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'Westworld' star Luke Hemsworth joins 'Encounter'

21 April 2017 3:31 PM, PDT

Lightning Entertainment handles worldwide sales.

Luke Hemsworth has joined the cast of Paul J. Salamoff’s sci-fi drama Encounter, which is currently shooting in Atlanta, Georgia.

The first feature from Amy Bailey’s Georgia-based Beyond Casual Media centres on a group of friends who discover a living creature in a crashed spacecraft.

When they bring the otherworldly being home, they soon discover that it holds even greater secrets than they could imagine.

With the government on their tail, time is running out to ascertain the alien’s true intentions.

Salamoff makes his feature directorial debut after serving as a production executive for Bold Films and Rat Bastard Productions. Lightning Entertainment handles worldwide sales.

Hemsworth, seen most recently in HBO’s Westworld, leads a cast that includes Anna Hutchison, Tom Atkins, Glenn Keogh, Vincent M. Ward, Cheryl Texiera and Christopher Showerman.

Salamoff said: “We are all very excited to bring this unique and exciting modern day science fiction »


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Michelle Byrd named managing director of PGA East

21 April 2017 1:26 PM, PDT

Former Ifp executive director will operate from New York offices.

Michelle Byrd has been hired as managing director of PGA East and will oversee operations from the New York office.

The appointment follows an executive search by PGA East chairs William Horberg and Kay Rothman, with the support of presidents Gary Lucchesi and Lori McCreary, national executive director and COO Vance Van Petten, and associate national executive director and COO Susan Sprung.

Byrd will report to La-based Van Petten and Sprung.

She most recently ran her own consulting practice, providing services to Ghetto Film School, Green Beetz, and Museum Of The Moving Image, among others.

Prior to that, she served as co-president of Games For Change, and oversaw the Games For Change Festival, and served as an executive producer on Half The Sky Movement games.

She also served as executive director of Ifp and helped to establish programming and partnerships, including a collaboration »


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Mira Sorvino joins thriller 'Doe'

21 April 2017 1:14 PM, PDT

Exclusive: Story loosely in the vein of Memento.

Production on the psychological thriller Doe from Double El Productions, Sigil, and Room In The Sky Films in association with Lexicon has commenced in Los Angeles County.

Mira Sorvino stars with Timothy Davis, Tatiana Ali and Matthew St. Patrick in the project, which the filmmakers describe as being in the vein of Memento.

Doe centres on a man who wakes up with no memory of his past and discovers he has the ability to speak dozens of languages.

He eventually meets other amnesiacs with extraordinary abilities and must race to save his family from his past.

Justin Foia is directing from a screenplay he co-wrote with his brother Timothy Foia based on a story by Landon Reagan and the Foia brothers.

Stacey Oristano, Aaron Farb, Anne Leighton, Faithe Herman and Steven Swadling round out the key cast.

Mark Mathias Sayre and Jonathan Piumelli are producing Doe, while [link=nm »


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Hulu, Neon strike output deal

21 April 2017 1:00 PM, PDT

First deal of its kind for new company launched by Tom Quinn, Tim League.

Hulu and Neon have signed a multi-year output deal that gives Hulu exclusive streaming rights to Neon films after theatrical release.

The deal follows Hulu’s pay-one window output deals with Annapurna Pictures, Magnolia Pictures and IFC Films for documentaries.

Neon released its first film, Colossal starring Anne Hathaway, on April 7, and recently launched a short film division, Neon shorts.

“This output deal represents a groundbreaking approach to building the most comprehensive and interactive platform dedicated to visionary cinema,” Quinn said. “Neon is thrilled to find a partner as innovative, collaborative, and as transparent as Hulu.  It’s a perfect match.”

“Our partnership with Neon marks another big step forward in our commitment to offering a world-class collection of films to our subscribers,” Hulu senior vice-president and head of content Craig Erwich said.

Neon has already acquired a highly-anticipated slate of films this year »


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CAA agent Micah Green to launch new venture

21 April 2017 12:15 PM, PDT

Green to attend Cannes on behalf of new partnership with billionaire Dan Friedkin.

