Deadline’s international editor talks with host David Bloom about The Rocket, the best film to come out of Laos in perhaps ever, and why the Laotian government is banning it; Keshet’s Rising Star continues to rise in the U.S. and U.K.; so-past-rising star Simon Cowell’s newest three-year deal with ITV; what new EU film-support rules may mean for getting more films made there; and a French film debut that may redeem a poor year at the box office for local productions. READ MORE »
This is the first in a planned series of reports on the people, projects and polemics that have folks buzzing in various overseas territories.
Each year following the Cannes Film Festival the French film industry falls into semi-hibernation as execs recover from months of build-up, the box office gives way to Hollywood tentpoles and attention turns to tennis and weeks-long vacations. Some years, it seems like the industry doesn’t even really wake up again until the fall festivals hit. But in this past month since Cannes ended, there’s been quite a bit keeping the industry buzzing. Among the issues are what France’s Oscar entry will be, vagaries at the local ratings board, a renewed push to allow film advertising on television and the fight to preserve the Cultural Exception. France led the charge on the latter, winning in its bid on June 14 to keep the audiovisual business out of a negotiation mandate for trade talks between the U.S. and Europe. This was a fight that got a lot of traction in Cannes with even Harvey Weinstein and Steven Spielberg coming out in favor of the Cultural Exception as a means to maintain the diversity of European cinema.
Meanwhile, the jury that Spielberg chaired in Cannes gave its top honor to a coming-of-age love story between two women, Blue Is The Warmest Color. Many people have posited that Blue will be France’s Oscar entry this year, but I’m told that it will not. It’s generally accepted that films that win the Palme d’Or end up representing their country — the last time a French film won, The Class, it indeed was the submission.
Despite the difficulties of trying to woo some Academy voters with a lesbian love story with explicit sex scenes like Blue, the main reason I’m told it won’t make the cut is because French distributor, Wild Bunch, is not releasing it in time. The Oscar rep selection committee at French film body the CNC requires that a film go out nationally in France before September 30 and Wild Bunch has set an October release. Wild Bunch’s Vincent Maraval calls the rule “stupid” but tells me they believe October is best for the picture. It’s my understanding that Sundance Selects will release Blue unrated later this year in the U.S. Blue is expected to get a French rating that bars only kids under 12 because, Maraval says, “There are only positive values and love in the film, no violence or drugs.” When I asked him if he thought drugs were regarded more damaging than sex by the ratings board at the CNC, he said “Well, I hope sex is less serious than drugs, no?”
UPDATE, 3:25 PM: After talks that went well into the evening, European Union trade ministers have agreed to France’s demands to keep the audiovisual sector out of upcoming EU-U.S. trade talks. That lifted a final barrier to a broader EU negotiation mandate that has now been finalized ahead of next week’s G8 summit in London which will informally kick off the talks. At issue was the so-called “Cultural Exception”, which holds that cultural goods and services are treated differently than other products. France has been worried that its own and other European film industries would suffer faced with an increased presence from Hollywood if trade barriers are brought down. After more than 12 hours of closed-door meetings today that ultimately resulted in the arts being excluded from the negotiation mandate, EU trade chief Karel de Grucht said, “I can live with this.” But, he left the door open for further discussion. “I’m going to listen to what our American friends have to tell us on this and if we judge it appropriate we will come forward with an additional demand for a mandate to the Council.” He took pains, however, to stress that this was not “a carve-out” and, addressing fears that the U.S. could in turn take something off the table in the trade talks, added that he is “not looking at this in terms of retailiation which doesn’t have its place in this kind of process.”
PREVIOUS, 10:12 AM: Ministers from the 27 European Union member states are still meeting in Luxembourg this evening as they attempt to reach an agreement on a negotiation mandate for upcoming trade talks with the U.S. I hear they’re getting closer on an agreement, but a press conference scheduled for more than three hours ago has been pushed indefinitely with no clear indication of when the politicians will emerge.
Europe’s Cultural Exception, which holds that cultural goods and services be treated differently than others, may be protected after all. France had threatened to veto trade talks between the EU and the U.S. over the inclusion of the audiovisual …
The Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union will meet Friday to discuss proposed trade talks between the EU and the U.S. which could result in the removal of trade barriers between the world’s two biggest economies. A negotiation mandate is expected to emerge from the meeting, but 7,000 European and international filmmakers are urging officials to keep the audiovisual and film industries off the table.
