Berlinale's Dieter Kosslick meets New York press


While in Manhattan calling in his Carte Blanche as “Culinary Cineaste” at the Museum of Modern Art (see last month’s column), Berlinale chief Dieter Kosslick took the opportunity to drum up even more business for the Berlin International Film Festival. Hosting an exclusive event for media representatives from popular, niche and trade media, the always amicable cinema lover and festival administrator made a compelling case for why the U.S. should pay attention to the annual event.

In addition to the popular Red Carpet, which has developed into a critical tool for award-season strategists, he noted that Berlin offers the widest range of programming that continues to represent the event’s roots and responsibilities. Launched in 1951 as part of the U.S. Marshall Plan, and with help from the CIA, Kosslick revealed, the festival was all about bringing joy and big stars. Its dual goal was to break through the isolation of the Cold War and promote American movies in the process. Over the ensuing years, that unique position helped make the Berlinale a place for political and social issues as well, becoming a much-respected and sometimes the only outlet for “forbidden films” from all parts of the world.

As the programming consistently expanded (with only four managing directors in 62 years), the event always aimed to cater to the public. Despite the 19,000 industry and media professionals attending each year, and nearly 250,000 tickets sold last February, Kosslick has proof positive that the Berlin Film Festival is one for the people. “Yes, if you come out of the cinema after a bad movie and it’s eight degrees below, you don’t have the Lido or the Croisette,” Kosslick joked. “But the other A-festivals cannot really offer that big audience.”

Kinepolis Attendance Drops
During the first half of 2011, pan-European exhibitor Kinepolis Group achieved €111 million (US$158.2 mil.) in revenue and €14 million profit (US$19.96 mil.). Without the power of Avatar, total attendance declined 6.8% to 9.6 million moviegoers across all countries, as box office and in-theatre sales were down by 4.9% and 1.1%, respectively. Sales per patron were up, however, “thanks to the continued rollout and success of the new Mega Candy self-service shops that offer visitors a broader assortment and more convenience,” Kinepolis explained. “The higher consumption per visitor, however, could not entirely offset the impact of lower attendance.”

In contrast to France, Spain and Switzerland, where only one local film made it into the list of top-performing titles, several local heroes (Rundskop, Rien à Déclarer, Frits and Freddy) supported box-office revenue in Belgium. “Live opera, ballet, theatre and musicals experienced increased interest. Some performances attracted a record number of visitors and sometimes even ended up in the film top 10 of the week.” Box-office revenue was positively impacted by virtual-print-fee income, the circuit added. Business-to-business revenue rose 17.5%, “mainly thanks to the extensive efforts of the B2B sales teams.”

FIPRESCI Favors Tree of Life

As is customary at the San Sebastian Film Festival since 1999, the more than 200 members of the International Federation of Film Critics named their personal Best Film of the past year. The Grand Prix went to The Tree of Life, “giving Terrence Malick’s latest work a clear victory.” Honors were bestowed on Sept. 16 during the opening ceremony of the 59th edition of the Spanish festival, where Malick’s Badlands won the Golden Shell in 1974.

Films on Fridges

What a cool idea! (And forgive the pun.) recently posted news and plenty of pictures of Fridge Mountain—a massive pile of discarded refrigerators in East London—being turned into a makeshift movie venue. As the dumping ground needed cleaning out in time for the 2012 Olympic Games, volunteers made the very best of it, proclaiming, “Let’s show Films on Fridges!”

German ‘Car City’ Calls on Kinoton
At Autostadt Wolfsburg, everything revolves around mobility, Germering, Germany-based Kinoton recently told us. “The automobile theme park thrills its visitors with impressive multimedia attractions, installations and events.”

One of the venues is the 250-seat KonzernWelt cinema, where Kinoton’s DCP 70 L digital-cinema projector has been up and running since 2007 with help from Barco-licensed DLP Cinema technology. Kinoton added a Dolby 3D system in time for Wim WendersPina to be celebrated as part of the Movimento festival of dance and culture. KonzernWelt also offers Kinoton 35/70mm equipment with auto-rewind platter that can all run fully automatic. The Kino in Autostadt’s ZeitHaus also received a 3D system, which was installed right onto the ceiling of the auditorium. “The special soundproof enclosure for our d-cinema projectors assures that the public will not be disturbed.”

UK’s South West Awards Funding

On behalf of the British Film Institute, South West Screen awarded more than £130,000 (€145,000; US$211,000) of Lottery support to the region’s venues, festivals and archives with the goal of boosting exhibition, moving image and screen heritage. Among the nine worthy recipients are Watershed Media Centre, Bristol (“Developing Diversity in Cinema and Developing Diverse Audiences”); Encounters International Film Festival, Bristol (Nov. 16-20, 2011); Bristol Silents Slapstick Festival (Jan. 26-29, 2012) and six-date South West tour (completed by March); and “From Page to Screen” at Bridport Arts Centre, Dorset (April 11-15, 2012).

Rankin Trains Lens on Raindance

Renowned photographer Rankin brought his vision to the poster for the 19th Raindance Film Festival, which organizers said “picks up on the key theme of this year’s festival—seeing the world through a different lens.” Elliot Grove, director and founder of Europe’s leading independent film festival, is “thrilled to be working with an artist who shares the same values as Raindance.” Mike Cahill’s sci-fi drama Another Earth will lead a line-up of over 80 U.K. premieres including more than 30 from over 25 countries.

Raindance Film Festival runs from Sept. 28 to Oct. 9 at the Apollo Cinema in London’s Piccadilly Circus, with the opening-night premiere of Another Earth at Cineworld Haymarket.

E-mail European news items for Andreas Fuchs to