Variety on 'Abandoned'

February 13, 2007 -- Variety reports that 'Abandoned' is part of Filmax' upscale approach to producing horror, as the bottom has fallen out of the direct-to-DVD market in recent months. Here's today's story:

Barcelona mini-major Filmax has sold U.S. rights to Eastern Europe backwoods chiller 'The Abandoned' to Lionsgate unit After Dark Films. Lionsgate has committed to open 'Abandoned' on 1,250 screens in the U.S. Release has been set for Feb. 23, Filmax said.

Shot in Bulgaria but set in Russia, the bleak but polished ghoul thriller follows a Hollywood producer to the deep forest of Russia where she takes ownership of her crumbling family homestead. There she encounters her brother and, more unsettlingly, her own ghost.

Made in English, pic is the feature debut of Nacho Cerda, a Spanish cult short film director, working from a screenplay by Cerda with Karim Hussain and Richard Stanley, both fantasy horror cult helmers.

Lionsgate is a regular distributor of Filmax pics, having taken U.S. rights to a dozen or more titles.

Filmax boasted a sleeper hit in the U.S. when Dimension distributed the Filmax-produced Jaume Balaguero's 'Darkness' for a $22 million total B.O. haul in 2004.

Filmax, Spain's biggest chiller-thriller specialist, has moved upscale as the straight-to-DVD market collapsed in major markets, most notably Japan.

At Berlin, it is showing shoot footage from the latest pic in this production line: Brad Anderson's 'Trans-Siberian,' starring Woody Harrelson, Emily Mortimer and Ben Kingsley.

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'The Abandoned' Hitting Screens This Month

February 11, 2007 -- “The Abandoned,” voted fan favorite at After Dark’s “8 Films to Die For” festival in November 2006, is Nacho Cerdà’s feature film debut. It hits screens Feb. 23. Cerdà, 37, is a Spanish film director best known for his controversial film, "Aftermath” (1994), a sinister, macabre Spanish piece depicting necrophilia which went on to become a cult film worldwide. Known for shooting movies with no dialogue and using classical music to enhance elaborate camera movements, he became interested in filmmaking at an early age, shooting Super 8 and video home movies. After graduating from journalism school in Barcelona, he took film courses at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles. There, he shot his first 16 mm short entitled “The Awakening” (1990). In 1994 he and his partners founded Waken Prods, a production company for which Cerdá directed "Aftermath.” This was followed by his world-acclaimed short “Genesis” (1998) which earned a Goya Nomination for Best Short Film that year and was the winner of more than 17 awards at various festivals, including the Sitges Festival and Montreal’s Fant-Asia Festival. Cerda divides his time between Barcelona and Los Angeles.

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