined up a dozen avant-premieres to tempt the press along. The festival also has a market, called Business Street (centred around the once-electric Via Veneto). To find out about the festival, click the logo (right).

I'll be down there towards the end of the fest, with two projects with directors attached. If anyone is interested in hooking up, leave a message. It will be interesting, as I'm a big fan of Italian cinema old and new but only get to see a tiny part of what is happening. The other reason I'm looking forward to going is that I lived for a few months in Rome back in the eighties. It'll be good to be back there.

RaiSat are doing live broadcasts and reports from the event. Check out the programme here.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Die Fälscher (The Counterfeiters) picks up main award at Ghent festival

The Ghent Film festival has just wrapped up, with the main award going to the German movie "Die Fälscher (The Counterfeiters)". Directed and adapted from a book by Stefan Ruzowitzky, the film details one of the biggest counterfeit schemes in history. Germany used Jewish counterfeits during the war to churn out Allied currency in an attempt to sabotage their economies. Inevitably, the suckers doing the counterfeiting had some choices to make: living relatively well while working for the Germans or dying. If you think about it, that's not much of a choice really. In fact, it's not a choice at all. It's only later that it might be perceived as an issue.

The film is based on the memoirs of Adolf Burger, "Des Teufels Werkstatt/The Devil’s Workshop". In a comment on, another author, Lawrence Malkin, makes some interesting comments about the choices being made by these people at the time.

"Die Fälscher" was released in the UK on October 12. It received four stars from Empire.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

French TV writers come together

Anyone near the south of France that is interested in TV series (and the writing thereof!) should check out "Scénaristes en série", an annual get-together that was started by 10 French series writers and is becoming more international. The idea is for writers, producers, actors and distributors to get together in a series of debates and masterclasses. They promise to show the best-in-class series from Spain, the UK, Germany and Canada.

It will be held at the Palais des Congrès in Aix-les-Bains (Rhône-Alpes, if my memory serves me well), October 18-21. Contact: Tel : 01 48 03 18 25 (in France) or visit Scenaristes en Série. There are several regional airports in the area, plus a special TGV train leaving from Paris! How's that for style?

Friday, October 12, 2007

No movie downloads from here yet

I had thought of offering movie downloads from the site, which is an exciting development on the web. The theory is that we can break the distribution bottleneck and allow anyone anywhere to download material. But the dispute in the US between representatives of the producers and writers turned up a little detail that bothers me: the writers are getting paid peanut shells for DVDs and downloads!

Unlike the rest of the world, where writers retain authors' rights and therefore benefit to a modest degree in the use of a work (notably through the sale of DVDs and now downloads), this is not quite the case for the US. And the writers are rightly questioning this. So until they come to some sort of agreement, I don't feel comfortable promoting downloads of movies. Shame, as it is the way to go.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

"Le fils de l'épicier" picks up script award at Namur

Eric Guirardo and Florence Vignon picked up the Best Script award at the 22nd Festival of Francophone Cinema in the Belgian town of Namur for "Le fils de l’épicier/The Grocer's Son". When his father becomes ill, a disillusioned young man has to step into his shoes and manage the village shop.

Director Guirardo had planned the film since 2000, and finished the writing with Florence Vignon after he spent time filming travelling tradesmen in France.

Check the film's site in French.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Macedonian-Polish action spec wins the first Central European Pitch Forum

I mentioned this event a few months back. Here is an extract from the (enthusiastic) press release concerning the winners. Nice to see a genre film picking up the main prize.


Veteran Macedonian-born Swiss writer-director Mitko Panov took first prize and 5 thousand euro along with it at the closing event of the 2007 Fade In Central European Pitch Forum, the continent’s first story market, for his Balkan-set drama-actioner Witness.

The 2 thousand euro-worth special jury prize went to Paolo Poti from Italy for his drama screenplay "The God of the Hills", while the award for the best Eastern European screenplay was given to Hungarian writer team Péter Gál and Csaba Tóth for their chiller "Weekend". Young Hungarian director István Madarász got the Best Pitch award for the presentation of his unique action thriller "Loop". The lavish awards ceremony and networking dinner, attended by a hundred-plus film professionals from all across Europe, closed a very intense three days in Pécs in the south of Hungary. Beautiful weather was kind to the organizers, as the picture-perfect city—a European Cultural Capital-to-be in 2010—showed its most stunning faces to attendees of its international film festival Moveast and its flagship event pitch forum. 13 screenwriters from all over Europe showed up with 11 projects. Their screenplays were all written on spec—meaning the authors developed them on their own volition—so the writers arrived in the hope of selling their screen stories to the attending producers.

To find out more (and maybe present something next year), visit Fade In.

On the photo: president of the Federation of Screenwriters in Europe Christina Kallas listening to award-winning Polish director Kryzstof Zanusi. Photo by Laszlo Simara.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Belgium to send "Ben X" as Oscar contender

"Ben X", the award-winning debut film from film journalist Nic Balthazar, has been unanimously chosen to represent Belgium as a Foreign-Language contender for the Oscars. The Dutch-speaking film, which has been hailed at home and received the Grand Prix at the Montreal World Film Festival, is a gripping tale of a slightly autistic boy that is bullied at school. It combines a remarkable internal monologue with extracts from video games. The performances are universally excellent.

The film is based on a book written by Balthazar that was subsequently adapted as a play. It is built on a true story (but obviously considerably changed). Expect to hear more about it. Visit the official site (in English and Dutch).

