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VarietyLA WVFLA020813 : Page 1

27 33 BRAZIL FRID A Y , FEBRU 8, 2013 AR Y CINEMA RUSSIAN CINEMA SPOTLIGHT: d Surging co-pro s activity signal t emerging gian PLUS V PL PLUS: Spotlight: Brazil Cinema (p. 27) ight kwise FRID A Y , FEBRU 013 8, 2 AR Y SPOTLIGHT: PLUS y EFM: Ke mart for s Russian By Nick Holdsworth to looking Russians material, or those market. buy international is a key , who runs Berlin i rs one Klebanov Spotlight: Russian Cinema (p. 33) Spot F Berlin Berlin ® DAILY DAY 2 FRID A Y , FEBRUARY 8, 2013 DAILY IN COMPETITION Promised Land Matt Damon in “Promised Land” NEW LATIN RHYTHM Participant sets PanAmerica shingle By John Hopewell In a milestone move for Latin American film production, Jeff Skoll’s Participant Media is part-nering with three of the region’s highest-profile players — Mexi-co’s Canana Films, Colombia’s Dynamo and Chile’s Fabula — to create film fund Participant PanA-merica. Unveiled Thursday, Participant PanAmerica will develop and co-finance 10-12 Spanish-language films over the next five years for and from Latin America with Fab-ula, Dynamo and Canana. Jonathan King, Participant Media exec veepee of narrative production, will lead Participant PanAmerica. The joint-production initiative already builds on successful rela-tionships between Participant Media and all three companies. Participant recently co-financed both Canana’s “Chavez,” Diego Luna’s portrait of U.S. civil rights activist Cesar Chavez, and Fabula’s Gael Garcia Bernal-starrer “No,” helmed by Fab-ula partner Pablo Larrain, sold to 40-plus countries by Funny Balloons, and a foreign-language Academy Award nominee. Participant Media is in discus-sions with Dynamo to finance Lluis Quilez’s supernatural thriller “Aguas rojas,” co-produced by Spain’s Apaches Entertainment (“The Impossible”). “Participant PanAmerica en-ables us to increase our film output and expand our reach into the dy-namic and fast-growing Spanish-speaking market,” said Jim Berk, Participant Media CEO. See PARTICIPANT page 47 Something lacking in fracking drama By Justin Chang A quietly absorbing if finally somewhat dubious drama about an unlikely anti-corporate crusader, “Promised Land” uses a familiar story arc to decry corruption in the energy industry, specifically the controversial natural-gas drilling technique known as “fracking.” Yet the subtler, more resonant warning sounded by Gus Van Sant’s latest picture lies in its mournful portrait of an economically depressed farming community, evoking an imperiled way of American life in mi-crocosm. Too dramatically underpowered to achieve more than modest commercial impact, this well-acted, minor-key passion project for star-producer-scribe Matt Damon grossed a disap-Turn to page 47 pointing $7.6 million Stateside. By Elsa Keslassy Three European co-producers have joined Andrea di Stefano’s “Paradise Lost,” the thriller-ro-mance starring Benicio Del Toro as drug lord Pablo Escobar. Spanish distrib Alta Films, Barcelona-based Roxbury Pictures and Belgium’s Nexus Factory are set to co-produce the $20 million pic. Alta will distribute in Spain. As first reported in Daily Va-riety (Nov. 15), “Lost” is being produced by Dimitri Rassam at Chapter 2. Frederique Dumas’ Stu-dio Orange, the film arm of telco group Orange, and Pathe are co-producing and fully-financing the pic. Pathe has international sales and French distribution rights. Josh Hutcherson toplines as a young American surfer who takes a trip to Colombia and falls madly in love with a beautiful local girl, See PARADISE LOST page 47 Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images Euros find Del Toro’s ‘Paradise’ Tony Leung and Zhang Ziyi wow the crowd from the red carpet before the opening night bow of their film “The Grandmaster,” which the Weinstein Co. picked up for North America. ‘House’ finds a home at CJ By John Hopewell CJ Entertainment, South Ko-rea’s biggest entertainment group, has snapped up the Studiocanal-sold 3D family adventure “The House of Magic,” the latest production from Ben Stassen’s NWave Pictures, one of Europe’s leading 3D specialists. Stassen’s follow-up to “Sammy’s Adventures” and “Sammy Adven-tures 2,” toon feature “House” turns on an abandoned young cat, Thun-der, and his new friends who will use every trick in the book to save their mysterious mansion from being sold. Budgeted at €25 million ($34 million), “House of Magic” is one of Europe’s biggest animation bets, with “a lot of humor and top-quality visuals,” said Studiocanal chairman-CEO Olivier Courson. The CJ deal went down on a reportedly slow first day of trad-ing at the European Film Market at Berlin, though it traditionally starts slowly. “CJ is one of most important media companies in the world and very rarely do they buy animation outside their studio output deals,” See HOUSE OF MAGIC page 46 TRIO SHOW LOVE FOR ‘RIO’ By John Hopewell and Ed Meza Brazil’s Conspiracao Filmes is partnering with Empyrean Pic-tures and Bossa Nova Films to produce “Rio, I Love You,” the long-mooted feature in the “Cities of Love” franchise that will go into production Aug. 7. Budgeted at $12 million, “Rio, I Love You” will be co-produced by Rio de Janeiro’s RioFilme invest-ment fund. London-based WestEnd Films handles international sales. Continuing its distrib relationship with Conspiracao, Warner Bros. has already acquired distribution rights for Brazil and Latin America. In line with 2006’s “Paris, I Love You” and 2009’s “New York, I Love You,” “Rio, I Love You” will fea-ture about 10 short love stories di-rected by established helmers, each set in a different neighborhood. Pic’s directorial lineup includes two of Brazil’s highest profile hel-mers — Fernando Meirelles and See RIO page 47