Micah Green is leaving CAA as co-head of the film finance division to form a new venture with Imperative Entertainment owner Dan Friedkin, who also serves as CEO of Gulf States Toyota Distributors.

The partners plan to invest in the media and entertainment business and Green will attend Cannes in his new capacity.

The venture is separate from Friedkin’s Imperative Entertainment and will enable Green to further develop his entrepreneurial instincts.

Green helped John Sloss launch Cinetic Media in New York and moved to Los Angeles in 2005 to join CAA, where he honed his talents alongside Roeg Sutherland at the film finance division.

The pair established a thriving global business shepherding capital, advising on corporate structures, and packaging film projects.

Sources said the departure from CAA is amicable.

Sutherland, who has been working extensively in China recently and is working closely with Wild Bunch »


- [email protected] (Jeremy Kay)

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"Netflix? It's a complicated question," says Cannes Directors' Fortnight chief

21 April 2017 6:46 AM, PDT

Cannes grapples with the implications of Netflix’s arrival on the Croisette.

Us streaming giant Netflix continued its gradual integration into the fabric of Cannes on Thursday with the inclusion by Directors’ Fortnight of its recent acquisition Bushwick (pictured, top) in the line-up of its 49th edition.

Its selection followed announcement last week that two other Netflix titles - Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) – would compete for the Palme d’Or in the Official Selection.

But this Cannes hat-trick does not mean the streaming giant’s place is assured in the eco-system of this bastion of cinema and the theatrical experience.

When quizzed about Netflix’s impact on Directors’ Fortnight and the wider Cannes ecosystem, artistic director Edouard Waintrop admitted it was a complex issue.

“It’s a complicated question and one for which I’m not particularly well-prepared. It’s a new issue on different fronts, by which I »


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Cannes: Uma Thurman to preside over Un Certain Regard jury

21 April 2017 6:11 AM, PDT

Pulp Fiction actress signs up for Cannes section.

Pulp Fiction actress Uma Thurman has been named president of the 2017 Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard jury.

Seen as the festival’s second most high-profile category behind the international competition, this year’s Un Certain Regard programme features titles from Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Michel Franco and Mathieu Amalric.

Last year, Finnish black and white boxing film The Happiest Day In The Life Of Olli Mäki won the strand’s top prize.

Thurman was a member of the Cannes international competition jury in 2011 when Robert De Niro was president. They awarded the Palme d’Or to Terrence Malick’s The Tree Of Life.

Most noted for her roles in Quentin Tarantino’s films Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill: Volume 1 and 2, Thurman was more recently seen alongside Bradley Cooper in chef drama Burnt.

She will feature in Lars von Trier’s upcoming film The House That Jack Built as well »


- [email protected] (Tom Grater)

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'Fast & Furious', 'Guardians 2' compete for UK social buzz

21 April 2017 5:32 AM, PDT

Racing franchise sequel tops Marvel superhero sequel.

Fast & Furious 8 has retained its position atop the UK’s social media buzz chart ahead of its second week of release, according to analysis firm Way To Blue

The film topped upcoming superhero sequel Guardians Of The Galaxy 2, which is due to open on April 28.

Fast & Furious 8 generated 23,148 comments across social media, news, forums and blogs over the last seven days, with 3,055 of those registering an intent to view.

Guardians 2 garnered 12,818 comments, 1,197 of which expressed intent to view.

Further new openers this week include The Belko Experiement, Their Finest and The Zookeeper’s Wife failed to significantly register on the chart.

For an explanation of the Way to Blue chart and its methodology, which tracks ‘overall buzz’ and important ‘intent to view’ buzz, click here. »


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Cannes Acid title 'Scaffolding' gets sales deal

21 April 2017 5:24 AM, PDT

Exclusive: Israeli drama acquired by New Europe.

New Europe Film Sales has picked up Israeli debut Scaffolding, which has been selected for this year’s Cannes Acid selection.