Monday, October 01, 2007

The Coppola syndrome: could it happen to you?

You've probably heard by now the Francis Ford Coppola has had his portable computer and back-up stolen. He has made a heartfelt plea for at least the back-up to be returned, as it contains not only his latest script which is about to go into pre-production, but 15 years of archives.

Yikes! It made me think about my current set-up. How much could I afford to lose? The vast majority of semi-cooked ideas exist in print form. That's OK. I still have copybooks full of notes and press clippings. So what about my back-ups? Well, like many people I don't do enough of them. And the problem that Francis Ford has suffered is that he didn't count on someone actually stealing the backed-up hard disks!

Any way around this? A quick survey of writer friends drew everything from shrugs of shoulders to stern warnings about making copies and storing them in friends' houses in case your place burns down or Mossad breaks in and steals everything. Online storage doesn't really seem to have entered the writers' habits yet.

Either way, it's something worth thinking about. Do you have any back-up tips?

Sunday, September 30, 2007

"Le spectateur fantasmé": writers consider the spectator

Anyone who writes must at some stage has wondered about the possible spectator. But who is this spectator? What do we know about her? Should we accommodate her already at the writing stage and, if so, how? To what degree?

For the 6th time, the SACD France and SACD Belgium are hosting a talk at this year's Festival de Film Francophone in Namur, Belgium on October 1. The talk is split into two sections: a morning debate between the various guests and a later public encounter in the festival marquee.

Details can be found on the FIFF site. The Namur festival is a cool event, as the whole town is taken over during the week, and they host numerous workshops and production forums. There are also a host of premières, which this year include 14 films from as far apart as Senegal and Lebanon.

PS: I'll be in Namur on October 4 if anyone wants to hook up, just leave a message.

Monday, September 17, 2007

"Kings" chosen as Ireland's "Best Foreign Language" at Academy Awards

IFTA, The Irish Film and Television Academy has announced that Tom Collins’ ‘Kings’ starring Colm Meaney, Donal O’Kelly and Brendan Conroy has been officially selected by an independent IFTA jury for submission to the 80th Academy Award(S)®, for the ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ category. This is the first time that an Irish language film is being submitted from Ireland for this category.

"Kings" tells the story of a group of Gaelic-speaking young men who in the mid 1970s left the west of Ireland, bound for London, filled with ambition for a better life in a place where they could be kings. Thirty years on they meet to mark the passing of the youngest of the group. For some of them, those thirty years have been hard. Their muscle has been spent, their hopes dashed on the roads and building sites of Britain, to be replaced with a sense of hopeless disaffection. ‘Kings’ is a story of a lost generation, rich in humanity and emotion, and with a heart-breaking resonance not just for the Irish in today’s changing world.

According to director Tom Collins, "‘Kings’ has been a remarkable journey for me over the past four years. To receive this latest accolade is quite overwhelming and I am indebted to the Irish Academy for their support. I know it’s always dangerous to have messages in films, but I hope people will watch ‘Kings’ and empathise with the whole experience of emigrants in a foreign land and how hard it is for them to find their way home. This is a universal story – it’s not just about paddies…” Specifically concerning the relationship with the original play "Kings of the Kilburn High Road" and the playwright Jimmy Murphy (see below), Collins had this to say to Screenplay Europe: "I regard Jimmy as a friend and one of Ireland's best writers. Kings is doing exceptionally well which wouldn't have happened without [him]".

"Kings" was produced by Newgrange Pictures and goes on release in Ireland on September 21.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

People's Choice Award 2007

The European Film Academy has made its nominations for this year's European Film Awards. As ever, it's a rather high-brow list that includes "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days", "The Edge of Heaven" and "La vie en rose".

As in previous years, you can do your bit too, as they are running a more mainstream selection for the People's Choice Award that includes "The Last King of Scotland", "La vie en Rose", "Black Book" and "2 Days in Paris". Check the selection here.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

"4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days" to open in... Romania

After four months of travelling successfully around the world, the multi award-winning "4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days" is only now set to open in its home territory, Romania. The hard-hitting movie will open at the Bucharest National Theatre (that's one premiere I'd like to attend) before moving to other venues. There are also reports that the film will be shown outside major towns in mobile cinemas, a move which is interesting.

The reason I mention this is to underline the difficulty of coordinating movie releases in Europe. Although the 25 countries are technically a single market, only the major studios actually enable Europe-wide releases. All the countries act like separate markets. There are large distributors and movie chains such as UGC and Kinepolis, of course, but every movie has to find a local distributor and start individual campaigns that fit around the majors' releases.

Another way to look at this as writers is that although you always hope that you are writing something with global appeal, you are largely dealing with a series of local audiences. It's also interesting to note that many of the most successful European films have been intensely local. This has been true of "Billy Elliot", "Goodbye Lenin", "L'auberge espagnol", "Adam & Paul", "12:08 East of Bucharest" and now "4 Months".

For more about "4 Months...", visit the blog.

UPDATE: Nov 25. "4 Months..." was awarded the Bronze Horse for Best Film 2007 at this year's 10-day Stockholm film festival ending Sunday November 25.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Intro to scriptwriting in Manchester

Scriptwriting courses tend to be concentrated in capital cities. Here's one that's open to anyone in Manchester, UK. "Due to the success of our previous courses we are pleased to announce our next 6 week project at the Dance House, Oxford Road (opposite the BBC) starting on Monday 8th October 7.30pm - 9.30 pm.

