Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Dutch hit success with child's play

Reading the figures for European movie-going a year ago, I gave the free advice that if we wanted to try to write sucessful movies, we should be writing for kids and young adults. Since then, of course, we've had another "Harry Potter" to prove my point. But even outside the mainstream studio releases, there are examples. Screendaily.com just ran a piece about the 2005 box office in Holland. Although overall figures are down by 12%, attendance of Dutch movies is up by over 13%. This includes "Kameleon 2" (Steven de Jong), "Zoop in Africa" (Johan Nijenhuis), "Schnitzel Paradise "(Martin Koolhoven) and "Winky's Horse" (Mischa Kamp). The last Dutch film of the year to be released was, "De Griezelbus", an adaptation of the very popular children’s books by Dutch writer Paul van Loon.

Hmm, maybe I should take some of my own advice from now on.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Belgian online mag celebrates 100th issue

Ten years ago, the magazine Cinergie was struggling as a print magazine. It decided to dump paper and focus on providing an online news mag with interviews and comments on the Belgian scene. Ten years later, they are still going strong (75,000 visitors a month) and are planning to start showing short movies online starting with Marie-Laure Guisset's award-winning "Home Sweet Gnome".

In an interview for their partner publication Cineuropa, editorJean-Michel Vlaeminckx says, "In a way, we are like Belgian cinema: a maximum of ideas with a minimum of money." The Belgian Touch - low-key, off-beat movies done on shoestring budgets - has generated considerable press over the past few years. Yet Vlaeminckx echoes Screenplay Europe's wish for a broader impact for creativity. "You know, when incredible films like 'L'Avventura', 'la Dolce vita', 'Breathless', 'Monika' appeared and changed the cinema landscape… Those actors were popular and had a real audience, and they revolutionized cinema. But because of audiovisual formatting, and the fact that the rotation of films in theatres is quicker and quicker (mega profits need to be made in a very short lapse of time) and television has become the forced partner of cinema [and] is imposing its consensual norms, European cinema has lost some of its vitality."

To read the full interview (in English, French, Italian or Spanish), visit Cineuropa. For the 100th issue of Cinergie (in French), click here. This month's featured movie is Fiona Gordon and Dominque Abel's "Iceberg".

Monday, December 19, 2005

10,000 visitors and no flowers

I almost missed this: Screenplay Europe has had some 10,000 visits over the past year. Since I started covering screenplay stories from a European perspective, I've had a regular flow of people looking for news items.

For the record, at least 3 people a day come looking specifically for "Banlieue 13", with another few checking Luc Besson stories. So there's your Christmas n° 1 right there. Cedric Klapisch's "Russian Dolls" also scores well. Apart from the French, filmmakers from Eastern Europe generally also score well.

No-one sent flowers, but then I didn't give any to the 10,000th visitor either.

My only major regret is that I can't point to actual downloadable European screenplays for the people that ask fo them. If anyone knows of a good source, please leave a link.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Europe's "Television Without Frontiers": development hell?

The EU’s Television Without Frontiers Directive is not the stuff of novels. Yet its implications for movies, television – and therefore writers – is considerable. Pyrrhus Mercouris of the FSE (Federation of Scriptwriters in Europe) gave a quick overview of the ongoing review of the Directive to members of Belgium’s Association des Scénaristes de l’Audiovisuel recently.

The Directive’s goal is to harmonise legislation governing the very diverse TV sector in Europe. With the EU’s complex web of private and public channels, languages, legislation and copyright issues, finding some sort of common ground was never easy. The original Directive was adopted in 1989, amended in 1997 with a new draft Directive soon to be announced.

One of the key elements of the existing Directive is its encouragement of the production of European audiovisual works. For TV channels, this meant the obligation to show 50% European content. Yet a review has shown that very few channels respect the quota. “And some people were surprised to find that weather forecasts were being counted as European productions,” notes Mercouris. A significant part of the problem is that Margaret Thatcher managed to add a proviso to the Directive that it would be applied, “where appropriate”.

Canada and more recently Australia opted for a deregulated approach to the audiovisual sector. Consequently, Australia only shows about 9% local production. The age of hits such as “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” is over.

Some countries, such as Ireland and Belgium, are very heavily “penetrated” by other countries’ television. Ireland feels that it simply cannot compete with the massive budgets of the BBC, making it impossible for it to meet the quota of 50%. Other countries are looking to exert more control over incoming advertising and broadcasts that specifically target a country despite being located outside its jurisdiction.