Written and directed by Matan Yair, the film follows a 17-year-old boy who is an impulsive troublemaker at school.

While his strict father sees him as a natural successor to his scaffolding business, the boy forges a special connection with his literature teacher Rami and begins to see new possibilities for himself, until an unexpected tragedy occurs.

Newcomer Asher Lax stars in the lead role.

Scaffolding was produced by Gal Greenspan and Roi Kurland of Green Productions in coproduction with Stanislaw Dziedzic of Film Produkcja and United King.

The film had support from the Israeli Film Fund and the Polish Film Institute. In 2016, the project won the first pitching prize at the Jerusalem Film Festival.

New Europe also had Israeli title One Week And A Day on its roster »


- [email protected] (Tom Grater)

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Cannes: Critics' Week unveils 2017 selection

21 April 2017 4:36 AM, PDT

Mafia tale Sicilian Ghost Story to open sidebar, Sundance hit Brigsby Bear selected as closer.

Cannes Critics’ Week, devoted to first and second features as well as shorts, has unveiled the line-up of its 56th edition, running May 18-26.

Italian directors Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza will open the selection with their second feature Sicilian Ghost Story, a genre-mixing work following a teenage girl as she searches for the boy she loves after he is kidnapped by the Mafia.

It is inspired by the real-life tale of Giuseppe Di Matteo, the son of a former Mafia hitman-turned-informant, who was abducted in 1993.

Critics’ Week artistic director Charles Tesson described it as a “staggering crossover between cinema genres, combining politics, fantasy and terrible teen love.”

The directorial duo premiered their debut feature Salvo in competition in Critics’ Week in 2013, winning the €15,000 Nespresso Grand Prize.

The screenplay for Sicilian Ghost Story was developed at the Sundance Screenwriting Lab and went »


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Screen Brussels backs eight features, four TV projects

21 April 2017 3:57 AM, PDT

Total of 13 projects backed with €1.06m investment.

In its first funding round of 2017, European body Screen Brussels has invested €1.06m into 13 projects.

Of the selected projects, 10 are primarily in Belgium. Eight of the 13 are feature films, while there are four TV projects including one documentary and one animation.

The eight features are:

A Girl From Mogadishu

From Belgium outfit Umedia and co-produced by Ireland’s Pembridge Film, this English-language feature will be directed by Northern Ireland’s Mary McGuckian. The film follows a Somali social activist and her journey to obtain a vote against Fgm (female genital mutilation) in the European parliament. It will shoot for two weeks in Brussels.

Undergods

Produced by Belgium’s Velvet Films and co-produced by the UK’s Venner Film and Estonia’s Homeless Bob, this this tragicomic science-fiction feature film tells the story of how the comfortable life of a modern family is interrupted by an otherworldly event. Shot in English »


- [email protected] (Tom Grater)

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First trailer for Cannes opener 'Ismael's Ghosts' starring Marion Cotillard

21 April 2017 3:45 AM, PDT

Arnaud Desplechin’s drama co-stars Mathieu Amalric, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Louis Garrel.

The first trailer for Arnaud Desplechin’s Ismael’s Ghosts, which will open the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, has been released. It’s in French with no subtitles.

Watch below or on mobile Here.

Exclu - Découvrez la Bande Annonce du Fantôme d... by franceinter

The film, playing out of competition at Cannes, stars Mathieu Amalric as a filmmaker who is sent mad by the return of an ex-lover. He is then visited by the ghosts of people who have been important in his life. Marion Cotillard, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Louis Garrel co-star.

Ismael’s Ghosts is sold by Wild Bunch and produced by Paris-based Why Not Productions. Magnolia has acquired Us rights.

Desplechin is a Cannes regular. He was on the main competition jury in 2016 and his film Jimmy P: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian competed for the Palme d’Or in 2013.

His last film »


- [email protected] (Orlando Parfitt)

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Cannes: Acid unveils 2017 line-up

21 April 2017 3:21 AM, PDT

This year’s showcase features ten world premieres and a Serbian strand.