The programme is an introduction to the basics of scriptwriting for screen and is open to anyone 18+ regardless of experience. The course is ongoing and the first 6 weeks will focus on formatting scripts, dialogue, character and developing plots. Writing can be a lonely task, these sessions give participants the chance to meet like minded people from all different walks of life and also fresh eyes and minds to bounce your ideas off. Previous participants have said the course has given them 'confidence about their ideas', 'created a portfolio of work' and has 'given me goals'."

On the face of it, this looks like an intro for people that have always wanted to but never got around to trying scriptwriting. The course is priced at just £35 for the 6 weeks. If you require any further information, e-mail or call 07857 906 014 and tell them Screenplay Europe sent you.

Friday, August 24, 2007

"Atonement" to open Venice fest

Amongst the many films that will play at Venice this year, "Atonement" is being billed as the most expected. Directed by Joe Wright, it has a script by Christopher Hampton ("Dangerous Liaisons", "Total Eclipse" and the upcoming "Coco avant Chanel") based on the award-winning novel by Ian McEwan.

The World War II drama is Wright's second feature, although he has directed numerous dramas for British TV. Keira Knightley's role is being tipped as a career-defining performance. Wright had famously berated the Bafta voters for not giving her the best actress for "Pride and Prejudice".

See The Telegraph for an interview with Wright in which he talks about Knightley, budgets and filming Dunkirk.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Belgium: workshops and round table

French-speaking writers might be interested in two upcoming events in Belgium. Laurent Denis, an award-winning scriptwriter and producer with Cookies Films, is running a workshop focused on building characters and writing dialogue in August and September. Later workshops will cover an introduction to scriptwriting and writing a short film.

Check the details on Cinefilms.

A new event, Brussels Film Days, is to be held in the Wolubilis complex this September. In addition to avant-premières and open-air screenings, the writers association ASA will host a round table on the theme of the script and professional scriptwriting on September 13. Writers and directors will be present - although it doesn't say which ones. More details on the ASA site.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

"Kings" showcased in L.A. and Dublin

The Screen Directors Guild of Ireland, in association with the Directors Guild of America, have announced the winner of the Directors Finders Series 2007 as "Kings" directed by Tom Collins, written by Collins and playwright Jimmy Murphy. "Kings" follows the story of a group of six young men who leave their homes in the West of Ireland in the mid 1970's to go to England in the hope of making their fortunes & returning home. Thirty years later only one makes it home - but does so in a coffin.

As part of the award, the film will be showcased in the state-of-the-art Director's Guild of America Theatre, Sunset Boulevard, L.A on 28th September 2007 to an audience of American distributors, with a view to securing a US distribution deal for the film. It will also be featured at a special Awards Ceremony hosted by director Jim Sheridan on 23rd August in Dublin in The Clarence Hotel, to precede the L.A Screening Event. This event is being filmed by TV3.

To find out more, visit the Irish Film Board.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Adapting from books: "The Pianist"

A great story is a great story, and will almost inevitably make its way to the screen. British scriptwriter Ronald Harwood made a magnificent job of writing the script for "The Pianist". As he explained in The Guardian, this was no accident. He had already covered war issues and totalitarian regimes (including his native South Africa), before being called by Roman Polanski to adapt the book. He maintains his closeness to the subject was important.

Harwood has now contributed to a book about adapting novels to the screen, "Ronald Harwood's Adaptations: From Other Works into Films: From Other Media into Films". He goes into "mouth-watering detail" (as one reviewer said) about what adaptations actually involve.

His article in The Guardian is already a treat, if a little unflattering for scriptwriters: "What conclusions, if any, are to be drawn from my experience in the movies? Certainly, I have learned that the screenwriter's relationship with the director is at the very heart of film-making, but the cult of the film director is now so pervasive that the screenwriter is mostly consigned to oblivion. If a critic admires the film the screenplay is ignored; if he finds fault, the screenplay comes in for a mauling. Thus, the screenwriter must learn that he is not an equal partner; indeed he is somewhat subservient."

For the full article, visit The Guardian.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Antonioni dies at 94

With the death of Bergman and French actor Michel Serrault, it has been a pretty sad week for movie-goers. Now Michelangelo Antonioni, the pioneering critic of post-war Italian society has died at the age of 94. Antonioni's first break came as a scriptwriter, working with directors such as Roberto Rossellini and Enrico Fulchignoni. His debut feature was "Cronaca di un amore/Story of a Love Affair" in 1950 although he didn't achieve true success until "L'avventura" ten years later.

His key films are without a doubt "Blow-Up" and "Professione: reporter/The Passenger". Although he suffered a stroke in 1985, he continued to film. His latest work was "Il filo pericoloso delle cose/The Dangerous Thread of Things" from the "Eros" trilogy.

Antonioni on Amazon US

Monday, July 30, 2007

Ingmar Bergman dies at 89

Ingmar Bergman, one of cinema's key figures, has died at the age of 89. The writer and director of dozens of films and plays died at his home in Faro, Sweden. Over his remarkable career, Bergman was nominated no less than nine times for Oscars as a director, with three of his films picking up best Foreign Film awards.

Bergman's filmography includes "Wild Strawberries", "The Seventh Seal" and "Cries and Whispers". His career started as a projectionist's assistant, later studying to be an actor and director. His first filmed work was the script for "Frenzy", directed by Alf Sjoberg in 1944. Over the coming years, he would chalk up strong critical and commercial success with his often harrowing movies.

