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Ukrainian Silent Film Voted Best Docu Ever in Sight & Sound Poll

41 minutes ago

London — Ukrainian filmmaker Dziga Vertov’s 1929 silent film “Man with a Movie Camera” has been voted the world’s best documentary ever by a poll of filmmakers and critics organized by the British Film Institute’s Sight & Sound magazine.

The film, shot in the cities of Odessa, Kiev and Khadliv, was one of “dazzling beauty and bewitching complexity, which unleashed the camera in a teasingly surrealist fashion to capture everyday life in a unique and hugely influential way,” the BFI said in a statement.

The magazine has held a similar poll to decide the best film once a decade since 1952, with Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” receiving the most votes in the last edition in 2012. The vast majority of films nominated were fiction features, although in the most recent poll “Man With a Movie Camera” came in at a surprising 8th place and was the only documentary in the top 10. Now, for the first time, »


- Leo Barraclough

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Picture Tree Acquires Paulo Coelho Biopic ‘The Pilgrim’ (Exclusive)

2 hours ago

London — Berlin-based international sales and production outfit Picture Tree Intl. has secured the global distribution rights for the Paulo Coelho biopic “The Pilgrim — the Best Story of Paulo Coelho” from Brazilian production house Cuatro Dama Filmes.

Coelho’s 30 novels — including “The Alchemist” and “Adultery” — have been translated into 80 languages, distributed in 224 countries and sold more than 165 million copies.

“The Pilgrim” retraces Coelho’s own story, which was the chief inspiration for his work. He flirted with death, escaped madness, experimented with drugs, overcame torture, made rock-and-roll history in Brazil, and found fame as a writer.

Julio Andrade (“Serra Pelada,” “Gonzaga de Pai Para Filho”) shares the role of the writer with his younger brother, newcomer Ravel Andrade. The cast also features Fabiana Gugli (“Blindness”) and Lucci Ferreira in the role of Coelho’s music partner Raul Seixas. Nancho Novo (“Lovers of the Arctic Circle”) and Paz Vega (“Spanglish,” “Sex and Lucia”) complete the cast. »


- Leo Barraclough

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Media Luna Picks Up Samuli Valkama’s ‘No Thank You’

3 hours ago

London — Sales company Media Luna has acquired Samuli Valkama’s comedy-drama “No Thank You,” which is based on Anna-Leena Harkonen’s novel “Ei Kiitos.”

“No Thank You” centers on Heli, whose husband is impervious to her charms, preferring computer games to her company. She then meets Jarno, an attractive young man who pays her the attention she craves.

Pic is Valkama’s second feature, and follows debut “Love and Other Troubles,” which premiered in 2012. His short film “Alright Love” won the Berlin Today Award at the 2005 Berlin Film Festival.

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- Leo Barraclough

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Sundance Film Festival Expanding to Hong Kong

6 hours ago

The Sundance Film Festival is expanding its reach into Hong Kong through a screening series in September.

The Sundance Institute and Metroplex will present new American independent films,  accompanied by filmmakers and festival organizers at the recently launched cineplex in Kowloon Bay in Hong Kong.

The series Sundance Film Festival – Hong Kong Selects series will offer the Hong Kong premieres of eight films that screened at this year’s festival.

John Cooper, director of the Sundance Film Festival, said, “In our effort to share the best of American independent film with audiences outside the U.S., Hong Kong seemed an excellent location with a rich cinematic history.”

The program will be announced in mid-August followed by the commencement of ticket sales in late August. The series is being supported by the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong and Macau.

Screenings will take place during two weekends — Sept. 19-21 and Sept. »


- Dave McNary

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Founders Complete Buyout of Australian Distributor Madman

10 hours ago

Hong Kong – Madman Entertainment, one of Australia’s largest independent film distributors, has been bought by its management for A$21.5 million (Us$20.5 million).

The company had been in buyout talks since March this year with Funtastic, the wider toys and confectionery conglomerate that has owned Madman for the past several years.

Funtastic announced to the Australian Stock Exchange on Friday that a deal had been completed with new company Madman Film % Media, which is backed by a consortium of investors including Madman founders Tim Anderson and Paul Wiegard.

“The impact of the selling price and estimated working capital adjustments will require a further write down of A$5 million to A$5.5 million,” said Funtastic in the statement.

“For Madman, it means restored independence, strong financial backing and the opportunity for exciting growth and innovation,” said Anderson and Wiegard in a statement. “We love the content and the partners we represent with a geek-like zeal, »


- Patrick Frater

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Singapore’s Zingshot to Play ‘Mahjong’ With Hong Kong Stars

10 hours ago

Hong Kong – A mixed cast of Hong Kong and Singapore stars will play off against each other in “King of Mahjong,” a comedy which is now in production.

