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Hollywood Calling for a New Generation of German Directors

Martin Moszkowicz, who heads up film and TV production at Germany’s Constantin Film and is its exec board chairman, recently has been getting a lot of calls from L.A. talent agents inquiring after Teutonic helmers.

“There is strong demand for German directors who are able to handle movies on a budget, which today becomes more and more important,” says Moszkowicz. “They are used to limited production resources, and are well-trained and well-experienced in teamwork.”

Teamwork isn’t normally associated with filmmakers from Germany, where previous generations were more inclined toward the auteur system. But Moszkowicz says there’s been a shift in attitude among the emerging generation of directors.

“There is a bigger emphasis on working together in a team,” Moszkowicz says. “We are pushing the film schools heavily to encourage them to do that because I really feel that given the challenges we have in our business it is definitely better to do it in a team than by yourself.”

Among the directors who’ve already attracted attention from agents are Christian Ditter, who garnered interest off his first English-language pic, “Love, Rosie,” and Christian Alvart, who directed “Pandorum” and “Banklady.”

Other helmers to watch include Maximilian Erlenwein (“Stereo”), Ali Samadi Ahadi (“Die Mamba”) and Benjamin Heisenberg (“Superegos”).

The younger generation has struggled to carve out a distinct identity, says Linda Soffker, head of Berlin Film Festival’s Perspektive Deutsches Kino, a section that serves as a showcase for German talent.

“Perhaps it is more difficult for the younger generation of filmmakers to go their own way, to find their own language and style, because the sense of an enemy is increasingly disappearing,” she says. “Schloendorff, Herzog and Wenders declared ‘Grandpa’s cinema dead,’ and as a result developed their own maxims on aesthetic issues and content. Films today are not as obviously political — rather they depict societal or political aspects through personal events.”

The younger generation has also turned to the thriller, such as Till Kleinert’s “Der Samurai,” which played in Perspektive Deutsches Kino this year.

Today’s young German directors have some advantages. First, German film schools — there are six major ones — are very good. “Most directors that come out of that system are extremely well-trained and very proficient in the craft of filmmaking,” Moszkowicz says.

Another advantage is ease of access to public funding. “The German subsidy system is probably — with the exception maybe of the French system — the best in the world, and you can make your first movie and get it funded without any big problems,” Moszkowicz says.

One funder is Film und Medienstiftung NRW, a regional film fund in Western Germany, which devotes €4 million ($5.54 million) a year for projects by newcomers.

The fund’s CEO Petra Mueller points to Elmar Imanov as a rising young director from the region. He won the Student Oscar for “The Swing of the Coffin Maker” in 2012, and his short “Torn,” which he co-helmed with Engin Kundag, plays in Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes this year.

“We are pleased about having a very strong young generation of filmmakers — both among the directors as well as the young producers, who are increasingly working more on an international level. I am very optimistic that they will be successful,” she says.

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