Monday, April 27, 2009

"John Rabe" picks up Germany's Lola Award

Director/writer Florian Gallenberger's "John Rabe" picked up the awards for Best Film, Best Actor, Best Production Design and Best Costume Design at Germany's Lola Awards last Friday. "John Rabe" is being hailed as "China's Schindler", as it tells the tale of a German manager of Siemens that tries to save Chinese civilians during the Japanese invasion of Shanghai during the Second World War.

Özgür Yildirim’s "Chiko" picked up the Best Screenplay Award.

Complete list of winners:
Golden Lola for Best Film: John Rabe by Florian Gallenberger
Silver Lola for Best Film: A Year Ago In Winter by Caroline Link
Bronze Lola for Best Film: Cloud 9 by Andreas Dresen
Best Documentary: Nobody's Perfect by Niko von Glasow
Best Children’s Film: Nothing Else Matters by Julia von Heinz
Best Screenplay: Özgür Yildirim for Chiko
Best Director: Andreas Dresen for Cloud 9
Best Actress in a Leading Role: Ursula Werner in Cloud 9
Best Actor in a Leading Role: Ulrich Tukur in John Rabe
Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Sophie Rois in The Architect
Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Andreas Schmidt in Fleisch ist mein Gemüse
Best Cinematography: Kolja Brandt for North Face
Best Editing: Sebastian Thümler for Chiko
Best Production Design: Tu Ju Hua for John Rabe
Best Costume Design: Lisy Christl for John Rabe
Best Score: Niki Reiser for A Year Ago In Winter Best Sound: Christian Bischoff, Tschangis Chahrokh, Heinz Ebner and Guido Zettier for North Face

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Pirate Bay: a writer's perspective

The Pirate Bay ruling has unleashed a lot of emotion on the web. It's interesting that the discussions have centred on movies rather than music this time. Coming from the music biz, I can safely say to the movie businesses: "you ain't seen nothing yet" in terms of piracy. For creators, trying to find justifications for Pirate Bay is a very dangerous game to play for - in my opinion - two major reasons. 1) it promotes piracy on a very, very large scale indeed, and 2) by centralising free content it also blocks any of the other initiatives that creators might try and put in place.

Let me explain: the one big lesson people are not taking from the music debacle is that creators need to connect directly with their audiences. This is even more important to me than individual distribution. We have to build and nurture audiences so that they are available to us, rather than third-party sites. The good news for people that like it is that giving stuff away is going to be a major part of the new biz anyway. But WE have to be giving it away to OUR audiences. The freebies have to be part of OUR strategy, not Pirate Bay's or YouTube's. People have to come to OUR sites, and be exposed to OUR goodies, T-shirts, Director's Cuts, downloadable scripts, public appearances and OUR ads. Otherwise we will never be able to control our futures.

By giving everything away both YouTube and Pirate Bay short-circuit our ability to build audiences as they hold onto both the visitor data and the advertising revenue, leaving us the crumbs from our own table.

Most people I know are aware that people spend money to create music and movies, and are willing to participate in one way or another. Personally, I like visiting the sites of writers and directors, reading their comments and occasionally buying their books, movies or whatever. But both Pirate Bay and YouTube increase the distance between the creator and the spectator, which is why I think they both should be treated with caution.

All the rest about freedom, copyrights and the end of the world as we know it is editorial chatter.

Friday, April 17, 2009

"Il Divo" opens in Germany

Paolo Sorrentino's explosive account of Italian prime minister Giulio Andreotti opens in Germany. The film takes a look at the secrets behind power in Italy during Andreotti's successive spells as the Prime Minister. Andreotti was known as the untouchable, with possible links to the Masonic lodge and the Sicilian mafia. Not surprisingly, Sorentino's film had a hard time finding financing and sponsors in Italy but made a deep impression at Cannes, where it won the Prix du Jury. "Il Divo" is also currently playing in Belgium. Official site.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

New Adjani film debuts on TV

Purely by accident, I caught most of the new Isabelle Adjani film "La journée de la jupe" written and directed by Jean-Paul Lilienfeld on Arte recently. I was impressed by the young cast and wondered why I hadn't heard about it before. The reason is that the film actually premièred on television, and is only now being released in France and Belgium. Isn't this backwards logic? Aren't we told that movies should be in the theatres first and then on TV and lastly on DVD? It's all the more interesting as the film brought Arte its biggest audience rating to date, nearly 2.5 million spectators or almost 9.6% of French TV audiences.

It will be interesting to see if this creates a buzz for the release. It certainly worked for Arte. The film has caused such debate that Arte decided to postpone the re-broadcasts. A message on Isabelle Adjani's blog invites people to catch the movie in theatres. Arte is a co-producer with Mascaret Films, Fontana and the RTBF. Visit the official site (in French).