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German fest appeals to homevid’s bottom line

Traveling event preems straight to DVD fare

Unleashing a host of cannibalistic ghouls, heretical sorcerers and an angry, gun-wielding Michael Caine, Germany’s traveling Fantasy Filmfest blasts off this week for a summer orgy of blood, gore and violence.

For the local industry, the event has become a vital launching pad for the DVD and Blu-ray releases of direct-to-video titles.

With an average of 120,000 admissions a year, it’s one of the most successful film festivals in the country. The fest kicks off Aug. 17 in Berlin and hits eight major German cities through Sept. 9.

Daniel Barber’s Caine starrer “Harry Brown,” which Ascot Elite Home Entertainment will offer exclusively as a rental beginning Sept. 6 before its retail release on Oct. 21, is one of the higher-profile pics on parade.

“We consider the Fantasy Filmfest a perfect release platform for almost any kind of genre film, giving the target audience the chance to see the picture on the bigscreen and shortly afterwards own it on a DVD or Blu-ray,” says Stephan Giger, chief operating officer of Ascot Elite Entertainment Group.

Ascot Elite will also unspool J Blakeson’s “The Disappearance of Alice Creed,” starring Gemma Arterton, which will get a small theatrical release in Germany later this year. The company’s other screeners are all DVD and Blu-ray premieres, including Alexandre Franchi’s “The Wild Hunt,” about sword-wielding live-action role-playing gamers who go berserk; Mo Ali’s dystopian actioner “Shank”; and Will Canon’s “Brotherhood,” about a frat house initiation that goes dangerously awry.

Likewise, Constantin Film is premiering three major upcoming DVD/Blu-ray releases at the fest: Neil Marshall’s Roman legion actioner “Centurion,” starring Michael Fassbender; Michael J. Bassett’s “Solomon Kane,” based on Robert E. Howard’s evil-battling Puritan pulp hero; and Paul Scheuring’s “The Experiment,” starring Adrien Brody.

“The Fantasy Filmfest is an important event in Germany — especially for genre movies regardless if they are released first theatrically or on homevideo,” says Martin Moszkowicz, Constantin’s head of film and TV. “It is a platform to reach the core audience for these titles.”

Indeed, not all screeners are direct-to-video. Wild Bunch Germany is presenting a number of upcoming bigscreen releases, including Christopher Smith’s medieval thriller “Black Death,” starring Sean Bean, and Richard Berry’s French actioner “22 Bullets,” starring Jean Reno.

In a special limited screening in Berlin and Hamburg, Wild Bunch is also presenting Gaspar Noe’s psychedelic ghost story, “Enter the Void,” which premiered in Cannes last year.

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