The mahjong comedy is a staple of the Hong Kong film industry, but is new to Singapore.

The story focuses on two rival mahjong players, a huge tournament and the kidnapped wife of one of the players.

Directed by Adrian Teh, who has enjoyed success with “Wedding Diary” parts I and II, the film stars Hong Kong’s Chapman To (pictured above in “Diva”) and Michelle Ye opposite Singapore’s Mark Lee.

The film is fully financed by Zingshot Productions and will be released next year by Singapore’s Clover Films. Teh’s Malaysia-based Asia Tropical Films is also a producer.

»


- Patrick Frater

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Film Review: ‘Paradiso’

11 hours ago

A superb sense of space and a respectful appreciation for incongruity are major selling points for “Paradiso,” Omar A. Razzak’s low-budget docu about Madrid’s last porn cinema. It’s rare enough to find such a leftover in the Internet age, yet even more unusual is the manager at the Sala X Duque de Alba, a guy who decorates the lobby with auteurist posters and buys ties for his regulars at Christmas. Having earned the trust of his subjects, Razzak sets up his observational camera to favor off-center (in many ways) framings, creating a winning if slight crowdpleaser for Hispanophone showcases.

It takes some time to work out what kinds of movies are being shown at the Duque de Alba, since the camera never enters the screening room. From the lobby, decorated with posters for films like “Slumdog Millionaire,” “All About My Mother” and “Man on the Moon,” audiences »


- Jay Weissberg

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Focus Features to Remake French Thriller ‘With a Friend Like Harry’ (Exclusive)

11 hours ago

Focus Features has found a friend, acquiring remake rights to Dominik Moll’s French thriller “With a Friend Like Harry.”

Maven PicturesCeline Rattray and Trudie Styler are producing along with Michelle Krumm. Wentworth Miller is writing the screenplay adaptation.

The story centers on the titular Harry, who approaches a henpecked husband at a rest stop bathroom, claims to be a high school classmate, recites his teenage poetry and gives him a taste of a life he’s missed out on. Things take a sinister turn when Harry offers to remove the obstacles that prevent his new friend from being successful.

Rattray, Styler and Krumm set up the project in 2012 with Kimberly Peirce directing. Peirce is no longer attached.

The French film, released in 2000, starred Laurent Lucas, Mathilde Seigner and Sergi Lopez. Moll and Lopez won Cesar awards.

Maven was a financier on “Black Nativity” and “Filth.”

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- Dave McNary

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More Shakeups at CBS Films, Maria Faillace Departs

13 hours ago

CBS Films, which saw co-president Wolfgang Hammer depart recently, has cut staff by nine, including exec VP of production Maria Faillace.

Faillace will transition to being a producer on the upcoming CBS Films’ romantic comedy “The Exes,” directed by Andy Fickman.

Some of the other departures may be moved into other CBS jobs or into consulting posts.

The studio confirmed on July 22 that Terry Press had become sole president and that Hammer had quietly stepped down last May into a consulting role at CBS Corporate, advising on digital content. The studio also laid off five people at that point.

CBS Films will release the Daniel Radcliffe romantic comedy “What If” on Friday. It recently wrapped production on teen comedy “The Duff,” starring Mae Whitman, Bella Thorne and Ken Jeong.

Faillace joined CBS Films in 2008 and was promoted in 2012 after Press and Hammer were announced as co-presidents. She oversaw production on “Last Vegas, »


- Dave McNary

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Model Toni Garrn Makes Acting Debut in Indie ‘Under the Bed’

13 hours ago

Supermodel Toni Garrn has joined the cast of the Radar Pictures, Sobe Brook Entertainment and Schizo Pictures co-production “Under the Bed.”

Leonardo DiCaprio will produce through his Appian Way banner along with Jennifer Killoran, Shawn Papazian, Mike Weber and Ted Field.

Daniel Myrick is writing and directing the pic. Hannah New will star.

Story follows a woman trying to get over a recent romantic breakup, while unknown to her, a stalker befriends her on social media while staying in her home.

Production starts next month.

The news comes following her recent signing with Luber Roklin Management.

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- Justin Kroll

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Film Review: ‘New World’

13 hours ago

Though it boasts a full complement of brutal gangsters, black-suited goons, morally compromised good guys, explosive action sequences and tightly knit, unpredictable scripting, what finally elevates “New World” well above similarly accomplished Korean actioners is Hwang Jeong-min’s high-octane performance as a volatile contender in a three-way power struggle to control Korea’s largest corporate crime syndicate. This is only the second helming gig for Park Hoon-jung, the talented screenwriter of “I Saw the Devil” and “The Unjust,” and he demonstrates equally strong directorial chops. Despite some excellent reviews, the New York Asian Film Festival entry failed to fully cross over in its limited 2013 Stateside release.

