Italy meets India at ninth annual River to River Film Festival

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From the Arno to the Ganges: In early December, the beautiful 1920s Odeon in Florence, Italy, hosted the 9th annual Indian Film Festival. Organizers described the feature, documentary and shorts competition, which included Deepa Mehta’s latest, A Heaven on Earth, as “telling stories and real-life experiences which reflect a multifaceted, colorful and ever-changing society which is playing an increasingly important role in the Western world.” The week-long events took place under the patronage of the Indian Embassy to Rome and under the aegis of Mediateca Regionale Toscana-Film Commission as part of the Cinquanta Giorni di Cinema Internazionale a Firenze.

Kodak Lauds Cinematographers
As a longstanding supporter of the only international film festival dedicated to the art of cinematography, Kodak once again had a key presence at the 17th annual Plus Camerimage in Lódz, Poland. The event featured retrospective and competitive screenings, tributes, seminars and demonstrations—including an anniversary presentation of Kodak’s proprietary T-Grain technology with industry partners Arri and Aaton.

“We believe people will walk away with a new appreciation for the cutting-edge technology built into every frame of camera negative film,” said European region marketing director Thierry Perronnet. “Kodak is here to recognize cinematographers, to thank them for what they do, and to help them use our products to continue to expand their creativity for the future.”
That future was encouraged with the Golden Tadpole Award in the Student Etudes Competition. The winner, the Polish short Dirty Words, will be showcased at the Clermont Ferrand Film Festival on Feb. 4.

Berlinale Celebrates Its History
“On occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Berlinale, the past six decades will be brought back to life,” said Berlin Film Festival director Dieter Kosslick, referring to two books by Peter Cowie and the Deutsche Kinemathek–Museum für Film und Fernsehenand and a DVD edition of 22 films to be published this January that “look back at the history of one of the world’s most important film festivals.” Kosslick promised “all sorts of other nice birthday surprises” at the festival running Feb. 11-21, 2010.

The anniversary will itself be a subject of the 2010 event. “Play It Again...! will bring discoveries of the past back to the big screen,” programmers have promised, “and spotlight a number of films exemplary for the festival’s development: from the first decades, which were overshadowed by the Cold War, and the festival’s opening up to films from socialist countries, to the end of Europe’s political division, which some 20 years ago released the festival from its balancing act between cultural openness and political pressures.”
Commercial pressures, meanwhile, have been somewhat relieved with the addition of the BMW Group as the festival’s new main partner alongside L'Oréal Paris and ZDF.

Mega Mamma Mia! Screening

On Jan. 2, London’s O2 arena will host “the biggest screening ever” of the hit musical Mamma Mia! Featuring a giant 100-foot screen (30 m) to entice an anticipated crowd of up to 12,000 fans, “The O2 is as big as it gets,” enthused Simon Hewlett, managing director of Universal Pictures International.

Cinema Awards Add Advisors
Peter Buckingham, head of exhibition and distribution at the U.K. Film Council; Graham Spurling, director of Movies@Cinemas in Ireland; Justin Ribbon, managing director of Empire Cinemas, and Phil Clapp, chief executive officer of the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association joined the RAAM Cinema Awards Advisory Board.

Feb. 3, 2010 will mark the sixth year of the RAAM Awards, established “to celebrate success in the U.K. and Irish cinema and film distribution industry.” Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle has been unanimously chosen to receive the 2010 International Award.

Other members of the board include: Roger Pollock, executive VP, Paramount Pictures International; Trevor Green, joint managing director, Entertainment Film; Trish Long, VP and general manager, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures-Ireland; Tim Richards, chief executive officer, Vue Entertainment; Steve Perrin, chief executive, U.K. Digital Funding Group; David Hancock, head of film and cinema, Screen Digest; and Tony Meehan of RAAM Management.

Raleigh Partners with FotoKem
In an update to last month’s item about Raleigh Studios Budapest, the company announced an agreement with FotoKem, one of the leading motion picture post-production companies in the United States, to operate a full-service lab and post-production facility there. Said Raleigh president Michael Moore, “Our goal has been to establish a studio in Europe that will support producers with very strong American and European brands…and be able to utilize the Hungarian tax-incentive program. There is really nothing like it on the continent.”

Deutschland Disrespects Copyrights
According to the latest Available for Download study by Germany’s OpSec Security, 40% of all films in German movie theatres could be downloaded illegally. Based on a survey of 465 films that were released between October 2008 and September 2009, the news actually wasn’t all that bad—in comparison to 2007, that is, when 54% of 456 titles released were purloined.

For Jan Oesterlin, managing director of Kino Zukunft Marketing GmbH, the trade group that runs the RESPE©T Copyrights campaign, the changes show that education, persecution and penalties actually work. He also noted that 29% of all illegal trading is happening two days before the film opens and 40% are available after the first weekend. During the second quarter of 2009, the average time was 0.98 days and, in the third, 2.25 days before opening day. Last but certainly not in the least surprising, the more popular the movie, the sooner it is available. Within 30 days, the top ten most downloaded on BitTorrent alone had been taken more than eight million times.

Wales Invests in Films
The Film Agency for Wales announced details about its 2008/09 investment in the local industry. With a budget of £1.15 million (€1.27 mil.; $1.88 mil.), 20 features were developed and eight films produced, the Agency’s chairman Peter Edwards said. Engaging “at every point in the value chain from the creation of film content, through to the consumer,” seven cinema venues, 17 film societies, ten film festivals and four special film events were also subsidized “to enhance specialist film exhibition across Wales, with audience figures rising by 35% over the last three years.” Over a dozen film education projects benefited some 2,300 young people across Wales.

“It is clear that we have had a productive and successful year,” Edwards surmises, “and, most importantly, that the film industry in Wales has a significant contribution to make to our economic success. It is therefore vital that our financiers recognize the need for continued investment to ensure the future health of the digital economy of Wales.”

E-mail news and comments for Andreas Fuchs to Kevin.lally@nielsen.com.