The fest zest 60
As the Cannes Film Festival celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, fest prexy Gilles Jacob has vowed to look forward, not back. Taking a cue from Jacob, we’ve gathered 60 people (or pairs) for the festival future from various areas of the film business. Mostly fresher names — but also a few vets in new positions or with a particularly heavy Cannes slate — this list includes a diverse range of buyers, sellers, talent, producers and financiers from Beijing to Hollywood, Paris, Mexico City and beyond.
The most exciting filmmaker to come out of Ireland since Neil Jordan. Abrahamson cut his teeth in commercials and made a splash at home with his hilarious and heart-breaking feature debut “Adam and Paul.” His soph pic, “Garage,” which preems in Directors’ Fortnight, should bring him to wider notice.
Teuton-Turkish helmer of Cannes Competition pic “The Edge of Heaven,” Akin broke into the higher echelons of Euro auteurs when his German-language meller “Head On” won 2004’s Berlin Golden Bear as well as the top European and German pic prizes. He’s currently working on a docu about his father’s village in Turkey, which is under threat because of plans to build a toxic waste dump nearby.
Michael Barker & Tom Bernard
Far from Croisette newbies, the Sony Classics honchos scored a big coup at last year’s Cannes market, scooping up future Oscar winner “The Lives of Others” and acquiring “Persepolis,” this year’s sole animated Competition pic. The veteran distribs are also carving out a new identity for themselves, boarding projects earlier and with larger financial stakes.
Former agent to Sophie Marceau, Isabelle Adjani, Nathalie Baye, Jeanne Moreau and half a dozen other top Gallic thesps, Besnehard recently quit to produce. His new shingle Mon Voisin Prods. co-produced Denys Arcand’s Cannes closer “The Age of Ignorance,” and he also helped Segolene Royal with her presidential campaign. He’ll be at Cannes with hot Gallic project “Musee haut, musee bas,” and is also developing a TV series about a tenpercentary for Canal Plus.
Latin America’s most decorated commercials director, Bross will have his first feature, “Bad Habits,” unpools in Cannes’ Critics’ Week. Bross will be completing several international sales deals on “Habits” while he’s in France. He’s also reading a stack of scripts sent to him by his new Stateside agents at Paradigm and developing several projects in Spanish.
Thesps with pretensions to direct are common in Gaul these days, but Canet stands out from the crowd. His first feature, “My Idol,” was promising; his second, “Tell No One,” adapted from a Harlan Coben noir, showed he has real talent. Pic lured more than 3 million at the Gallic box office and won him a Cesar for direction. Canet will next dive into roles in “La Cle,” opposite Vanessa Paradis, and as Vincent Cassel’s right-hand man in a diptych of thrillers about French master criminal Jacques Mesrine.
Oz sales exec Canning assumed the helm of Becker Intl. almost a year ago, moving the head office from Sydney to London but vowing to maintain an interest in Oz films. Shingle currently reps a half-dozen hot Oz pics, including doc “Forbidden Lie$.” Canning also has Brit pic and Directors’ Fortnight curtain-raiser “Control” on his slate.
Former head of Film4Lab, the talent arm of Channel 4’s pic division, Carlton is now free to roam across the larger slate as sidekick to Film4 topper Tessa Ross. Shingle’s “Hallam Foe” bowed in Berlin, and “Garage” shows in Directors’ Fortnight. Projects in the hopper include Gerald McMorrow’s sci-fi “Franklyn,” Fabrice du Welz’s “Vinjan” and pics from digital studio Warp X.
Peter Chan Ho-Sun
Chan may seem an unlikely action director — previous pics include modern-day Mandarin musical “Perhaps Love” — but his upcoming $40 million “The Warlords” is gathering big buzz. And with credits that include “The Eye” and series “Golden Chicken,” he is one of the most consistently boffo filmmakers in Asia.
