Berlinale hypes section as Sundance, Euro Film pact

BERLIN — Taking a cue from a growing list of international film festivals that have sprouted marts, the Berlinale this year is introducing a co-production market to give filmmakers a chance to strike deals with foreign partners.

The Berlinale Co-Production Market will bring together international producers, financiers, TV stations and distribs to help generate opportunities for international co-productions. Similar events have proved successful at Rotterdam as well as the Mannheim-Heidelberg Film Festival.

Sonja Moerkens, the former assistant to Berlinale topper Dieter Kosslick during his term as head of the state subsidy org Filmstiftung NRW, has rejoined her ex-boss to manage the event, which will run Feb. 8-9.

The European Film Market, meanwhile, is launching its first collaborative effort with the Sundance Film Festival. Straight From Sundance will showcase 15 films from the Utah fest.

Some of the titles at this year’s market include “The Machinist,” Christophe Barratier’s “Les Choristes,” Nicole Kassell’s “The Woodsman” and Israeli pic “Walk on Water.”

While the European Film Market will again be housed at the Daimler-Chrysler Atrium at Potsdamer Platz, there are some major plans in the works for 2005 following the AFM’s move to its new November slot. A beefed up EFM may to move into a new, larger setting for the enlarged market. Market organizers are keeping mum about the new location, but possible venues could include one of Potsdamer Platz’s two newly built hotels, the Ritz Carlton or the Marriott.

EFM topper Beki Probst says the changes have nothing to do with the AFM’s move but rather with increased demand by sellers for more space.

This year, however, it’s the Co-Production Market that promises to boost networking possibilities for attendees.

Moerkens, who helped organize Filmstiftung NRW’s annual Intl. Co-Production Market in Cologne, stresses that the event is not seeking to compete but rather to cooperate with similar markets.

Instead of giving up on projects when they don’t land domestic TV deals, producers are invited to attend the co-production mart and find foreign partners and other coin.

Thirty-two projects have been selected for the Berlinale’s Co-Production Market, including “Raquel Liberman,” from Argentine director Daniel Burman (“Waiting for the Messiah”); “Waiting for Nike,” from Hong Kong helmer Pang Ho Cheung, (“Men Suddenly in Black”); “The Sun,” from Alexander Sokurov (“Rusian Ark”); and “Hounddog,” from Deborah Kampmeier (“Virgin”).

For Kampmeier and producer Night Flight Films, the market is offering their project a second chance after the film’s financing fell apart in 2002.

The market is continuing past Berlinale initiatives, such as a cooperation pact with Rotterdam’s CineMart, the Rotterdam-Berlin Express and the Independent Feature Project New York.

“In terms of film financing, international co-production meetings are becoming more and more important,” says Kosslick, adding that the new market will contribute to the further development of international projects.

The event also is liaising with the Berlinale Talent Campus and has set up an international jury that includes Co-Production Market director Moerkens; Michelle Byrd of the Independent Feature Project; Stephan Holl of German distrib Rapid Eye Movies; Spanish producer Antonio Perez; Ido Abram of CineMart Rotterdam; and Christine Ravet, artistic director of the Marrakech Film Festival.

The group has selected 30 projects from up-and-coming filmmakers attending the Talent Campus to be included in the Co-Production Market Catalog, while five projects will be presented by campus attendees in a brief pitch to the industry professionals participating in the joint Talent Project Market.

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