EXCLUSIVE: New York-based distributor Adopt Films has acquired all U.S. rights to French director Jacques Doillon’s Love Battles (aka Mes Séances De Lutte). The movie debuted in the Panorama section of Berlin earlier this year. The story follows a young woman who deals with her father’s death by engaging in a contest of wills, physicality and carnality with the caretaker of his estate. Sara Forestier, here in Cannes with Katell Quillévéré’s Critics’ Week opener Suzanne, stars alongside James Thiérrée. Adopt is planning a theatrical and VOD release this fall for the controversial title that will go out in France afterwards. Led by Tim Grady and Jeff Lipsky, Adopt has had a healthy track record with films coming out of Berlin. At the 2012 fest, they picked up Ursula Meier’s Sister, which was shortlisted for a foreign language Oscar. They also acquired Christian Petzold’s Barbara which won the directing Silver Bear, Paolo and Vittorio Taviani’s Golden Bear winner Caesar Must Die and Miguel Gomes’ Tabu, winner of the FIPRESCI prize (Gomes is president of the Critics’ Week jury here in Cannes). Grady negotiated the deal on behalf of Adopt with Doc & Film CEO Daniela Elstner.
Kambozia Partovi, the co-director and co-star of banned Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi‘s Closed Curtain was in Berlin earlier this month to accept a Best Script Silver Bear on Panahi’s behalf. That will be his last international appearance with the film, for now. I’ve confirmed that Partovi and Closed Curtain actress Maryam Moghadam have both had their passports confiscated by the Iranian authorities, meaning they will be unable to travel with the movie as it makes the festival rounds. It is scheduled for closing night duties at the Hong Kong Film Festival on April 2 and has been invited elsewhere. I understand that it will continue to travel, even if those involved in making it can’t be present in support, and that the film has sold in a number of territories. Panahi is under a 20-year filmmmaking ban for “propaganda against the state.” He continues to make movies, however, including 2011′s This Is Not A Film and this year’s Closed Curtain.
The mercury bubbling around Scandinavian projects these days just won’t seem to quit, and a heat center in the past few weeks has been sales outfit TrustNordisk. The company had a busy Berlin market, concluding U.S. deals with Magnolia Pictures on three films: Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, and Norwegian titles Pioneer and Ragnarok. Yet another project, The Keeper Of Lost Causes, drove myriad overseas deals and domestic interest. Currently in post-production, the film is the first in a planned franchise of adaptations of Jussi Adler-Olsen’s bestselling Department Q book series. Based on a promo reel, several foreign deals were locked for not only the first movie, but also for its three upcoming sequels. The 5M euros Danish-language movies focus on the books’ once-great chief detective who’s been banished to a basement office to run cold case division, Department Q.
Iran Protests Berlin Win For Jafar Panahi’s ‘Closed Curtain’; Festival Says It Would “Regret Any Legal Consequences”
Banned Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi won the Best Script Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival on Saturday for his competition entry Closed Curtain. Since then, Iran has complained to fest organizers over the award, Iran’s Student News Agency reported, according to Reuters. The head of the country’s national cinema body, Javad Shamaqdari, said Berlin officials “should amend their behavior” and noted, “Everyone knows that a license is needed to make films in our country and send them abroad, but there are a small number who make films and send them out without a license. This is an offense… but so far the Islamic Republic has been patient with such behavior.” In a statement to Deadline, the festival said: “We would very much regret if the the screening of Pardé (Closed Curtain) would have any legal consequences for the filmmakers.”
Berlin was very kind to Magnolia Pictures and Scandinavian sales outfit TrustNordisk, with this the third tie-up between the companies out of the market there following the high-profile deal for Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac and the pact for Norwegian oil saga Pioneer. Magnolia previously released Norway-made pics Headhunters from the Jo Nesbo book and Troll Hunters. Here’s today’s release about Ragnarok:
Magnolia concluded the deal based on a 3-minute promo shown during the European Film Market in Berlin. The deal was negotiated between SVP of Acquisitions Dori Begley and Director of Acquisitions Peter van Steemburg from Magnolia and CEO Rikke Ennis and Head of Sales Susan Wendt from TrustNordisk.
“We are very excited about RAGNAROK, which has all the makings of a terrific action adventure. We are especially pleased to be working with our friends at TrustNordisk again to bring more great Scandinavian cinema to US audiences”, says President of Magnolia Pictures, Eamonn Bowles.
