Alison Thompson joins BFI investigation into health of independent film sector

By Andreas Wiseman | Screen

UPDATE: commission members revealed; Lionsgate’s Zygi Kamasa to chair group.

The BFI is launching a commission to investigate the health of the UK independent film industry.

Led by Zygi Kamasa, CEO Lionsgate UK and Europe, the working group will make recommendations on what should be done to improve conditions to ensure domestic and international sustainability.

Kamasa, who has been outspoken about the challengesfacing the sector and has previously mooted industrial incentives such as cheaper cinema tickets for UK films, will invite evidence and contributions from cross-industry specialists from the production, sales, distribution and exhibition sectors over the next four months.

The commission, which was one of the projects set out by the BFI in its latest five-year plan for film, is expected to work closely with industry partners including PACT, UKCA and the FDA before publishing its findings in autumn 2017.

The commission members, all from London-based (or foreign-owned) companies, will comprise:

Chris Bird (Worldwide Head of Film Licensing, Amazon)
Efe Çakarel (Mubi)
Pete Czernin (Blueprint Pictures)
Gail Egan (Potboiler Productions)
Zygi Kamasa (chair) (Lionsgate)
Philip Knatchbull (Curzon)
Hakan Kousetta (See Saw Films)
Amanda Nevill (CEO, BFI)
Danny Perkins (Studio Canal)
Ben Roberts (Director Film Fund, BFI)
Libby Savill (Partner, Latham & Watkins)
Thorsten Schumacher (Rocket Science)
Alison Thompson (Cornerstone)

Polarised landscape

The UK’s film production space remains a highly polarised landscape.

Last year was a record year for inward investment but spend on domestic films was at its lowest level in three years.

Spend reached £1.6 bn in 2016 – the highest ever recorded. That figure was largely supercharged by a record level of US investment for films shooting in the UK.

In a boon for UK crews and facilities, inward investment for film production reached £1.35bn, an 18% increase on 2015.

However, while the number of inward investment films produced in the UK was relatively stable at 48, the number of domestic films produced in the UK has declined from 282 in 2012 to only 129 in 2016 (based on non-final numbers).

The same picture is true at the box office.

Fuelled by a string of US blockbusters, 2016 saw strong total box office for the calendar year of £1.227 billion, the second highest number on record.

However, UK admissions were 168m, down 2% year-on-year, and the market share for UK independent films was only 7%, its lowest level in three years and below the ten year average.

The 7% market share for local films compared to 63% in Japan, 36% in France, 28% in Italy, 18% in Spain and 16.5% in Germany.

Range of voices

Josh Berger, BFI CEO said about the commission: “Film in the UK is booming and the role of the BFI is to ensure that independent film – the incubator of creativity - flourishes in this environment. That’s why we made a commitment to look at the health of independent film one of our first priorities in our five year plan BFI2022.

“We are delighted Zygi Kamasa will be leading the BFI UK independent film commission as chair and we look forward to hearing from a range of voices, drawing from their experience and expertise.”

Kamasa commented: “I am very happy to accept the BFI’s invitation to chair this commission, and look forward to working with them and our new board who have the depth of knowledge and experience to identify and consider the most critical issues facing our sector now and in the future.”

Maxine Peake Joins Mike Leigh's 'Peterloo' (Exclusive)

By Alex Ritman | The Hollywood Reporter

The actress has joined the ensemble cast for the upcoming period drama, backed by Amazon Studios, which is currently shooting.

Maxine Peake — the British stage and screen star whose credits includes The Theory of EverythingSilkand recent acclaimed hard-hitting BBC series Three Girls — has joined the ensemble cast of Mike Leigh's upcoming period drama PeterlooThe Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The film, which is currently shooting, tells the story of a pivotal moment in U.K. history, when the British army attacked a large group of protestors in Manchester who had gathered to demand parliamentary reform amid a period of severe economic depression. Fifteen people were killed and 400-500 were injured after cavalry charged the crowd with their sabres drawn. The shockwaves were felt across the country, and one of the effects was the creation of The Guardiannewspaper (then The Manchester Guardian), which was born out of the immediate crackdown on radicalism. 

Peake, from Manchester herself, seems a perfect fit for the film, having spoken at several events commemorating the Peterloo massacre and long been a campaigner for British working-class history. In 2013, as part of the Manchester International Festival, she recited Percy Bysshe Shelley's poem The Mask of Anarchy, written about Peterloo.

Amazon Studios is backing the project, having come aboard for North American rights in Cannes last year, with other financing from Film4, the BFI and Lipsync. Cornerstone Films is handling international sales. 

Leigh — who is remaining tight-lipped on the Peterloo's other castmembers — is reuniting on his 21st feature film (the follow-up to the Oscar contender Mr. Turner) with producer Georgina Lowe, cinematographer Dick Pope, production designer Suzy Davies, costume designer Jacqueline Durran, hair and makeup artist Christine Blundell, editor Jon Gregory and composer Gary Yershon. Gail Egan is exec producing.

Shooting on Peterloo is set to continue until August. 

Peake is also set to appear in upcoming films Funny Cow alongside Paddy Considine, and Fanny Lye Deliver'd with Freddie Fox.

Diane Keaton talks 'Hampstead', love and her career

‘Life is magical, but I don’t see happy as part of the deal’

By Neil Fisher | The Times

The actress who wooed Woody Allen, Warren Beatty and Al Pacino on motherhood in middle age and sexual frustration in her seventies

In Hampstead, a new British comedy directed by Joel Hopkins and released later this month. The film is (extremely loosely)based on the real story of “Harry the Hermit”, or Harry Hallowes, who lived for more than 25 years in a ramshackle encampment on Hampstead Heath. He eventually gained squatters’ rights to the land through a court order after developers threatened to demolish his patch and turn it into luxury housing. The land Hallowes had a legal claim to was worth as much as £3.5 million, according to some estimates.

Hallowes died in 2015 at the age of 79, having been dubbed “Britain’s richest tramp”, but not before a cheery reporter from The Times in-formed him in his foxhole that a film was to be made of his life, with Diane Keaton as his love interest. “I’ve never heard of the woman,” he snarled, which suggested that not only was Harry the Hermit not a Woody Allen fan, but hadn’t even seen The Godfather, which takes Hampstead snobbishness to a new level.

“Good for him,” beams Keaton, who despite having starred in films with a combined box-office haul of more than $1.3 billion, sometimes doesn’t seem to have heard of Diane Keaton the movie star either. Certainly her children, Dexter, 21, and Duke, 16, whom she adopted in her fifties, haven’t. “I don’t play the films to my kids, we’ve never gone to any of my movies — it’s so boring for them. To see me in the light of something like that . . .”

She thinks that her daughter, Dexter, recently saw Something’s Gotta Give, the 2003 Nancy Meyers-directed hit in which Keaton tames a priapic Jack Nicholson. “And she was like, you know, ‘good job’, but what else is she going to say? She’s got to say something nice.”

