‘Pride’ triumphs at British Independent Film Awards

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A “glittering array of talent” turned out for the 17th Moët British Independent Film Awards, toasting their achievements with “the Champagne of Cinema.” Getting all bubbly for the first European Update of the New Year, we extend our good wishes to our readers too.

Pride won the most kudos of the night, picking up Best British Independent Film, Best Supporting Actress and Supporting Actor (Imelda Staunton and Andrew Scott). Yann Demange was deemed best director for ’71, as Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle) and Brendan Gleeson (Calvary) took home their statues and Swarovski crystal encrusted magnums of Moët & Chandon for their lead performances. Emma Thompson received the Richard Harris Award (for outstanding contribution by an actor to British film), and Benedict Cumberbatch certainly deserves recognition as someone “who has helped to shine the international spotlight on the U.K.” Best international indie went to Boyhood in a group that included Blue Ruin, Fruitvale Station, Ida and The Babadook.

Maxximizing Star Appeal
Whereas the proposed merger of cinema ad giants Screenvision and National CineMedia was put on hold by the U.S. Department of Justice , the competition watchdogs at Germany’s Bundeskartellamt gave the green light to the joint venture between Cinestar and Cinemaxx. Two of the country’s leading circuits will combine the marketing prowess of their respective 54 and 30 locations with 490 and 257 screens, offering a total of some 176,800 seats.

The yet-to-be formed separate entity, which will be open to other theatres as well, will utilize its increased reach to facilitate “even easier access to the world of 360-degree cinema communications” to its business clients, a spokesperson noted. Film buying and programming, supplier dealings and content relationships with media, as well as all activities geared towards moviegoers, will continue to be handled independently.

Producer Guilds Unite
The Production Guild of Great Britain (PGGB), with 800 members and more than 75 company affiliates, signed bilateral agreements with the Producers Guild of America (PGA, more than 6,600 members) and the Producers Guild of Italy (AGPCI, representing about 80 Italian film and television producers). “International partnerships underpin a huge amount of film and television production and are very much a part of the day-to-day business,” said Alison Small, chief executive of the PGGB. “It makes sense to explore opportunities to share ideas and experience.” AGPCI’s president Martha Capello also believes in the “mutual benefit for both our industries” and PGA executive director Vance Van Petten reminded us that “storytellers are creating content for a global audience.” To him, this partnership can “facilitate creative insights into the shared nature of story across cultures and marketplaces.”

Kinepolis Conquers Dordrecht, Fires Up Laser
Following the acquisition of Wolff Bioscopen in the Netherlands, pan-European exhibition powerhouse Kinepolis began construction in Dordrecht for six screens and 1,200 seats, targeting 300,000 visitors annually, following a fall 2015 opening. In addition to incorporating nine up-and-running Wolff theatres and completing Dordrecht, Kinepolis will pursue projects in Breda and Utrecht.

“We want to interest more people in movies and culture, and meet the needs of Dutch moviegoers,” said Eddy Duquenne, chief executive officer of Kinepolis Group. “Today we have laid the foundations of a new success story… Kinepolis is in a great location by the water and will be sustainably incorporated.”

During the first nine months of 2014, Kinepolis welcomed 13.5 million guests, up 7.7% over the previous year. During the third quarter alone, more than 4.7 million admissions were recorded, The increase of 12.2% was largely due to the acquisitions in the Netherlands and Spain (Abaco Cinebox in Alicante and Madrid), alongside “the poor July and August weather in Belgium and France and the success of local and international films in France.” Limiting factors were the World Cup, beautiful weather in September and “the continuing economic crisis in Spain,” Kinepolis noted.

Projection history was made in Belgium on Dec. 10. With the release of Le Hobbit: La Bataille des Cinq Armées at Kinepolis Bruxelles, auditorium 9 launched Laser ULTRA, combining the two “revolutionary breakthrough technologies” of Dolby Atmos and Barco 4K laser projection. To find out how research and development director Bob Claeys sees it, click http://youtu.be/9vlVP9-Itbk.

Berlin Beckons Music and Media
Berlinale Talents unveiled the theme “2015: A Space Discovery” for their programming at the 65th annual film festival (Feb. 5-15, 2015; www.berlinale.de). Taking advantage of guests arriving for the Internationale Filmfestspiele–and making doing business easier for professionals with combined savings at the European Film Market–Avant Première will host its second trade fair dedicated to performing-arts films.

During the 2014 edition, 300 experts from the cultural film sector participated, plus 80 production companies, 60 broadcasters and 20 distributors. In addition to the screening, trading and watching of some 500 performing-arts films, Germany’s Fraunhofer HHI will present its TIME Lab to the public: a 360-degree recording and projection system at a 7K HD-resolution for 2D and 3D. Its interactive sound system “changes the perception of sound as the observer moves towards and away from the screen.”

Malta Gives Rebates, Gozo Goes 4K
Not only did the Malta Film Commission unveil its redesigned website, the team also confirmed that the European Commission approved Malta’s 27% cash rebate as part of the financial incentives on the basis of EC Treaty State aid rules. Film commissioner Engelbert Grech sees the results as “evidence of our continuous drive to build a sustainable film industry and the Government’s continued support for the audiovisual industry.”

On the neighboring island of Gozo, Sony Digital Cinema continued its support of pristine images. After 18 years as the only movie game in town, the two screens at Citadel Cinema, located in a 100-year-old building that last housed the government income-tax unit, “have gone digital and with the biggest of bangs,” according to Sony. White Light Pictures, in association with Sound Associates of the U.K., supplied Sony’s SXR-R510P digital 4K projectors. Business development director Tim Potter noted, “Sony is always looking to expand into new territories and we hope the people of Gozo will enjoy the spectacular image quality.” New Dolby processors and configurations were brought to 7.1 standards. “We have left no stone unturned to bring together a unique cinematic experience for the enjoyment of Maltese and Gozitans alike,” added Raymond A. Grech, director of White Light Pictures.