Miramax shift is ‘Heaven’ for Berlin

Altman to chair Berlinale jury

LONDON — “Heaven,” the English-language debut of German helmer Tom Tykwer, is set to open next year’s Berlin Intl. Film Festival (Feb. 6-17). The world preem is a major coup for new fest head Dieter Kosslick in his first year in office.

Based on a script from the late Krzysztof Kieslowski and exec produced by Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack for Miramax Films, “Heaven” stars Cate Blanchett as a woman who takes the law into her own hands after her husband’s murder. She finds herself under arrest and in love with the police officer, played by Giovanni Ribisi.

Given the pic’s pedigree, Miramax had initially hoped to launch an Oscar qualifying run in the fourth quarter. It is now skedded for a March 15 bow in Gotham and L.A. Blanchett’s pregnancy could have limited her availability for publicity and kudos campaigning and that was one of the factors influencing the domestic release strategy.

Project makes a perfect fit for Kosslick, who is keen to better represent the German industry at the fest while maintaining the profile of Berlin as a leading international event.

Kosslick himself put up part of the financing for “Heaven” in his previous role as head of the NRW film fund.

The film, shot in Italy and Germany, was produced by France’s Noe Films with Tykwer’s own shingle X-Filme, which also made his breakout debut movie “Run Lola Run” and his sophomore pic “The Princess and the Warrior.”

Altman in jury pool

Meanwhile, tipped to chair the Berlinale jury is veteran American helmer Robert Altman, whose English costumer “Gosford Park” is also expected to screen out of competition at Berlin. Pic is receiving its world premiere at the non-competitive London Film Festival next month.

A spokesperson for the Berlinale said it was too early to comment on the likely presence of “Heaven” or Altman.

Just returned from his first programming selection tour, Kosslick has been quick to appoint German veteran Alfred Holighaus to liase with the local industry and has set up a new sidebar to showcase new German cinema at the fest. Kosslick has been tight mouthed about further plans for next year’s festival.

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