“I can’t recall having seen an action adventure film of this standard and production value coming out of Scandinavia. I am thrilled to have a partner like Magnolia aboard and can’t wait to present the film to the American audiences”, says Rikke Ennis, CEO at TrustNordisk.
Wong Kar Wai’s jury gave Romanian film Child’s Pose the top prize Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival this evening. The story follows a mother trying to save her son from prison. In accepting the award, director Călin Peter Netzer spoke of “commercial censorhip against arthouse cinema” and thanked the Berlinale, sales agents and distributors for “bringing arthouse cinema to the public.” David Gordon Green was named Best Director for the well-received Prince Avalanche, a film he remade from the Icelandic movie Either Way, transporting the action to Texas. Magnolia acquired the film in Sundance. The hotly-tipped Paulina Garcia took the Best Actress prize for her turn in Gloria which Roadside Attractions acquired earlier in the festival. And, Nazif Mujic was named Best Actor for Danis Tanovic’s Jury Grand Prix winner An Episode In The Life Of An Iron Picker.
While the competition roster at this year’s Berlin Film Festival left some cold, the last two years have produced a foreign language Oscar winner (2011′s A Separation) and two foreign language Oscar nominees (this year’s A Royal Affair and War Witch). And another film that won a prize in 2012, Sister, was also shortlisted for the foreign language Oscar this year. So, it will be interesting to watch the international careers of this year’s winners to see if the trend continues. Below is a list of the main winners along with the various sidebar and independent jury prizes which were announced earlier today:
The top prize Golden and Silver Bears will be announced here in Berlin later this evening. In the meantime, winners are starting to roll out from amongst the various sections and jury groups. The Panorama Audience Awards were announced earlier this afternoon. Felix van Groeningen’s The Broken Circle Breakdown, a love story set in the world of bluegrass music, won the top prize. Yesterday, it was also awarded the Europa Cinemas Label for top film in the section. The Act Of Killing, about a group of Indonesian men who revist and reenact assasinations they committed after the military coup of 1965, was named best Panorama documentary. Joshua Oppenheimer’s Danish/Norwegian/British co-production was one of the most talked about films here in Berlin and Drafthouse Films has the U.S.
The last film that River Phoenix ever made, Dark Blood, screened today out of competition at the Berlin Film Festival. The existential Western, originally shot in 1993 but uncompleted at the time of Phoenix’s death in October that year, is still tangled up in a rights conundrum, but sources close to the project believe it will eventually see a commercial release.
The film has a storied history. About 80% of it was shot before Phoenix died of a drug overdose outside the Viper Room in West Hollywood. At the time, the unfinished product reverted to the film’s insurance company before director George Sluizer (The Vanishing) recovered it and sequestered it away. At a press conference in Berlin today, Sluizer explained that in 1999 he learned the footage was going to be destroyed and within two days was able to save it and take it back to Holland. Sluizer said the material “laid in my care for many years waiting for something to happen with it. I was making other films at the time and it was safe.” But when he learned he had a life-threatening aneurism in 2007, he decided, “Before I die I want to put Dark Blood together as best I can.” For the scenes that were not completed at the time of Phoenix’s death, Sluizer provides his own voice-over.
Berlin: Studio-Produced Local-Language Comedies Tickle Germany’s Funny Bone; Fox Eyes Remake Of ‘The Break-Up Man’
The Berlin Film Festival may be heavy on art-house fare this year, but over at the multiplex, two German-language comedies are burning up the box office. And, they’re both produced by the local arms of a pair of …
LOS ANGELES /BERLIN/DOHA– February 13, 2013 – Participant Media, the leading provider of entertainment that inspires and accelerates change, known for such critically acclaimed and commercially successful films as An Inconvenient Truth, Food, Inc., The Help, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, and Doha Film Institute (DFI), a leading cultural organization established to support the growth of a sustainable film industry in Qatar and the Middle East, and backer of critically-acclaimed films such as The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Where Do We Go Now, May in the Summer, and Just Like a Woman, have formed a $100 million revolving fund to finance a slate of feature films, it was announced today by Jim Berk, CEO of Participant Media, and Abdulaziz Al-Khater, CEO of Doha Film Institute. The five year revolving fund provides production and development funding for 12-16 feature films, with Participant and DFI working in collaboration to develop the films as well as oversee production and arrange worldwide distribution.
