Producer-distributor Karl ‘Baumi’ Baumgartner Dies

LONDON — Karl “Baumi” Baumgartner, one of Germany’s leading producers and independent distributors, has died.

A message posted Tuesday on the website of Pandora Film, the company he co-founded, said: “Today Karl ‘Baumi’ Baumgartner left us. We are unspeakable sad and deeply moved. He was our friend, partner and source of inspiration. We say Thank You. – The Pandoras.”

Last month, the Berlin Film Festival presented Baumgartner with its Berlinale Camera award, which is given to film personalities or institutions to which it feels particularly indebted and wishes to express its thanks.

Baumgartner set up Pandora with Reinhard Brundig in 1982. The Frankfurt-based company, whose name was inspired by G.W. Pabst’s “Pandora’s Box,” focused on the distribution of ambitious international arthouse movies, such as Yilmaz Gunay’s “Yol,” Andrei Tarkovsky’s “Nostalgia” and Chen Kaige’s “Farewell My Concubine.” It made its commercial breakthrough with Jane Campion’s “The Piano.”

Pandora began to acquire pics in development, and then segued into production, starting with pics like Emir Kusturica’s “Underground.”

In 1996, Pandora’s production operations moved to Cologne, and in 1998 the distribution department in Frankfurt was closed, due to tough market conditions. The library was sold to Kinowelt.

Pandora proceeded to produce or co-produce around six international films a year, and in 2002 revived its distribution business with the release of Aki Kaurismaki’s “The Man Without a Past,” which it co-produced.

Recent production credits include Ari Folman’s “The Congress” and Jim Jarmusch’s “Only Lovers Left Alive,” which both played at Cannes.

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