On the road to digital in the U.K.

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The Cinema Exhibitors Association (CEA, chief executive: Phil Clapp) and the U.K. Film Council (Peter Buckingham, head of distribution and exhibition), working with Screen Digest, present a United Kingdom-wide program of “digital roadshows to raise awareness and understanding amongst the exhibition sector of issues around digital cinema.” Beginning in April and running until June, the events at 11 digitally equipped cinemas “will provide an overview of the financial, operational and technical issues,” the organizers promised, “and allow those attending to hear first-hand experience from colleagues on the opportunities and challenges presented by conversion from 35mm technology.”

At the same time, Clapp told Screen International about possible financing and purchasing equipment as a group. “It seems sensible to explore whether some form of mutually beneficial negotiation might be feasible. Once we have a clearer idea of those with an in-principle interest in taking part, we will be better-placed to decide on next steps.” More information is available at the U.K Film Council's website.

Teutonic Triple Feature
Highlighted by the “German Premieres” screening of Kai Wessel’s bio of “Hilde” Knef at Tribeca Cinemas, Teutonic titles soaked up some much-deserved U.S. exposure last month. Better known stateside as Hildegarde Neff—thanks to a contract with David O. Selznick after her “scandalous” 1951 exposure as The Sinner—the German actress, author and singer has been described as possessing the charisma of Dietrich, the heart of Piaf and the soul of post-war Germany. Powered by the lead performance of Heike Makatsch (Love, Actually), the film certainly delivers on all three accounts.

Oliver Mahrdt, East Coast representative of German Films Service + Marketing, who hosts the industry “Premieres,” was also on hand to moderate a panel discussing “Berlin: The place to be...for film” at Manhattan’s New Museum on the Bowery. The event was part of the official kickoff to a global celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Peaceful Revolution and the fall of the Berlin Wall, marking “two decades of freedom, change and creativity,” as Berlin Partner GmbH, the organizers of the “be Berlin” campaign put it.

Guests from the German capital in attendance were Robert Eysoldt (Triad Berlin) and Ann Carolin Renninger (Zero One Film) to present the ideas behind their 24-hour-long and appropriately named documentary 24h Berlin. Director Hannes Stöhr screened Berlin Calling together with main protagonist Paul Kalkbrenner. At the closing reception in the Museum’s ultra-cool Skyroom, the real-life DJ then turned up the sounds real loud.

Panelist Laurence Kardish provided the New York view. As senior curator of the Departmet of Film and Media at the Museum of Modern Art, Kardish is launching the 30th anniversary edition of “Kino! New Cinema from Germany” (April 22-30). Three New York feature premieres, including The Invention of the Currywurst, and era classics by R.W. Fassbinder, Werner Herzog and Margarethe von Trotta culled from the MoMA collections complemented a weeklong run of the documentary Reverse Shot about the Rebellion of the Filmmakers who became the foundation of “das neue deutsche Kino.”

The series’ opening night, which brought many of the talent involved to the Sculpture Garden at MoMA, presented an intriguing look at Germany ’09 as seen by 12 contemporary filmmakers and in shorts compiled by Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run, The International).

TDF Begins 200-Theatre Deployment

TDF Group, the leading broadcasting operator in Europe, unveiled its plans to deploy a 10-territory end-to-end electronic-delivery service for digital cinema via its subsidiaries, SmartJog and Media Broadcast. According to Thomas Bremond, TDF’s international development director for Multimedia Services, the company has already connected 60 theatres in six countries and “plans to double the number” in 2009 and 2010. Very soon, service will be provided to two-thirds of France’s multiplexes, “with deployment in progress” at major circuits CGR, Europalaces and Kinepolis. The media statement further noted, “Another significant deployment is scheduled in Switzerland and Austria in the coming months.”

Moët & Chandon Celebrates Cinema

As if a glass of its tasty bubbly wasn’t enough, the legendary champagne maker Moët & Chandon unveiled “effervescent” Scarlett Johansson as the “First Face of Champagne” and official ambassador in London. Following the Moët red carpet tradition from the international film festivals the House supports, that night celebrities were invited to autograph a Moët & Chandon Nebuchadnezzar, to be auctioned off in direct support of Oxfam, Johansson’s charity of choice.

The new international advertising campaign featuring its very first Hollywood icon (“Like Moët [she] has a magical story to tell and makes people dream”) will be reinforcing the brand as “the champagne of cinema,” the marketing message goes. After all, Moët & Chandon has been the official champagne of the Golden Globes for almost two decades, and the exclusive champagne of the 2009 Oscars.

Quick Sensor on the Move

Kortrijk, Belgium-based occupancy management system provider Quick Sensor established a license agreement with Kinepolis Group. After successfully launching the “Open Today” seat-control platform at Kinepolis Bruges and Oostende, and after retrofitting Kinepolis Kortrijk, the new partnership allows Kinepolis to implement the system in all its cinemas in Belgium, France, Spain and Switzerland.

“This will involve a seat quantity of around 100,000 seats,” enthused Pei-Zhi Liou, general manager, sales and marketing, at Quick Sensor during a stopover on her way to ShoWest. “Created specifically for the cinema industry, ‘Open Today’ is not only a great tool for reducing the high operation costs of this industry but also helps in providing a better moviegoing experience for the guests.”

Other recent installs by Quick Sensor include 1,520 seats at CineBelval of the Caramba Group in Luxembourg (detailed profile coming soon in FJI) and 1,445 in Parma, Italy. Although “one of the major cinema exhibitors” in the country prefers to remain anonymous, Liou calls his cinema “magnificent.”

Da Sodoma a Hollywood

Parma may have the latest Quick Sensors, but Torino has long been the host city of its GLBT Film Festival. The April 23-30 event at Ideal Cityplex and Ambrosio CineCafé marked 24 years “of exploration and construction of queer imaginary.”

Among the many programs, events, retrospectives and competitions—visit www.tglff.com or the lovely city of Torino, of course—one section seems particularly à propos. Following a line of research that began with the “Spaghetti Westerns,” this year the Festival focused on “Muscles in Skirts: The Italian Peplums.” Throughout the 1950s and ’60s, the Italian film industry successfully produced “an endless series of B-movies on historic themes,” the program notes. Featuring “musclemen wearing short skirts and brandishing shining short swords…was a pretext to show off male nudity.” Among the titles: Hercules’ Revenge (1960), The Colossus of Rhodes (1961) and The Son of Spartacus (1962).

Kodak Captures Complex

Germany’s official entry to this year’s Foreign Language Film Awards, The Baader Meinhof Complex , may have conceded bragging rights to Jochen Alexander Freydank’s winning Live Action Short, Spielzeugland/Toyland. In terms of technological savvy, they both counted on Dolby Digital sound, however. Whereas Freydank filmed on Fuji, Complex was entirely realized on 35mm Kodak stock, using daylight-sensitive emulsions Kodak Vision2 50D and 250D negative films 5201 and 5205, respectively, as well as high-speed Vision2 500T. Munich-based ARRI Film & TV Services processed and printed on Vision 2383. Kodak Entertainment Imaging’s marketing communications manager, Klaus-Georg Hafner, further noted that ARRI was the first in Germany to receive Kodak Imagecare certification, a quality-assurance program for labs, in May 2008.

E-mail news and comments to Andreas Fuchs at info@creativecinema.net.