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May 15, 2011 Abu Dhabi Film Festival Announces First Round of Selections of SANAD Grants for Arab Filmmakers
The Abu Dhabi Film Festival (ADFF) announced today eleven projects selected to receive development and post-production funding from SANAD, the festival’s fund for filmmakers from the Arab world. Each year, SANAD awards a total of US$500,000 in grants to upcoming and established filmmakers in two categories: development funds of up to US$20,000 and post-production funds of up to US$60,000 per project. Well-known filmmakers including Jocelyne Saab (Lebanon), Hala Alabdallah (Syria) Abderrahmane Sissako (Mauritania), Samir (Iraq) and Malek Bensmaïl (Algeria) are among the directors of the selected projects. Michelle Williams offered good witch role in ‘Oz’
Disney may have found the final piece of its triumvirate of witches for its ‘Oz’ movie: Michelle Williams. Williams has been offered the role of Glinda, the good witch, in ‘Oz: The Great and Powerful’, Disney’s prequel-ish take on ‘The Wizard of Oz’ tale that stars James Franco and Mila Kunis and is being directed by Sam Raimi. Kunis is on board as Theadora, a witch who falls for Franco. Rachel Weisz is in talks to play sister Evanora, the evil witch who wants to rule the land and tries to seduce Theadora to the dark side. Online platform StudioBeyond to connect film industry
A new online platform, StudioBeyond, is aiming to become the first integrated online office space specially designed for the movie and TV industry. The online platform aims to break down existing barriers in the film industry, connecting talent, producers, distributors, exhibitors, executives, financiers, broadcasters and casting professionals. Amongst its functions, the site will allow castings agents to view talent, budding screenplay writers to pitch to producers, sales agents to view movie trailers and distributors to connect with exhibitors. Users will be able to pitch to movie executives who in turn will be able to search the database of projects and talent. With an official launch date of May 20, StudioBeyond already has over 1000 pre-registered members. Dench, McKellen bite for zombie romp
Ian McKellen, Judi Dench, Gillian Anderson, and Mark Williams are attached to star in Matthew Butler’s 18th century zombie romp, ‘The Curse Of The Buxom Strumpet’. Butler will direct and has co-written the script with Tori Hart for the feature in which the inhabitants of a small seaside town are struck down with a deadly illness. The feature is an extension of Butler’s short comedy film ‘E’gad, Zombies!’, also starring McKellen. Festival Scope strikes special partnership with Melbourne
The Melbourne International Film Festival has partnered with online platform Festival Scope and will create a special section for its 60th edition (July 21 – August 7) called TeleScope. The industry platform already works with festivals including Cannes, Venice, Berlin and Rotterdam. Australian filmmakers will be able to screen their MIFF films on Festival Scope. European directors will attend MIFF to present their films as well as engaging with emerging Australian filmmakers through panels and discussions. Those emerging filmmakers will also show works on Festival Scope. ‘Bullhead’ star joins Loft remake
Fast-rising Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts has joined Wentworth Miller, Eric Stonestreet, Patrick Wilson, James Marsden and others in Erik Van Looy’s US version of his 2008 mega-hit ‘Loft’. Schoenaerts is the star of Michaël R. Roskam’s ‘Bullhead’, the Berlinale title that is screening the Cannes market. Schoenaerts is cast as Filip, the role he also played in the original version of ‘Loft’. It was director Erik Van Looy who played with the idea of casting the young actor after seeing ‘Bullhead’, and suggested it to the film’s US producers. The director was equally impressed by Nicolas Karakatsanis’ lensing for ‘Bullhead’ and also contacted him for ‘Loft’. Abu Dhabi Film Festival announces first round of selections of ‘Sanad’ grants for Arab filmmakers