Keaton is 71 and looks fantastic. Not much has changed, style-wise, since Allen told her to turn up on the set of Annie Hall wearing what she wanted to wear. She is sporting a fitted coat with a huge belt over a shirt with a high collar (a Keaton trademark), what looks like men’s suit trousers rolled up to her calves, and huge black platform boots — she won’t tell me where they come from. We’re in a hotel in Soho, which is where she really likes to be when in London: “right in the centre”.

Hampstead itself came as something of a disappointment to her. “I thought it was charming, but I thought it was going to be slightly more unusual. It’s just really pretty, nice architecture . . .” She doesn’t sound enraptured. “Maybe I didn’t see enough of it. I didn’t spend the night there.”

Hopkins’s film certainly has done its best to do a Notting Hill on NW3, erasing Hampstead’s mobile phone shops and estate agents and replacing them with patisseries and indie boutiques that sell funky berets. Keaton’s Emily (wholly invented) is an impoverished American widow who volunteers at a charity shop, is nagged by her son (Grantchester’s James Norton), amorously lunched by a devious accountant and harassed by the nimbyish residents’ association of her mansion block.

Her frenemy-in-chief is played by Lesley Manville, who encourages her to look for love again with the deathless north London threat: “If you wait too long, you’ll shrivel up like imported arpricot from Waitrose.” Yet it’s when Emily sees Brendan Gleeson’s grumpy Irish hermit bathing naked in the heath ponds that love strikes (and not Weil’s disease, which might have been more realistic).

It’s a role to which Keaton brings her well-honed tenderness and bafflement: an oddball wearing her kookiness as armour. “Emily is friendly, she has an affable personality, but there’s many things that are going on inside of her that really need fixing bad. I saw her as someone who needed to take a long, hard look at who she was, not just seeing herself as a poor thing.”

I confess to Keaton that I found her trysts with Gleeson a bit tame: one minute they are picnicking on Karl Marx’s grave, the next they’re waking up in bed together. Where was the foreplay? She squeals. “Can you imagine? Oh my God.” Chewing over it, however, she agrees. “It wasn’t there. I don’t know why. I think you’re right.”

Keaton knows how much Annie Hall, which Allen based around aspects of her life and their relationship, has defined her. In her entertaining (if typically meandering) memoir Then Again, she flatly confesses: “I knew I’d won an Academy Award for playing an affable version of myself. I got it.” Keaton was born with the surname Hall, and not only was there a real “Grammy Hall”, but when Keaton told her she had been nominated for an Oscar for the movie, Grammy replied: “That Woody Allen is too funny-looking to pull some of that crap he pulls off, but you can’t hurt a Jew, can you?”

There must be worse images to be stuck with, though, than a version of your life in possibly the greatest screen comedy of all? “I’d say so,” Keaton replies. “First of all, it [Annie Hall] gave me a lot of different opportunities. Now I can do things like the books I’ve written, my interest in architecture, I built a house . . . none of this would have happened without it. I wouldn’t have been in Something’s Gotta Give, I wouldn’t have been in Reds, I wouldn’t have been in any of it.”

Before Annie Hall she had appeared with Allen in a run of more slapstick comedies, among them the sci-fi parody Sleeper and the Tolstoy-Dostoevsky spoof Love and Death, from which I can’t stop myself quoting out loud (“No, you must be Don Francisco’s sister”) as Keaton cackles with delight. She remembers filming Sleeper in the early 1970s. “Suddenly I’m in Colorado. I hadn’t really done a movie before — I mean I’d done The Godfather but that was so brief — and then we’re up there running around in the forest. It was more like a camping trip. It was just wild.”

Allen, as both director and boyfriend, was “like an idiot, but he was fun. And then when he started writing these insanely brilliant female characters, that’s when I started to really understand his gift.”

In Keaton’s book she says she still loves Allen, and they are still close. She has defended him against accusations by his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow that he molested her (“I believe my friend,” Keaton told The Guardian in 2014). Last week, in Los Angeles, Allen presented Keaton with the American Film Institute’s lifetime achievement award and they were snapped going for dinner with Allen’s wife, Soon-Yi.

Keaton credits her maverick streak to her upbringing in southern California. On the surface it was apple-pie wholesome — she was the eldest of four, her dad was a civil engineer, her mother a housewife — but there was more under the surface. Keaton’s father drifted between projects, sometimes putting the family through various positive-thinking programmes beloved of utopian west-coasters. Her mother was unhappy. “In her heart of hearts I think she really wanted to do what I did. She wanted to perform, but she never had the opportunity I had. I saw that, and I think unconsciously I was determined that I wasn’t going to get married. I wasn’t going to be doing that kind of work — the work of raising a family and being a wife.”

She tried out for all the shows at school and joined a local theatre company without much success. The director “pulled me into his room and he said, ‘You know what you really have to do — go to a charm school because you have to fix your look.’ I’d go sobbing yet again home to Mom.”

Keaton’s anxiety about her looks fed into her unconventional fashion choices, again encouraged by her mother. “I said, ‘I’m doing it my way. I’m going to dress the way I’m going to dress.’ We’d go to the Good-will [charity shop] or the Salvation Army, we’d find material. My mother made the clothes, I designed them.” Yet unhappiness about her figure also contributed to the bulimia she suffered after moving to New York, where she was cast in Hair (she didn’t take her clothes off) and where she met a young writer and comedian called Woody Allen.

Is she in therapy, I ask, sounding only a little like Alvy. Keaton’s answer is a bit Alvy too. “Really . . . the answer to that is always going to be yes, but maybe not as it was at one point, when I was ‘in analysis’ on a daily basis, but now not so much.” Did playing Sister Mary in Paolo Sorrentino’s The Young Pope open her eyes to any revelations? Only how nice it was to chillax in Italy filming the hit Sky Atlantic series that starred Jude Law as a supremely hot pontiff. “I learnt a lot about how beautiful Rome is, how beautiful those buildings are.”

Keaton will not reprise the part in Sorrentino’s follow-up series, The New Pope. A project she does have in the pipeline, however, is Book Club, a comedy about four friends whose lives are changed by reading Fifty Shades of Grey together. Perhaps working on this movie has stirred up other parts of her personality. Last year Keaton appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres show in the US and told the daytime TV audience that she was “sexually frustrated”. Is she still? “Yeah, sure! I don’t know what to do about it. I don’t see anything happening for me in that regard. I don’t see someone calling me up and saying, ‘Hey, how about dinner?’ ” Life’s just not like in the movies. “You can be bold and outrageous and it’s all good — but in real life I don’t think it’s that easy.”

Well, how did she used to do it? Apart from Allen, Keaton had well-documented romances with Warren Beatty (during the filming of Reds and after) and Al Pacino (on and off, finally ending after The Godfather Part III). “How did it happen?” She mulls it over. “You would be working. It would usually be through some sort of work situation.” She did most of the spade work, she says. “They were hardly conquests. I tried my best to make them see me, so at least they’d think, ‘Maybe I’ll take her out.’ I worked it. I made more of the effort.”

