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Korea Box Office: ‘I Can Speak’ Leads Weekend

51 minutes ago

Local comedy, “I Can Speak” debuted on top of the South Korean box office after a Thursday release. The indie picture earned $5.18 million from 727,000 admissions over four days, and accounted for 46% of the weekend box office.

Produced by Myung Films, the Kim Hyun-seok film sees the story of an elderly woman who befriends a junior civil servant as she files complaints with the local government.

Showbox’s “Memoir of a Murderer” slipped to second. It earned $1.6 million from 215,00 admissions between Friday and Sunday for $17.7 million after three weekends on release.

Sony’s “Baby Driver” dropped to third, earning $1.16 million for a total of $5.21 million after two weekends. Despite a drop of 53%, “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” jumped to fourth from the previous week’s fifth, as “American Made” suffered a steeper 81% drop. “Bodyguard” earned $429,000 for a total of $11.7 million after four weekends on release. “American Made” earned $301,000 for a cumulative of $2.71 million after two weekends.

“The »


- Sonia Kil

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Warner, Azure Partner for India Remake of ‘Infernal Affairs’

1 hour ago

Fledgling Mumbai-based production outfit Azure Entertainment and Warner Bros. India have announced a collaboration to jointly invest in and produce an Indian remake of classic Hong Kong crime thriller “Infernal Affairs.” The director and cast are yet to be finalized.

The 2002 original was directed by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak and was the first part of a trilogy. Martin Scorsese remade it as “The Departed” in 2006.

The project is the first of a two-picture deal to develop, produce and distribute titles from the Warner Bros. library for the Indian market.

Azure was set up by Sunir Kheterpal, who previously had stints with Adlabs-Reliance Entertainment and the Hinduja Group. It produced the Hindi-language remake of Korean film “The Man From Nowhere,” titled “Rocky Handsome.”

The company’s remake development slate includes deals with Rodar y Rodar for Spanish film “The Body,” Atresmedia for Spanish film “The Invisible Guest,” with Gaumont for French titles “Gang Story” and “Point Blank” and »


- Naman Ramachandran

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San Sebastián: Arnold Wants to Save The World Again, This Time for Real with Cousteau Doc ‘Wonders of the Sea 3D’

1 hour ago

San Sebastian – As the “Terminator” theme music played, assembled press scurried to the front of a packed hall to get photos of one of Europe’s greatest cinematic exports. Clean shaven with a smile a mile wide, Arnold Schwarzenegger, accompanied by the cast and crew of his most recent project, “Wonders of the Sea 3D,” took questions about their underwater documentary Monday afternoon.

If it ever seemed unlikely that a bodybuilder with a thick Austrian accent could become the most famous action star in the world, or that he would then become governor of the state of California, it must seem only slightly less so that he would be asked to be narrator on one of the biggest documentaries to screen at this year’s San Sebastián Film Festival.

It would be folly to insinuate that “Wonders of the Sea 3D,” the latest Cousteau documentary to come from the royal family of the aquatic kingdom, Schwarzenegger »


- Jamie Lang

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California Production Tax Credit Boosting Below-the-Line Work by 12% in 2016

2 hours ago

California’s below-the-line entertainment industry employees saw a 12% hike in hours worked in 2016, compared with 2014, the state’s film commission reported Monday.

The commission said the hike was due to the expansion of the state’s Film and Television Tax Credit Program, which is aimed at halting the erosion of California-based production to states with bigger incentives, such as Georgia and New York. The annual allocation was increased during the 2015-16 fiscal year from $100 million to $330 million, and applications are ranked on how many jobs they will produce, rather than being selected by lottery.

The report said the expanded Program 2.0 has attracted or retained 100 film and television projects generating an estimated $3.7 billion in direct in-state spending, including $1.4 billion in below-the-line wages.

“The encouraging short-term results we reported in last year’s annual report have evolved into sustained and very encouraging long-term results for Program 2.0,” said California Film Commission Executive Director Amy Lemisch. “The »


- Dave McNary

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Casey Affleck’s Production Company Signs Deal With Amazon Studios (Exclusive)

2 hours ago

Casey Affleck’s newly launched production company Sea Change Media has signed an exclusive first look deal with Amazon Studios, Variety has learned. It makes sense that Affleck’s banner would want to hang its hat with Amazon. The actor picked up an Oscar for best actor for his work in “Manchester by the Sea,” which Amazon bought out of Sundance and successfully pushed for awards attention.

