Upbeat comedies top BBC Films slate

Pix include 'Songs,' 'Cult,' 'Confetti'

Stanley Tucci, Rhys Ifans, Jessica Stevenson, Hugh Bonneville, Gina Malone and Emmanuelle Seigner are set to star in Francesca Joseph’s “Four Last Songs,” one of several new comedies on the production slate of BBC Films.

Set on a Mediterranean island, “Four Last Songs” is a light-hearted tale of various characters whose lives are transformed by the power of music. Shooting starts June 13 in Majorca.

BBC Films topper David Thompson says he’s placing a renewed emphasis on “upbeat, celebratory films with comic potential.”

Other new projects in development include “The Cult,” a comedy about sex and new-age religion written by Julia Davis, whose BBC sitcom “Nighty Night” has drawn critical plaudits.

That’s being developed by Andrew Eaton and Michael Winterbottom’s Revolution Films, whose “Cock and Bull Story” (the retitled “Tristram Shandy”), starring comedian Steve Coogan, was co-financed by BBC Films. Pic is finished but won’t screen in the market.

“Cock and Bull” writer Frank Cottrell Boyce is working on another original script, “The Allotment,” a comic/romantic tale of a culture clash between local people and immigrants over a communal garden.

BBC Films is also in post-production with Debbie Isitt’s debut “Confetti,” a comedy about weddings starring Martin Freeman (“The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy”) and Jessica Stevenson again.

In this humorous vein, the pubcaster backed Woody Allen’s London-set “Match Point,” screening today in the official selection at Cannes; and Ol Parker’s directorial debut “Click,” a lesbian romantic comedy that debuts in the Cannes market Saturday.

BBC Films is backing Allen’s next pic, which also will shoot in Blighty.

Ranging further afield, the pubcaster is developing “God Forgives,” a U.S.-set romance about an Amish boy torn between a girl from his community and one from the outside world. This comes from a British creative team of director Lucy Walker, co-writer Jenny Granville and producers Meg Thomson and George Duffield.

Another darker love triangle in the works is “The Other Boleyn Girl,” a remake of the recent BBC telepic, itself adapted from Philippa Gregory’s novel about King Henry VIII and the two sisters in love with him. One of them, Anne, ended up marrying him and losing her head.

Despite the general emphasis on love and laughs, Thompson insists that the BBC is not turning its back on tougher material, such as Saul Dibb’s recent gun crime drama “Bullet Boy” or Michael Caton-Jones’ Rwanda pic “Shooting Dogs.”

Peter Kosminsky is developing “Embed,” about a journalist attached to a U.S. army unit in Iraq.

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