What is Pablo Larrain Spencer and Kornel Mundruczó Evolution do the two have in common?
Technically, they are German films because they have German producers – respectively Komplizen Film and Match Factory Productions – who are majority partners in the co-production structures.
But German film critics are difficult to convince and report with Schadenfreude almost without dilution that “again, there is no German film” when the big international festivals announce their programs.
As Simone Baumann, CEO of German Films, explained, Germany has partnered with no less than 21 titles on the Cannes Film Festival – albeit as a minority co-producer – in addition to Mundruczó and Sebastian’s film. Meise Great freedom (a predominantly German co-production) which opened this year’s Filmfest Hamburg last Thursday.
She admitted that it had “not been satisfactory” that there had not been a German majority production with a German director in the festival program.
But, at the same time, these films are good publicity for the attractiveness of the German production landscape and the willingness of its producers to serve as co-production partners on projects around the world.
Meanwhile, there was consensus among the panel speakers, which also included Berlin-based Picture Tree International sales agent Andreas Rothbauer, Berlin-based writer-director Feo Aladag and UK-born editor Andrew Bird. and Hamburg-based, that overly strict film funding guidelines negatively impact the types of films produced due to the constant need to meet certain criteria such as cultural tests and regional “economic effects”.
Rothbauer cited Stefan Ruzowitzky’s Counterfeiters as an example of the showdown that can break out between countries that each claim a production as “their film”.
The film was a 50-50 co-production shared between Germany and Austria, “but then it won the Oscar and there was the question of who would party in Los Angeles? Could it be the Austrians or the Germans? Rothbauer recalls. (It was the Austrians.)
And the suggestion that German comedies do not travel prompted him to come up with the counter-argument of Fack Ju Göhte that Picture Tree has sold in over 40 countries.
“In a small country like the Czech Republic, it recorded more than 300,000 admissions while [the Hitler bunker drama] Fall only had 40,000, ”he recalls.
Inevitably, as in most panels of the film industry in Germany, the discussion kept coming back to the pros and cons of the German film financing system, with the dominant position of German broadcasters as gatekeepers deciding which projects might even consider. to ask for funding in the first place, as well as the concentration of funds on production support instead of investing more in the development of projects and scripts.
It remains to be seen whether a reform of the current German Cinema Act (FFG) will have positive effects on the international presence and relevance of German cinema. In any case, it would be a welcome sign if more money was invested in the international promotion of “made in Germany” films.
At present, only 1.8% of the 450 million euros made available by federal and regional funding bodies is spent on international measures, including German Films.
In addition to calling for changes in funding structures and criteria, the country’s filmmakers and producers may also need to be encouraged to change their minds in the future if they are to be on a successful footing. equal with their counterparts in other countries.
Baumann said she regretted that few producers were thinking in international terms when developing their projects. “At German Films, we see too few predominantly German productions in development, even though they ask to participate in international markets during pitchings, work in progress and other industry sessions.”
Having worked as a producer on many international co-productions before coming to German Films, Baumann knows the value of these industry events as a way to test the market with a project to assess its potential.
To this end, the promotion body has embarked on cooperations with initiatives such as Torino Film Lab and Rotterdam Lab so that producers can already get in touch with the festival’s programmers and sales agents while their project is still in the development stage.