Monday, February 28, 2005

Oscars: The writing angle

It is a bit of a shame that the press is so eager to scream that Clint Eastwood "beat" Martin Scorsese at the Oscars. It hardly reflects the intentions of the respective directors, both of whom had good reasons to win. A lot of good movie-makers have good reasons to be a little disappointed this morning. It was, after all, a pretty good year. Unlike the French César awards on Saturday night, there were no major surprises.

Staying on a strictly writing level, here are the bits Screenplay Europe singled out:

Best Original Screenplay Charlie Kaufman (screenplay), Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry & Pierre Bismuth (story) "Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind"

Best Adapted Screenplay Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor "Sideways"

It is often said that the screenplay award has nothing to do with the writing, as it usually serves as a consolation prize for the second-favourite movie. This was not the case this year, which is encouraging.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Outsiders win French César awards

"L'esquive", the second film from director/actor Abdellatif Kechiche was the surprise winner of four awards at the 30th César film awards in Paris on Saturday night. In addition to being awarded best Screenplay, it also picked up awards for Best Director, Best Film and Best Female Newcomer (Sara Forestier). "L'esquive" was up against heavyweights such as "A Very Long Engagement", thriller "36, Quai des Orfèvres" and "Les Choristes".

The script for "L'esquive" had been shopped for a total of 13 years, and was finally produced on a comparatively small budget by Lola Films and Noé Productions. It tells the story of a group of immigrant youths from the suburbs that are studying the classical author Marivaux. Kechiche's previous film was the 2000 "La faute à Voltaire".

In another surprise win, Belgian actress Yolande Moreau picked up the Best Actress Award and her almost no-budget movie "Quand la mer monte" Best First Film.

Best foreign film at the Césars went to "Lost in Translation", while Ken Loach's "Just a Kiss" and Emir Kusturica's "Life is a Miracle" tied as the best film from the European Union.

L'Esquive (4 Césars 2005) on Amazon Fr

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Our news on your site

If you have a movie-related website, why not run our headlines in a sidebar? Screenplay Europe posts news every 2 days or so, with items from France, the UK, Germany and elsewhere. The news headlines are available as an Atom/XML feed or as an RSS feedburn.

If you use RSS, you can even get the headlines sent straight to your computer.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Italian horror maestro spills the beans!

Sorry about the short notice, but I just heard that Italian screenwriter Domenico Starnone will be giving a series of talks at the Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome on the subject of horror. The first talk is today (Feb 23), followed by others on March 3 & 21 and April 5 & 11. Bookings are essential on 06/80241572 or check the Auditorium website.

Starnone has been writing since the seventies. Check his IMDB page.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

François Ozon to present "5x2" in London

London's Curzon Cinemas is welcoming acclaimed director François Ozon ("Water Drops on Burning Rocks", "8 Women", "Swimming Pool") for a Q&A session with the audience after a special preview of "Five Times Two". The film, pitched as "how to live with someone else: five moments in the life of a modern couple..." has an ambitious narrative. "5x2 shows five scenes from a modern marriage in reverse order, like Pinter's Betrayal. We see its disintegration from the final calamity to its genesis, and gain a stunning insight into an ordinary middle-class relationship: that of Marion (Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi) and Gilles (Stéphane Freiss). First, the divorce proceedings, then an unhappy dinner party, the birth of the couple's only son, the wedding and finally the first meeting. The result is a shrewd, compassionate and often quite brilliant essay in the secret theatre of relationships." Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

Dir: François Ozon.
Starring: Géraldine Pailhas. Françoise Fabian, Michael Lonsdale, Antoine Chappey. France 2004. 90mins. Tusday 1 MAR 7.10PM Curzon Soho Tickets £8.50/£5.50 concession

François Ozon on Amazon UK

Friday, February 18, 2005

Family thriller wins Oscar Moore script award

This year’s Annual Oscar Moore Screenwriting Prize of £10,000 (roughly €14,500) has been won by Marcus Shepherd for his thriller "A Killing In The Woods". While on holidays, a 10 year-old witnesses his uncle killing his aunt in the woods - but has to keep quiet to protect his cousin.

In addition to the £10,000 development award (co-funded by The UK Film Council), the winner also receives a place on a residential writers workshop run by Arista and a professional reading of their script by The Script Factory.

The Oscar Moore Foundation is supported by the British film industry and administered by film trade magazine Screen International. Set up in memory of Screen’s late editor-in-chief and Guardian columnist who died of an AIDS-related illness in 1996, its aim is to recognise and reward new and exciting European screenwriting talent. Visit the site here.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Download an extract of "Le promeneur..."

While "Downfall/Der Untergang" continues to impress audiences across Europe and (as of February 18) the US, France has just released another film recounting the end of a different reign. In "Le promeneur du Champ de Mars/The Walker in the Champ de Mars" director Robert Guédiguian looks at the last months of President Mitterand, suffering from cancer, played with brio by Michel Bouquet. Writer Georges-Marc Benamou and scriptwriter Gilles Taurand dissect the crusty statesman's treatment of his entourage. France's Scenario-mag is offering a unique 7-page download of the script in French. an interview of Taurand is also available.

