Monday, July 24, 2006

UK co-prods have bumper year

One third of takings at UK cinemas last year; that's the remarkable figure raked by the high-profile co-productions with major studios. With hits such as "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire", "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", "Batman Begins", UK film is riding on a popular wave. John Woodward, Chief Executive Officer of the UK Film Council said: “This... proves just how important film is to both our economy and culture. The figures show that the public love British films, and 2005 was a great year for British films at the cinema with the largest slice of box office takings since records began."

Calling "Batman Begins" a British film is a bit cheeky. Once again, we would have to open that thorny issue of a film's nationality. Personally, I find the success of "Wallace and Gromit" and "Valiant" far more encouraging. Recent UK films to look out for include "Mrs Henderson Presents", "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" and teen spy thriller "Stormbreaker".

Thursday, July 20, 2006

RIP: Gerard Oury, king of comedy

One of cinema's greatest comedy writers and directors, Gérard Oury, died peacefully on Thursday morning at his home in St. Tropez. Oury was the director and writer of some of Europe's zaniest and most popular comedies, such as "La grande vadrouille", "Le Corniaud/The Sucker" and "Le cerveau". Aged 87, his last film was "Le schpuntz" in 1999.

Oury is survived notably by his daughter Daniele Thompson, the well-respected comedy director.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

"Tanguy" a rip-off? Yes and no

The French movie world is still debating the strange verdict given in the case of the film "Tanguy" on July 5. Three scriptwriters claim that the film is based on their script "Cherche parents désepèrement", as the premise and a number of key details are identical. The French court decided that "Tanguy" was not a copy of their script despite the similarities, but that the producer Téléma broke confidentiality by getting the director Etienne Chatiliez to read and (apparently) use elements of it.

This verdict bothers me. Either "Tanguy" is based on an original idea by the three writers, or it isn't. The judgment should stop there. It would seem impractical for a production company NOT to let a director read the script. How else could they determine if someone wants to shoot the thing?

There will most likely be an appeal.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Brussels fest salutes Hungary

The recent Brussels Film Festival split its foremost prize between two Hungarian films. The Iris award went to "Fresh Air/Friss Ievego" by Agnes Kocsis and "Taxidermia" by Gyorgy Palfi. Best performance went to Marjana Karanovic for her role in "Grbavica" (which also picked up the Canvas TV award). The RTBF TV award went to "Ping-Pong" by Germany's Matthias Luthardt. The Be TV Award went to Jens Lien's "Bothersome Man". "Ca rend heureux", a Belgian collective film directed by Joachim Lafosse picked up the Audience Award. There were no screenplay awards as such, but a competition for Best Concept (in essence, a pitch and summary) was won by Corinne Klomp and Pierre Leyssieux for "Gueule d'emploi" and "Westonia" by Olivier Nilsson-Julien & Andri Luup.