Film4′s Tessa Ross To Step Down; Veteran Exec Named Chief Of National Theatre

tessa dannyIn a major shake-up at the top of the UK industry, respected veteran Film4 head Tessa Ross is leaving her post to become Chief Executive of the National Theatre. Ross, whose most recent official title is Controller of Channel 4 Film and Drama, has headed up Film4, the feature division of the network, for more than a decade. She is considered one of the most powerful executives in the UK business and so integral to it that she is sometimes referred to as the “Mother of British filmmaking.” Film4 is one of the biggest supporters of the UK industry and under Ross has developed and financed such Oscar winners as 12 Years A Slave, Slumdog Millionaire and The Last King Of Scotland.

12-Years-a-Slave-posterCommenting on her departure, Channel 4 CEO David Abraham said, “Tessa’s job is one of the most coveted in film, both in the UK and internationally, and while she leaves big shoes to fill, we will shortly begin the task of identifying a new leader for the next chapter of Film4’s story. Meanwhile our commitment to investing in independent British film remains undimmed and we have every intention of building on the extraordinary reputation Tessa has created.” A peek at Film4′s credits is a who’s who of independent filmmaking talent. The upcoming slate includes Richard Ayoade’s The Double, Yann Demange’s ‘71, Daniel Wolfe’s Catch Me Daddy, Mike Leigh’s Mr Turner, Lenny Abrahamson’s Frank, Sarah Gavron’s Suffragette, and Todd Haynes’ Carol starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. The company’s previous credits have included Clio Barnard’s The Selfish Giant, Bart Layton’s The Imposter, Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, Chris Morris’ Four Lions, Leigh’s Another Year, Ayoade’s Submarine, Paddy Considine’s Tyrannosaur, McQueen’s Hunger and Shame, and Meryl Streep-starrer The Iron Lady; all under Ross.

NationalTheatre_white on blackShe will remain at Film4 until September, and will stay on as Chair of the Growth Fund Advisory Council once in her new role. She will join the National in November, working alongside current artistic director Nicholas Hytner. She will formally become CEO, sharing the leadership of the National with Rufus Norris, when he becomes artistic director in April 2015. Read More »

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Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’, ‘Grand Piano’, ‘Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons’, ‘Miele’, ‘Particle Fever’, ‘Bethlehem’

boxoffice-specialty__111212022432-200x150 (1)Wes Anderson dazzled the specialty box office in 2012 when Focus Features opened Moonrise Kingdom with one of the year’s highest per-screen averages. Now Fox Searchlight takes the Anderson mantle with The Grand Budapest Hotel, which bowed in Berlin and took the Siver Bear Grand Jury Prize. Also this frame, Elijah Wood goes indie with the thriller Grand Piano courtesy of Magnolia, while the distributor’s genre label will bow China box office behemoth Journey To The West. Emerging Pictures will oversee an Italian initiative to bring targeted films from the country “nationwide” in the U.S., starting with veteran actress-turned-director Valeria Golino’s Miele (Honey). Abramorama and BOND360 are collaborating on Sheffield documentary Particle Fever and Adopt Films will open Israeli thriller Bethlehem in more than two dozen theaters Friday.

Grand Budapest Hotel.jpgThe Grand Budapest Hotel
Director-writer: Wes Anderson
Writer: Hugo Guinness
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, Jude Law, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Saoirse Ronan, Tony Revolori
Distributor: Fox Searchlight

Anderson’s latest film opens nearly two years after his last film, Moonrise Kingdom. That proved to be an opening-weekend powerhouse, smashing the screen average when Focus Features bowed the title in four theaters at the end of May 2012, grossing a whopping $523K for a dazzling $130,749 average. It went on to gross more than $45.5 million in the U.S. (Anderson’s The Royal Tennenbaums remains his biggest box office grosser to date in theaters, taking in more than $52.3M domestically in 2001. Budapest, the Berlin Film Festival opener, reunites some cast from Moonrise including Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton and Edward Norton. It centers on the adventures of Gustav H (Ralph Fiennes), a legendary concierge at a famous Eastern European hotel between the wars, and Zero, a lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. Budapest has already launched to strong numbers in France where it grossed nearly $2.8M its opening weekend in 172 theaters for a strong $16,220 average, becoming his biggest opening ever in the country.

