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February, 2004 - Nr. 2


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Berlin booms as hot location for Hollywood

    TWIG - As the Berlin International Film Festival kicks off a two-week program featuring 12 world premieres, there are signs that Berlin is recapturing its role as major filmmaking location.

Hollywood’s brightest stars are flocking to the German capital to shoot their films just as Germany’s own film industry is enjoying something of a renaissance.

Berlin has come a long way from the days when it made its way to the silver screen as little more than a backdrop for Cold War thrillers.

Since "Enemy at the Gates" was filmed at the refurbished Babelsberg Studios south of Berlin in 2001, Hollywood’s hottest filmmakers have been falling over themselves to bring their productions to the German capital.

Famed director Roman Polanski came to Berlin last year to shoot much of his Oscar-winning "The Pianist," and Hollywood heartthrob Matt Damon is currently there filming "The Bourne Supremacy," a follow-up to the successful thriller "The Bourne Identity," which paired him with German star Franka Potente.

Meanwhile, "American Beauty" star Kevin Spacey is making his directorial debut "Beyond the Sea" in Berlin, and the third installment of the Tom Cruise vehicle "Mission Impossible" is due to begin filming there shortly.

Berlin is back on Hollywood’s map as a place where movies can be made cheaply. A German producer, for example, makes about one-third as much as his U.S. counterpart. As home to a number of production companies, there is no shortage of industry professionals in the capital to handle the increasing demand.

With its astounding architectural variety, the city also offers filmmakers dramatic backdrops that are hard to come by elsewhere. "Even Los Angeles in the 1940’s is easier to find here than in Los Angeles," said Kevin Spacey in a recent interview with the newsweekly Spiegel. "Back there, the legendary nightclubs on Sunset Boulevard were being torn down… here, nothing’s been touched - it’s perfect for us."

Meanwhile, Germany’s own film industry has shaken off its reputation for producing dreary "auteur" genre films and is again basking the glow of international box office success.

"Good Bye, Lenin!", a comedy about a son who conceals the fall of the Berlin Wall from his ailing mother, has so far grossed an impressive $40 million — and rights have been sold to 68 foreign markets, including the United States.

Last March, "Nowhere in Africa", which follows the fate of a Jewish family that flees Nazi Germany to Kenya in 1938, won the Academy Award for best foreign language movie, while "The Miracle of Berne", a film about the 1954 World Cup, and "Luther" also scored with audiences inside and outside Germany.

"German films are now reaching audiences with good stories," Rolf Baehr, chairman of the German film board, told Reuters. "Filmmakers are concentrating on viewers more and not focused on their own self-realization. Their experience and training are also greatly improved. It’s all coming together."
Republished with permission from "The Week in Germany"


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