MK2 and Protagonist Pictures join forces for Pawel Pawlikowski’s Film4-backed feature Cold War

08 Feb, 2017 Productions Posted in: News

Cold War

MK2 Films and Protagonist Pictures have teamed up to handle worldwide sales on COLD WAR, the new film from Academy award-winning writer/director Paweł Pawlikowski which has begun production in Poland. The film will be introduced to buyers at EFM in Berlin, and is due for completion in 2018.

Pawlikowski’s most recent film Ida was a global success, packing out arthouses and winning the Oscar and BAFTA for best foreign language film as well as three European Film Awards including best European film, director and screenplay. His other key credits include My Summer Of Love (2004) and Last Resort (2000).

COLD WAR is a passionate love story between two people of different backgrounds and temperaments, who are fatally mismatched and yet fatefully condemned to each other. Set against the background of the Cold War in the 1950s in Poland, Berlin, Yugoslavia and Paris, the film depicts an impossible love story in impossible times.

The film is a Polish/French/UK co-production, and is written by Pawlikowski in both Polish and French languages. The director’s long time partners Tanya Seghatchian (My Summer of Love) of Apocalypso Pictures and Ewa Puszcyńska (Ida) from Piotr Dzięciol’s Opus Film (Poland) are producing, along with France’s MK Productions.

The film is being financed by Film4, Polish Film Institute, MK Productions, Opus Film, CNC – Aide aux Cinémas du Monde, Arte France Cinéma, the BFI with National Lottery funding, and Protagonist Pictures.

COLD WAR stars Tomasz Kot and Joanna Kulig, alongside Agata Kulesza from Ida.


Daniel Battsek takes over as Director of Film4

08 Apr, 2016 Productions Posted in: Film4 staff, News

Channel 4 Chief Executive David Abraham today announced that Daniel Battsek will join the corporation as Director of Film4, following the news that David Kosse is to step down to join STX Entertainment.

Battsek will join Film4 in July, relocating to the UK from New York after fulfilling his contract as President of Cohen Media Group – where he has overseen the acquisition and release of projects including back-to-back Oscar® nominees Timbuktu and Mustang, as well as a development and production slate of films that includes John Williams’ renowned novel Stoner, a co-production with Film4.   Prior to this role Daniel was President of National Geographic Films, and before that President, Filmed Entertainment at Miramax Films.

David Kosse will continue working for Film4 during the transition period on a consultancy basis until October.

Battsek will inherit the increased spend announced by David Abraham and David Kosse in February 2016 of £25 million for the year, with the ambition of maintaining similar increased levels of Film4 funding in future years.

Under Battsek’s leadership, Film4 will continue to seek out new partnerships like those announced with Fox Searchlight and FP Films in February, which allow the company to take a greater stake in certain projects, with a view to seeing more of the returns flowing back to Film4 for investment in the company’s future slate.

Battsek also inherits a development slate which includes new work from Lenny Abrahamson, Yorgos Lanthimos, Andrew Haigh, Steve McQueen, Martin McDonagh, Clio Barnard, Bart Layton, Garth Davis and Mike Leigh, as well as completed or near completed films from Andrea Arnold, Ben Wheatley, Ang Lee, Paddy Considine, Susanna White, John Cameron Mitchell, acclaimed theatre director Benedict Andrews, newcomers Toby Macdonald and Michael Pearce, and Danny Boyle.

Channel 4 Chief Executive David Abraham commented: “Daniel Battsek’s passion for independent, filmmaker driven cinema, and experience in film production, development and distribution at the highest level in both the US and UK markets, are second to none. He’s a perfect fit for the Film4 brand. We’re thrilled to bring this talented British executive back to the UK.

