BFI supports BAFTA nominees

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European Update

This year’s contenders for the BAFTA Film Awards include heavy hitters with a heavy load of nominations. Leading the charge are Steven Spielberg and Todd Haynes with nine nominations each for Bridge of Spies and Carol, followed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu and The Revenant with eight. Rounding out the Best Films of the year, as seen by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, are The Big Short and Spotlight. Not much tea time in any of them.

That may account for six films vying for Best Outstanding British Film (without Spectre) and the Minionstrippy trip to swinging London entering the animated race. Ben Roberts, director of the BFI Film Fund, which supported six of the films that garnered a total 11 nominations, including 45 Years and Brooklyn, was pleased “to see a number of excellent British films and filmmakers across the Outstanding British and Outstanding Debut categories.” BFI Lottery investment supports the U.K.’s independent sector, he explained, “where so many of our brightest stars are born, and where talented teams work with extraordinary tenacity and skill to bring their stories to the screen.”

Berlinale Watches Shooting Stars

The jury of industry experts as appointed by European Film Promotion (EFP) selected ten “gifted young actors” to become the 2016 European Shooting Stars. In the 19th year of the Creative Europe-MEDIA supported Programme, they hail from Belgium, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and The Netherlands. Among the past recipients of this recognition is Alicia Vikander (Sweden), double BAFTA nominee in leading and supporting acting categories for The Danish Girl and Ex Machina. This year, she also co-starred in Burnt with fellow former Shooting Star Daniel Brühl (Germany). Alexander Fehling (Germany, 2011) and Sven Schelker (Switzerland, 2015) were just cast for the fifth season of TV drama “Homeland.”

“We are proud to present these emerging artists on a world stage at the Berlinale,” said jury member Anamaria Marinca. The Romanian Shooting Star of 2008 described the difficulty in selecting the participants from a pool of 24 submitted by EFP member organizations. “We watched films from all over Europe, brimming with fresh young voices. Our final selection of ten actors reflects the diversity and vitality of European cinema.”

Euro Film Market Booked

Also in Berlin, Germany, the “first film market of the year” is solidly sold out. The European Film Market expects more than 8,000 producers, exhibitors, world sales agents, buyers and financiers Feb. 11-19. No fewer than 38 “state-of-the-art cinemas are at the service” of market participants, organizers noted. (Check them out here.) EFMCinemobile is a new addition that seats 80 and offers digital 3D, just outside the iconic market center of Martin-Gropius-Bau.

The joint ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) booth marks another premiere. On Feb. 17, EFM’s ongoing partnership with the “Bridging the Dragon” network presents its very first Sino-European Seminar. Thirty-five European producers will spend the entire day with Chinese experts “in order to gain a deeper insight” into the People’s Republic as part of EFM Asia. “Our new initiatives are an appropriate reaction to the development of and great changes in the international film and media landscape,” noted EFM director Matthijs Wouter Knol.

Ymagis Group Growing

Ymagis Group has a new deputy chief executive officer. Georges Garic joined the European “specialist in digital technologies for the cinema industry” after three years at Asteelflash with 6,000 employees and US$900 million in revenue. His positions at this international electronic manufacturing services company included oversight of the United States and China (2008) and Europe, Middle East and Africa (2012). Commenting on this strong international background, Jean Mizrahi, Ymagis Group president and CEO, expects “this seasoned professional” who has worked in “highly competitive industrial sectors” to “accelerate the synergies among our group’s businesses and prepare it for the next steps in our development.”

One such step is a recent agreement with Smartjog. Executed in line with Mizrahi’s “strategy to become the undisputed leader in digital content delivery across Europe,” Ymagis acquired their remaining stake in Smartjog Ymagis Logistics. SYL was founded only two years ago to offer the cinema industry “integrated solutions” to meet delivery needs for theatrical releases, second-run and classic films, trailers and cinema ads.

Taking full operational control will allow Ymagis to integrate related activities in two other subsidiaries (dcinex SA and Eclair Media SAS) “in a more efficient manner,” the Group envisions—as well as leading to “joint business initiatives” across the delivery services at DSAT Cinema, as part of their global agreement announced in June. As of that same date, 7,172 screens in Europe were under exhibitor-services contracts with Ymagis, and 6,401 screens were installed under VPF contracts. While a network of 3,300 connected cinemas may pale by comparison to the number anticipated as part of the Digital Cinema Delivery Coalition (featured elsewhere in this issue), Ymagis Group is the only company capable of delivering content digitally via satellite, DSL and/or fiber.

Alliance Française Serves Up Classics

All that (admittedly important) talk about digital delivery made this columnist hungry for some old-fashioned cinéma. At the French Institute-Alliance Française (FIAF) in Manhattan, the monthly CinéSalon not only serves wine and cheese after its screenings but also the most delicious of auteur-inspired dishes.

As part of its February series honoring the “incredible technological innovations and evolving filmmaking practices of the past half-century” in cinematographer Pierre Lhomme’s films, FIAF selected representative titles, from The Army of Shadows (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1969) to Maurice (1987, with director James Ivory attending a Q&A after the screening). While the majority of the films are being presented in pristine restorations, The Mother and the Whore (1973), considered one of the greatest French films of the post-War era, is showing in a rare 35mm screening. Series curators attribute the film’s success “to the trust and artistic complicity that developed between Pierre Lhomme and director Jean Eustache over the course of a manic four-week shoot.” For more information, go to www.fiaf.org/events/winter2016/2016-01-cinesalon.shtml.