Looking ahead, the FES would like the Directive to be extended to the web, given that telcos are already preparing for Internet and mobile phone broadcasts. DRM gives them the means of controlling the use of their files. Nothing, however, guarantees that the relevant creators will see any of this new revenue.

Harmonisation would provide a clearer framework. Currently, authors’ rights are paid differently in the EU, with Ireland’s independent sector singled out for its particularly bad treatment of scriptwriters. Across Europe, writers complain of the difficulty of getting payment for their work despite being at the basis of many of the works. This makes a good case for maintaining the payment of authors rights on broadcasts.

"No internal market"
Strangely, the debate on film and TV is lumped with the information technology sectors rather than culture at the EU level. This means the priorities are sometimes more economic than cultural, with issues being discussed in terms of the internal market. “There is no internal market in film and TV,” says Mercouris. “Research shows that Europeans like to watch locally produced material at prime time. But there is very little being shown from other European countries. On the other hand, US shows that cost $6 million to produce are being sold off for $100,000 in some countries.” Needless to say, local productions in smaller East European countries and Greece cannot compete.

Negotiations are ongoing.

The FSE was created in 2001, and represents 4,500 writers from 14 countries. Writer guilds from three further countries, Sweden, Finland and Turkey, are currently considering joining. To find out more about the Television Without Borders Directive, see the European Parliament site.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Banlieue 13 to get US release

Over the year we have been posting on Screenplay Europe, the single most requested item has been "Banlieue 13", co-written and produced by Luc Besson, directed by Pierre Morel and starring David Belle. US fans should note that the film will finally be released there in spring 2006 by Magnolia Pictures. Basically a fun cops 'n' robbers romp featuring spectacular physical stunts, "Banlieue 13/District 13" has been seen by 1 million spectators since its release. The official site in French is still online. But the forum has been locked, unfortunately.

European Besson watchers, meanwhile, are eagerly awaiting his hush-hush project "Angel A" starring Jamel Debbouze. The film was shot in black and white over the summer and despite its French release date of December 21, no synopsis has been made available.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Haneke's "Hidden/Caché" sweeps the EFA Awards

It was a great night for Austria's Michael Haneke last Saturday, when "Hidden/Caché" picked up a string of major awards at the 18th annual European Film Awards in Berlin. Many people felt he was short-changed when the Palme d'Or went to the Dardenne brothers in May. At EFA, his film picked up six awards, including best film, best director (which he had already won at Cannes), and best actor for Daniel Auteuil.

Other highlights included Hany Abu-Assad & Bero Beyer picking up the Screenwriting trophy for "Paradise Now", Julia Jentsch (photo) the Best Actress trophy for her role in "Sophie Scholl" (as well as a Jameson People's Choice Award) and the Lifetime Achievement Award going to Sir Sean Connery.

For the full list of winners, see the EFA site.

Michael Haneke on Amazon UK
Michael Haneke on Amazon US

"Constant Gardener" cleans up at BIFA awards

"The Constant Gardener" was the big winner at the 8th British Independent Film Awards in London on Wednesday night. The film won the top prize of Best British independent film, with Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz also claiming the best actor and actress prizes. Best Screenplay was given to Frank Cottrell Boyce for "Millions". The Douglas Hickox award for a debut director went to Annie Griffin for "Festival" (which had already won an award at Dinard). Oliver Hirschbiegel’s "Downfall" was named best foreign film, while Sean McAllister's "The Liberace of Baghdad" was named best documentary. Neil Marshall won best director for his horror film "The Descent"

Fopr the full results, see the BIFA site.

Constant Gardener on Amazon UK
"Downfall" on Amazon UK
"Downfall" on Amazon US

Friday, December 02, 2005

Screenplay Europe in your language

For a site that welcomes script news from across the continent, Screenplay Europe is surprisingly mono-lingual. We have to make a choice. Running even a smallish site like this takes considerable time. If we had to translate every item, we would write less. For a quick translation of our news items, we have added a link on the menu on the right (scroll down).

If you have comments about any of the items, feel free to make them in English, French, Italian or Dutch.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Screenlab London: Selling Your First Script: The Final Rewrite

The New Producers Alliance organises regular events in London for producers, writers and directors (bearing in mind that many people are all of the above). Over the coming month, they will be running a few events of interest, including: Screenlab (Monday Dec. 5), an evening mentoring workshop on how to create, pitch and sell successful TV and film projects - for writers, directors, producers and script executives.

