A promoreel of Tom Tykwer’s urban love story Three (Drei), Benedek Fliegauf’s Womb and Wolfgang Panzer’s drama The Day Of The Cat (Der grosse Kater) were among the must-see screenings at this year’s edition of the German Films Previews in Hamburg at the weekend.

It was not surprising that Fliegauf’s first English-language feature should be so popular with the 80-odd international buyers given that the film will be having its world premiere at Locarno’s International Competition in three weeks’ time. Those in Hamburg could therefore be now be a step ahead of competitors who will not get to see the film until Locarno. The same goes for another The Match Factory title, Home For Christmas by Bent Hamer, which will presumably premiere at one of the autumn festivals.
Other films creating a buzz among buyers included Ralf Huettner’s tragicomedy Vincent Wants To Sea (Vincent Will Meer), Oliver Schmitz’s Un Certain Regard film Life, Above Alland Srdjan Koljevic’s The Woman With a Broken Nose which has been invited to Raindance, Warsaw and Hof film festivals this autumn.
While the Previews’ participants could not fault the organization of the 10th edition by German Films, several buyers expressed their concern to ScreenDaily about the large number of international, non-German language co-productions in the screenings programme.
“I don’t come here to see a film from Kyrgyzstan,” said one buyer pointedly, noting that five of the 19 titles shown at the CinemaxX cinema were made in Kyrgyz, English, Serbian, Norwegian, and the South African minority language Sepedi, respectively.
Some participants felt that there should be a stricter selection procedure to ensure that the showcase is more focused on new productions coming out of Germany. Such a mix of productions as at this year’s Previews would not be conceivable at similar events organized, for example, by Unifrance, one veteran distributor suggested.
At the same time, it could be argued that the Previews selection reflects the fact that German producers are particularly active in the field of international co-production and German sales companies have seen a growing internationalization of their lineups in recent years.
During the Previews, Cinepool’s theatrical sales manager Moritz Hemminger told ScreenDaily that a new pickup, Hawa Essuman’s Soul Boy, produced by Tom Tykwer and Marie Steinmann, will be presented at this year’s AFM in November.
Soul Boy had been premiered at the Gothenburg and Rotterdam international film festivals at the beginning of the year before having a special screening as part of the Berlinale’s Generation sidebar.
In addition, Media Luna New Films will handle international sales for Katalin Gödrös’ Songs Of Love And Hate which is set to have its world premiere in the International Competition at  Locarno Film Festival next month.
Meanwhile, the Previews’ organizer German Films unveiled its VOD “b2b” platform which allows international buyers and festival delegates to view selected German films.
The local box-office hit Friendship!, Locarno 2009 Piazza Grande title The Two Horses Of Genghis Khan and this year’s Berlinale films When We Leave, Berlin, Boxhagener Platz, and Orly are among 20 titles available via streaming from German Films website.
Speaking exclusively to ScreenDaily, Angela Hawkins, website and publications editor for German Films, explained that anybody visiting www.german-films.de can see a trailer or the first three minutes of each film without registering into the system.
“Buyers or festival delegates wanting to gain access to a complete film have to first register and then request a voucher code for the particular film,” Hawkins said. “This request would then be checked with the respective world sales company to check if a buyer’s territory is still available for the requested film. If that is not the case, a voucher code is then be issued for the film for a 24-hour screening window.”
The new platform is being managed technically by the German online distribution specialist Nowtilus.
Bulent Gunduz, head of acquisitions at Ankara Association for Cinema Culture (AACC), has already registered and made use of this new service.
“This platform is a great opportunity for buyers, and the quality of the streaming is very good,” he said. “With the 24-hour window there is a very fast feedback for the sales agents – it speeds up the process because, unlike when DVD screeners are sent out, [the sales companies] are sure that the films have been seen and they can start with getting feedback.”