Armed with an NYU degree in music and philosophy, helmer Chamie, whose “The Milky Way” plays in Critics’ Week, is at the vanguard of an emerging group of risk-taking Brazilian filmmakers. The nonlinear film is her second feature following prizewinner “Dominant Tonic.” Shooting scenes in docu fashion in Sao Paolo for “Milky Way” has inspired Chamie to make a nonfiction film. She’s also developing a feature that will again focus on the contrasts between human and social conditions in an urban center.
Clarke sold his U.K. distrib Optimum Releasing to StudioCanal last year for a shedload of cash and still found time to exec produce Shane Meadows’ “This Is England.” He’ll be stepping up for big-budget acquisitions with the new French coin, and now that StudioCanal topper Frederic Sichler is relocating to London, Optimum is becoming the hub for the Gallic outfit’s renewed English-language production ambitions.
George Clooney and Grant Heslov
Out with the old and in with the new: As Cannes beholds the world preem of “Ocean’s Thirteen,” Clooney’s last Section Eight project, the Oscar winner’s new outfit Smoke House, a collaboration with longtime friend Heslov, is catching fire. “Leatherheads” is in production; “White Jazz” is prepping; and new projects such as the doc-inspired “Our Brand Is Crisis,” John Grisham’s “The Innocent Man” and Iran-hostage-crisis pic “Escape From Tehran” all look promising.
This will be Courson’s first fest as operational prexy of Canal Plus’ rights-holding division StudioCanal. A former culture advisor to a French prime minister, Courson was one of the young blades parachuted in to revive the paybox. He’s steered Canal Plus’ takeover of rival TPS and set up a London base for StudioCanal. He’s now looking to expand into other European countries, while also growing French co-productions and distribution.
Spanish animator and new-technology wonk Cristobal launched hip toon production shingle Perro Verde last year. The company’s first pic, the zany “Going Nuts,” is a psychiatric ward horror-actioner. On May 25, Cristobal bows the pic via broadband, DVD, TV and theatrical. He’s also producing “Zombie Western,” a puppet movie zombie-oater splatfest.
Former Icon and Capitol exec recently launched his own sales and financing shingle Velvet Octopus, in partnership with producers Spice Factory and hedge fund Aurelius. He’s following U.S./Korean CGI movie “Shark Bait” with Gabor Csupo’s live-action family fantasy “The Moon Princess.” He also has Darfur documentary “Sand and Sorrow,” narrated by George Clooney, on his slate.
Mark Cuban & Todd Wagner
New-tech billionaires Cuban and Wagner have backed the Weinstein Co., Steven Soderbergh and multiple Oscar nominee “Good Night, and Good Luck,” but Cannes 2007 marks the mavericks’ official international coming out with James Gray’s competition pic “We Own the Night.” Title racked up foreign presales at Berlin’s EFM via the duo’s 2929 Intl.
Christian de Castro
Hailing from the finance world, de Castro masterminded Brazil’s first private pic fund, Funcine, which is not only sinking coin into pic production and but also eyeing investments in exhibition. De Castro will launch Brazilian sales shingle Vareda Filmes at Cannes this year, touting pics including vet helmer Carlos Diegues’ “The Greatest Love of All.” He also produced his brother Erik de Castro’s “Federals,” EuropaCorp’s first Brazilian project.
Dhillon is founder and CEO of Jaman, a U.S.-based movie download service and social networking site that specializes in world cinema. Jaman is snapping up Internet rights to all kinds of independent and foreign-language films in a bid to position Jaman, with its highly regarded proprietary P2P technology, as the premier download platform for cineastes worldwide.
Former Paramount Classics co-prexy is branching out into the international realm in his new position as Lakeshore Entertainment’s prexy of worldwide marketing and distribution. Lakeshore chief Tom Rosenberg restructured sales and marketing operations under Dinerstein, who heads to the Croisette with new titles and execs, including Jonathan Deckter, who moved over from Arclight Films.
Philip Elway & John Ptak
Ex-CAA agent Ptak and former VIP Medienfonds U.S. topper Elway formed Arsenal last year to help producers and distributors assemble pic slates and tap financing opportunities. Their roster includes Baldwin Entertainment, Endgame, Kadokawa USA, Maverick, Studio Hamburg and Wild Bunch. They’ll have “Che,” “Outlander,” “The Stanford Prison Experiment,” “Luna” and “Push” in the market mix at Cannes this year.
