A collection of Cannes-relevant film execs and talents who have new jobs, companies, or are on a new journey.
In January, Beecroft was tapped to head the international sales arm of Gotham indie GreeneStreet Films. A former HBO and First Look exec on the international side, L.A.-based Beecroft oversees sales and marketing activities for the shingle’s own productions as well as sales and acquisitions of third-party films. Among the pics on her Cannes slate is “The Invisible Woman,” from helmer Matt Reeves (“Cloverfield”) and produced by J.J. Abrams.
Bersch is the new topper at Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group, one of the most acquisitive companies on the Croisette last year. SPWAG, which buys for various Sony units, gobbled up rights on about a half-dozen titles in the market (including “The Spirit” and “Legion”) and made the biggest fest purchase: “We Own the Night.” Bersch, formerly chief operating officer at Fox Home Entertainment, says the group will again be opportunistic in Cannes this year. He’ll be there with a staff of five, plus his predecessor Peter Schlessel, who became SPE’s prexy of worldwide affairs.
As the recently appointed CEO of the Abu Dhabi Media Co., Borgerding is at the forefront of the oil-rich emirate’s attempts to make itself a global media player. Borgerding, previously a senior VP at Walt Disney Intl. TV, is overseeing the strategic direction of the ambitious multimedia shingle, which includes the emirate’s TV and radio stations as well as its print publications. He’ll also oversee the $500 million film fund deal inked last year with Warner Bros. He is expecting to unveil the first greenlit projects to come out of the fund at this year’s Cannes.
Producer of hits such as Oscar-nommed “The Son of the Bride” and “Nine Queens,” Bossi is moving into new genres with his 2-year-old Pampa Films. It made a hot debut with detective caper “The Sign” and now is pressing ahead with comedies, a fantasy thriller, a true murder drama and even a car-racing action comedy made with General Motors, the first advertiser-backed film in the cash-strapped Argentine industry. To help fund his ambitious production strategy, which involves multiple wide-release movies, Bossi is expanding into TV, with a Patagonia-set musical for teens up first.
The driving force behind Alejandro Amenabar’s “The Others” and Julio Medem pics while at Sogecable subsid Sogecine, Bovaira ankled the Spanish TV giant last September and hung his own production shingle, Madrid-based Mod Prods., with a young exec team. One of Spain’s gutsiest producers, Bovaira’s producing Amenabar’s “Agora,” now shooting in Malta. He looks set to cherry-pick some key helming talent, new and established, across the Hispanic world.
Andres Calderon, Rodrigo Guerrero & Cristian Conti
Former investment banker Calderon leads a savvy team of U.S. and European university-educated thirtysomethings who have pioneered Dynamo Capital, a multimillion-dollar Colombian equity investment fund. Playing off beneficial Colombian tax breaks — 110% discounts on film investment and an enthusiastic homegrown aud — Dynamo amassed its initial trove from pension funds. It has seen early success investing in Colombian Oscar candidate “Satanas” but won’t stop there or necessarily limit its funding to purely national production. Short-term plans are to make six to seven pics a year. Production chief Guerrero, producer of “Satanas” and exec producer of Sundance pic “Perro come perro,” will be taking both titles to Cannes Market. Investment expert Conti also reps Dynamo in Cannes.
Iain Canning & Emile Sherman
Former Becker Intl. exec Canning and producer Sherman, both Australians, formed See-Saw Films in January. The London- and Sydney-based production company has a close relationship with new Oz distrib Transmission and a first-look deal with U.K. distrib Momentum to invest equity in its productions. Slate includes Guillem Morales’ “The Uninvited Guest,” Shirley Barrett’s “South Solitary” and Paul Catling’s sci-fi drama “Tomo.”
Capanna is topper at the new Eagle Pictures, which was recently bought by Paris-based investor Tarak Ben Ammar as part of a grand pan-European plan he’s hatching in tandem with Goldman Sachs. With new money and a new vision, the long-standing Italian distrib Eagle is expected to be an active buyer in Cannes, where announcements of its new game plan and team, headed by Capanna, are sure to follow.
Terence Chang & John Woo
After years in Hollywood, the producer-director duo (“Face/Off,” “M:I-2”) have rebranded themselves as Asian filmmakers. Their Lion Rock shingle has started focusing on Asian and trans-Pacific productions, and they’ll hit the Croisette this year with footage of epic Chinese two-parter “Red Cliff.” With an $80 million budget and a splashy show-and-tell skedded at the Carlton Hotel, the pic is being handled as if it’s China’s answer to “The Lord of the Rings.” Stand by for more announcements.
