By Sydney Levine | Sydneys Buzz May 11, 2010 at 9:49AM
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The Match Factory is one of the most dynamic and important international sales agents. To learn how international independent coproductions of the festival type film get made, you need to know origins of The Match Factory itself. Founder Karl Baumgartner is The Maestro of International Coproduction. He has been producing since 1991 and has at least two production companies, one of which is Pandora which goes back as a German distribution company to the 1950s and which with partner Reinhard Brundig is a partner in The Match Factory. In 1963 Baumie, as he is known to his friends, prebought Jarmisch's Down By Law which immediately put both Jarmisch and his producer Jim Stark into international play. Beside their slate of current films, they represent the entire library of Aki Kaurismäki.
In Cannes Competiton, Match Factory's the Palm d'Or winner Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives is featured. Directors' Fortnight is showing 3 Match Factory films: Everything Will Be Fine by Christoffer Boe (Denmark-Sweden-France),The Light Thief (Kyrgyzstan) by Aktan Arym Kubat, and Shit Year by Cam Archer (USA).
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
aka Lung Boonmee Raluek Chat
Cofounder and partner, Michael Weber is one of the originators (after Wouter Barendrecht of Fortissimo) of the idea that international sales agents do not have to stick to films from their own country but can introduce films from other lands. Where Wouter brought Asian cinema to the west, Michael brought Latin American cinema to the world when he began his career in international sales at Bavaria Films International. This was the same moment that the venerable Bavaria Film Studio was resurrecting itself and designing its vertical identity. Before that Michael was producing for TV and even acting occasionally.
The Match Factory launched in 2006 with Madeinusa, perhaps brought over by Michael from acquaintances made while at Bavaria. The international sales agency international arthouse films by acclaimed directors and promising young talents, whose films distinguish themselves through originality and style.
Aside from the Cannes Competition film Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, they have other films in the festival including Directors' Fortnight entries:
Everything Will Be Fine by Christoffer Boe (Denmark-Sweden-France)
The Light Thiefby Aktan Arym Kubat (Kyrgyzstan) . About an electrician, the last link with the Kyrgyg energy system and the Mafia. When the electricity rates were hiked Kyrgyzstan had its second revolution since independence from USSR and the country is currently in a state of suspense.
Shit Year by Cam Archer (USA)
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives is the penultimate example of how a film from a perhaps underfunded country can get enough financing to be made and delivered. The director, Apichatpong Weerasethakul , has already had two films in Cannes (Tropical Malady and Blissfully Yours) which certainly helps, but is not crucial to this saga. The Illumination Films producers Simon Fields and Keith Griffiths also have long histories in the international film and festival world. Simon left his long term tenure as head of London's govenment funded distribution company and archive to go to his long held tenure as artistic director of the Rotterdam Film Festival. Keith has been producing art films of the best kind since the late 70s.
The cynic might say that all this is what made the film acceptable to Cannes. But in the international independent film world, acquaintance with the players can very soon lead a young inexperienced (but talented!) filmmaker along the same path. And to learn how to make international waves, it is necessary to learn who is swimming in international waters. It is important to know how such a film got made. All filmmakers, from the James Camerons to the Gregg Arakis and Apichatpong Wwerasethakuls to the still unrecognized filmmakers of the world would, if asked, acknowledge that it takes large and small miracles along the way to actually get a film made. My first awareness of this film was through the World Cinema Fund an initiative begun in 2004 at the Berlinale which develops co-operation strategies reflecting on cultural identities. Support from WCF often motivates other investors and institutions to participate in productions. Or perhaps it was from the Hubert Bals Fund the initiative operating at the Rotterdam Film Festival just prior to Berlin which funds development and post production of films from the developing countries of the world. Take a look at the credits of this film. Each producer or co-producer enabled funding of certain types to take place.
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives aka Lung Boonmee Raluek Chat.
UK/ Thailand/ France/ Germany/ Spain, 114 minutes
Suffering from acute kidney failure, Uncle Boonmee has chosen to spend his final days surrounded by his loved ones in the countryside. Surprisingly, the ghost of his deceased wife appears to care for him, and his long lost son returns home in a non-human form. Contemplating the reasons for his illness, Boonmee treks through the jungle with his family to a mysterious hilltop cave -- the birthplace of his first life...
Simon Field, Keith Griffiths - Illumination Films/Past Lives Productions (UK)
Apichatpong Weerasethakul - Kick the Machine Films (Thailand)
Charles de Meaux - Anna Sanders Films (France) This brings French ticket receipt monies and other French subsidy dollars.
Michael Weber - The Match Factory (Germany). This guarantees international presales.
Hans W. Geissendoerfer - GFF Geissendoerfer Film- und Fernsehproduktion KG (Germany)
Luis Miñarro - Eddie Saeta, S.A. (Spain). This accesses Spanish or European coin.
In Association With:
ZDF/Arte (Germany) This brings production and TV money
With the Participation of:
Fonds Sud Cinema (France). French subsidies for developing countries.
Ministère de la culture et de la communication CNC (France). Insures a portion of movie ticket receipts will go toward film production.
Ministère des Affaires Etrangères et Européennes (France)
With the Support of:
Ministry of Culture (Thailand)
World Cinema Fund (Germany)
Hubert Bals Fund, International Film Festival Rotterdam (Netherlands)
Caroleen Feeney (USA)
Josslyn Barnes & Danny Glover - Louverture Films (USA)