This is a mentoring discussion for writers, directors and producers who have either taken the Saturday seminar in the month before, or who have equivalent tuition or experience. Participants can develop their pitches, bring script samples for discussion and receive detailed feedback and mentoring advice on their work. Observers are also welcome to take part in the discussions.

For details of this and the rest of their programme, visit New Producers Alliance.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Rent European films in the UK

One of the major disadvantages of European cinema within Europe already is the distribution. Countries such as Belgium show a fair number of movies from other countries, whereas the situation in the UK is quite difficult - even for UK films. It's hardly surprising that sales of European movies are proportionally lower, as most people have not seen them. Rental is obviously the way to go. Amazon UK now runs an up-to-date selection of European flicks. If you've been wondering about "Downfall", "Hotel Rwanda" or "Mar adentro/The Sea Inside" this is your chance to check them out. For some personal recommendations, try "Intermission", "Kontroll" and "Look at Me".

Monday, November 28, 2005

Best film and script award for Fien Troch

Belgian writer/director Fien Troch picked up the Golden Alexander Award and Best Screenplay award at the 46th Thessaloniki International Film Festival for "Een Ander Zijn Geluk/Someone Else's Happiness". The jury, led by Italian cinematographer Vittrorio Storaro, also gave a shared Best Actress award to Ina Geerts (photo) and a Special Mention for Natali Broods as supporting actress. "When a lucky coincidence brought Ina and me together, I had never seen her act," says Troch. "That may make it seem rather unlikely that I immediately saw her in the leading role, but it's the truth."

Visit the official website: Een ander zijn geluk/Someone Else's Happiness

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Anders Thomas Jensen picks up Nordisk award

If this goes on, we'll be calling him Citizen Jensen. Denmark's Anders Thomas Jensen picked up the DKK 99,000 Nordisk Award for major contributions to Danish film last Friday. The 33 year-old's third feature as a writer/director, Adam’s Apples is the Danish entry at the upcoming Academy Awards nominations and one of his two scripts – with Susanne Bier’s Brothers - is nominated at this year’s European Film Awards (see below). According to Cineuropa, Jensen currently represents some 40% of Denmark's film output as either a writer or director.

His latest script, "Explosive Bomb", is to be directed by Thomas Villum Jensen for a 2006 release.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

European Film Awards announce nominess

The European Film Academy has unveiled its nominees for the 2005 awards. The choice, again, very much favours arthouse/auteur work - the relevance of which is debatable in some cases (is "Don't Come Knocking" really one of Europe's best films this year or would they have been embarassed not to include academy president Wim Wenders?). So the jury will have to decide between Palme winner "L'enfant", "Brodre/Brothers" and "My Summer of Love" largely. On a personal note, I don't feel the selection reflects the vitality that can be found in films such as the Czech Republic's "Up and Down" or Ireland's "Adam & Paul".

So it's quite comforting to see that the selection for Best Screenwriter offers a more challenging selection that includes movies that proved popular in the cinemas.

Hany Abu-Assad & Bero Beyer for PARADISE NOW
Mark O'Halloran for ADAM & PAUL
Michael Haneke for CACHÉ (Hidden)
Anders Thomas Jensen for ADAMS ÆBLER (Adam's Apples) and BRØDRE (Brothers)
Dani Levy & Holger Franke for ALLES AUF ZUCKER (Go for Zucker!)
Cristi Puiu & Razvan Radulescu for MOARTEA DOMNULUI LAZARESCU (The Death of Mr Lazarescu).

But having said all that, the best overall selection is probably in the Jameson People's Choice Award. But "the people" are not given a shot at voting for a best screenwriter yet. The Awards ceremony will be braodcast across many European channels on December 3 from Berlin.

See all the nominations here.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

UK Writer and Gazette des Scénaristes become pen pals

In a spirit that Screenplay Europe has been trying to promote for a year now, two of Europe's foremost scriptwriting magazines are sharing articles. The remarkable "Gazette des scénaristes" and "UK Writer" are published by the French and British writers' unions respectively. The latest issue of the Gazette, which deals with love, sex and how to represent them on screen, comes with an article from UK Writer. Cross-pollination of this kind is all too rare, despite the fact that France is a major co-producer with most of the other European cinemas.

