UK distributors on a Cannes shopping spree (1)
by Annika Pham
01/06/2006 - UK independent distribution companies were among the most active "shoppers" during the last Cannes Film Festival, with competition heating up following the flurry of mergers and take-overs in recent months (Redbus/ Lions Gate, Optimum/ StudioCanal, Artificial Eye/Act Entertainment Group-Knatchbull Communication Group).
Tartan Films was hungry for titles both for the UK/Ireland and the US. Its string of acquisitions for UK/Ireland include Fast Food Nation [trailer], bought from Hanway; Red Road [trailer] and Princess [trailer], bought from Trust Film Sales; The Weakest is Always Right [trailer] by Lucas Belvaux; Nicolas Philibert’s new documentary, Back to Normandie bought from Films Distribution; and Invisible Waves [trailer] by Pan-Ek Ratanaruang, bought from Fortissimo.
For the US, Tartan’s head of acquisitions, Marie-Therese Guirgis, bought Red Road and Princess from Trust; Denis Dercourt’s The Page Turner [trailer, film focus], sold by Films Distribution; and Jonnie To’s Election and Election 2, sold by Celluloid Dreams.
Tartan who has strong ties with Hengameh Panahi’s company, will also co-produce Michael Haneke’s upcoming English remake of his 1997 film Funny Games, starring Naomi Watts, with Celluloid and Halcyon Pictures. Tartan will keep UK rights and Celluloid will handle world sales. Another project for which Tartan will be responsible for UK/Irish distribution and Celluloid non-English language territories (Hanway handling the rest) is Harmony Korine’s Mr Lonely, starring Samantha Morton and Diego Luna.
Optimum Releasing was also very busy in Cannes and brought home Luc Besson’s Angel A; Gerard Krawczyk’s Taxi 3, sold by Europa Corp; the documentariesWhite Planet and Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, sold by Focus; and Maradona by Emir Kusturica, sold by Wild Bunch. The company also boarded Film Four’s Brick Lane, directed by Sarah Gavron, which will start shooting this month.