A look at the distributor, exhibitor of the year; excellence in acting

Distributor of the year: Christian Grass
Exec VP of Europe, Middle East and Africa, Fox Intl.

Fox Intl.’s Christian Grass has worked on the international marketing of titles from blockbusters like “Ice Age” and “X-Men” to surprise breakouts like “The Devil Wears Prada.” With overeas box office share continuing to rise, he’s also been a leader in local-language production.

The German-born Grass shepherded Fox Searchlight’s deal to pick up Russian hit “Night Watch” and co-produce sequel “Day Watch.” He oversaw European distribution and marketing for pics including Episodes I, II and III of “Star Wars,” “X-Men” and “Moulin Rouge.”

Now Universal has snared Grass away from Fox, and in October, Grass starts as head of U’s new international production arm in London. He’ll work with with U co-chairman David Linde and exec VP Michael Joe, who heads up local-language production and worldwide acquisitions. Universal split from distribution partnership UIP at the beginning of the year and has been staffing up.

Grass worked with Linde prior to Fox at Miramax Intl., where he served as VP of international marketing. Before Miramax, Grass was VP of worldwide distribution and marketing at Munich-based CineVox Entertainment.

Exhibitor of the year: Philippe Taschler
Kitag Cinema Group

Like the trains, the watches and nearly everything in Switzerland, the country’s multiplexes are state-of-the-art and packed with clever features.

Switzerland’s Kitag Cinema Group, headed by Philippe Taschler, operates 69 screens in the German-speaking areas of Zurich, Bern, Basel and St. Gallen. Under Taschler’s leadership, the group has introduced innovations including the cash-free Cine-card system, with 160,000 members. Katag Cinemas have modern styling and digital projection systems as well as Adscreen video screens in theater lobbies.

Taschler co-founded the exhibitor as a nine-screen operation in 1992 when he was just 29. Starting out in TV and radio, he also worked for Switzerland’s top video distributor. He then moved into film distribution, which gave him a basis for getting to know the exhibition business.

Kitag also launched Close-Up!, Switzerland’s most popular film magazine, which is sent to Cine-card holders.

Award of Excellence in Acting: Anamaria Marinca

It’s rare that an actress with just a few film credits breaks onto the scene with as much impact as Anamaria Marinca, the Romanian-born star of Cannes’ Palme d’Or winner “4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days.”

As the Variety review put it, “It’s not just the way she transforms scripted dialogue into real-speak … but her ability to convey all her inner struggles in silence.”

“Even in the scenes in which she doesn’t talk, you can read her thoughts and emotions in her face,” the film’s director Christian Mungiu told the U.K.’s Telegraph.

Onstage, Marinca appeared in “Stags and Hens” by Willy Russel, “Measure for Measure” and “Lord of the Flies.” Her first TV role, on BBC two-parter “Sex Traffic,” netted her best actress awards from BAFTA and the Royal Television Society plus a Golden Nymph from Monte Carlo. She also appeared in the TV series “Hotel Babylon” before moving into film.

Marinca continues to teach at her alma mater, Romania’s George Enescu Iasi U. of Fine Arts, Music and Drama.

Next up for the 29-year old thesp is Francis Ford Coppola’s feature “Youth Without Youth” and “The Last Enemy” for BBC 1.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more