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Last Updated: Monday, 22 May 2006, 12:52 GMT 13:52 UK
Jowell praises UK film at Cannes
By Darren Waters
BBC News in Cannes

Actors Emma Watson as Hermione Granger, Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter and Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley in a scene from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
The latest Harry Potter was the most successful UK film of 2005
British films have doubled their share of the global box office in the last two years, according to new figures.

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell,in Cannes for the annual film festival, said this was a "fantastic success story" for the industry.

In 2005, the 10 best-performing British films grossed $2,599m.

Also at the festival, director Nanni Moretti has defended his decision to release controversial film Il Caimano ahead of the recent Italian elections.

The Film Council figures show that UK films, with US co-production status, enjoyed a 15.8% market share in the US.

1. Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire
2. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
3. Batman Begins
4. Kingdom of Heaven
5. Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
6. Sahara
7.The Corpse Bride
8. The Phantom of the Opera
9. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
10. The Brothers Grimm

However, UK projects made without US involvement had just a 0.8% share of that market.

Only one of the top 20 biggest-earning UK films of 2005 - The Constant Gardener - was funded without any money from the US.

The most successful UK film of 2005 was Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which earned $808m (431m) worldwide.

"This is, by general consent, the result of combined efforts of favourable tax regime, but also the broader efforts to promote British culture through film," said Ms Jowell.

She said she believed a "simplified" tax credit system, due to be passed into law later this year, would lead to further growth in investment in the UK in future years.

Ms Jowell would not be drawn on calls for the UK government to respond to issues raised by Palme D'Or contender The Wind That Shakes The Barley.

A scene from the movie
Ken Loach's hard-hitting film was filmed on location in Cork

Ken Loach's film depicts British savagery towards Irish republicans in the 1920s during the struggle for Irish independence and is in competition at Cannes.

"There are throughout our history events which, for better or worse, shape us," said Ms Jowell.

"Decisions about whether or not we apologise are decisions which are taken and should be taken on a considered basis, on the basis of discussion with aggrieved parties."

Moretti's film, also up for the Palme d'Or, was released before the April elections which saw the former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi lose power to Romano Prodi.

Nanni Moretti
Acclaimed Italian director Nanni Moretti was behind The Son's Room

Il Caimano, The Cayman, referns to Moretti's view of Berlusconi as a predator or crocodile.

"There were people on the left and right who wanted me to release this film after the election. I did not take them into consideration," said Moretti, a long-standing opponent of Berlusconi.

"Only in Italy can a man with three out of six channels, with newspapers and magazines, be allowed to run for power four times."

"I hope there will not be a fifth."

The director denied the film was propaganda, but rather a comment on the social and political climate and the "very real" problems facing Italy.

In other news from Cannes:

  • A new film about Lawrence of Arabia, created by Spooks screenwriter Howard Brenton, will explore Lawrence's time in England when he was "hiding away from the world".

  • Comedian Steve Coogan is to star as a male escort in forthcoming co-production with BBC Films.

  • Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said he had given permission to Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone to make a film a short-lived coup in 2002 coup which removed him from power for less than two days.

  • Stone himself has screened a 20-minute excerpt from his forthcoming movie about the 11 September terrorist attacks in New York, entitled World Trade Center.

    He said the film - starring Nicolas Cage - was the true story of two police officers trapped in the rubble one of the Twin Towers and the efforts to rescue them.

  • Chinese director Lou Ye could be banned from making films in his home country for five years, according to reports in Chinese newspapers.

    They claim this is because Mr Ye's new film Summer Palace - a love story set around the democracy protests near Tiananmen Square in 1989 - was screened at Cannes without government approval.

  • Sir Elton John swore at photographers who called out to him while he was presenting an award to Canadian actor Kevin Zegers, telling them: "You should be shot."

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