With Cannes just over, is it already time to look to Berlin? Evidently, as the festival has announced a big change this morning. As of June 1, Matthijs Wouter Knol will be the new head of the European Film Market. Longtime outgoing chief Beki Probst will become president of the market and in her new function, the festival says, she will help install Knol and provide “support and advice.” This will be a big deal for EFM exhibitors who have established deep bonds with the well-liked Probst over the last 26 years. Knol, however, is not a stranger to the festival. He has been the program manager of Berlinale Talents (formerly known as the Berlinale Talent Campus) since 2008. In recent years, the market has been hit with general criticism of its place on a packed winter schedule, rising screening and stand prices, and a chorus of “Do we really need to be here?” Today, festival chief Dieter Kosslick said, “Matthijs Wouter Knol will inspire new areas of business and the development of the European Film Market. With Knol, a professional is joining us who knows the festival well. He will strategically strengthen the synergies that have developed between the festival and the EFM.” Knol hails from The Netherlands and was a journalist before segueing to producing in 2001. In 2007, he joined the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam working between the co-production …
Prolific German filmmaker Helma Sanders-Brahms passed away in Berlin on Tuesday following a long illness. She was 73. The director, screenwriter and producer was born in 1940, and began her career as a model and TV presenter. In 1969, she met Italian giant Pier Paolo Pasolini on a movie set where he told her, “You are going to make films!” She stuck around the set and later said it helped her discover her love of the craft. She ultimately became a key representative of German post-war film, directing both narrative features and documentaries. Eight of her works screened at the Berlin Film Festival including 1980′s Deutschland, Bleiche Mutter (Germany, Pale Mother) which premiered in competition. Just this year, the now classic film, narrated by a German woman who tells the story of her parents before, during and after World War II, was screened in a digitally restored version as part of the Berlinale Classics section. Her other credits include 2008′s Geliebte Clara; 1997′s My Heart Is Mine Alone; 1975′s Under The Beach’s Cobbles; and 1976 TV drama Shirin’s Wedding. Sanders-Brahms was known for exploring political and social issues in her films including topics like feminism, immigrant workers and German history. “Helma Sanders-Brahms was a radical and committed filmmaker who had a lasting impact on German cinema,” said Berlin Film Fest director Dieter Kosslick. She was “a tremendous director.” Under former Festival Director Moritz de Hadeln, she was …
Yann Demange’s debut feature ’71 generated a lot of heat when it premiered in competition at last month’s Berlin Film Festival. The anti-war parable takes place in 1971 and centers on a young British soldier (Unbroken‘s Jack O’Connell) accidentally abandoned by his unit following a riot on the streets of Belfast. Unable to tell friend from foe and increasingly wary of his own comrades, he must survive the night alone and find his way to safety. Roadside Attractions and Black Label Media have partnered to take all U.S. rights on the Gregory Burke-scripted pic and plan an early 2015 release.
Robin Gutch of Warp Films and Angus Lamont of Crab Apple are producers, and the pic is backed by Film4, BFI Film Fund, Screen Yorkshire, and Creative Scotland. Protagonist Pictures is handling international sales. The deal was negotiated by CAA on behalf of Black Label and Howard Cohen on behalf of Roadside Attractions, with Mike Goodridge of Protagonist on behalf of the filmmakers. Here’s a clip that made the rounds during Berlin:
Berlin Film Festival: ‘Black Coal, Thin Ice’ Wins Golden Bear; ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’ Takes Grand Jury Prize; Richard Linklater Named Best Director, More
UPDATE, 11:00 AM PT: Chinese director Diao Yinan’s noir thriller Black Coal, Thin Ice was a big winner tonight in Berlin. It took the top prize Golden Bear and also scooped the Best Actor Silver Bear for Liao Fan. The film follows a former detective investigating a string of related deaths, but who also begins to fall in love with the person that connects them. It was a big night for Asian film in general – notable after a lack of titles in competition last year. Cinematographer Zeng Jian won the Silver Bear for Oustanding Contribution for Lou Ye’s Blind Massage and a clearly stunned Haru Kuroki won the Best Actress prize for Japanese director Yoji Yamada’s drama The Little House. Richard Linklater‘s much-loved Boyhood brought the filmmaker a Silver Bear for directing. He accepted the prize “on behalf of the over 400 people who worked on my movie over all these years.” Linklater made Boyhood in short stints over a 12-year period. Wes Anderson‘s crowd-pleaser The Grand Budapest Hotel was the Grand Jury Prize winner. Anderson wasn’t on hand but sent a note thanking the festival for the “first full-scale and genuinely metallic” prize he’s ever won from a film festival. A big surprise tonight was the complete shutout of Yann Demange’s ’71, one of the heavy favorites. Click over for the full list of winners.
Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘Vice’ Attracts Berlin Buyers; Umedia Takes ‘Six Dance Lessons’; ITV To Launch New Channel
Proving yet again the affinity global distributors have for Bruce Willis, K5 International has enjoyed a strong sales run at Berlin with Vice. The Willis-starrer has nearly sold out with more than 37 territories biting. The Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films picture, produced by Randall Emmett, George Furla and Adam Goldworm, was picked up across Scandinavia, Russia, Benelux, Japan, China, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Israel, Portugal, Russia, Czechoslovakia and France. The film had previously sold to Germany, Poland, ex-Yugoslavia, Latin America, the Middle East, Turkey, Greece, and India. Shooting starts in Alabama next month on the movie that’s set in a resort where the rich live out their most perverse fantasies via synthetic humanoids. When one becomes self-aware and breaks out, she seeks her revenge. Willis plays the resort’s owner and Ambyr Childers is the renegade android. Thomas Jane is also in the cast. Brian A. Miller is directing from a script by Andre Fabrizio and Jeremy Passmore.
While the normally freezing weather in Berlin is an annual lament, this year’s unseasonably balmy clime became a major focus of conversation. And, as they say, when people have nothing else to talk about, they talk about the weather… The notably lackluster European Film Market boasted a small handful of buzz titles and only a few headline-grabbing deals. As such, the usual whispers of “Do we really need to be here?” grew louder in the last week. Another talking point was the early-in-the-market news of a shake-up at Exclusive Media, the production and foreign sales company headed by well-respected veterans Nigel Sinclair and Guy East. And, reliably, Lars von Trier’s director’s cut premiere of Nymphomaniac Vol. 1 was a head-turner, albeit for star Shia LaBeouf‘s pre-screening antics here.
Distribution consultant Jason Resnick mused yesterday, “It was the warmest Berlin ever, and yet the coldest Berlin ever.” Yet, no one was particularly shocked by the way business went here. Offshore and domestic deals were done, but folks roundly agreed there was a serious lack of oomph. As one exec told me ahead of the market, “Everybody is asking where the projects are.”
Deadline International Editor Nancy Tartaglione and host David Bloom blow through the Berlin Film Festival‘s first days, led by Bill Murray’s “Murricane” of appearances tied to Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel, George Clooney’s The Monuments Men and the in-progress Rock The Kasbah. Berlin also surfaced numerous other notable announcements and appearances, including the attention-getting antics of Lars von Trier and his Nymphomaniac star Shia LeBoeuf. Nancy and David also take a peek at Warner Bros. TV Group’s big Eyeworks acquisition, and check the global box office temperature as Disney’s Frozen hits China and Universal’s 47 Ronin crosses $100M.
EXCLUSIVE: Open Road Films is picking up U.S. distribution rights to The Tank, a thriller from writer-director Kellie Madison. The pic revolves around six people entering an isolation tank designed to simulate the lengthy trip to Mars. Production is set to begin in April in Ohio. Glacier Films’ Tove Christensen, Sarik Andreasyan and Vladimir Poliakov are producing alongside Steven Schneider. The deal was negotiated in Berlin by Tom Ortenberg and Elliott Kleinberg of Open Road and Ben Weiss of Paradigm.
Writer-director Hossein Amini‘s The Two Faces Of January, based on the Patricia Highsmith novel, has its world premiere here tonight as a Berlinale Special screening. Viggo Mortensen, Oscar Isaac and Kirsten Dunst star in the 1962-set noir that follows glamourous, mysterious American couple Chester and Collette MacFarland (Mortensen & Dunst) as they vacation in Athens. There, they meet Rydal (Isaac), an American working as a tour guide. Impressed by Chester, and attracted to Collette, he is ultimately drawn into a web of deception that leads to a dangerous battle of wits. Drive scripter Amini makes his feature helming debut with the lush-looking January which was shot during the political unrest in Greece (“quite often we’d have a scene and we could hear the riots,” Amini mentioned). He said today that he had first become interested in turning Highsmith’s book into a movie after reading it 25 years ago. Mortensen praised the director, saying he meant no disrespect to Highsmith in calling Amini’s movie “better than the book.” Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner produced the movie with Robyn Slovo and Tom Sternberg. Studiocanal is releasing in the UK in May, and is also selling internationally. Check out the trailer:
EXCLUSIVE: Here’s a case of good timing. Paradigm today signed Swedish actress Edda Magnason, whose name recognition went up shortly after when she was awarded the Shooting Stars Award at the Berlin Film Festival, the prize that spotlight’s Europe’s best young talent. She won the Guldbagge Award for Best Actress (Sweden’s highest honor) for her portrayal of Swedish jazz singer/actress Monica Zetterlund in Monica Z, which was one of the country’s top-grossing films of last year. She’s up for the Swedish equivalent of a Grammy for the soundtrack and so far has released two albums and signed with Warner Music and Sony/ATV Music Publishing. She’s repped by Artisgruppen in Sweden. Here’s a trailer of her movie:
We’re hearing on the ground that Wrekin Hill paid seven figures for all North American rights to Yellowbird, which will get a fall 2014 release. Seth Green, Dakota Fanning, Danny Glover, Elliott Gould, Jim Rash and Christine Baranski provide the voices for the 3D feature, which is now in production. Christian De Vita is directing and Antoine Barraud and Guilhem Lesaffre with Hoodwinked‘s Cory Edwards wrote the screenplay, based on fantastic artwork by Benjamin Renner (Oscar-nominated Ernest & Celestine). TeamTO and Haut & Court are producing. The story centers on a teenage bird so scared to venture out into the world that he nearly misses the fun of discovering who he really is. The deal was negotiated by Wrekin Hill CFO/COO Rene Cogan and Director of Acquisitions Alex Mandell with Simon Crowe for UK-based SC Films International on behalf of the filmmakers.