Something Lacking In Fracking Drama

Justin Chang

A quietly absorbing if finally somewhat dubious drama about an unlikely anti-corporate crusader, “Promised Land” uses a familiar story arc to decry corruption in the energy industry, specifically the controversial natural-gas drilling technique known as “fracking.” Yet the subtler, more resonant warning sounded by Gus Van Sant’s latest picture lies in its mournful portrait of an economically depressed farming community, evoking an imperiled way of American life in microcosm. Too dramatically underpowered to achieve more than modest commercial impact, this well-acted, minor-key passion project for star-producer-scribe Matt Damon grossed a disappointing $7.6 million Stateside.<br /> <br /> Even before it opened Dec. 28 for a weeklong awards-qualifying run (followed by a wider release in January), the Focus Features release came under attack by representatives of the energy corporations it critiques. Some of the film’s early detractors pointed out that it was partly funded by Image Nation Abu Dhabi, the implication being that the United Arab Emirates, the world’s third largest oil exporter and a recent backer of several Hollywood pics, may have a vested interest in suppressing U. S. gas production.<br /> <br /> The nature of Damon’s personal investment in the project is less mysterious, given his own extensive environmental advocacy. Damon previously co-scripted Van Sant’s “Good Will Hunting” and “Gerry,” and “Promised Land” reps an intriguing extended collaboration between the actor and John Krasinski, who also co-wrote, co-starred and co-produced. Together they have crafted a sturdy, conventional drama of conscience that acknowledges the current era of economic uncertainty, suggesting a non-thriller version of “Michael Clayton,” or perhaps “Erin Brockovich” as told from a sympathetic villain’s perspective. Either way, for a movie so soberly attuned to environmental ethics and scientific minutiae, it’s less dry than one would expect.<br /> <br /> Thirty-eight-year-old Steve Butler (Damon) is a top salesman for Global, a $9 billion fracking company that sends him to small towns nationwide to buy land from locals for the purposes of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking ?a drilling process in which the soil is blasted with pressurized chemicals to release natural gas. As he and his associate Sue (Frances McDormand, dependably snappy) go door-to-door, obtaining signatures in exchange for assurances of economic salvation, Steve harbors conflicted feelings about a job he’s clearly good at. Himself a farm boy turned big-city professional, he retains an honest affection for the blue-collar work ethic and humble, salt-of-the-earth spirit he encounters, and he’s painfully aware that he’s effectively gutting entire communities under the pretext of revitalizing them.<br /> <br /> Steve’s moral reservations catch up with him on a job in Pennsylvania farm country, where a whip-smart high-school science teacher (a fine Hal Holbrook) successfully challenges Global’s agenda and calls for the town to vote on the company’s proposition rather than blithely accept it. An even peskier obstacle arrives in the form of Dustin Noble (Krasinski), a dogged activist who launches an anti-Global campaign, teaching locals that fracking is not only laying waste to a proud agricultural tradition, but also contributing to air/water pollution and killing livestock (problems examined at length in Josh Fox’s 2010 docu “GasLand”).