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Weaver in 'Avatar' again

Sigourney Weaver is reteaming with director James Cameron for a role in his upcoming sci-fi adventure "Avatar" for 20th Century Fox. The actress, who was nominated for an Academy Award for "Aliens," her previous collaboration with Cameron, will take a supporting role alongside lead actors Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana. In the CGI-intensive film, which will be shot in 3-D, Weaver will play veteran explorer Grace, who serves as a mentor to Worthington's character Jake, a wounded former Marine who leads his indigenous race in an interplanetary battle for survival.



'Je t'aime' for China

BERLIN — The producer behind the portmanteau movie "Paris, je t'aime" is extending the franchise to China, with a view to releasing a 12-part multiple-director picture about the People's Republic to coincide with the World Expo in Shanghai in 2010. To avoid any perception of the film being state propaganda, producer Emmanuel Benbihy said the directors will be seeking individual portraits and stories about everyday people. "It's 'I love the Chinese people' rather than 'I love China,'" he said. The film will be produced by Benbihy and Marianne Maddalena ("Scream") and is penciled in to shoot in 2008.



Wachowskis back at Babelsberg

BERLIN — The Wachowski brothers are returning to Studio Babelsberg to shoot "Speed Racer," the high-octane actioner based on the classic 1960s Japanese anime. The Warner Bros. Pictures production is prepping and plans to shoot at the German studio in May. Andy and Larry Wachowski picked Babelsberg for James McTeigue's "V for Vendetta," which the brothers produced and co-wrote and which screened last year at the Berlinale. It is shaping up to be a big year for Babelsberg after a slow 2006 in which the biggest production was Berlinale Competition title "The Counterfeiters." In addition to "Speed," Babelsberg snagged another big Hollywood production: "The Bourne Ultimatum," from "United 93" director Paul Greengrass. The sequel shot four days at the studio in January.



Critics hail "Requiem'

BERLIN — Germany's association of film critics has named Hans-Christian Schmid's exorcism drama "Requiem" best German film of the past year, but it was the Oscar-nominated "The Lives of Others" that cleaned up with a total of four critics awards Tuesday. "Requiem" star Sandra Huller picked up the best actress award for her portrayal of a young woman possibly possessed by demons. Huller, who stars in the Berlin International Film Festival Forum entry "Madonnas," won the Berlinale Silver Bear last year for her "Requiem" performance. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck added to his trophy case for "Others," winning the best first film prize. "Others" won three other critics awards: Star Ulrich Muehe took the best actor nod, while best editing went to Patricia Rommel and best cinematography to Hagen Bogdanski.
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