Berlinale For The Germans: A Time To Promote Their Own

For most of Germany’s distributors in the western part of the reunited nation, the Berlinale means action in selling and promotion, with pickups rare.

Leading distribs such as Senator, Concorde, Scotia, Neue Constantin and Jugendfilm rely more on acquisitions from American and European producers than the types of films found in the fest’s various sections and market.

The big German distribs also tend to fetch stars from Tinsel Town when they have a promising pic in competition. Neue Constants, the German distributor for “Dances With Wolves,” plans to bring over director/star Kevin Costner for the pic’s German preem at the Zoo Palast, the flagship of the Berlin fest, prior to a nationwide release Feb. 21.

While Senator Film, the German distrib of “The Russia House,” another competition pic, does not intend any special tubthumping, p.r. specialist Jurgen Buscher says director Fred Schepisi may make a Berlin appearance. Senator also has Neil Jordan’s “The Miracle” in competition.

The Berlin-based Delta Verleih has the Merchant Ivory production “The Ballad Of The Sad Cafe” in competition, plus the Oliver Stone-produced “Iron Maze,” directed by Japanese helmer Hiroaki Joshida, in the Panorama section. Delta’s Peter Freund says that “Ballad” femme lead Vanessa Redgrave and possibly director Simon Callow will be in Berlin for the film’s world preem.

Looking at the Futura

Unlike some indie distribs in the Federal Republic, Futura/Filmverlag topper Theo Hinz says, “Berlin is an important market for us, even though for the first time we’ve got no film in competition.” The company, whose surprise hit “The Nasty Girl” had buyers chasing Hinz in the corridors after its screening at last year’s Berlinale, has four films in the market and three in the New German Cinema series, as well as one in Panorama.

The Berlin fest is the right place for Futura, which distributes specialty pics for the German-lingo territories. Hinz has “High Score,” a Roxy Film production directed by Gustav Ehmck; a Russian pic, Stanislav Govoruchin’s “No Way To Live”; Horst Konigstein’s “Hard Days, Hard Nights,” based on the early days of the Beatles in Hamburg; and Jorg Graser’s “Abraham’s Gold.”

In addition, Margarethe von Trotta’s “The Return,” Franz X. Bogner’s “Cafe Europa” and “The Serbian Girl” are slated for the German sidebar. Hinz also picked up from South Gate the German-territory rights to Bashar Shbib’s “Julia Has 2 Lovers,” an Oneira Pictures Intl. production which will unspool in the Panorama section.

Hinz holds the rights to a number of pics in post-production, including Percy Adlon’s latest, “Salmonberries,” and Jo Baier’s “Wildfeuer,” targeted for Cannes. Currently lensing are Robert Van Ackeren’s “The True Story Of Men And Women” and Petra Haffter’s “A Demon In My View” (shooting in England), which he hopes will be ready in time for Cannes.

Futura/Filmverlag will also offer its back catalog at Berlin, including most of the films of the late Rainer Werner Fassbinder and other New German Cinema stalwarts like Werner Herzog and Alexander Kluge.

Hinz’ team at his traditional third-floor Cine Center enclave includes foreign sales exec Antonio Exacoustos Jr. and his deputy, Astrid Adamietz.

Lilli Tyc-Holm’s export firm Cine Intl. has Christoph Boll’s new pic “Sisi – The Film” and the Dutch feature from Rita Horst, “Romeo,” in the Panorama section. Herzog’s 1990 Venice fest entry “Echoes From A Somber Empire” is tabbed for the New German Cinema series. Tyc-Holm will also pre-sell the German-French-Canadian co-production “Scream Of Stone,” directed by Herzog and toplining Donald Sutherland and Mathilda May, currently wrapping in Patagonia. Film will be ready for Cannes.

Everyone into the Cinepool

Cinepool, the feature-film arm of Telepool, the Munich-based world sales and acquisitions company, holds the rights to four films in the market at Berlin. These consist of a Polish pic, Pozegnanie Jesieni’s “Farewell To Autumn”; and three Austrian films, Anton Peschke’s “Time Of Revenge,” Milan Dor’s “Paradise Beach” and a Veit Heiduschka production, “Society’s Finest,” directed by Franz Novotny. Cinepool will be repped by Wolfram Skowronnek-Schaer, deputy managing director, and new hire Annegret H. Ronnpag. The company will share stand with Export Film Bischoff.

Benno Nowotny, Bavaria Film’s foreign sales topper, has high hopes for the Munich studio’s latest production, “Go Trabi Go,” which had a sensational opening in Dresden last month. The pic, along with Bavaria’s “Gamblers,” will be screened in the New German series. Although he will be in Berlin for contacts and meetings, Nowotny does not plan any special promo campaign for the films, which he says “will be promoted by the festival screenings anyway.”

Jochem Strate’s Export Film Bischoff has the “Affengeil,” Rosa von Praunheim’s latest opus, in the New German sidebar. The Munich-based company will also have its back catalog of films from von Praunheim and Ulrike Ottinger.

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