Sunday, April 30, 2006

"Lemming" leads European releases in UK

"Lemming", the dark thriller from Dominik Mill, co-written with Gilles "Who Killed Bambi?" Marchand, has just been released in the UK through Artificial Eye. Charlotte Rampling and Charlotte Gainsbourg star in a story of two couples that sit down for a dinner party with unsettling results. Other films being released over the May weekend include "Lost Embrace" by Daniel Burman, "Don't Come Knocking" by Wim Wenders and "The Moguls" by Michael Traeger.

To see where "Lemming" is playing, visit Artificial Eye.

Friday, April 21, 2006

11 European films selected for Cannes line-up

No less than 11 European films are included in the official line-up for the Cannes Festival this year. They include films by Pedro Almodovar (Spain), Nanni Moretti and Paolo Sorrentino (Italy), Ken Loach and Andrea Arnold (UK), Aki Kaurismaki (Finland), Lucas Belvaux (Belgium), Pedro Costa (Portugal) and three films from France (Nicole Garcia, Bruno Dumont and Xavier Giannoli). In addition to this selection, interesting in itself, Tony Gatlif's "Transylvania" will playing out of Competition.

For the full line-up, see Cannes or Bust.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Oscar Moore competition: "none merit the prize"

The Oscar Moore Foundation organises one of Europe's most respected screenwriting competitions. One of its particularities is to set a theme each year, 2006 being comedy. In a surprise announcement, however, chairwoman Anne Marie Flynn said in a statement: "This year, though a number of scripts were deemed notable either for the quality of writing or originality of premise, it was our final opinion that none reached the requisite quality to merit the prize."

This must be a crunching disappointment to the people that sent them in. It's also an embarassment for the Foundation itself (the awards night, set for April 20, will now be a quiz night). But it must be said that the Foundation is making a hard but ultimately commendable decision to maintain some sort of quality control. It is widely recognised that many scripts in Europe are being rushed into production without having had adequate development. If a Foundation devoted to high levels of writing allows its standards to slip, who will respect them?

One issue the Foundation might want to take on board, however, is the visibility of the Oscar Moore competition. Despite its association with Screen International, the competition is simply not well enough known. Also as the submissions are in English, there are literally thousands of scripts out there that don't qualify. Comedy is particularly strong right now in France, Germany and perhaps Spain. Would the writers have to patch together a translation to enter? That's hardly the ideal solution.

We'll post the announcement of next year's theme when we receive it.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Spec script opens in 600 cinemas in France

It's supposed to be too good to be true. But a rookie French scriptwriter has just seen his first filmed script premiere in France starring one of the country's biggest stars, opening on no less than 600 screens. "Jean-Philippe" was a high concept pitch with little chance of getting anywhere for years. Writer Christophe Turpin had the idea of creating a world where a die-hard Johnny Hallyday fan wakes up to discover that the singer is not a star, he's working in a bowling alley. He undertakes to turn him into the legend only he knows that he is - despite the reticence of the man himself. It has often been said that if Johnny Hallyday didn't exist, someone would have to invent him. This film took the remark literally.

What were the obstacles? The first was trying to get read. Several production houses turned the material down before a series of accidents led to an acquaintance picking up an option for the heady sum of €120,000 (payable in small bites). The acquaintance, however, had never produced a film. So he also went through a series of deals and partners, before being turned down by both stars: Johnny Hallyday and Fabrice Luchini.

Upon a closer reading, Hallyday, who already has an impressive series of films to his name, eventually warmed to the idea. "I hate talking about myself. But playing a slightly cheap Jean-Philippe Smet enabled me to 'desacralise' the Hallyday myth," he told L'Express magazine. Luchini was eventually won over by his daughter, although you'd have to be a pretty uptight actor not to want to play in what sounds like a fun romp with a living legend.

"Jean-Philippe", written by Christophe Turpin and directed by Laurent Tuel is distributd by Mars Distribution. To read the Express article in French, click here. Visit the official site on Mars Distribution.