AFM Territory Reports

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AUSTRALIA

This year has been a mixed one for Aussie films, with hits and misses in equal measure. Key to the health of the sector is the increasing spread in the budget range of films, with more needed at the

$10 million-$30 million level. Co-productions also appear to be on the rise, with foreign partners looking at the advantages of aligning with Australian producers to access the nation's producer offset, which gives a rebate of 40% for qualifying features. -- Pip Bulbeck

CANADA

Canadian indie film is going for American stars to secure foreign coin. The latest Canuck fare includes Richard J. Lewis' "Barney's Version" with Paul Giamatti and Dustin Hoffman as well as the Kevin Spacey-starrer "Casino Jack." Local filmmakers are also forgoing dark, intimate pictures for more commercial fare, including "The Whistleblower," a political thriller from Larysa Kondracki that stars Rachel Weisz and Vanessa Redgrave. Much of the latest local indie fare are official co-productions as American and other foreign producers partner up with Canadians for soft money and international options. -- Etan Vlessing

CHINA

Thanks to films like Tsui Hark's "Detective Dee" from Huay, China's 2010 box office of 7.5 billion yuan ($1.1 billion) topped 2009's total sales of $928 million by September. Hong Kong co-productions and local films are faring better than ever, but Hollywood's still knocking: next up, from Fox, Mandarin-language film "The Butcher, the Chef, and the Swordsman," set for release Nov. 25. --Jonathan Landreth

FRANCE

Stars and stripes have been flying through France with last year's TRIP tax credit for international production in Gaul attracting the likes of Woody Allen, Clint Eastwood and Martin Scorsese to the territory. Even in the midst of the global economic crisis, French filmgoers supported the "seventh art form" and flocked to theaters as attendance topped 200 million admissions for the first time since 1982, also marking a 5.7% jump from the year before. An estimated 230 films were made in France last year thanks to a $1.5 billion investment in the country's film business. -- Rebecca Leffler 

GERMANY

It's mainstream or bust for Germany's indies who face the good news-bad news combo of a home audience hungry for local-language films but increasingly wary of art-house fare. Easy-to-sort product dominates the slates of the big German producers: Mini-major Constantin Film with the hits "Vicky the Viking" and "Pope Joan"; would-be giant UFA Cinema with "Hanni & Nanni" and the local-language operations of the Hollywood studios, which have delivered such generic comedies as "Friendship," "Two-Ear Chick" and "Men in the City." A few art-house sleepers have broken though, notably Feo Aladag's "When We Leave" and Ralf Huettner's "Vincent Wants to Sea." But most of the German industry remains risk averse, preferring formula to experiment. -- Scott Roxborough

ITALY

Italian indie production is traveling more abroad. Call it a need to widen its audiences or a lack of national funds, the truth is that now more than ever Italian filmmakers are looking for foreign money. This is happening to some of the most important directors, too, like Paolo Sorrentino's "This Must Be the Place" with Sean Penn and Frances McDormand, which received funding from France and Ireland. Nanni Moretti just finished shooting his latest, "Habemus Papam," co-produced with France's Le Pacte. And Marco Bellocchio just started working on "LA Monica di Bobbio," thanks to funds come from Italy and France. -- Martina Riva

INDIA

Get ready for the "Hindi" wave. Indian cinema is finally shrugging off its hackneyed romcom musicals thanks to a new breed of filmmakers whose daring outings are opening new markets. This year's Festival de Cannes saw first-time director Vikramaditya Motwane's coming-of-age drama "Udaan" become the first Indian film to be In Competition since 2003. Similarly, another new director, Anusha Rizvi, saw her satirical take on farmer suicides, "Peepli Live," become the first Indian film to be officially selected for this year's Sundance fest as it heads to the Oscars as India's official foreign-language entry. -- Nyay Bhushan

RUSSIA

When the global financial downturn hit Russia in fall 2008, the majority of private investors pulled out of the film industry. That, coupled with a temporary abandonment of the state support system, came as a huge blow to independent film producers in Russia. The situation is gradually improving, but with private investment still insignificant because of economic uncertainty, indie film companies are learning to operate within smaller budgets. Now, as the industry slowly comes back on track, more indie movies are going into production. Still, none of the recent independent releases have set the local box office on fire. -- Vladimir Kozlov

SPAIN

Pushed by the credit crunch and new Spanish legislation to find new financing models, Spanish production is increasingly breaking into larger-budget, market-friendly mainstream movies and smaller, art-house fare, with midbudget films falling by the wayside. Plagued with rampant piracy that accounts for 20% of illegal downloads worldwide, Spain has seen exhibition figures drop. Add to this the burgeoning terrestrial digital television landscape, and important Spanish production houses are deciding to diversify into TV movies, series or miniseries. Now a fresh crop of directors are cutting their teeth and eager to try their hand at English-language fare. -- Pamela Rolfe

SINGAPORE

As Singapore gears up to be a niche film producer of note, it's wise to think in terms of non-controversial fare for the Island Republic's domestic consumption. There have been small steps away from a regime of strict censorship lately, but the general rule is R-rated films are available only in certain areas, with suburban malls restricting themselves to family oriented fare. Nevertheless, Singapore is becoming an active co-producer renewing an agreement with Screenwest, Western Australia's screen funding and development agency. Elsewhere, LucasFilm is said to be doing a major animation picture here and Singaporean film director Eric Khoo a is reportedly prepping a major animated release based on a popular Japanese Manga. -- Michael Mackey

UNITED KINGDOM

The U.K. independent sector is battered and bruised from a global downturn that has seen investment dry up, banks reluctant to lend on anything other than sure things and a dark shadow over the usually reliable and often fall back position for the needy: Public funding. With the government ax falling on the U.K. Film Council, producers and investors alike are playing the waiting game to find out who, what and how the British government is going to dish out the millions of pounds garnered from the national lottery to production finance. The politicians say all will be clear by Christmas or year's end. -- Stuart Kemp

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