Although distribution of the Gazette could best be described as "confidentiel" even in France, it can now be ordered from the writers house Dixit.

The Writers Guild
Union Guilde des Scénaristes
To order the Gazette.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Matthieu Kassovitz on the French riots

In 1995, Matthieu Kassovitz directed one of the most stunning films of its time: "La Haine/Hate". The parallels with what is happening in France are chilling. It follows a group of young people from an impoverished Parisian suburb, tracing their inevitable path towards confrontation after one of their friends ends up in hospital after suffering police brutality. On his website, Kassovitz has written a passionate but accurate review of the situation. Like many other commentators (and Screenplay Europe), he puts the responsibility for the scale of the ensuing violence squarely at the feet of the French Interior Minister who fuelled the flames with his comments about "cleaning the scum". Unfortunately, there were enough hotheads out there to call his bluff, which they have done for over a week already. "Nicolas Sarkozy is ... a little Napoleon, and I do not know if he has the potential of a real one, but it will be impossible to say tomorrow that we didn’t know."

See the full commentary on Matthieu Kassovitz.com.

UPDATE: Djamel Bensalah, director of the hit Franco-Algerian comedy "Il était une fois dans l'oued", and French distributor Gaumont will donate all the proceeds of tickets sold on November 13 and 14 to victims of the French violence. The film is showing in some 200 cinemas. Visit the official website (in French).

Matthieu Kassovitz on Amazon UK
Matthieu Kassovitz on Amazon US

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Morocco meets Asia at Brussels fest

The International Festival of Independent Film that closed last Sunday in Brussels confirmed the emergence of Moroccan film, with "Tarfaya" by Daoud Aoulad-Syad picking up the Grand Prix. "Tarfaya" is best described as an end-of-the-road movie. Bittersweet family comedy "Ici et là" (co-written by Mohamed Ismail, Mohamed Mouftakir and Ismaïl Saidi) picked up the Best Screenplay award. The Philippines' Cesar Montano picked up the Jury award for his directing debut in wartime local drama "Panaghoy sa Suba/Call of the River" while Singapore's Eric Khoo was given the Best Director award for his long tone poem, "Be With Me".

Germany was also well represented, with actress Julie Bowe being recognised as Best Actress for her remarkable role in "Katze im Sack/Cat in a Bag". Daniel Stielgitz went home with a Best First Film for the horror/thriller romp "Happy End".

Jean-Marie Buchet picked a screenplay award in the national (Belgian) section for "Une fameuse journée".

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Bafta Scotland: “Festival” tipped for writing and best film awards

Annie Griffin’s comedy about the Edinburgh festival is being tipped as a strong contender for Scotland's upcoming Bafta awards, being nominated as both Best Screenplay and Best Film that will be held on Nov. 13 in Glasgow.

Best Screenplay
- Annie Griffin
Night People
- Adrian Mead & Jack Dickson (Produced by Clare Kerr. Mead Kerr Productions, New Found Films: SMG Television/Scottish Screen)
On A Clear Day - Alex Rose

Best New Screenplay
At the End of the Sentence – Written by David Grieg
The Immeasurable Joy – Written by Gregor Barclay
Karma Cowboys – Written by Rae Brunton

Best Film
Festival (Directed by Annie Griffin, Produced by Chris Young. Young Pirate Films, Pathe Film Distribution)
On A Clear Day (Directed by Gaby Dellal, Produced by Sarah Curtis & Dorothy Berwin. Forthcoming/InFilm Productions, Icon Film Distribution)
A Woman in Winter (Directed by Richard Jobson, Produced by Chris Atkins, Richard Jobson & Hamish McAlpine, Vestry Films/Tartan Film Distribution)

For the full list of nominees, visit Bafta Scotland

Monday, October 24, 2005

Germany, Morocco, Asia and the art of the pitch in Brussels

For 32 years already, the Festival International du Film Indépendant has been pioneering challenging movies from around the world. Between Nov 1 - 6, the Brussels-based event will be presenting a series of works from young German film-makers (such as "Katze im Sack" photo), a selection from Morocco and as usual a strong section covering Asian film.

