Good Bye Lenin! (2003) - News Poster

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10th Annual German Film Currents in L.A.

10th Annual German Film Currents in L.A.
Award Winning Director Wolfgang Becker (“Good Bye Lenin!”) will open the festival at the American Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theatre with “Me and Kaminski” bringing outstanding German cinema and its stars to Los Angeles from October 20 to 23rd.

Full Program Line Up Announced with a selection of the best new German, Austrian and Swiss Cinema

Celebrating its 10th year, German Currents features an expanded program including screenings of ten La premieres, conversations with prolific German directors, writers and actors, as well as the return of the free family matinee film screening for local schools.

Me and Kaminski” starring Daniel Brühl and directed by Wolfgang Becker

2016 has been a successful year for German language cinema, not only in Europe, but across the globe. Beginning on Thursday, October 20th 2016 German Currents will open this year’s 4 day festival with the red carpet event Los Angeles premiere of Wolfgang Becker’s (“Goodbye Lenin”) five-time
See full article at Sydney's Buzz »

Wolfgang Becker to film 'Me and Kaminski'

Berlin -- Six years after his worldwide hit “Good Bye, Lenin!” German director Wolfgang Becker is returning to the big screen with an adaptation of “Me and Kaminski” from German bestselling author Daniel Kehlmann (“Measuring the World”). “Good Bye, Lenin!” star Daniel Bruhl is on board to play the lead.

The novel follows the rivalry between the journalist Sebastian Zollner (Bruhl) and an art critic, who are both trying to write a biography of reclusive “blind painter” Manuel Kaminski.

The project is being planned as a European co-production with Becker’s Berlin-based X Filme as lead producer. Shooting is set to start this fall in Germany, France and Belgium.

Becker contributed a short film, “KrankesHaus,” to the omnibus production “Germany 09,” which will premiere Feb. 13 at the Berlinale.
See full article at The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News »

Eastern European Distributors at the San Sebastian Film Festival

The European Film Promotion (EFP) and the San Sebastian International Film Festival (September 18-27) launched a new promotion initiative entitled "European Distributors: Up Next".

Ten independent distributors from Central and Eastern Europe attending the festival discussed the possibilities of theatrical distribution on a European level. Since the majority of European producers do not cross national borders, the meetings in San Sebastian were aimed to create possible platform and networking opportunities to improve the circulation of European productions.

• From Slovenia, Natasa Bucar, project manager of the cultural center Cankarjev Dom, a public institution that organizes many events promoting film, including the Ljubljana International Film Festival has been in art film distribution for the last 15 years. They distribute five to six titles every year to fill the gap in theatrical distribution of European high-profile films in Slovenia. Priority is given to established and not always well-known European and other international filmmakers. Their last distributed titles were Neil Jordan’s ‘Breakfast on Pluto’, Tony Gatlif’s ‘Transylvania’, Bent Hamer’s ‘Factotum’, Dagur Kari’s ‘Dark Horse’, Corneliu Porumboiu’s ‘12:08 East of Bucharest’, Roy Andersson’s ‘You, the Living’, Pascale Ferran’s ‘Lady Chatterley’, Marjane Satrapi’s ‘Persepolis’ and Shane Meadows’ ‘This Is England’.

Besides Cankarjev Dom, there are only four arthouse cinemas in Slovenia. They need more along with arthouse cinema networks to enable better film promotion. In Slovenia, like everywhere in Europe, the number of cinema viewers has fallen drastically. Audiences focus on fewer films, the top 20 films take up to almost 50% of the market in Slovenia.

• From Hungary, Rita Linda Potyondi of Cirko Film - Másképp Foundation, the only Hungarian distributor to operate as a non-profit-foundation, they also own one theater in Budapest. Working on a showstring budget, they are guided by personal tastes and focus on international and particularly European ‘difficult’ auteur films with targeted or limited audiences, especially those that explore themes related to discriminated groups: homosexuals, handicapped people, ethnic or religious minorities and victims of family abuse. Their last releases include films by Robert Guédiguian, Bruno Dumont, Fernando Leon de Aranoa, Baltasar Kormakur, Alain Corneau, Bruno Podalydès, Bertrand Bonello, Claire Denis, Ferzan Ozpetek, Catalin Mitulescu and Oskar Roehler. A recent surprise success was Anders Thomas Jensen’s ‘Adam's Apples’ which became a sort of cult film. They also did well with Palme d’Or-winner ‘4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days’, and ‘Persepolis’, Susanne Bier’s ‘After the Wedding, ‘Red Road’, ‘My Brother Is An Only Child’, ‘A Soap’, ‘Our Daily Bread’. Upcoming are the Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne's ‘Lorna’s Silence’, Gustave de Kervern and Benoit Belepine’s ‘Louise Michel’, Nic Balthazar’s ‘Ben X’, Simon Staho’s ‘Heaven’s Heart’, Ole Christian Madsen’s ‘Kira’s Reason’, Josef Fares’ ‘Leo’, Anders Thomas Jensen’s ‘The Green Butchers’ and ‘Flickering Lights’, and Ole Bornedal’s ‘Just Another Love Story’.