In addition to the Film Fund, Participant and DFI are exploring a joint venture to create content for Participant’s new television channel, launching in August; establishment of a distribution outlet for DFI’s film production through Participant’s media interests in the US and other territories; creation of an Arabic version of TakePart.com, Participant’s on-line division and Social Action Network to jointly create Middle-Eastern based content in Arabic and English for distribution around the world; and establishment of a Middle East branch of Participant to be based at DFI’s Qatar headquarters.
Steven Soderbergh‘s Side Effects opened last Friday in the States courtesy of Open Road and starts its international rollout with tonight’s Berlin competition screening. The director, Rooney Mara, Jude Law and scripter Scott Z. Burns are all in town for support. Channing Tatum and Catherine Zeta-Jones also star in the film about a successful New York couple (Mara and Tatum) whose world unravels when she begins taking a new drug prescribed by her psychiatrist (Law). It’s a thriller in the Hitchcockian sense that employs plot-twists and surprises set against the background of intersecting themes of psychology, psychopharmacology and the law.
This is Soderbergh’s fifth appearance in Berlin, “More than any other festival I’ve ever been to,” he said at a press conference this afternoon. It will also be his last for a while. The director is famously headed for an early retirement – or as he called it today, “a break” – after this film. (Although he still has his Liberace biopic Behind The Candelabra to air on HBO.) Asked why he chose to go the potboiler route before bowing out he said, “I just liked the idea of making a thriller as I near the twilight of my career.” He added that he’d been inspired by making Ché back in 2008. “However long this break ends up being, I wanted the last few things I was doing to be fun to make and to watch. Coming out the other end of Ché really made me want to have more fun.”
EFM Roundup: Submarine Sells Rights To ‘Paul Bowles’, Focus Features International Kills It With ‘Kill The Messenger’; IM Global Sells Out On ‘Before Midnight’
Submarine Entertainment has sold all distribution rights to Paul Bowles: The Cage Door Is Always Open to First Run Features in the U.S. and Films We Like in Canada. The deals were negotiated by David Koh, Dan Braun and Josh Braun of Submarine along with Executive Producer, Stanley Buchthal of Dakota Group Ltd. along with Marc Mauceri & Seymour Wishman of First Run Features and Ron Mann of Films We Like. First Run Features and Films We Like will coordinate a release later in the year. Directed by Daniel Young, the docu film is based on moving interviews given by the writer shortly before his death. It features Bowles and his wife writer Jane Bowles, Gore Vidal, John Waters, Bernardo Bertolucci, Ira Cohen, Edmund White, William Burroughs and Francis Bacon, among others. A HesseGreutert Film Production, Paul Bowles: The Cage Door Is Always Open is executive produced by This Brunner, Stanley Buchthal, Andres Bruetsch, and Simon Hesse.
Entertainment One has steadily been detailing a new executive structure following its takeover of rival Canadian giant Alliance Films in a $230M deal that was completed last month. Execs were quickly named for the UK and Spain operations and the latest announcement concerns its operations closer to home where eOne and Alliance have significant overlap. Here’s the release:
Montréal/Toronto/London – February 11, 2013 – Entertainment One (“eOne” or “the Group”) announces the Group’s Canadian Film leadership team, following its acquisition of Alliance Films announced January 9, 2013.
Patrice Théroux, who leads eOne’s global Film business, today confirms that David Reckziegel, will continue to oversee all North American Film operations, including the combined Canadian group, as President, eOne Films North America.
The Company also announces that Bryan Gliserman and Noah Segal will oversee eOne Films Canada, including the former Alliance Films teams, as Co-Presidents.
Berlin: Despite High-Profile Sales ‘Blood Sisters’, ‘Invisible Woman’, ‘Grandmaster’, EFM Mid-Market Remains Soft
We’re four days into the EFM and so far action has been fairly slow. But just this afternoon, The Weinstein Co. picked up U.S. rights to IM Global’s Blood Sisters: Vampire Academy, one of the hotter projects coming into the market. It’s not a given that the deal will kickstart further movement, but other projects understood to be generating domestic interest include Nicole Kidman-starrer Grace Of Monaco, repped by CAA, and Diana, with Naomi Watts, which Embankment is handling.