FIFI is also noted for its "rencontres". The professional meetings this year will cover co-productions with Asia, a look at the situation in Morocco and a talk on the art of the pitch called "Sell the story, don't tell the story". The reason I mention it is that I will be talking there, and hope to enable young scriptwriters and drectors to meet up. The event will mostly be in French. More details will follow, but note the date already: Saturday Nov. 5 at 11 am.


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Last call for the Berlinale Talent Campus

Every year in February, film-makers of the world converge on the Berlin International Film Festival. And each year, the organisers invite 500 young filmmakers to attend workshops, share ideas and mingle with international stars and colleagues during the Berlinale Talent Campus Week. Over six days, they can catch a range of talks and worshops about the latest techniques, trends and also (if they're lucky) get one-on-one mentoring. For a chance to attend, you must apply online. The criteria are:
1 Mini film of approximately 1 minute of length
OR a short film of maximum 5 minutes of length on the themes of Hunger, Food, and Taste
OR 5 pages of screenplay
OR 5 pages of artwork
OR 5 minutes of sound

The deadline is set for November 1. For more details, check Berlin Talent Campus.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

New Bond confirmed, writers already attacking follow-up

After much humming and hawing, it has finally been confirmed: Daniel Craig will be the new James Bond in the upcoming "Casino Royale". Rumours already started after Craig's ice-cold portrayal of a London dealer in "Layer Cake". The producers considered some 200 actors for the role, but claim that the blonde 37 year-old is the only one they actually offered the part. The producers also announced that the writing team of Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, behind "Die Another Day" and "The World is Not Enough", are already working on a follow-up to "Casino Royale".

Layer Cake on Amazon UK
James Bond on Amazon US

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Writer/director Sergio Citti dies in Rome

Sergio Citti, known as a powerful influence on Pier-Paolo Pasolini, died in Rome on October 11 after a long illness. Citti is credited with having introduced Pasolini into the lowlife suburbs of Rome that provided characters and background for many of his films. These include "Accattone", "Mama Roma" and "Salo, or 100 days of Sodom".

Citti went on to contribute to other films including Federico Fellini's "Le Notti di Cabiria" (The Nights of Cabiria) and Bernardo Bertolucci's "La Comare Secca" (The Grim Reaper). He also directed a number of films himself, including this year's "Fratella e Sorello" (brother and sister). He is survived by his brother, the actor Franco Citti.

Pasolini on Amazon FR
Pasolini on Amazon US
Pasolini on Amazon UK

Friday, October 07, 2005

Italian cinema: strikes and showcases

It would take an extreme optimist to put a positive spin on the cinema situation in Italy. Despite having one of the most remarkable cinema heritages, the country has clearly slipped from its leading role in both auteur and popular cinema. So the news that the government was going to further cut backing next year has led to a strong reaction from a number of bodies in Italy. In parallel with a cut in overall cultural investments, Silvio Berlusconi's government is offering a mere €50 million (down from €84 million). The national film body Anica notes that the French government spending is roughly ten times that amount. Together with entertainment body Agis, they are calling for a strike on October 16 that will see cinemas, theatres and opera houses closed for a day. Actors will also take part.

Editor's note: My thanks to Cinema Minima and Spietati for pointing out that the strike was two days earlier, on Oct. 14. Hope we didn't spoil any movie nights out!

Cinema Italian Style
On a more positive note (and an example of what the money is used for), Italian cinema is being showcased in Hollywood until October 16. The two-week showcase of the best and most challenging in new Italian filmmaking opens with the bittersweet comedy "Manual of Love" from director Giovanni Veronesi, the biggest Italian box office hit of the past year. The series closes with the L.A. Premiere of director Pupi Avati's "So When are the Girls Coming?" (photo) a jazz-themed portrait of the friendship between three "Gen X" Italian youths. The series features recent films from acclaimed directors including Cristina Comencini's emotional drama, "Don't Tell", director Marco Tullio Giordana (BEST OF YOUTH), with his latest "Once You Are Born"... (Quando sei nato no più nasconderti), about the collision between a wealthy Italian family and a boatload of illegal immigrants. There are also works from Ettore Scola, Michele Placido and several classics such work from Vittorio De Sica. For more details, check Cinema Italian Style.