Of the relationships with the three movie stars, the one with Pacino came closest to commitment. “I just thought maybe he would marry me, eventually. But that never happened, and that is a blessing for both of us. It was very important I think that we left each other alone and said goodbye. It wasn’t my choice, however.”

Single she may be, but doesn’t she count her career, her children and her part-time job as a property developer (she says she has made more money from this than from her films) as a success? She’s doubtful. “I don’t think that’s really on the cards for me. I’m going to count that one out.”

Surely, at least, she’s happy? “I don’t really know what that means. Life is exciting, totally fascinating, it’s magical, but I don’t really see happy as part of the deal. It’s right up there with God. ‘Happy’ and ‘God’ and things that are so beyond our ability to even comprehend.” Or, as Annie Hall might put it, la-dee-da.

Hampstead is released on Friday

Alone in Berlin special film screening: how to get tickets

By The Telegraph

It's 1940 and Berlin is paralysed by fear. But following the death of their son on the Nazi front line, a working-class couple begin an extraordinary act of resistance – dropping anonymous postcards all over the city attacking Hitler and his regime.

And so begins the cat-and-mouse period thriller Alone in Berlin. But, despite being based on Hans Fallada's 1947 novel, the story itself is a true one.

It is the story of Otto and Elise Hampel, who are renamed here as Otto and Anna Quangel, and are portrayed by Brendan Gleeson and Emma Thompson. 

And it is full of cloak-and-dagger suspense as the Quangels become virtual spies as they look for new ways to deposit their postcards in public while evading capture for their activities.

On June 26, there will be a special advance screening of the powerfully moving true-life drama, attended by special guests, at the Imperial War Museum in London.

There will also be a private viewing of some of the museum's exhibits from Nazi Germany.

This will be followed by a panel discussion exploring "people power", the realities of protest in Germany during the Second World War and how those issues resonate today.

For anyone unable to make it to the London event, it will be broadcast in 100 cinemas across the country.

You can search for your closest cinema and book tickets at aloneinberlinfilm.com

Alone in Berlin is released in the UK and Ireland on June 30

‘Hampstead’ film premiere: Primrose Hill director hails Heath squatter’s lifestyle

By Anna Behrmann | Ham & High

Hampstead was the new Hollywood for one night only, as film stars including Brendan Gleeson, Jason Watkins, Phil Davis and Rosalind Ayres sashayed down a red carpet in front of the Everyman.

The paparazzi and film crews hoped to catch a glimpse of all the cast, although Diane Keaton, who plays the love interest for a Hampstead Heath recluse, played by Brendan Gleeson, could not make it.

Director Joel Hopkins, who grew up in Hampstead and is a New End Primary school alumni, said he was very much drawn to Harry Hallowes’ story, as a man who lived in a shack on the Heath – although the film is not Harry’s biopic.

Speaking on the red carpet, he said: “Harry’s story and Harry’s way of life inspired this film and the way he chose to live his life is the inspiration.

He added: “I grew up in Hampstead, so I felt particularly responsible to show Hampstead in a good light.

“It’s hard because I’m juggling between making a commercial romantic comedy and depicting a place that I love, so I definitely grappled with that, but I hope that I got the balance right.”

Harry Hallowes, or “Harry the Hermit”, passed away last year, having lived a relatively secluded life on Hampstead Heath from 1986.

He made headlines around the world when he was threatened with eviction from his makeshift shack, in the shadow of Athlone House.

Developers Dwyer Investments, who hoped to turn derelict Athlone House into flats, tried to gain possession of Harry’s grounds.

In 2007, Harry successfully won a legal battle and gained squatter’s rights.

In the film, there is a Ham&High journalist, who is sent to cover the community campaign to save Harry’s shack.

Mr Hopkins said: “I wanted to get across that the interest in him starts quite local – with the local press, and then it gets bigger and becomes more of a national interest story.

“The beginning of his protest, [the campaign to] save his shack, I thought we should have a local reporter in it.”

Brendan Gleeson, who plays the Heath recluse, said it was important for him to have Harry’s blessing for the film.

He first tried to speak to Harry when he was reading the script, but ultimately failed.

Lingering on the red carpet, Mr Gleeson said: “There was lashing rain, I went up to see if Harry would talk with me, he didn’t want to.

“It was one of the rangers who did the intermediary, and [Harry] wasn’t that interested in Hollywood, I respected him though.”

Mr Gleeson then wrote to Harry, and got a message back from a park ranger.

He described: “When I knew that the film was about to be made, I just wrote to him, because I didn’t want to do it behind his back.

“I was a little bit worried about invading his privacy, and I kind of got a message back from him that while he didn’t want to be part of it, he was glad of the courtesy of the letter and he was okay with it.”

Commenting on how elusive Harry was, Mr Gleeson said: “More power to him. I didn’t want to rock his cage.”

‘Hampstead’ Review: Diane Keaton and Brendan Gleeson Ignite Senior Sparks

By Jason Solomons | The Wrap

An American widow and an Irish drifter cross paths in this lightweight but charming romance

 

Calling a film “Hampstead” invites immediate comparisons with “Notting Hill,” the Richard Curtis-penned rom-com that put that particular West London enclave on the global map back in 1999.

Director Joel Hopkins may be hoping for similar success, although I doubt the fine residents of Hampstead itself are looking forward to an influx of foreign tourists along their leafy and quaint streets.

In any case, the area of north London’s Hampstead on which this film focuses is the Heath, a great expanse of wood and wild park land that immediately features in the movie’s twinkling opening sequence, following a child’s kite as it flies across the Heath’s famous views of the city skyline, floating above picnicking families, striding dog walkers, pert joggers and recumbent lovers. It’s a shot, I suppose, intended to rival Hugh Grant’s “walk through the seasons” along Portobello Market in “Notting Hill.” (Perhaps intentionally, the two films even share one particular location, that of Georgian gem Kenwood House).

Hopkins, who grew up around the Heath, knows the place well and is intimate with the houses, the pretty pubs, and even the restaurants. The film looks and feels right, perhaps more so than the rather touristy look he gave his earlier London film, 2009’s “Last Chance Harvey,” which also featured a UK/USA romance, as Dustin Hoffman fell for Emma Thompson.

This time, the American is Diane Keaton, playing once-wealthy housewife and long-time Hampstead resident Emily, now a widow still shocked at her banker husband’s recent demise and still dealing, badly, with his debts. Fiona (Lesley Manville), her uptight neighbor in their smart, converted apartment building, fixes her up with an oily accountant (played by British cinema’s current go-to creepy guy, Jason Watkins, “Taboo”), who offers to sort out Emily’s money problems with “no strings attached.”

Sifting through her possessions in the attic one lonely night, Emily finds her dead husband’s old binoculars and, through them, scans the Heath across the road. She spies a big man (Brendan Gleeson) washing himself in one of the ponds, like Baloo the bear. She watches as he lopes back to a shack, a kind of hut nestled away in the woods and undergrowth.

