Monday, May 29, 2006

Cannes 2006 winners (and their writers)

Although many people are saying that overall this was a rather tepid edition, the top winners are quite strong. Giving the best actor and actress awards to collective casts is also an interesting notion. But I'd be interested to find out how many of the jury have actually read the script of "Volver".

The Awards

Palme d´Or
"The Wind That Shakes The Barley" by Ken Loach. Script by Paul Laverty ("Ae Fond Kiss", "Sweet Sixteen", "My Name is Joe").

Grand Prize
"Flanders" by Bruno Dumont on his own script.

Best Actress
The cast of "Volver"

Best Actor
The cast of "Indigènes" (aka "Days of Glory", script by Rachid Bouchareb, Olivier Lorelle)

Best Director
Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu - "Babel" (script by Guillermo Arriaga).

Best Screenplay
"Volver" - Pedro Almodóvar

Jury Prize
"Red Road" by Andrea Arnold on her own script.

Caméra d´Or
"12:08 East Bucharest" by Corneliu Porumboiu on his own script. This is Poromboiu's first feature-length movie, initially developed during a Résidence du Festival in 2004 on the back of his award-winning short film "Trip to the City". "12:08" will premiere at the Transylvania International Film Festival (TIFF) in Cluj on June 2.

Palme d´Or for the Best Short Film
"Sniffe" by Bobbie Peers

For the full round up, see Cineuropa.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Cannes: ScriptEast to support "east wind rising"

I won't bother giving you a low-down of what was happening at Cannes, as every newspaper in the world (and a good handful of blogs) cover the event. One thing that did stand out for me is the continuing rise of film-makers from the former East European countries. This is not exactly new, as "Kontroll", "Up and Down" and "The Death of Mr Lazarescu" made big impacts in previous years (not forgetting the work and Palmes that have gone to Roman Polanski and Emir Kusturica). But their production is now comparable in numbers to that of Belgium and Ireland. For a good round-up of what's what on the scene this year, check this article on DW-World.

But what about the scriptwriting scene? A new development project was launched at Cannes. ScriptEast is a project-based training programme designed specifically for scriptwriters from Eastern and Central Europe. The aim is to select the best local scripts and their authors and "help them become renowned worldwide" (according to their literature). Concretely, it will involve a one-week workshop in Poland with online follow-up, an evaluation session during IFF in Berlin, followed by more homework and a final session at next year's Cannes.

Costs are covered by Poland's Independent Film Foundation, supported by the Media programme, TVP, the Plish Film Institute and Apple Film Production. Participants pay a mere €200. For details, contact Katarzyna Dlugosz on I have a website address, but it doesn't seem to be working. I'll place it in case it comes online some time soon: Script East.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Scriptwriters make noise at Cannes

Following the lead of 101 Scénaristes last year, Cannes will feature a number of scriptwriting initiatives. The largest will probably be the Journées du Scénario/Writers' Days being run by France's enterprising UGS. They have set up a database of available scripts and will run a Script Market, sailing events and lots of talks and round tables. Unfortunately, the market is only open to produced writers, but will doubtless be an exciting event. Catherine Deneuve has accepted to be the “godmother”, or patron, of the whole thing.

Staying in France, the Adami is running a second Speed Dating session on Monday 22. The idea is simple: put a bunch of writers, actors, producers and musicians in the same space for about an hour and hope that connections are made. Adami is particularly good at finding and supporting young actors.

Writer/director Karan Johar (“Khabhi Khushi Khabhie Gham”) will be talking at the UK Film Centre on Friday May 19, followed by Ken Loach the next day. The London Script Consultancy will hold its second Panasonic International Filmmakers' Pitch. But admissions closed May 15.

Last but not least, Cannes will also see the unveiling of the first issue of “Le Scénario Français” a new quarterly in French (mostly) that features articles and pitches - including contributions from yours truly.

Relevant links:
UK Film Centre
Le Scénario Français

If you hear of any other events, please leave a message.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Production up, audiences down in Europe

It has been a great year for European production, with overall figures up by 37 to 798 films produced in the 25 countries of the EU last year according to figures published by the European Audiovisual Observatory. But although there were differences locally, the overall cinema attendance fell by about 11%. France is still the biggest producer, with 240 films (which parly explains its strong presence at the upcoming Cannes festival). European cinema represents about 24% of ticket sales, although one of the big trends recently is for local films to break records in their home turf without being able to score across the Union as a whole.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Quote of the week: writers in the mist

It's one of those comments that a lot of people don't want to hear: the movie business is a business. And to be able to deal with it sucessfully, you have to embrace its potential and constraints. The UK will soon host its first screenwriters' festival June 27-30 in Cheltenham. At its launch, the British writer Bill Nicholson (writer of the upcoming "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" and co-writer of "Gladiator") gave a speech which should be compulsory reading for anyone wanting to start screenwriting (or indeed lyric writing).

Here's how he sets the scene: "Why is it that everybody I know, everybody who comes onto my website, everybody I meet in a taxi, wants to be a screenwriter? There seem to be thousands and thousands of people who either are or are becoming screenwriters. And yet every time I meet a producer he says to me, 'I have a project, but I can’t find a writer. Where are the writers? There are no writers.' This gives rise to a strange and haunting image. Armies of wannabe screenwriters are marching away with their heads held high and smiling into a mist, and none of them are coming back. It’s like a scene from the first world war. It’s tragic. Somewhere there’s a swamp in which flounders the dying youth of British screenwriting talent."

Sound familiar? Click through to the site and take five minutes to read the speech in full.

More at Screenwriters Festival 06. Other writers scheduled to appear at the event include Julian Fellowes ("Vanity Fair" and "Julian Fellowes Investigates" and Jimmy McGovern ("Brookside" and "The Street").