Just two weeks after winning a Golden Globe for its co-production of Olivier Assayas’ Carlos, Berlin-based Egoli Tossell Film (ETF) has announced the restructuring of the company’s finances via the German equivalent of Chapter 11 (Insolvenzplanverfahren).
The move follows intense negotiations with a Frankfurt-based investor with whom ETF has exchanged letters of intent . It had been a long-standing goal to strengthen the company – which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year – by acquiring an equity partner into the company. In addition, distribution and rights management will be a focus of the collaboration.
“With an investor behind us, ETF will be able to strengthen our position in 2011,” managing director Judy Tossell said. “The company will do business as usual during the restructuring. Projects are not affected. We are looking forward to a busy and healthy year.”
Feeling the effects of the global economic crisis on the film industry, ETF had just one new film going into production in 2010: Eran Riklis’ Playoff, which was co-produced with France’s Fidélité Films and Israel’s Topia Communications. The €5.3m drama inspired by the life of Ralph Klein, Israel’s most famous ever basketball coach, is being handled internationally by Elle Driver and Wild Bunch.
The resulting decrease in turnover led to cash flow challenges and made financial restructuring a necessary option.
Managing director Jens Meurer added: “Our situation is paradoxical. On the one hand, our films – Black Death, Carlos, The Last Station are currently on release all over the world – unusual for German productions and culminating in the Golden Globe this month for Carlos. Yet the actual returns to ETF have not sufficed to strengthen our operation. With a strong and experienced financial investor at our side, we can apply innovative financing and distribution models to ensure our films’ economic success. It is our responsibility towards our partners and creditors to get new films into production as quickly and reliably as we can. We are focusing on the future.”
Speaking to Screen Daily, ETF’s Judy Tossell said that the Berlin-based company is planning to produce three films during 2011.
The first project to go into production should be Vadim Perelman’s adaptation of Norman Lebrecht’s Whitbread Prize-winning novel The Song Of Names which is set to star Dustin Hoffman and Anthony Hopkins, and will be produced with the UK’s Nick Hirschkorn of Feel Films. While postproduction on the film is due to be undertaken in Germany, the studio work could possibly be located in Poland.
This will then be followed by the first in the Hector’s Journeys franchise, Hector And the Search Of Happiness, based on the international bestsellers by Francois Lelord. A director will be announced soon.
The third project would see ETF being reunited with its regular collaborators Maria von Heland (Big Girls Don’t Cry) and actress Heike Makatsch (Hilde): von Heland will direct the German language comedy Lexi from her own screenplay with Makatsch playing the lead.
In addition, ETF will continue packaging Iain Softley’s Ivanhoe which is to be produced with Spain’s Morena Films.