EFP connects filmmakers to world

Org celebrates 15th anniversary of helping bizzers network

BERLIN — For 15 years, European Film Promotion has seen its share of challenges and successes on the continent, but now it’s looking at the global market.

With an annual budget of €2.1 million ($2.75 million), much of it financed by the EU’s Media Program, the Hamburg-based org collaborates with international festivals and markets to create marketing and promotional platforms for European movies, and has introduced a slew of initiatives aimed at showcasing and promoting European films and talent as well as building a network of European filmmakers to foster cooperation and co-productions.

It’s now targeting emerging markets such as China, Russia, India and Latin America as it weighs possible new partnerships.

“We know that it is getting more difficult to sell European films abroad,” says EFP managing director Renate Rose.

Rose says that in order to open up opportunities for European films, the EFP’s mandate is to help Euro industry professionals not only attend festivals and markets outside Europe, but also to meet key players in the local industry who don’t travel to the continent.

“We often have to come to them — a gesture that pays off,” she adds.

The EFP’s Film Sales Support initiative also will play a greater role at what it sees to be key industry events, Rose says. The support scheme is aimed at the promotion of European films at several international festivals and markets outside of Europe, including Sundance, Toronto, Guadalajara, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Busan and the AFM.

Since its inception in 2004, Film Sales Support has backed more than 900 promotional campaigns for European features, documentaries and animated films. About 45% of the supported films are sold for distribution, mainly in North and South America, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and the Middle East.

The EFP’s many other initiatives are also showing fruit.

Following last year’s second Producers Lab event at the Toronto Film Festival, Belgian producer Mariano Vanhoof of Fobic Films connected with Canadian collaborator Michael A. Dobbin of Quiet Revolution Pictures for English-language dark comedy “Winnipeg,” to be produced next year and directed by Geoffrey Enthoven. Set in Belgium and Canada, the pic follows a Belgian hotel owner who travels to Canada to break the heart of his late brother’s wealthy flame, with whom he had an affair 20 years before. After the 2010 Lab, 16 of the 24 participating producers from Europe and Canada hooked up, and are now partnering on 14 new projects, Rose says.

A slew of recent projects have likewise come out of the Producers on the Move events in Cannes, including Urszula Antoniak’s “Nothing Personal,” Chris Kraus’ “The Poll Diaries,” David Pinillos’ “Bon Appetit” and Joao Nuno Pinto’s “America.”

EFP’s Shooting Stars has proved a success since its launch in 1998. The initiative spotlights Europe’s top young actors, and introduces emerging new talent to the industry every year at the Berlinale.

Recognition as a Shooting Star often can have an immediate impact, Rose says. “Actors with established national careers are suddenly on the international stage at the prestigious Berlinale.”

From 1998 to 2011, the event has introduced more than 230 actors to the public and the industry, including such notables as Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, David Kross (“The Reader,” “War Horse”), Moritz Bleibtreu, Ludivine Sagnier, Nikolaj Lie Kaas (“The Whistleblower”), Melanie Laurent (“Beginners”), Alba Rohrwacher (“Bliss”), Edward Hogg (“Anonymous”) and Daniel Bruehl (“Rush”).

From 2007 to 2010, 80% of the 54 young thesps taking part in Shooting Stars went on to land roles in one or more international co-production, Rose says.

Domhnall Gleeson, Ireland’s 2011 Shooting Star, and Bill Skarsgard, who is representing Sweden this year, both star in Joe Wright’s upcoming “Anna Karenina.” The pic’s casting director, Jina Jay, met Gleeson at the event in Berlin.

“Shooting Stars,” says Jay, “is certainly a valuable resource to European film.”

Fellow casting director Simone Baer, who is serving as a member of the Shooting Stars jury this year, also has cast several films with Shooting Stars, including Tommy Wirkola’s “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters,” which features Finland’s Pihla Viitala alongside Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton; and “Hotel Lux,” with the Netherlands’ Thekla Reuten.

Rose has been at the helm of EFP since its launch in 1997. Prior to that, she served as deputy managing director of the European Film Distribution Office, a pan-European subsidy program once headed by Dieter Kosslick, current director of the Berlin Film Festival.

Rose developed the idea of a European promotional and export-oriented org in 1996, working with the heads of a number of national film offices who would go on to become the EFP’s founding members. That year, Rose organized the Europeans in Toronto initiative, which presented European films and their reps at the Toronto Film Festival. Five months later, Rose and 10 European promotional and export offices, including Unifrance, German Film, British Screen Finance, Scandinavian Films and the Austrian Film Commission, officially founded EFP at the Berlinale.

Despite its many achievements, the overall success of EFP’s mission — promoting European films abroad — relies on a combination of several elements, Rose says, including getting the right people in the right place and, of course, delivering a quality film.

“All of the films face the same challenges, more or less: they have to compete for the attention of buyers from all over the world,” Rose says. “It is important for European films to be backed in the best possible way to make a difference.”

What: European Film Promotion

Why: EFP celebrates 15 years of promoting European film and launching programs like Shooting Stars and Producers Lab.

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