Giovanni Veronesi on Amazon UK
Vittorio De Sica on Amazon UK
Vittorio de Sica on Amazon US
Italian classics on Amazon US

Monday, October 03, 2005

"Death of Mr Lazarescu" picks up new awards

Romania's contender for a foreign-language Oscar "The Death of Mr Lazarescu" looks like being this season's hot ticket in European cinema, as it has picked up another set of awards in Namur. The film, scripted by Cristi Puiu and Razvan Radulescu, is the tale of an elderly man being shipped between hospitals in the middle of the night - a road movie in an ambulance. As well as its previous awards such as Un Certain Regard at Cannes, "Lazarescu" picked up the Bayard d'Or Best Film Award at the International Festival of French-speaking Cinema (although I'm not sure how much French is spoken in the movie) as well as a "mention spéciale" in the First Film section, although the award went to Stefan Libersky's "Bunker Paradise". Luminita Gheorghiu was also singled out as the Best Actress.

In addition to its screenings, the Namur festival is an important date in the production calendar as its hosts a co-production forum and numerous international workshops and round tables.

For the full award line-up (in French) visit the International Festival of French-Speaking Cinema.

Friday, September 30, 2005

The epic journey of "First on the Moon"

Russian director Alexei Fedorchenko has taken a stylish look at Soviet idealism and ambition on "Perviyje na lune" (First on the Moon). The script, from the team of Alexander Gonorovsky and Ramil Yamaleyev, is the tale of an early attempt by the Soviets to be the first to reach the moon in the late thirties. It uses archive footage to bolster the period feel, fuelling the feeling that it is actually a documentary. To add to the confusion, it picked up a documentary award at Venice this year.

Yet the film's story itself is an epic journey. The original script had to go through eight years of financial crises, disintegrating public institutions and loan sharks to find its way to the screen. For the story behind the story, check the Moscow Times. For a review, check European Films.net.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

San Sebastian fest "surprise" awards

The 53rd San Sebastian festival wound up on Sept 24. Among the two most interesting awards were the Golden Shell going to the Czech film "Stesti" (Something Like Happiness). Actress Ana Geislerova also picked up a best actress award for her role in the film. The production company has stated it is "speechless" following the award given the heavyweight films in competition. "Stesti" was written and directed by Bohdan Slama.

The Jury Award for best Screenplay went to Wolfgang Kohlhaase for "Sommer Vorm Balkon" (Summer in Berlin), directed by Andreas Drasen. Veteran writer Kohlhaase has 20 films to his credit since the sixties, including "First Spaceship on Venus", "I Was Nineteen", "Rita's legends" and "Baby".

For the full award line-up visit San Sebastian International Film Festival.

UPDATE: Just days after winning at San Sebastian, "Stesti" has picked up the Best Film award at the 11th Athens International Film Festival. The Best Screenplay award went to Aku Luhimies who co-wrote (with Jari Rantala and Paavo Westerberg) and directed the Finnish entry "Paha Maa" (Frozen Land ). The Greek entry "Awakening" by Niko Grammatikos was the surprise winner of the Audience Award.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

"Sophie Scholl" nominated as German Oscar candidate

The powerful "Sophie Scholl - The Final Days", directed by Marc Rothemond on a script by award-winning Fred Breinersdorfer has been nominated as Germany's entry for the Best Foreign Film Oscar. Based on historical facts, the film recounts the last days of a student who embodies resistance against the Nazi horror, freedom, and courage, up to the end.

The film had its world premiere in the “Official Competition” of the 2005 Berlin International Film Festival and went on to receive the Silver Bear for Best Direction. Julia Jentsch was awarded the Silver Bear for Best Leading Actress. The film also received three German Film Awards. "Sophie Schell" has been shown worldwide at over 20 film festivals and has won numerous prizes.

Rothemond is also one of the nominees in this year's Jameson People's Choice Awards.

Official site: Sophie Scholl der film.

Friday Oct 21 at 6.15pm at the Curzon Soho: Q&A MARC ROTHEMUND: SOPHIE SCHOLL
Tickets £8.50.
After a special preview screening of SOPHIE SCHOLL, director Marc Rothemund will be welcomed to take questions from the audience.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

20th festival of French-speaking film supports co-prods

The 20th Festival International du Film Francophone will kick off in Namur (Belgium) on September 23 under the aptronage of Gerard Corbiau. As well as showcasing new films from a number of countries, the festival is also continuing its role in promoting cross-fertilisation between different parties. The second Francophone Production Forum will try and nurse a number of projects towards production under the wing of experienced producers, scriptwriters and directors. A day called "Ecrire l'image" will see 20 scriptwriters debating "Frontières" with its creators Mostéfa Djadjam and Agnès de Sacy. Another special event will focus on cultural diversity. The work of the Dardenne brothers and Sandrine Bonnaire (including "Est ouest") will be featured, with a premiere of the much-awaited local movie "Bunker Paradise" wrapping the festival.