• Czech distributor Artcam’s Managing Director Premysl Martinek knows he is fighting an uphill battle. In 2007 combined total admissions for Artcam's films were under 50,000 — 0.4 percent of the national total. By comparison, leading distributor Falcon drew more than 4,000,000 viewers with its films, nearly a third of the market. However Martinek is convinced there is room in the market for small distributors and is interested in the shared challenges, from the opportunities offered by digital distribution and video-on-demand to how to negotiate with producers on minimum guarantees. The main problem is cultivating an audience. “It's very different from in Holland or Germany, where there are audiences for arthouse films,” he says.

Most of Artcam's target market is in Prague, home to roughly 1,000,000 people where European film is largely restricted to a handful of single-screen theatres, while the city's 14 multiplexes focus primarily on Hollywood imports and successful local films.

Artcam has distributed some of the most widely heralded European films of recent years, including Ole Madsen's drama ‘Prague’, ‘Persepolis’ and ‘The Diving Bell and the Butterfly’. The international success of such films has attracted the attention of larger distributors who are now crowding the arena. This year in Cannes when they tried to acquire ‘Waltz with Bashir’, there was greater competition. Martinek says arthouse is an important part of any film culture, and lack of access to European films is hurting Czech cinema because if they lack exposure to the cinema of other countries, from new ways of narration, they cannot develop their own cinema. The Czech Ministry of Education has introduced media studies to secondary school curricula to show young people that film is “not just fun and popcorn. It's also art.”

• Polish distribution company Gutek’s Jakub Duszyński, artistic director and head of programming (along with Roman Gutek) at the Muranow movie theater also programs for the different festivals held at the theatre and for Poland’s largest film event, the Era New Horizons Film Festival in Wroclaw. A lawyer by training and a fan of Asian genre films, Duszynski has also set up a distribution company (Blink) specializing in this type of film.

Gutek Film has always been a launching pad for auteur films and has released films by Lars Von Trier, Pedro Almodóvar, Jim Jarmush and Wong Kar-Wai. Every year, they distribute two or three films not aimed solely at auteur film enthusiasts, but also at multiplex audiences. Among such titles are Tom Tykwer’s ‘Perfume: The Story of a Murderer’ and ‘Control’. Coming up are Polish features including Jerzy Skolimowski’s ‘Four Nights With Anna’, Piotr Lazarkiewicz’s ‘0_1_0’ and Katarzyna Adamik’s ‘Boisko bezdomnych’. They distribute almost exclusively European films. The box office is certainly dominated by US films, but by only a few titles which often have, interestingly, something European about them, for example they may be inspired by European literature.

• Slovakia’s Michal Drobny is marketing manager for Slovak distributor Continental Film. Slovakia sees 2,500,000 to 3,000,000 admissions in a year. A successful film for Continental is 10,000 to 15,000 admissions, as compared to one of the Harry Potter films which will have 200,000 admissions.

Continental releases 30 to 40 films a year and, thanks largely to its partnership with Warner Bros, enjoys a market share of 20%–30%. Continental also serve as Slovak distribution partners for Hollywood Classic Entertainment, which often buys rights to European and arthouse titles for several Eastern European territories at once. Continental acquires other titles through direct negotiation with the producers, usually from the Czech Republic. Drobny seldom attends festivals other than Berlin. This year is his first visit to San Sebastian.

Margins are tight for Continental, which is the second or third largest distributor in Slovakia. Continental is also a 30% shareholder in Slovak multiplex chain Cinemax, which owns nine cinemas countrywide. Continental also operated Bratislava's only arthouse cinema until it was turned into a congress hall.