After the suspicious death of the Goldmoon crime syndicate’s head honcho (his car blindsided by a speeding truck), contentious factions vie for succession. Two polar opposites locked in mutual hatred — the controlled, ruthless Lee Jeong-gu (Park Seong-ung), in charge of operations in Seoul, »


- Ronnie Scheib

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Warner Bros. Teaming with ‘Divergent’ Producers on Vietnam Tale ‘Honorable Exit’ (Exclusive)

14 hours ago

Warner Bros. and Red Wagon Entertainment are teaming on the movie project  “Honorable Exit” about the 1975 secret evacuation of Saigon during the last 60 days of the Vietnam War.

The project, based on the yet-to-be-published book by Thurston Clarke, centers on a  renegade group of American diplomats, soldiers and officials who rebelled against their own government and ensured the evacuation of nearly 125,000 South Vietnamese who would have otherwise been casualties of war.

“Honorable Exit” sold at auction to Doubleday earlier this year.

Based on a proposal and early interviews conducted by the author, the book was optioned pre-emptively by Warner Bros. for Red Wagon toppers Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher. The studio and Red Wagon last teamed on “The Great Gatsby,” which topped $350 million at the worldwide box office.

Clarke has written a dozen books including 2008’s “The Last Campaign: Robert F. Kennedy and 82 Days That Inspired America” and 2013’s »


- Dave McNary

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Film Review: ‘My Man’

14 hours ago

Japanese helmer Kazuyoshi Kumakiri ventures into “Lolita” territory with “My Man,” an adaptation of Kazuki Sakuraba’s controversial bestseller about the quasi-incestuous relationship between an orphaned young girl and the distant relative who adopts her. Framed by the snowbound shores of Hokkaido — “the end of the world!” per the heroine’s smilingly cryptic exclamation — the characters seem inseparable from the formidable landscape, their natures and their bond superseding mere psychology. Distanced yet emotionally charged, the film eschews identification in favor of fascination. Winner of the top film prize at the Moscow Film Festival, this obsession-tinged mood piece could flourish on the fest/arthouse circuit.

In a scene made familiar by the recent Fukushima disaster, 10-year-old Hana (Mochika Yamada) is first encountered wandering dazedly through the dark, disorienting maze of an emergency shelter, having lost her family in an earthquake/tsunami. Jungo (Tadanobu Asano), a 26-year-old relative whose relationship with Hana »


- Ronnie Scheib

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‘The Huntsman,’ ‘The Mummy’ Swap Release Dates

14 hours ago

Universal Pictures is shifting around pieces on its release calendar.

The studio will unveil “The Huntsman,” the sequel to 2013’s “Snow White and the Huntsman” on April 22, 2016, which will push its reboot of “The Mummy” back by two months.

The Mummy” will now rise from the dead on June 24, 2016. Both films have their dates to themselves, although “The Huntsman” will debut the week after “The Best Man Wedding,” while “The Mummy” will land between “Independence Day 2,” Steven Spielberg’s “The Bfg” and “Finding Dory.”

“The Huntsman” will bring back Chris Hemsworth, but will jettison Kristen Stewart. “The Mummy” will be directed by Alex Kurtzman, the director of “People Like Us” and the writer of “Star Trek.”

»


- Brent Lang

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Javier Bardem Clarifies Gaza Support Statements

14 hours ago

Javier Bardem has now joined Penelope Cruz in attempting to clarify his position on the crisis in Gaza and Israel. Several entertainment figures including Bardem, Cruz and Pedro Almodovar had released a letter earlier this week describing Israel’s actions as genocide, but were met with charges that their statement amounted to anti-Semitism.

Bardem now says that though he was critical of the Israel military response, he has “great respect for the people of Israel and deep compassion for their losses.”

On Tuesday, Cruz issued a statement saying she was “aware of the complexity of the situation.” The situation in Gaza is a tricky one for the entertainment business to navigate. While many celebrities are quick to decry the violence in Gaza, they now find themselves pitted against those who have long supported Israel. While a few entertainers such as Joan Rivers, Howard Stern, Bill Maher — and Israeli actress Gal Gadot »


- Variety Staff

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James Franco and the Actor He Can’t Get Enough Of Talk Stage, Film and How to Play Crazy

14 hours ago

When James Franco directs, he calls Scott Haze. The actor (named one of Variety’s 10 Actors to Watch last year) not only stars in Franco’s movie adaptation of Cormac McCarthy novel “Child of God,” opening Aug. 1. He also plays the lead in Franco’s Off Broadway directorial debut “The Long Shrift,” now running at the Rattlestick Theater. And he takes on a major role in Franco’s “The Sound and the Fury,” bowing this fall at the Venice Film Festival.

