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CANNES ’06 MARKET DAILY: Marche Madness; Oh, Canada!; Alan Ball’s Latest; Penguins, and Many More De

CANNES '06 MARKET DAILY: Marche Madness; Oh, Canada!; Alan Ball's Latest; Penguins, and Many More De

Once the second day of the Marche du Film came to a close, some of the nearly 10,000 attendees made their way to the nearby beach at the Majestic Hotel for the annual kick-off bash. Not surprisingly, expectations were high for this year’s Cannes Market. As is often the case, some buyers and sellers see the fest as a chance to close deals that were initially set up at the market in Rotterdam, then solidified in Berlin or at AFM. Many come to Cannes to seal the deal.

[indieWIRE’s Cannes ’06 Market Daily column is being published in the Cannes Market News print dailies, produced by Le Film Francais and the Marche du Film. 13,000 copies of the English-language publication are available in all festival venues, hotels and throughout Cannes.]

“At Cannes, it feels like projects are given that last push,” explained November Wanderin of D Street Media Group in Berlin. Chatting with indieWIRE near the massive buffet of food along the water, she explained that her company has a couple of projects that will benefit from the Marche du Film.

A few feet away, near the gateway to the Majestic’s pier, filled with food and drink stations, Ken DuBow, EVP of worldwide sales at First Look Studios and Bonnie Voland, a new marketing executive at the company, touted their new slate here at the Cannes Market. It includes a few Sundance fest titles for sale, like Dito Montiel‘s acclaimed, “A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints.” Additionally, the company is also hyping Gregg Araki‘s latest, “Smiley Face” and “An American Crime,” a new movie co-produced with Killer Films and starring Catherine Keener.

Finally, many insiders at the market here in France have been buzzing about a new Michel Gondry film, “Be Kind Rewind”. Focus Features International (FFI) head Alison Thompson told indieWIRE earlier in the day that the company essentual made a negative pick-up deal for the project, which stars Jack Black.

While Focus is handling international sales on the project, buyers and sellers at the Marche du Film have said New Line secured the U.S. domestic rights to the movie in a high-priced deal. Focus Features will not be handling the release in the U.S, but Thompson said Thursday, “It will be very lucrative for FFI.”

Canucks Have More to Offer in Cannes

Telefilm Canada is increasing its presence at the Marche du Film this year, offering a new Perspective Canada Cannes program in France for the first time. Thirteen films, all of which have been supported by Telefilm, have been chosen to participate in the new initiative that hopes to boost international sales activity for the titles.

The Canadians are hyping Philippe Falardeau‘s “Congorama” in the Directors’ Fortnight, along with Florence Mialilhe‘s “Conte de Quartier,” screening in the short film competition, as well as Thom Fitzgerald‘s “3 Needles,” which has already screened on the festival circuit, among other titles.

The organization invests in film productions at the development phase, Hudman explained, saying that the organization uses new programs like the Cannes initiative (and other similar programs at MoMA in New York or at the Sundance Film Festival) to remain attached to the project all the way through to the international promotion and sales of each picture.

Calling Cannes, “The international Olympics of markets,” Telefilm’s Brigitte Hubman told indieWIRE that the new initiative was developed in order to “ensure that we have an annual showcase and visibility for our newest films and newest talent.” The primary goal is to stir sales, but she added that her country’s presence at the festival also includes the popular Canadian Pavilion, which support Canadians and also serves as a networking site for talent, producers and others to meet and connect.

Fitzgerald’s “3 Needles,” being sold as a new “Director’s Cut,” is one Canadian title that has already been active on the market, according to Emotion Pictures, which announced that it has completed deals in a number of major territories for the title. The film, starring Lucy Liu, Sandra Oh, Shawn Ashmore, Stockard Channing and Olympia Dukakis, has been sold to Entertainment for Australia and New Zealandand California Filmes for Brazil. U.S. distribution rights went to Wolfe Releasing, in partnership with Covington USA. The film will have a North American, South American, Australian and New Zealand release on World AIDS Day (December 1, 2006), including a broadcast on U.S. cable network Showtime, on that date alongside the U.S. theatrical release.

