Perhaps James Cameron should pin his hopes on Germany. Unlike in the USA, in December AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER enjoyed the best opening weekend of 2022 in Germany. This could also be seen as a sign of the new strength of the German cinema market. Because after the barren years of the pandemic, finally the trend is upwards – and presumably for good, since the Corona catastrophe ought to be a thing of the past, according to universal expert opinion.
The fact that German films are achieving new countable successes at the box office – in a wide range of genres – also corresponds to such positive signals. For example, Karoline Herfurth’s EINFACH MAL WAS SCHÖNES is recording excellent figures. The sequel to the children’s book adaptation SCHOOL OF MAGICAL ANIMALS 2 has already reached a larger audience than the already extremely popular first part. And the ailing arthouse sector received welcome support with Fatih Akin’s RHEINGOLD as well as the Cannes winner TRIANGLE OF SADNESS by Ruben Östlund.
In the international award season, German movies are also poised to leave their mark, with Edward Berger’s ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT having been nominated in nine key Oscar categories for Best Picture, Best International Feature Film, Cinematography, Makeup and Hairstyling, Music (Original Score), Production Design, Sound, Writing (Adapted Screenplay) and Visual Effects, and being nominated for 14 BAFTAs. At the same time, the flagship of the German industry is ready to sail again: after the truncated editions of the previous two years, the Berlinale will be held as a full face-to-face event from 16 to 26 February, 2023. This edition of the film festival could be record-breaking, if the number of visitors to the European Film Market is anything to go by. Two months before the start, the exhibition spaces were already almost fully booked. And the awarding of the Honorary Bear is also sending out a signal in advance: in Steven Spielberg, the festival management have chosen perhaps one of the most prominent and crowd-pleasing award winners of the last ten years. Jury president Kristen Stewart, who received an Oscar nomination for SPENCER in 2022, not only brings her Hollywood nimbus with her, but also represents a time in which young female perspectives are shaping the film industry more than ever before.
These are all encouraging signs. But it is important to remember nonetheless that the positive developments are taking place against the backdrop of global crises. And that these crises are more firmly linked to massive economic effects than they have been for a long time. The costs of energy and material have also risen enormously for film and television production. According to the autumn survey of the German Producers’ Alliance, the increases amount to an average of 15 per cent. In view of the fragile global political situation, no reliable calculations can be made for 2023. It is impossible to predict to what extent such problems will be alleviated by political relief packages this year. But despite these financial burdens, we should not forget our colleagues who are struggling with incomparably tougher issues. We are talking about the creative workers in Ukraine and Iran, and wish to support them with every means at our disposal.
But unlike those involved in many other industries, the representatives of cinema have a decisive advantage: they create stories. The film industry’s bounce back from the lows of the pandemic proves that these stories continue to exert tremendous traction. And reflecting on the telling of these stories can provide the focus and mental energy to keep us on course during these risky times.
Yours, Simone Baumann