German productions contributed decisively to a banner year in the nation's film industry in 2008, continuing last year's upbeat trend.
Til Schweiger's Keinohrhasen was a highlight of German cinema's good year in 2008
On the eve of Berlin's International film Festival, the Federal Film Board (FFA) reported that a total of 129.4 million visitors passed through cinema turnstiles, exactly four million more than in 2007.
Boosted by a 3.2 per cent increase in attendance, turnover rose to 794.7 million euros ($1,018 million), 36.8 million euros (4.9 percent) more than in the previous year.
With a share of 26.6 percent, made-in-Germany films reached their highest level in the market since 1991. FFA chairman Peter Dinges reported that between January and December, 33.9 million visitors bought tickets to German films last year.
"All told, 11 German productions reached more than a million visitors, a new record mark since reunification," he said. Most successful movies included the spoof, "Keinohrhasen" (No Rabbit Ears).
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Actor-director Til Schweiger's comedy attained 4.9 million visitors, more than the animation film, "Madasgascar 2 (4.8 million), and the James Bond action thriller "Quantum of Solace" with 4.7 million.
Among the most successful films last year was the German-British co-production, "Planet Earth," a documentary which fascinated 3.8 million viewers.
FFA figures showed that last year,the industry posted 471 new releases, 13 fewer than the previous year. German productions or co- productions totalled 185, while 154 came from the US, 93 were European films without German participation and 39 others without German, European or US participation.
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German films played a major role on international markets, Dinges stressed, noting an example "The Baader Meinhof Complex," which has received am Academy Award nomination for best foreign film this year.
In 2008, the German-Austrian production "The Counterfeiters" was nominated, and in 2007, Florian von Doennersmarck received an Oscar for "Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others).
Besides these, German movies have been entered in competitions at major festivals, such as director Wim Wender's "Palermo Schooting" in Cannes, Philip Stoelzi's "Nordwand" North Wall) in Lucarno, and director Doris Doerrie's "Kirschblueten - Hanami" (Cherry Blossoms) at the Berlinale.
In 2008, a total of 95 cinemas opened or re-opened. At the same time, 117 houses were closed, largely for economic reasons, while the number of screens dropped.