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Film Festival Today

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Berlin Buzz 4

Written by: FFT Webmaster | February 18th, 2011


The subject of the Berlinale Retrospective this year is legendary Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman. The Festival is presenting more than 60 of his taboo-breaking films, including such classics as SUMMER WITH MONICA, THE SEVENTH SEAL, THE VIRGIN SPRING, WINTER LIGHT, PERSONA, HOUR OF THE WOLF, CRIES AND WHISPERS, AUTUMN SONATA, FANNY AND ALEXANDER and his final film SARABAND. Three of Bergman’s actress collaborators have also been in town to introduce films and give talks, including such legends as Liv Ullmann, Harriet Andersson and Gunnel Lindblom. The Deutsche Kinemathek has also mounted an exhibition of Bergman memorabilia, including the director’s personal papers, scripts, sketches and other ephemera. Bergman died in 2007 but his influence on film and visual artists remains astoundingly powerful.


French sales company Wide Management has received 200,000 Euros of Media Mundus funding for its Eye On Films project, a global network of distributors and festivals dedicated to circulated and showcasing films by first-time directors. The initiative currently iincludes 16 distributors and 15 film festivals, who will select 12 first features (six European, six non-European) which the participating festivals will agree to program and the participating distributors will agree to distribute. Current festival partners include the Tallinn Black Nights, Budapest, Paris Cinema, Taormina, Edinburgh and Seattle film festivals. The first film announced as part of this new enterprise is OLIVER SHERMAN a thriller by Ryan Redford.


At the Berlinale, the Tokyo International Film Festival has announced that it will present a retrosective of classic Japanese films from the 1950s and 1960s for its event this October. With Japanese films capturing 53% of the market share at theaters currently in Japan, Festival Director Tom Yoda felt that “we should focus on introduccing more Japanese films for both the local audiences and invited foreign audiences.” There are also plans to make the Festival more “green” by taking advantage of new technologies and creating less paper. The Festival also plans to put in more resources to make TIFFCOM, its market component, more of a draw for international sellers and buyers.


The Edinburgh International Film Festival, which is in the midst of a radical overhaul, has invited a number of high profile artists, filmmakers and musicians to serve as guest curators for its event in June. Among the guest curators are Berlinale Jury President and actress Isabella Rossellini, the film directors Gus Van Sant and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Sarah Driver andJim Jarmusch, UK songwriter Mike Skinner, Scottish author Alan Warner, film composer Clint Mansell and music writer Greil Marcus. This radical move will be closely watched by industry pundits, since each of the aabove will curate their own  sections, which will include a cross-pollination of films, music, art, writing and performance. “Nothing is off the table”, Festival producer James Mullighan declared.


While making several announcements here about new funding projects for the coming year, the Media Programme, which has been a touchstone of funding for many film festivals and industry initiatives in the past 10 years, is fighting for further commitment from the European Parliament. Speaking in Berlin, Aviva Silver, head of the MEDIA Unit at the European Commission, declared “All I can say iis that we are working on a new MEDIA programme, since the current commitments of funding run out in 2013.” With on-going economic stability and expected national bailouts in Spain, Portugal and Ireland, the future of the Programme is not set in stone and there are concerns that the budget will be drastically reduced or even eliminated, which would send shock waves through the film industry.


Another announcement of note here at the Berlinale was a major new training initiative organized by Spain’s Media Business School. Titled “Access To The Markets In The Digital Age”, the program will train 50 producers from North Africa and the Middle East in the efficient, economical use of digital technology for the production, promotion and distribution of films. The course director is Linda Beath, founder of Italy’s Ideal Filmworks, a film and television development specialist company. Media Business School is partnering with the International Association Of Independent Producers of the Mediterranean and will target up and coming independent producers and filmmakers from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. The first cycle of the program will be held at the Red Sea Institute in Aqaba, with the second planned to be held in Tunis.


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