Roberto Cicutto & Luigi Musini
Formerly alligned with Milan-based arthouse distrib Mikado, these Italian producers head to Cannes flying the flag of their new shingle, On My Own. They recently shot Spike Lee’s WWII pic “Miracle at St. Anna” in Tuscany and are looking to mount other high-profile international co-productions.
Dent,ex-topper of UGC’s small U.K. distribution arm, is the new face of Artificial Eye, Blighty’s most venerable arthouse distrib, which traditionally ends up releasing half the Cannes competition lineup — the esoteric half. But with the exit of ArtEye veterans Pam Engel and Robert Beeson following the company’s takeover by Curzon Cinemas, Dent has been tapped to freshen up the business, including a move into more mainstream and even English-language fare, such as Helen Hunt’s directorial debut “Then She Found Me.”
Dentler, the 28-year-old former producer of the South by Southwest (SXSW) film fest in Austin, Texas, won’t be attending this year’s Cannes, but he will be following the fest biz closely via the Internet. It’s fitting, as Dentler’s new position as head of marketing and programming for Cinetic Rights Management, the digital division of Gotham’s Cinetic Media, is specifically about online delivery systems. Dentler plans to lobby new-media portals (from iTunes to Xbox) to work with Cinetic’s clients to help filmmakers navigate the “dense sea of online options,” he says. “There really is no one representing the interests of independent films because the studio product gets the big push.”
Stephanie Denton & Jim Harvey
After international sales gigs at Lakeshore, Initial and Lionsgate, Denton in March became prexy of worldwide distribution for L.A.-based production/financing shingle Bold Films (“Bobby,” “Legion”). She’s already added her former Lakeshore colleage Harvey –who recently did stints at Media 8, Element and Myriad — to the fold as senior VP. They’re assembling a slate quickly. Joseph Ruben-helmed thriller “Jack” is one of Bold’s first titles available via the new international sales unit. More announcements on the Croisette could follow.
Eva Diederix & Adeline Fontan Tessaur
Young alums of UGC Intl. and TF1 Intl., Diederix and Fontan Tessaur are behind the cool, new — and chicly femme — kid on the French sales block. Launched in January, Wild Bunch-backed Elle Driver is looking to create a hip stable of new directors from around the globe, mixed with auteur greats. It has financial muscle, experience, contacts and, for a sales agent of thoroughly cosmopolitan ambitions, the right location: Paris.
Ann Dubinet & Keith Kjarval
While Kjarval’s Unified Pictures has been kicking around since 2004, he’s just hired sales stalwart Dubinet to fire up an international division. They’ll be heading to Cannes with three completed pics and more to talk about. With a focus on new directors, Unified will unspool Craig Carlisle’s comedy “Bob Funk,” starring Rachael Leigh Cook, at the market. Meanwhile, Unified’s inhouse CG animation unit ElectroAge has “Mulan” scribe Phillip LaZebnik’s “Noah’s Ark” in the works.
Yu Dong, Jeffrey Chan & Nansun Shi
After last year’s failed attempt to launch a content fund with Yu’s Polybona, China’s largest privately owned distributor, producers Shi and Chan have finally joined his company. Under a new moniker and with U.S. private-equity backing, Bona Film Group is now expanding into exhibition, artist management and international sales, which will be testing the waters in Cannes with a new slate, ahead of an IPO in 2009.
Cannes marks the first real collaboration between former Danish competitors Trust Film Sales and Nordisk Film Sales, now merged into TrustNordisk under CEO Ennis. A longtime employee at Trust, she says the companies complement each other. Trust was good at handling artpics, but not family films and TV fare, which is Nordisk’s strength. Ennis says there is a very good atmosphere at the combined company. At Cannes, she’ll work on presales for Lukas Moodysson’s “Mammoth” and Lars von Trier’s “Antichrist.”
Jeanson, an ex-Miramax Intl. and GreeneStreet Intl. exec, has formed his own boutique sales shingle, Filmbox. The tall Frenchman heads for Cannes to make presales on Tim Blake Nelson’s “Leaves of Grass,” starring Edward Norton as twin brothers who have taken very different paths in life. “It’s an intense thriller with a lot of humor,” says Jeanson, who’s focusing on a small slate of director-driven pics. “I am very picky but open to all genres and budget levels, as long as I love the project and feel very inspired and safe with the talent involved.”