Continental counts on public money for a small portion of its operating budget. The Slovak Ministry of Culture gives support up to a maximum of SKK 160,000 (€5,500) for the distribution of European films which covers the cost of two or three prints. Continental also receives funding through the MEDIA automatic support scheme, typically receiving 40 to 60 cents per admission for European films.

Drobny says this public support is welcome but it's seldom enough to make a real difference to distributors. “A print for a US title costs $300 [€210]. For a European title, the cost is $1,000–1500 [€700–1,000] for the print, plus I still need to pay for the all the marketing materials and the cost of subtitles,” he says. “We can't be surprised that American films are everywhere.”

Not surprisingly few European films secure distribution in Slovakia. Cinemax promotes European and arthouse film through its Artmax program and screens independent films once a week, sometimes for free. Current titles in the selection include ‘Good Bye, Lenin!’, ‘The Secret Life of Words’, ‘The Science of Sleep’, ‘Volver’ and ‘Angel’. In cooperation with the Embassy of Spain, Continental and Cinemax are creating a Spanish Days celebration of Spanish cinema at Cinemax locations in November.

Drobny has hopes that digital cinema will help small distributors, but believes it will be five to ten years before the major studios settle on a common format. Even then, the costs of converting screens will be challenging for the private sector. “To install one 2K digital system costs SKK 3m–4m [€100,000–132,000] and we have 37 screens, so it's a lot of money,” he says. “We'd like to invest but it will take a long time to see a return on that investment.”

• From Romania, Transilvania Film, founded by Tudor Giurgiu and currently run by Stefan Bradea is one of the successful pioneers of arthouse film distribution in Romania. At first they distributed mainly British, German and Scandinavian features but gradually turned to quality Romanian films, genre pictures, even some mainstream American movies. Their eclectic selection is targeted to the highly educated public, basically university graduates under 35. Their latest premiere was ‘Non pensarci’ by Gianni Zanasi, an Italian comedy. Coming up are Gus Van Sant’s ‘Paranoid Park’ and a few Romanian films: Horatiu Malaele’s ‘Silent Wedding’, Adrian Sitaru’s ‘Hooked’ and Anca Damian’s debut, ‘Crossing Dates’. Their most profitable film was Tudor Giurgiu’s ‘Love Sick’ with 20,800 admissions and a box office gross of over €50,000. Other successful features were Neil Burger’s ‘The Illusionist’, with 11,500 admissions, and ‘Paris Je T’Aime’, with 9,715 admissions.

Film distribution business in Romania is rather unstable. There are eight active distributors bringing 150-160 features every year to 40-50 screens around the country. The number of distributors is growing and it is becoming a overserved field.

The Romanian mainstream public has little interest in European arthouse film and there are very few available screens, no arthouse cinemas and a poor DVD and TV arthouse market. And there is competition among distributors.

Stefan Kitanov is the founder of the most important annual film event in Bulgaria, the Sofia International Film Festival. In 2001 he founded ART FEST Ltd., the company behind Sofia IFF. The same company is one of the key European film distributors in Bulgaria. ART FEST Ltd. has three components: production, distribution and exhibition.

Most recent releases include Fatih Akin’s ‘The Edge of Heaven’, ‘The Palermo Shooting ‘by Wim Wenders and ‘Delta’ by Kornel Mundruczo. The most successful releases were Francois Ozon’s ‘Swimming Pool’ and ‘Crossing the Bridge’ by Fatih Akin with 8,000 to 10,000 admissions.

Such a distribution business is not profitable. Festival audiences like European films but the general audience likes Hollywood films. Festival audiences don’t go to regular cinemas. The general audience goes to regular cinemas, therefore European films don’t go regularly to mainstream cinemas. There need to be events around the distribution of European films so that they be seen, such as a traveling package going to different towns, whether it is with 35mm or video screenings. There are less than 30 towns in Bulgaria with cinemas.