“Part of our international strategy is to increase the visibility and value of Canadian films,” Hubman explained. Concluding the conversation with indieWIRE, Hubman saluted Canuck filmmaker David Cronenberg, who was set to receive an award from the Festival de Cannes Thursday evening, smiling and saying,”It’s unofficial Canada Day!” [Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE]

Celluloid Dreams to Sell “Untitled Alan Ball Project”

Celluloid Dreams has been named sales agent for the new “Untitled Alan Ball Project” to be produced by Ted Hope on behalf of the New York production group This is That, along with Steven RalesCollage Cinematographie in association with Scott Rudin Productions. Celluloid made the announcement Thursday. This is That’s Anne Careyand Anthony Bregman will executive produce the film along with Rudin and is the first collaboration between the three production companies as well as a first time collaboration for any of groups with Celluloid Dreams.

The film follows the adventures of young Jasira, daughter of a Lebanese-American father and an American mother, who comes of age during the first Gulf War, according to a Celluloid release. When Jasira unwittingly enters into a dangerous flirtation with her mother’s boyfriend, her mother insists that Jasira move to her father’s house. Despite the change of venue, Jasira’s move is a catalyst for crisis with funny, heart-rending and ultimately redeeming consequences.

The producers were able to find full financing through equity sources and a start date has been locked for Aug 2nd and casting is still underway.

Though the film will be his feature film directorial debut, Alan Ball’s work in television has won numerous awards and his script for “American Beauty” won an Academy Award in 2000 for best original screenplay, and the film went on to win five Academy Awards altogether.

“It is hard to match a pedigree as high as Alan, Scott, Steven and Celluloid. But I think we will when we finalize the cast,” commented Hope in a statement. “It’s such a rich script; I unearth gems with each new reading. I’ve wanted to work with Celluloid for years and it really came together this year. I think the film will surprise everyone with its blend of humor and emotion. We are currently in a worldwide casting search for lead character Jasira and Alan is going to make her a star.” [Brian Brooks/indieWIRE]

“Penguins” Farce Preview Planned

U.S. comedian Bob Saget‘s “Farce of the Penguins,” a play on last year’s popular documentary, “The March of the Penguins,” will have a preview here in Cannes this weekend. The film, narrated by Festival de Cannes juror Samuel L. Jackson and featuring comedians Lewis Black, Whoopi Goldberg, Tracy Morgan, Bill Maher, and many others, has secured deals in Germany (Constantine), Japan (Movie Eye), Brazil (Europa), Greece (Audio Visual), Iceland (Myndform), the Middle East (Front Row), and Thailand (JBS). The film is described as, “a comedic wildlife adventure/love story that combines spectacular live-action penguin footage with an irreverent and decidedly R-rated theme and soundtrack.” ThinkFilm will screen the promo on May 29th from Noon – 2 p.m. at Olympia 2, and the next day at 10 a.m. at Gray Hotel theater 4. [Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE]

Myriad Boards “174” for Non-Latin American/Gaul Rights

Santa Monica, CA based Myriad Pictures has acquired rights to Bruno Barreto’s “174,” which is scheduled to begin shooting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in the autumn. The production and distribution company’s deal includes worldwide rights outside of Brazil and the rest of Latin America as well as France. Barreto, who developed the script with “City of God” writer Braulio Mantovani received an Oscar nomination for “Four Days in September” in 1998.

Based on the award-winning documentary “Bus 174” by Jose Padilha and Felipe Lacerda, “174” follows the true account of Rio street kid Sandro, who witnesses his mother’s death at 10 years-old and Marisa, a single mother whose baby son is stolen from her because of an unpaid drug debt. Their lives intersect as Marisa searches for her child and finds Sandro, who is in need of a mother figure. But Sandro’s sinks into further despair when he finds himself in the middle of a hijacking incident on local bus 174.