The two-year deal will cover both film and television projects. Sea Change Media says it wants to back stores that shine a light on underrepresented voices. It goes on to say that its lodestar will be a “philosophy of inclusivity and collaboration.” Hollywood has been engulfed in a debate about the lack of films about women and people of color in recent years, so Sea Change Media is clearly looking to help promote more diversity in film and television. Whitaker Lader, who previously worked at the Sundance Institute, serves »


- Brent Lang

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Egyptian Director Amr Salama on ‘Iraqi Sniper,’ His Riposte to ‘American Sniper’

3 hours ago

Egyptian director Amr Salama has a bent for tackling hot-button issues that spring forth from his personal experiences. His most recent drama, “Sheikh Jackson,” is about a conservative Muslim cleric tormented by a burning passion for Michael Jackson. Now Salama is developing “Iraqi Sniper,” a riposte to “American Sniper” that’s intended to lend perspective to Mustafa, the Iraqi insurgent in Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-winning movie. Salama spoke to Variety during the inaugural edition of the El Gouna Film Festival in Egypt, where “Sheikh Jackson” was the opener following a Toronto bow.

Simply put, it sounds like with “Iraqi Sniper” you want to tell another side of the “American Sniper” story. Is that right?

I really hope from the bottom of my heart that this will be my next movie, but it’s actually one of several projects I have in the pipeline. And I want to make it very clear that it’s not an anti- »


- Nick Vivarelli

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Location Basque Country: Upcoming Basque Movies

7 hours ago

San Sebastian — The strength of the Basque industry as a potential co-production partner for Basque Country shoots will be seen, when push comes to shove, in its movies. Here, profiles of upcoming Basque movies whether playing this year’s San Sebastián Festival, in production or projects.

Advantages Of Traveling By Train

Pre-acquired by Entertainment One’s Seville International and co-produced by San Sebastian-based Señor y Señora and Madrid’s Morena Films “Advantages” marks the much-awaited feature debut of Aritz Moreno. Film –in pre-production– is penned by Javier Gullón (Denis Villeneuve’s “Enemy”) adapting Spain’s Antonio Orejudo novel.

Another Day Of Life

One of Europe’s most awaited animation films, the Indie Sales-sold “Day” revolves around the truth of war through the near-suicidal journey across Angola of Polish famed war reporter Ryszard Kapuściński. Raúl de la Fuente and Damian Nenow direct a hybrid animation-live action inspired by but not adapting the journalist’s first novel. Produced »


- Emilio Mayorga

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San Sebastián: Film Factory Entertainment Acquires ‘Black is Beltza’ (Exclusive)

8 hours ago

San Sebastian — Spain’s Film Factory has acquired international rights to Fermin Muguruza’s adult animation feature debut “Black is Beltza.”

The project will be offered to buyers at the Berlinale’s next European Film Market, Film Factory CEO Vicente Canales told Variety. A teaser will be screened at Berlin, where Muguruza has promised a “noteworthy” musical landing, as well.

“’Black is Beltza’ is very different for the Spanish adult animation scene so far, and originality is exactly what the market is demanding,” Canales said, adding that the project is perfectly suited for combining international theatrical releases with launches on digital platforms and VOD services.

Co-produced by Basque country Talka Records & Film and Catalonia’s Setmagic, “Beltza” will offer a colorful canvas of the 60’s counterculture era, kicking off in October 1965 when a group of giants and carnival heads –inspired by Pamplona’s 17th century parades– is invited to march down New York’s 5th Avenue on »


- Emilio Mayorga

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Location Basque Country: Some Key Locations

8 hours ago

San Sebastian — Bizkaia’s 10th century chapel of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, built on a rock in the sea, served as one of the real-life locations for Dragonstone, the home to Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) in Season 7 of “Game of Thrones.”

Over July to October 2016, production teams at HBO and Spanish services company Fresco Film established one of “Game of Thrones” production headquarters in Bilbao, also filming series’ scenes on the beaches of Muriola, in Bizkaia’s Barrika, and Itzuru, in Gipuzkoa’s Zumaia, which boasts a singular geo-park featuring Flysch rock formation.

ABC’s “The Bachelor” also filmed at San Juan de Gaztelugatxe this year.

