Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Chirac changes heart after viewing "Indigenes/Days of Glory"

In one of the most remarkable developments in movie history, France's President Chirac has moved to redress claims for war pensions following a movie. "Indigènes/Days of Glory" tells the tale of France's Colonial soldiers in the Second World War. It is estimated that one in three fighters were from countries such as Algeria, Tunisia, Senegal and elsewhere. Yet despite regular claims and court orders, the survivors have not been receiving full war pensions since many of the states achieved independance in the sixties.

After viewing the film with the cast, Chirac decided to do something. The French government is expected to announce this week that full pensions will be granted to the survivors.

"Indigènes/Natives/Days of Glory" was written by Rachid Bouchareb and Olivier Lorelle ("The Devils", "Avec un grand A"). Its five main stars picked up the Best Male Actor award collectively at this year's Cannes film festival. It is released in France on September 26 and is showing at the Festival Int'l de Film Francophone de Namur.

UPDATE Oct 9: Palme d'Or-winning actor Jamel Debbouze will not be attending the Algerian premiere of "Indigènes". The Algerian authorities refused to grant him a visa, although it is not clear why. In France, meanwhile, the film opened very successfully, ranking as the 10th strongest opening of 2006.

For a series of articles about "Indigènes, visit CinEuropa. Or visit the Indigenes/Days of Glory site (French and English).

Monday, September 18, 2006

People's Choice Award

While the members are busy selecting the nominees for this year's august European Film Academy awards to be held in Warsaw in December, the rest of us can vote in the aptly-named People's Choice Awards 2006. The nominess included "L'enfant/The Child", "Adam's Apples", "Crime Novel/Romanzo Criminale" (photo), "The Elementary Particles", "March of the Penguins" and "Paradise Now". This is a simple Fave Film award, with no special prizes for scripts. It's certainly an interesting selection of movies, although I doubt that many people apart from journalists can have seen them all due to the patchy distribution of some of the films within Europe.

For more details and to cast your vote, visit the People's Choice Award 2006.

March of the Penguins on Amazon UK
March of the Penguins on Amazon US

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

"Warchild" wins Best Screenplay Award in Montreal

"Warchild", the second of a German-language Balkan trilogy by Christian Wagner (left), picked up the best Screenplay Award at the 30th Montreal World Film Festival. Written by Edin Hadzimahovic and Stefan Daehnert, "Warchild" is the tale of a Bosnian mother who discovers her long-lost daughter is still alive and well - with a family in Germany. The film, based on a true story, had already picked up the Special Jury Prize at the Bavarian Film Award. While the festival was still underway, "Warchild" was invited to screen at the Hamptons Film Festival which is held from 18th to 22nd October. For more news about Warchild, visit the official Warchild site. UPDATE: "Warchild" has just picked up the Audience Award at the 9th Festival Slovenskega Filma, held in the Slovenian town of Portorož from September 14 - 17.

In other German festival news, co-production "Khadak" by Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth was awarded the Lion of the Future Premio Venezia Opera Prima "Luigi de LAURENTIIS" at the 2006 Venice Film Festival for the Best Feature Film Debut. This award is open to all of the film debuts participating in the program sections of the Venice Film Festival and has a purse of Euros 100,000.

The Best of Short Films Festival in La Ciotat distinguishes the best shorts shown at international festivals for the year. Maximilian Engert was pleased with the award for his short "With a Flower (Durch die Blume)" as the third best short.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Resnais picks up Silver Lion at Venice

Veteran French director Alain Resnais has a second Venice award to his credit with "Coeurs/Private Fears in Public Places". Based on the play by Alan Ayckbourn and written by Jean-Michel Ribes, "Coeurs" follows his Golden Lion in 1961 for "Last Year at Marienbad". Jean-Michel Ribes is an actor, director and writer best known for "Palace", "La galette du roi" and "Rien ne va plus".

Interviewed by Cineuropa, Resnais remembers: "During the first 45 minutes of Last Year at Marienbad, the audience reacted very violently, responding to the dialogue in the film with deafening laughter. I turned to the organisers: 'let’s stop the film, this is painful!' Then, after a series of images, most of the audience members began applauding, a respectful silence grew and, ultimately, the Golden Lion. My directing career could have ended definitively that night because I would never have been able to come back to Venice with another film." See the full interview here.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

"Volver" and "Paris" to feature in Beirut festival

You have to salute the courage of the organisers of the Beirut International Film Festival. They have decided to press ahead with the seventh edition of the event, just months after the end of the war. Quoted by Screen Inernational, Colette Naufal, director of the festival since 1997 said, “Let’s shoot films not missiles in the Middle East. I would like you all to come to Beirut to show your solidarity with us.” She told international journalists at the Venice festival that their presence would signal that “normal life could be around the corner.” The festival offers a much-needed showcase for cinema of the Middle East, with a script competition and plans to create a foundation for supporting young film-makers. "Volver" and "Paris, je t'aime" are two of the international films being showcased, with a strong section featuring new Middle Eastern cinema. This year's festival will be held between October 4 and 11, 2006.

For more details about the event, visit Beirut Film Foundation.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Sending scripts to agents and production companies

The UK Scriptwriters message board recently discussed the sending of unsolicited scripts to agents, the BBC or production companies. Andrew Rainnie weighed in with this advice for new writers, based on his experience as a reader for a literary agency in the UK.

“I was an intern at a small literary agency for seven months, and now work as a freelance reader and editor, and in all that time I have read about four unsolicited scripts worth making - not a lot given I was reading or glancing over 10 or 12 every week.

“Writing is rewriting”
As other people have pointed out, there are a lot of 'daft' writers out there, although I would be more kind and use the word deluded. They simply do not understand the sheer volume of scripts out there, and if they are like one writer I spoke to who gets 'tired of reading' his own scripts, then that is tantamount to laziness. Writing for film and TV is all about rewriting, so if you think you can simply write a script, put it through spell-check then send it off, you are deluding yourself and wasting a reader's time.Another major problem with unsolicited writers is that they refuse to show their work to anyone else for fear of someone stealing it. Again, while an intern, we received many a call from writers who didn't want their scripts read by 'just anyone' and that it was for the agents' eyes only, which was ridiculous. If you want a different perspective, you need to allow others to read your scripts. I know it is easy to become lost in the work itself, but if a writer is unwilling to consider changes then it is the sign of a true amateur. Many amateur writers will not listen to input, deluded by the thought that they are better than whoever is giving out advice.

Get some advice
And for all those out there who expect a full report from the BBC - stop complaining. The readers at the BBC work incredibly hard, and they are the only broadcasting company who invite unsolicited material all year round. If you only get a standard letter, it means your script isn't good enough. Sorry, but it’s a fact, most people send the BBC shite expecting to be given a contract. And if these people keep complaining about the fact that the BBC don't give them respect (or even worse, that the BBC is stealing their ideas), then eventually the BBC will turn around and say 'Fine, we're not accepting unsolicited material anymore.' So stop spoiling what is a great scheme [the BBC Writers’ Room – ed] by simply getting some advice about your script before sending it in, letting others read it beforehand and being open to suggestions and new ideas. Maybe once you focus your attention and energy on your script rather than complaining about the BBC you will find it improves.”

Rainnie has an MA in English Literature and Film & TV Studies, MA/PGDip in Screenwriting, seven-month internship at Blake Friedmann Literary Agency (also worked on Julian Friedmann's DTP title ScriptWriter) and has worked for the Writers Guild of Great Britain. To reach him, send an e-mail to