Monday, April 30, 2007

Speed Racer Gets Cash Crash

The German Federal Film Fund is granting $12.3 million to the producers of “Speed Racer,” which will be produced at Babelsberg Studios near Berlin this summer.
Based on Tatsuo Yoshida’s hit cartoon series of the ‘60s, this version will be live-action. Joel Silver is producing and it’s his second film at Babelsberg. V for Vendetta was his first.
The film stars Emile Hirsch (left) as Speed along with Christina Ricci, John Goodman and Susan Sarandon and is slated for May 2008 opening.
Also slated for the fund is the Leo Tolstoy bio, "The Last Station," starring Anthony Hopkins and Meryl Streep.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Jack Valenti Dies

Jack Valenti, the Houston native born of Sicillian parents and former LBJ assistant who made a name for himself as the unapologetic lobbyist for the Motion Picture Association of America, died yesterday at 85. His biggest contribution likely was the introduction of the ratings system.

As we've worked to communicate with our international counterparts for the upcoming Lone Star International Film Festival, featuring the FWSCI Film Series, we've spent time recently reviewing the MPAA ratings system and comparing that to those of other countries.
The current MPAA movie ratings consist of:
G - General Audiences - All ages admitted
PG - Parental guidance suggested Some material may not be suitable for children
PG-13 - Parents strongly cautioned Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
R - Restricted Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
NC-17 No one 17 and under admitted.
If a film has not been submitted for a rating, the label NR (Not Rated) is often used; however, NR is not an official MPAA classification. Films that have not yet received MPAA classification, but are expected to, are often advertised with the notice "This Film Is Not Yet Rated" or "Rating Pending."
The Kirby Dick documentary This Film Not Yet Rated, takes a look at the ratings system. According to the Independent Film Channel's website, "The documentary asks whether Hollywood movies and independent films are rated equally for comparable content; whether sexual content in gay-themed movies is given harsher ratings penalties than their heterosexual counterparts; whether it makes sense that extreme violence is given an R rating while sexuality is banished to the cutting room floor; whether Hollywood studios receive detailed directions as to how to change an NC-17 film into an R, while independent film producers are left guessing; and finally, whether keeping the raters and the rating process secret leaves the MPAA entirely unaccountable for its decisions."

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Filmies Meeting, 6 p.m. May 8

Funimation will be our guests at the next Filmies group meeting Tuesday, May 8, 2007, at the PourHouse, 209 W. Fifth St. in downtown Fort Worth.
In case you don't know, Funimation folks brought us Dragonball Z, Basilsk and other great anime via Cartoon Network and other media, plus the live-action film Shinobi on DVD, which I wrote about in February. Anime is Japanese animation.

Debra J. Kennedy, Funimation vice president of marketing and a University of Texas at Austin alumnae, will be the guest speaker.

Funimation is a Tarrant County-based company -- who knew? -- and they're doing a lot of cool things. So come out to the PourHouse and get the inside scoop.

Filmies is a Fort Worth Sister Cities International Film Special Interest Group. We meet monthly to hang out, talk about movies and have a beer after work.

Learn about our upcoming international film series that will be held simultaneously and in partnership with the Lone Star International Film Festival in Nov. 8-11, 2007.

RSVP to Lisa Gail Barnes at Sister Cities (, or request more information.

Kala Premiers

Joko Anwar’s new film Kala (Dead Time) hit theaters in Jakarta last weekend to raves.

“The reviews have been overwhelming. The buzz on the Internet and from filmgoers has been great,” Anwar told Filmies over the weekend.

Anwar’s film blends Indonesian culture and classic Indonesian horror films with film noir to create a film unlike any seen by audiences, according to the review in the Jakarta Post. The film evokes Dark City and Naked Lunch, the review says.

This is Anwar's second directorial project. His first was 2005's Janji Joni (Joni's Promise). Previously he wrote the script for the hit Indonesian film Arisan!.

Anwar cast his Kala with popular Indonesian stars, including Shanty, Fachri Albar and Fahrani.

The trailers look great, with cool cinematography. Hope we get to see it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

This Just In: New DVDs

Masaya Kato

The Last Supper, 2005, (Saigo no Bansan), Japan, Director: Osamu Fukutani
One night, talented plastic surgeon Dr. Yuji Kotorida (Masaya Kato) takes home some leftover fat from a liposuction procedure and fries it up for dinner. This taste of forbidden flesh fuels his desires, and he soon embarks on a killing spree to acquire fresh meat. Obsessed with eating human flesh, he devises ever more imaginative methods to indulge his appetites in this cannibalistic chiller based on a story by renowned horror writer Kei Oishi.