Roberto d’Avila Patrick Siaretta and Barreto will serve as producers of the film, while Ernst Goldschmidt is co-executive producer. Paramount Pictures Brazil and Moonshot Pictures are financing the project. [Brian Brooks/indieWIRE]

German Sales Agents Make a Killing with “Bathory”

Swedish director Juraj Jakubisko’s English language film “Bathory” just signed German sales agents Sola Media and Atrix Films to handle its international sales. The film, starring Tony Award winner Anna Friel, is based on the life of Elizabeth Bathory, the murderous Countess of Transylvania. A co-production between Juakubisko Film Slovakia, Film & Music Entertainment (UK), Lunar Films, Euro Films, Eurofilm Studio (Hungary) and Jakubisko Film* (Czech Republic), the sales deal was negotiated by Jakubisko Films’ Deana Jakubisko and Sola Media’s Solveig Langeland. [Kristina Woo/indieWIRE]

TF1 Selling “God Grew Tired Of Us, Following U.S. Deal for Doc

Director Christopher Quinn and co-director Tommy Walker’s “God Grew Tired of Us,” winner of both the documentary grand jury prize and the audience award at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, is being handled at the Marche du Film by TF1, following securing a North American distribution deal via Newmarket Films. The company is planning a late fall release in the U.S. “Tired,” narrated by Nicole Kidman, is described as “the incredible odyssey of three young Sudanese men in the strange new world of America and how they strive towards a brighter future.” Brad Pitt, Peter Gilbert, Adam Schlesinger, and Jack Schneider are executive producers of the movie. [Kristina Woo/indieWIRE]

Fortissimo Films Croons to “Sounds of Sand”

Fortissimo Films has acquired world sales rights to award-winning Belgian director Marion Hansel‘s “Sounds of Sand.” The drama is set in the stark African desert featuring actors from Burkina Faso, Djibouti and Belgium. “Sand” is the tale of a group of African villagers forced to head south because their home is plagued by drought, famine and threats of war. The villagers head south with their livestock including a treasured camel. Hansel’s previous credits include “Between the Devil and the Deep” (1995), which screened in competition that year at the Festival de Cannes. [Brian Brooks/indieWIRE]

“Ghosts” Set for International Sales

In the first film to go through the new joint venture between Beyond Films and Head Gear Films, Beyond will represent Nick Broomfield’s “Ghosts” for world sales in Cannes. The film centers on the true story of Chinese immigrants who drowned picking cockles in the U.K. Ai Qin, a young girl from Fujian province becomes one of three million workers in the U.K. earning little money laboring in the food, construction and hospitality industries, and is sharing a suburban two-bedroom home with fifteen fellow emigres. In an attempt to find a better paying position, she and some fellow compatriots take jobs cockling in Morecambe Bay at night. On February 5, 2004, 23 of the Chinese drowned in the bay, and their families in China are still paying off their debts incurred when they were smuggled into Great Britain. The deal between Beyond and Head Gear was announced during the Berlinale in February. Broomfield’s credits include “Biggie & Tupac” and “Kurt & Courtney.” [Brian Brooks/indieWIRE]

Media 8 Entertainment to Produce Brittany Murphy Cross-Cultural “The Ramen Girl”

Media 8 Entertainment Inc. signed on to produce, finance and distribute the new Robert Allan Ackerman romantic comedy “The Ramen Girl.” Starring Brittany Murphy as an American stranded in Tokyo and Japanese actor Toshiyuki Nishika as the ramen noodle chef who teachers her to cook, the film will be open to international buyers at the Cannes Film Market. Director Ackerman and actress Murphy are producing the film. [Kristina Woo/indieWIRE]

Seville International announces Cannes lineup

Worldwide sales company Seville International announced its Cannes lineup, which consists of three pre-sold films–“A Sunday in Kigali,” based on the Gil Courtemanche bestseller A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali; “Global Metal,” an anthropological analysis of heavy metal music; and the Locarno International Film Festival award-winning Bernard Emond film “The Novena.” [Kristina Woo/indieWIRE]

Two Mannheim Meetings Films in Cannes

This year, two films that found their origins at Mannheim Meetings, the co-production market of the International Film Festival Mannheim-Heidelberg are in the Cannes Film Festival lineup. Chinese director Lou Ye‘s “Summer Palace” is a Cannes competition selection, while Polish director Slawomir Fabicki‘s “Second Hand” is in the Un Certain Regard series and had previously found its origins in the Mannheim Meetings. For 10 years, these meetings have served as a collaborative forum for filmmakers to network.