A delegation including directors Costa Gavras, Cristian Mungiu, Lucas Belvaux, Radu Mihaileanu and The Artist star Bérénice Bejo was in Strasbourg today to meet with European Commission president José-Manuel Barroso. The plan was to reiterate their stance of preserving the Cultural Exception, a concept with roots in the 1993 GATT talks which holds that cultural goods and services be treated differently than others. According to ARP, the French lobby that reps writers, directors and producers, the sit-down did not go so well. Barroso was “obstinate in his refusal,” the group said. He “hid behind speech that brings no guarantee of respect for the Cultural Exception and which seriously compromises the future of European cultural policy.” The arts are part of a draft negotiation mandate for the trade talks and their inclusion, the filmmakers believe, threatens to kill the autonomy of EU member states’ individual film industries.
France has already threatened to block any talks should the Cultural Exception not be preserved and ARP noted that Barroso was also “deaf to the position of the European Parliament” which voted in favor of excluding culture from the trade talks.
Global Showbiz Briefs: India Censor Mulls Rules Changes, Jean Vigo Prizes Handed Out, Chile Tries Platform Diving
Indian Censor Eyes Relaxing Regs
Several movie theaters in northern India reportedly cancelled screenings of action crime drama Shootout At Wadala this week after a religious group objected to what it said was offensive dialogue. The film features John Abraham and 24’s Anil Kapoor and is based on the true story of the first so-called extrajudicial killing by the Mumbai police in 1982. News of the protest comes as India’s censor board is said to be considering a lighter touch when it comes to rubber-stamping films. The board has been known to demand cuts to Indian films for long kissing scenes, nudity, violence and scenes of rebellion against the government. But R. Singh, who oversees the issuance of certificates to Indian movies, recently told AFP: “The rules are old. We have to write them with a modern and honest outlook. The Indian value system has changed hence censor rules must change.” Last month, the Cut-Uncut Festival in New Delhi celebrated scenes from Bollywood movies that had previously been deemed too racy for Indian viewers. It was an attempt by the ministry of information and broadcasting to bolster a new, more open-minded approach to film. Singh added, “This whole business of brutally chopping scenes or forcing the filmmakers to alter the climax will have to end.”
The European Union and the U.S. are expected to begin discussions later this year that could result in the removal of trade barriers between the world’s two biggest economies by October 2014. But, in an uproar reminiscent of the tensions surrounding the 1993 GATT talks, European filmmakers are up in arms over a perceived threat to their “cultural exception.”
Last month, the European Commission adopted a draft negotiation mandate that includes the audiovisual and film industries in the proposed talks with the U.S. Their inclusion, which goes against the cultural exception’s raison d’être of treating cultural goods and services differently than others, led dozens of filmmakers last week to sign a petition entitled “The Cultural Exception Is Non-Negotiable!” Signatories include Michael Haneke, Michel Hazanavicius, Pedro Almodovar, Stephen Frears, Roger Michell, Costa Gavras, Paolo Sorrentino, Thomas Vinterberg and Cristian Mungiu as well as non-European directors Walter Salles, Jane Campion and David Lynch.
The cultural exception has its roots in 1993 when a furor erupted as Hollywood, notably led by late MPAA chief Jack Valenti, wanted to include the audiovisual industries in the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) negotiations. Europe, led by France, balked. Member states claimed that including the arts would threaten their quota and subsidy systems and put them in danger of total Hollywood hegemony. Hours from the deadline, a deal was struck and Europe got its way.
Former Fox Film Exec Building Cinemas In UK Hospitals
Stephen Moore, the former president of the international division of 20th Century Fox, has traded an office in Hollywood for one in a London hospital. He’s signed on as CEO of MediCinema, a UK charity that builds movie screens in hospitals as therapy for patients. A new cinema is about to open at Guy’s Hospital in London and there are others in Newcastle and Glasgow, with more planned. “The idea is that someone in hospital can have the same experience you can have on a Saturday night, complete with surround sound and tiered seating,” Moore told the UK’s Guardian. “They’re as good as any preview theater. The only difference is, it’s nil-by-mouth, so there’s no popcorn.”
‘Flying Machine’ Set For Beijing’s Forbidden City Theater
The 3D family film, a Chinese-Polish co-production, will have its world premiere as part of an Aug. 30 event celebrating the Council of the European Union. The live-action and stop-motion animation film features Heather Graham as a London mom taken on a musical journey by Chinese pianist Lang Lang. The film is also set for the Kids Section at the Toronto International Film Festival. Distribution Workshop is handling sales in Asia, while Exclusive Film Distribution will market the film elsewhere.
I hear the red band trailer for David Fincher’s Hollywood version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo for Sony Pictures just debuted in Sweden and France today and is playing widely across the world this weekend and in select theaters in the U.S. Unfortunately, it’s not online yet, only in theaters. The green …