<br /> <br /> Once slated to direct, Damon invests his misguided if fundamentally decent Everyman with a low-key, world-weary intelligence, suggesting a salesman whose silver tongue has grown heavy over time; the actor generates a nicely tense screen rapport with Krasinski, ideally cast as a grassroots charmer who knows just how to get Steve’s goat. The strong ensemble also boasts sharp character work by Scoot McNairy, Titus Welliver and Tim Guinee as locals with varying opinions on the drilling issue, while the casting of real-life residents of Avonsmore, Penn., as extras adds considerably to the film’s texture.<br /> <br /> Van Sant orchestrates the slowbrewing drama with ease and assurance, establishing a rich sense of place through d.p. Linus Sandgren’s solemnly beautiful images of dirt roads, open fields, ramshackle houses and mom-and-pop shops, as well as the director’s signature time-lapse shots of overcast skies. Ably complemented by Danny Elfman’s score, these visuals coalesce into an understated and affecting portrait of rural decay that could hit home for many viewers.<br /> <br /> Yet the authenticity of Van Sant’s portraiture has the effect of exposing a certain inauthenticity at the story’s core, and not just because Steve and Dustin’s professional opposition leads them into a contrived rivalry for the affections of a fetching schoolteacher (Rosemarie De- Witt, lovely in a thankless role). The film’s generally thoughtful rumination on corporate neglect and personal responsibility suddenly shifts, at the last minute, into a one-sided, cards-on-the-table statement that cheapens, rather than underscores, the seriousness of the issues at stake. By manipulating their story to advance the cynical notion that you really can’t trust anyone, the filmmakers inadvertently beg the question why their own motives should be so above suspicion.<br /> <br /> CREDITS: A Focus Features release presented in association with Participant Media and Image Nation Abu Dhabi of a Sunday Night/ Pearl Street/Media Farm production. Produced by Matt Damon, John Krasinski, Chris Moore. Executive producers, Gus Van Sant, Ron Schmidt, Jeff Skoll, Jonathan King. Coproducers, Mike Sablone, Drew Vinton.<br /> <br /> Directed by Gus Van Sant. Screenplay, John Krasinski, Matt Damon; story, Dave Eggers. Camera (color), Linus Sandgren; editor, Billy Rich; music, Danny Elfman; music supervisor, Brian Reitzell; production designer, Daniel B. Clancy; art director, Greg Weimerskirch; set decorator, Rebecca Brown; costume designer, Juliet Polcsa; sound (Dolby Digital/Datasat), Felix Andrew; supervising sound editor, Robert C. Jackson; re-recording mixers, Leslie Shatz, Colette Dahanne; special effects coordinator, Ray Tasillo; visual effects supervisor, Dick Edwards; visual effects, Invisible Effects; associate producer, Isabel Freer; assistant director, David Webb; casting, Francine Maisler. Reviewed on DVD, Pasadena, Calif., Dec. 3, 2012. (In Berlin Film Festival — competing.) MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 106 MIN.<br /> <br /> Steve Butler ............................ Matt Damon <br /> Dustin Noble ...................... John Krasinski <br /> Sue Thomason .......... Frances McDormand <br /> Alice ............................. Rosemarie DeWitt <br /> Jeff Dennon ....................... Scoot McNairy <br /> Rob ...................................... Titus Welliver <br /> David Churchill ..................... Terry Kinney <br /> Frank Yates ...................... Hal Holbrook<br /> <br /> With: Tim Guinee, Lucas Black.