Related: Berlin: Wes Anderson & Cast Talk ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’
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Jeff Zucker: CNN’s “Massive Changes” Begin With New Documentary Film Brand ‘CNN Films Presents’

By | Tuesday December 17, 2013 @ 6:52am PST

True to his word, CNN chief Jeff Zucker this morning announced the cable news network is Jeff Zuckercreating another “destination” for  acquired documentary films in a new brand called  CNN Films Presents. March Of The Penguins, and The Imposter are among the titles to be telecast on CNN/U.S. in 2014. “The goal for the next six months, is that we need more shows and less newscasts,” Zucker said in a recent interview about “massive changes” he’s got planned for the network, adding that he wants CNN to attract “viewers who are watching places like Discovery and History and Nat Geo and A&E.” Zucker hinted the docu-films CNN has been running on the weekend could get some weekday primetime play. “Yes, there will be more and, yes, they will not just be on Sundays…I think it will expand past just the weekends…This is a primetime play. It’s too expensive to confine it to weekends.” Under its other, CNN Films brand, the network enjoyed great ratings results in October with the premiere of CNN Films: Blackfish, exploring the consequences of keeping orcas in captivity at marine theme parks for the entertainment of humans.

From this morning’s CNN announcement:

cnnlogo2CNN Films Presents will be a sister brand to “CNN Films,” which was launched in October 2012, and is the network’s brand for acquired or commissioned documentary features, following their exhibitions in theaters. 

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Josh Greenbaum’s Kid Golfing Docu ‘The Short Game’ Set For Sept. 20 Bow

By | Friday August 9, 2013 @ 4:11pm PDT

Phase 4 Films and Samuel Goldwyn Films will jointly release The Short Game on September 20. Directed by Josh Greenbaum, The Short Game won the SXSW 2013 Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature. It tells the story of eight of the best 7-year-old golfers in the world as they train for and compete in the World Championships of Junior Golf. The cast includes Allan Kournikova, Anna Kournikova’s 7-year-old brother. Greenbaum also produces. John Battsek (The Imposter, Searching For Sugar Man) and David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada, Hope Springs) are exec producers.

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Telemundo Unveils Slate Including 5 Telenovelas, Seacrest-Produced ‘Superstar Showdown’, Jenni Rivera Special

By | Sunday May 12, 2013 @ 5:02pm PDT

NBC Universal-owned Telemundo will unveil an ambitious slate of programming at its Tuesday Upfronts: Five telenovelas, two new daytime series, the second season of the hit competition series La Voz Kids, and a new musical variety show produced in association with Ryan Seacrest Productions. The Spanish-language network is the #6 broadcast network of any language and notched its highest-rated quarter in Q1 2013, boasting an 8 share point growth to date. Its new primetime novelas are Dama y Obrero (Lady and The Worker), La Impostora (The Imposter), Reina de Corazones (Queen of Hearts), Santa Diabla (Holy Devil) and Camelia la Tejana (Camelia The Texan). Suelta La Sopa (Tell Me More) and game show “Entre Grandes Y Chicos” (Kids vs Grownups) join Telemundo’s daytime lineup while Telemundo’s weekly sports show, “Titulares y Mas,” moves to weekdays at 11:30 AM ET. Additionally, concert special “La Gran Señora” stars late superstar Jenni Rivera in a concert taped at LA’s Nokia Theater. Read More »

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Cannes Briefs: Epic’s ‘Thale’ Sequel; Osiris’ ‘The Kill Hole’; Darclight’s ‘Contracted’; Simon Cowell’s ‘Pudsey’; Ridley Scott’s ‘Get Santa’; More

