Lukewarm Berlin film market generates buzz nevertheless

Thu Feb 13, 2014 9:35am EST
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By Michael Roddy

BERLIN (Reuters) - Berlin's international film festival ends this weekend with some film buyers and sellers having made significant deals and others complaining of slack sales activity with no significant driver.

The 64th Berlin International Film Festival kicked off last week with American director Wes Anderson's "Grand Budapest Hotel" which - like other big titles - was not for sale. It ends on Saturday with the Golden Bear award for best film.

Unlike the lead-off film "Gravity" for the Venice Film Festival last September, Anderson's whimsical comedy is a Fox film with all markets accounted for months ago, Becki Probst, director of the European Film Market (EFM), the festival's buying and selling side, told Reuters on Thursday.

Still, there was plenty of buzz in Berlin, with George Clooney promoting his self-directed World War Two art-rescue caper "Monuments Men", which is also Fox, and a screening of Lars von Trier's "Nymphomaniac Volume 1", but trade papers and some participants said there was not a lot more to chew over.

"The truth is that you know Berlin was warm but it was cold in business, very freezing in business," said Joseph Samaan, president of the Tanweer Group, referring to mostly unseasonable warm weather during the festival this year.

"We did some deals for small and medium titles and there was not really like a driver, a title driver in the market," Samaan - whose Dubai-based film distribution and production services company operates in the Middle East, India, North Africa and Eastern Europe - told Reuters by telephone.

He came with five or six staff this year but might come with fewer and stay for a shorter time next year, he said.

The nearly 1,500 buyers registered for the market had to scrabble over lesser known titles screening either in or out of competition for Saturday's prizes, and for future productions and films not being shown at Berlin at all.   Continued...