For details: visit www.fiff.be

Gerard Corbiau on Amazon FR
Sandrine Bonnaire on Amazon FR
The Dardenne bros on Amazon FR
Sandrine Bonnaire on Amazon UK
Gerard Corbiau on Amazon UK
The Dardenne bros. on Amazon UK

Monday, September 12, 2005

Dinard unveils 16th Britfilm festival

France's Dinard Festival of British Film will be running its 16th edition between Oct 6-9 next. Based on the Brittany coast near Rennes, the festival has announced 6 titles to run in the competition: Brian Cook’s "Colour Me Kubrick", Jan Dunn’s "Gypo"; "Opal Dreams" from Peter "Full Monty" Cattaneo; Stephen Woolley’s "Stoned" about Stones guitarist Brian Jones, Annie Griffin’s "Festival" and Brad McGann’s "In My Father’s Den".

"British cinema questions reality," according to festival director Hussam Hindi. "Be it through comedies, dramatic features or thrillers, the documentary (and documented) aspect is never left out. Behind Billy Elliott’s tears, the 'struggle' of The Full Monty’s four jobless characters, the loneliness of the Girl with a Pearl Earring, lies the difficulty of being happy. But British cinema has a way of showing life in a simpler, jollier light."

The jury will be led by French director Regis Wargnier, with trubutes to (and appearances from) Nicholas Roeg and Irishman Neil Jordan. Look out also for copies of the "101 Scénaristes en herbe/101 New Screenwriters" revue.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

German shorts at NY, LA and Palm Springs festivals

Short films from Germany will be presented at the New York Film Festival, LA Short Film Festival and the Palm Springs Festival of Short Films.

The 43rd New York Film Festival will be presenting the shorts "Lâl" by Dirk Schäfer and "Cigarette Break (ZIGARETTENPAUSE)" by Ralf Stadler in the main programme from September 23 to October 9. The sidebar of Views from the Avant-Garde will be screening "Kosmos" by Thorsten Fleisch and "D'Annunzio's Cave" (D'ANNUNZIOS HÖHLE), "The Basis of Make-Up III" and "Miscellanea III" by Heinz Emigholz. The feature length programme will be showing the German co-prods "Caché" by Michael Haneke (FR/AT/DE/IT), "Gabrielle" by Patrice Chereau (FR/IT/DE), "Manderlay" by Lars von Trier (DK/SE/FR/GB/DE/NL), "Paradise Now" by Hany Abu-Assad (NL/IL/ DE/FR) and "Something Like Happiness" by Bohdan Slama (CZ/DE).

The 9th LA Shorts Fest, which is being held from September 6-13, has invited ten German films: "Aanna and the Soldier" (ANNA UND DER SOLDAT) by Sören Hüper, "The Old Pro" (DER BESTE) by Arne Jysch and Rasmus Borowski, "I Spy with my Little Eye" (ICH SEHE WAS, WAS DU NICHT SIEHST) by Matthias Emcke, "Troublegum" (DER KAUBOY) by Carsten Seller, "Dying of Love" (MORIR DE AMOR) by Gil Alkabetz, "Just a Smile" (NUR EIN LÄCHELN) by Eva Demmler, "Projections" (PROJEKTIONEN) by Boris Schaarschmidt, "Dormouse" (SIEBENSCHLÄFER) by Frederik Hamm, "Before I Go" (VORLETZTER ABSCHIED) by Heiko Hahn, and "White Wedding" by RP Kahl.

The 11th Palm Springs International Festival of Short Films will see 8 German shorts competing from September 20-26 for prizes with a total value of over US$ 30,000: "Alright Love" by Samuli Valkama, "Anemone Heart"(ANEMONENHERZ) by Janina Dahse, "Detail" by Kanwal Sethi, "I Spy with my Little Eye"(ICH SEHE WAS, WAS DU NICHT SIEHST) by Matthias Emcke, "Dying of Love"(MORIR DE AMOR) by Gil Alkabetz, "Just A Smile" (NUR EIN LÄCHELN) by Eva Demmler, "Projections" (PROJEKTIONEN) by Boris Schaarschmidt and "Vincent" by Giulio Ricciarelli.

