Vue goes to Gfinity and beyond

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European Update

Pan-European mega-exhibitor Vue Entertainment International and eSports company Gfinity are bringing electronic (video, computer) gaming to the big screen. While that’s not necessarily something new, this deal will actually create the U.K.’s first dedicated eSports arena at Vue Fulham Broadway in London.

Facilitated by Gfinity’s sponsorship and broadcasting partner Pitch International, a section of the nine-plex will be transformed to become a dedicated 600-capacity eSports and event venue. Named Gfinity Arena, three custom-built stages will be offering “the comfiest seats found in eSports,” the www.gfinity.net blog promises. The redesigned venue (2,252 total seats in its cinema configuration) can accommodate more than 1,000 fans over the course of a weekend and more than 25,000 throughout the eSports season, the company noted. Additional amenities include a player lounge for up to 50 gamers, Gfinity’s own entrances with ticketing, ATMs and a “confectionery stall” (aka concession stand).

At press time, the Gfinity Arena was scheduled to open in March in time to kick off the 2015 Gfinity Championships. eSports events will be scheduled for every weekend and on selected weekday evenings. These events extend Gfinity’s online platform where gamers can socialize and compete in a regular roster of competitions, leagues and ladders–all with the opportunity to “potentially win substantial prize money and/or pit their skills against professional and widely followed ‘star’ players.” The last live tournament, G3, attracted 3,830 ticket-buying spectators and achieved 8.7 million online views over a single weekend, Gfinity added. “In partnering with one of Europe’s largest cinema chains, Gfinity is now also able to broadcast its events live into Vue cinemas in the likes of Poland and Germany, countries which both have a large eSports following.” These events are based around best-selling games such as Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, FIFA 2015, CS: GO, StarCraft and Halo.

MEDIA Salles Informs

Our friends at MEDIA Salles just posted the latest issue of their “DGT online informer” (no. 115) at www.mediasalles.it/dgt_online. The editorial by the organization’s president, Luigi Grispello, introduces news about the next edition of its DigiTraining Plus, to take place in Prague and Bratislava, Poland, August 26-30, 2015. The training course will ask the all-important question: “What do you do with digital now you’ve got it?”

Recommended reading is the story of CineCiutat in Palma de Mallorca, Balearic Islands, which was revived by local residents when the previous operator filed for bankruptcy. “Our story is one of resistance,” the nonprofit association’s president, Pedro Barbadillo, declared. They purchased digital projectors for two auditoriums, while the remaining two use Blu-ray and 35mm “according to business agreements with the distributors.”

While that theatre certainly qualifies for the informer category “Not One Less,” MEDIA Salles’ secretary general Elisabetta Brunella’s article about the Zoo Palast in Berlin, Germany lands in the topic area “All Different All Digital.” This section reports on cinemas located in Europe and the rest of the world “which are quite different from one another but have in common the fact that they have all adopted digital projection.”

BFI Returns to China

To continue its “mission towards deeper cultural exchange and understanding, collaboration and business growth” between China and the U.K. on behalf of the U.K. film industry, the British Film Institute joined the GREAT Festival of Creativity, March 2-4 in Shanghai.

In addition to high-caliber panels hosting the likes of David Heyman (producer of Paddington and Gravity), Ren Zhonglun (president, Shanghai Film Group) and Zhanghong Hu (president, Wanda Group), the festival presented “Shanghai on Film, 1900-1946,” a collection of rare films from the BFI National Archive. As part of the GREAT Shanghai premiere of Paddington, HRH Duke of Cambridge presented “one of the first films of China to survive anywhere in the world,” Nankin Road, Shanghai (1901), also from the BFI National Archive, to the representatives of Shanghai Film Group Co. Ltd. and China Film Corporation.

“The U.K. and China are home to two of the biggest and best film industries in the world,” noted Amanda Nevill, BFI’s chief executive officer. “Both nations have much to gain from forging closer links.” To further that goal during this first-ever U.K./China Year of Cultural Exchange, the BFI coordinated its second delegation of 12 “hand-picked” film industry professionals, after the April 2014 trip to the Beijing International Film Festival. “The opportunities for creative collaborations to drive growth for both the Chinese and U.K. film industries are extremely exciting,” Nevill concluded.

A selection of films featuring Shanghai can be viewed now on BFI Player at http://player.bfi.org.uk/collections/chin.

KINO Comes to New York City

In its second year as an independent festival (after 35 years at the Museum of Modern Art), KINO! 2015 brings ten features (four North American and six East Coast premieres) and the free-to-all “German Short Film Night” to the Cinema Village in Manhattan. Five filmmakers and actor guests are scheduled to introduce their films that, according to organizers, show us “plenty of characters overcoming…obstacles in a courageous, entertaining and sometimes even humorous way.” Among such Teutonic topics are teenage depression, failed suicide attempts and finding romance (About a Girl), schizophrenia (opening-night presentation Flights of Fancy), and aging and aimless youth (To Live!). Also onscreen will be the cyber-terror thriller Who Am I–No System Is Safe, co-produced by Sony Pictures Germany, with remake rights acquired by Warner Bros.

KINO! 2015 (www.kinofestivalnyc.com, April 9-16) is organized with support of Goethe-Institut New York and Deutsches Haus at New York University and The Village Voice. Founded in 1954, German Films Service + Marketing is the national information and advisory center for the promotion of German films worldwide. As part of that mission, German Films just allocated €103,500 (US$112,000) in distribution support for foreign theatrical campaigns awarded to 12 films in 16 countries, ranging from Portugal and Poland to Russia/CIS, Taiwan, Brazil and Canada.

All EYEs on the ‘Colour Fantastic’

More rare insights into film history come from Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Twenty years after hosting its seminal workshop on “Disorderly Order: Colours in Silent Film,” EYE Film Institute Netherlands returns to this important research topic by celebrating the “Colour Fantastic: Chromatic Worlds of Silent Cinema.”

The March 29-30 program offers more than 35 presentations by academics and film specialists from archives, museums and cultural institutions from Australia and the United States to the U.K., Switzerland, Sweden and Italy. One of the accompanying screenings is When the Earth Trembled, a 1913 American feature film based on the San Francisco earthquake. Including the original tints, this restoration takes the best available images from three different sources: the duplicate negatives of the Desmet Collection print held at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, an English version at the British Film Institute (in both cases, nitrate prints decayed) and a tinted nitrate print with Dutch intertitles that recently arrived at EYE.

In conjunction with the conference, the new Amsterdam University Press book Fantasia of Color in Early Cinema by Giovanna Fossati, Joshua Yumibe, Jonathon Rosen and conference keynote speaker Tom Gunning will be presented as well.