High-profile international shoots in the Basque Country have some standout precedents. In the early ‘70s, Dustin Hoffman and Steve McQueen spent nearly a week in Hondarribia, a Gipuzkoan town near the French border, shooting Franklin J. Schaffner’s prison drama “Papillon.” Hondarribia, alongside San Sebastian and Zarauz, was »


- Emiliano De Pablos

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Location Basque Country: A Tale of Three Provinces

8 hours ago

San Sebastian — The three Basque provinces, Alava, Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa, share green and mountainous landscapes and one of the more attractive tax credits in Spain: a 30% tax shelter for local film, TV and animated productions. Their respective film commissions are teaming to co-ordinate in joint actions for international promotion under the Film Basque Country umbrella. “We are not competitors but strategic allies,” says Bizkaia’s Bilbao city councilor Xabier Ochandiano. But there are some nuances in each territory’s film offer.

Alava

Vitoria, capital of the Basque Country, is re-launching its film office, as the big-screen adaptation of best-selling novel “El silencio de la ciudad blanca,” a benchmark for the city’s image, is scheduled to roll there by next year.

The feature adaptation of Eva García Sáenz de Urturi’s crime-thriller book, “El silencio” is produced by Atresmedia Cine, the powerful film arm of Spanish broadcaster Atresmedia, in partnership with Barcelona’s Rodar y Rodar (“The »


- Emiliano De Pablos

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San Sebastián: Milad Alami on ‘The Charmer,’ Outsiders, Challenging Audiences

8 hours ago

San Sebastian — “If I try to analyze my films, they are usually about characters who are outsiders to society in some sense,” says Irani-born, Sweden-bred and Denmark-based Milad Alami, whose “Charmer,” world premieres at San Sebastian as the opening night film of New Directors, its main sidebar.

“Charmer” fits the bill to a tee. Alami’s first feature, it turns on a Iranian, Esmail, who doggedly attempts to secure a stable girlfriend to increase his chances of gaining a residence permit in Denmark. His life becomes a waking nightmare as he falls in love with a beautiful Iranian student, is stalked by the husband of a woman who committed suicide when Esmail abandoned her – one thing he’s not looking for is marriage – and the clock ticks on his likely expulsion from Denmark. Oblique –  “the things you don’t say, you don’t see, sometimes are much more effective or interesting, like »


- John Hopewell

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San Sebastián: E.U.’s Creative Europe Media Head Lucía Recalde Talks Up Digital Promotion

9 hours ago

San Sebastian —  Upped from 20% to 30% at a European Council of Ministers this May, the so-called Netflix Quota – an E.U. proposed minimum percentage of European content required of international video streaming platforms – may have some impact on various platforms in certain E.U. countries.

What seems unquestionable, however, is that not only national governments and directives but the E.U.’s Media Program, a targeted support system for film and TV in Europe, is taking on board the paramount importance of VOD delivery for European production, as was made clear by declarations of Media Program head Lucia Recalde at a San Sebastián Festival seminar on Sept. 24, All 4 One.

“It is good to have content available but more and more important to have the content more visibly shown on the platforms,” Recalde said.

Promotion of European digital platform content is “possibly the most important topic we want to discuss with the industry in the context of the future »


- John Hopewell and Jamie Lang

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San Sebastian Film Review: ‘Princesita’

9 hours ago

“Your body does not belong to you.” Few lines can be more terrifying to hear in a horror movie than this one, and the same goes double when it crops up in a coming-of-age drama. In “Princesita,” a short, deceptively sun-kissed nightmare that ultimately falls under both those categories, it sounds a stomach-knotting alarm to a 12-year-old girl whose sexual and emotional development has fallen under the cultish control of toxic masculinity. Chilean director Marialy Rivas throws a veritable banana split of florid formal techniques at the screen in her risky second feature, switching registers from woozy waking dream to extreme-cinema shock therapy; it’s attention-grabbing, but the film’s restless, busy style does little to deepen the sensationalistic abuse narrative at its center. The edgy imprimatur of producer Pablo Larraín will give it a leg up with international distributors, but “Princesita” frustratingly proves as evasive as it is incendiary.

Questions »


- Guy Lodge

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San Sebastián: Film Constellation Rolls Out Rory Kennedy’s Laird Hamilton Portrait ‘Take Every Wave’ (Exclusive)

9 hours ago

San Sebastian — Suggesting the pull of major documentaries on extreme sports legends, London-based Film Constellation has rolled out Rory Kennedy’s weighty “Take Every Wave: the Life of Laird Hamilton,” a portrait of legendary big wave surfer, to multiple major territories.

In banner international deals, Film Constellation has closed France (Groupe Ab, Canal Plus), Germany/Austria, one of Europe’s biggest extreme sports movies markets (Universum), China (Jushi Films) and Latin America (Polar Star). Cai Chang has acquired Taiwanese rights, Captive those for airlines.

