Kino! 2010 at Museum of Modern Art has 'Vision'

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At the end of April, New York’s Museum of Modern Art kicked off its 31st annual survey of recent German cinema with “Kino! 2010,” programming ten features and 14 short films. Writer-director Margarethe von Trotta could not attend the opening-night screening of her film Vision, but leading lady Barbara Sukowa was greeted with enthusiasm by a packed house.

Sukowa plays Hildegard von Bingen, a Benedictine abbess of the 12th century who became known as a Christian mystic and visionary, author and composer, counselor and philosopher, physician and naturalist, to name but a few of her accomplishments.

The engaging historical drama has been picked up for U.S. distribution. Zeitgeist Films, longtime champions of contemporary German films with titles such as Nowhere in Africa, Sophie Scholl, Aimée & Jaguar and Jud Süss, plans an October release.

Also showing at Kino! was Academy Award-nominated documentary short Rabbit à la Berlin by Bartek Konopka, Piotr Rosolowski and Anna Wydra (http://bit.ly/rabbitberlin). Right before the Oscars, Icarus Films secured all North American rights to the story about the so-called “Wall rabbits” that were thriving in the former no man’s land between East and West Berlin before losing their sanctuary with the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The annual showcase was organized by Laurence Kardish, senior curator of MoMA’s Department of Film, in cooperation with German Films (Munich) and its representative for North America, Oliver Mahrdt.

Pearl & Dean Acquired
Legendary U.K. cinema-advertising firm Pearl & Dean (“The Greatest Name in Cinema Advertising”) was acquired by Image Ltd. The newly formed company is headed by Thomas Anderson, a director of Empire Cinemas, with all P&D management and staff expected to stay on. Previous owner STV media group sold the screen advertiser, which BBC News said was suffering a loss due to a contract signed in 2004 which guaranteed minimum payments to the Vue theatre circuit, for a symbolic £1.

Founded in 1953, P&D now holds an overall market share of 43.4% in terms of locations and controls “the lion’s share of the independent exhibition sector” as well. According to their website (http://business.pearlanddean.com), the latter includes “a wide portfolio of quality sites” operated by the likes of Apollo, Mainline Cinemas, Everyman, Scott Cinemas, Northern Morris, WTW Cinemas and Curzon.

Noted P&D’s chief executive officer Kathryn Jacob, “The acquisition of our business by Image gives us a firm foundation to build on as we continue to strengthen our offering to all of our exhibition partners.”

His Master’s Cinema
Curzon Cinemas, operator of five classic London art houses, and 280-store-strong media retailer HMV have decided to expand their cinematic joint venture to some 20 new urban miniplexes across the United Kingdom. The announcement follows the October 2009 launch of their first three-screen location above an HMV store in Wimbledon (www.hmvcurzon.com).

Calling it a “totally new concept in cinema” at the time, Philip Knatchbull, chief executive officer of Curzon Artificial Eye, had promised: “hmvcurzon will expand the cinema experience beyond just film programming by interacting and reacting to our customers’ interests and desires, and providing them with a wide range of film and entertainment in an intimate and high-quality environment.”

Part of the package are auditoriums color-coded red, blue and green that offer from 70 to 103 seats. All-digital projection comes from Barco and “a state-of-the-art sound system” was designed by Munro Acoustics. “The hmvcurzon aims to become a valued cultural hub for the local community,” their website elaborates. It includes an “engaging café area and fully licensed bar” with a capacity for just over 100 people, “where cinemagoers can relax and enjoy time with friends.” Drinks can be taken inside the auditorium as well. Programming has spanned from Hollywood and European fare to live broadcasts of opera, concerts, theatre, ballet and sporting events.

Cannes Dances Around D-Cinema
“Getting the right rhythm for the digitization of European cinemas” is the theme of a workshop hosted by the European Audiovisual Observatory (EAO, www.obs.coe.int). This “Digital Cinema Tango!” will take place during the Festival de Cannes on May 16 at Salle Buñuel of the Palais.

Financing the digitization of cinemas is “the big debate” for all industry players, explains the Observatory’s Strasbourg-based executive director, Wolfgang Closs. “On the one hand, the major cinema chains are part of the rollout process, whereas the smaller independent cinemas are facing major financial challenges just to keep up. There is a clear problem of synchronization of movement: The market is now going very fast, but the public policies necessary to support the transition for small cinemas are quite slow, due to complex legal issues. This two-speed process made us think of the ‘slow, slow, quick, quick, slow’ steps of the tango!”

Starting off the dance are EAO’s cinema and film-funding analysts, Martin Kanzler and Susan Newman, with their respective insights. They will be joined by Elisabetta Brunella of Media Salles and Francisco Cabrera, reporting about the state of the European rollout and, by looking at “recent national decisions in the field,” addressing “complex legal issues surrounding state aid for digitization.” Additional confirmed speakers include André Lange (EAO department head), Ian Christie (VP of Europa Cinemas), Christine Eloy (Europa Distribution), Aviva Silver (MEDIA Programme of the European Union) and Antoine Virenque (president of the European Digital Cinema Forum).

MEDIA Salles Reports on Digital
The Milan, Italy-based cinema-support agency MEDIA Salles posted the latest edition of its “DGT online informer” (no. 60, www.mediasalles.it/dgt_online/index.htm), offering a summary report on “DigiTraining Plus: European Cinemas Experiencing New Technologies.” The conference and seminars took place in Helsinki, Finland, Feb. 17-21.

Secretary general Elisabetta Brunella also advises that during the 63rd Cannes Film Festival, MEDIA Salles will be presenting updated figures on digital theatres and screens. “The second half of 2009 is crucial for interpreting the boom experienced in the widespread diffusion of digital projection—and in particular 3D—in the opening months of the past year, when the increase in screens using DLP Cinema or SXRD technology approached 70% between January and June.”

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