The Abu Dhabi Film Festival (ADFF) announced today eleven projects selected to receive development and post-production funding from ‘Sanad’, the Festival’s fund for filmmakers from the Arab world. Well-known filmmakers, including Jocelyne Saab (Lebanon), Hala Alabdallah (Syria) Abderrahmane Sissako (Mauritania), Samir (Iraq) and Malek Bensmaïl (Algeria) are among the directors of the selected projects. Cannes Buyers Hire ‘Headhunters’
Buyers hope they’ve found the next ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ in new Nordic crime drama ‘Headhunters’, which was one of the strongest European sellers in the Cannes market this year. Sales group TrustNordisk closed deals with Alta Films in Spain, Big Movie in Russia, Czech distributor Aero Films and Brazil’s Mares Filmes in a flurry of all rights deals. Other territories locked up since the film’s market premiere include the former Yugoslavia (Insomnia), Estonia (Estin Film) and Romania (Independenta Film). Rahman to work with Yash Chopra on YFR’s new project
Yash Raj Films has announced a new project which will be directed by the veteran director Yash Chopra. For the first time, Yash Chopra and A. R. Rahman have come together for the music of the film. The film will star YRF’s favourite, Shahrukh Khan, with two leading ladies who haven’t been finalised yet. The last film Yash Chopra directed was ‘Veer Zaara’ in 2004. Malaysian Government Initiative Targets Global Film Sector
The government is launching a new initiative — the Malaysian Creative Content Association (MCCA) — to bring Malaysian TV and film projects to the rest of the world. As local productions have increased and the country has become a prominent location double for other Asian countries, it is investing in efforts to increase Malaysia’s presence on the international scene. ‘Tintin’ Posters Unwrapped
The international and North American posters for Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson’s first ‘Tintin‘ movie, made in CGI, hit the Net on Monday. ‘Tintin’ is a comic strip created by a Belgian artist named Herge that appeared in weeklies, and was later collected in book form, back in the 1920s through to 1970s. To see pictures of the posters click on the link below. PTZ International closes deals on Headwinds
Perrine Tezé’s PTZ International has closed deals on Headwinds, the Jalil Lespert-directed film that stars Audrey Tautou and Benoît Magimel. Deals are for Eastern Europe (SPI), Switzerland (Filmcoopi) and Turkey (Duka Films). Universal is handling the film in France, and Cinéart will release in Benelux through Artemis. Pressman signs Noyce for Bloodsport; lands Venice slot for Moth Diaries
Veteran producer Ed Pressman is in Cannes with news on three projects. Pressman has closed deals with Phillip Noyce to direct, and Robert Mark Kamen to script, a reinvention of iconic Jean Claude Van Damme actioner ‘Bloodsport’ (1988). Alberto Lensi is producing with Pressman. The story will follow an American who goes to Brazil to recover from the violence he has experienced in Afghanistan, who then gets involved in a martial arts contest. Mark DiSalles is executive producing. Lall brothers launch Filmworks
Bhuvan and Akshay Lall have launched an arthouse label, Lall Brothers Filmworks, to produce and distribute a slate of high-quality Indian films. The first pick up is Bedabrato Pain’s 1930s-set action drama ‘Chittagong’, starring Manoj Bajpai, Barry John and Nawazudin Siddiqui. Lall Brothers is also developing a slate of story-driven films, each with budgets of around $1 million, and plan to unveil the first projects in Toronto. Swedes sail with Long Ships Franchise
Swedish Production Outfit Fladen Film is launching ‘The Long Ships’, likely to be the biggest budget movie in Swedish history. Fladen plans to create a full-blown Viking franchise which will comprise two feature films and a TV series. A writer and director will be announced in the near future. Bouchareb to start ‘Just Like A Woman’