• From Estonia, Katrin Rajaare of Tallinnfilm, a state-owned company that used to produce the majority of Estonian films during the Soviet era has stopped production and sold its studio and now focuses on restoration of its archives. In 2004, Tallinnfilm began operating as an arthouse cinema and a year later started a distribution operation to ensure continuous programming for the cinema. Tallinnfilm acquires the rights to 12-16 films a year, mostly European films, with some titles from Asia and the US. As a state-owned company, Tallinnfilm buys mostly Estonian theatrical rights only. It is the second largest distribution company in Estonia, with a market share of 2.6%. In the Baltic countries, all rights are acquired for smaller films and shared with Lithuania’s Skalvija and Latvia’s Kino Riga. Their biggest hit in 2007 was ‘La Vie en Rose’ with 9,606 paid admissions. This film was number 43 in the 2007 national box office chart. Only US and Estonian films were at the top of the chart. Recent acquisitions include ‘Happy-Go-Lucky’ and ‘Vicky Christina Barcelona’ to be released around Christmas and the beginning of 2009.

There is a small, steady market for arthouse titles in the capital city of Tallinn, but the recent opening of a five-screen miniplex in the second city, Tartu (96,000 inhabitants), has brought hope from the outskirts as well. There are very few towns where you can screen European films, although the cinemas have received public support for technical equipment and should screen arthouse titles, but the reality is that you can’t force cinemas to screen certain films that won’t bring in audiences.

• From Lithuania Skalvija, an exhibitor since 1962 under the name of Planeta became the only arthouse in Lithuania in 1992. It has only one screen and 88 seats and is subsidized by the Vilnius Municipality. Located in the city center; it promotes quality cinema and pays special attention to young audiences and education. Its market share as an exhibitor is 1.11%. Two major multiplex theatres share 70 % of the entire Lithuanian exhibition market. Greta Akcijonaite heads its recent arthouse film distribution activity. Over the last two years they have released 10 films theatrically, and another 5 have been acquired for Lithuania and/or all the Baltic States. As a very small and specialized distributor, Skalvija has a market share of 0.64%. Most recent releases were the Danish film ‘Adam's Apples’, with almost 8,000 admissions and the Spanish film ‘Dark Blue Almost Black’ with over 6000 admissions. Recent acquisitions include Sam Garbarski’s ‘Irina Palm’ (Belgium/UK), Kornel Mundruczo’s ‘Delta’ (Hungary), the Palme d’Or winner ‘The Class’ (France) by Laurent Cantet, Thomas Clay’s ‘Soy Cowboy’ (Thailand/UK), Ruben Östlund’s’ Involuntary’ (Sweden), and Ilmar Raag’s ‘The Class’ (Estonia).

The market share of the European films released theatrically was 25% in 2007 although the share of admissions to European films was only 11%. There is definitely a lack of venues for screening European and quality films.

• Latvia’s Oskars Killo heads Acme Film Sia the leading independent film distributor in Latvia, established in 2004 and owned by Acme, a Lithuanian based company. The rights for Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are bought by the mother company in Lithuania. In 2007, Acme Film had 62 theatrical releases and a 25% market share. In 2008, the number of films released will be the same, but the revenue is expected to be higher. In 2008, Acme Film has had such European successes as French films ‘99 Francs’ and ‘Asterix at the Olympic Games’, and Spain’s ‘The Orphanage’. The last European hit was ‘2 Days in Paris’, released on one print on July 4, 2008 and still in release with 12,500 admissions thus far. ‘Cash’ was released on one print on August 1 and has 8,500 admissions so far. The results for ‘2 Days in Paris’ and ‘Cash’ are comparable to recent US releases in Latvia such as ‘The X-Files 2’, and ‘Disaster Movie’. Recent European acquisitions include ‘Happy-Go-Lucky’, ‘Paris’, ‘JCVD’, ‘The Duchess’, ‘Vicky Christina Barcelona’, ‘Vinyan’, ‘Ne te retourne pas’ among others.

In 2007, European films had a 18.3% market share, US films a 66% market share, the rest of the world 10.1% and national films a 5.5% market share.

'Friend of Mine' to open Hamburg fest

'Friend of Mine' to open Hamburg fest
COLOGNE, Germany -- Sebastian Schipper's drama Ein Freund von Mir (A Friend of Mine) will open this year's Hamburg International Film Festival, organizers said Wednesday. It will be the world premiere of the feature, which stars Daniel Bruehl (Good-bye, Lenin!) as a straight-laced insurance salesman and Juergen Vogel (The Free Will) as the free spirit who turns his life upside down.

