‘Midlands’ settles at SPC

Laffer stars Carlyle, Ifans, Burke, Henderson

This article was corrected on July 31, 2002.

Sony Pictures Classics has snagged North American, New Zealand, Australian and Latin American rights to Shane Meadows’ romantic family saga “Once Upon a Time in the Midlands,” which screened in the Directors’ Fortnight at this year’s Cannes fest.

The British comedy was financed by FilmFour, the Film Council, Senator Films and Nottingham-based media fund EMMI. It stars Robert Carlyle, Rhys Ifans, Kathy Burke and Shirley Henderson.

Story begins with a young man proposing to his live-in girlfriend on national TV. The girl turns him down, but an ex-boyfriend sees the broadcast and tries to win her back. But the girl’s best friends and family warn against him, particularly since the ex-boyfriend happens to be a small-time crook.

‘Authentic’ pic

“This is one of those rare authentic British films from a fine director, filled with sterling performances,” said SPC co-toppers Tom Bernard and Michael Barker.

Paul Webster, chief exec of FilmFour, said, “Shane Meadows is a truly gifted storyteller. You’ve only got to look at his name to know he knows how to shoot a Western, even if it is set in the wild East Midlands of England.”

Andrea Calderwood of Slate Films produced the pic with exec producers Webster, Hanno Huth and Paul Trijbits. Paul Fraser, who previously collaborated with Meadows on “A Room for Romeo Brass” and “TwentyFourSeven,” penned the screenplay. Brian Tufano, who shot “Last Orders” and “Billy Elliot,” handled lensing duties.

FilmFour’s head of international Janine Gold and senior business exec Helen Tulley negotiated the deal with SPC.

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