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Established 1995 filmfestivals.com serves and documents relentless the festivals community, offering 92.000 articles of news, free blog profiles and functions to enable festival matchmaking with filmmakers.

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Berlinale poised for growth and expansion

The Berlin International Film Festival, known locally as the Berlinale, already is one of Europe’s most highly prized film events. It is generally acknowledged as one of the most organized film events in the world, with a dazzling array of films from all over the world. Between the Competition Section, which hosts world and international premieres, and the parallel Panorama and Forum Of Young Cinema sections, the Festival is showcasing more than 300 films in its ten-day span.

The Festival, which took a major shift in the past few years when it relocated to the futuristic environment of the Potsdamer Platz, is poised for yet another expansion next year. The European Film Market, the parallel professional event where many of the Festival offerings are bought and sold, has long since outgrown its physical capacities in the atrium lobby of the Debuis Building. This year, the exhibition booths are literally bursting at the seams, with even more companies taking expensive suites at the surrounding five-star hotels.

Berlin has become more important also due to the shift this year of major events in the film business calendar. After a bitterly contentious battle, the American Film Market, traditionally held in Los Angeles in early March, moved its dates to early November, going head to head with MIFED, a traditional film market held in Milan.

With the American Film Market now solidly set in its new Autumn dates, and MIFED going forward with plans to allign with the Venice International Film Festival in late August, this leaves a large time gap between the AFM in November and Cannes in May. Film sellers, who need the constant exposure to buyers for their newest product, are now testing the waters to see if Berlin will become the must-attend event of the Winter season.

Many new companies, particularly American sales agents who have never attended before, are out in force. Some are taking exhibition booths on the Market floor, and others are holed up at the Grand Hyatt or one of the other hotels in the area. Business so far has been brisk, and looks to explode next year when the Film Market makes it much heralded move to the Martin Gropius Bau, a museum that will literally triple the exhibition capacity in one fell swoop.

One of the newer sales agents attending Berlin for the first time is Showcase Entertainment, a Los Angeles-based company that represents a mix of genre and arthouse product for international distribution. “This is becoming more like Cannes”, Showcase’s VP of Distribution Michael Stone offered. “There is a great concentration here of buyers who are interested in high-end arthouse films, so we are adjusting our slate to pick up films for this part of the market.”

Showcase is offering an interesting mix of titles, including Campfire, an Israeli film that won 5 Israeli Academy Awards this year, Anything But Love, a romantic comedy to be released in the US by the Samuel Goldwyn Company, and Puerto Vallarta Squeeze, starring Harvey Keitel and Scott Glenn, which will be distributed in the US by New Line Cinema.

Screen International, which prints the only Trade Daily here in an exclusive arrangement with the Berlinale, is the source of advertisements of many companies also making their initial forays to Berlin this year. While some of the films being offered by these companies (sexy thrillers and science fiction horror) seem widely inappropriate for Berlin’s high-minded atmosphere and devotion to arthouse cinema, it does show that sellers are looking to bring to Berlin all kinds of independent films.

For the immediate future, arthouse films, independent productions and films with a social or political perspective, are still the ones that generate interest and excitement here in Berlin. While the Market expands, and film professionals arrive in greater numbers, it is the hope of the organizers (and buyers) that Berlin’s singular reputation as an advocate for the “difficult” film remains in place, and that it continues to fete an international independent cinema that does not rely on the Hollywood machine.

Sandy Mandelberger
Industry Editor

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Chatelin Bruno
(Filmfestivals.com)

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