Auteur theory: 'Lenin!' distribution is 'absurd'

Auteur theory: 'Lenin!' distribution is 'absurd'
COLOGNE, Germany -- German director Wolfgang Becker has decried as illegal the distribution of his 2003 comedy Good Bye, Lenin! by the right-wing opposition Civic Democrat Party (ODS) as part its national election campaign in the Czech Republic. The anti-communist ODS has distributed some 500,000 DVDs of Good Bye, Lenin! to potential voters in the run-up to the June 2-3 elections. The party views the film, which tells of the collapse of communism in East Germany through the story of a party-faithful mother and her loving son, as supportive of their political views. Becker disagrees.

Burton has Cannes jury duty

Burton has Cannes jury duty
PARIS -- Tim Burton will be joining the Cinefondation jury at the Festival de Cannes, organizers announced Tuesday. The Cannes section is dedicated to student and graduate films, and this year has 17 titles in competition. Burton joins previously announced jury members French actress Sandrine Bonnaire, Malian filmmaker Souleymane Cisse, German actor Daniel Bruhl (Goodbye, Lenin!) and Polish composer Zbigniew Preisner.

Hot topic: Germany's mean streets

Hot topic: Germany's mean streets
BERLIN -- Attendees at this year's Berlin International Film Festival could be forgiven for thinking that Germany is coming apart at the seams. Judging by the latest crop of local films, unemployment is rife, youth gangs rule the streets and your average German can barely contain his desire to rape, murder and destroy. Films like Competition entry The Free Will about a violent serial rapist, Tough Enough, which plays like a German Mean Streets, or the skinhead initiation of Combat Sixteen are worlds away from the feel-good history of Goodbye, Lenin! or wry upper-crust comedy of a Dorris Doerrie movie.

Deal brings 123 German films to VOD

Deal brings 123 German films to VOD
BERLIN -- Germany's No. 1 Internet provider, T-Online, and the German Film Institute's filmportal.de Web site on Tuesday unveiled a new video-on-demand service for what they called "the most important German films of all time." The pilot project, presented at the Berlin International Film Festival, features 20 films influential in shaping the history of German cinema -- from Metropolis to Good bye, Lenin! In addition to movies, the T-Online VOD site will offer free background information and such bonus materials as Fritz Lang's original sketches for Metropolis. T-Online and filmportal.de will expand the project to eventually include the 100 most important German movies as determined by a German Film Institute survey of leading industry executives in 1995. Only films produced during the Nazi era will be excluded because German law makes the sale of anti-Semitic material illegal.

X takes 'Grassroots' toke

X takes 'Grassroots' toke
BERLIN -- Germany's X Filme, the team behind art house hits Good bye, Lenin! and Andreas Dresen's Summer in Berlin, have joined forces with the U.K. producers behind British children's classic The Magic Roundabout for a stop-motion animation feature based on Gilbert Shelton's cult comic Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. The project, titled Grassroots, was announced Monday at the Berlin International Film Festival. Celluloid Dreams will handle world sales. Shelton has written the script with Paul Davies. Dave Borthwick (Roundabout) is attached to direct. Bruce Higham, Andy Leighton and David Lascelles will produce on the U.K. side with X Filme's Andro Steinborn.

Five more years for German fund's Schmid-Ospach

Five more years for German fund's Schmid-Ospach
COLOGNE, Germany -- Germany's largest regional film subsidy board, the Filmstifftung NRW, announced Wednesday that it has extended the contract of managing director Michael Schmid-Ospach for another five years. Schmid-Ospach took over as managing director in 2001, replacing Dieter Kosslick who moved to Berlin to become director of the Berlin International Film Festival. Under Schmid-Ospach's direction, the Filmstifftung has backed a wide range of German productions, from such local boxoffice hits as Manitou's Shoe and 7 Dwarves to international crossover successes including Good Bye, Lenin! and Mostly Martha.

X-Filme forms own unit to pitch sleeper 'Zucker'

X-Filme forms own unit to pitch sleeper 'Zucker'
BERLIN -- Good bye, Lenin! producers X-Filme have set up an in-house sales division, X-Filme World Sales, to handle international distribution of Dani Levy's sleeper hit Go for Zucker -- An Unorthodox Comedy. X-Filme head Stefan Arndt and the company's business and legal affairs executive Andro Steinborn, will manage the new sales company. Previously, X-Filme sold international distribution rights to its films on a case-by-case basis to such German sales groups as Bavaria Film International and Beta Cinema. X-Filme said Zucker already has sold to Italy's Ladyfilms and Orlando in Israel. The Jewish family comedy, which focuses on the conflict between an West German orthodox Jew and his very unorthodox East German brother, was originally planned as a TV movie but scored a theatrical release in Germany through X-Filme, which also helped produce it, going on to gross more than $3 million.

