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German cinema goes to Tokyo


The Third Festival of German Films in Tokyo was taking place this week-end (8-12 June 2007), presenting a panorama of 12 recent German films, as well as three silent film classics by Ernst Lubitsch.

Building on a smaller scale event previously organized by the Goethe Institute in Tokyo, the festival was started in 2005 during the "German Year in Japan" and is since then co-organized by German Films, Asahi Shimbun and the Goethe Institute, with the aim of promoting German cinema towards Japanese audience and of reinforcing links between German sales companies and Japanese buyers.

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"We are here to show Japanese audience that German and European cinema are interesting, and to make Japanese professionals realize that there are potential profits." says Christian Dorsch, managing director of German Films, "The event is also the occasion for German Films to promote its Distribution Support program, which offers loans and grants to assist distributors for the theatrical release of German feature films and documentaries."

"In Japan, newspaper companies have a tradition of sponsoring cultural events." says Futoshi Koga, from Asahi Shimbun, "The Asahi Shimbun, with 8 millions copies for its morning edition, has the second largest circulation in Japan and the world. It regularly organizes large scale art exhibitions, and is also active in the cinema field, with the German Film Festival, and the Italian Film Festival which takes place in late April. "

The newspaper also invests in European films distribution, in partnership with local distributors. "Our 10% participation in the total distribution budget of Downfall, in partnership with GAGA Communications, was a success story which yielded a 500% return on investment", Koga says.

"The Japanese audience, especially the older generation, is still very fond of the great German tradition of silent cinema. Our Lang & Murnau retrospective in 2005 was a great public success and resulted in the acquisition of DVD and TV rights of nearly all the films programmed. Since then, we decided to include other classics of the period every year, with renewed success." he adds.

On his first visit to the festival, German Federal Film Board's President Eberhard Junkersdorf explained that the point was to make films travel and be seen. "We choose the best German films to represent the industry, opening the festival for example with Four Minutes, which was awarded Best 2006 German Film. By showing them here, we wish to raise the awareness on German and European films."

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