'Dancer,' 'Elling,' 'Masseur' among competish

VLISSINGEN, Holland — Gurinder Chadha’s pic “Bend it Like Beckham” opened Film by the Sea on Monday, the Dutch fest for literature-based films.

The week-long event in the harbor city in southwest Holland is expected to draw 25,000 visitors and 100 professionals, including vet helmer Constantin Costa-Gavras, producer Ismail Merchant, helmer Silvio Soldini and Nobel Prize-winning Portuguese author Jose Saramago (“City of the Blind”), who will hand out the 10,000 euro ($9,800) award to the prize winning film.

Among the competish line-up is the Spanish-U.S. co-prod “The Dancer Upstairs,” directed by John Malkovich and based on Nicholas Shakespeare’s novel of the same name; Norwegian box office hit “Elling” directed by Peter Naess and based on the novel by Ingvar Ambjornse; and Merchant’s “The Mystic Masseur,” based on the V.S. Naipul novel.

Some 75 films will be screened, 30 of which have no distribution in the Netherlands. All in the latter category have been nominated for audience awards, and the winning film will be guaranteed Dutch distribution.

The films screened at the fest have budgets in the $20 million range, a criteria set so that art films would not compete with big budget box office pics.

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