Hopscotch touts slate

Hopscotch touts slate
SYDNEY -- Leading independent distributor Hopscotch revealed its 2005 lineup Thursday, a slate hailed by co-owner Troy Lum as festival-lauded and director-driven. Set for release are Murderball, about wheelchair rugby players; Gregg Araki's Mysterious Skin; Wong Kar Wei's 2046; German smash hit Der Untergang (The Downfall); and Kim Ki-Duk's Bin-jip (3-Iron). In addition, Hopscotch will handle an Australian film, Craig Monahan's Peaches, starring Hugo Weaving, Jacqueline McKenzie and newcomer Emma Lung. Hopscotch, shared by partners Lum, Sandie Don and Frank Cox, almost doubled its first year boxoffice takings in 2003 of AUS$13 million to AUS$22 million ($17 million) in 2004. Successful releases in 2003-04 included Fahrenheit 9/11, Goodbye Lenin!, Nowhere in Africa, Somersault, Spellbound and Touching the Void.

'Downfall' tops 3 mil admits

'Downfall' tops 3 mil admits
MUNICH -- Der Untergang (The Downfall), about Hitler's final days, continued at the No. 1 spot in German theaters for a fourth week in a row and broke through the 3 million-ticket barrier only 27 days after its release, distributors Constantin Film said Wednesday. So far this year, Untergang has been the second homegrown production to rise above the three million mark. The other movie, (T)Raumschiff Surprise -- Periode 1, also a Constantin film, managed that feat just one weekend after its release in late July and has sold more than 9 million tickets since then. Last year, two homegrown productions sold more than 3 million tickets in Germany: Good bye, Lenin! which scored 6 million, and Das Wunder von Bern (The Miracle of Bern) with 3.1 million.

Germany boxoffice bounces back

Germany boxoffice bounces back
COLOGNE, Germany -- Germany's boxoffice regained some of its momentum in the first half of this year, with ticket revenue inching up 1.4% to €420 million ($517.7 million), according to official figures released Wednesday by the German Film Board. The official tally confirmed earlier estimates that more than 1 million more tickets were sold in the first six months of the year compared with the same period last year, representing a total of 72.3 million admissions. Leading the pack were The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as well as two Hollywood films by German directors: Wolfgang Petersen's Troy and Roland Emmerich's The Day After Tomorrow. There were no German films released in the first half of 2004 to match the success of last year's Good bye, Lenin! and the market share for German films slipped to 13.9% from a year-earlier 17.1%. But those figures don't take into account the astronomical business generated by Constantin Film's (T)Raumschiff Surprise -- Periode 1 (Spaceship Surprise -- Period 1). The sci-fi spoof by Michael Bully Herbig regained the No. 1 spot in its fourth session last weekend, bringing its total earnings to €40.8 million ($50.3 million). Spaceship is already the year's No. 1 release, and if it continues its record-breaking pace, it could single-handedly push the market share for German films this year to something approaching 20%, industry observers said.

X Filme marks 10-year milestone

X Filme marks 10-year milestone
COLOGNE, Germany -- "In each European country, there is one -- and only one -- production company that can consistently produce films that work internationally. In Spain, it's Pedro Almodovar's El Deseo. In Germany, it's X Filme." That statement, made by the head of a leading U.S. indie distributor at this year's Cannes film festival, sums up why Berlin-based X Filme Creative Pool -- which turned 10 years old this week -- remains a primary port of call for international acquisitions execs. From such break-out hits as Run, Lola, Run and Good bye, Lenin! to art house notables including Love in Thoughts, Heaven and Life Is All You Get, X Filme has broken free of the confines of the German market to find a worldwide audience for its eclectic, director-driven films.

