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

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

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.