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Berlin film fest head gets in trouble

Newly tapped Kosslick wants to foster new talen

CANNES — Dieter Kosslick, who took over as head of the Berlin Intl. Film Festival May 1, already has gotten into trouble.

A local paper bannered his quote: “If Cannes steals a film from me, I’ll steal two back.”

“I can’t exactly say I was misquoted,” he said. “I made a silly joke. But I don’t stand by that statement. I’ve already sent a letter to (Cannes honcho Gilles) Jacob.”

If Kosslick doesn’t plan to steal from Cannes, there is something else he’d like that Jacob has.

“I would love for the German film and television scene to identify with Berlin in the way that the French do with Cannes. That’s a great achievement of the film festival and a great achievement of the French film scene.”

By June, Kosslick, who joins Berlin from film subsidy board Filmstiftung NRW, wants to have his regime in place. New people will be joining the selection committee, and a modified selection process involving more cooperation between the various Berlinale sections will be introduced. Result could be a more unified profile across the festival’s various sections.

But Kosslick said he’s not planning to call all the shots.

“I think one of the great qualities about the Berlinale is the various (voices). I’m not planning to go over the festival with an audiovisual (microscope),” he said.

Several innovations are on deck, although no radical changes are planned.

“This festival has a certain tradition as a working festival, as an audience fest and — because of the particular relationship between the Berlinale and the U.S. — in creating a platform for independent films and showing strange and difficult films,” Kosslick said.

“There is no doubt that American mainstream studio films will screen here, just as well as work from my friends from New York. I have spent 15 years working in the European film industry. When there are good European films, I want to see that they have a lot of space here and get a lot of publicity.”

A market could well play a central role in his grand ideas.

“We haven’t discussed it yet. But there should be more activities and more possibilities for German and European films to present themselves. I want to create more opportunities for new talent,” he said. “I want to bring camera, costume people, film schools, financiers, etc., together.”

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