Oscar-nominated director Rachid Bouchareb will start shooting the largely English-language ‘Just Like A Woman’ in June, with Doc & Film International handling sales. Sienna Miller, Golshifteh Farahani and Roschdy Zem star in the story of women who travel to Las Vegas for a belly-dancing contest. Bouchareb’s Taghit produces, with Cohen Media Group co-producing and distributing in the US. ‘Amityville Horror’ sequel announced
Dimension Films and Miramax are joining forces to produce ‘The Amityville Horror: The Lost Tapes’ with production starting this summer and a release date of January 27 2012. Bob Weinstein, co-chairman of The Weinstein Company, and Miramax CEO Mike Lang made the announcement Sunday in Cannes. The execs noted ‘The Lost Tapes’ is the first film to be produced under the agreement between Miramax and The Weinstein Company to create sequels to some of Miramax’s best-known properties. ‘Assassins Creed’ game for 3D film
Paris-based Ubisoft Motion Pictures, the film and TV production arm of the French game-publishing giant, is developing 3D features based on some of its top videogame franchises – ‘Assassins Creed’, ‘Splinter Cell’ and ‘Ghost Recon’. Launched in January, the division is headed by former EuropaCorp CEO Jean-Julien Baronnet, along with Didier Lupfer, senior VP of production and development, and Jean de Rivieres, senior VP of international marketing and distribution. Miramax pacts with Netflix; Move emphasizes focus on digital distribution
Miramax, stressing its increased emphasis on digital platforms, has signed a multi-year non-exclusive distribution deal with Netflix that will make Miramax titles available starting next month. Financial terms were not disclosed, with the companies noting that Netflix members will be able to instantly watch several hundred Miramax movies, with dozens of titles being added on a rotating basis. The availability of specific titles at a specific date wasn’t disclosed, but the companies said the movies can be watched on multiple platforms, including TV, tablet, computer and mobile phones. The road to Morocco
Timothy Burrill (Roman Polanski’s long-time producer) and Peter Webber are in Cannes to raise finance for their feature ‘The Spider’s House’, which they are hoping to begin production on next year. Based on the novel by Paul Bowles, the film is set against the backdrop of the 1950s political uprisings in Morocco, focusing on two former lovers who meet in the medieval city of Fez. Dubai Festival focuses on docs
The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) is expanding its co-production market, Dubai Film Connection, with a focus on documentary films which include a $25,000 prize. Kumar targets Shootout
Amit Kumar, director of his short ‘The Bypass’, will shoot his debut feature, ‘The Monsoon Shootout’, as a co-production between the UK, India, Netherlands and France. Set during the Monsoon in Mumbai, the thriller revolves around a rookie cop. Production is due to start in July. UK producer Trevor Ingman’s Yaffle Films developed the film with support from the UK Film Council. ‘Fairytale’ romance for Keifer, Kate
Keifer Sutherland and Kate Bosworth are heading for Gotham, boarding indie romancer ‘Fairytale of New York’ with Lisa Katselas and Lee Cleary directing. The film, currently in pre-production, will shoot in Northern Ireland and New York. The Little Film Co. is pre-selling the pic at Cannes. Loane’s Sisters shapes up
Filmmaker Terry Loan has Ciaran Hinds attached and Oscar winner Tilda Swinton firmly in his sights for ‘Sisters’, a Northern Irish drama billed as ‘Dead Poets Society’ meets ‘Sister Act’. Produced by Noel Qualter via his U.K. production banner Cineman Films, the project has secured the executive producer services of Colin Vaines, whose resumè includes W.E., and Lisa Lambert, the executive producer of Cannes. Jordan out for blood
Oscar winning filmmaker Neil Jordan is reuniting with producer Stephen Woolley to make ‘Byzantium’, a female vampire movie with Saoirse Ronan and Gemma Arterton as the lead bloodsuckers. The US $11 million budgeted title is set to shoot in October later this year.