Refresh for latest…

Epic Sets English-Language ‘Thale’ Sequel
Epic Pictures is partnering with Norway’s Yesbox Productions to finance and produce an English-language sequel to Norwegian thriller Thale. The sequel will be written and directed by Thale‘s Aleksander Nordaas. Patrick Ewald and Shaked Berenson are producing alongside Bendik Heggen Strønstad of Yesbox. Thale appeared in Toronto and SXSW last year and told the story of two crime-scene cleaners who discover a tailed female creature in a concealed cellar who has been held captive for decades. Thale was based on a mythical character in Nordic folklore called the “huldra,” a beautiful creature with female attributes that is said to seduce men by humming a beautiful song, but the men never return to their villages. Epic’s Patrick Ewald says the budget will be upped for the sequel “so that Aleksander and Bendik’s vision can be accomplished on a grand scale.” Read More »

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Sundance Institute Announces Directors & Screenwriter Fellows

EXCLUSIVE: Following in the footsteps of Beasts Of The Southern Wild or Fruitvale Station, the 13 projects selected today for this June’s Sundance Institute Directors and Screenwriters Labs could end up as Oscar nominees or at Cannes too. The projects’ origins range from the U.S. and the U.K. to Mexico, Peru, Germany and Somalia with the filmmakers’ backgrounds in photography, advertising and documentary not to mention a couple of past BAFTA and Sundance winners. This round of Sundance fellows will work with established filmmakers such as Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow, On The Road director Walter Salles, author/screenwriter Walter Mosley, Oscar nominee Ed Harris and Sundance founder Robert Redford.  The Directors Lab runs from May 27 to June 20 at the Sundance Resort in Utah while the Screenwriters Lab goes from June 22 to June 27. (see the full list of the June 2013 Sundance Institute’s Directors and Screenwriters Labs below)
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Disney, ‘Iron Man 3′ Dominate 2013 Golden Trailer Awards

By | Sunday May 5, 2013 @ 1:55pm PDT

Golden Trailer Awards Winners 2013The annual marketing kudos went big for Disney pics Iron Man 3, Wreck-It-Ralph, Monsters University, Brave, and The Avengers at the Golden Trailer Awards Friday night. The GTAs didn’t just fete the best movie promos of the year. They also doled out Trashiest Trailer (to A24′s Spring Breakers) and gave indie comedy Hit & Run the Golden Fleece award, awarded to a trailer better than its actual movie. Here’s the full list of winners:
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Spike TV Plots Return To Scripted Programming With Event Series, Sets Slate

By | Monday April 29, 2013 @ 9:56am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: After a year break from scripted programming, following the end of comedy Blue Mountain State, Spike TV is returning to the arena with a new approach — betting on special-event series. The cable network’s scripted development slate includes five event series, including behind-the-scenes account of the 2012 terrorist attack on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, whose aftermath still echoes in Washington. The projects hail from such auspices as Tom Fontana, Chris Collins, Leslie Greif, Rock God & Gene Simmons, Bobby Moresco, Jonathan Koch and Steve Michaels, Craig Piligian and Dimitri Doganis & Bart Layton. “We’re concentrated on launching one or more special event series that we see as a great way to get to hour dramatic series,” said Spike TV’s EVP Original Series Sharon Levy, who oversees the network’s scripted development. Each project features Spike’s mission to thrill, inspire, and entertain as we’re broadening and expanding our brand.”

Related: Spike TV Unveils Unscripted Development Slate

This marks Spike TV’s return to its scripted roots — the network’s last foray into scripted was with the 2007 event series The Kill Point. While the focus is for all five projects to be true events that “everyone wants to watch when it happens and that have a zeitgeist element to them,” some could live on beyond the original run, Levy said. For instance, Hit Men, a drama from Greif and Simmons about the mob’s takeover of the 1970s music industry, could continue as a series, while iHuman, about the intersection of technology and humanity and how their relationship evolves, could become an umbrella of films tackling the subject. Here are details about Spike TV’s scripted projects in development: Read More »

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GSN Orders Quiz Show ‘The Chase’, Sets ‘Minute To Win It’ Premiere

