German Days: Italian-German conference

Today marked the second day of the Italian-German conference at Rome’s Horti Sallustiani, entitled “Due cinematografie allo specchio”. The meeting on the Italian distribution of German films was introduced by Giovanni Spagnoletti, one of Italy’s leading experts on German cinema, after an opening welcome by the German Ambassador. Participants included, among others: Matthias Keuthen (Schwarz-Weiss Filmverleih), Antonio Exacoustos (German Films), Sebastian Kiesmûller (Bavaria Film International), Valerio de Paolis (BIM) and Luciano Sovena (Istituto Luce). The subjects discussions were film promotion and marketing strategies, co-production experiences between Italy and Germany and future collaborations between the two countries’ public and private institutions.
In particular, Istituto Luce CEO Sovena said: “I hope we can increase co-productions and create stable, long-lasting relations such as the ones we have enjoyed with France for some time. After the wonderful period of the 1970s – of Wenders, Fassbinder, Von Trotta and Herzog – German cinema experienced a dark period. Today, we are witnessing strong signals of rebirth and we look forward to a new, mutually-based relationship”. Exacoustos, German Films’ head of the Distribution Support Programme, which was presented to conference guests, agreed: “In the past, there were few co-productions between the two countries and we must now increase them”. As did Kiesmûller of Bavaria: “Our company has always been open to every form of collaboration, today more than ever”. Sovena, who distributed Sophie Scholl: The Final Days in Italy for Luce, related his experience with Marc Rothemund’s 2005 Berlinale award-winning film: “For this film, which seemed to us very difficult to place in Italy, we worked constantly and on a mass communication and marketing scale, in collaboration with various institutions, including the national partisan association, and in the end the film achieved optimal results”. De Paolis instead recounted a negative experience with Tom Tykwer’s The Princess and the Warrior, starring Franka Potente: “In that case, we erred in maintaining the original title for its Italian release, a title that evoked a historical, period film that probably did not attract audiences and, in fact, the film did very poorly”. However, his experience with Head-On was different: “We decided to change the original title of Fatih Akin’s film for its Italian release, choosing a title that rendered the film more international and evocative. The director was initially against it but, given its success in Italy, he was ultimately very satisfied. We are interested in the stories in German films, because the actors are unknown to us, apart from Franka Potente. There is no actual ‘star system’ in Germany, whereas Italian actors are very well known”.
Afternoon discussions turned to co-production experiences and future developments, and speakers included Gaetano Blandini (Director General of Cinema for the Ministry of Culture), Karl Baumgartner and Raimond Goebel (Pandora Film), Marco Chimenz (Cattleya) and Giulia Rodano (head of the Lazio Film Commission). The closing event was led by Francesco Ventura of the Ministry of Culture. A selection of German films was also presented for international distributors at the Cinema Barberini yesterday, along with screenings of the German films in the festival’s official sections. There will also be a German film presented in the New Cinema Network section.


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