Berlin Briefs: Mads Mikkelsen Western ‘The Salvation’ Rides To Buyers; $40M ‘Kong’ Mines Monkey King Story; More
As a very quiet EFM winds down, TrustNordisk reports it’s had high interest on Mads Mikkelsen-starrer The Salvation. After pre-selling the movie in Cannes, a sizzle reel of Kristian Levring’s western was shown to buyers on Saturday morning in Berlin, adding deals in Australia/New Zealand (Madman) and Benelux (Wild Bunch). A multi-territory pact is in the offing. The English-language Danish western is co-written by Susanne Bier’s frequent collaborator, Anders Thomas Jensen. The revenge tale also stars Eva Green and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Sisse Graum Jørgensen produces for Zentropa Entertainments33 in co-production with South Africa’s Spier Films and the UK’s Forward Films. The Scandinavian release is set for August through Nordisk Film Distribution.
Radius-TWC has acquired Danish horror pic When Animals Dream (Når Dyret Drømmer), the tale of a 16-year-old girl living in a secluded fishing village who falls in love and discovers she’s a werewolf as she’s hunted down by the village. Jonas Arnby directs the Gaumont Int’l-repped pic described as Let the Right One In meets Carrie. Jakob Oftebro, Lars Mikkelsen of The Killing, and Sonja Suhl star in the film produced by Alphaville in association with Gaumont Int’l and Back Up Films. Radius-TWC’s Tom Quinn negotiated the deal with Gaumont’s Cécile Gaget. When Animals Dream has also sold to Altitude (UK), Australia (Madman), Germany (Prokino), and Odeon (Greece) and is poised for stateside release later this year with a possible stop in Cannes.
Shia LaBeouf and his Nymphomaniac director Lars von Trier have been the talk of the Berlin Film Festival all day after a presser in which enfant terrible von Trier was a no-show and LaBeouf walked out after uttering the line, “When the seagulls follow the trawler it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea.” While von Trier sported a custom “Persona Non Grata” shirt at the film’s photo call, winking at his notorious incident three years ago at the Cannes Film Festival, LaBeouf chummed the waters with more sardines when he arrived to the Nymphomaniac, Vol. I red carpet premiere sporting black tie duds and a paper bag over his head. Scrawled on his headwear was a line he’s been Tweeting for weeks in the wake of his short film plagiarism kerfuffle – “I Am Not Famous Anymore”:
Berlin: Lars Von Trier Sports “Persona Non Grata” T-Shirt; Shia LaBeouf Abruptly Exits ‘Nymphomaniac’ Press Conference
Danish bad boy Lars von Trier came to Berlin today for the world premiere of the director’s cut of Nymphomaniac, Vol. 1. He maintained his vow to refrain from all public statements, and did not attend the press conference. But he had a message, nevertheless. At the photo call preceding the Nymphomaniac panel, the helmer sported a t-shirt emblazoned with the Cannes Film Festival logo followed by the words “Persona Non Grata, Official Selection.” The sartorial choice was a nod to 2011 when von Trier was dubbed a persona non grata by Cannes for Nazi-flavored comments he made at a press conference for Melancholia. Shia LaBeouf, a Nymphomaniac co-star who’s had his own share of controversial headlines of late, answered no questions but offered up a cryptic comment: “When the seagulls follow the trawler it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea.” With that, he said, “Thank you very much” and left the dais. (The quote was originally uttered by former Manchester United footballer Eric Cantona at a 1995 press conference after he won an appeal against a two-week prison sentence for kicking an abusive fan.) The room was temporarily stunned as nervous laughter filtered through – including from the actors still assembled: Uma Thurman, Christian Slater, Stellan …
Alive Alone, the Thunder Road produced drama that Protagonist Pictures is selling, was originally announced in Cannes with Noomi Rapace and Matthias Schoenaerts starring. Schoenaerts has had to pull out for personal reasons, and now boarding are Idris Elba and Sam Worthington for a March start. The New York-set drama marks the feature helming debut of Khurram Longi. He’ll direct form his own script which featured on both the Black List and the UK Brit List. Elba stars as an ex-detainee of Guantanamo Bay working as a taxi driver, and Rapace plays a prostitute on the run from a feared crime boss (Worthington). When their worlds collide, they unexpectedly find salvation in one another. Thunder Road’s Basil Iwanyk is producing with Rapace acting as executive producer. Michael Benaroya’s Benaroya Pictures is financing and Protagonist is selling here in Berlin. Elba is repped by WME; Longi, Rapace and Worthington by CAA.