By | Tuesday April 9, 2013 @ 9:30am PDT

GSN enjoyed a robust year of growth in 2012 anchored by hits Family Feud and faith-based show The American Bible Challenge. Season to date, GSN is up 31% among adults 25-54. Today at its New York upfront the network announced an eight-episode order for new quiz show The Chase, based on the UK show of the same name, and a June 25 premiere date for the Apolo Anton Ohno-hosted Minute To Win It. GSN also unveiled six new series in development including a Utah-set dance competition show and family-oriented and dating game shows:
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Hot SXSW Trailer: ‘The Short Game’

By | Wednesday March 6, 2013 @ 7:28pm PST

EXCLUSIVE: 1500 youngsters from all over the globe compete each year in the World Championships of Junior Golf. Eight of the pint-sized competitors (including Allan Kournikova, Anna Kournikova’s 7-year-old brother) are the subjects of The Short Game, a SXSW 2013 documentary world premiere. Emmy-winning director Josh Greenbaum previously helmed short projects for Paramount, Sony, Fox, Comedy Central, Funny Or Die, and The Clinton Foundation and enlisted veteran help for his feature-length debut, including award winning producer John Battsek (The Imposter, Searching For Sugar Man) and Oscar-winner David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada, Hope Springs), who executive produced. Composer Mark Mothersbaugh (Rushmore, The Life Aquatic) scored the docu which screens Sunday, March 10 in Austin. Submarine is repping sales. Watch the trailer here:


Watch this video on YouTube.

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Global Showbiz Briefs: BFI Film Fund For Docs, Film London For Artists, RealD In Hospitals, Endemol’s ‘Big Boss’

By | Thursday February 28, 2013 @ 10:19pm PST

Documentary Makers To Pitch BFI For Funding
The BFI Film Fund will dish out funding to documentaries via twice-yearly public pitch sessions, in London and at Sheffield Doc/Fest. Documentarians will pitch ideas to a panel of senior execs “from within the BFI Film Fund and wider documentary funding community”, with selected candidates benefitting from a day of expert-led development to help them focus pitches and strengthen ideas. Documentary filmmaking in Britain is on a high after a string of high-profile successes like Man On Wire and Senna, as well as this year’s Oscar- and BAFTA-winning Brit-produced Searching For Sugarman and the BAFTA-winning The Imposter. “Documentary is the punk of the film industry,” said the BFI’s Lizzie Francke. “We’re absolutely committed to supporting the UK’s visionary documentary filmmakers and we’re pleased to be working with Sheffield Doc/Fest on this new way to deliver support directly to the sector.” – Joe Utichi  Read More »

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BAFTA: ‘Argo’ Wins Best Film And Best Director, Daniel Day-Lewis Lead Actor, Emmanuelle Riva Lead Actress, Anne Hathaway Supporting Actress, Christoph Waltz Supporting Actor, ‘Django Unchained’ & ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ Screenplays, ‘Brave’ Animation, ‘Amour’ Foreign, ‘Skyfall’ Best British Film

By | Sunday, 10 February 2013 18:53 UK

Coverage by Deadline’s International Editor Nancy Tartaglione and London correspondent Joe Utichi with Editor-in-Chief Nikki Finke writing and editing:

LONDON: Refresh For Latest… The 2013 BAFTA Film Awards did its best to spread out its British Academy of Film and Television Arts honors to many films tonight, no doubt paving the way for the Academy Awards to do the same. Warner Bros’ Argo won 3 categories including the evening’s big prize, Best Film, as well as Director for Ben Affleck and Editing for William Goldenberg. The dramatic thriller now is the solid favorite for Best Picture Oscar after winning what’s known as the British Oscars in an uninterrupted string of prestigious awards wins. Lincoln‘s Daniel Day-Lewis was the expected winner in Leading Actor for DreamWorks. But Amour‘s Emmanuelle Riva scored an upset for Leading Actress at the impressive age of 85 while the Sony Classics Pictures film won Foreign Language. Quentin Tarantino won for Django Unchained‘s Original Screenplay and David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook‘s Adapted Screenplay, making it a big night for The Weinstein Company which took home 3 prizes in all including Supporting Actor for Christoph Waltz. Working Title/Universal’s Les Misérables received the most awards – 4 -  including Supporting Actress for Anne Hathaway. Fox’s Life Of Pi garnered 2. Pixar/Disney’s Brave won Animated Film. The first award – for Outstanding British Film – went to James Bond #23, Eon Productions/MGM/Sony Pictures’ Skyfall which also won for Original Music.