France’s Association for the Diffusion of Independent Cinema (Acid) has unveiled the line-up for its 25rd Cannes Film Festival showcase, running May 18-27.

The initiative aimed at giving greater visibility to up and coming, indie filmmakers will once again screen nine works (bold indicates world premieres).

They are:

L’ASSEMBLÉE by Mariana Otero (documentary)Avant La Fin De L’ÉTÉ by Maryam Goormaghtigh (documentary)Belinda by Marie Dumora (documentary) [pictured]Le Ciel ÉTOILÉ Au-dessus De Ma TÊTE by Ilan KlipperCOBY by Christian Sonderegger (documentary)Kiss And Cry by Lila Pinell and Chloé MahieuLAST Laugh by Zhang TaoSCAFFOLDING by Matan YairSANS Adieu by Christophe Agou (documentary)

There will also be a special screening and two films in partnership with the film Belgrade Festival of Auteur Film. These are:

Pour Le Reconfort by Vincent Macaigne (special screening)Requiem For Ms J. by Bojan VuleticHUMIDITY »


- [email protected] (Orlando Parfitt)

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Telefilm Canada issues statement as directors voice merger fears

20 April 2017 10:05 PM, PDT

April 21 Update: Executive director of film body ‘touched by support’.

Carolle Brabant, the executive director of Telefilm Canada, has released a statement in light of a protest letter by leading Canadian directors voicing concern over rumours the body will merge with the Canada Media Fund.

Denis Villeneuve and David Cronenberg are among 51 signatories who wrote to the government this week as it conducts a review of culture policy in the digital age.

Brabant’s statement issued late on Thursday night said: “We’re touched by the support expressed by Canadian directors and producers for Telefilm Canada’s mandate. As we celebrate our 50th anniversary, Telefilm’s commitment to developing and promoting Canadian filmmaking talent is as strong as ever.

“As reflected in our 11-year partnership with the Canada Media Fund, we constantly seek to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of funding program delivery, especially in today’s multiplatform environment.

“We understand the industry wanting to be part »


- [email protected] (Jeremy Kay)

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Canadian directors protest Telefilm Canada merger rumours

20 April 2017 4:05 PM, PDT

Denis Villeneuve, David Cronenberg among signatories in letter to government.

Fifty-one Canadian directors have written to prime minster Justin Trudeau and heritage minster Melanie Joly protesting what they believe to be a government proposal to merge Telefilm Canada with the Canada Media Fund (Cmf).

The Liberal government is reviewing culture policy in the digital age and the signatories to the letter believe a merger is on the table.

Toronto-based Globe And Mail ran an excerpt of the letter, whose signatories include Denis Villeneuve, David Cronenberg, Atom Egoyan, Denys Arcand, Deepa Mehta, Xavier Dolan, and Sarah Polley.

They wrote: “We are deeply concerned that if feature film investments are subsumed within a larger agency with a competing and unsympathetic mandate, its independence and efficacy will quickly erode.

“Merging filmmaker-driven Telefilm with broadcaster-driven Cmf would deal a devastating blow to Canadian cinema.”

Telefilm Canada administers public funds to support cinema and its involvement on a project triggers the release »


- [email protected] (Jeremy Kay)

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'Insidious 4' put back to January 2018

20 April 2017 1:10 PM, PDT

Universal, Sony horror film had been scheduled for October release.

Universal Pictures and Sony Pictures have moved back Insidious: Chapter 4 from October 20 to January 5, 2018.

The film takes the place of the previously announced Untitled Blumhouse Horror Project. Universal’s Half To Death from Blumhouse will now open on October 20 this year.

Universal handles North American distribution on Insidious: Chapter 4 while Sony handles international.

Franchise co-creator Leigh Whannell wrote the screenplay and Lin Shaye stars as a parapsychologist who experiences a haunting in her family home. Newcomer Adam Robitel directs.

Jason Blum, Oren Peli and co-creator James Wan serve as producers, while Steven Schneider, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Charles Layton, Bailey Conway Anglewicz, Couper Samuelson and Whannell serve as executive producers.