His last public work was the TV fiction "Saraband". He once famously noted that he had difficulty watching his own films in retrospect as he found them "depressing". Given that many sprang from his own experience, this might be understandable to a degree although it hints to me that he never found closer on many of the issues.

For more about Bergman, visit Ingmar Bergman Face to Face.

Ingmar Bergman on Amazon US

Friday, July 27, 2007

Paul Laverty: the "spectacular lie"

Paul Laverty, the long-time writing partner of Ken Loach, has just been interviewed by the Santa Barbara Independent about scriptwriting and their choice of subject matter. The film "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" picked up the Palme d'or in Cannes last year. It takes an uncompromising look at the struggle for independence in Ireland and the subsequent Civil War. Although many people considered it as a metaphor for the Iraq war, Laverty denies this entirely. A far better parallel (which Laverty does not make) could be made with the Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation, not just in terms of the direct brutality of occupation but also in terms of its effects on the resistors. The core story is, after all, about two brothers that have to face each other.

An interesting quote from the article: "Did you feel drawn to screenwriting because you felt you could reach a wider audience and bring more attention to issues that were important to you? Choosing the subject matter, the characters and premise to a story, and how we attempt to tell it reveals a great deal about the filmmakers. Our choice of material is of course affected by our values, politics, and how we see the world. It strikes me that a great many contemporary films glorify the pursuit of wealth, romanticize violence, and usually set up “Western values” as superior. It’s often simplistic and very crude; black and white. In the end, it makes for a spectacular lie about how Westerners see themselves. They lie to the rest of the world, too. I have zero interest or respect for this type of filmmaking, no matter where it comes from."

For the full article, visit Santa Barbara Independent.

Paul Laverty on Amazon US

Paul Laverty on Amazon UK

Monday, July 23, 2007

The danger of "the scene"

It's always exciting when a new scene is discovered in a country. Whether it be Taiwan, the UK, Czech Republic or Denmark, media and the industry just love to be able to bunch films together by style. The stark reality of Belgium and the kitchen sink dramas of the UK are just two examples. Over the past few years, Denmark has been the source of interesting films that manage to find commercial audiences. The figures for domestic films are remarkable: in the first six months of 2007, over 1.8 million tickets were sold - one half million more than the same time last year - and fully one-third of those were for Danish films.

But the inevitable downside of a scene is the almost irresistible temptation to apply a formula. An awful lot of money is involved, so why not hedge your bets by following previous successes? In an article in the Copenhagen Post, Claus Ladegaard of the Danish Film Institute, said the Danish industry was definitely in a crisis and may have rested too heavily on its earlier laurels. ‘We probably should have looked more critically at our own success a bit sooner,’ he said. ‘Often, as soon as someone discovers a particular way to make a film successful, others follow and then movies start resembling one another.’

It's a danger that exists already at the writing stage. All the writers with a few pages of sub-"Pulp Fiction" know what I'm talking about. But trying to second guess what producers and audiences will like is dangerous. The throughput time from paper to screen is so long that whatever trend was discernible will be totally outdated by the time it would take to write and shoot it.

For more about the Danish hangover, check the Copenhagen Post. For news about Danish film, visit the Danish Film Institute.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Louis Gardel: a scriptwriter controls nothing

Veteran scriptwriter Louis Gardel ("Indochine" and "Himalaya" as well as massive amounts of stories for French TV) gives a few sobering thoughts when explaining his work methods for the Cineuropa website: "I’ve understood very well that a scriptwriter controls nothing at all and that, for the result to be good, for the film to measure up to what I dreamt, someone “strong” has to do it. I’m very attentive to that".

Gosh man, do you have to say it so loud? Someone might hear you. He does, however, have a point. Scriptwriting is an in-betweeny thing to do, as the ultimate calls are taken by the director (in Europe) and the producer.

Now that I've given you the bad news, check out the whole article for some interesting insights on Cineuropa.

Monday, July 16, 2007

"California Dreamin'" sways Brussels

Cristian Nemescu's "California Dreamin'" (co-written with Tudor Voican) was the clear overall winner in the recent Brussels European Film Festival, picking up awards as Best Film, the Audience favourite and an award from TV channel Canvas. Producer Andrei Boncea picked up the awards in the absence of the director, who tragically died in a car accident during post-production. Another noted winner was Gabriel Range's "Death of a President".

The festival also runs a pitching competition, this time won by Spain's Susana Lopez Rubo for "You Can Change Your Life in Ten Seconds" and Belgium's Robert Scarpa for "Délocalisé".

for the full list of winners, visit the BEFF.

Friday, June 15, 2007

European fest to kick off in Brussels

Brussels 5th European Film festival will kick off on June 29, running until July 7. Belgium, like most European countries already has a busy line-up of film festivals. The Brussels event stands out by focussing on first or second features from European directors. Amongst those being shown this year are "The Art of Crying" by Peter Schonau Fog on a script by Bo Hansen, "Voleurs de chevaux/Horse Thieves" by Micha Wald on a script by Jean-Paul De Zaeytijd and "Does it Hurt (The First Balkan Dogma)" by Aneta Lesnikovska. Seven avant-premieres have been set up and Belgium's Cinémathèque will be showing some pearls from its vaults on the square facing the venue.

The festival will also be handing out an award in its second pitch contest. More details will follow closer to the day.