MTY Extremo, 2006, Mexico, Director: Marcelino Calzada
Vacationing Marcos Puentes's trip to Monterrey, Mexico, becomes a nightmare when he's mistaken for a prominent organized crime boss and murder suspect. With rival mobster Franco putting a price on Puentes's head, the innocent man must fight to clear his name -- and save his life. Directed by Marcelino Calzada, this stylish thriller from Mexico stars Renán Moreno, Antonio Craviotto, Mauricio Atri and Veronica Mabel Carrizales.

The Living Coffin, 1958, (El Grito de la muerte), Mexico, Director:Fernando Mendez Manuel San Fernando
Cowboy Gastón (Gastón Santos) and his sidekick, Coyote Loco (Pedro de Aguillón), travel to a hacienda to get information about a stone figure of a crying woman. The statuette is that of a mother grieving the deaths of her children and whose vengeful ghost haunts the residents. Soon, Gastón discovers the truth behind the eerie legend. Fernando Méndez directs this Mexican chiller inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's "The Premature Burial."

The Man and the Monster, 1958, (El Hombre y el Monstruo), Mexico, Director: Rafael Baledon
Greedy for international success, a concert pianist sells his soul to the devil in this Mexican horror film. The musician makes a deal with Satan, unaware that the cursed pact will transform him into a bloodthirsty monster whenever he plays his masterpiece. The body count rises, and a packed concert house sets the stage for the tortured pianist's most unforgettable performance. Enrique Rambal, Abel Salazar and Martha Roth star.

The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes, 2006, Germany, Director: Stephen Quay and Timothy Quay
After murdering opera singer Malvina van Stille (Amira Casar) onstage, the sinister Dr. Droz (Gottfried John) absconds with her corpse. At his villa, Droz enlists the help of the Piano Tuner of Earthquakes (César Saracho) in creating a performance starring the reanimated Malvina. Assumpta Serna co-stars in this haunting tale of obsession by groundbreaking fantasists the Brothers Quay.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Festival de Cannes Announcement

With the usual fanfare, Festival de Cannes announced the lineup for the 60th edition of the granddaddy of them all. The festival runs May 16-27 in Cannes, France.
At least eight films from our seven Sister City countries made it into the festival. There may be more, but Cannes doesn’t identify all “home” countries of the films or directors.
I’m lifting info here from the best web site I could find on Cannes: “Cannes – A Festival Virgin’s Guide”.
Also, Cannes has a new web site of its own with a lot of info.
Here for starters are films from our countries that made the cut. First I’ll give a category description, a la Virgin’s Guide, and underneath I’ll list our films. But go to there site, because it’s cool.

Compétition: The competition is the festival's main event and this is where you'll find all the glamour and glory. Films screening in this section are referred to as being "in competition" and vie for an assortment of awards. The Holy Grail is of course the Palme d'Or (Golden Palm) for best picture, one of the most prestigious film awards on the planet. Winning the Palme d'Or generally gives the film a massive lift: for art-house films, it can bring in millions of extra dollars at the international box-office, for foreign films it means worldwide distribution. Historically, the competition has only been open to narrative films, although occasionally a documentary is slipped in (such as Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" which won the top prize in 2004). The competition welcomes both features and shorts, and there are different awards in each category.
Germany - Fatih AKIN, Auf de Anderen Seite 2h02
Japan - Naomi KAWASE , Mogari No Mori (The Mourning Forest) 1h37
Mexico - Carlos REYGADAS, Stellet Licht 2h22
Hungary - Béla TARR, The Man From London 2h12
Mexico - Elisa MILLER, Ver Llover

Un Certain Regard: Created in 1978 to absorb several ambiguous sidebars, Un Certain Regard is now the main showcase section of the festival and is intended to be a "survey of current world cinema". Historically there were no awards attached to Un Certain Regard, but in recent years the festival has created the Prix Un Certain Regard to help the best film in the sidebar achieve distribution in France. Occasionally other awards are made in this section as well.
Italy - Valeria BRUNI-TEDESCHI, Le Reve de la Nuit d'Avant, 1h47
Italy - Daniele LUCHETTI, Mio Fratello e Fiblio Unico 1h48
Germany - Robert THALHEIM, Am Ende Kommen Touristen 1h22

Cinéfondation: Added in 1998, Cinéfondation is the festival's competition for short and medium-length films made at film schools around the world. The Cinéfondation sidebar has its own jury and there are three awards (which include a cash prize) for the best films in this section.
Germany - Nicolas WACKERBARTH, Halbe Stunden

The most prestigious award given out at Cannes is the Palme d'Or (Golden Palm) for the best film. The jury of the festival, made of a small international selection of movie professionals, grants other awards, including the Grand Prix (Grand Prize) — the second most prestigious award.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Hellboy in Hungary

Helllboy 2: The Golden Army will be the first film shot at Korda Studios near Budapest, Hungary.

