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May 22, 1998 2:00 AM
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Five Debuts in Cannes: Another Report from the Cannes Market

Five Debuts in Cannes: Another Report from the Cannes Market

by Sandy Mandelberger




Dominating the stately hotels and apartment complexes of this lush
Mediterranean paradise was a virtual army of film sellers who came from
the four corners of the globe to offer their wares at the world's largest
film bazaar. For five new companies with special relevance to the
independent film community, this was their debut in Cannes. The following
is a brief profile of each.


ACROPOLIS ENTERTAINMENT: Launched by international sales veteran Bill
Moraskie, this production and international distribution company will
produce and distribute between four and six projects a year, with budgets
ranging from $3-$6 million. The company's first projects include "Love
Lies Bleeding
", a thriller starring Paul Rhys and Malcolm McDowell, and
"The Red Box", a World War II drama set in rural Italy, directed by Gianni
Amelio and starring Giancarlo Gianni.


ARTISAN ENTERTAINMENT: Formerly known as Live Entertainment, this new
company not only has a new name but a new strategy. Acquired last year by
a group of investors, a new management team was put in place that includes
October Films co-founder Amir Malin. The company recently closed its
international division after acquiring a percentage interest in Summit
Entertainment
, a leading international sales company. All future
films will be handled internationally by Summit, starting with Roman
Polanski's "The Ninth Gate" starring Johnny Depp. Now putting its sole
emphasis on the US market, the company is believed to be scouting
other acquisition opportunities in a drive to become a fully fledged
mini-major.


FRANCHISE PICTURES. This Los Angeles-based production and distribution
company will handle 12-15 bigger budget ($10-25 million) pictures a year,
most of them produced in-house. The first completed project, "Twenty Dates",
a romantic comedy written and directed by Myles Berkowitz, was recently
acquired for US theatrical by Fox Searchlight. The company has signed a
four-picture deal with Natural Nylon, the UK production company founded
by actors Ewan McGregor, Jude Law and Johnny Lee Miller. The first film
from this collaboration, "White River Kid", a thriller directed by Arne
Glimcher ("The Mambo Kids") and starring Bob Hoskins and Antonio Banderas,
is slated for the Toronto Film Festival.


HIGHLAND CREST PICTURES. This is a new division of 15-year-old foreign
sales company, Amazing Movies, that will be devoted to films with budgets
over $3 million aimed at theatrical release in international markets. The
first pick-up for the new division is "Six Ways to Sunday", director Adam
Bernstein's satire of a wildly dysfunctional family featuring Deborah
Harrey, Elina Lowensohn and Isaac Hayes. The company will fill its slate
with outside acquisitions and in-house productions.


JOUR DE FETE FILMS. This new distribution company will specialize in
gay and lesbian themed films for the U.S. market only. Founders Dan Castle
and Mike Thomas are scowering the film festival circuit for American and
international gay-themed films with theatrical potential. Their first
theatrical release, "Broadway Damage" (director: Victor Mignatti), a comic
tale of young hopefuls coming to New York to fulfill their dreams, will
open at New York's Quad Cinema in late May, followed by a national release.
The company has also expressed interest in producing in-house films of
similar theme and budget.


[Sandy Mandleberger is a veteran Cannes-goer, sometimes producer's rep,
and the head of International Media Resources.]

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