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Simone Baumann to Head German Films

Simone Baumann has been chosen to take over as managing director of movie promotion agency German Films, replacing Mariette Rissenbeek, who has been appointed as executive director of the Berlin Film Festival.

Baumann, who starts her new role Feb. 1, has been German Films’ representative in Central and Eastern Europe since 2003; she is also an independent producer. The decision was made at a meeting on Monday in Munich by German Films’ supervisory board, which is chaired by Peter Herrmann.

“[Baumann] has not only produced award-winning, courageous and controversial documentaries, but also tirelessly championed international cooperation,” Herrmann said. “In her work on behalf of German Films in Central and Eastern Europe, she has created and maintained a closely knit and efficient network with all of the relevant representatives of the film industry.”

Baumann said: “I have been representing the interests of German cinema in Eastern Europe for the past 16 years and have come to know all aspects of German filmmaking. It is a great opportunity and a joy to now be strengthening the interest in German films worldwide from the Munich headquarters.”

At the same meeting, German Films’ board signed off on a business plan for next year with a budget of €4.9 million ($5.59 million). It includes a 15% increase in distribution support for German films abroad in response to a rise in demand for funding in the past two years. “This support is a key argument for the distributors when acquiring a German film,” according to a statement.

In addition to its existing projects, its plan for 2019 includes one-off activities such as a German Focus at the Sunny Side of the Docs documentary market, and “an event with inter-cultural directors at U.S. universities” as part of the Year of Germany in the U.S.

The new board, which serves for two years from Jan. 1, was selected by German Films’ shareholders. Herrmann, of the German Producers Alliance, and Antonio Exacoustos, representing the Assn. of German Film Exporters, were re-elected. Sabine Pollmeier of the German Documentary Assn. was elected as a new member, and Kirsten Niehuus of Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg was appointed to represent Germany’s regional funding institutions. The main funders of German Films, the German Federal Film Board and Germany’s culture ministry, each have one representative on the board. The film board appointed Peter Dinges; the ministry will decide on its representative at a later date.

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