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CANNES 2006 – THE WILLING AND DEALING

Inevitably, with the world’s film industry gathered in one town, and even with almost 100 films to choose from (that's just in the festival), many of the movie biz fraternity come to will their projects into being, hoping for a good deal. There are always receptions, drinks, meetings and lunches, not to mention personal briefings and chance encounters. Andrew L. Urban scans the Cannes horizon …..

Up at the Eastern end of the Croisette, away from the Palais des Festivals, the Australian contingent celebrated 30 years of the Australian Film Commission at Cannes, with a reception / party at the Rado Beach restaurant. Close to 600 guests mingled and jangled their glasses of Australian wine as they networked, while a couple of camera crews promised the illusion of fame.

Over lunch at another beach restaurant, Geoff Brown (Executive Director of the Screen Producers Association of Australia) revealed that after lengthy (and secret) negotiations, the world body of producer organisations, UNESCO and SPAA had agreed in the previous 24 hours to establish the Asia Pacific Screen Awards, to be held at the end of next year’s annual conference of producers on the Gold Coast.

"A drink on the Carlton Terrace"

A drink on the Carlton Terrace is now restricted by security heavies to people with some sort of festival or market accreditation, to keep out the riff raff who are mere public. (I always thought the prices did that, anyway.) But it is a great spot for sunset drinks that mix with business. Hence our presence at a table for five, to be introduced by old friend film business executive Talaat Captan of Prime Pictures (who has relocated to Dubai from Los Angeles) to representatives of the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF), which has just announced the launch of a competitive section for Arab films in the program.

DIFF Managing Director Shivani Pandaya was travelling with Marketing & Communications Manager Deepa Asani, busy making contacts for the expanding Festival that takes place each December. Edition four is coming up.

Kodak had a champagne jolly on their hired yacht, Miss Elaine, moored by the Palais – actually a motor cruiser but nobody in Cannes calls these boats anything but yachts. The conversation turned to digital cinema, and how it is no longer in the pipeline, but on the roadmap. And the roadmap leads to your suburb … soon.

"a champagne jolly"

Over dinner with expat Australian film distribution executive Tony Ginnane and his associate Tony Lyons of Los Angeles based IFM Film at the iconic Le Maschou in the cobbled and winding Old Port ‘eat street’ (rue St Antoine), the notion of fusing the Australian Film Commission and the Film Finance Corporation was debated while scavenging in the huge basket of crudités that is served as an appetiser. (The vote was against.)

Later, at the Warrissan Lebanese joint in rue des Freres Predignac, Mike Downey of UK based F&ME Ltd (Film & Music Entertainment) was bouncing with joy over the upcoming screening of their latest production, Border Post. Downy has a right to be proud. “Directed by Rajko Grlic it is produced by a consortium representing all the former territories of the country once known as Yugoslavia, (and us),” he says. “Grlic is an exceptional film maker who as a member of the Prague School of film makers made some of the seminal films of the eighties, going into exile in the US in the nineties having been pressured by the Tudjman regime to get out of town.

“Border Post marks his return to film making in his native region. It takes place at a small border-post on the Yugoslav-Albanian border, where yet another generation of soldiers suffering the usual amount of boredom awaits the end of their service, counting days to the moment when they could take their uniforms off for good. It is the spring of 1987 and the thought never even crosses their mind that they would, in fact, put them back on quite soon and go to war. These are the last days of the country called Yugoslavia. Yet no one knew at the time. Speaking about not so distant past with no nostalgia and no hatred, Border Post is a comedy about people on the verge of tragedy,” he said (before ordering).

Breezing towards an 8.30 screening one morning, I crossed croissants at a small café with Australian filmmaker Kate Riedl and her Dragonet Films partner Karen Radzyner planning their day of meetings to raise money (or at least promissory notes) for a feature film. I am sworn to secrecy …

"the lunchtime function"

No secrecy around the lunchtime function hosted by the makers of Shanghai Red, a Hilton Hotel function organised by London based JoJo Dye, marketing and events specialist with whom I once shared Cannes office space at Moving Pictures (now defunct London based film trade magazine). Shanghai Red, starring Vivian Wu and directed by Oscar Costo (her husband) is the first in a trilogy of action movies set in Shanghai. “It’s a way to explore the enormous changes taking place in Shanghai,” says Costo. The next day, Costo was pumping what looked like cash flesh inside the Palais, looking hopeful …

And in Cannes, you just never know your luck.

Published June 8, 2006
 

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Shanghai Red

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