About 10 minutes before the lights went up in the Royal Opera House tonight, guests were treated to a montage of 100 years of British film. Outside, pouring rain has turned to snow and traffic is snarled all over central London. It’s in part due to the awards arrivals but also because of Chinese New Year celebrations in nearby Trafalgar Square. At least the massive storm that hit New York over the weekend did not impact A-listers getting here. But Meryl Streep has been replaced by Sarah Jessica Parker to present the Leading Actor award.

Stephen Fry, hosting again this year, welcomes the crowd and apologizes for his own facial hair: ”I have a strong feeling I’m not the only actor who’s come here this evening with a beard.” He notes how Working Title/Universal’s Les Miserables is a British film despite its Australian and American cast and that it was extraordinary to have Helena Bonham Carter burst into song without even having a drink. “I’m joking, of course. She was drunk every day on set.” Fry muses on the many films being eked out of JR Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Says, “You can expect to see me in the Hobbit 9: Are We Home Yet Gandalf?” Fry asks Jennifer Lawrence to blow a kiss to the audience, and she obliges.

Singer Paloma Faith takes the stage to sing a medley over images of the nominated films – Argo, Les Misérables, Life Of Pi, Lincoln, and Zero Dark Thirty – and others.

The ‘In Memoriam’ montage began with Marvin Hamlisch and ended with Tony Scott.

The 2013 BAFTA Awards

BEST FILM
ARGO – Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck, George Clooney

Producer George Clooney, who was supposed to direct Argo but then turned it over to Ben Affleck, accepts saying, “Ben, if this is your second act, I don’t know what in hell you do for your third. You are remarkable. I can’t tell you what an honor it’s been to work with you.” Clooney then introduces his producing partner Grant Heslov (“the best producer I’ve ever worked with”) who thanks BAFTA and “all the folks at Warner Bros”. Then he addresses Affleck: “To Ben, I want to say thank you for coming aboard and thank you for taking us on this journey. It’s been amazing.” Finally Affleck takes the podium. “Every single person here has been so nice…” Then he pokes fun at Warner Bros: “The people from the studio said, ‘You know what? We never win.’” He thanks BAFTA again.

LEADING ACTOR
DANIEL DAY-LEWIS - Lincoln

Daniel Day-Lewis onstage laughed: “On the chance I might one day have to speak on an occasion as this, I’ve actually stayed in character as myself for the last 55 years.” He noted that “I had BAFTA sets put in every house I’ve ever lived in. When I get up from a chair, it simultaneously unleashes a chorus of applause, with a few boos and some drunken hecklers.” Then he became serious. “I’m so grateful to BAFTA. My fellow nominees, I don’t know if I deserve this. But I do know every one of you deserves it at least as much as I do.” And to his Lincoln team, he said, “My colleagues, I miss you. I wish we were still on this expedition together.” He called filmmaker Steven Spielberg “the rudder of the boat” they sailed on.

LEADING ACTRESS
EMMANUELLE RIVA - Amour

In the awards show audience as well as among the media backstage, there were audible gasps when Emmanuelle Riva’s name was announced. She was indeed a surprise winner given BAFTA’s tendency to pick the marquee contenders. She was not present to accept the award.

DIRECTOR
ARGO – Ben Affleck

SUPPORTING ACTRESS
ANNE HATHAWAY - Les Misérables

Anne Hathaway ascended the stage and took the BAFTA mask from presenter George Clooney – and then turned back around to hug the actor. “What am I thinking? I almost walked past George Clooney without hugging him. That’s just stupid,” she explained. She thanked the cast, noting to Hugh Jackman: “I’ve run out of superlatives for you, man”, as well as the crew, Working Title, Universal, and especially Victor Hugo “without whom none of us would be here”. Also she gave a shout-out to co-star Eddie Redmayne who had food poisoning. “I’d be holding your hair back.” Backstage, Anne scolded herself in front of the media. “I’m coming down with laryngitis. Shut up, Hathaway.” But she added, “I’m overjoyed and I’m such an airhead right now, but that’s not really new. I’m still collecting myself.” She noted that “the biggest surprise of the entire experience was how much of a sweetie pie Russell Crowe is. He was integral to cast bonding.”