‘House’ Finds A Home At CJ

John Hopewell

CJ Entertainment, South Korea’s biggest entertainment group, has snapped up the Studiocanal-sold 3D family adventure “The House of Magic,” the latest production from Ben Stassen’s Nwave Pictures, one of Europe’s leading 3D specialists.<br /> <br /> Stassen’s follow-up to “Sammy’s Adventures” and “Sammy Adventures 2,” toon feature “House” turns on an abandoned young cat, Thunder, and his new friends who will use every trick in the book to save their mysterious mansion from being sold.<br /> <br /> Budgeted at €25 million ($34 million), “House of Magic” is one of Europe’s biggest animation bets, with “a lot of humor and topquality visuals,” said Studiocanal chairman-CEO Olivier Courson.<br /> <br /> The CJ deal went down on a reportedly slow first day of trading at the European Film Market at Berlin, though it traditionally starts slowly.<br /> <br /> “CJ is one of most important media companies in the world and very rarely do they buy animation outside their studio output deals,” Said Harold Van Lier, Studiocanal’s exec VP, intl. Distribution. “CJ’s enthusiasm for our film is a very promising sign that we are delivering something unique and universal and we look forward to creating a great new franchise with them as our partner.”<br /> <br /> “House of Magic” has sold to 15 territories, including Russia (Volga), Switzerland (Impuls) and Benelux (Belga Films). Studiocanal will release the toon in the U.K., France, Germany and Australia where it has distrib arms.

New Latin Rhythm

John Hopewell

Participant sets PanAmerica shingle<br /> <br /> In a milestone move for Latin American film production, Jeff Skoll’s Participant Media is partnering with three of the region’s highest-profile players — Mexico’s Canana Films, Colombia’s Dynamo and Chile’s Fabula — to create film fund Participant PanAmerica.<br /> <br /> Unveiled Thursday, Participant PanAmerica will develop and cofinance 10-12 Spanish-language films over the next five years for and from Latin America with Fabula, Dynamo and Canana.<br /> <br /> Jonathan King, Participant Media exec veepee of narrative production, will lead Participant PanAmerica.<br /> <br /> The joint-production initiative already builds on successful relationships between Participant Media and all three companies. Participant recently co-financed both Canana’s “Chavez,” Diego Luna’s portrait of U.S. civil rights activist Cesar Chavez, and Fabula’s Gael Garcia Bernal-starrer “No,” helmed by Fabula partner Pablo Larrain, sold to 40- plus countries by Funny Balloons, and a foreign-language Academy Award nominee.<br /> <br /> Participant Media is in discussions with Dynamo to finance Lluis Quilez’s supernatural thriller “Aguas rojas,” co-produced by Spain’s Apaches Entertainment (“The Impossible”).<br /> <br /> “Participant PanAmerica enables us to increase our film output and expand our reach into the dynamic and fast-growing Spanishspeaking market,” said Jim Berk, Participant Media CEO.<br /> <br /> Via Canana, Fabula and Dynamo, Participant PanAmerica will now “have access to the region’s talent pool of fresh and highly creative filmmakers who are looking to explore important contemporary issues in exciting ways,” he added.<br /> <br /> Berk said that Participant Media will be the primary financier of Participant PanAmerica and the films produced through it. Canana, Fabula and Dynamo will lead-produce specific projects cofinanced by Participant PanAmerica, co-producing between each other as appropriate.<br /> <br /> The alliance will allow partners, on a film-by-film basis, to tap into rich resources, such as Mexico’s Article 226 tax incentive and Colombia’s production tax breaks.<br /> <br /> Participant will handle U.S. distribution on a title-by-title basis, Berk said.<br /> <br /> In some circumstances, Participant PanAmerica’s multi-title slate will give it the volume to negotiate — for the fast-growing Latin Ameican pay TV market, for example — multi-country deals beneficial to all partners, Berk explained.<br /> <br /> Founded by Skoll in 2004 to create movies, TV, publishing and digital content focusing on issues that shape the world, Participant Media has two films screening in Berlin: Gus Van Sant’s “Promised Land,” written by and starring Matt Damon and John Krasinski, and docu-feature “State 194,” featuring Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

