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Berlin Dealbook: EFM's Satisfied Buyers, Headshot, Blind Bastard Club, Stake Land, Happy (UPDATE)

by Sophia Savage
February 17, 2011 6:29 AM
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Thompson on Hollywood

Berlin market dealmaking continues, while reaction to the quality of the fest pics is mixed.

As German distributor Constantin Film picked up Sylvester Stallone action picture Headshot, Constantin's Martin Moszkowicz told THR: "We are pleased with this acquisition in a rather soft market." THR concluded: "An orgy of buying this EFM wasn't, but most buyers are going home satisfied, some even smiling."

More new deals are below.

Variety states: "There's no doubt that buyers were hungry at this year's Berlin European Film Market, but as sales agents packed up their stands on Wednesday one thing was clear -- less standout product coupled with more discerning buyers made for a more cautious and steady Berlinale."

Alliance Films' Robert Walak tells Variety, "Deals are taking longer and people are paying less, but if you look at what was coming out of Sundance, people are being careful with the money they spend. People are aware of where the DVD market is going." Hyde Park's Ashok Amritraj says: "Buyers were very specific about the product they were purchasing,…The hot product sells at great prices, and there is a market for the indie festival product at different prices,...But the buyers seem much more clear about the product they are buying as opposed to five years ago. They went after a few films and bid aggressively on those."

UPDATE: Maya Entertainment's Without Men, from director Gabriela Tagliavini, has closed several foreign deals, including Argentina (Flash Star), Australia (E1), Brazil (Flash Star), Canada (VVS), China (Time Antaeus), CIS (Volga Film), Greece (Hollywood Classics), Latin America (Videx), Middle East (Eagle Films), Poland (Vision), Portugal (Films 4 You), Romania (Programs4media), South Africa (E1) and Switzerland (Praesens). The comedy, based on James Canon's novel Tales from the Town of Widows, stars Eva Longoria, Christina Slater, Oscar Numex, Kate Del Castillo, Maria Conchita Alonso, Pal Rodriguez and Judy Reyes. The story looks at women on a remote Latin American village whose lives are changed when their men leave to fight in their country's civil war. They begin an all female utopia, and when the men return the their new found independence fuels a battle of the sexes. Maya EVP Elias Axume says “Without Men is a wildly funny comedy that we feel audiences around the world will embrace.”

Winner of best documentary at the LA Film Fest, Make Believe has been acquired by Showtime for an April 12 network premiere, a limited early theatrical run and early summer DVD release. The film follows six of the best young magicians vying for the Teen World Champion title. Rookie director J. Clay Tweel also did the camerawork and edited the film. There will be a special sneak preview of the film on February 28 at Lance Burton’s World Magic Seminar in Las Vegas.

The Blind Bastard Club will be directed by Ash Baron-Cohen this April in Brazil with an entirely Brazillian crew and $6 million budget. Mickey Rourke, Lenny Kravitz and Rosario Dawson will star. The Blind Bastard Club is about a group of blind men and women who live on the edge - getting into barfights, jumping out of planes -- all while pretending not to be blind. The central characters are Jake (leader of the BBC) and Angel, a roller-blading call girl who can see but gets introduced to his edgy gang. Andrew Mysko and Cory Neal of Hacienda as well as Frank Desmarais are producing alongside Urca's Leo Edde. A large Latin American company is also in talks to join the project.

Anne Sewitsky's Sundance narrative world cinema jury award-winner Happy, Happy (pictured, right), which will screen at New Directors/New Films, has gone to Magnolia for a North American summer release. Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles says: ”Happy, Happy is a hilarious and poignant blast of fresh air...Anne Sewitsky is a serious talent and I can’t wait to see what she does next.”

Apocalyptic thriller Stake Land(pictured, left) will be co-released through IFC Midnight and MPI Media Group's Dark Sky Films on April 22. Director Jim Mickle's film about a vampire epidemic stars Connor Paolo, Danielle Harris, Kelly McGillis, Nick Damici and Michael Cerveris (the latter two also wrote the screenplay). Stake Land won Toronto's Midnight Madness Audience Award. Sundance Selects/IFC Films president Jonathann Sehring says: "With vampires at the forefront of popular culture and a cast comprised of both horror film legends and up-and-comers, Jim Mickle has made a breathtaking film that will truly excite the IFC Midnight audience.”

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