For full details in French, Dutch and English, visit European Film Festival.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

UK's Screenwriter Festival posts programme

This year's Screenwriter Festival in Cheltenham, July 3-6, has an exciting programme that has been split into two broad sections. The two-day Rising Talent section will focus on issues of most interest to writers trying to break into the sector. Agent Julian Friedmann, Tony Jordon (writer of "Life on Mars"), reps from the BBC's Writers Room and William Nicholson ("Gladiator") are amongst the many speakers. The second "pro" section features a script market, Michael Goldernberg (the latest "Harry Potter"), a section on Spanish cinema and Simon Oakes, CEO of Hammer Films on the re-launch of the studios.

For more details, visit Screenwriter's Festival.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Cannes 2007: Script award for Fatih Akin

Already one of the darlings of Germany's new cinema, Fatih Akin has picked up the screenplay award at Cannes for "The Edge of Heaven/Auf der anderen seite/Yasamin kiyisinda" as well as picking up the award from the Ecumenical Jury. Why three titles? Because Fatih Akin is a German of Turkish descent who has taken another look at the lives of people affected by the two countries. His first film, "Head On", was already an uncompromising quest for identity. He followed it with "Crossing the Bridge", a commendable documentary about musicians in Istanbul. He says of the characters in "The Edge of Heaven", that "they reflect a part of me, something that changes every day, because I change my mind every day. And I was inspired by the people I met during my trip to Turkey for 'Crossing the Bridge', people who are trying to change the world with music. Activism and political passion can be very sexy."

For the full interview, see Cineuropa. For the official site of "The Edge of Heaven" (in Turkish).

Monday, May 07, 2007

"Grave Decisions" picks up German script award

Germany has just dished out its Lola awards for local movies. The country has been on an upward swing for 10 years, when "Run, Lola, Run" opened a series of remarkable movies including "Goodbye Lenin" and more recently "Downfall" and "Other People's Lives". Perhaps not coincidentally, the awards are called Lolas, and in the latest ceremony "Grave Decisions" picked up awards for the best direction (Marcus H . Rosenmueller) and best screenplay (Marcus H . Rosenmueller and Christian Lerch) as well as picking up a joint Silver Lola with "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer".

"Grave Decisions/Wer früher stirbt, ist länger tot" is a comedy produced by Roxy Film in Bavaria, following a young boy whose mother died at his birth. When he later realises this, he tries to find a new wife for his father. It works, except that the new love is already married.

Interestingly, this is a first feature for both Rosenmueller and Lerch (who is also a noted sound designer). Check the official site in German.

The full list of Lolas:

Best Film - Gold Lola:
Four Minutes by Chris Kraus

Best Film – Silver Lola:
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Tom Tykwer and Grave Decisions by Marcus H . Rosenmueller

Best Children's Film:
Hands Off Mississippi by Detlev Buck

Best Documentary Director:
Workingman's Death by Michael Glawogger

Best Actress:
Monica Bleibtreu (Four Minutes)

Best Actor:
Josef Bierbichler (Winter Journey)

Best Supporting Actress:
Hannah Herzsprung (Life Actually)

Best Supporting Actor:
Devid Striesow (The Counterfeiter)

Lifetime Achievement: Armin Mueller-Stahl

Best Director:
Marcus H . Rosenmueller (Grave Decisions)

Best Screenplay:
Christian Lerch, Marcus H. Rosenmueller (Grave Decisions)

Best Cinematography:
Frank Griebe (Perfume: The Story of a Murderer)

Best Editing:
Alexander Brenner (Perfume: The Story of a Murderer)

Best Production Design:
Uli Hanisch (Perfume: The Story of a Murderer)

Best Costume Design:
Pierre-Yves Gayraud (Perfume: The Story of a Murderer)

Best Score:
Gerd Baumann (Grave Decisions)

Best Sound Design:
Stefan Busch, Dirk Jacob, Michael Kranz, Frank Kruse, Matthias Lempert, Hanse Warns, Roland Winke (Perfume: The Story of a Murderer)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

UK event investigates the "dark art" of script development

Script development is often the subject of debate in Europe, usually followed by the claim that there is not enough of it. But what does it entail? A UK event will look at what they call the "dark art" of script development. I quote: "Who are these people who have been granted the right to fiddle with our scripts? And what is the dark magic they practice? Great script development can free a potentially brilliant script from the snags that are holding it back but for many writers and directors it remains a frustrating enigma.

An evening of questions and answers with two of the most respected script executives in the country Dan MacRae and Sarah Golding. Don't think about writing another script until you've heard what they have to say.

Dan was formerly Deputy Head of the Development Fund at the UK Film Council and an Executive at Working Title. His credits include RED ROAD and the forthcoming ATONEMENT.

Sarah is currently Head of Development for Potboiler Productions and was previously Head of Development for Skreba Films, Development Manager at Zenith Productions and Script Consultant for Yorkshire Television and Fair Game Films. Her credits include THE CONSTANT GARDENER, DEEP WATER, BROTHERS OF THE HEAD and the forthcoming THE BEST TIME OF OUR LIVES".

Date: Wednesday 9th May
Time: Doors and bar open at 6.30pm, event from 7.30pm
Venue: Lighthouse, 28 Kensington Street, Brighton, BN1 4AJ
Cost: £5/£4 concs Lighthouse’s Digital Lounge. Spaces are limited. Reservations at

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

European movie houses to award European movies at Cannes

I've always thought that the discussions about scriptwriting should be opened more towards other players in the chain. The people that run movie houses, for example, are never included. But at the end of the day, they are the ones that decide to run a movie and eventually decide to pull the plug!