Other domestic deals include Sony Pictures Classics‘ acquisition of The Invisible Woman, a film to star Ralph Fiennes, Felicity Jones and Fiennes’ English Patient partner Kristin Scott Thomas. Fiennes also directs. And, The Weinstein Co. announced a deal for Wong Kar Wai’s opening night (out of competition) film The Grandmaster at the start of the fest. It’s fair to say that Berlin is not traditionally about the kind of big business that’s seen in Sundance, Toronto or Cannes.
EFM Roundup: Cinedigm Gets ‘Berlin Job’; Naedomi Takes U.S. ‘Sleeper’s Wake’; ‘The Pact 2′ Set; Radiant Chases ‘Run Boy Run’; K5 & Clive Owen For ‘Blue Angel’ And More
Refresh for latest… Cinedigm has acquired the crime thriller Berlin Job from Arclight Films for release on digital platforms as well as DVD and VOD in North America. The directorial debut by Frank Harper was released in the UK as St. George’s Day. Pic stars Craig Fairbrass, Vincent Regan, Neil Maskell, Luke Treadaway, Sean Pertwee, Jamie Foreman, Ashley WaIter and Charles Dance. The deal was secured by Clay Epstein on behalf of Arclight and Emily Rothschild on behalf of Cinedigm. Arclight Films is handling international sales outside the UK.
Naedomi Media has picked up U.S. rights to the suspense thriller Sleeper’s Wake. Negotiating the deal on behalf of the film were XYZ Films, producer Ken Kaplan and exec producer Sanjeev Singh and Steve Break represented Naedomi Media. Naedomi launched in 2010 and has distributed 16 titles through to 2011 via digital, DVD and television and it has set a midyear release for Sleeper’s Wake. The movie marks director Barry Berk’s feature debut. Berk’s script is based on the acclaimed novel by Alistair Morgan. It stars South African actors Lionel Newton and Deon Lotz. The film is co-produced by Bioskope Pictures and Videovision Entertainment. Sleeper’s Wake concerns a recently widowed man who takes refuge in a small coastal town but gets caught up in a dangerous relationship with a young woman. MPI Media is repping the film for international sales at Berlin. Sleeper’s Wake will be released in South Africa on 8 March 2013 by United International Pictures (South Africa).
Content Film says The Pact 2 is ready for buyers in Berlin. The thriller’s sequel, written and directed by Dallas Hallam and Patrick Horvath, will start production in the spring. Hallam & Horvath’s debut feature Entrance premiered at the LA Film Festival and was featured on Stephen Kings Best of 2012. The Pact 2 is produced by Preferred Film & TV’s Ross M. Dinerstein and exec produced by Content’s Jamie Carmichael and Nicholas McCarthy. The Pact 2 is the second film produced by the Preferred Content / Content Media Corp venture Preferred Film & TV formed in 2012. Content’s Carmichael and Preferred’s Kevin Iwashina will jointly sell North America and Content will handle the rest of the world. The new movie is set weeks after the original’s deadly climax.
Radiant Films is now handling world sales, including the U.S., on German-French co-production Run Boy Run. The drama from Pepe Danquart, an Oscar winner for his 1993 short Black Rider, is based on Uri Orlev’s novel about a boy who escaped from the Warsaw ghetto in 1942 and survived on his own in the woods until the end of the war. Newcomer Andy Tkacz stars alongside German actors Jeanette Hain and Rainer Bock, both of whom have done crossover work in U.S. films. Lead co-producers are Bittersuess Pictures and Ciné-Sud/Vandertastic. Run Boy Run will debut on the festival circuit later this year. Picture is a nice fit for L.A.-based Radiant’s Mimi Steinbauer who’s Austrian by birth and says she feels a particular connection to the European material.
The smart guys at Paris-based film finance group BackUp Media think they’ve come up with something that will help revolutionize rights management for international film biz execs – and it’s free, for now. They’ve developed Movie Chainer, a cloud-based application designed to improve the tracking of revenue shares throughout the commercial life of a production. I sat down with BackUp partner Jean-Baptiste Babin in Berlin yesterday for a demo of the software that launches April 30, just in time for Cannes and in partnership with the Cannes Market’s Cinando film database and networking platform. Basically, once contract details are loaded into the system, a whole series of reports, maps and waterfall charts can be generated and simulated including availability lists, revenue splits, payment schedules and cash flow status. The BackUp team, which has been involved through their distribution fincancing fund with such films as Amour, On the Road,