A few days later, Emily stumbles across the man resting by Karl Marx’s grave in Highgate Cemetery (technically a bit of a walk from the Heath, but it’s do-able) and, after he introduces himself gruffly as Donald, they begin an unlikely friendship, fuelled by Emily learning that Donald faces eviction from his shack by greedy developers keen to build luxury flats in the grounds of the old hospital in which his abode stands.

Their friendship turns to dinner at his place (on the menu is fish, illegally caught in the pond, and home-grown vegetables, washed down with homemade wine) and pretty quickly Emily is literally shacked up with Donald, who’s proud of his fragrance of “patchouli and pond scum.”

To say this is old-fashioned cinema is slightly off — it’s cinema fashioned for the old, precision-tooled for the mid-week demographic. Keaton is actually better than I’ve seen for ages, summoning up a real vulnerability to go with her usual smarts. She goes full Keaton on the outfits, too, rustling up a succession of tweedy jackets, polka-dot scarves, collared shirts and slacks, topped with a grey wool beret. Gleason mainly wears a T-shirt, although he does accessorize with a wooden staff and occasional hat, which lends him a hint of Gandalf.

“Hampstead” plays along with the contrasts lightly. Emily’s attraction to Donald’s alternative lifestyle teaches her some life lessons (mainly: beware sniveling accountants and don’t trust rich neighbors) while Donald remains wary of reality, particularly when he becomes a reluctant local cause celèbre and ends up fighting a court case.

There are few big laughs here, as Hopkins instead relies heavily on charm, which his performers have more of than these relatively sketchy characters. Neither is there much actual drama, at least until the court scenes, which frankly feel like they belong to another movie. Yet there is a kind of blessed relief to be had in this summery cinematic amble, handsomely shot by upcoming cinematographer Felix Wiedeman (“Mr. Selfridge”) and gently scored by Stephen Warbeck (“Shakespeare in Love”) as if capturing birdsong.

Indeed, one can’t be sure what Hopkins is getting at. Despite suggesting it might be heading that way, the film never quite provides a commentary on insane property prices, heritage, conservation or any of London’s other pressing housing issues. We admire Donald’s eccentricity yet never get behind the strange story of how he comes to be living here, undetected for so long. We are probably meant to envy his self-sufficiency in the modern city, and the film is, finally, dedicated to the real-life figure of Henry Hallowes, who really did live in a shack on the Heath, and who, according to this film, “lived the way he wanted.”

“Hampstead” the movie, however, tries to tie things up too neatly and stumbles a bit as it goes, like a walker on the Heath in the wrong shoes. But Keaton’s terrific, and it’s sweet and airy and so unhurried you really feel like you’ve had a nice afternoon in the long grasses and cool breezes on the edge of the city. You wouldn’t want to live there, though.

Strange tale of the anti-Nazi bestseller, the Stasi spies and the missing Gestapo files

By Philip Oltermann | The Observer

Vincent Pérez’s film Alone in Berlin, which premieres with a grand live event at the Imperial War Museum in London on 26 June, hopes to be a summer hit in British cinemas. Starring Emma Thompson and Brendan Gleeson, the film tells the story of a working-class German couple who embark on a propaganda campaign against Hitler’s regime after learning of the death of their son.

Based on the 1947 novel by the German writer Hans Fallada – a surprise bestseller after Penguin commissioned a new translation in 2009 – it has been hailed as a “redemptive” tale and a “story of resistance and hope”.    

Brendan Gleeson and Emma Thompson are the married couple who spread wartime subversion in this decently-intended adaptation of Hans Fallada’s novel

Unfortunately, real life is rarely that simple. Historians in Germany allege that Fallada’s fictionalised depiction of resistance to the Nazis has only helped to cover up a true story of collaboration with the communist regime that followed in East Germany.

Fallada, who declined to follow other German writers into exile during the Third Reich and accepted a commission from Joseph Goebbels for a novel glorifying the Nazis’ rise, did not himself come up with the idea for Alone in Berlin, originally entitled Jeder stirbt für sich allein (Everybody Dies Alone).

Instead, the book was conceived and commissioned by Johannes R Becher, a leading apparatchik in the Soviet military administration, who had been charged with rebuilding German culture on anti-fascist principles. In search of heroes, Becher had come across the story of Otto and Elise Hampel, a poorly educated, previously apolitical couple who spent nearly three years evading the Gestapo in order to leave handwritten cards with anti-Nazi messages around Berlin after hearing of the death of Elise’s brother.

In order to persuade Fallada to write the book, Becher, the de facto culture minister, had to tamper with the source material. Recent research, published in Germany after Alone in Berlins revival, has shown that the batch of Gestapo files handed to Fallada was missing a volume that showed how the Hampels petitioned for mercy and accused each other of being the main instigator behind the postcard campaign.

“The GDR [the East German state] wanted resistance fighters to be uncompromising heroes who died with the word ‘revolution’ on their lips. But that was a lie, or at least not the whole story,” said Christiane Baumann, a historian who has researched how East German politicians used literature for ideological ends. “Fallada wasn’t the incarnation of the resistance, nor were the people in the original story that inspired his novel. That’s what made them so interesting,” she added.

“If Fallada had seen the Hampels’ petitions for mercy, he would certainly have written a different novel,” said Sabine Lange, an archivist, who has worked at the author’s archive in the Mecklenburg countryside.

Fallada died, aged 53, shortly before Alone in Berlin’s publication in 1947, but the cult around his works and personality continued to play a crucial role for an East German regime with an exponentially expanding ambition to monitor and control its citizens.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, East Germany bought Fallada’s estate and then the novelist’s ashes from West Germany in order to establish a museum and archive in his name at a literature centre in Neubrandenburg – one of a network of cultural institutions an increasingly paranoid state had set up with the expressed intention to attract and spy on aspiring writers with “hostile-negative attitudes”.

As with the story of the Hampels, the GDR made sure that aspects of Fallada’s personality and career which didn’t suit the mould of the spotless working-class hero remained less visible than others.

Born Rudolf Ditzen, Fallada was a conflicted character with a troubled past, who had killed a friend in a suicide pact disguised as a duel aged 18, and suffered from alcoholism and morphine addiction throughout his life. During the build-up of the new East German state, Socialist Unity party leader Walter Ulbricht had informed Moscow in a telegram that Fallada’s “novels should be published, but not his biography”.

A prison diary in which Fallada described an editor at his old publishing house as a “small degenerate Jew” remained locked in his East German publisher’s drawer for 30 years.

A Dutch academic who contacted the archive with an interest in fatalistic tendencies in Fallada’s writing was only granted restricted access, because he was pursuing a psychoanalytic approach, a “pseudoscience” compared with the true science of Marxism, noted GDR-era archive director and Fallada biographer Tom Crepon.

Crepon was not just the guardian of Fallada’s public image but also a collaborator with East Germany’s secret service, the Stasi, who under the pseudonym “IM Klaus Richter” filed regular reports on writers who passed through the centre, even going as far as accusing a rival biographer of using his interest in the novelist’s life as a cover for travelling to the west.

