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European cinema

Old World filmmakers fashion new ways to make and sell pix

Sitting on a film producers panel earlier this year in Cannes, American indie producer Ted Hope commented, “The American indie film scene has become too predictable, but the European film scene is where the excitement and the creative risks are happening.”

Now there’s a story!

So where did all of these terrific young (and not so young) Euro filmmakers suddenly come from? If Hope is correct and the excitement of the American indie film scene of the early 1990s crossed the Atlantic some time in the past few years, one would have to admit its Euro landing has been accompanied by a rather muffled splash in the media.

It’s all about money. Foreign-language cinema, Euro and otherwise, clearly doesn’t have the industrial clout, chutzpah and marketing tradition of the American film industry. Even more daunting than the absence of the American talent for hype and glory, foreign language cinema represents .05 per cent of U.S. box office.

So it’s hard for news folk around the world to say, “Hold that cover story on Johnny Depp, there’s this Swedish kid named Lukas Moodysson.”

If this issue has a central mission, it’s a simple one: to present the full range and vitality of the European Cinema that’s about to hit the markets and fests and theaters between now and Cannes 2004. Looking at the lineup inside, Ted Hope’s ebullient assessment seems not only wholly justified, but perhaps even understated.

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