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.