berlEXCLUSIVE: The European Film Market has been a bit sparse, with things perking up with Open Road’s acquisition of Rock The Kasbah. I’ve heard that pre-buy deal amounted to a $2 million minimum guarantee, a 10% gross deal for Bill Murray and a 1200-screen release commitment. If there is going to be action in Berlin, it might well be through the sizzle reels or other pre-buys.

Berlin2014_200The script stage projects being introduced in Berlin that seem most promising are the Daniel Craig-starrer The Whole Truth, the Jonathan Jakubowicz-directed Roberto Duran biopic Hands Of Stone with Edgar Ramirez playing the legend, Robert De Niro his trainer and Usher his rival Sugar Ray Leonard; the Nima Nourizadeh-directed American Ultra with Jesse Eisenberg and Stewart; the Benedict Cumberbatch-starrer Blood Mountain, about an Army ranger who must bring a terrorist to custody after his unit is wiped out in Pakistan; the Oren Moverman-directed Time Out Of Mind with Richard Gere; the Natalie Portman-directed A Tale Of Love And Darkness; Selma, the Ava DuVerney drama that stars David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King Jr; the David Gordon Green-directed The Line with Chris Pine; the Anton Corbjin-directed Life with Robert Pattinson; and the Paolo Sorrentino-directed In The Future with Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine. A lot of these are being teased at Berlin, and will lead to sales at Cannes.

As for the sizzle reels, today is a big day with footage screenings of Imitation Game with Cumberbatch, and The Search, which is Michel Hazanavicius’ follow-up to The Artist. Here are the sizzle reels that have buyers hot and bothered:

cumbThe Imitation Game – Director: Morten Tyldum, Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Mark Strong, Matthew Goode. Cumberbatch plays Alan Turing, the genius British mathematician and cryptologist who cracked Germany’s impenetrable Enigma Code during WWII. His reward? Being tried for homosexuality and chemically castrated before he killed himself, in a horrible in justice done to him by his home country. CAA  and FilmNation are selling it.

Race – Director, Stephen Hopkins. Cast, John Boyega, Geoffrey Rush, Jeremy Irons. Track and field icon Jesse Owens and how his exploits in the 1936 Berlin Olympics humiliated Hitler and his wish to glorify his Third Reich in the Games. Mister Smith is selling it and held the first screening yesterday at the Berlin Olympic Stadium.

The Search – Director, Michel Hazanavicius. Cast, Berenice Bejo, Annette Bening. Set in Chechnya, it is the adaptation of the 1948 Oscar-winner The Search. A government worker bonds with a small boy who’s been separated from his mother in the war-torn nation. Wild Bunch is selling it.


A Second Chance – Director, Susanne Bier. Cast, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Conscience and decency is tested by tragedy. TrustNordisk is selling with the first screening tomorrow.

Lance Armstrong Project – Director, Stephen Frears. Cast, Ben Foster, Chris O’Dowd, Guillaume Canet. While there are two other films percolating on Armstrong’s scandalous rise and fall, this one will be first across the finish line, with Foster playing the disgraced cyclist. StudioCanal is selling.

1:30 Train – Director, Chris Evans. Cast, Evans, Alice Eve. Feature debut of Captain America follows two strangers who bond over an evening in Manattan. CAA and Sierra Affinity are selling.

cobThe Cobbler – Director, Thomas McCarthy. Cast, Adam Sandler, Dustin Hoffman. Fourth generation shoemaker finds a magical sewing machine in his father’s basement that enables him to experience life as other people when he wears their shoes. WME and Voltage are selling.

The Crossing – Director, John Woo. Cast, Zhang Ziyi, Takeshi Kaneshiro. A group flees to Taiwan during the Chinese Revolution in the late 1940s. Beijing Galloping Horse is selling.

Imagine – Director, Dan Fogelman. Cast: Al Pacino, Jennifer Garner, Annette Bening, Christopher Plummer. Pacino plays an aging decadent rocker who tries to remake himself after finding an old letter filled with hope that was sent to him by John Lennon. He sees it as a sign to reconnect with his biological son. WME and Mister Smith are selling.

The Face Of An Angel – Director, Michael Winterbottom. Cast, Daniel Bruhl, Kate Beckinsale. Here’s one torn from the headlines which just reared up again. After the brutal murder of a British student in Tuscany leads to the trial and conviction of her American flatmate and Italian boyfriend, a struggling filmmaker tries to chronicle the controversial verdict in a film.  WestEnd is selling.

gunmThe Gunman – Director, Pierre Morel. Cast, Sean Penn, Javier Bardem, Idris Elba. Former government contract killer finds his past come back to haunt him when his ex-bosses try to kill him. It leads a chase from Africa to London and Barcelona. StudioCanal is selling.

Shelter – Director, Paul Bettany. Cast, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Mackie. Hannah and Tahir fall in love while homeless on the streets of New York. A shelter explores how they got there, their pasts and hopes for a future. UTA and Voltage are selling.

Son Of A Gun – Director, Julius Avery. Cast, Brenton Thwaites, Ewan McGregor, Alicia Vikander. Australia’s number one criminal and his complex relationship with a protege. UTA and Altitude are selling.

Life Itself – Director, Richard Loncraine. Cast, Morgan Freeman, Diane Keaton. A long-time married couple who’ve spent their lives together in the same New York apartment become overwhelmed by personal and real-estate-related issues when they plan to move away. WME, CAA and Myriad are selling.

Northmen: A Viking Saga – Director, Claudio Faeh. How good does this sound? A shipwrecked group of Viking marauders must trek through Scotland, pursued by the King’s ferocious mercenaries, called the Wolf Pack. Salt is selling.

mangeManglehorn – Director, David Gordon Green. Cast, Al Pacino, Holly Hunter. Pacino plays J Manglehorn, a smalltown guy who turns out to be an ex-con whose past catches up. CAA  and WestEnd are selling.

Miss Julie – Director, Liv Ullmann. Cast, Jessica Chastain, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton. Manners and an illicit affair in 1874 at a count’s estate in Sweden. CAA and Wild Bunch are selling.