Berlin: George Clooney & ‘Monuments Men’ Artfully Cut-Up For Press; WWII Dramedy Is An Escape From “Cynical Movies”
George Clooney and his merry band of Monuments Men arrived in Berlin this weekend. The film is playing in the Competition section tonight, although it is not actually vying for prizes (despite some tough reviews, it just opened Stateside with an expected haul of $20.6M). As with Berlin opening movie The Grand Budapest Hotel, Monuments Men was shot in Germany, taking advantage of local tax breaks, and that has not been lost on the festival. The U.S. ambassador today held a reception honoring both films with two rooms in the vast embassy decked out to look like sets from each (an idea he said came from his “ambassadorable” wife who used to be in the entertainment biz). Festival chief Dieter Kosslick, MPAA head Chris Dodd and former AMPAS president Hawk Koch all attended. At the Monuments Men press conference later in the afternoon, Clooney, Matt Damon, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, Bill Murray, Hugh Bonneville, Bob Balaban, Dimitri Leonidas, Justus von Dohnányi and writer/producer Grant Heslov serenaded photographers with Working In The Coal Mine… and formed a conga line.
When the group settled, most of the talk centered on why Clooney had chosen to make the film. He and Heslov had been “doing rather cynical movies for quite some time” and the film’s source novel – The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves And The Greatest Treasure Hunt In History – “reminded me of movies I grew up loving like Guns Of Navarone and Kelly’s Heroes,” Clooney said. Recent headlines about recovered artworks were simply a coincidence, but Clooney joked, “We had a three-year conversation with the guys here at Fox to get the news to hold the story. It was very expensive so we’d like to thank Jim Gianopulos.”
Earlier today, Radius-TWC plunked down for upcoming Salma Hayek Pinault thriller Everly. The actress is now lining up A Three Dog Life, opposite John Travolta. The drama is based on the best-selling memoir by Abigail Thomas. Nick Guthe penned the adaptation of the book about Thomas’ life in the aftermath of her husbandd’s devastating car accident. Guthe also directs. Producers are J. Todd Harris and Clark Peterson. The Solution is handling international rights with CAA and WME Global co-representing the U.S. Travolta is up next in The Forger, opposite Christopher Plummer and Tye Sheridan. It emerged today that he’ll voice Gummy Bear in an upcoming pic. Hayek Pinault will be seen in Everly later this year, and also has How To Make Love Like An Englishman opposite Pierce Brosnan and Jessica Alba. She was recently cast in Matteo Garrone’s next, The Tale Of Tales. The pair co-starred in 2006′s Lonely Hearts and more recently in Oliver Stone’s 2012 pic Savages. Travolta is repped by WME and Principato Young Entertainment and Hayek Pinault by CAA and Management 360. Guthe is with APA and Echo Lake Management.
Berlin Briefs: Frank Dillane Boards Bow’s ‘Maestro’; ‘Watermark’ Sells For eOne; John Travolta Is ‘Gummy Bear’
Up-and-comer Frank Dillane (Heart Of The Sea, Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince) has been set to star in Maestro, the adaptation of Peter Goldsworthy’s 1989 bibildungsroman. Catherine Jarvis is directing the pic that starts shooting in the spring in Northern Australia and Vienna. Daniel Harvey and Bow Street Films partners Joe Jenckes and David Dickson are producers. The story centers on a talented pianist who moves to an exotic outpost of 1960s Oz and is forced to learn from the only piano teacher his father can find – an eccentric, enigmatic Viennese refugee with a shadowed past. The piano becomes a battle ground with volleys of Wagner and Hendrix alike thrown between the pair as the young man tries to make sense of his own identity and ambition to become a concert pianist while coming closer to the truth about the Maestro’s past. Casting is underway for the part of the Maestro. Craig Leon is producing original music for the film that will play alongside recordings by Chinese pianist Lang Lang, whose work was highlighted during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Opening Ceremony. The soundtrack will be released internationally by Deutsche Grammophon/Universal. Dillane, who was recently cast in writer/director Gerardo Naranjo’s untitled new drama alongside Dakota Fanning, is repped by Michelle Braidman of Braidman Associates and WME.