The following profile is taken from the weekly print version of Screen International. Also in this week's Screen:
J-Works founder Takenori Sento
Is the internet set to revolutionise the sale of cinema tickets' Denis Seguin investigates.
Lucky Red's Andrea Occhipinti, Momentum Pictures' David Kosse and Egmont Entertainment's Peter Philipsen discuss the growth of Pan-European buying consortiums.
Dieter Kosslick, who was named Moritz De Hadeln's successor as head of the Berlin International Film Festival last week, has established himself as a popular figure on the international scene, aided by his fine-tuned sense of humour and his generosity with public funds. Now he has to use his people skills to win over those festival staff and members of the German film industry who have been angered by De Hadeln's sacking.
One thing you can say about Dieter Kosslick, who was appointed this week by Germany's culture minister Michael Naumann as successor to Moritz De Hadeln as director of the Berlin International Film Festival, is that life has never been dull when he's been around. And it's about to get a hell of a lot more lively.
De Hadeln's defenestration in April was met with outrage from festival staff and industry figures alike (Screendaily, May 9). Now Kosslick has to rebuild the bridges in preparation for his entrance in the spring. If he survives that unscathed he'll then be faced with the task of balancing the competing demands of the majors and the German film industry as the selection process for his first festival begins.
Kosslick starts with the advantage of having built up a reservoir of goodwill both at home and abroad.
As participants at countless panel discussions and seminars around the world over the past two decades will readily vouch, "Mr Germany" can always be counted on to lighten proceedings, while at the same time making a salient point or two drawn from his extensive experience as a public funder on a German and European level.
A native of Pforzheim in the south-west corner of Germany, Kosslick studied communication studies, politics and education at the University of Munich and settled into academic life there before moving to Hamburg in 1979 to become first the speechwriter and office manager of the city's mayor Hans Ulrich Klose, and later, press spokesman for Hamburg's women's equality unit.
After a brief interlude at the political monthly Konkret, Kosslick entered the film industry in 1983 with his appointment as chief executive of the culturally-oriented Hamburg Film Office, during which time he founded the European Low Budget Film Forum and sowed the seeds for the creation of the European Union's Media Programme.
In 1988, he donned a new executive hat by heading up the commercially-oriented Film Fonds Hamburg as well as becoming the president of Media's theatrical distribution support programme Efdo (European Film Distribution Office), a post he held until its dissolution in 1996.
In 1992, North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and public broadcaster WDR poached Kosslick from Hamburg to take over the reins of its new film funding body, the Filmstiftung NRW, whose brief was to help establish a film and television industry in a region previously known primarily for its coal mines and steel works.
With an annual budget of around $33.5m (DM70m), the Filmstiftung has since been involved in almost 400 film and TV productions, ranging from the Oscar-nominated Farinelli through such local box-office hits as Run Lola Run and Knockin' On Heaven's Door to Ken Loach's My Name Is Joe and Cannes Palme d'Or winner Dancer In The Dark.
With backing at the highest political level from NRW prime minister Wolfgang Clement, Kosslick has gone some way to attracting international production to the region - Gerard Corbiau has been there this spring with the $19.2m Le Roi Danse and Sidney Lumet is due to shoot The Beautiful Mrs Seidenmann outside Cologne later this year - as well as improving the local infrastructure with the International Film School in Cologne and other industry training initiatives.
The international profile Kosslick established through his Efdo presidency also helped put NRW's name on the international film industry's map, and this has been consolidated over the last nine years by the fund's involvement in co-production markets in New York (No Borders), Rotterdam (Cinemart), Pusan (PPP) and Hong Kong, as well as by collaborating with the other German states on the Focus Germany initiative in Berlin and Cannes each year.
Universally liked for his outgoing and gregarious personality, it is not surprising that Kosslick has amassed honorary positions the way other people collect discount vouchers. He is, among other things, vice-president of the European Film Academy, a member of the German Federal Film Board's (FFA) administrative council, board member of the European Film College in Ebeltoft/Denmark, board chairman of the Cologne-based further education initiative AIM and, most recently, a member of the newly established German-French Film Academy.
Despite the responsibility of running the second-largest public film fund in Europe after France's CNC, Kosslick has never lost his sense of humour - even when the joke was on him. A case in point is the time when Germany's leading male star Til Schweiger approached him at an industry gathering in the belief that Kosslick was producer Dieter Geissler to ask if he would come on board the project Knockin' On Heaven's Door. "I told him that I was the other Dieter - but that I'd back the film all the same!"