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The Network - 30/10/2005


3 questions to Cristina Hoffman, German Films (France)


Cristina Hoffman is the representative of German Films in France, the organisation which supports the presence of German cinema in other countries. German Films organises the Festival of German Cinema in Paris which traditionally takes place at L'Arlequin cinema (which became a member of Europa Cinemas this year). Here Cristina Hoffman is taking another look at the renewed interest in German cinema abroad and at the festival's place within the activities of German Films.

Do you think German cinema has benefited from improved presence abroad over the last few years?

Interest in German cinema had made a great leap forward, following the surprise success of Good Bye Lenin!. Head-On (Gegen die Wand) and Downfall (Der Untergang) then accentuated this phenomenon. Previously, the spotlight had already fallen on Run Lola Run (Lola rennt) which had been a very successful export but which had had somewhat disappointing results in France. Beyond these films which attract large audiences we should also note the resurgence of interest in films d'auteur, such as Distant Lights (Lichter) or This Very Moment (Milchwald), which haven't, however, had much success so far. These films d'auteur are released in some countries, in France, England or even Asia, but in Spain and Italy, for example, the only German films which are released in cinemas are the big blockbusters. The focus of German Films is on making these films known, at a time when constantly evolving young directors are emerging.

What is the role of German Films?

German Films ensures a link with local distributors, in particular through ten or so representatives in the world. Its activity really does go hand-in-hand with the renewed interest in German cinema since from now on we promise support not only to feature-length films but also to short films, documentaries and television films, whereas our activity had formerly been limited to feature-length films. We must also emphasise the implementation of assistance for the distribution of German films abroad, a few months ago.
Of course our activity attaches much importance to festivals of German films. The first of these was organised in Paris and we are now at the 10th one. Other festivals take place in London, Rome, Madrid and New York. The first Festival of German Cinema was held in Tokyo this year. This presence reaches beyond just the capitals of the great markets - in particular, last year, we showed many recent films in Morocco.

What is the nature of the 10th Festival of German Cinema in Paris? What are the highlights?

This festival was created at a time when German cinema was suffering from real public ignorance, in France and elsewhere. Today, we are showing not only films which do not have a distributor in the country but also films which have been noticed and awarded at festivals. The selection gives rise to a Public's Prize. One of the highlights of the festival will be the screening of Sommer vorm Balkon, Andreas Dresen's new film, which won best screenplay at San Sebastián and has just been purchased by the distributor Ocean Films. Sophie Scholl - Die letzten Tage, which won prizes at Berlin and at the Lolas, is another important moment which should attract many school children. I could also cite One Day in Europe or even Der Fischer und seine Frau, which will close the festival, not to mention the other films in the selection, of course!
Besides recent feature-length films, the Festival will also present, thanks to the collaboration of Arte, a selection of documentaries which will give a sociocultural view of modern Germany, with a programme of the century's best 15 German films of the century as well as student films, short films and a concert evening dedicated to Murnau's Nosferatu, on 13 October.
Going back to the feature-length films, I should note that some of the films shown last year have since been released in French cinemas, including Agnes und seine Brüder , Love in Thoughts (Was nützt die Liebe in Gedanken) and Schultze Gets the Blues. On the other hand, despite critical acclaim, Nightsongs(Die Nacht singt ihre Lieder), Romuald Karmakar's latest film, has not found a distributor in France yet. So the road to the screens is far from certain for all films.

Interview by Jean-Baptiste Selliez, October 2005