The former Pathe finance director now fronts entertainment hedge fund Aramid, based in London and Los Angeles. He’s bankrolling Sharon Maguire’s “Incendiary” and looking for more projects on which to spend his $250 million loan fund.
Thirteen years after winning the Camera d’Or for her first film, Ferran returns to Cannes as Un Certain Regard jury prexy. Her latest film, “Lady Chatterley,” her first in 10 years, wowed French auds and won five Cesars, including picture.
The former Weinstein Co. and First Look international sales head has formed a sales shingle backed by Intermedia. Ford is busy setting up the stand-alone unit, dubbed IM Global, which will handle Intermedia-produced films such as Jan De Bont’s $40 million “Stopping Power” and outside titles.
Rob Friedman & Patrick Wachsberger
Former Paramount COO Friedman and foreign sales whiz Wachsberger recently joined forces to relaunch Summit Entertainment and move into U.S. distribution. The duo amassed $1 billion to fund their new activities. As they ramp up, Wachsberger will be back in Cannes touting what he says is his biggest slate ever, including Roman Polanski’s “Pompeii,” Gil Kenan’s “City of Ember” and Jodie Foster starrer “Nim’s Island.”
Casting clean-cut hunk Hrithik Roshan in the lead of upcoming historical epic “Jodha-Akbar” seemed a strange move, but as a thesp who moved behind the camera in the mid-1990s, Gowariker (“Lagaan”) is rated as an actor’s director, and his leading men consistently win awards. He’ll be in Cannes with superstar Aishwarya Rai showing extracts of “Jodha-Akbar,” which is set for release in October.
Tim Haslam, Jeremy Thomas & Hengameh Panahi
Newly formed U.K.-Paris-Toronto sales giant Dreamachine has a dream team of executives, led by former HanWay CEO Haslam and Celluloid Dreams topper Panahi, widely respected for her taste and selling acumen. While Thomas has been around the Croisette for decades, the new venture is looking forward, not backward, unveiling new talent in the fest’s competition and keeping an eye on digital distribution.
Heir to a Norwegian shipping fortune, he has Arts Alliance Media, which owns U.K. arthouse circuit CityScreen, European online DVD rental and download service Lovefilm. Arts Alliance has the technical contract to manage the U.K. Film Council’s Digital Screen Network and provides digital services to major fests including Cannes. His microbudget studio Slingshot, launched last year, is already under way with four productions, including “Sugarhouse Lane” and “French Film.”
Former Hoyts Cinemas topper has returned to the movie business as an investor, mentor and chair of the Australian Film, Television and Radio School. It’s been eight years since he sold Hoyts to Kerry Packer and founded Ivany Investment Group with his A$70 million ($58 million) share of the proceeds. Now one of the biggest film investors Down Under, Ivany wants producers to underpin projects with sound business skills.
Thesp has won cartloads of acting awards in her native Korea but has yet to appear in a high-profile festival film. This year’s “Secret Sunshine,” playing in Cannes Competition, could end her reign as Korea’s best-kept acting secret. Recently married, Jeon, who typically takes on one project per year, hasn’t yet chosen her next film.
An intellectual in worker’s clothes, Jiang has been rehabilitated in his native China after a five-year helming ban. He was set to gain further stature as actor-director on the world stage with his “The Sun Also Rises,” but remains absent from the Cannes lineup. Jiang will show international auds there’s more to Chinese cinema than kung fu, concubines and city squalor. He’s working on a number of projects he’ll produce and direct, including a London detective piece.
This 31-year-old multihyphenate embodies the can-do spirit of modern filmmakers in Argentina. Aside from writing, directing and starring in her own films, she has written and directed plays. Her second feature, “A Wandering Bride,” plays in Un Certain Regard. She’s developing dark comedy “Wellbeing,” which has already won a production grant from Switzerland.
