CANNES BRIEFS

It was standing room only at the Cannes fest’s first press conference, as more than 100 reporters were turned away from the media briefing for Luc Besson’s “The Fifth Element.”

When asked by a British reporter how he felt about the “stinker” review in Daily Variety, “Fifth Element” star Bruce Willis said he wasn’t concerned because, “The written word is going the way of the dinosaur.”

Dressed in black, including a hat, Willis said he enjoyed working at London’s Pinewood Studios, but said the English donuts could not compete with their U.S. counterparts. “Fifth Element” producer Patrice Ledoux said the cost of flying donuts from New York to London drove up the budget on the Euro sci-fi pic.

Paris-based finance and sales company Pandora has acquired world rights (excluding Spain, Portugal, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile) to Carlos Saura’s dance drama “Tango.”

Saura, whose previous forays into the dance genre include “Carmen” and “Sevillanas,” will start principal photography June 16 in Buenos Aires.

Pic is the story of a film director who is making a movie about the tango. The helmer’s life takes a turn for the worse when his wife dumps him for his star dancer and he falls for a starlet who is the protege of the film’s principal investor.

“Tango” brings together Oscar-winning d.p. Vittorio Storaro (“Apocalypse Now”) and world-renowned dancers Julio Bocca and Juan Carlos Copes.

Miramax Films has picked up Daphna Kastner’s “Spanish Fly” for English-speaking territories, Brazil and Scandinavia.

The pic, which stars Kastner alongside Martin Donovan, is the story of a jaded female journo who has her preconceptions challenged when she goes to Madrid to write a book about machismo.

It is being sold by Pinnacle Pictures, the sales arm of the pic’s London-based co-producer Portman Entertainment. The producer is Juan Alexander of Starline Prods.

Director Alfonso Arau’s Seventh Dimension is expected to unveil at Cannes “90 Miles,” a new project by Cuban helmer Leon Ochaso (“Bitter Sugar”). Arau penned the script about world champion free-diver Francisco (Pipin) Ferreras and his escape from Cuba.

Arau also is due to announce this week that cinematographer Vittorio Storaro is on board to lense “Zapata,” starring Vincent Perez and helmed by Arau.

TF1 Intl., the film sales arm of France’s private TV web TF1, is jetting in a pack of Gallic stars to help its sales push on Philippe de Broca’s $30 million swashbuckler “On Guard.”

Daniel Auteuil, Fabrice Luchini, Vincent Perez and Marie Gillian confirmed attendance for Friday’s lunchtime feast designed to convince about 250 buyers that they should acquire the pic.

“We’ll be screening the first three minutes of the film and the actors will then be talking to the buyers about the project,” noted Perrine Teze, managing director of international sales.

TF1 Intl. started pre-selling the film, which also stars Philippe Noiret and which is produced by Patrick Godeau, at the American Film Market. So far, it has closed around 10 territories, including deals with Alliance in Canada, Cecchi Gori in Italy and Golden Harvest in Taiwan.

French distributor ARP has acquired all Gallic rights to “The Well,” Australian entry in Cannes’ official selection competition.

ARP, which has a solid reputation for arthouse releases, acquired the pic blind, in the process becoming the first international territory to pick up Samantha Lang’s debut film.

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