The winners of the main prizes at the festivals in Los Angeles and Palm Springs automatically qualify for an entry to the Short Film Oscars (live Action and animation). "Before I Go" (VORLETZTER ABSCHIED) by Heiko Hahn has already qualified for an entry to the 2006 Short Film Oscar as the winner of the main prize at the Worldwide Short Film Festival in Toronto.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

James Bond to get Million Dollar polish

"Casino Royale", the Bond movie currently under preparation, will receive a final script polish from "Million Dollar Baby" and "Crash" writer Paul Haggis. The film has been written by the British team of Robert Wade and Neal Purvis, already behind the highly-rated "Let Him Have It" plus Bond's "The World is Not Enough" and "Die Another Day". They also scripted the Brian Jones bio-pic "Stoned" that will premiere in Toronto soon.

Speaking to Screen International, Wade said: "Everything is written, including the structure – it just needs a polish. If you can bring in a hot talented writer to polish it then great, it is normal on this size of movie. I am sure Paul Haggis will do a great job."

Old interview of Wade and Purvis on Infocus (2002)

James Bond on Amazon UK
"Let Him Have It" on Amazon UK
James Bond on Amazon US

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Bulgaria's "Lady Zee" picks up Sarajevo award

With over 162 films in 19 sections, the Sarajevo festival that closed on August 27 is now a major event internationally - and a showcase for Balkan cinema. This year, the main award went to "Lady Zee" (Leidi Zi), a tragi-comedy directed by Georgi Bulgjerov and co-written with Marin Damyanov, out of 11 films in competition.

The co-production market CineLink, linked to the Rotterdam Film Festival Cinemart, hosted 180 participants, up double on the previous year. The Bosnia-Herzegovina Minister of Culture Gavrilo Grahovac and Serbian Minister of Culture Dragan Kojadinovic also signed the "Ohrid Initiative" at the festival, a regional film co-production agreement which will include all former Yugoslav republics, plus Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Greece.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Edinburgh festival unveils new British hopefuls

If the line-up and reaction to the films is anything to go by, British cinema might be in for a great season. According to a report in Screen International, the news from the Edinburgh International Film festival (August 17-28) has "provided some cause for optimism". Films singled out for both their merit and critical reception include Richard E Grant’s "Wah Wah", Nick Love’s Costa del Crime gangster drama "The Business", Gaby Dellal’s "On A Clear Day", Lexi Alexander’s football hooligan drama "Green Street" (starring Elijah Wood playing against character, and one of the draws of the festival), Julian Jarrold’s "Kinky Boots", Stephen Woolley’s Brian Jones bio-pic "Stoned" and Gavin Hood’s townhip drama "Tsotsi".

Monday, August 22, 2005

Luc Besson: "secret" movie to follow "Unleashed"

Just as "Unleashed" (aka "Danny the Dog" in many territories) is being relased in the UK to mixed reviews, it has been rumoured that Luc Besson has been filming a "secret" film called "Angel A" with French comedian/actor Jamel Debbouze ("Amelie Poulain"). The black and white romantic comedy would mark a welcome return to directing for Besson, whose last outing was 1999's "The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc". Since that time, he has been producing extensively through his Europacorp studio, with action titles such as "Michel Vaillant", "Taxi", "Banlieue 13" and the recent "Unleashed" (which he scripted) and "The Transporter", both directed by Louis Leterrier.

"Unleashed" has been called Jet Li's best film so far - a sentiment echoed by the actor himself. When it was released in Japan last June, the film drew in 60,000 viewers over the first weekend, the best French release since "Deux Frères/Two Brothers".

"Danny The Dog" on Amazon FR
Luc Besson on Amazon UK
Luc Besson on Amazon US

Monday, August 08, 2005

Writer/director Gutiérrez Aragón to receive award

Spain's Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón will receive an award from Spain's film academy ICAA in September "for the value of his view, somewhere between realism and fantasy, on Spanish society over the last 30 years, embodied once again in 2004 in the film La vida que te espera (Your Next Life)". Aragon also wrote "Visionarios"(2001) and "La Mitad del Cielo" (Half of Heaven). He is currently doing post-production on "Une Rosa de Francia", set in 40s Cuba. He previously directed "Things I Left in Havana".

Aragon on Amazon US
Aragon on Amazon UK