Not only can screenwriter Kaufman thank Spike Jonze for directing his first script, “Being John Malkovich,” but he can also thank him for not directing his latest, “Synecdoche, New York.” When Jonze pulled out to work on “Where the Wild Things Are,” the Oscar-winning scribe took it upon himself to helm the project, his first — now premiering in Cannes Competition. “But he’s not really a first-time director,” says producer Anthony Bregman. “He’s been on the sets of all of his films and is an integral day-to-day part from the casting to costumes to post-production.”
Singapore has never had a director in the Cannes Competition before. So there will be no doubt that Media Development Authority will be touting Khoo’s promotion from Directors’ Fortnight (“Be With Me”) as confirmation of the country’s arrival in world cinema — and promoting it with more money than it cost to make the film, “My Magic.” Multihyphenate Khoo, who has a rep as Singapore’s most cerebral filmmaker, shot the Tamil-language father-son drama in eight days on a credit card-sized budget.
Among a new breed of Russia’s femme financiers-producers in Cannes to promote their projects, Moscow’s Kopytina is headed for market with Yelena Nikolayeva’s “Vanechka,” on which sales are being handled by U.K.’s Swipe Films. Recognized in Russia as entrepreneur of the year in 2003, Kopytina made her fortunes in the food import industry. Founder and president of Ledovo Group, Kopytina and husband Anton invested $2 million into romantic drama “Vanechka,” set in the late ’90s, when the first flush of Russian capitalism came to a sudden halt in an economic collapse precipitated by a government bond default.
For an outfit that launched just last November, Labadie’s Le Pacte has come out guns ablazing. The former Bac Films topper will be the Gallic distrib for two Palme d’Or contenders — Naples-set gangster drama “Gomorra” and Israel’s “Waltz With Bashir” — which Labadie describes as “the world’s first animated documentary.” Co-productions are also a go. Mexican drama “Los bastardos” will screen in Un Certain Regard, while Francois Ozon’s “Ricky” has just wrapped in Paris and is set to bow locally in February.
The new chief operating officer at Brazil’s biggest film sales company, Machado is steering Vereda Filmes into production — looking beyond Brazil — and entering domestic distribution with high-level pickups. Vereda’s just 1 year old, but its backing from Brazil’s powerful Rio Bravo investment fund plus the focus on new Latin American talent makes for a powerful mixture. And Machado, a former France-based producer, can also take it into Europe.
Andrew Mackie & Richard Payten
Ex-Dendy toppers Mackie and Payten established Oz distribution shingle Transmission in January, an indie aligned with Paramount Pictures Intl.’s Australian releasing arm. The duo has worked together for 18 years, first at distrib Globe Film and then at Dendy. They will co-manage Transmission with the aim to include two or three domestic titles on their annual slate of about 10 quality indie crossovers fit for 50- to 100-screen releases. Two of PPI’s prior acquisitions, comedy “Dean Spanley,” with Sam Neill, and Vicente Amorim’s “Good,” with Viggo Mortensen, will be redirected for release through Transmission.
Cannes 2008 is the coming-out party — literally — for Avex Asia, the Marini-headed, pan-Asian film-making arm of Japanese talent and music giant Avex Entertainment. Celebrations, complete with imported Japanese chefs and geishas, will tubthump the company’s dominant role in “Red Cliff” as well as a powerhouse slate of Chinese and other Asian movies.
The first producer to run Argentina’s INCAA Film Institute, Mazure wants to turn the ample festival praise for Argentine films into wider sales. More than Brazil and Mexico, over the last decade, Argentina has carved out an international niche for left-of-field micropics that win festival plaudits worldwide — Cannes is stuffed with Argentine pics this year. But the industry faces a low domestic market share and the challenge of turning kudos into international sales. The country produces 70 features a year, but few make a profit in a Hollywood-dominated domestic market of 1,000 screens. Mazure vows to focus on these challenges, and her ambition is stirring fans. With a well-rounded resume of direction, writing and festival production, Mazure may have what it takes.
British artist McQueen makes his filmmaking debut and his first trip to Cannes’ Official Selection with “Hunger,” an impressionistic account of the last six weeks in the life of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands. McQueen, 39, won the Turner Prize — U.K.’s best-known (and most notorious) contemporary art award — in 1999 for his video installations. His artwork is characterized by extreme and unexpected camera angles, so curiosity is high whether McQueen can translate this compelling visual talent into narrative cinema.