Mexican director Guillermo del Toro, who was nominated for an Academy Award for Pan's Labyrinth, said he selected Korda over Prague's Barrandov Studios. Del Toro shot Hellboy and the vampire movie Blade II at Barrandov.

Luke Goss has been cast as the main villain opposite Ron Perlman. Goss worked with del Toro in Blade II.

The second installment of the comic-inspired film will have some parallels to Pan’s Labrynth, according to Cinematical.

So what’s the appeal of Korda Studios? The Etyek, Hungary-based complex includes six studios of different size (2,205 sqm, 961 sqm, 1,769 sqm and 1,946 sqm) and equipment levels. It features a 5,546-sqm (59,696 sq.ft.) giant water stage, with Europe's largest indoor watertank for filming - 3,850 sqm (41,441 sq.ft.) with depth of 1.5 metres.

Adjacent to the sound stages will be 8,500 sqm (91,500 sq.ft.) of production support buildings, featuring production offices, make-up and hair facilities, dressing rooms, post-production facilities, screening rooms and various multifunctional areas. The studio's total area is 19,811 sqm (428,522 sq.ft.).

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

This Just In: DVD Release

Zoo (2005), Japan
Five different directors adapt the works of Japanese author Otsuichi in this collection of unconventional live-action and animated shorts. A woman is murdered under odd circumstances in the title film, "Zoo"; twin sisters are treated differently in "Kazari and Yoko"; two siblings find themselves trapped in "Seven Rooms"; a survivor learns about life and death in "When the Sun Shines"; and parents lose the ability to see each other in "So Far."

Monday, April 16, 2007

Italy's Silver Ribbons

Nominations are out for Italy’s , awarded by the national film journalists union SNGCI. The Silver Ribbons are the country’s oldest film award.
Directors recognized, include:
Marco Bellochio, Il Regista di Matrimoni
Saverio Costanzo, In Memoria di Me (In Memory of Me)
Emanuele Crialese, Nuovomondo
Nanni Moretti, Il Caimano
Giuseppe Tornatore, La Sconosciuta.
Il Caimano (The Cayman) and La Sconosciuta (The Unknown) both received nine nominations.
Thirty-nine films received nominations and awards will be presented in June.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Indonesian marketability

Kamal and Sugiono

An Asian film group has set out to create films that appeal to multiple countries in the Asian market.
Tipu Kanan ... Tipu Kiri, the second film fitting this formula, stars Indonesian actors Christian Sugiono, Titi Kamal, Catherine Wilson and Irene Kleefstra.
The film is targeting Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei and India for release this June.
Here’s a synopsis from New Straits Times online: "This latest effort is a musical/romantic comedy about a married Indonesian pop star, Wulan, who accepts a recording contract in Kuala Lumpur with a “no marriage” clause.
"The problem is, she is already married to dashing Rudy (Sugiono). To hide their married status, Rudy hires Sara (Natasha Hudson) to pose as his girlfriend. Lies beget more lies until all of them, especially Wulan and Rudy, get into a fine mess."

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Texas Film Taxes

The Texas House has tentatively approved a bill authorizing tax incentives for film and TV producers if they shoot in Texas.
The bill, authored by Rep. Dawna Dukes, D-Austin, would provide $20 million to the Texas Film Commission over the next couple years to attract productions to the Lone Star State.
According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, my hometown paper, “To qualify for a grant, a film or TV show would have to generate at least $10 million in in-state spending. A commercial or video game would have to generate at least $500,000. In addition, at least 70 percent of the production crew, actors and extras must be Texas residents. A video game is not eligible if it is considered excessively violent or sexually explicit. Adult films are also not eligible.”
Twenty-six states have tax incentive programs, with Louisiana and New Mexico boasting the most aggressive programs.
The whole push for incentives came about when producers of Dallas the movie, decided not to film in North Texas. Sad to think John Travolta (J.R.) and Jennifer Lopez (Sue Ellen) will have to go elsewhere to film Dallas.
Currently TV shows Friday Night Lights and Prison Break shoot some scenes in Texas. Walker Texas Ranger was the last show to regularly film in Fort Worth.
According to the ST, Texas gained about $200 million in revenue from film and TV productions in 2006.. That could rise to $500 million if the incentives bill becomes law.