This year’s meetings will take plqce from November 20-24, 2006. The deadline for project entries is July 31, 2006. [Kristina Woo/indieWIRE]

TIFF Sales and Industry Office Changes for ’06

Looking beyond Cannes, the Toronto International Film Festival has announced some changes to its Sales & Industry Office for the 2006 event. New services touted by the office this year include fully equipped national film agency promotion desks, promotional billboards for festival films and venues for meetings as well as an expanded OMDC ales venue at the Sutton Place Hotel.

The increased space is designed to accommodate over 3000 delegates. In addition, new passes will offer festival delegates a range of options including access to public screenings and entrance to special sales premiere screenings. [Brian Brooks/indieWIRE]

Steven Spielberg to receive Lifetime Achievement Award at Chicago International Film Festival

Director Steven Spielberg will receive the Chicago International Film Festival‘s Gold Hugo Lifetime Achievement Award during its Summer Gala in July. Hosted by television journalist Bill Kurtis, the ceremony will honor Spielberg’s 33 year-long directing career with film highlights and speeches from friends and colleagues. Past honorees include Shirley MacLaine, Francois Truffaut and Clint Eastwood. [Kristina Woo/indieWIRE]

Katapult Soars to “The Hawk is Dying”

International sales rights to Julian Goldberg‘s “The Hawk is Dying” have been acquired by Katapult Film Sales, the company announced Thursday. The film, which stars Oscar-nominee Paul Giamatti (“Sideways“), Michelle Williams (“Brokeback Mountain“) and Michael Pitt (“Last Days“), will screen a new cut of the film in the Directors Fortnight section this Friday evening in Cannes.

Based on the novel by Harry Crews, the film is the story of a man who’s life has “gone wrong” and becomes a case study for a young psychology student who works at his shop. The man, played by Giamatti, dreams of capturing and training noble birds of prey and, along with his autistic son, captures the most magnificent bird they have ever seen. The man views the bird as his only hope for survival, but tragedy awaits. “The Hawk is Dying” premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. [Brian Brooks/indieWIRE]

Romania Joins European Film Promotion in Cannes

European Film Promotion (EFP) is again looking East. The Romanian Film Promotion Association (APFR) has joined EFP, the European-wide network of film promotion and export organizations, during the 59th Cannes International Film Festival. In February 2006, the Polish Film Institute and the Slovak Film Institute were the most recent groups to become a member of EFP which now has 27 member organizations. EFP is financially supported by the MEDIA Programme of the European Union. [Brian Brooks/indieWIRE]

Maverick is Coming Up “Roses”

Maverick Global, the international division of Miami-based Maverick Entertainment Group, has acquired the foreign rights available for select territories outside of the U.S. to Jean-Claude LaMarre‘s Western action/adventure film “Gang of Roses,” Jack Campbell, director of international announced Thursday at the Cannes Film Market.

“Gang of Roses” is the story of spirited beauties, Rachel, Chastity, Kim, Ming Li, and Maria who are “The Rose Gang,” the Wild West’s notorious band of all-female outlaws. After robbing 27 banks in five years, the Rose Gang goes into hiding, but their early retirement is short-lived when a rival group of bandits overtake a small Western town, the home of Rachel’s sister and the new gang’s first victim. Upon hearing this news, the Rose Gang reorganizes to get their revenge. Cast includes Louis Mandylor (“My Big Fat Greek Wedding“), Lil’ Kim and Stacey Dash (“CSI,” “Clueless”).

Maverick Global plans to make its debut offering of “Gang Of Roses” to international buyers at the 2006 American Film Market. Columbia is handling distribution in the United States. [Brian Brooks/indieWIRE]

[Get the latest from the Festival de Cannes throughout the day in indieWIRE’s special Cannes ’06 section.]

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