Even though the Fallada archive’s function as a surveillance centre became public when the Stasi’s records were opened after the fall of the Berlin Wall, some former staff members allege that the centre has yet to fully engage with its oppressive past.

Lange, who worked as an archivist at the centre for 15 years, was fired in 1999 after describing her workplace as “unfree”. “The centre had once been a nest of spies, but when the fall of the Wall came, it didn’t feel like a turning point,” she said. “Many of the old patterns of thinking remained.”

“In my view, the spirit of the past still lingers,” said Baumann, who wrote a critical study of the literature centre and its Stasi connections in 2006 which was promptly dismissed by Fallada’s son in a local newspaper. “There was never a radical break,” she added.

Approached with these allegations, the centre’s current director, Erika Becker, points out that a working group produced, though never published, a report on the literature centre’s Stasi connections in 2005.

A newly commissioned book of the Fallada archive’s GDR history was published in 2007, though some critics have accused the author of downplaying the Stasi angle. “The literature centre was the first cultural institution in Neubrandenburg which has opened up its history to discussion in public events,” said Becker.

'The Fault In Our Stars' actor Nat Wolff joins 'Semper Fi'

By Jeremy Kay | Screen

EXCLUSIVE: Director says Wolff reminds him of a “young DiCaprio”.

Rising star Nat Wolff has come on board the Rumble Films and Sparkhouse Media crime thriller Semper Fi that Cornerstone Films is shopping to buyers here.

Wolff, a YA darling who starred in The Fault In Our Stars, Paper Towns and will be seen later this year in Adam Wingard’s mystery thriller Death Note, will play Oyster, the young brother to Sam Clafin’s Hopper.

Henry-Alex Rubin will direct Semper Fi from a screenplay he co-wrote with Sean Mullin. Rumble Film’s David Lancaster, who was nominated for the best picture Oscar for Whiplash, and Karina Miller of Sparkhouse Media are producing.

CAA co-represents US rights with Cornerstone to the story about Hopper, a straight-laced police officer and Marine Corps Reservists sergeant who forces his wild younger brother Oyster to face the music when he kills a man in a bar-room brawl.

After Hopper returns from a tour of duty in Iraq, he is dismayed to learn Oyster’s court appeal has been rejected and plots to break him out of prison.

“I’ve been watching Nat’s performances over the past few years and he reminds me of young DiCaprio – he’s highly likeable yet always mischievous and unpredictable,” Rubin said.

Miller added: “Oyster is a deliciously complex character – he’s part dreamer, part rebel, part man and part boy. His emotional arc is so engaging and extreme that I can’t help but get excited by the thought of watching an actor with Nat’s talent bring this character to life.”

Cannes: Cornerstone Boards Mike Leigh’s ‘Peterloo’

By Robert Mitchell | Variety

Palme d'Or-winning director set to begin production next week

Palme d’Or-winning director Mike Leigh is set to start production on his new film “Peterloo,” which Cornerstone Films is introducing to international buyers at the Cannes Film Festival. Shooting will begin Monday on location in England and continue until late August.

“Peterloo” tells the story of the infamous 1819 massacre at a peaceful pro-democracy rally at St. Peter’s Field in Manchester, England, when many working people were injured and killed.

“There has never been a feature film about the Peterloo Massacre,” said Leigh, adding that the historical event’s universal significance was becoming “ever more relevant in our own turbulent times.”

The film is produced by Georgina Love and executive produced by Gail Egan. It is co-financed by Amazon Studios, Film4, the BFI and Lipsync. Film4 developed the film. Amazon Studios is handling U.S. distribution.

It reunites Leigh with some of his regular collaborators, including cinematographer Dick Pope, editor Jon Gregory, production designer Suzie Davies, costume designer Jacqueline Durran, composer Gary Yershon and make-up and hair designer Christine Blundell. A cast of more than 100 actors has been assembled for the film.

Leigh won the Palme d’Or in Cannes for his 1996 film “Secret & Lies,” which also won the prize of the Ecumenical Jury. He has competed in the official Cannes lineup five times, most recently with 2014’s “Mr. Turner,” and won the best director prize at the festival in 1993 for “Naked.” His 2010 film “Another Year” also received special mention from the Ecumenical Jury.

Three top UK sales agents talk streaming, release windows and Brexit

By Matt Mueller | Screen

Screen spoke to Alison Thompson, Gabrielle Stewart and Stephen Kelliher.

Three leading figures in the UK film sales scene came together for a robust conversation around strategies for the present and future at the Union Club in Soho, London: Alison Thompson, former Focus Features International chief and co-founder and co-president (with Mark Gooder) of Cornerstone Films; Gabrielle Stewart, who joined HanWay Films as managing director last summer from her previous position at Bloom Media; and Stephen Kelliher, director of Bankside Films.

In a pre-Cannes conversation, they talked to Matt Mueller about their enhanced roles as executive producers, sustaining a good relationship with theatrical buyers, and why Netflix should consider revealing its figures to cautious filmmakers.

How do you adapt and build your business to survive?

Gabrielle Stewart: We’re getting involved far earlier than sales companies have traditionally done in the past. Because we are linked to Recorded Picture Company, and there is a team at HanWay that works across both companies, we’re helping producers build projects — we’re really providing quite extensive EP [executive-producer] services. We have a team that is able to help build the financing plans of producers — help them find soft money around Europe, attach casting directors, that kind of thing.

Alison Thompson: I don’t think the old rules apply anymore. We all work harder than we’ve ever worked before while the ratio of films that get greenlit versus those that don’t is diminishing. One of the advantages of being a relatively new company is we’ve been able to set up the company structure in a way that is fit for purpose for 2017. There’s more multitasking, and we’re using external consultants to come on board where we need them.

Stephen Kelliher: The bullseye of what works in today’s market is getting smaller and smaller, and we have to use every resource available to us to ensure that we’re involved in the projects that can hit that bullseye. At Bankside, we have a relationship with Head Gear Films, which will put equity financing into films that Bankside wants to sell, and we’ve also begun producing and developing ourselves.

What do your buyers need to do to continue to add value to your business?

AT: The onus is on the filmmaking community and sales agents to deliver material that can work in the commercial space. There’s no question it is tough for independent distributors right now. But it’s a little easier now to identify films that have the potential to work. We talk a lot about cinema that we represent being event cinema, by which we mean material you can ‘eventise’ from the outset. You have the right kind of talent attached, you have a very clear idea of how you are going to position a movie in the market, what the poster might look like, what kind of editorial you can expect to get around a movie, how it will work on social media, and so forth.

GS: We’re having to show distributors we will be able not only to deliver a film, but a campaign that they will be able to use to release the film. We have a new head of marketing distribution, Tom Grievson, who’s new to the international business. He’s always worked on the distribution side and I felt it was important from a pre-production standpoint to have someone thinking like a distributor, working with the producers throughout production to create the campaigns and materials. More and more we will have to deliver good campaigns as well as films.