Previous sales were closed together with UTA Independent Film Group for Canada with Mongrel and for Australia with Madman.

In a deal announced this April, UTA brokered a U.S. sale to Sundance Selects/IFC Films, which will release “Take Every Wave” on Sept. 29. The U.K., Scandinavia, Spain and Japan are currently in negotiation, according to Film Constellation founder Fabien Westerhoff. The two-hour documentary feature world premiered at January’s Sundance Festival »


- John Hopewell

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Location Basque Country: Local Industry Sets International Agenda

9 hours ago

San Sebastian –“Handía” (Giant), San Sebastián’s 2017 flagship Basque movie, a tale of two brothers’ deep affective bonds, says much about the film ambitions of the Basque Country – and why the Basque Country should grow as a shoot locale for films or TV from Europe and beyond.

Set down the decades from 1836, the tale of two brothers’ love, warped but never destroyed by grinding poverty, romantic rivalry and the carnage of the 1833-40 Carlist War, begins with shots of the Basque Country and a voiceover: “Change is the only thing that is not changing.”

One of the biggest attractions of shooting in the Basque Country is the Basque country. “Handia’s” prologue captures rolling pine-clad hills seen in pale dawn light, steep cliffs, and scrub-desert expanses.

As “Game of Thrones” showed, turning Bizkaia’s islet of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe into Season 7’s Dragonstone, and the stark-cliffed beach of Itzurun into the place where Daenarys finally steps »


- John Hopewell

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San Sebastian Film Review: ‘Alanis’

11 hours ago

Roughly as old as the world’s oldest profession are the judgments that surround its practitioners, that persist to this day in even the most enlightened of societies. So it’s refreshing to see the subject approached in as clear-eyed, unsentimental and determinedly non-moralistic a manner as in Argentinian director Anahí Berneri’s small but exceptionally precise fifth feature. “Alanis” is a film that deceives: it’s so naturalistic and authentic in its Buenos Aires streetlife setting, and especially in its terrifically real, truculent performance from star Sofía Gala Castiglione —whose  interactions with her obviously real-life infant son lend quasi-documentary interest to scenes of breastfeeding and diaper-changing — that one could almost miss the artistry and care in its construction.

Yet it cannot be by accident that every so often, the elements within the frame, both stationary and moving, seem offhandedly to arrange themselves into tableaux reminiscent of Renaissance paintings. Sometimes she’s a tattooed, bruised »


- Jessica Kiang

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Singapore Picks ‘Pop Aye’ for Foreign-Language Oscar Contention

13 hours ago

Singapore has selected “Pop Aye” as its contender for the Academy Awards foreign-language category. Directed by Kirsten Tan, the film won the world cinema dramatic special jury award at Sundance earlier this year.

Set entirely in Thailand, the film stars Thaneth Warakulnukroh as a down-and-out architect who is reunited with his childhood elephant. They embark on a road trip across the Thai countryside in search of their old home.

“’Pop Aye’ is a story of self-discovery, beautifully told by a Singapore team, including director-writer Kirsten Tan, producers Lai Weijie and Huang Wenhong, and executive producer Anthony Chen. The film has resonated with audiences both at home and internationally,” said Joachim Ng, director of the Singapore Film Commission.

The film has recently opened theatrically in Taiwan, after releases in North America, France, the Netherlands, Singapore and Thailand. On the festival circuit it will next screen in Zurich, London, Busan and Tokyo.

Related »


- Patrick Frater

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Feng Xiaogang’s ‘Youth’ Loses China Release Ahead of Sensitive Political Gathering

14 hours ago

The upcoming China release of “Youth,” a bittersweet drama from famed director Feng Xiaogang about the Chinese military, has been abruptly halted. The film was scheduled for release Sept. 29 and was expected to dominate the charts over the Oct. 1 National Day holiday.

Instead, ticket sales have been halted. Chinese media reported a statement attributing the delay to “discussions with the Film Bureau and other parties.” The film’s backer and principal distributor, Huayi Brothers, has not responded to requests from Variety for comment.

Local media have been quick to suggest that the release is a casualty of the upcoming National Congress of the Communist Party of China. This highly symbolic political event occurs once every five years, and experience suggests that China’s rulers will crack down on dissent, discussion or any kind of controversy before and during the meeting.

“Youth,” which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, tracks the tempestuous fates of a People’s »


- Patrick Frater

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