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.
Berlin Film Festival: ‘Black Coal, Thin Ice’ Wins Golden Bear; ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’ Takes Grand Jury Prize; Richard Linklater Named Best Director, More
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.
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 …
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.”
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.
Berlin: After A Decade-Long Bro-Fest, Kevin Connolly Explores ‘The Wright Girls’ As Director & Tubthumper
Jack-of-many-trades Kevin Connolly is in Berlin this week to talk up his latest directorial effort, The Wright Girls. The soon-to-be 40-year-old Connolly, who’s been working in the business for more than 30 years, also stars in upcoming comedy Friends With Better Lives which debuts on CBS following the finale of How I Met Your Mother. Nevertheless, this is his first sales market. Despite being awed by the process, he told me tonight, “The more you know about every aspect of the business, the better.” The Wright Girls is a remake based on the Japanese movie 2LDK and centers on two female co-stars of a past-its-prime sitcom who are roommates in real life. When they realize they are both up for the same lead role in a big movie, they go from best friends to worst enemies in the course of one action-packed night. Atlas Independent’s William Green and Aaron Ginsberg are producing with Atlas Entertainment’s Alex Gartner. Highland Film Group is selling here at EFM. Jessica Alba stars in the movie with the other lead to be cast soon. Alba, who Connolly recently directed in Dear Eleanor on which he’s in post, was the one to float the Wright Girls script to him — and he bit, quickly. Both Dear Eleanor and The Wright Girls are female driven movies; a seeming departure for the star who is most closely associated with the ultimate bro-fest, HBO series Entourage. “I’m a rah, rah guy’s guy. I like to talk about sports and put people in headlocks,” he told me today. But the unintentional bent towards working wth women could be a product of a decade of the testosterone-fueled Entourage, he allows. By the time that the Entourage movie starts principal photography on February 19, it will have been just about 10 years since the seminal series began. Or “maybe I’m preparing for marriage,” Connolly joked.
Bill Murray, aka “The Murricane,” is blowing through Berlin this week on what’s become a sort of one-man comedy tour — and a fun distraction from a thus-far quiet market. Yesterday, he was out in support of Wes Anderson’s opening-night film The Grand Budapest Hotel, riffing that he worked for “low wages and stale bread,” and today he was tickling buyers’ funny bones at a brunch for Rock The Kasbah. Murray shared a stage this morning with QED International’s Bill Block and director Barry Levinson, who were clearly pleased that the movie sold to Open Road for the U.S. just last night. But busy Murray wanted to make something very clear, “I don’t like to leave my house. I am a lazy person and I don’t like to work. But when I work, I work very hard… Did I mention I don’t like to work? I don’t like to be here right now. I like you all very much, but this work thing is crap.”
Regardless, shooting starts June 2 in Marrakech on the pic that also stars Bruce Willis, Kate Hudson, Danny McBride, Shia LaBeouf and Zooey Deschanel. Murray plays a has-been rock manager who takes his last remaining client on a USO tour of Afghanistan. When he ends up abandoned in Kabul, penniless and without his passport, he discovers a young girl with an extraordinary voice and manages her through Afghanistan’s version of American Idol. The collaborators said this morning that an authentic Afghan singer is being sought for the part of the girl while there will be a lot of Cat Stevens songs and the classic eponymous Clash tune, natch.