SUPPORTING ACTOR
CHRISTOPH WALTZ - Django Unchained

Onstage, an obviously emotional Christoph Waltz explained that, “Why I get to stand here is really no mystery because it says so at the beginning of our movie: ‘written and directed by Quentin Tarantino’.” He thanks by name Harvey Weinstein and Amy Pascal “for their attention. But it all starts with Quentin. Behind everything, I need and want to thank you for the thing that touches me the most, your unconditional trust… You silver-penned devil, you.” Backstage, Waltz was asked how it feels now that he’s two for two: “Like four,” says Waltz. “With Quentin, it’s trust and respect and, on my part, admiration for this master storyteller. I am completely and utterly at ease and convinced that what he writes is something I can say.”

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
DJANGO UNCHAINED - Quentin Tarantino

Onstage, Quentin Tarantino called the award “really really nice, really cool. I want to thank my actors for doing a bang up job with my dialogue.” He has always said he felt British audiences responded to his films in a special way, starting with Reservoir Dogs. Tonight he thanked BAFTA, calling it “a very terrific organization. I’m kind of famous for not joining organizations but I’m proud to be part of yours.” He thanked by name Harvey Weinstein of The Weinstein Company and Amy Pascal of Sony Pictures (which owned foreign). “This was a pretty hot potato script, and to take this and go out and make a lot of money with it, that’s pretty damn impressive. Thanks guys.” Backstage, QT said: “I thought, if I win, do I put it next to the other BAFTA or find a place on the other side?” About writing, he mused, “About 90% of my lines come out of the material. I get the characters talking to each other and suddenly someone says something clever. Every once in a while there’ll be a cool line that I’m holding onto for decades. But it doesn’t happen that often.” Tarantino took one last question from an Aussie journalist and went off on a long dialogue screed in his Django Australian accent. (“John Jarratt helped me get it down.”)

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK - David O. Russell

David O. Russell onstage accepted saying, “It’s a wonderful year for film and for writers.” He thanked his son for his inspiration. This was the film’s first prize of the evening, and it was presented by Jennifer Garner, wife of Ben Affleck whose Argo also was nominated for Adapted Screenplay. Awkward? Not to winner Russell who told the media why he was late, “I was backstage talking to Jennifer Garner about pre-schools in Boston.” He said: “I love our film, and I believe in the heart and soul of our film, because I made it for personal reasons. Apart from enjoying it as a movie, if you can connect to the things in there, that’s everything.”

ANIMATED FILM
BRAVE – Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman

Brave co-director Mark Andrews accepted saying: “To me, being brave is about being true to yourself and allowing our loved ones the same freedom.” Backstage, Andrews noted: “No matter how many times you make these films [at Pixar], you’re making this film for the very first time. So the success is a dream come true. There’s that validation that comes with not just audiences, but your peers recognizing the work.”

FILM NOT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
AMOUR – Michael Haneke, Margaret Ménégoz

Neither filmmaker Michael Haneke nor producer Margaret Ménégoz were in attendance to accept the award.

OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILM
SKYFALL – Sam Mendes, Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan

Bradley Cooper and Ben Affleck presented the prize. Producer Michael G Wilson noted it’s a first for the Bond films. Director Sam Mendes said the prize is “icing on the cake” thanks Daniel Craig “around whom we built this movie” for his bravery, brilliance and “sheer bloody-mindedness”. This category always looked to be a two-film race between Skyfall and Les Miserables. Changes to the voting system – cutting it down to a 2-round system – suggested the pics leading the nominations might end up taking home prizes in the big categories – which are voted on by the entire membership. Skyfall‘s win may well reflect the number of BAFTA-voting Brit practitioners who’ve had a hand in Bond over the years with the franchise celebrating its 50th anniversary.
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Amid Shifts In The UK Distribution Sector, What’s Going On At Revolver?