Swedish rock musician-turned-helmer Kling’s debut feature “Darling” — about a man and woman who’ve fallen on tough times and meet while working at McDonald’s — became one of the year’s most celebrated. It won the top kudo in Gothenburg in February. Kling is working on a new script, an English-language comedy, that he hopes to shoot in summer 2008. “Darling” has its market preem in Cannes via Nonstop Sales.
Alexandra & Meike Kordes
Berlin-based femme producers pulled off a savvy sister act with Teuton indie hit “Four Minutes,” which won the top prize in Shanghai and went on to score eight German Film Award noms and won two, including picture. Alexandra focuses on the creative, Meike on the business side. The duo will be in Cannes, seeking international co-production partners for their next pic with “Minutes” helmer Chris Kraus, a WWI family drama set in the Baltics.
Formerly partnered with StudioCanal and Miramax, the Gallic distrib veteran’s Bac Films survived near-bankruptcy, paid down debt of $70 million and has rebounded as one of the key companies in France. Bac is handling foreign rights on Cannes Competition pic “Silent Light” and its distribution in France, along with domestic on Competition pic “Les Chansons d’amour” and Directors’ Fortnight title “Caramel.” Bac also has Jim Jarmusch and Nanni Moretti pics in the works.
One of the Mideast’s foremost musicvid helmers, 33-year-old Labaki is making a habit of hitting home runs on her first attempts. Her acting debut in last year’s Lebanese musical laffer “Bosta” helped propel the pic to No. 1 at the country’s box office. Her feature directorial debut, “Caramel,” bows in Directors’ Fortnight.
The Oscar-nominated producer of “The Queen” is now at BBC Films, where she serves as exec producer across the slate. She’s shepherding projects including Lynne Ramsay’s long-awaited comeback “We Need to Talk About Kevin” and the next Stephen Frears/Peter Morgan pic, “The Damned United.”
Boram Entertainment’s CEO is emerging as Korea’s most active participant in Asia-themed international co-productions. After “Seven Swords” and hit “A Battle of Wits,” Lee’s working his Hollywood and Asian connections to push a wide slate of projects, including “Laundry Warrior,” a U.S.-based drama that will include Korean heartthrob Jang Dong-gun in its high-profile cast.
Long associated with B-movies, the Israeli-born mogul has been moving on up lately. After acquiring control of First Look Pictures earlier this year, Lerner’s Nu Image/Millennium Films empire has expanded to all corners of the biz, along with a taste for more high-profile projects (Queen Latifah/Diane Keaton comedy “Mad Money,” Jon Amiel’s Scarlett Johansson starrer “Brilliant” and “Rambo 4”).
Son of Oscar-nominated director John learned the biz at Miramax and Intermedia, where he produced upcoming Britcom “Magicians” before becoming Warner’s London-based VP of production. He’s hit the ground running at Warner with deals to develop the Litvinenko spy drama for Johnny Depp and George Clooney’s feature version of docu “Our Brand Is Crisis.”
Danny Mandel & Diane Stidham
The ex- Union Bank of California and ABN Amro execs joined forces a year ago to run Newbridge Capital Partners, providers of super-gap finance (riskier than ordinary bank gap but not as hairy as equity) to indie film producers. Newbridge is also allied with ICM. One of the firm’s first films was “Death Defying Acts,” starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Guy Pearce, which shot in the U.K. last year and has Myriad handling sales.
Chris McGurk & Danny Rosett
How will Overture begin? The former MGM/UA execs are hoping for a rousing start entering their first Cannes as toppers of the Liberty Media/Starz Entertainment distrib. With recent buys “Ferris Wheel” and “Mad Money,” and a major international distribution pact in the works, McGurk, Rosett and their team will be scouting for acquisitions and meeting with European filmmakers, ready to “trigger financing,” says Rosett.
Nick Meyer & John Lesher
It was just at last’s year Cannes when Paramount rechristened its specialty division Vantage. Since then, Lesher’s ambitious unit scored a couple of Oscar wins and built an impressive production slate, including Cannes official selection “A Mighty Heart.” With new co-prexy and global vet Meyer now in the mix, Vantage’s international side is ramping up, with titles including the Coens’ Competition pic “No Country for Old Men.”
In the 1980s, this Rome-born AFI grad assisted such luminaries as Federico Fellini and Lina Wertmuller, but she makes her Euro-fest debut as a U.S. filmmaker with Critics’ Week closer “Expired,” a Sundance world premiere set in L.A. Backed by producers Fred Roos and Jeffrey Coulter, she’s got two more films in the works, “Love Ahead” and “Pluck,” an ensembler pic she likens to “Short Cuts.”
Joaquin Padro & Mar Targarona
Partners in life and in the Barcelona-based Rodar Group, a film-TV-commercials production outfit, Padro and Targarona are classy genre-pic producers who slave over screenplays. They brought in Guillermo del Toro to godfather “The Orphanage,” which Wild Bunch sold to Picturehouse at Berlin. Now they’re moving Guillem Morales’ “Julia’s Eyes” and Sergio Sanchez’s “The Homecoming.”
Ignacio Perez Dolset
Head of Madrid’s Ilion Animation Studios, the passionate Perez Dolset is producing $54 million toon feature “Planet One.” But he’s used to ambitious ventures. He’s enjoyed global success making vidgame series “Commandos,” and Ilion sister company, cell phone contentmaker Lanetro Zed, operates in 37 countries. Colorful, high-concept “Planet” is penned by Joe Stillman (“Shrek”).
The former October Films and UA indie stalwart has re-emerged at Sidney Kimmel Entertainment as head of distribution. He’ll be shepherding SKE’s slate, which includes Marc Forster’s “The Kite Runner” and Charlie Kaufman’s “Synecdoche, New York.” SKE’s titles distribute domestically via MGM as well as other outlets, including Focus Features and Par Vantage.
Universal’s newly anointed senior VP and group manager of worldwide acquisitions buys for the studio’s Focus Features and Rogue labels as well as the main studio globally. The longtime U exec says one of his goals in Cannes will be finding titles that are a good fit for Universal Pictures Intl. He recently picked up much of the international rights on thriller “Untraceable.”
Swiss outfit Omega couldn’t have asked for a more solid exec than London-based Rogers, the former prexy of Lakeshore Intl., to front its push into financing and selling major international movies. Rogers will launch Omega’s debut slate at Cannes, including pics helmed by Deepa Mehta, Peter Cattaneo, Chuck Russell and Joel Schumacher from its deal with Baldwin Entertainment.
Billy & Fernando Rovzar
Founders of Lemon Films, Mexico’s most successful new production house, the duo have hit at the box office with horror pic “Km 31” and comic thriller “Matando Cabos.” They’re prepping to make a rare Hollywood crossover as producers on Universal’s 50 Cent vehicle “Live Bet,” and pushing a slate of other projects including Mexico’s first all-3D toon, a co-production with Warner Bros. Mexico.
Co-director, with Vincent Paronnaud, of “Persepolis,” Satrapi is the only first-time helmer in Cannes Competition this year. The B&W animated feature about a precocious Iranian girl living in post-Islamic Revolution Tehran is adapted from Satrapi’s comicbook memoirs of the same name. Satrapi, who now lives in Paris, has published four “Persepolis” volumes that have sold well over a million copies worldwide. More projects with Paronnaud are in the works.
Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions prexy Schlessel will be bringing his newly formed group to Cannes to pick up or co-finance projects for SPE’s various distribution platforms (theatrical, home entertainment, television and digital distribution). The team, which includes Sony Pictures Home Entertainment vet Adrian Alperovich and ex-Momentum Pictures exec Lara Thompson, recently sealed a deal to co-finance and distribute titles from Inferno Films.
With a stock market ticker by his desk and businesses that increasingly extend beyond the subcontinent, UTV topper Screwvala is the modern face of Indian entertainment. He’s rebuilding a studio system in the massively fragmented industry while making his UTV a friendly portal for Hollywood to experiment with. He’s ramping up a dozen pics by Rakesh Omprakash Mehra and Ashutosh Gowariker and has a 50% stake in M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Happening.”
