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February, 2005 - Nr. 2


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2004 great year for German films

  TWIG - A combination of critically-acclaimed art-house fare and crowd-pleasing blockbusters helped the German film industry post its best year in a decade last year, officials said as the Berlin International Film Festival got underway in the German capital.

Nearly 37 million people went to see a German film in 2004, 12 million more than in 2002. German films now account for nearly 24% of the domestic film market.

"A new generation of German filmmakers has discovered the secret formula [for making a hit]" said Peter Dinges, chairman of the German Federal Film Board Wednesday in Berlin. Several cult films, two Oscar nominations, and the success of Fatih Akin’s "Head-On" at last year’s festival led to success both at home and abroad for German films, Dinges said.

Another international hit, Hans Weingartner’s "The Edukators," reeled in audiences after inciting a 15-minute standing ovation at Cannes.

Even the sheer number of German film productions is catching up to the competition from abroad. Out of the 430 movies to hit German theaters last year, 121 were German films, compared to 179 U.S. productions.

If money were the mark of success for a German film, the winner by far for 2004 was Michael Herbig’s "(T)raumship Surprise," a Star Trek parody which brought in 9.1 million theater-goers.

Germany also earned two Oscar nods in 2004, one for "Downfall," a film about Hitler’s last days, and one for the documentary feature "The Story of the Weeping Camel."

2004 was also a record year for DVD and VHS sales. For the first time ever, sales of movies to be viewed at home surpassed the 100 million Eur ($160 million) mark, a gain of 4% over last year’s sales.

Festival screenings open to public

The Berlin International Film Festival kicked off on Thursday (February 10) with the world premier of French director Régis Wargnier’s "Man to Man," a historical epic starring Joseph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas.

Tickets to the Berlinale have meanwhile been in high demand since box offices began pre-sales on February 8. Ticket prices range from 3 to 11 Eur, plus a 2 Eur fee if booked over the internet.

But some cineastes have waited as long as six hours to get prime seats for showings of films such as "Hotel Rwanda" and "Thumbsucker."

"Hotel Rwanda" is one of two films depicting stories of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The other is "Sometimes in April" by Terry George, a film about one family’s experience during the 100-day slaughter set amid the indifference of world leaders. Films about and from Africa form the political focus of this year’s festival.

A last-minute entry into the festival is the Hungarian production "Fateless," the film version of Nobel-prizewinning Hungarian writer Imre Kertész’s novel by the same name. Kertész’s story of a young boy sent to Auschwitz draws upon his own experiences as a Holocaust survivor.
Republished with permission from "The Week in Germany"




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