“As demonstrated by our record breaking year at both the Oscars and the BAFTAs, Daniel will inherit a Film4 business in fine creative and commercial health from David Kosse.  We’re sad he couldn’t have been with us longer but he’s had an incredible impact in the time he has led the division.  Both the exciting upcoming slate and the increased funding for original film we announced earlier this year are testament to the successful strategy implemented by David.   I’m delighted that he will be working alongside Daniel on a smooth transition over the summer and ensuring that it is business as usual for Film4 over this period.”

Daniel Battsek added: “I am hugely honoured to have been offered this opportunity. My career began with so many of Film4′s early productions and I have retained strong ties with British filmmakers throughout my time in the US. Joining Film4 feels almost like coming full circle. I look forward to returning to the UK and putting the experience I’ve gained on both sides of the Atlantic to good use.”

David Kosse said: “Film4 is a unique organisation and a very special brand and it was a difficult decision to leave, but joining STX at this stage is an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.  Over almost two years, I’m incredibly proud to have put in place a new strategy for Film4 which has boosted funding for the film industry to a record level and to have introduced an exciting new slate of high quality productions and developments with a diverse group of filmmakers.  David Abraham and the Channel 4 leadership team have been fantastic partners since day one and I look forward to continuing to work with them over the coming months.”

Having worked at the cutting edge of the independent sector on three continents, Battsek brings 30 years’ production, development and distribution experience to Film4. For the last three years Battsek has served as President of New York based Cohen Media Group, where he has overseen the acquisition and release of arthouse/crossover releases including back-to-back Oscar nominees Timbuktu and Mustang, as well as a development and production slate of films that includes John Williams’ renowned novel Stoner, a co-production with Film4. Prior to that he spent 2½ years at National Geographic Films, where as President he acquired projects for development and production including the  Oscar nominated documentary Restrepo, as well as National Geographic branded large screen and Imax 3D projects. Battsek relocated from the UK to New York in 2005, where he served for five years as President, Filmed Entertainment at Miramax Films. Projects he greenlit and/or acquired there included Oscar winners The Queen, No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood and Oscar nominees The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Happy-Go-Lucky.

From 1991 to 2005, Battsek held the position of EVP and Managing Director, UK Distribution and European Production & Acquisitions at Buena Vista International, UK, where he oversaw all aspects of UK distribution for 18-25 releases per annum from Walt Disney Studios and their partners including Pixar and Miramax Films. At BVI, Battsek also set up a Comedy Production Label in 2001 which financed and produced three films, including Calendar Girls and Kinky Boots. Prior to that, Battsek spent six years as Managing Director of Palace Pictures, where he was responsible for the acquisition and distribution of quality independent titles from around the world for release in the UK, and he also spent three years as a Sales & Marketing Executive for Hoyts Entertainment in Australia, where he first cut his teeth in distribution.

Film4 is Channel 4 Television’s feature film division, which develops and co-finances films and has an established track record for working with the most distinctive and innovative talent in UK and international filmmaking.  Film4 has developed and/or co-financed many of the most successful UK films of recent years – Academy Award-winners such as Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, Lenny Abrahamson’s Room, Alex Garland’s Ex Machina, Asif Kapadia’s Amy, Andrew Haigh’s 45 Years and Phyllida Lloyd’s The Iron Lady, in addition to critically-acclaimed award-winners such as Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner, Shane Meadows’ This is England, Martin McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths, Yann Demange’s 71, Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise, Clio Barnard’s The Selfish Giant, Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin and David Mackenzie’s Starred Up.


Sightseers: the origin story

24 Apr, 2012 Productions Posted in: Directors, Festivals, Film4 staff, News, Talent

Film4′s senior commissioning executive Katherine Butler explains how Kill List director Ben Wheatley came to direct his next film, Sightseers, from a script by Steve Oram and Alice Lowe. Sightseers premieres at Cannes 2012…

We first met Steve Oram and Alice Lowe around 5 years ago when Big Talk came to us with their short film they’d made about these two caravaners. Like Big Talk and Exec Producer Edgar Wright we loved the short film, the characters and the idea of this as a feature. So we went into development, and Steve and Alice started work on their first feature film script. Sam Lavender (our head of development) and I loved going to meetings with Steve and Alice and the Big Talk team, mainly because they would drift into character throughout our meetings, and we always left feeling we’d been sitting down with (and slightly spooked by) those strange but friendly cagoule-wearers they were writing.

