news digest


Clarke, Perkins rise at Optimum

CANNES — U.K. indie distributor Optimum Releasing, owned by French giant StudioCanal, has promoted managing director Will Clarke to CEO and former head of distribution Danny Perkins to managing director and COO. Clarke's new role will see him working closely with StudioCanal co-chairman Frederic Sichler in international production, acquisitions and development of the international business. He will continue to oversee all activities in the company, and — on the eve of the Festival de Cannes' Marche du Film — specifically acquisitions. Perkins, who reports to Clarke, will take up managing director responsibilities for Optimum Releasing, handling the day-to-day running of the theatrical and home entertainment divisions.

Irish have 'Hunger' for McQueen debut

CANNES — Artist Steve McQueen's debut feature "Hunger," a film detailing the story of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands, has attracted backing from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The movie, being presold here worldwide by Becker International, is being co-financed by the Northern Ireland Film and Television Commission, the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland and FilmFour. It is co-written by McQueen with award-winning screenwriter and playwright Enda Walsh and stars Michael Fassbender. The film is produced by Laura Hastings-Smith and Robin Gutch at Blast! Films. It is set to shoot in September in Northern Ireland and is scheduled to be broadcast on Channel 4 next year, backers said. "Hunger" is billed "as a highly evocative and impressionistic interpretation of the last six weeks in the life of Bobby Sands, leader of the 1981 IRA hunger strike at the notorious Maze prison."

'Summer' sales hot for Sogepaq

CANNES — Spanish sales company Sogepaq announced Tuesday the first sales on Antonio Banderas' second directorial effort, "Summer Rain." Tartan will handle distribution in the U.K. and Ireland, Latinofusion in Mexico, Strada Films in Greece and Cyprus, Visual Filmes in Brazil, CNS in Korea, MCF in the former Yugoslavia, Transylvania in Romania, Cineplex in Taiwan, Irfan in Turkey and Cathay in Singapore. The film had its international debut in January in the Premieres Section at the Sundance Film Festival and went on to play in Panorama at the Berlin International Film Festival, where the film was recognized as best European film.

Kinowelt picks up 40 Bioskop titles

CANNES — German indie Kinowelt has acquired the Bioskop Film library ahead of Cannes, adding about 40 titles to its swelling back catalog of classic German films. The deal includes such New German Cinema classics as Volker Schloendorff's "Homo Faber" (1991), Reinhard Hauff's Berlin Golden Bear winner "Stammheim" (1986), Margarethe von Trotta's Venice Golden Lion winner "The German Sisters" (1981) and the Schloendorff/von Trotta-directed drama "The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum" (1975). Kinowelt inked the worldwide distribution agreement with Bioskop founder Eberhard Junkersdorf.

Delon rolls out welcome mat

CANNES — Casanova is returning to the Croisette, with French actor Alain Delon to play honorary host at the Festival de Cannes. The actor, last in town with Edouard Niermans' "The Return of Casanova" in 1992, will attend the anniversary ceremonies Sunday. Throughout his career, Delon has worked with such acclaimed directors as Luchino Visconti, Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Pierre Melville, Michelangelo Antonioni and Louis Malle. "I am personally delighted, after such a long absence, to once again have the honor to climb these legendary steps. My only regret is not being able to do so in the company of my dear friend Bebel (Jean-Paul Belmondo)," Delon said.