Giffoni Film Festival accents youth

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The 2,800-strong jury of children and young adults from 39 countries and 150 Italian cities deemed U.S. entry My Suicide the 16-plus winner of the 39th Giffoni Film Festival. The teen drama also won the overall best film as determined by users of MyMovies.it and had previously garnered top honors at Berlin’s Generation 14-plus section. Titles from Spain, Iran and Australia were hailed in the other age groups as 30 features and 42 shorts competed July 12-25 in the scenic town on Italy’s Amalfi Coast. Seventy-three non-competing entries and 25 special presentations brought the number of participating countries to 29.
Further underlining the global character of this unique event aimed at films for youth were opening and closing attractions Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and G-Force, respectively. The number of big Hollywood names who took the trip to discuss films with the audience included Eva Mendes, Christina Ricci, Winona Ryder, Baz Luhrmann, Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber.

Commented festival founder and artistic director Claudio Gubitosi, “We have chosen films with a great social meaning and important message, at times harsh stories that nonetheless show a reality that will allow young people to think deeply about the direction modern society has taken.” Topics included nature preservation, identity and integration, family problems, job loss, death, love, friendship and depression.

On a more celebratory note, Giffoni presented a Sergio Leone tribute with C’era una volta il West/Once Upon a Time in the West. For video glimpses of why the festival was renamed the Giffoni Experience this year, we recommend a look at the official web-TV.

British Films Have World Impact

British films banked $4.2 billion worldwide last year, representing 15% of global and 31% of box office at home, the U.K. Film Council (UKFC) announced. The latest report compiled by the Council’s Research and Statistics Unit noted that figure was nearly a billion more than in 2007. The Dark Knight was “the best performing U.K.-qualifying film at the worldwide box office” and USA/U.K. co-production Mamma Mia! the biggest of the British in Europe with 34 million admissions across the territory.

“These are big numbers which underline the value of the U.K. film industry and the strength of our cultural talent,” said UKFC chief executive officer John Woodward. “From Harry Potter to Slumdog Millionaire and from James Bond to In the Loop, let’s celebrate the financial benefits these films bring and the British creative skill involved in making them. Similarly, the healthy return of inward investment and the increase in the number of indigenous productions in the first half of 2009 show the underlying health of the British film industry.”

With an increase in admissions to 164 million, including 54 million tickets for the highest summer on record since 1969, cinema-going has been healthy as well. In particular, the UKFC commented, “in contrast to some other countries which reported a fall in admissions: Spain (down 8%), Italy (down 4%) and the U.S. (down 2%).” Box-office receipts totaled £850 million ($1.392 billion), a rise of 3.5% on 2007’s £821 million and a 50% increase since the UKFC was created in 2000. The number of screens increased by 96 to 3,610 in 726 cinemas.
Copies of the 2009 Statistical Yearbook are available at www.ukfilmcouncil.org.uk/yearbook.

Central European Business to Flourish
Last year, more than 72 million patrons spent €287 million ($404.8 mil.) on moviegoing in Central Europe. According to the latest study from our colleagues at Dodona Research, the 3,157 screens in Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia “are roughly equivalent to the number in Canada or Japan, though not yet generating similar levels of box office, due to lower ticket prices and capacity utilization.” By 2013, however, Dodona expects 20 million more patrons to spend 20% more per ticket purchased,” helped in no small part at least 6% by 3D shows.

Noting that “the current stated plans of exhibitors active in the region are even more ambitious,” report author Alisdair Ritchie estimates screens in Bulgaria to double by 2013 and to grow from 122 to 350 in Romania, to name but two markets. Concurrently, he predicts admissions to climb from 3.46 to 9.5 million in the latter country alone. By 2013, we can expect “to see per-capita levels of attendance on a par with some much richer Western European countries. The 1.5 cinema visits per head of population expected in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovenia…compare with similar levels today in Germany, the Netherlands and Portugal—and a figure of around one in Greece.”

Venice Envisions 3D Award

For its 66th edition, the world’s oldest film festival is adding a brand-new prize to its Sept. 2-12 line-up. Appropriately sponsored by eyewear designer Persol, honors at the Venice Film Festival will go to “the most creative feature film among those in Stereoscopic 3D produced between September 2008 and August 2009.” To best present the new view, the 450-seat Sala La Perla 2 is leading the way towards completion of the new Palazzo del Cinema in 2011. The provisional structure will also present Venice Days and Critics’ Week sidebars.
An undisputed main attraction is the previously announced Golden Lion for the career achievements of John Lasseter and Pixar, who will also be presenting 3D versions of the first two Toy Stories.

MEDIA Salles Informs Exhibs
European cinema support and funding organization MEDIA Salles announced the latest issue of its always interesting DGT online informer. Among the “news on digitalization worldwide” in Edition 48, you can find:

* a message from Jens Rykaer, president of MEDIA Salles, about “DigiTraining Plus 2010,” slated for Feb. 17-21 in Helsinki, Finland;
* a report on European d-cinema as delivered by MEDIA Salles secretary general Elisabetta Brunella during the 62nd Festival de Cannes;
* and the latest “Women in Digital Cinema” by Ksenya Leontyeva, senior analyst at Nevafilm Research.

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