‘Ida’ leads European Film Awards race with five nominations


After their respective success as Palme d’Or and screenplay winners at the Festival de Cannes, Winter Sleep (from Turkey) and Leviathan (Russia) joined the ranks of Ida (five nominations in major categories for Poland) and Force Majeure (from Sweden) as the contenders for best picture at the 27th European Film Awards (EFA). All four represent their countries as submissions for the Foreign-Language Oscar.

The fifth title–Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac Director’s Cut Volume 1 & 2–was not sent to Beverly Hills, but has Charlotte Gainsbourg in the EFA running for best actress alongside her colleague and the film’s onscreen commentator, Stellan Skarsgård. Over the past two years, the Best European Film winner–The Great Beauty and Amour–went on to nab the Golden Boy as well. The European Film Awards ceremony will be held in Riga, Latvia, on Dec. 13. For more information and all the nominees, check out www.europeanfilmawards.eu/en_EN.

European Oscar Contenders Promoted
“More EFP members than ever have decided to help their national Academy Award entries generate as much attention as possible during the forthcoming awards season in Los Angeles,” reported Hamburg, Germany-based European Film Promotion. A record-breaking 22 contenders submitted for consideration (compared to 14 and ten films during the prior two years) were showcased at the Wilshire Screening Room. For the seventh year running, EFP selected “European Academy Award entries with clear potential for U.S. and wide international distribution,” many of which “have already attracted attention at festivals and been celebrated by critics and audiences.”

Financial support came from the EU’s MEDIA Programme (2007-2013) and the participating EFP members, such as Italy’s Istituto Luce Cinecittà. The organization celebrated the 10th anniversary edition of “Cinema Italian Style” with several actors and directors such as Paolo Virzì, whose Human Capital is the country’s Oscar submission. Special guest Giuseppe Tornatore hosted the worldwide preview of the digitally restored version of Cinema Paradiso at the American Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood (with the support of Dolce and Gabbana, in association with La Cineteca di Bologna, and part of the Cinema’s Legacy at the AFI Film Festival 2014 presented by Audi.)

Back to promoting European contenders, Miroljub Vučković of Film Center Serbia finds that offering films during L.A. screenings has the clear advantage “to attract attention of important individuals who could give their voice in favor of some European film. European films are diverse, but together they can bring value of being different.”

Sold on Euro Children’s Films
The European Audiovisual Observatory published a new report analyzing the theatrical circulation of children’s films. Comparing the performance of 648 live-action and animated films made for children up to 12 years of age to more than 8,700 other films demonstrated that, from 2004 to 2013, the former sold five times more tickets on average than fiction aimed at teens and adults.

Martin Kanzler, the Observatory’s cinema analyst, noted how 70 children’s films make up 11% of annual tickets sold to European films—at least one out of ten—in the 40 countries covered by the report. On a cumulative basis, these films generated an estimated total of 373 million admissions in Europe between 2004 and 2013. Whereas that comes down to an average of 142,000 tickets and 71% of titles being seen in at least one other market outside the country of origin, non-children’s fiction films counted merely a median 29,000 entries with an “export rate” of 49%. Children’s films were released in 3.4 non-national markets (animated films in 4.6, on average again), compared to 2.2 for other European fiction films.

Seduced by French Films
“Sex and seduction in French cinema–need we say more?” A recent note from the French Institute/Alliance Française (FIAF) in New York City might as well reminded us that baguette, fromage and vin rouge are what the French have for breakfast. During November and December, the weekly CinéSalon presents the second edition of “The Art of Sex & Seduction,” a “stimulating series” featuring talks (by biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, amongst others), an exhibition (“Jean-Daniel Lorieux: Seducing the Lens”) and plenty of films, of course.

The cultural institute invited guests to “revel in films full of secrets, mysteries, illicit affairs and murder. The erotic and the fatal intertwine in this thrilling series spanning period pieces such as The Last Mistress, the 1972 classic Last Tango in Paris, and contemporary film Stranger by the Lake.” And who can forget The Man Who Loved Women reminiscing about les ouvreuses ushering moviegoers to their seats with their tantalizingly beautiful legs illuminated by the flashlight rather than pointing the way where one needs to go?

Bavaria First to be Fully Digitized
Thanks to subsidy programs, Germany’s southern State is the country’s first to be all-digital, all the time. Since summer 2009, FFF Bayern has been supporting the transition of Bavarian cinemas with special funding. More than half of the screens there received €6.5 million (US$8.1 mil.) in allocations to 415 different projects.

Vue-ing New Space
In its fourth acquisition over the past three years, pan-European chain Vue Entertainment  acquired 36 multiplexes and 362 screens from The Space in Italy for €105 million (US$134 mil.). Founded in 2009 by merging assets of the former Warner Village Cinemas with Medusa Multicinema, The Space cinemas were jointly owned by Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset and the Benetton fashion empire.

“The acquisition of The Space is another very exciting addition to the Vue Group and continues our strategic plan of supplementing our organic growth through opening new cinemas with strategic acquisitions of the highest-quality assets in the U.K. and continental Europe,” noted Vue founder and chief executive officer Tim Richards. Upon completion of the deal in November, Vue will operate 187 cinemas and a total of 1,727 screens.

(Not) Getting Off the Couch
While our industry takes pride in getting people off their couches and out of their homes, Seattle, Washington-based filmmaker Craig Downing founded Couch Fest Films “with the goal of sharing the love of film and video in an unpretentious environment.” Since 2008, “the festival aims to build kinship among movie lovers in a comfortable and cozy setting,” even if that includes an “Inappropriately Awesome” program segment showing at your living room.

As Seattle remains the hub of Couch Fest, with 15 locations hosting the program of some 45 short films, the European cities of Torino, Stockholm, Saint Petersburg, Warsaw, Copenhagen, Berlin, Glasgow and London play heavy into the mix that goes as far as Mexico City and Hong Kong. The selected “pretension-breaking alternative locations” will not be announced until a few days before the Dec. 6 event when “maps, driving directions, parking information and transit options” will be provided.