EXCLUSIVE: Several sources tell Deadline that UK distributor Revolver Entertainment is on the verge of going out of business with the fate of films on its release slate uncertain at the moment. Word making the rounds in Berlin and London is that the company may not exist in as little as two weeks, and chances of a turnaround are slim. Revolver has shed staff in recent months and key execs Nick Taussig and Paul Van Carter left to form their own outfit, Salon, last week. Calls to the company’s CEO were not immediately returned.

A shuttering of Revolver, which has had big success with cult hits like Shank and Anuvahood as well as recent documentary The Imposter, would put further strain on an already bleak picture for low-budget independent distribution in the UK. It would also create a hole in its specialized area — British fare with urban appeal — which is poorly represented in the local market. The collapse of retail giants HMV and Blockbuster is thought to have caused leaks in Revolver’s hull. An overrun of stock meant for the shelves of those stores, and matching promotional spends, created overhead challenges, one source said. Another source stressed that Revolver’s combination of talent and film selection is not at fault. They have been “hit by a series of unfortunate events.”

UK distribution is already experiencing shifts. The eOne takeover of Alliance resulted in key execs exiting and the absorption of distributor Momentum Films. (Contraction is not limited to the UK: French indie powerhouse MK2 just recently said it would stop distributing films.) We’re hearing, however, that a new UK distributor could emerge by Cannes. “I think people are falling into place,” one exec recently opined. Another tells us, “Adversity makes opportunity. Somebody smart will come in and take that space.” Read More »

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Indomina Shutters Distribution Unit And Lays Off 15 In LA Office

By | Wednesday January 30, 2013 @ 3:43pm PST

Indomina Releasing EXCLUSIVE: Indomina Releasing, the distribution division of The Indomina Group, is quietly suspending North American operations. The move comes three years after CEO Jasbinder Singh Mann established the branch to acquire and distribute genre fare for his upstart global media studio. A spokesperson tells Deadline that 15 LA-based jobs will be affected and Indomina is attempting to find third-party outlets for titles including its high-profile 2012 Sundance acquisition Filly Brown, starring Gina Rodriguez, Edward James Olmos and the late Jenni Rivera, which has been in release-date limbo for months. The company denied rumors that its LA office is closing completely, saying it is still sending its international team to Berlin next month. The plan is for Indomina Group to focus on producing original content out of its Dominican Republic facilities, shifting to feature films with more commercial studio appeal. VP Acquisitions Rob Williams, who ran point on the company’s domestic pickups, will remain through the restructuring.
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‘Amour’ Takes Best Film, Actress, Screenplay At London Critics Awards

By | Sunday January 20, 2013 @ 12:12pm PST

Joe Utichi contributes to Deadline’s UK coverage.

Michael Haneke’s Amour proved to be the favorite tonight at the London Film Critics Circle Awards, bagging wins for Best Film and Best Screenwriter for Haneke and earning Emmanuelle Riva a Best Actress prize. The org’s annual chance to fraternize with film stars may have been mildly hampered by snowy conditions in the capital, as none of team Amour made it to collect and there were no-shows also from The Master pair Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman, who won Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor respectively. The staunch critics favorites had seven nominations apiece. Rafe Spall collected Ang Lee’s Best Director prize for Life of Pi, and Les Misérables producer Debra Hayward accepted Best Supporting Actress on behalf of Anne Hathaway. Toby Jones took home Best British Actor for Berberian Sound Studio, which also won Best British Film, and Olivia Colman was on hand to accept Andrea Riseborough’s Best British Actress prize for Shadow Dancer. Rectifying a key oversight in the BAFTA’s Rising Star nominations, tonight’s awards did honor The Impossible‘s Tom Holland for Young British Performer of the Year, and Alice Lowe and Steve Oram were named Breakthrough British Filmmakers for their script work on Sightseers, in which they also starred. A complete list of winners follows:  Read More »

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Palestinian Doc ‘5 Broken Cameras’ Takes Top Cinema Eye Prize

