British Independent Awards favor Film4

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After receiving an unprecedented 27 nominations in 13 of 18 possible categories, Film4, Channel 4 Television’s feature film division, went on to deliver with ten British Independent Film Awards. Among the winners was best film Slumdog Millionaire by best director Danny Boyle and featuring best newcomer Dev Patel. Further acting honors went to Michael Fassbender (in Steve McQueen’s Hunger, which also received photography and debut director honors), along with Eddie Marsan and Alexis Zegerman in Mike Leigh’s Happy-Go-Lucky. Martin McDonagh won the screenplay award for In Bruges, and Simon Ellis’ Soft was the best short.

“Tonight has proven that Film4 continues to play a vital role in nurturing extraordinary British filmmaking talent,” confirmed Film4’s Tessa Ross. “In this climate of uncertainty, Film4 offers a necessary home for the best of British filmmaking.”

Hancock Respects Copyrights
For the latest update to its successful and humorous print campaign, previously featuring Pirates of the Caribbean and KleinOhrHasen, Germany’s industry coalition to teach consumers to please “RESPE©T COPYRIGHTS” fooled readers with a bad facsimile of Will Smith. Upon closer inspection, superhero Hancock turns out to be a decidedly un-cool biker. “Thank you for watching the original and not the copy,” the message reads. Added Michael Panknin of the campaign’s board of directors, “We want to alert about the problems of film theft and say thank you for legal viewing at the same time.”

Film Institute Stocks Kirch Titles
DIF-Deutsches Filminstitut acquired distribution rights for some 3,500 titles available through the bankruptcy proceedings of KirchMedia GmbH & Co. Claudia Dillmann, director of the German film institute, and the insolvency administrator, signed off on local and international titles, ranging from Der Schatz (1922, G.W. Pabst), Maskerade (1934, Willi Forst) and It’s a Wonderful Life (1946, Frank Capra) to Rio Grande (1950, John Ford) and Die Trapp Familie (1956, Wolfgang Liebeneiner), to Steiner-Das Eisene Kreuz (1976, Sam Peckinpah) and A Midsummer Night's Dream (1998, Michael Hoffman).

Over 110 of the films will have DIF release prints made available to theatres, festivals and special events. According to Dillmann, taking on the rights management for the German-speaking markets “contributes to preserving film as an important element of culture and making them publicly available.”

MEDIA Backs Euro Film Promo
European Film Promotion (EFP) can continue to count on funding from the MEDIA Programme of the European Union throughout 2011. This year alone, €480,000 and €766,000 have been set aside for activities inside and outside of Europe, respectively. The latter Film Sales Support (FSS) includes activities and sales company support at Sundance, Festival Internacional de Cine en Guadalajara and FILMART Hong Kong, along with film festivals in Shanghai, Toronto and Rio de Janeiro, the Asian Film Market in Pusan and American Film Market in Santa Monica.

EFP industry screenings in the U.S. are complemented by the organization’s European activities, such as “Shooting Stars” (Berlin International Film Festival), “Producers on the Move” (Cannes) and “European Distributors: Up Next!” (San Sebastian). “We believe that all of these efforts will go far in improving the conditions for European film and European filmmakers worldwide,” commented EFP’s Hamburg, Germany-based managing director Renate Rose.

Honors for European Films
Italy’s Foreign Language Oscar-submission Gomorra may have swept the 21st European Film Awards in Copenhagen with five honors, including film, director and screenplay, but the choices of critics and public were different. While the International Federation of Film Critics, FIPRESCI, voted for Abdellatif Kechiche and The Secret of the Grain (La graine et le mulet), the public cast its spell on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The European Film Academy bestowed its Lifetime Achievement Award on Dame Judi Dench and lauded Dogme founders Søren Kragh-Jacobsen, Kristian Levring, Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg for their Achievement in World Cinema.

Gunerlokka Goes Digital
The first all-digital multiplex in the Nordic countries opened in Norway. Located in the Oslo suburb of Gunerlokka, Municipal Cinemas Ringen features 925 seats in six auditoria, half of which are already equipped for 3D. Lene Løken of the country’s cinema association Film & Kino called the new theatre “a milestone on the way into a new technological era.” Recently the association also welcomed 70 exhibitors, mostly from its municipal members, in Lillehammer for a first seminar on the digital future.

Germans Unite on D-Cinema

In a letter to Bernd Neumann, state minister for culture and media, Germany’s exhibitor and art house trade organizations HDF Kino and AG Kino-Gilde thanked him for his effort and initiatives in the digitization process and underlined their commitment to an all-inclusive and countrywide deployment.

Both organizations confirmed their support of “The 100 Model,” as introduced in FJI in September 2008, with a few new cultural exceptions. Theatres are exempt from paying the €100 monthly maintenance fee if they received an annual award for their programming during the prior year or if they showed a paid attendance share of at least 50% from German and/or European films. The same non-payment offer applies to cinemas with up to four screens in towns with less than 20,000 inhabitants that grossed under €100,000. Discussions with municipal, state and federal authorities are surely to be continued.

Cinemas Share with MySpace

On Jan. 27, 150 cinemas in the United Kingdom will show the same film, free of charge and at the same time as Internet portal MySpace. Within a week it will be available on DVD. The closing night gala at the Edinburgh Film Festival, Faintheart is the first user-generated feature. MyMovieMashUp—an initiative in conjunction with Vertigo Films and Film4—let U.K. MySpace users participate in every stage of the filmmaking process, including the selection of towns where the film will now play for the day.

“In Faintheart we have created an entirely new model of film creation,” explained James Fabricant, director of business development and media, Europe, for MySpace. “We felt this innovative project wouldn't be complete without their involvement at the final stage.”

Free Ride for Ski Films
From Jan. 22 to 24, 15 international films on skiing and snowboarding will screen during the International Free Ride Film Festival at the “flagship station” of the French Pyrénées. According to representatives, Saint-Lary-Soulan is “first and foremost a traditional mountain village with a history and a soul.” On the film side, “the aim is to pay homage to the films which have helped skiing and snowboarding to flourish.” (www.festival-freeride.com)

Soundtracks Hit the Right Note
Two major events celebrated the art of the soundtrack in Cologne and Cardiff. On Nov. 26, Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle kicked off Wales’ first International Film and Music Festival with a special BAFTA Cymru screening and master class. Robert Carlyle’s latest film, I Know You Know, closed the event, which was supported by the Film Agency for Wales and Wales Assembly Government (www.soundtrackfilmfestival.com).

Whereas Gabriel Yared performed extracts from his prolific repertoire with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Germany’s SoundTrack_Cologne 5.0 offered a workshop with Max Richter, composer of Waltz with Bashir.

Booked Nov. 20-23, this European Congress for Music and Sound in Film and Media also presented live commentary to Marco Kreuzpaintner’s literary hit adaptation Krabat from composer Annette Focks (Four Minutes) and sound editor Peter Fuchs (Sophie Scholl, The Chronicles of Narnia). Podium discussions and artists’ views, historic analysis, student showcases and numerous awards complemented a 25-film line-up of mostly country premieres (www.soundtrackcologne.de).

Please e-mail news and comments for Andreas Fuchs to kevin.lally@nielsen.com.