Energized locals hit the Market, pepper fest

BERLIN — The Germans are back in a big way in Berlin, with an impressive five films in competition and a newly pumped-up production and distrib sector.

Key players Bavaria and Media Luna are leading the charge, but other contenders like Beta, Greenlight and Atlas and are also camping out at the Market.

On the buying side, outfits like Constantin, Concorde and Tobis are also chomping at the bit.

Here’s how Constantin’s Bernd Eichinger described the improved local climate: “The fact that German films have received three Oscar noms in four years and actually won a trophy means that the standing of German film broad has greatly improved,” he said.

“And given that local audiences here are returning specifically to watch German movies can only be good for the German film industry.”

Among the players newly recharged and at the Berlinale Friday were Kinowelt. The Leipzig-based company has for resurrected its Arthaus distrib label to better handle its growing slate of theatrical releases. The unit will release art house pics such as Berlinale opener “Snow Cake” and Panorama pic “Stay,” as well as more mainstream titles like George Clooney’s “Good Night, and Good Luck,” which is vying for Berlin’s Cinema for Peace award.

The theatrical launch of Arthaus provides the mainstream Kinowelt parent distrib with a clearer profile: Current and upcoming commercial pics released under the Kinowelt banner include “Saw II” and “Big Momma’s House 2.”

Meanwhile Senator, recently given a financial shot in the arm by new majority-shareholders Marco Weber and Helge Sasse, is rebranding.

“Last year we were talking about the crisis in the German film industry,” Senator production head Benjamin Herrmann said. Company is in post on four German films — the biggest being “Special” with Til Schweiger.

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