So I was interested to learn that a network of European movie houses has been awarding prizes to European films at Cannes and other festivals for four years already. Once again, it will be awarding its Label prize to the best European film in the Directors’ Fortnight/Quinzaine des Réalisateurs section.

A jury of four Europa Cinemas exhibitors will award the Label at Cannes, with the winning film receiving the invaluable support of extended theatrical exposure and additional promotion from the Europa Cinemas network. Previous winners have included 12 :08 East of Bucharest / A Fost sau n-a fost?, Live and Become / Va, Vis et Deviens and more recently Spain's Camino de los ingleses/Summer Rain at the Berlinale. To find out more, click the logo above

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Crossing Europe awards

The Austrian festival that features a strong East European slant gave its awards this weekend. Director Pia Marais picked up the European Competition with "Die Unerzogenen/The Unpolished" (Germany 2007) co-written with Horst Markgraf. The audience voted for "Avril/April" by Gérald Hustache-Mathieu for the Ray Audience Prize. The CROSSING EUROPE Award Local Artist was split for the first time, going to Libertad Hackl for "Bleiben will ich, wo ich nie gewesen bin" and to Lukas Marxt and Michael Petri for "Nach der Eishöhle". The jury distinguished the work "Fatsy" by Oliver Stang and Christian Tod with an Honourable Mention. Visit the blog here.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Anton Corbijn film to open Director's Fortnight

Dutch rock photographer Anton Corbijn's "Control" will open the Cannes' Director's Fortnight with a biopic about the Joy Division singer Ian Curtis, who killed himself at the age of 23. The film, written by Matt Greenhalgh and based on the book "Touching From a Distance" by Curtis' wife Deborah, looks at the last years of his life when he was battling with epilepsy and an increasingly confusing private life.

The après-showing party will be attended by Bono as well as members of Depeche Mode and New Order. Will anyone take to the stage? Likely, but who?

Monday, April 23, 2007

"Reprise" wins main and writing award at Lecce

Norway's "Reprise", directed by Joachim Trier and co-written with Eskil Vogt, picked up the main "Golden Olive" award in a tie with Christian Wagner's "Warchild" at Lecce's European Film Festival and went on to pick up the main award for the screenplay. The jury cited, "its ability to tell an extraordinary love story in an original way, and its complex tale rich in metaphors about life and creation". Mentioning the screenplay, it hailed, "the harmonious way it brings together classic narrative elements and elements with fragmented tones".

Vogt is an award-winning short film writer and director who has worked in France and was noted for "The Embrace/Une étreinte" and "Les étrangers/Foreigners".

More about the Lecce European festival.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Writers create first "Zarbi" award for Cannes

For two years now, a group of writers led by Jacques Gumbau have organised writer events at Cannes. This year, they are in the last stages of organising the first Grand Prix Zarbi du Scénario. The idea is not to celebrate the best writing, but to put the spotlight on more off-beat scripts, "scenarios that stand out through their intention, style or theme - even if they are unfilmable," says Gumbau. Scripts in the running feature murder, sex, parodies and combinations of the above! There are a number of high-profile writing contests in France already. Zarbi aims at being more low-key, and will provide a networking event at Cannes itself.

To submit scripts (in French), sign up on ScenaristesEnHerbe.

French "filmists" looking for short ideas

The Parisian moviemakers "les Filmistes" are, according to a post on, looking for ideas for ultra-short films. I quote: "The principle: a theme, one minute, a film and three weeks to produce it." In actual fact, many of the films on their site are considerably longer. Check them out, there are some well-shot and well-edited pieces. There is also a wide variety of styles. "The regularity of the sessions encourages members to develop their own narrative environment... The idea is more important than the means."

In all, Les Filmistes have produced 150 shorts in 3 years, which is not bad going. Check them out here. If you run a short-movie event, why not check to see if they have anything that is up your street?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Brussels: literature and adaptations

This Friday, April 20, an interesting event will bring together scriptwriters and writers for a discussion about adaptations in Brussels. Books remain a very important source for new films, as producers try to build on the success of a writer by transposing his work to the screen. But the field is rife with pitfalls. This event will look at the issue from an African viewpoint, although the actual writing issues are probably the same no matter what language or culture you work from.

Guests include directors such as Toumani Sangare who are attending the Afrique Taille XL festival and the Canadian scriptwriter Marcel Beaulieu. The discussion will be chaired by Isabelle Fauvel, who develops films through Initiative Film in Paris.

For details, visit Afrique Taille XL. Don't forget to catch some of the African films on show, as they are only too rarely shown in Europe.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

UK Screenwriter Festival extends short film deadline

The UK's Screenwriter Festival is running a short script competition whose deadline has been extended to April 12 (yikes). I quote:

Script_1 is an initiative of the Screenwriters' Festival and allows new screenwriters to turn their own ideas into a short film script, with free workshop training, and the winning entries receive cash prizes and entry to the Festival Rising Talent Days. Last year's winners were awarded their prizes at the Festival by Oscar-winner Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park).

We have extended the closing date for your initial outline synopsis to this Thursday 12th April as our Easter present. You only need a short paragraph summary of your story to enter. See the website for rules and entry requirements. It is open only to residents in the South West Of England.

