'Kite' funding: Headline news

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CANNES -- London-based Headline Pictures has secured financial support from U.K. Film Council and the BBC for "The Kite Rider," a feature film to be shot in China, company principals said Sunday.

Also, BBC Television last week commissioned Headline, formed in 2005, to produce a six-hour drama about the lives of expatriates living in contemporary Shanghai, said chairman Mark Shivas, the former head of BBC Television Drama and BBC Films.

"Since our first trip to Shanghai last year, we've seen a place of amazing opportunity for a small company like ours with ambitions to break out of the U.K. and make films and television for the international market," said Stewart Mackinnon, veteran producer and Headline chief executive.

Mackinnon will make his second visit to the Shanghai International Film Festival in June, spending two weeks there and in Beijing for business and research with "Kite" screenwriter and Headline director Kevin Hood.

For the story of a boy who rides a giant kite over enemy lines in service of 13th century Mongol emperor Kublai Khan, Headline got $300,000 last week from the Film Council and BBC Films.

Hood's screenplay will be based on the eponymous novel by Geraldine McCaughrean.

This week, Shivas and Mackinnon are meeting with many of the film and television production companies visiting Cannes from China. They hope to find a partner in China, preferably one with both film and TV experience, Shivas said.

China and the U.K. have no co-production treaty, but Shivas and Mackinnon are undaunted.

"We are ready to accept that practices in the West will not be met in China and we will have to trust our partners to know how to operate," Mackinnon said.

In exchange, Headline aims to offer Chinese partners a bridge to European finance and talent as well as access to the North American and international markets, he said.

Another Headline project, "Endless Steppe," about Siberia in WWII, could be shot in China, Shivas added.

Headline's biggest project to date has little to do with Asia, except that the $25 million "Alec and May"-- a love story about Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of telephone -- has the Weinstein Co. as its major financier.

Bob and Harvey Weinstein last month launched a $285 million fund with support from Goldman Sachs to invest in movies with Asian themes and elements.
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