Claudia Landsberger ©Photo: Lolo Vasco
The Seville European Film Festival awarded Claudia Landsberger with the Seville European Festival’s Industry Award at the SEFF closing gala from Pedro Pérez, president of the Federation of Associations of Spanish Audiovisual Producers (FAPAE). It was with gratitude that she received the award for “being convinced that any European film can cross borders”.
Not only has Claudia been the chief promoter of Dutch films for as long as I have known her and currently is head of the Holland Film institution EYE Film Institute Netherlands where she has energetically promoted several Academy Award nominations (and winners!) in Oscar winning campaigns under the guidance of U.S. publicist Fredell Pogodin, she is also a great promoter of all European cinema, and was the co-founder and director of the European Film Promotion Office (EFP) for many years.
As of 2008, seven Dutch films have been nominated for Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, three of which have won the award: Fons Rademakers' The Assault in 1987, Marleen Gorris' Antonia's Line ♀ in 1996 and Character in 1998. Two Dutch submissions were disqualified: The Vanishing in 1989 because more than half of the film was spoken in French and Bluebird in 2006 because it had aired on television. The late Fons Rademakers represented the Netherlands in the competition five times, achieving two Oscar nominations, including one win.
Claudia was happy because the Festival devoted a section called Wild Tulips to Dutch cinema and because “the people of Seville have been able to see the quality of Dutch films”.
In perfect Spanish, Landsberger expressed her appreciation for this “very special” award because, as she said, “normally recognition is for actors, not for the people who work to improve the film industry”. (She also speaks impeccable English, Italian, French, German and of course Dutch.) Her grateful acceptance speech ended with “Long live European cinema”.
This is the second year that SEFF presents this award which was received last year by the producer of the series “Millennium”, Sören Staermose. Incidentally, Staermose (Yellow Bird producer) was at the Festival this year too, participating in the parallel activities, where he announced that he will film a television series in Spain, based on the detective novels by Lisa Marklund. The final episode of the series will be shot in Puerto Banús (Malaga) and will be co-produced with Gervasio Iglesisa of La Zanfoña Productions. Yellow Bird, a Swedish company created with the idea that Europeans should work together, usually has financing that comes from two sources, cinema and television. Thus, as Staermose explained, they film, for both television and cinema, books that have been best sellers in Sweden, Scandinavia or Germany. One example was the novels by Stieg Larsson and his “Millennium” saga.
Read on for more outstanding European films in Seville, including the grand prize winning Son of Babylon.
Grand Prize Winner:
Son of Babylon by Mohamed Al-Daradji (Iraq, United Kingdom, Holland, France, UAE, Egypt, Palestine) is a multi-lateral Euro co-production. It won Seville's top Golden Giraldillo, which carries a Euros45,000 ($63,000) cash prize and was pointedly called, "the first important film about Iraq made in Iraq" and depicts an unforgettable journey across Iraq, a troubled land where no one knows what lies ahead. As the Official Oscar® Entry from Iraq for Best Foreign Language Film, winner of the Peace Film Award and the Amnesty International Film Prize at the 2010 Berlin International Film Festival, Son of Babylon was also an official selection in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. Variety recently bestowed its Middle East Filmmaker of the Year Award to Mohamed Al-Daradji and the film has been nominated for the Raindance Award by the 2010 British Independent Film Awards.
Northern Iraq 2003. Three weeks after the fall of Saddam Hussein a young boy, Ahmed (Yasser Taleeb), and his tenacious grandmother, Um-Ibrahim (Shezhad Hussein), embark on a quest to uncover the fate of the boy’s missing father, one of the many soldiers who never came home.
From the mountains of Kurdistan to the sands of Babylon, the pair hitches rides with strangers and cross paths with fellow pilgrims on an all too similar mission. As the grandmother struggles to accept the reality of the situation, Ahmed retraces the footsteps of a father he never knew. This is a journey that will not only connect them to the past, but will determine the course of their lives.
Once again, the Oscar campaign in L.A. is being handled by Fredell Pogodin and Associates. It will have a media screening folllowed by a special reception with the director in Los Angeles November 23.