To apply click -

Saturday, April 07, 2007

RIP: Luigi Comencini

Luigi Comencini, one of the fathers of Italy's "commedia italiana" style died on April 6 in Rome. Along with Ettore Scola, Dino Risi and an incredible wave of actors, the commedia italiana was the dominant genre throughout the sixties. Comencini's best known films include Pane, amore e fantasia (Bread, Love and Dreams, 1953), Tutti a casa (Everybody Go Home, 1960), Lo scopone scientifico (The Scientific Game, 1972), episodes of Don Camillo as well as La donna della domenica (The Sunday Woman, 1975) and Quelle strane occasioni (Strange Occasion, 1976). Comencini was 90.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Fast Forward Ireland to host 24-hour challenge

Following the example of a similar events in the US and continental Europe, Fast Forward Ireland is hosting a challenge to write and shoot a 3-minute short in 24 hours on April 13-14. Teams must register beforehand and will receive the theme at the same time. The organisers promise craic, high-fives and the possibility of your film doing the rounds of the other events. So why do it? "People still want to make films in Ireland, and we know this for sure now," according to the website. "We've also seen these people come out of the woodwork and make fantastic movies over the last year at each fast festival we've had."

For more details, register by clicking on the logo above.

Monday, March 19, 2007

"Man from the Embassy" picks up writing award

Argentina's 22nd Mar del Plata Film Festival, closed on March 18 with a record attendance of 190,000 spectators. The jury, led by American director Charles Burnett, proved particularly appreciative of the European entries. Best writing award went to Dito Tsintzade's "The Man from the Embassy", about a disillusioned German embassy official in Georgia whose life changes when a local boy tries to rob him.

Full award list:

Golden Astor
Fiction, by Cesc Gay (Spain)

Special Jury Prize
Gardens in Autumn, by Otar Iosseliani (France/Italy/Russia)

Silver Astor for best director (ex aequo)
Marina Spada for As the Shadow (Italy) and Hong Sang-soo for Woman On The Beach (South Korea)

Silver Astor for best actress
Sandra Hueller for Madonnas (Germany)

Silver Astor for best actor
Carlos Resta for La Peli (Argentina)

Silver Astor for best screenplay
Zaza Rusadze and Dito Tsintsadze for The Man From The Embassy

Special Mention
The Greatest Love in the World, by Carlos Diegues (Brazil)

Ernesto Che Guevara Award for the best film at the Latin American competition
M, by Nicolas Prividera (Argentina)

Special mentions
Suely In The Sky, by Karim Aïnouz (Brazil)
Red Land, by Ramiro Gomez (Paraguay)

M, by Nicolas Prividera (Argentina)

FIPRESCI Award for best Latin American film of 2006
Suely In The Sky

Cinecolor Audience Award
Ciudad En Celo, by Hernan Gaffet (Argentina)

Signis Award

791 Prize for artistic innovation
It Happened Just Before, by Anja Salomonowitz (Austria)

For full details, visit the Mar del Plata festival.

Friday, March 16, 2007

10th screenwriters fest in France

The 10th screenwriters festival will be held in Bourges, France between March 28 and April 1. Guest of honour this year is Nicole Garcia, and a special event will celebrate music in film. Yet traditionally one of the most interesting aspects of the festival is the criée des scénaristes - writers' auction - which gives writers 10 minutes to pitch their projects. It's a hairy undertaking but a great experience. Another regular is the short film writing marathon.

The festival also features workshops, seminars and readings. For full details, visit
Nicole Garcia sur Amazon FR

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Fade In pitch fest calling for entries

A new pitch event is about to be launched. Fade In is a new script development outfit based in Hungary that has the ambitious plan to run a pitch contest with development and a cash prize as the main award. The Fade In Central European Pitch Forum will be held between 27 and 30 September 2007 at the Pécs International Film Festival in the south of Hungary. The event, basically a screenplay market, is designed to locate the hottest of the new screenwriting talent in the whole of Europe and facilitate their meeting with some of the best producers in the continent.

12 shortlisted writers will get an opportunity for a one-month online consultation session with acclaimed international story editors to perfect their scripts. After a rewriting period, between 27-30 September 2007 they are invited on an all-expenses paid trip to the Pécs International Film Festival. Following a two-day intensive pitch training from the best coaches the 12 writers can pitch their stories in front of 15 prominent European producers.

submissions are from March 1 to May 15.

Monday, March 05, 2007

UK: Prepare for Cannes 2007

Two heavyweights are coming together to provide a practical seminar for UK filmmakers. Chris Jones, himself a filmmaker and author of the highly recommended "Guerrilla Film Makers Handbook", and Ben Craig, who runs and writes the equally-recommended "Virgin's Guide to Cannes" (right), will host an event at the Ealing Studios on March 20. I quote: "Ben’s seminar will offer detailed, practical and pragmatic techniques and tips so that YOU can maximise your impact and minimise your spend. And don’t think that Cannes is just for producers and directors, the savvy actors, writers, editors, DP’s and other crew members are all there too, rubbing shoulders with the power players and making new relationships that can lead to amazing new opportunities."