Werewolf of Germany

A fun and kitchy part Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse double feature are the fake trailers for fictional movies.
Sandwiched between Tarantino’s Death Proof and Rodriguez’s Planet Terror is a fake trailer for Werewolf Women of the S.S. featuring German actor Udo Kier, directed by Rob Zombie.
Kier is a prolific actor and has eight films in production or waiting for distribution. American audience know him from Blade, Johnny Mnemonic, Barb Wire, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Silky Smooth

Nakatani in a scene from Memories of Matsuko.

Recent film season award success has lead to additional films for Japanese actress Miki Nakatani.
Nakatani who won the best actress trophy at the recent Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong for Memories of Matsuko has finished filming Silk.
Silk is the film adaptation of Italian author Alessandro Baricco's novel of the same name, according to the folks at Wikipedia. Nakatani will play Madame Blanche in the film, which will be released in 2007 through New Line Cinema, and is directed by the Red Violin director, Francois Girard.
The American actor Michael Pitt will star in the lead role of the French silkworm smuggler Hervé Joncour and the British actress Keira Knightley will appear as the Hélène, wife of Hervé. Japanese actor Koji Yakusho has also been cast. Exterior Japanese scenes were filmed in the city of Sakata. Knightley's scenes were filmed in Sermoneta, Italy, a small medieval village near Latina.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Hayek forms film partnership

Mexican actress and producer Salma Hayek has formed a film production company with Metro Goldwyn Mayer called Ventanazul.
The company will be housed at MGM studios in Hollywood and will produce or acquire independent films with Latino themes or feature Latino artists. The films will be marketed to Latino and non Latino audiences.

Hayek will serve as president and chief executive officer. Her producing partner, Jose Tamez, will be president of production.

Hayek already has a good record as a producer with the wildly successful Ugly Betty TV show.

Hayek's next film Lonely Hearts hits theaters April 13. The film also stars John Travolta, James Gandolfini, Jared Leto and Laura Dern.

According to Samuel Goldwyn Films, "A dark and exciting film noir based on the true story of lovers Martha Beck and Raymond Fernandez, two serial killers that seduce lonely, vulnerable women, milk them of their money, and kill them in cold blood. Lonely Hearts stars Salma Hayek and Jared Leto as the two lovers, and John Travolta and James Gandolfini as the detectives hunting them down. The film is directed by Todd Robinson, whose grandfather was the police who is the basis for John Travolta’s character.

This Just In: DVD Releases

Legend of the Doll, 2006, Japan
In this quirky story set in Tokyo's fetish-catering Akihabara shopping district, lonely Ryouta (Hideo Tsubota) spends his time building action figures of pretty girls from kits. When a gorgeous life-size model comes to life, Ryouta must choose either the perfect doll who will do anything to make him happy -- or his ex-girlfriend. This comic fantasy romance co-stars Noriko Kijima as the living doll who sets out to win her creator's heart.

Buddenbrooks (4-Disc Series), 2006, Germany, Director Franz Peter Wirth
As the 19th century gives way to a new era, four generations of a German merchant family cope with the changing times and their own conventions. Destiny ties the rise and fall of the Buddenbrookses' fortunes to their conflicts between family loyalty and the drive for individual success. Based on Nobel Prize-winning author Thomas Mann's first novel, this presentation was originally broadcast as an 11-part miniseries on German television.

Coleccion Pedro Infante:
This collection of films starring singing sensation Pedro Infante includes: Angelitos Negros (1948), Asi Era Pedro Infante (1963), Cuando Lloran los Valientes (1947), Dicen Que Soy Mujeriego (1949), El Seminarista (1949), La Mujer Que Yo Perdi (1949), Las Islas Marias (1951), Nosotros Los Pobres (1948), Pepe el Toro (1953), Sobre Las Olas (1950) and Ustedes Los Ricos (1948)

Doktor Faustus, 1982, Germany, Director Franz Seitz
André Heller plays Satan, and Jon Finch stars as the composer who sells his soul to him in exchange for creative genius in German director Franz Seitz's adaptation of Thomas Mann's classic novel. Desperate to make his mark in the music world, the composer is prepared to go to any length to achieve his goal -- but when those close to him begin to suffer, he's forced to rethink his choices in this film festival favorite.