Moscow-based and Georgetown U.-educated Mirimskaya made her name and fortune in banking and food distribution in the 1990s. In 2006, she co-founded U.S. production company Parallel Media with Ray Markovich, an American-born entrepreneur who launched Moscow’s first English-language movie theater. They’ve exec produced five films in the last year, and recently inked a deal to fund a $70 million slate of eight films with “American Pie” and “Final Destination” producer Warren Zide through offshoot Parallel Zide. Though there’s a Hollywood focus, three upcoming Parallel pics will likely use Russian locations, including Paul Verhoeven’s “Azazel,” with Milla Jovovich.
Leonardo Monteiro de Barros
One of Brazil’s savviest film execs, Monteiro de Barros gave up spectacular Rio lakeside offices to transfer to Hamburg, Germany, in January and launch the international division of Brazilian production powerhouse Conspiracao. First fruit: minority equity in “14,” (aka “Lope”) the $16 million flagship production of Spanish broadcaster Antena 3, with Conspiracao partner and helmer Andrucha Waddington (“House of Sand”) directing. Barros is considering plenty more projects, and can bring tax money, a strongish currency in the real and Brazilian co-production support to the table.
Ben Roberts & Charlotte Van Weede
Poacher-turned-gamekeeper, the affable former Universal acquisitions exec Roberts has crossed the great divide to become chief exec of new Brit sales company Protagonist Pictures, backed by Film4, Vertigo Films and Ingenious Media. The big push on Protagonist’s debut slate — Vito Rocco’s “Faintheart,” Tom Shankland’s “The Day,” Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Bronson” and Alexis Dos Santos’ “Unmade Beds” — starts at Cannes. Roberts admits that one of his biggest challenges is learning how to talk enthusiastically all day — buyers can usually get away with just a few noncommittal grunts. Protagonist’s new head of sales Van Weede, an alumna of Summit and Intermedia, moved over May 1 from Hanway Films.
After segueing from Sogepaq, where she handled foreign on standout Spanish pics such as Alejandro Amenabar’s “The Sea Inside,” Setuain now heads film sales at Imagina Intl., an emerging film force in Europe. Imagina’s partner Mediapro co-produced Woody Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” and has announced two new pics to roll after the Woodman’s New York shoot. Imagina’s sales slate doesn’t yet have the power of Sogepaq’s top Spanish directors lineup, but it has ambition, a stable of young helmers and backing from a burgeoning media giant.
When former StudioCanal managing director Sichler was tapped by Saudi Prince Waleed bin Talal to become president of his Rotana Films unit in January, he was tasked with a clear objective: to make the previously Arab-centric shingle an international player. Sichler, who is credited with having a key role in the turnaround of StudioCanal’s fortunes during his four-year tenure at the French pic outfit, will be in Cannes to tubthump that global mandate as well as to unveil Rotana’s first international co-production.
With three films in Official Selection, Suh is making an impressive debut for her new sales company, Fine Cut. She previously built Cineclick Asia as Korea’s only stand-alone foreign sales outfit, but sold it a year ago and then quit in December. She’s determined to offer a diverse international slate and is repping Pablo Trapero’s “Leonora” in competition, Na Hong-Jin’s “The Chaser” in Midnight screening. Suh is also an investor in out-of-competition title “The Good, the Bad, the Weird.”
Theroux is leading the charge as Entertainment One transforms itself from a Canadian DVD distrib into an aggressive multiterritory theatrical indie. Theroux joined E1 last August as its prexy of filmed entertainment, bringing decades of experience from rival Canadian indie Alliance, from where he was ousted a year earlier in a bloody boardroom coup. Backed by Brit hedge fund Marwyn and listed on London’s Alternative Investment Market, E1 has bought Contender in the U.K., RCV in Benelux and Seville Pictures in Canada, signed output deals with Summit and Yari Film Group, and has several new territories in its sights.
Formerly head of international at the U.K. Film Council, Wise is now Universal’s senior VP of international production. Based in London, she’s charged with the gargantuan task of coordinating the studio’s push into local-language filmmaking around the world, reporting to international production and acquisitions prexy Christian Grass. U already has relationships with Fernando Meirelles in Brazil, Timur Bekmambetov in Russia and Cha Cha Cha (Guillermo del Toro, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Alfonso Cuaron) in Mexico.
— Michaela Boland, Adam Dawtrey, Patrick Frater, Anna Marie de la Fuente, David Hayhurst, Nick Holdsworth, John Hopewell, Ali Jaafar, Anthony Kaufman, Charles Newbery, Emiliano de Pablos, Gunnar Rehlin, Sharon Swart and Nick Vivarelli