Steve and Alice, together with Big Talk, were brilliantly persistent in the way they worked through several drafts until it felt like they had really found the heart of the film. In the meantime, Big Talk and we had seen director Ben Wheatley’s first film, Down Terrace. It blew us all away – a completely new voice doing a genre crime family film in an utterly original, new way. We knew as soon as we saw it that we wanted to work with him. And so when Nira Park at Big Talk called us to say they wanted to attach Ben to Sightseers, of course we thought this was a brilliant idea.

In the meantime, we started work on Ben’s film Kill List which had been brought to us by Claire Jones and Andy Starke of Rook Films, via Warp X, and which ended up being fast-tracked to production. This was a wild ride of a film to work on – none of us knew exactly what to expect. Robin Gutch (Warp X’s executive producer) and I went on set during the incredibly swift shoot, and whilst Robin was roped in to hold up light reflectors, I hid in the corner and watched the fastest shooting I had ever seen. The organisation of these guys was incredible, and the way the team worked together with cast to shoot so fast was a real lesson in low budget film-making.

When I first saw a cut of Kill List I was completely stunned – I was one of the first people to greet the film with what became known as ‘the Kill List stare’ where audiences are rendered speechless by its deeply unsettling nature. I knew it was something extraordinary but had absolutely no idea how anyone else would respond to it. Talking to Ben and his team during the editing process was often surreal (I remember in particular long discussions about how many blows of the hammer should stay in). When, trembling, I brought in the rest of the Film4 team to see the film, they too were blown away by it.

SXSW followed and Kill List screened at midnight which meant we had a long, long evening to be incredibly nervous – we made our way through many mojitos! The screening itself was insane – the Alamo South Lamar is one of the best cinemas I’ve ever been to, and its owner, the legendary Tim League, opened proceedings with a US v Europe beer chugging competition… Several people staggered out during the course of the screening – and sitting there having no idea how the film was going down, we were convinced it was because they didn’t like it. In fact, it was due to them needing to go and lie down after the full effects of the beer chugging had taken hold. The audience greeted the film with a mixture of massive enthusiasm and again, the Kill List stare. And then the blogs and tweets started coming through. We slowly realised it was something of a hit – and as the festival went on, SXSW took Kill List to its twisted heart.

We had all loved our Kill List experience, and we loved the film we thought Sightseers could be. When STUDIOCANAL came on board to distribute Kill List in the UK they joined on Sightseers too, and together with the BFI, we had a fully financed film to make.

The Sightseers shoot was gruelling for the team – a cold, wet tour round some of the more out of the way campsites of Northern England. I got to set for one day, travelling for what seemed like miles in the Sightseers mini-bus to a sodden caravan site in North Yorkshire. I watched shamanic dancing and eggs being cooked. And whilst this time there was a bit more money, the production team still worked at a prodigious rate.

When a film like Sightseers gets selected by Cannes, there is a huge sense of excitement and pride and not a little amazement. Not because it’s not good – it’s a truly great film – but because it’s the kind of film that’s all about the reality of low budget film-making in the UK today. Long wet, cold, shoot days; an incredibly tight schedule; a film-maker, his producers and their  team who’ve come out of micro-budget film-making not very long ago at all; the long-burning passion and determination of Alice and Steve who’ve been living with these characters for years; and a very particular film-making voice which is both hilarious and twisted. And it’s all about caravanning. It doesn’t get more British than that. Sightseers, we salute you, and can’t wait to see your caravan sail up the Cannes Croisette.

Three Film4 titles will have their premieres at this year’s Cannes: Sightseers, Walter Salles’ On the Road and Fyzal Boulifa’s The Curse.  Find out more