Dora-Heita, 2000, Japan, Director Kon Ichikawa
Thirty years after writing the script with fellow master directors Akira Kurosawa, Masaki Kobayashi and Keisuke Kinoshita, Kon Ichikawa brings the story of an unruly samurai (Koji Yakusho) to the screen. Nicknamed Dora-Heita ("Alley Cat") for his penchant for debauchery, the samurai is assigned to clean up a lawless small town. His reputation is well-known, so the local thugs are in disbelief when the new magistrate gets down to business.

Hercules and the Masked Rider (Golia e Il Cavaliere Mascherato), 1964, Italy, Director Piero Pierotti
While traveling with Gypsies, legendary strongman Hercules (Sergio Ciani) encounters ex-soldier Don Juan (Mimmo Palmara), who's trying to save his lovely cousin from an arranged marriage to the evil Don Romero. After Juan throws on a mask and grabs a sword, the two heroes join forces to stop the villain's reign of terror. Hercules's fantastic strength combined with Juan's talents with the sword make for a nearly unstoppable duo.

Hercules and the Tyrants of Babylon (Ercole Contro i Tiranni di Babilonia), 1964, Italy, Director Domenico Paolella
After the king of Babylon captures the queen of Helledes, Hercules (Peter Lupus) sets off to rescue the kidnapped royal in this sword-and-sandals epic. At first, the Babylonian leaders welcome the strongman openly as a guest, but soon, they challenge him to deadly battles with their top soldiers. Lupus, credited here as Rock Stevens, went on to star in the popular "Mission: Impossible" television series.

Raise the Castle!, 2005, Japan, Director Yo Kohatsu
After traveling 400 years to fulfill his dream of building a castle, samurai lord Ondaiji finds himself in a country town inhabited by eccentrics who advise him that his castle would be best made of cardboard. But why? As the townspeople set out to help Ondaiji build, will the secret they hold be revealed? Yo Kohatsu directs this festival-winning comedy starring Makoto Imazato, Yuko Nishimaru and Shuzo Mitamura.

Seguire Tus Pasos, 2006, Mexico
A young boy is left orphaned after highway bandits murder his father. Hardened by the reality of his life, he makes his way through the frightening world solely on his determination to survive. But when a compassionate monk teaches the child to let go of his anger, the boy opens his heart to the wonders of God. Julián Bravo and Manuel López Ochoa star in this touching family drama.

The Aura (El Aura), 2005, Mexico, Director Fabian Bielinsky
Part character study, part crime drama, The Aura follows reclusive and fastidious taxidermist Espinosa as he moves from dreaming about pulling off the perfect crime to actually planning and executing a real heist. Filmmaker Fabian Bielinsky (Nine Queens) lovingly nurtures Espinosa (Ricardo Darin), creating a complex character whose eerie frozen moments of epileptic seizure (hence the film's title) make for hypnotic viewing.

Kurau Phantom Memory (2-Disc Series), 2004, Japan, Anime, Director Yasuhiro Irie
In the year 2053, Dr. Amami's research into new forms of energy takes a frightening turn. The Rynax rays he was studying invade the body of his 12-year-old daughter, Kurau, imbuing her with unearthly powers. As Amami struggles to find a way to cure his daughter, Kurau is targeted by those who want to use her new abilities for their own gain. This chilling tale of the future is one of anime's most indelible stories.

Mussolini: The Churchill Conspiracies, 2004, Italy, Documentary
Examining a much-contested conspiracy theory, this intriguing documentary investigates accusations that Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was assassinated by British secret agents on orders from British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Though proof has never been found, theorists believe Churchill wanted to cover up the existence of secret and damaging letters from the prime minister to the dictator regarding Italy's position in World War II.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Pope Joan and John

Franka Potente’s turn as Pope Joan, directed by Volker Schlondorff, may be toppled with the departure of John Goodman from the planned cast. A lawsuit has since ensued by the producers claiming Goodman reneged on his agreement to star as Pope
The $3 million suit was filed by German company Constantin Film Produktion. The company claims Goodman agreed to $500,000 for the role, but his representatives say, while it was discussed, no agreement was ever reached. Constantin sues claiming it escalated the production schedule to accommodate Goodman and committed resources to the project, which have now been lost.
Pope Joan surrounds the legend of a woman who disguised herself as a man and became pope in the Ninth Century AD. A 1972 version of the film starred Liv Ullman.
Potente’s performance as Vera Less can be seen in the upcoming film Eichmann, which was shot at the new Stern Studios in Budapest. American audiences are familiar with Potente from Bourne Supremacy, Bourne Identity and Run Lola Run. She has five films in preproduction.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Hungarian Beauty