SK: In a world where people don’t need to go to the cinema anymore, what reason are you giving them to leave their house, to leave their Netflix account and go and see the movie in the cinema? You have to be able to identify those reasons from day one, and develop the materials that illustrate that audience to a distributor. And by giving people a reason, I mean having great films that are critically well received, that have a strong international festival profile, that everybody is talking about the week they’re released. Good is not good enough anymore; it has to be outstanding.

Are there opportunities that excite you, or is it a matter of working out how to navigate this landscape?

SK: The dawn of Netflix and Amazon is disrupting the traditional model, absolutely, but at the same time I wonder whether we are at the beginning of the glory days of VoD, where we will see it continue to grow and other players coming into the market. Despite all the disruption to the marketplace, from a sales company business perspective the deal with Netflix or Amazon is a very good deal to do.

GS: I also think, because there is so much money now in television, it’s creating a bigger pool of talent. It’s developing directors, it’s creating new stars. In the same way that we can be negative about the fact that it’s harder to get certain film stars because they are now filling their schedule with high-end drama series, we can also say that we’re actually generating a bigger pool of talent that is known worldwide.

AT: Looking at it from a slightly different perspective, we’ve never lived through more interesting times in our world. There is so much happening and the industry is evolving so quickly that, personally, I find it immensely exciting and fun.

SK: I agree completely. It’s not all doom and gloom.

GS: And professionals are diversifying. Traditional film producers are also doing television series, and that develops and grows their business. The studios are making less content than before and therefore they are buying more, so a lot of producers that used to work within studios are now looking to the independent world to make their films.

Does a US deal still drive international sales?

GS: The US sale ends up being the icing on the cake. Our focus is to finance the film without it and build your film for international, and then try to sell upon completion to the US. The US is a very buoyant, exciting market right now — that’s where all the upside can be found for the sales agent and the producer.

SK: If you want the film to be theatrically released in international territories, the primary driver is still US theatrical. They want to know how many screens, they want to know what the campaign is, they want that kind of surety. I’m sure we’ve all been in the situation where the best deal to do for a film has been some kind of premium VoD sale in the US, and that does have a negative impact on the ability to sell foreign for theatrical release. It’s the distinction between what’s perceived as a theatrical film and what isn’t as far as international territories are concerned. [But] if you do have the right script and the right package, the pre-sales market is still buoyant.

AT: There is still fierce competition surrounding a small number of movies. But I take a slightly different view in that I think the pre-sales model has massively diminished in value over the last five years. There are not so many movies that are now pre-sold widely prior to production. So it becomes the role of the sales agent to work on getting a sufficient number of pre-sales over the line to give financiers the confidence in the material to want to go ahead and green-light. For the vast majority of material, that is now the default position.

Now that Netflix and Amazon are among your clients, what do you say to traditional buyers who fear streaming platforms might drive them out of business?

SK: It’s challenging. I’m not sure I know the answer to the question because the traditional all-rights distributors in many cases have already stepped up to a project and pre-bought it, only for a VoD platform to come in at a later point and say, “We want it but we’ll only take it if we can have the world.” You may then be faced with a situation where you have to go back and undo those deals, and that’s difficult. From a distributor’s point of view, they might wonder, “Is this going to happen to 30%, 40%, 50% of the movies that I buy? And what happens to my release schedule, to my release date, to the sustainability of my business if this is going to happen repeatedly?” It is a real issue.

GS: I’ve not yet been in that situation but certainly at Sundance I was aware of that happening — a few of the films that became hot properties at Sundance had a few international territories sold, and that process happened. I think there’s more a risk on American independent films going into Sundance because they are often the films that get picked up by Netflix or Amazon. On European cinema, I think there is less of a risk.

Stephen, you did a worldwide deal at AFM with Netflix on Cargo. What made that the right deal for that film?

SK: There are several things you have to take into consideration. In certain cases, there will not be a theatrical release for the film. Everyone has to be comfortable with that, including the filmmakers and the producers. And, as sales companies, we also need to assess whether an offer from a VoD platform takes into account the potential upside we would see on a film if it were released territory-by-territory in the traditional theatrical model, since their deal is a flat fee with no revenue share to producers.

GS: I had this experience at my previous company [Bloom] with The Siege Of Jadotville, which Netflix offered on the world when we took it to Berlin. It was a very attractive offer on what would have been quite a challenging film for distributors, and we had to have very difficult conversations with the talent and the director at the time. What would be very helpful is if there was a way for all of us and the talent involved to understand just what the figures are. Netflix don’t give away any viewing figures, and perhaps they should start doing that with filmmakers.

Is the survival of the traditional theatrical model crucial to your business?

AT: There is no question the theatrical window for a certain kind of filmgoing experience is absolutely crucial, and it’s a very rewarding part of the business to be in. But it’s high risk. The costs of marketing in theatrical are very high and the rental terms in a number of countries are pretty onerous for distributors, so the margins of profitability are increasingly slim.

GS: There’s an opportunity for us in terms of independent cinema. I was just having a conversation with a distributor to whom I’d sold quite a big film in the past for a really big MG [minimum guarantee]. He said to me, “When you look at Moonlight and Whiplash, these smaller films are the ones that are really working. I don’t know if I would have bought that big film with the big movie stars for the big MG. I’m more excited by spreading my bets and buying four smaller films for more reasonable MGs with the hope that one will break out.” I see that as an opportunity for the type of films that we’re doing because actually some surprising films are the ones that are really working and making money. We do a lot more filmmaker meetings now with distributors because they want to understand what the director’s vision is.

SK: We still set out to make films for theatrical release — that is the core ethos within the company. When digital first came on the scene, there was this idea that so many more films were going to be distributed because there wouldn’t be the P&A costs, but actually Netflix and Amazon have focused, on the whole, on films that could have theatrical releases, so that is still where we have to position ourselves.

Although your business is international, can you see Brexit posing any particular challenges?

AT: In the here and now, the exchange rate is challenging for the Brits and, going forward, a certain kind of cinema will potentially miss the MEDIA support. There is still a question mark over whether or not the UK can stay part of it. If we don’t, that would obviously impact the export of British films into Europe and the import of European films into the UK.

GS: Because the dollar is so strong at the moment, a lot of American producers are looking to Europe because it’s cheaper for them.

AT: And from a UK sales agent’s perspective, the exchange rate is actually quite handy because we earn in dollars.

GS: But that can swing around as well — that could be a temporary thing!

 

Mike Leigh’s 'Peterloo' gets sales deal, gears up for shoot

By Tom Grater | Screen

EXCLUSIVE: Cornerstone boards Amazon-backed feature.

Mike Leigh’s historical film Peterloo will begin shooting next week on location in England.

Cornerstone Films has boarded international sales on the project, which Amazon Studios is co-financing and will distribute in the US. Additional financing comes from Film4, who backed the film’s development, the BFI and posthouse-financier Lipsync.

A cast of more than 100 actors has been assembled, with the production scheduled to run until late August.

Mike Leigh’s regular collaborator Georgina Lowe (Another YearMr Turner) will produce the project, Gail Egan is executive producer.

Crew include Dick Pope (cinematography), Suzie Davies (production design), Jacqueline Durran (costumes), Christine Blundell (hair and make-up), Jon Gregory (editing) and Gary Yershon (music).

Peterloo tells the story of the infamous Peterloo massacre of 1819. The event saw British government forces charge into a crowd of 60,000 that had gathered in St Peter’s Field in Manchester to demand political reform.

An estimated 15 protestors were killed and hundreds injured, sparking outcry but also further government crackdowns.

The film is being lined up as Mike Leigh’s biggest budget production to-date.

“The universal significance of this historic event becomes ever more relevant in our own turbulent times,” commented Leigh.

 

Cannes Hot List: 15 Titles Set to Heat Up the 2017 Market

By Tatiana Siegel and Rebecca Ford | The Hollywood Reporter

As Netflix and Amazon challenge the traditional festival sales model, dealmakers are bracing for battle over a handful of key titles.

Last year, the biggest Cannes deal saw STX Entertainment plunk down $50 million for foreign rights to Martin Scorsese's mob epic The Irishman, beating out Fox and Universal in a bidding war. Fast-forward 12 months, and that film may continue to dominate the conversation at the market this year. That's because in February, The Irishman financier Gaston Pavlovich opted out of the STX pact in favor of a worldwide deal with Netflix — a move that has implications for European distributors (Netflix forgoes a traditional theatrical release and instead launches directly to its subscribers).

"The Irishman will remain a talking point," says Bloom's Alex Walton. "For example, I was just in France and Italy, and though it's old news, people still want to talk about it. The fact that this move is taking box-office dollars away from the marketplace will reach a fever pitch come Cannes."

STX had mulled legal action against Netflix, but sources say the two sides have reached an understanding. Even so, the aftershocks can still be felt given that a $125 million film has defected to a streaming service. In fact, the presales market — a major slice of Cannes deal-making — continues to adjust to the sometimes crippling presence of Netflix and Amazon.

"Many European distributors are being impacted by the changing landscape of film distribution in the U.S. [as] a number of streaming services are getting in early and buying multiterritory deals, taking a lot of films out of the market that would have otherwise been sold here in Cannes," says CAA's Roeg Sutherland. "This is something U.S. distributors have dealt with for a number of years, with some stepping up to build their slates with early-stage prebuys."

Who will step up at Cannes 2017 — both from a domestic and international perspective — remains the question. With a fully built-out staff, Annapurna Pictures is expected to make a statement. Of course, there will be plenty of films, in various stages of production, that are expected to generate heat at the market. Here are 15 that show particular promise.


 

Georgetown

Director: Christoph Waltz

BUZZ Waltz's directorial debut, in which he will star alongside Vanessa Redgrave, recounts the story of Albrecht Muth, convicted in 2011 for murdering his much older socialite wife. Brett Ratner is producing.

STATUS Pre-production
SALES AGENT Cornerstone, ICM

Vanessa Redgrave joins Christoph Waltz's directing debut 'Georgetown'

By Orlando Parfitt | Screen

The duo will play an eccentric couple in this crime story that is based on true events.

Vanessa Redgrave will star alongside Christoph Waltz in his directorial debut Georgetown.

The Oscar-winning duo will play an unconventional couple in this crime drama inspired by the true story of Albrecht Muth, who was convicted in 2011 for murdering his much older socialite wife in Washington DC.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Auburn wrote the screenplay, with Brett Ratner producing through his production company RatPac Entertainment together with David Gerson and John Cheng.

Artist and filmmaker Andrew Levitas will also produce through his company Metalwork Pictures, which is also financing. Len Blavatnik of RatPac Entertainment will executive produce.

Cornerstone Films will oversee international sales and distribution and will commence sales in Cannes. ICM will handle the US sale. 

The true story was first reported in the New York Times Magazine in a piece called ‘The Worst Marriage in Georgetown’ by Franklin Foer.

The story centres on German-born Georgetown socialites Elsa Breht (Redgrave) and her husband Ulrich Mott (Waltz), who is nearly three decades her junior.

On the morning of August 13th 2011, hours after a lavish dinner hosted by Mott, Elsa was found dead and Mott immediately became prime suspect in her murder.

Brett Ratner said: “Christoph is one of the most acclaimed actors of our generation and I was greatly inspired by his vision in bringing David Auburn’s phenomenal script to the big screen. I really believe in Christoph as a filmmaker and I am thrilled to be producing his directorial feature debut.”

Cannes: Christoph Waltz's Directorial Debut Adds Vanessa Redgrave

By Alex Ritman | THR

The 'Inglourious Basterds' star's crime drama will be introduced to buyers in Cannes.

Christoph Waltz has found himself a formidable leading lady for his upcoming feature directorial debut. 

With three Academy Awards between them, Vanessa Redgrave will star alongside Waltz in Georgetown, a crime drama to be show in Montreal this summer. 

Based on the screenplay by Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Auburn, Georgetown is inspired by the true story of Albrecht Muth, who was convicted in 2011 for murdering his much older socialite wife in Washington DC. Based on one of the city's most sensational scandals of recent times, the film will tell the story of an unconventional love affair, of an outsider striving for acceptance and the desperate struggle for significance on every level.

Georgetown will be produced by Brett Ratner (The RevenantHercules) through his production company RatPac Entertainment together with David Gerson (True CrimesOmar) and John Cheng. In addition, artist and filmmaker Andrew Levitas will produce through his company Metalwork Pictures, which is also financing. Len Blavatnik of RatPac Entertainment (SilenceHacksaw Ridge) will exec produce.

Cornerstone Films is overseeing international sales and distribution, and will introduce the film to buyers in Cannes. ICM will handle the US sale.

The true story was first reported in the New York Times Magazine entitled "The Worst Marriage in Georgetown” by Franklin Foer.

Cannes: Sam Claflin to Star in Crime-Thriller 'Semper Fi'

By Alex Ritman | THR

The 'Hunger Games' star will play a straight-laced cop who helps his brother break out of prison.

Hunger Games grad Sam Claflin is set to star in upcoming crime-thriller Semper Fi from Oscar-nominated director Henry-Alex Rubin (MurderballDisconnect). 

Claflin, recently seen in Me Before You and Their Finest and set to star in Babadook follow-up The Nightingale, will take the lead as a straight-laced cop who resolves to help his brother – found guilty of killing a man in a bar-room fight – by breaking him out of prison with his life-long friends and fellow Marine Corps reservists.

Cornerstone Films will commence sales in Cannes and co-represent the U.S. rights with CAA, which packaged and arranged financing for the film.

Produced by Oscar-nominated David Lancaster (WhiplashNightcrawler) of Rumble Films and Karina Miller (To the Bone) from Sparkhouse Media, the film will begin production out of Vancouver this summer. Sparkhouse Media is also financing.