Euros Find Del Toro’s ‘Paradise’

Elsa Keslassy

Three European co-producers have joined Andrea di Stefano’s “Paradise Lost,” the thriller-romance starring Benicio Del Toro as drug lord Pablo Escobar.<br /> <br /> Spanish distrib Alta Films, Barcelona-based Roxbury Pictures and Belgium’s Nexus Factory are set to co-produce the $20 million pic. Alta will distribute in Spain.<br /> <br /> As first reported in Daily Variety (Nov. 15), “Lost” is being produced by Dimitri Rassam at Chapter 2. Frederique Dumas’ Studio Orange, the film arm of telco group Orange, and Pathe are coproducing and fully-financing the pic. Pathe has international sales and French distribution rights.<br /> <br /> Josh Hutcherson toplines as a young American surfer who takes a trip to Colombia and falls madly in love with a beautiful local girl, Played by Claudia Traisac. Their romance seems idyllic until he meets her uncle, Escobar.<br /> <br /> Pic also stars Carlos Bardem (“Cell 211”), Brian Geraghty (“The Hurt Locker”) and French thesp Ana Girardot (“My Way”).<br /> <br /> Rassam has assembled a crew that includes Carlos Conti, production designer of “The Motocycle Diaries,” Luis David Sansans, d.p. on “Days of Grace” and Maryline Monthieux, editor of “Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life.”<br /> <br /> Lensing will start March 15 in Panama.<br /> <br /> Chapter 2 has three productions due to hit theaters this year: “Gibraltar” (formerly known as “The Informant”), a crime thriller starring Gilles Lellouche and Tahar Rahim; “The Scapegoat,” a comedy with Berenice Bejo and Emir Kusturica; and Kirsten Dunst-starrer “Upside Down.”

Trio Show Love For ‘Rio’

Brazil’s Conspiracao Filmes is partnering with Empyrean Pictures and Bossa Nova Films to produce “Rio, I Love You,” the long-mooted feature in the “Cities of Love” franchise that will go into production Aug. 7.<br /> <br /> Budgeted at $12 million, “Rio, I Love You” will be co-produced by Rio de Janeiro’s RioFilme investment fund. London-based WestEnd Films handles international sales.<br /> <br /> Continuing its distrib relationship with Conspiracao, Warner Bros. Has already acquired distribution rights for Brazil and Latin America.<br /> <br /> In line with 2006’s “Paris, I Love You” and 2009’s “New York, I Love You,” “Rio, I Love You” will feature about 10 short love stories directed by established helmers, each set in a different neighborhood.<br /> <br /> Pic’s directorial lineup includes two of Brazil’s highest profile helmers — Fernando Meirelles and Jose Padilha — plus Mexico’s Guillermo Arriaga, said Conspiracao partner Leonardo M. Barros.<br /> <br /> Joining them is Andrucha Waddington, whose “Party Crashers,” also from Conspiracao, nabbed $10.1 million in Brazil, making it distrib Warner Bros.’ highest-grossing Brazilian movie. Most directors will be confirmed by Cannes, he added.<br /> <br /> Empyrean’s Joshua Skurla and Dan Klabin, Conspiracao’s Pedro Buarque and Bossa Nova’s Denise Gomes produce. Exec producers include “Cities of Love” creator and movement owner Emmanuel Benbihy, Barros, Oliver Kwon, Edu Tibirica, Eliana Soarez and Ricardo Rangel.<br /> <br /> Funding includes a RioFilme grant, Brazilian federal and regional tax incentives, international pre-sales and, unusually for Brazil, support from the Rio de Janeiro state government and corporate sponsorship deals with cosmetics corporation O Boticario and telco Nextel, per Barros.<br /> <br /> Pic is due to be delivered before Brazil’s 2014 FIFA World Cup soccer tourney, Barros said.

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