Hungarian beauty Kata Dobó is set to star in Madness is Catching later this year. The actress recently appeared in Sex and Nothing More which played at the AFI Dallas International Film Festival last month.
Madness is Catching is loosely modeled on the life path of Siddhartha and is billed as an adventure film and a “profound and provocative examination of the human soul's yearning for peace.”
Dobó was born Feb. 25, 1975 in in Győr, Hungary and emigrated to Los Angeles in the summer of 1999. She lives in Santa Monica, Calif.
She’s known to U.S. audiences for her role in Blood and Chocolate, Basic Instinct 2, Rollerball and modeling. She is an activist for the Hungarian Hospice Endowment for the Humanities (Cancer Center).

Monday, April 2, 2007

This Just In - DVD Releases

Godzilla Raids Again (Gojira No Gyakushu) 1955, Japan
Set down on a remote island, pilots Tsukioka (Hiroshi Koizumi) and Kobayashi (Minoru Chiaki) stumble upon the earth-shaking terror of two gigantic creatures locked in battle. When the huge reptiles are reported to Japanese government scientists, it's determined that one monster is a relative of the infamous, city-stomping Godzilla. The beasts' mighty clash takes them to Osaka, where -- not unexpectedly -- mass destruction ensues.

Kamen Rider: The First, 2005, Anime, Japanese
Set on world domination, evil terrorist organization Shocker kidnaps young college student Takeshi Hongo and turns him into one of its cyborg killing machines. Sent to assassinate a female reporter, Hongo instead ends up regaining his human awareness and resolves to use his new powers to battle Shocker. This futuristic actioner is based on the classic Japanese program "Kamen Rider," which premiered on television in 1971.

Nietzsche and the Nazis, 2006, Documentary, Germany
Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party drew upon the works of famous philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche to justify their World War II atrocities and quest for power. In this documentary, professor Stephen Hicks explores Nietzsche's teachings and determines whether the Nazis correctly interpreted their meaning. History buffs and philosophy enthusiasts alike will appreciate the thorough examination Hicks conducts of this controversial topic.

Romantico, 2005, Documentary, Mexico
Director Mark Becker's moving documentary follows Mexican mariachi singers Carmelo and Arturo, who pour their passion and talent into their music, performing for largely unappreciative audiences on the streets and in the watering holes of San Francisco. But despite the hardships and meager income, the two immigrants persist in pursuing their art, chasing the dream of a better future for themselves -- and their families.

Kidnapped (Cani Arrabbiati), 1974, Italy
In the wake of a horribly bungled robbery, desperate thieves in need of a clean getaway kidnap a group of hostages and drag them along for the ride. Italian filmmaker Mario Bava directs this 1970s cult classic that was never actually finished because of a major financing snag. This edition includes two versions of the movie: Bava's original film with a few newly created sequences and a version that features footage shot by Bava's son, Lamberto.

Your Big Chance

Budapest, Hungary

The Central European Pitch Forum is seeking scripts.

Twelve writers will get a one-month online consultation session with acclaimed international screenwriters and story editors, including UK writer-director Richard Kwietniowski, screenwriter and the Polish Film Institute's deputy director Maciej Karpinski, Italian writer-director and screenwriting professor Christina Kallas, writer and president of the Federation of Screenwriters in Europe.

The competition is organized by FadeIn, an independent initiative of young Hungarian screenwriters, along with the Motion Picture Public Foundation of Hungary.

Then, following a rewriting period, the writers will receive an all expenses paid trip to the Pécs International Film Festival, Sept. 27-30, 2007. The writers will receive a two-day intensive training from European coaches Jürgen Wolff, UK and Franz Rodenkirchen, Germany, and the opportunity to pitch their scripts to 15 prominent European producers.

The competition is open for screenwriters who do not yet have a producer attached to their feature film projects. The program gives preference to scripts where the writer is NOT the director of the project. When the writer/director is the same, entrants must include a cover letter explaining why they want to direct the film.

Scripts must be in English and entries are welcome from every MEDIA country and the Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, FYROM, Montenegro, Serbia).

In addition, the writers of the best stories will win a €10,000 cash prize.

Applications will be accepted from through May 15, 2007.

Further information: