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Film Festival Update

May 18, 2008

Tupelo Film Fest

For all news about the fest, go to Scene Now.

Cannes Fest

· Sales will kick off in Cannes on Giuseppe Tornatore’s big-budget “Baaria,” a personal epic spanning three generations of intricate life in a Sicilian village and starring an ensemble cast comprising Monica Bellucci, among other A-list Italo thesps.

· The first Cannes films to sell are smaller films as a collection of pics likely to generate major deals are just starting to be shown to potential buyers.

· Reliance has signed a string of development deals with the production shingles of a stellar array of top Hollywood talent: Nicolas Cage’s Saturn Prods., Jim Carrey’s JC 23 Entertainment, George Clooney’s Smokehouse Prods., Chris Columbus1492 Pictures, Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman’s Playtone Prods., Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment and Jay Roach’s Everyman Pictures.

· India’s largest entertainment conglom, Reliance Big Entertainment, unveiled deals Sunday intended to make it a significant Hollywood player. Announcement came on the heels of company’s declaration at a glitzy Cannes event that it will spend $1 billion over the next 18 months building its businesses in India and globally.

· CANNES — “Speed” helmer Jan de Bont is to reprise Kathryn Bigelow’s iconic surfer movie “Point Break Indo.”

· CANNES — Paris-based production and sales company Films Distribution has pounced on one of the few titles in a major section at Cannes still to tie down a sales agent: Pablo Aguero’s Directors’ Fortnight drama “Salamandra.”

· Harvey Weinstein is working his magic to bring “The Alchemist” to the bigscreen more than a decade after author Paolo Coelho sold the film rights to his bestselling novel.

· The Wagner/Cuban Cos.’ 2929 Intl. has picked up worldwide sales rights to John Waters’ Johnny KnoxvilleParker Posey topliner “Fruitcake,” and is shopping the project at the Cannes film market.

· CANNES — Singapore shingle MediaCorp has boarded “Yona Yona Penguin,” one of the biggest animation projects to emerge from Asia recently. Project, which is now in production, was unveiled in Cannes last year as a co-venture between Japan’s Madhouse Inc. and French company Denis Friedman Productions. It is being helmed as a 3D all-CGI project by renown Japanese animation director Rintaro. Budget is now signposted as $13 million, up from the previously announced $12 million.

· Peter Hoffman‘s Seven Arts Pictures, new financing in hand, is bringing a slate of pics to sell at Cannes, led by William Gibson’s adaptation of his cyberpunk sci-fi classic “Neuromancer,” which was first announced at last year’s fest. Director Joseph Kahn is set to direct the $60 million production, which is produced by Julia Verdin. Hayden Christensen was rumored to star, but Seven Arts will confirm the film’s casting shortly.

· Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles returns to the Cannes film festival with opener “Blindness,” his first film in competition, six years after his triumph with “City of God” in Critics’ Week. Madrid-based sales consortium 6 Sales has taken worldwide rights outside Brazil to Fernando Meirelles’ second feature, “Domesticas” (Maids). Meirelles’ “Blindness” opens Cannes tonight.

Other Fest Updates

· BUENOS AIRES — Argentina’s Mar del Plata Intl. Film Festival, the only FIAPF Category One festival in Latin America, has rescheduled to Nov. 6-16, a move aimed at improving attendance and programming.

· The 20th anni Newfest, the New York lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender film fest will bow with helmer Stuart Wade’s high school romantic comedy “Tru Loved” and close with Tom Gustafson’s riff on Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Were the World Mine.”

· The Locarno Film Festival’s Open Doors co-production mart, dedicated this year to projects from Latin America, is being submerged with submissions, with more than 300 projects vying to make the cut, almost triple those last year.

· Italian auteur Ermanno Olmi will receive the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement from the Venice Film Festival, celebrating his longstanding rapport with the Lido.

· MOSCOW — An Israeli film about reconciliation between old enemies and the pain of being human, “The Band’s Visit,” won the main prize at the first ever film festival held in Bosnia’s Serb enclave of Banja Luka.

· MOSCOW — Greece’s leading international film festival, Thessaloniki, is to screen a retrospective of the works of the late Senegalese film director and writer Ousmane Sembene, who died last year aged 84.

· Russia’s national festival Kinotavr will open with Alexander Proshkin‘s competition player “Live and Remember” on June 7 and close with Martin Scorsese‘s Rolling Stones docu “Shine a Light” on June 15.

· The Provincetown Film Festival will mark its ninth anni with the opening night North American preem of Madonna-helmed drama “Filth & Wisdom.”

· Adrian Wills’ “All Together Now” will open Silverdocs, AFI’s documentary-centered fest in Silver Spring, Md. Pic chronicles the collaboration between the surviving members of the Beatles and Cirque du Soleil for the stage production of “Love.”

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