Other extracts available include "Les Choristes (Amazon)" and "Un long dimanche de finaçailles/A Very Long Engagement".

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Shepperton Babylon: New book revisits British cinema

Whatever happened to Shepperton? For decades after the First World War, British cinema was churning out dramas, cheap comedies and literary adaptations. As Matthew Sweet points out in "Shepperton Babylon", many of the films might have been cheap and nasty, but without them there would be no "Great Expectations", David Lean or Alec Guinness. His book is an attempt to put a spotlight back on these forgotten years.

Yet for all intents and purposes, the films have vanished from the public eye. As Christopher Fowler writes in The Independent on Sunday, "how can we hope to know what went on behind the scenes when we can't see the scenes themselves"? Or more painfully, "the story of British cinema is one of shameful neglect". So what happened to Shepperton? Where is its legacy? Certainly not in the recent Bafta awards, where British films were conspicuous by their absence. Is the British movie tradition already lost? What can we hope for the future? Your thoughts are welcome.

Shepperton Babylon: The Lost Worlds of...

Monday, February 07, 2005

"Don't Move/Non ti muovere" wins Italy's script prize

In the continuing pre-Oscar fever, director Gianni Amelio won Italy's Nastro d'Azzuro (blue band) award for his moving drama "The House Keys". Best screenplay award went to Sergio Castellito and Margaret Mazzantini for "Don't Move/Non ti muovere", a Cannes 2004 favourite. The ceremony, according to Cinecittà News, was a poorly organised event after the presenter lost her script and subsequently changed the order of awards.

Best director: Gianni Amelio (The House Keys)
Best emerging director: Saverio Costanzo (Private)
Best producer: Aurelio De Laurentiis (Che Ne Sara Di Noi, Tutto in Una Notte)
Best story: Paolo Sorrentino (The Consequences of Love)
Best screenplay: Sergio Castellitto, Margaret Mazzantini (Don't Move)
Best actress: Laura Morante (Love Is Eternal As Long As It Lasts)
Best actor : Toni Servillo (The Consequences Of Love)
Best supporting actress: Monica Bellucci (Remember Me)
Best supporting actor: Giovanna Mezzogiorno (L'Amore Ritorna)
Best cinematographer: Luca Bigazzi (The House Keys, The Consequences of Love, Wherever You Are)
Best sound: Alessandro Zanon (The Consequences of Love, La Vita che Vorrei)
Best set design: Francesco Frigeri (The Passion Of The Christ, Don't Move)
Best costumes: Maurizio Millenotti (The Passion Of The Christ)
Best editor: Patrizio Marone (Don't Move)
Best music: Banda Osiris (First Love)
Best song: Vasco Rossi and Saverio Grandi (Un Senso, Don't Move)
Best foreign director: Pedro Almodovar (Bad Education)
European Nastro: Malcolm McDowell
Career Nastri: Mario Monicelli and Suso Cecchi D'Amico

Saturday, February 05, 2005

People make the web what it is

It looks like I might be repeating this a few time more: people are what make the web what it is. And in the search for "cool" sites, you often find yourself dealing with "cool" people. In my experience, the scriptwriting community is quite small, but highly cooperative. Writers seem to still have the ability to share tips, hints and links, etc. Amongst the sites we have been visiting recently following links and tips are:

Complications Ensue (as a title, it is itself a pretty good summary of what scriptwriting is about) from American writer Alex Epstein. This is a blog, and for the moment Alex is dissecting shows he sees in the US. Follow the link to other posts on other issues. is pretty self-explanatory. It's a newish site that reviews recent European movies. As the scene is pretty busy right now, you're bound to find something to agree or disagree with! Inevitably, as not all films are released across all Europe at the same time (or sometimes even at all), there are lots of films we haven't seen either! That's the way the cookie crumbles. (sent to us by gets a special thumbs-up, as like Screenplay Europe, it is very focussed on one subject: Nordic screenplays. You can download copies in various languages. We have been reading the English translation of the highly-rated "I am Dina" by Jonas Cornell and Ole Bornedal.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

"Sea Inside" sweeps 14 out of 15 Spanish film awards

Oscar-nominated "The Sea Inside/Mar Adentro" completely swept aside any competition at Spain’s 19th annual Goya Awards ceremony on Sunday night, winning no less than 14 awards in the 15 categories in which it was nominated. Director Alejandro Amenabar’s moving tale picked up awards as Best Original Screenplay, Music and Make-Up as well as awards for each of the principal cast. This record-breaking run meant that Pedro Almodovar's "Bad Education/La Mala Educacion" and others were left in their seats.

In other sections, "Motorcycle Diairies" won as best adapted script, best foreign Spanish-language film winners were Uruguay's Pablo Stoll and Juan Pablo Rebella for "Whisky". Fatih Akin’s "Head-On" won best European film. Veteran actor Jose Luis Lopez Vazquez was this year’s Goya of Honour recipient.

Alejandro Amenabar on Amazon FR
Alejandro Amenabar on Amazon UK
"The Sea Inside" on Amazon US