Claflin and Rubin are represented by CAA. Claflin is also represented by Independent Talent Group.

Sam Claflin to star in thriller 'Semper Fi' from 'Whiplash' producer

By Sam Warner | Screen

Cornerstone Films to launch sales in Cannes.

Sam Claflin (Me Before You) will lead the cast of Henry-Alex Rubin’s crime thriller Semper Fi.

London-based sales agent Cornerstone Films has boarded the title and will launch sales at Cannes this month.

Henry-Alex Rubin is the Oscar-nominated director of 2005 sports documentary Murderball.

Semper Fi will be produced by Oscar-nominated Whiplash producer David Lancaster of Rumble Films and Karina Miller (To the Bone) of Sparkhouse Media, which is also financing.

Claflin plays Hopper, a straight-laced cop and Marine Corps reservist. When his younger brother accidentally kills a man in a bar-room brawl and tries to flee town, Hopper stops him and forces him to face the music.

Wracked with guilt at leaving his brother locked up in jail, Hopper and his buddies are deployed to Iraq. Battle-weary, he returns home to discover Oyster’s final court appeal has been rejected. No longer willing to live with his guilt, Hopper resolves to save his brother by breaking him out of prison, no matter what the cost. 

The film will begin production in Vancouver this summer.

Cornerstone Films is co-representing US rights with CAA, which packaged the film.

Karina Miller commented: “I couldn’t be more excited about Semper Fi. At its core it’s about what it means to truly stand by the people you love. It’s thrilling and entertaining but also emotional. In a market where it’s a struggle to get people to leave their house and actually go see a movie we plan to make a film that will do just that – get people to the theatre, entertain them, and make them feel something.”

David Lancaster added: “From the moment I read this script, I couldn’t shake the passionate feeling I have always had for the iconic film Deerhunter. Henry has shown a unique ability to draw realistic characters combined with a strong sense of place. Brotherhood, loyalty, family…. with a thrilling escape. I’m in!”

Alison Thompson and Mark Gooder also commented, “At the heart of this story is a thrilling dilemma that will leave audiences on the edge of their seat. That’s exactly what buyers are looking for.”

Claflin and Rubin are represented by CAA; Claflin is also represented by Independent Talent Group.

The Weinstein Company acquires 'Hampstead'

By Jeremy Kay | Screen

Diane Keaton and Brendan Gleeson star in London-set romance; TWC acquired from a promo reel.

The Weinstein Company has moved on North American rights to the Diane Keaton and Brendan Gleeson romance in a deal with Cornerstone Films.

Joel Hopkins directs Hampstead from a screenplay by Robert Festinger about an American widow who falls for the inhabitant of a hut on London’s Hampstead Heath that is under siege by property developers. James Norton also stars.

Robert Bernstein and Douglas Rae of Ecosse Films are producing the feature, which is financed by Motion Picture Capital and Silver Reel. TWC acquired the film after watching a promo reel.

TWC co-chairman Harvey Weinstein said the film was “a great example of the power we all can have when we stand up for our beliefs and fight for the people and things we care most about, something that is especially important these days.”

“We’re delighted to have TWC on board as our North American partner,” said Mark Gooder and Alison Thompson of Cornerstone Films. “Their long-standing passion for this project and indisputable track record with female-driven crowd-pleasing films makes TWC the perfect home for Hampstead.”

Bernstein and Rae added: “We are delighted to be collaborating with The Weinstein Company on Hampstead. We feel they have the right sensibility and passion for the film.”

David Glasser, Talia Houminer, Negeen Yazdi and Jennifer Malloy negotiated the deal for TWC with Gooder and Thompson on behalf of Cornerstone Film and Laure Vaysse and Craig Emanuel for Motion Picture Capital.

Diane Keaton, Brendan Gleeson’s Drama ‘Hampstead’ Goes to Weinstein

By Dave McNary | Variety

The Weinstein Company has bought distribution rights for the U.S. and Canada to the drama “Hampstead,” starring Diane Keaton, Brendan Gleeson and James Norton.

“Hampstead” is directed by Joel Hopkins from a screenplay by Robert Festinger (“In the Bedroom”). The project was produced by Robert Bernstein and Douglas Rae at Ecosse Films.

The film, which went into production in early 2016, was acquired by TWC based on a short promo video. The project was financed by Motion Picture Capital and Silver Reel. Cornerstone Films handled the sale.

Keaton plays an American widow who can’t quite focus on things that need attention, like her lovely old apartment, her finances and her son while living on the edge of the British countryside. While looking out across the heath from her attic window, she witnesses an unkempt man (played by Gleeson) attacked by a group of professional thugs. Shocked, she calls the police and ventures into the woods in search of the man, discovering that his home is the target of property developers using heavy-handed tactics to remove him.

TWC Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein said, “We’re thrilled to work with Robert Bernstein, Douglas Rae and the incredible Diane Keaton and Brendan Gleeson on this film. ‘Hampstead’ is a great example of the power we all can have when we stand up for our beliefs and fight for the people and things we care most about, something that is especially important these days.”

Gleeson starred in Ben Affleck’s “Live by Night” and won an Emmy for playing Winston Churchill in “Into the Storm.” Keaton has been nominated for four Oscars and won for “Annie Hall.”

The deal for the project was negotiated by David Glasser, Talia Houminer, Negeen Yazdi and Jennifer Malloy for TWC with Mark Gooder and Alison Thompson on behalf of Cornerstone Film and Laure Vaysse and Craig Emanuel for Motion Picture Capital.

Adam Shankman to Direct Kate Beckinsale in ‘Chocolate Money’

By Dave McNary | Variety

In a pre-Berlin market move, Adam Shankman has come on board to direct Kate Beckinsale in mother-daughter drama “The Chocolate Money.”

Cornerstone Films will be launching international sales to buyers at the European Film Market in Berlin next month. UTA is repping domestic rights.

The project is based on Ashley Prentice Norton’s novel with Emma Forrest adapting. The story is set in 1980s New York, centered on the relationship between a rich chocolate heiress and her precocious young daughter.

The mother lives a free-wheeling, rock-star lifestyle, and her extravagant parties are legendary. Dazzled by her mother’s situation and constantly craving her attention, the daughter finds escape in reading beauty magazines and taking photos.

Beckinsale is producing with Mar-Key Pictures President Leslie Urdang, Miranda de Pencier and Kelly E. Ashton. Producers plan to begin shooting in New York City in the spring.

Beckinsale starred last year in “Underworld: Blood Wars” and “Love & Friendship.” Shankman’s credits include “Rock of Ages,” “Hairspray” and “A Walk to Remember.” He was in talks in October to direct “Enchanted” sequel “Disenchanted” for Disney.

Urdang said, “Emma Forrest wrote a profoundly witty and moving script with a role that could easily become Kate Beckinsale’s most brilliant and memorable.  Adam Shankman’s emotional accessibility and his gorgeous style will create a world we will not be able to resist.”

Shankman and Beckinsale are repped by UTA.