Song isn’t one of Korea’s pretty-boy stars, but his moon face shines out everywhere from billboards to beer coasters. He’s Korea’s most skilled and versatile actor, despite a lack of formal training. His credits read like a Korean hit pic list: “JSA,” “Shiri,” “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance,” “Memories of Murder” and “The Host,” in which he’s tackled everything from wrestlers to understated cops. He’s in Cannes with Lee Chang-dong’s “Secret Sunshine” and is likely to star in Park Chan-wook’s anticipated vampire pic “Evil Live.”
Former Gaga CEO Tadashiki launched Movie-eye Entertainment in 2003 and has since built the company into the go-to Japanese distrib for hot indie product, including “Million Dollar Baby,” “Crash” and “Little Children.” Movie-eye also produces with local partners, including “Nightmare Detective” by international cult fave Shinya Tsukamoto. Skedded for a May release is “The Longest Night in Shanghai,” a romantic drama that Movie-eye produced with Avex, Yahoo Japan and Beijing-based Megadia.
Formerly a line producer for Studio Ghibli, Tanaka is now CEO at Studio4°C, an indie toon house that she co-founded and has churned out some of the best feature anime in the business, including Masaaki Yuasa’s mind-bending feature debut, “Mind Game” (2004), and five segments of the “Animatrix” omnibus (2003), in collaboration with the Wachowski brothers. This July, she’ll release “Genius Party,” a feature collaboration of seven animation helmers. A second “Party” is in the works for 2008.
Ex-Paramount Pictures exec VP Tobey heads to Cannes for the first time as COO of Les Moonves’ pic production division, CBS Feature Films. While the shingle’s CEO has yet to be named, Tobey will be warming up relationships with international distribs and discussing potential co-productions and acquisitions on the Croisette for the freshly-minted L.A.-based operation.
Bob & Harvey Weinstein
The brothers Weinstein came out guns a-blazing, but after a few theatrical misfires and no big showy payoffs, the dynamic duo have been called obsolete. But with three high-profile pics in Cannes — Michael Moore’s “Sicko,” Quentin Tarantino’s expanded “Death Proof” and Wong Kar Wai’s fest opener “My Blueberry Nights” — they’ll gladly take the spotlight yet again.
Texas-born producer of Directors’ Fortnight opener “Control” is busy ramping up a growing list of pics. Projects include Walker Percy adaptation “The Second Coming,” headed for a North Carolina shoot this year with Donal Logue at the helm; Lian Lunson’s “The Boom Boom Room,” starring Willie Nelson, Dita Von Teese and Katherine Helmond; plus new pics that would reteam Williams with “Shadow of the Vampire” helmer E. Elias Merhige.
Beijing-born helmer Zhang set the style for quality, accessible mainland Chinese cinema with his debut, portmanteau pic “Spicy Love Soup” (1997). He’s since tackled a variety of themes — urban modernization (“Shower”), drug addiction (“Quitting”), dysfunctional families (“Sunflower”) — in performance-driven, affecting styles. A habitue of most major fests, save Cannes, Zhang’s latest project, set for a fall shoot, is a spiritual journey across the Tibetan plateau.
Russian helmer won Venice in 2003 with his debut feature “The Return,” which symbolized for many the rebirth of his country’s arthouse sector. His latest, “The Banishment,” comes to the Cannes Competition at a generous 150-minute length. Russian-Euro co-production is centered on a married couple, and was shot in Belgium, France and Moldova. Russian working title translated as “The Smell of Stone.”
— Tom Birchenough, Michaela Boland, Marcelo Cajueiro, Adam Dawtrey, Derek Elley, Patrick Frater, Anna Marie de la Fuente, Tobias Grey, Katja Hofmann, John Hopewell, Ali Jaafar, Alison James, Anthony Kaufman, Michael O’Boyle, Darcy Paquet, Gunnar Rehlin, Mark Schilling and Sharon Swart