With Franco fresh off his recently closed Broadway debut “Of Mice and Men” and Haze starring in “Long Shrift” through Aug. 23, the two sat down to talk about the past, present and future of their ongoing collaboration.

How’d you two meet?

Haze: I met James well over 10 years ago in Hollywood, in the back of a parking lot. He came and saw a play I was in called “The Beach Play, »


- Gordon Cox

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Gabriele Muccino Brings Life to Sci-Fi Thriller ‘Near Death’ at Voltage (Exclusive)

15 hours ago

Nicolas Chartier’s Voltage Films has brought director Gabriele Muccino aboard science-fiction thriller “Near Death.”

The deal reteams Muccino with Voltage following his “Fathers and Daughters,” starring Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried and Aaron Paul. Voltage plans to begin casting in October.

Sherryl Clark and Joe Riley will produce along side of Voltage’s Craig J. Flores and Chartier. Muccino will direct from a script by Carter Blanchard, who recently signed on to write a new draft of Fox’s “Independence Day” sequel.

Near Death” centers on a near-death survivor who starts predicting future events and acting in bizarre ways while his wife notices the world itself changing all around her in impossible ways. Fearing for her sanity, she investigates and uncovers a massive conspiracy that bridges space and time.

Muccino’s credits include a pair of Will Smith films — “The Pursuit of Happyness” and “Seven Pounds.”

Clark, who is producing through her Busted Shark banner, »


- Dave McNary

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Allen J. Schwalb, Longtime Film Financier, Dies at 76

15 hours ago

Allen J. Schwalb, a financier of major motion pictures including “Dirty Harry,” “Rocky,” “Rambo” and “Rain Man,” died on July 14. He was 76.

Most recently, in late 2013, Schwalb’s Star Partners Inc. and Nashville-based Hummingbird Productions and its founder Bob Farnsworth had announced that the two companies would be collaborating on the production of a new film entitled “It’s A Wonderful Life: The Rest of the Story,” which originated with Farnsworth as a sequel to the 1946 holiday film classic “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Despite Schwalb’s death, Star Partners remains committed to assist with arranging the financing of the new film.

After working in aerospace, Schwalb started to invest in the work of recording artists such as Kiss and Donna Summer at Casablanca Records.

During this time, Schwalb saw a production of “Annie” in a small theater in Connecticut and thereafter helped bring the musical to Broadway. where it »


- Variety Staff

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Jon Stewart’s Directing Debut ‘Rosewater’ Scores Awards Season Release Date

17 hours ago

Jon Stewart has already hosted the Oscars. Now he just might get to attend as a nominee.

Rosewater,” “The Daily Show” host’s directorial debut, just landed a prime awards-friendly release date, positioning it for an awards campaign should the distributor decide to mount one.

The Open Road release lands in select theaters on November 7 and is based on BBC journalist Maziar Bahari’s 118 day-ordeal in Iran, during which he was tortured and imprisoned.

Gael Garcia Bernal stars in the film, which was produced by Scott Rudin, Stewart, and Gigi Pritzker. Stewart also wrote the screenplay, which is based on Bahari’s best-selling memoir “Then They Came for Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity, and Survival.”

The film is set against a backdrop of a series of protests that greeted Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s 2009 victory and also traces the international campaign Bahari’s wife led to have her husband freed. »


- Brent Lang

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Film Movement Takes U.S. on ‘Marie’s Story’

18 hours ago

Bourg Madame, France – New York-based Film Movement has closed U.S. rights to Jean-Pierre Ameris’ “Marie’s Story,” which world premieres at next week’s Locarno Festival as a Piazza Grande screening.

The sale and Locarno berth – a Piazza Grande slot is often, though not inevitably, a sign of a crowd pleaser – mark further recognition for a title which has been racking up pre-sales since Paris-based Indie Sales screened a trailer at January’s UniFrance Paris Rendez-vous.

A late nineteenth-century drama based on true events, “Marie’s Story” (aka “Marie Heurtin”) stars Isabel Carre, the co-star of Ameris’ runaway hit “Romantics Anonymous,” as a nun who teaches a deaf, blind 14-year-old woman, whom doctors recommend to be committed to an asylum, to communicate with the world around her.

“Marie’s Story” is scheduled for a Nov. 12 release in France via Diaphana.

The period piece marks a venture into theatrical movie »


- John Hopewell and Elsa Keslassy

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