Christopher Landon directs Half To Death from Blumhouse, about a college student who relives the day of her murder until she discovers her killer’s identity. Jessica Rothe stars.

Universal has moved up by one week its »


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Cannes Critics' Week line-up set to be revealed

20 April 2017 11:11 AM, PDT

When the Cannes parallel section line-ups will be announced, and how to watch them live.

The announcement for Cannes Critics’ Week has moved forward to this Friday (April 21).

Critics’ Week will unveil its line-up online on its website with an accompanying video commentary from its artistic director Charles Tesson.

The Canne Directors’ Fortnight line-up was unveiled on Thursday (April 20).

All the parallel sections had originally set their announcements for next week believing the Cannes Film Festival would announce its Official Selection later than usual linked to the fact it is taking place one week later this year due to French presidential elections, taking place on April 23 and May 7. 

After the festival retained its original announcement slot of April 13, the parallel sections reshuffled their dates. 

Read more:

Cannes 2017 reveals radical line-up

Thierry Frémaux talks Cannes 2017 selection »


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Cannes Critics' Week, Acid line-ups set to be revealed

20 April 2017 11:11 AM, PDT

When the Cannes parallel section line-ups will be announced, and how to watch them live.

Cannes Critics’ Week and the increasingly followed selection of France’s Association for the Diffusion of Independent Cinema (Acid) have moved their announcements forward to this Friday (April 21).

Read more:

Cannes: Directors’ Fortnight reveals 2017 line-up

Critics’ Week will unveil its line-up online on its website with an accompanying video commentary from its artistic director Charles Tesson.

Acid will also unveil its line-up on Friday via a press release at 9.00 Cest (8.00 BST).

All the parallel sections had originally set their announcements for next week believing the Cannes Film Festival would announce its Official Selection later than usual linked to the fact it is taking place one week later this year due to French presidential elections, taking place on April 23 and May 7. 

After the festival retained its original announcement slot of April 13, the parallel sections reshuffled their dates. 

Read more:

Cannes »


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Five studios competing for James Bond rights

20 April 2017 9:20 AM, PDT

Major studios - and a surprise name - are bidding for the next 007 film, according to reports.

Five studios are pitching for the rights to distribute the next James Bond film, according to a report in the New York Times.

Sources told the paper that Sony, Warner Bros, Universal Pictures, 20th Century Fox and Annapurna Pictures have been making presentations to MGM and Eon Productions, who control the franchise. Disney and Paramount are reportedly not interested.

Sony distributed the last four films, but their deal finished with 2015’s Spectre. MGM and Eon are now only offering a one film contract.

The most intriguing name on the list of Bond suitors is Annapurna. Founded by Megan Ellison, they are renowned for prestige films such as Foxcatcher and Zero Dark Thirty, and have never distributed big budget franchise films before.

The company launched a full-service distribution and marketing operation this January, which will kick off with the inaugural release »


- [email protected] (Orlando Parfitt)

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Screen Australia unveils China co-pro 'At Last'

20 April 2017 8:03 AM, PDT

China’s Monumental Films will produce with Australia’s Roadman Films and Story Bridge Films.

Screen Australia announced the eighth official China-Australia co-production, At Last, to be written and directed by Yiwei Liu at the on-going Beijing International Film Festival (April 16-23).

The project will be produced by China’s Monumental Films with Australian production outfits Roadman Films and Story Bridge Films.

The story follows a couple from Beijing who find themselves caught in a complex art heist while on holiday in Australia. Jackie Jiao, Todd Fellman, Charles Fan and Vanessa Wu will produce.

Casting is currently underway on the project with production expected to commence in Australia from mid-July. Financiers on the film include Orient Image Entertainment, Gravity Films, Shineland Media, China Lion and Screen Queensland.

Screen Queensland CEO Tracey Vieira said At Last would shoot in Queensland [pictured], providing around 200 jobs and injecting $10.8m into the local economy.

“At Last has come to Queensland as a direct »


- [email protected] (Liz Shackleton)

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