Upload Cinema is on the upswing

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Upload Cinema has been busy “taking Web films to the big screen” at three movie theatres across The Netherlands. Every first Monday of the month, the club gets together at De Uitkijk in Amsterdam, Filmhuis Den Haag and the Cinerama Rotterdam for “a fresh program of inspiring and entertaining Internet shorts,” grouped together under a common theme.

In January, the public submitted and jury selected “The Best Viral Videos of 2009.” Back in December, tribute was paid to special and visual effects, which the organizers described as “classic and camp FX, mechanical and optical effects, CGI, mega, low and no-budget effects.” The 34 chosen from a total of 193 uploaded also included “a nice collection of SFX hoaxes.” Coming up next month: “Saved by YouTube—Activism on the Internet” in cooperation with Movies That Matter (formerly known as Amnesty International Film Festival). If you have examples of “how citizens use the power of video and the Internet to fight injustice, make a statement, and when possible, set change in motion” go to www.uploadcinema.net/submit.php.

Screen Digests Digital Deployment

There were over 11,950 digital-cinema screens worldwide—a staggering 5,500 of which are equipped for 3D—in more than 60 international territories at the end of first-half 2009, representing a 35% increase from the year-end 2008 total (8,800). The data collected by global media intelligence Screen Digest also notes, “International markets provided the majority of growth, accounting for over two-thirds of net new digital screens, outpacing the 1,159 screens added in North America for a first-half 2009 total of 6,818 against 5,130 internationally.”

Europe, in particular, hit 2,614 digital screens at end of June 2009, a 69% uptick on the total of 1,547 at year-end 2008, analyst Charlotte Jones pointed out. With that, the region accounted for over half of the net international deployments in the first six months of 2009.
The December edition of Screen Digest’s always informative newsletter also included a detailed preview of their latest report about “The Global Animation Industry.” Now that animation box-office revenues are “averaging around $1 billion a year in the U.S. and the same in Europe,” it should come as no surprise that “all major studios are now releasing animation—for the first time in movie history.” For more information, go here.

Berlinale Captures ‘Kiez’
“What would the Berlinale be without its fantastic audiences?” festival organizers recently observed about the 2009 record attendance in excess of 500,000 (with 275,000 tickets sold). For its 60th Anniversary edition (Feb. 11-21, www.berlinale.de/en/HomePage.html), the Berlin International Film Festival promises nothing short of “a flying Red Carpet” in bringing its show to neighborhood, or “Kiez,” Kinos across the German capital.

From Weißensee (Toni & Tonino, www.kino-toni.de ) to Zehlendorf (Capitol Dahlem, www.yorck.de/kinos/detail/100007) and across Kreuzberg (Moviemento, www.moviemento.de) and Mitte (Hackesche Höfe Kino, www.hoefekino.de/content/english), the festival will visit ten art-house cinemas, showcasing two films from different sections of the Berlinale. In addition to the flying carpet, these gala screenings will present the team of the film alongside “a well-known Berlin film personality” acting as patron saint.

“Our event ‘Berlinale goes Kiez’ has been conceived to thank the festival’s loyal visitors,” said festival director Dieter Kosslick. “At the same time, we would like to put the limelight on cinemas and show that they are valuable sites of culture, communication and creativity. There’s no doubt these sites must be preserved.”

XDC Expands Funding
By securing another €15.3 million (US$22 mil.) in funding, d-cinema facilitator XDC International took “a major step forward” in delivering on deployment of and service for more than 8,000 digital-cinema screens in 22 European countries by 2015. Founding partner EVS remains the most important investor with a 30.2% fully diluted stake (41.3% not diluted) while SRIW  and Gimv “become cornerstone investors” with 20.7% and 20.2% stakes (fully diluted) respectively.

According to Serge Plasch, chief executive officer of XDC, receiving this support in such financially difficult times “shows the market potential of XDC’s technology and services.” Alain Keppens, in charge of buyouts and growth in Belgium at Gimv, concurred, “We believe that the combination of XDC’s strong capital base, its financing agreements with banks and its strong support and service offering should enable the company to capture a major part of this high-growth market. Moreover, we are convinced that the company is well-positioned to reinforce its leadership in Europe.”

Kinoton Conquers 3D XL

Just in time for Avatar, Cineplex Marburg and Cinedom Cologne received a Kinoton/Dolby Digital 3D upgrade to power their oversized screens. The Munich, Germany-based tech experts installed the country’s first dual-projector set-up to light up images of 17 x 7 meters (51 x 21 ft.) and 22 x 10 m (66 x 30 ft.), respectively. The latter Cinedom auditorium is more than four times the screen size of the 14-plex’s “Black Box,” which Kinoton equipped with XPanD 3D back in 2007. As for the “very enthusiastic” audience response, Kinoton reported that moviegoers “spontaneously broke into applause when the first pictures of Avatar were shown.”

After entering the third dimension for Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinsoaurs, the seven-screen Cineplex in Marburg wanted to add a second option. For chief executive officer Gerhard Closmann, once again “a silver screen was completely out of question, especially with so large a screen. After all, we’ll keep on exhibiting 2D movies as well, both in digital and 35mm, and I set a high value on uniform image illumination.” With the Dolby 3D color wheel fully integrated, the Kinoton 3D2P system features two coupled DCP 30 L d-cinema projectors with 6,500-watt xenon bulbs. Dolby d-cinema servers complement the installation.

Tulio Considered Europe’s Finest
Revered by Aki Kaurismäki for his masterful melodramas and, based on his beginnings in silent movies, referred to as the “Valentino from Finland,” four films by Teuvo Tulio (1912-2000) have been made digitally available for cinema showings across Europe. The Finnish National Audiovisual Archive commissioned Europe’s Finest (www.finest-film.com) to carry out digitalization and distribution for such films as The Song of the Scarlet Flower (1938) and The Cross of Love (1946).

The Cologne, Germany-based initiative also saw its MEDIA support extended. The EU funding program for the audiovisual industry is giving €500,000 (US$717,500) in what Europe’s Finest CEO Tilman Scheel, sees as “a clear sign of approval…for improving the potential to utilize discerning European films and to provide a broader public with access.”

Concurs Erlend Jonassen from the Norwegian Film Institute, which has frequently presented films by Europe’s Finest in different Norwegian cities: “By collecting important film titles from different European countries and supplying subtitles for important languages, this platform makes its films a lot more easily available for art houses wanting to screen classics. Europe Finest is also easy to work with, as they can supply both the rights and the access to the digital masters including the digital keys that are necessary for digital-cinema screenings.”

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