By | Wednesday January 9, 2013 @ 8:59pm PST

Five Broken Cameras, Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi’s documentary about Israeli settlements encroaching upon Burnat’s Palestinian village, was named best feature tonight at the 6th Annual Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens. Michael Moore accepted the award for Burnat and Davidi. Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady’s Detropia was the only film to win two awards, Outstanding Direction for the veteran NYC-duo, and Outstanding Original Score for Dial.81. Another directing duo, Jason Tippet and Elizabeth Mims, took honors for Outstanding Debut for their high school love triangle doc, Only the Young. Read More »

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BAFTA Nominations Announced: ‘Lincoln’ Leads Followed By ‘Les Mis’ & ‘Life Of Pi’; Spielberg & Hooper Not Among Director Field

Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln leads the pack of nominees (see full list below) for the 65th EE BAFTA Awards, which were announced this morning in London by Alice Eve and Jeremy Irvine. Lincoln scored 10 nominations, though it did not pick up a directing mention. Ang Lee’s Life Of Pi and Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables each got nine nods, but Hooper (nominated here for The King’s Speech in 2010) failed to make the directing category. Working Title’s Tim Bevan, who has both Les Mis and Anna Karenina vying for prizes this year, told me he was surprised that Spielberg and Hooper missed out on directing slots but called it an “interesting year because [nominations] seem to be spread all over the place.” The takeaway, he said, is that Spielberg and Hooper are “swimming in a pool of extreme talent this year. Which is great for the movie business.”

Meanwhile, Skyfall, now the highest-grossing film in UK history, was nominated eight times, yet was noted in the Best British Film category and not the overall Best Film group. The only picture to cross over those two fields was Les Mis. The trio of Life Of Pi, Ben Affleck’s Argo and Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty have both Best Film and Best Director slots. The two Best Director candidates whose films were not mentioned in the Best Film group are Michael Haneke for Amour (although it did also land Foreign Language, Original Screenplay and Leading Actress nods) and Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained, which also picked up nominations for Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor for Christoph Waltz and Editing. Read More »

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OSCARS: Documentary Rule Changes Leave Members A Little More Optimistic

By | Wednesday December 19, 2012 @ 10:41pm PST
Pete Hammond

The release of the documentary short list of 15 finalists on December 3 was seen as a litmus test for new rules that opened up the process to the entire peer group and, in theory, would make it easier for more popular docs to make the cut. It was Documentariesthought these basic rule changes would discourage the proliferation of faux docs (TV docs trying to pass themselves off as features) that started taking over the category and lessen the number of entries. But in fact this year saw those TV docs finding ways to skirt the new rules, so the number of overall entries increased. This put a tremendous burden on the already overworked branch members who now found they had as many as 80 documentaries at one time dropped in their mailboxes.

The result? Mixed. Although a number of better-known and critically acclaimed docs made the top 15, there were still those HBO docs like Ethel that made the cut even though its TV airdate has come and gone. Yet high-profile, acclaimed theatrical docs like West of Memphis (which had Hobbit heavyweights Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh backing it), The Central Park Five (from Ken Burns), and Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel were snubbed.

Nevertheless, prominent members of the doc branch seem to think the experiment, though not perfect, is starting to work. Academy governor Michael Moore spearheaded many of the changes because he thought a major overhaul was necessary to bring credibility back to the documentary process. It “seems to be turning out to be a really good thing. I’m now very optimistic about it,” Moore told me at the Governors Awards. Here is a brief snapshot of the contenders.

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
A look at Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei as he works on new projects and exhibitions, despite interference from the government. It’s a definite contender.

Bully
The Weinstein Co.’s doc covers a compelling subject in a personal way: Teens being bullied. It made its point effectively, leapfrogging it to frontrunner status for much of the year. Its timely themes could take it to the winner’s circle.

Chasing Ice
A National Geographic photographer chronicles the changing condition of the Arctic glaciers. At 74 minutes, it’s quick and beautiful, but it might not be complex enough.

Detropia
Using Detroit as a metaphor, this intriguing doc explores the loss of U.S. manufacturing. As timely as it gets, this one could strike a chord with voters, but its relatively low profile might hold it back.
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