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'Doctor' called to Oz

Hoyts will be taking Heath Ledger's last acting role home after sealing Aussie rights to the Terry Gilliam-helmed "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus." The movie has been picking up heat during the market, with sales house Mandate International also inking deals on the film with Lionsgate for the U.K. and Showgate for Japan. The Australian actor's death in January threw the picture's future into question, but he will remain in the film despite shooting only a small part of the movie. Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell joined the "Parnassus" cast after Ledger's death, playing different version's of Ledger's character once he has passed through a magical mirror.

Babelgum's new genius

Italian director Andrea Lodovichetti was presented with the Looking for Genius Award, one of seven awards presented as part of the Babelgum online film festival. Spike Lee presented the helmer with Babelgum's top award for his work on "Under My Garden," the story of a boy who believes his love of insects gives him evidence to solve what he imagines to be a domestic murder case. The festival's documentary prize went to Emanuel Exitu for "Greater — Defeating AIDS." And France's Remy Schaepman won the animation award for "Sheep on a Roof." Each winner received €20,000 ($31,000) for use in developing future projects.

Action sells 'Sanctuary'

Action Slate Films has notched up a number of presales on "The Sanctuary," a new martial arts action-adventure film. The presale deals were struck with EuropaCorp for France, Selectavision for Spain and Medya Vision for Turkey. "Sanctuary" will be shot in English and star Mike B and Gary Daniels. Thanapon Maliwan is writing and directing the project, which is slated for a July start in Thailand. Action previously announced a second action film, "Hands of the Dragon," which will start filming in June in Vancouver and Mumbai.

Fox sees 'Soothsayer'

Emilia Fox has signed up to star in British director Richard Blanshard's supernatural thriller "Soothsayer," set to shoot in the summer in the U.K. Fox will star alongside Tehya Hadley, Dutch actress Thekla Reuten, Australia's Kate Atkinson and veteran British actor John Standing. Producers Paul Cowan and Chris Wheeldon will make the micro-budgeted film penned by Barry Langley through the duo's Territorial Film Developments.

Killer casting for Levy

French actors Gerard Lanvin and Lambert Wilson will co-star in Jerome Legris' "Malicorne," a 19th century thriller produced by Bruno Levy's production shingle Move Movie. Lanvin will star as a contract killer working with an underground organization run by Wilson in the $14 million film set for a 2009 shoot. Levy's Move Movie also recently nabbed adaptation rights to Agnes Desarthe's "Eat Me," a drama helmed by Diane Bertrand set for a 2009 shoot.

Japanese sale in Joint

Taiwan's Joint Entertainment has sold a slew of titles to Japan's SPO, marking the first deal between a Taiwanese sales company and a Japanese distributor of indie films. The titles included in the deal are "Keeping Watch," "The Most Distant Course," "Exit No. 6," "Island Etude" and "What On Earth Have I Done Wrong?!" The deal also involves another two titles from Three Dots Entertainment: "Spider Lily," which won the Teddy Bear Award in Berlin, and "My DNA Says I Love You."

'Bunyan' calls on duo

"Mulan" helmer Tony Bancroft will direct and Kelsey Grammer will voice a lead role in Exodus Film Group's animated folk tale "Bunyan & Babe." Bancroft will co-direct with previously announced helmer Jim Rygiel, while Grammer will voice the character of Paul Bunyan's nemesis opposite John Goodman, who is voicing the mythic American hero. Exodus also said it has signed on Sparx Animation Studios to handle animation for "Bunyan."

EDINBURGH showcase

Joe Lawlor and Christine Malloy, the writer-director team behind the indie film "Helen," are two of the 10 people to be honored as a Trailblazer during this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival. Organizers for the festival in Cannes said that "Donkey Punch" actress Nichola Burley and co-writer David Bloom also will feature in the showcase. Previous names selected for the honor include Samantha Morton, Daniel Craig, Emily Blunt and David Mackenzie.
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