Company stays smart and follows marketplace

Bavaria Film Intl. was founded in 1997 as part of Bavaria Media GmbH, the global licensing and distribution unit of Bavaria Film group. Since then the distrib has grown into one of Germany’s leading global purveyors of domestic and international feature films.

The Munich-based company is a regular at all the main markets, and its wide range of films screen at all major festivals.

Bavaria Film Intl. boasts six Berlinale screeners, at least one in each of the fest’s main sections: Golden Bear contender “Alle Anderen” (Everyone Else); “Shortcut to Hollywood” in Panorama; “Sometime in August” and “The Wondrous World of Laundry” in Forum; “The Eagle Hunter’s Son” in Generations Kplus; and, as part of the Berlinale Special, “In Berlin,” a documentary by Michael Ballhaus and Ciro Cappellari.

Thorsten Ritter, who heads Bavaria Film Intl., says one of Bavaria’s biggest challenges has been to continually find the gems in an increasingly crowded market.

“There are so many more films out there than when I first started, due to the explosion in digital production. It’s really become almost unmanageable. Festivals and buyers often look to us for guidance.”

Ritter, who has been at the company for 10 years, initially as head of marketing, took over management along with Thorsten Schaumann following the 2005 departure of topper Michael Weber, who ankled to set up the Cologne-based sales shingle Match Factory. Last year Ritter became the sole head following Schaumann’s exit for pay TV group Premiere.

Ritter says he’s still having fun despite the challenges, but he’s a tad more cautious these days, given the overall state of the business. “The passion is still there, the identification with the company and working with producers. That hasn’t changed, despite the fluctuations in the market. We might be more meticulous, more careful and detailed when it comes to acquisitions than (before). You have to be able to adapt to the changing market.”

Looking back, Ritter says one of his most memorable moments was the 2003 foreign-language Oscar win for Caroline Link’s “Nowhere in Africa.”

“It was really special for us because we had done everything ourselves, the entire strategy and marketing campaign, and it was a Bavaria co-production. We were all very proud.”

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