One of the hotest draws at this week's Berlinale Talent Campus was the work shop on Bankruptcy and Resurrection, with an insiders view of the experience provided by Kinowelt's Rainer Koelmel and producers Cedomir Kolar (No Man's Land) and Nik Powell (The Crying Game).
Bankruptcy is something that often hovers over film companies like Damocles sword, Koelmel argued: 'There is always a danger [of going bankrupt] as you always have debt, but you hope you can avoid it.'
Having now come back from the brink of oblivion just three weeks ago when he and brother Michael officially bought back the core assets of their Kinowelt empire, Koelmel said they had been motivated to carry on 'because we had established a name and brand in Germany and worldwide'.
Surviving bankruptcy, he said, "is not something you can do on your own. You need a sparring partner. I was lucky in having my brother as a partner to communicate with.'
In retrospect, Koelmel admitted that mistakes had been made: 'Nobody knew that the Neuer Markt would develop the way it did. When we were small, we were at the mercy of Kirch and Bertelsmann, and our downfall was perhaps because we didn't realise [after going public] that we were still at their mercy.'
'It's not a funny matter being bankrupt', observed Kolar, 'although being an independent producer means that you don't employ so many people and so don't then leave hundreds of people on the street like an Enron or Kirch.'
Powell agreed that 'bankruptcy is a hurtful experience and a lot of people get hurt since your small suppliers can also go under as well as it hitting your staff.'
'However, the bankruptcies for us three are very small when you see companies like AOL/Time Warner losing a $100bn and they're not going bankrupt', Powell said, 'I think there's something wrong there.'