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Breathe – Umphefumlo // Mark Dornford-May

Breathe – Umphefumlo

directed by Mark Dornford-May
Street Kids United II – The Girls from Rio // Maria Clara Costa

Street Kids United II – The Girls from Rio

directed by Maria Clara Costa
The President // Mohsen Makhmalbaf

The President

directed by Mohsen Makhmalbaf
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Five International Features for Film and Music Entertainment Roll Out at Major Summer Festivals

// 15th of August, 2014

Five International Features for Film and Music Entertainment  Roll Out at Major Summer Festivals: Hopkins/Pawlikowski’s  Lost in Karastan,  Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s The President,  Julien Temple’s  Rio 50 Degrees and Fatmir Koci’s Amsterdam Express, and Darko Lungulov’s Monument To Michael Jackson. Two further films, Angels and Streetkids United II - The Girls from Rio are finishing post.

Film and Music Entertainment (F&ME) the prolific London-based production outfit led by Sam Taylor and Mike Downey are launching  five features on the international market place over a number of summer festivals, marking the full delivery of the first five features on their $21 million eight picture 2014 slate.

Kicking off  the summer festivals is the Matthew Macfadyen vehicle Lost in Karastan  by British  director Ben Hopkins, and written by Ida writer/director Pawel Pawlikowski which will have its World Premiere this week in competition at the Montreal World Film Festival.  Shot entirely on location in Georgia, aside from Macfadyen, the cast includes Noah Taylor (Game of Thrones), Myanna Buring (Twilight) and German actor Richard van Weyden.

A comedy  about globalisation and nation-building, sex and art, money-laundering and love.  Lost In Karastan is a gentle black comedy about a confused, washed up British film director, Emil, who is invited by a nascent state to make a national Epic in an obscure Caucasus Republic ruled by an eccentric and corrupt dictator.  International sales are being handled by Stealth Media International and the film has been pre-sold to Piffl in Germany. 

The second film from the F&ME stable to be released over the summer is also a production shot in Georgia and with the same producing partners, Tbilisi-based 20 Steps Productions led by Vladimer Katcharava.  The President directed by Mohsen Makhmalbaf is supported by Eurimages, the Georgian Film Fund and co-produced with Berlin-based Herzog und Bruemmer with international sales chores being handled by BAC Films.

The President will open the Orizzonti section of the Venice film Festival 2014.

The President tells the story of a dictator who comes face to face with the people he previously subjugated.   Ruling their land with an iron fist, enjoying lives of luxury and leisure at the expense of their population's misery. When a coup d'état overthrows his brutal rule and the rest of his family flees the country by plane, The President is suddenly left to care for his young grandson and forced to escape. Now the country’s most wanted fugitive with a bounty on his head, The President begins a perilous journey with the boy, criss-crossing the country to reach the sea where a ship waits to bring them to safety. Posing as street musicians and travelling together with the people who suffered for years under the dictatorship, the fallen President and the innocent child will be exposed first hand to the hardships that inspired unanimous hatred for the regime.
And finally just coming to the end of its editing phase, Streetkids United II - the girls from Rio produced in partnership with Jamillah van der Hulst

"This first of two films on our 2014 slate, we have shot back to back on location in Georgia," says F&ME principal and producer Mike Downey, who has spent the first part of 2014 out of the UK,  "and the results from a creative and a commercial perspective are excellent.  The production services were second to none and the access to public buildings, magnificent landscapes and the best possible equipment were, right across the board of a world class quality. It’s pleasing to see a number of international productions following us and shooting in and around Tbilisi.  20 Steps and the Caucasian Film Service have been just paragons of professionalism."

It will then move on to half a dozen other festivals in short order, details of which will be announced during the Venice event.

Following its UK premiere in April F&ME’s Rio 50 Degrees, the feature documentary, a political, social and musical history of Rio de Janeiro will have its International Premiere very much on home turf at the Festival do Rio.  Produced by Mike Downey and Sam Taylor with Brazil expert Christopher Pickard wearing his co-producer hat, the film is a UK production with Brazil and Germany as minority partners.  The Franco-German TV channel ARTE also invested with the BBC.  The UK’s Axiom Films, with whom F&ME recently worked on the release of Peter Greenaway’s Goltzius and the Pelican Company will release the film in the UK.  Will Machin’s Metro Films International is handling world sales.

Rio 50 Degrees is a journey through time that reflects on the social, political, financial, musical and cultural revolutions that have taken place in Rio over the past 40 turbulent years. It is also a journey through the city's evolving and eclectic music scene, and an expression on the power of music - as a form of protest and comment - that can be a catalyst for change.

"Rio 50 Degrees, is a continuation of the socially engaged documentary strategy, we started with Streetkids United," says F&ME co-principal Sam Taylor, "and we will now continue with Konstantin Bojanov’s India set adaptation of William Dalrymple’s Nine Lives, entitled  In Search of a Miracle, and Streetkids United II-The Girls From Rio."

Amsterdam Express, another F&ME co-production, the first ever co-pro between Albania and the UK will also have its festival launch after its highly successful Albanian release earlier in the year.  The film will premiere first at Vienna’s Let’s CEE Festival before moving on to further festival berths across Europe and Latin America.

Directed by Tirana veteran Fatmir Koci, the film Amsterdam Express tells the story of a young Albanian emigrant in Amsterdam who is seduced by the allure of the metropolis and falls victim to the threats of ruthless drug and sex slave traffickers.  The film is currently selecting offers by a number of sales companies.

Downey was executive producer on Monument to Michael Jackson  which had its World Premiere at the Karlovy Vary festival,  continued at the Pula Film Festival, and has just won the best film at the Montenegro Film Festival in Herceg Nov, the  Grand Prix - Great Golden Mimosa was awarded as "as a courageous and poetical coping with the harsh reality of transition."  F&ME also partnered on Srdjan Dragojevic’s Zero to Hero which as a Montenegro produced film also screened in Herceg Novi.

Making it’s domestic Czech bow prior to its first festival outings is F&ME co-produced Andele  (Angels) on September 30th.  Directed by Alice Neelis and produced by Rudolf Bierman of IN-Films of Prague. The film focuses on a few intimate family destinies from various social categories: a recently widowed young doctor; a school canteen cook and her son; a driving instructor and his wife, a Czech language teacher; and their closest relatives. Not everyone in this story dies, but they all have to cope with loss and mortality. Angels pinpoints and describes the important details that make up a life, moments that can be just as humdrum as fatal, little things that change the course of life.

And finally the edit is just completing on Streetkids United II-The Girls from Rio - F&ME and the Netherlands’ JaJa Film Prods. to coincide with the second Street Child soccer World Cup, which is being organized in Rio by the AMOS Trust which took place  prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.  The film focuses on the girls’ soccer tournament, and follows the Brazilian girls’ team from the Penha favela as they go through the highs and lows of the tournament.

The director of Streetkids United II  Maria Clara Costa, is one of the rising stars of Brazilian cinema. Her credits include Spike Lee’s Summer of Sam and Bamboozled, Disappearing Acts, the Academy Award winning Election, as well as numerous advertising productions for Saatchi & Saatchi. She has worked with Fernando Meirelles, the director of City of God and his production company O2 Productions.

Read the article at Screendaily.com.