Screen Daily: The Film Library picks up ‘The Sun Beaten Path’
Hong Kong sales agent The Film Library has picked up international rights to Sonthar Gyal’s Tibetan feature ‘The Sun Beaten Path’, which received a special mention at the recent Hong Kong International Film Festival. FilmSharks adopts ‘Misfits’
Guido Rud’s sales company FilmSharks has acquired international sales rights to the ‘Misfits’, which won the audience award during the last edition of Guadalajara film Festival, one of the main festivals in Latin America. The film was produced by Beanca Films and Los Geuros. Basner picks up Bale epic
Glen Besner’s sales, production and financing company has boarded most international sales on Zhang Yimou’s epic ‘Heroes of Nanking’, starring Christian Bale. Production is scheduled to wrap in mid-June on the English and Mandarin language historical adventure. Annapurna brings back Arnie
Annapurna Films has paid in the region of $20 million to make at least two ‘Terminator’ films. Megan Ellison’s company now holds worldwide rights and can expect an intense weekend of courtship in Cannes. CCA negotiated the sale and will be fielding offers, with Justin Lin attached to direct and Arnold Schwarzenneger lined up to star. Weinsteins vote for Iron Lady
The Weinsteen’s have picked up all US rights to the Margaret Thatcher biopic ‘The Iron Lady’ in a deal brokered with Pathé. Harvey Weinstein partnered on the acquisition with Ron Burkle. ‘Atlas’ Picks Up Actors
Susan Sarandon and Jim Broadbent are in advanced negotiations to join Tom Hanks and Halle Berry in Tom Tykwer and the Wachowski siblings’ Cloud Atlas, which Focus Features Intl. is shopping to buyers. Film4 backs Chatwin biopic
Film4 is teaming with producers Rachael horovitz and James Wilson to develop a film about writer-traveller Bruce Chatwin. Hari Kunzru and Katie Kitamura are writing the script based on Nicholas Shakespeare’s biography. Bavaria travels to Morocco with Link
Bavaria Film International is reteaming with Oscar-winning director Caroline Link and producer Peter Herrmann on their next film. The yet-to-be-named project, based on Link’s original screenplay, is set in Morocco, and follows the story of a German stage director working in Marrakech and dealing with his troubled teenage son. The film will star Ulrich Tukur and Hafsia Herzi, will shoot this winter on an $8.5 million budget. Scorsese, von Trier plan Obstructions
Martin Scorsese has conformed he will join forces with Danish maverick Lars von Trier on a follow-up to The Five Obstructions. The co-production between Scorsese’s Sikelia Productions and von Tier’s Zentropa Real will start producing next year. It is believed von Trier will ask Scorsese to revisit his 1976 classic Taxi Driver. Arab Filmmakers Receive Vital Funding to Bring Their Stories to the World
Doha Film Institute (DFI) marked their first year anniversary by announcing 25 new film grants for projects in various stages of development, and called for more collaborative financial support from the Arab world to support storytellers from the region. Qatar’s First International Co-production to World Premiere at 2011 Doha Tribeca Film Festival
Doha Film Institute (DFI) announced that Arabian epic Black Gold, directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, will make its world premiere at the 2011 Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF), which is scheduled to run October 25 – 29, 2011 at Katara Cultural Village. Co-produced with Quinta Communications, Black Gold is the first major international co-production for DFI and Qatar. Starring Antonio Banderas, Freida Pinto, Tahar Rahim, Mark Strong, Riz Ahmed and Liya Kebede, the film is an epic adventure adaptation of Hans Reusch’s classic novel The Great Thirst. The film’s prominent battle scenes were shot in the spectacular desert dunes of Mesaieed and Shamal, in Qatar – over a four week period. C Sky ramps up Arabian film plan
Kuwaiti filmmaker Walid Al Awadi’s C Sky Pictures has signed a three-year development deal with twofour54 Abu Dhabi to develop and produce a a slate of Arabic film and TV projects. The first project under the deal is feature film Tora Bora about a family’s quest to find their son who has run away to Afghanistan to join Al Qaeda. Directed by Al Awadi and starring Saad Al Faraj and Asmahan Tawfiq, the project was filmed as both a feature and TV series in the Gulf, Morocco and Europe. Pretty, Fortissimo rep Rasoulof’s Good Bye
James Velaise’s Pretty Pictures has acquired world rights to Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof’s ‘Un Certain Regard’ last-minute addition ‘Good Bye’, and has teamed with Fortissimo Films on the project. Velaise negotiated the rights with Rasoulof’s production company in Iran, and the Fortissimo deal was negotiated with Chris Paton, SVP of acquisitions.

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