Despite getting lost in translation, show goes on

BERLIN — An English-language awards show broadcast from a renovated bus depot in a German city to a multinational, multilingual crowd of hardcore European auteur filmmakers and commercial-minded members eager for more B.O. bang from the ceremony might sound like a recipe for an awkward evening full of contradictions.

Yet the European Film Academy’s annual film awards kudocast has somehow managed to bridge those seemingly irreconcilable gaps with an edgy show now beamed to 61 territories. That represents a rapidly growing aud more than triple the 18 territories that signed up in 2004. Hong Kong as well as 19 Middle East territories will be tuning in this year — even though the kudocast hasn’t been available in the United States since Sundance Channel dropped it three years ago.

“We’re confident we can keep growing, but it’s a challenge,” EFA topper Marion Doering tells Variety of the nonprofit org’s kudocast, with its E2 million ($2.9 million) budget that also includes costs for promotion, nomination and selection process as well as travel for nominees.

“The jokes don’t always translate, and if you look at the 1,500 guests attending the ceremony, about 90% of them are not native English speakers, yet we’re all speaking English,” she says. “So we’ve always got this multilanguage, multicultural audience to keep in mind. It’s very complicated. We’re always trying. We don’t want to be too polished.”

Stefan Arndt, topper at X Filme, says as important as the broadcast is for Euro filmmakers, he believes it is unfortunate that it ends up airing on smaller webs only, such as ARTE in Germany and France. Arndt adds he would like to see a shorter 20-minute version put together for broad terrestrial channels.

“The problem is that not all the prize winners are known in all the other European countries,” Arndt says. “Personally, I’d like to see a shorter version for more mainstream broadcasters across Europe. It needs to be seen on ARD and RAI, and not just ARTE or 3-Sat.”

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