The entry of £15 includes a copy of the "Virgins Guide". This event is highly recommended. For details, visit Living Spirit.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Poland's "Strike" hits protest

According to a report in Cineuropa, Volker Schlondorff's "Strike" has hit a major snag. The film, released in Poland on February 23, is an account of the events that led up to Solidarnosc's strike that eventually brought down the Communist regime. But the film is based on the life of the union's creator, Anna Walentynowicz, and she is not happy at all. In fact, she has been fighting the project from the start and is now threatening legal action against the film. She cites numerous biographical inaccuracies and "historical untruths". Oops. Questioned about the accuracy, fellow Solidarnosc member Lech Walesa said, "It does not entirely reflect the strategy of participants in the 1980 strike but it is a good reflection of the situation up to 1970".

"Strike", written by Andreas Pflüger and Sylke Rene Meyer has been awarded with two Bavarian Film Awards, Best Actress for Katharina Thalbach and Best Cinematography for Andreas Höfer. It will be released in Germany on March 3.

Volker Schlondorff on Amazon UK
Volker Schlondorff on Amazon US

Thursday, February 22, 2007

European cinema attendance and local films on the rise

Provisional figures from the European Audiovisual Observatory show that cinema attendance has grown over the past year, with local cinema finding more audiences. Total admissions in the 25 member states of the European Union rose by around 4% in relation to the preceding year, with 17 out of the 20 countries for which data is available registering a positive change. In major markets, Germany and France saw increases of over 7%. Spain and the UK were down somewhat. The most impressive gains were in Lithuania (+98%) while Estonia (+40.2%) and Latvia (+22.7%) also showed impressive increases. Double-digit growth was registered in Austria (+10.6%), the Czech Republic (+21.4%), Finland (+11.5%) and Slovenia (+10.8%), whilst preliminary results in the Slovak Republic (+ 54.3%) are the best since 1998.

The market share of local films also brought good news. France leads the way with 45%, only slightly less than the figure for US films (45.8%). Germany had the highest national market share since analyses began in 1991. Other countries reporting improved market shares for domestic films included Finland, where local films accounted for 23% of admissions, up from 15% in 2005 and the best result since 1999. Three out of sixteen domestic titles released during the year claimed a place in the annual Top 10, led by Aleksi Mäkelä's ski jump champion biopic "Matti - Hell is for Heroes" (photo). Domestic films also figured in the Top 10 in Estonia, where the success of two children's titles, animation "Lotte from Gadgetville" (an Estonian-Latvian co-production) and comedy "Ruudi" (an Estonian-Finnish-German co-production), brought national market share to just over 9%. In Slovenia the 10% market share registered is the highest since records began. Other Central and Eastern European countries registering improved national market shares included the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Romania.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Irish film and TV awards

The Irish Film & TV Awards were held on February 9, with awards going to what was clearly a very good year for Irish film generally. The two heavyweights this year were Ken Loach's "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" (photo), which picked up the Best Film award, and "Breakfast on Pluto" that picked up the Best Script award for Neil Jordan and Pat McCabe. Cilliam Murphy also picked up a Best Actor award for his role in "Breakfast".

Also worth checking is "Small Engine Repair", written by Niall Heery. For the full list of winners, check the Irish Film & TV Awards.

Monday, February 05, 2007

UK: How to write a TV treatment

It's a well-known fact that TV offers more work for writers than anywhere else. And just like in movies, the producers are sighing, "Where are all the good writers?" To hopefully help you provide the answer, London's The Script Factory is running a special event aimed at getting you on the first rung of the ladder on March 29 & 30, 2007. "How to Write a TV Treatment" will be led by Yvonne Grace (who has worked in various writing and production roles for "Coronation Street", "Eastenders" and "Crossroads"), and there are only 12 places available. For details, visit The Script Factory.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Piaf biopic to premiere at the Berlinale

One of the season's big events will doubtless be the new bio-pic of the classic chanteuse Edith Piaf, called "La môme" or, for English speakers, "La vie en rose", which will premiere at the upcoming Berlinale festival. I saw a long trailer of this at Cannes, and the least you can say is that it looks lush. Olivier Dahan is credited as both writer and director. If bells are ringing, this is probably because he is the director of the spectacular "Crimson Rivers II". So we can reasonably expect a pretty big movie experience, not least because the cast includes Gerard Depardieu, Sylvie Testud and Jean-Paul Rouve. The singer herself is played by the suitably waif-like Marion Cotillard (with Jil Aigrot some of the actual singing).

"La vie en rose" will open in France and Germany in February, with other European countries later (and the UK in the autumn). To see the short trailer and more details en français, visit TFM distribution.

Edith Piaf on iTunes UK:
Edith Piaf - The Very Best of Édith Piaf - Non, je ne regrette rien

Edith Piaf on iTunes US:
Edith Piaf - The Voice of the Sparrow - The Very Best of Édith Piaf - Non, je ne regrette rien

Monday, January 08, 2007

Q&A with Kevin MacDonald and Giles Foden

"The Last King of Scotland", the first fiction feature from Oscar-winning documentary director Kevin Macdonald, is rooted in the reality of Idi Amin's brutal rule in Uganda. Wooed by the president's generosity, charm and apparent populist appeal, young Scottish doctor Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy) agrees to become Amin's personal physician and soon finds himself appointed number-one advisor on all manner of subjects, from architecture to foreign policy. By the time he is forced to face the atrocities of Amin's command, the doctor is already in over his head. A bold combination of comedy and horror that balances psychological insight and historical facts, the film's success is founded on a monumental performance from Forest Whitaker. The film is based on a book by Giles Foden.

Curzon Soho in London are hosting a screening followed by a Q&A session with MacDonald and Foden on Friday January 12 at 6.30 pm. For details, visit Curzon Cinemas.