Cannes panel decries piracy, eyes solutions

Cannes panel decries piracy, eyes solutions
CANNES -- A high-level prefestival forum on piracy Tuesday included alarming reports from throughout Europe about the scale of the problem. The examples given were enough to make any industryite sit up and listen. An estimated 700,000 illegal copies of the German hit movie Good bye, Lenin! were already in circulation when the film came out on video on its home turf, equivalent to a revenue loss of about €3 million ($3.6 million). But Cannes jury president Quentin Tarantino, one of the few representatives of talent at the forum, said the piracy issue is not black and white. "On one hand, this is a business. ... You need to have a healthy industry," the director said. But he condoned the fact that pirated copies of his film Pulp Fiction circulate in China, where it would not otherwise be released, and said he is grateful that certain rare movies not available from legit routes can be found on bootleg copies. "I would be a liar if I was to say, across the board, no piracy," Tarantino said.

Tarantino, festival panel tackle piracy

Tarantino, festival panel tackle piracy
A high-level prefestival forum on piracy held Tuesday heard alarming reports from across Europe about the scale of the plague. The examples given were enough to make any industryite sit up and listen. According to estimates, about 700,000 illegal copies of the German hit movie Good Bye, Lenin! were already in circulation when the film came out on video on its home turf, equivalent to a revenue loss of about 3 million euos ($3.6 million). But Cannes jury president Quentin Tarantino, one of the few representatives of talent at the forum, said the piracy issue is not black and white. "On one hand, this is a business. ... You need to have a healthy industry," the director said. But he condoned the fact that pirated copies of Pulp Fiction circulate in China, where the movie would not otherwise be released, and said he is grateful that certain rare movies not available from legit routes can be found on bootleg copies. "I would be a liar if I was to say, across the board, no piracy," Tarantino said.The MPA estimates worldwide losses to its member companies of about $3.5 billion to pirated hard copies alone. The scale of online piracy is harder to estimate, but MPA regional director Dara MacGreevy said it's a growing concern. "Illegal downloads are now increasing faster in Europe than anywhere else in the world," MacGreevy told attendees at the forum, organized jointly by the Festival de Cannes, French pay channel Canal Plus and France's CNC film body.

German boxoffice falls in 2003 to $1.1 billion

BERLIN -- Finding Nemo and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl couldn't keep the German boxoffice from sinking last year, and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King didn't bring about a return to growth in Germany, according to official figures released Wednesday. The numbers from Germany's Federal Film Board reveal that local boxoffice returns fell 11.5% to €850 million ($1.1 billion) last year from €960.1 million in 2002. The film board blamed a record hot summer, rising film piracy and a lack of blockbuster hits for the decline. Hits were certainly hard to find in Germany last year. Only six titles earned more than €20 million ($25.1 million) in the territory, with Wolfgang Becker's tragicomedy Good bye Lenin! the sole German-language title in that exclusive club, which also included Return of the King, Nemo, Pirates, The Matrix Reloaded and Catch Me If You Can.

Foreign-language choices defy conventional wisdom

NEW YORK -- "Flabbergast" is not a foreign word -- it's etymology is unknown -- but it certainly can be used to describe some of the likely reactions to choices -- and omissions -- the Academy made this year in the foreign-language film category. Canadian helmer Denys Arcand's The Barbarian Invasions (Miramax Films) and Ondrej Trojan's Zelary (Sony Pictures Classics) from the Czech Republic had been bandied by those following the foreign film race as likely shoo-ins to nab nominations. But Wolfgang Becker's German feature, Good bye, Lenin! was also expected to find a place in the class photo too, but it was nowhere to be found when the noms were unveiled. In fact, a whole host of titles that have begun developing a following were among the missing. Among them, Bent Hamer and IFC Films' Kitchen Stories (Norway); Byambasuren Davaa, Luigi Falorni and ThinkFilm's The Story of the Weeping Camel (Mongolia) and Kim Ki-duk's and SPC's Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter ... and Spring (Korea).

New prize at Berlin fest for young filmmakers

New prize at Berlin fest for young filmmakers
BERLIN -- The Berlin International Film Festival, together with French channel TV5 and the Franco-German Youth Office, is launching a new film prize to be presented at this year's Berlin Fest (Feb. 5-15), organizers said Friday. The prize, called Dialogue en Perspective, will honor a German film screening in the Perspectives on German Cinema sidebar at the Festival. The section, set up three years ago, highlights works by young German directors. The new prize capitalizes on the recent success of Wolfgang Becker's Good Bye Lenin!, which was a surprise hit in France and aims to promote German film to often skeptical French audiences. A jury of four French and three German members, all aged between 18-29, will choose the winner. The film will be screened at the Festival of German Film in Paris in October as well as airing on TV5.
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